Sunday, 28 October 2007

179 minutes...

This needs to be brief.... I have 6 minutes before the rather rubbish internet connection in this Starbucks cuts out and the thought of going through all the hassle of connecting again is more scary than mile 26 tomorrow!

I have one goal tomorrow and that is to run a nice strong marathon in less than 180 minutes! I've done it three times before and am feeling pretty good following three months of excellent long runs with TB and a pb for the course at the Great North Run. The picture above will be at the front of my thoughts when the going gets tough during the race... it's of Ed Whitlock, who holds the record for the fatest marathon by a person in their 70s.... 2:54!!

Unfortunately I have less than 180 seconds to finish this so I'll love you and leave you :)

If you google Dublin Marathon you should be able to follow the race and check out our results...



Here for the Craic!!!

So, here we are in Dublin. I'm going to have to be super speedy as we're on a £1000.00 a minute internet connection in Starbucks with a signal about as strong as chewing gum! I thought I'd hate being around the excitement and buzz of a city full of people waiting to see if their training has paid off, but you know what I'm actually okay. Of course I'd much rather be running tomorrow but that's not possible so I’m here to support with my whole heart all of those who have trained hard both physically & mentally, and to all of you running know that I'm willing you all on every step of the way. Tom and Tony B have been religiously running each other into the ground every Thursday evening for the last 16weeks and I know they'll run a very strong and hopefully enjoyable sub 3hrs tomorrow. I’ll be there at the start and at the finish watching the clock and waiting for your tired legs and body to run over the finish line. Whatever the time, the achievement of running a marathon is huge. Getting to the start line is the hardest part, after all on the day you run for as long as 26.2 miles takes and then it’s over. Training day in and day out for 16weeks, long runs, interval sessions and recovery sessions, they all have to be adhered to even when you’re tired or stuck for time and that’s where dedication, effort and mental strength is built. So to all of the Virgin Active Runners who have given up 16 weekends to run long, tomorrow is YOUR day and I hope you really enjoy it, good luck, I’ll see you at the finish. xx

In the mean while I’m trying a new tact on my injury. I’m not lifting a finger, toe or stressing a muscle for the next 5 days in a bid to rid of my tendonitis once and for all. If that doesn’t work I’ll be in the queue at B&Q for an electric saw to remove said injured foot!!!

May the force be with you all kids,

H. xxx

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Enjoy the rest...

What on earth do I write about while I'm not really training...or rather while I'm injured... or actually bored of being injured and bored of the boring training that I've been doing???! Tom's stolen the England topic and is typing his merry little fingers away while I appear to (for once) be lost for words. It's not like this week has been dull or in fact boring but you don't want to hear how many turbo sessions I've endured nor how many times I've ran a very non-environmentally friendly full bath of hot water to do my stretches in. So instead I thought I would feature my other favourite thing (the first being Tom and training!!!) but now that I'm in a period of relaxed training my appetite for the brown stuff (see above pic) has just accelerated and I LOVE IT!! It's the one time when it doesn't matter and my races are too far away to start worrying about but in just over a month the whole regime starts again. From December 1st I will start training again in anger and the whole chips and chocolate thing will go right out of the window being replaced by discipline and hard work.

Don't get me wrong I haven't turned into a lazy lard arse, I've still been averaging at least 2hrs a day, a mix of the pool and... the Turbo!!! and today we went out on our first Winter ride. It was absolutely freezing, but such a beautiful day. Tom and I met with our club and went out for a 100km social ride around the Arkendale area and it was fantastic. I don't get any pain at all when I cycle so I can pretend that I'm not injured. It was lovely to be out riding without worrying about whether I was in the right heart rate zone, pushing it too hard or not pushing it enough and to actually ride for the reason that I enjoy it and to chat for a a few hours getting to really know other Leeds & Bradford Tri Club members. The sun came out, the sky was blue and my little legs were happy to be spinning along. On our return (a puncture and a few wrong turns on route kept us out a little longer than anticipated) we were starving and rewarded ourselves with a bag of chocolate, mmmm, if there's one time to indulge, for me I do it best when I'm not really very focussed and now that Dublin is off my race calendar then my focus doesn't start again until December, so I compliment my relaxed training with relaxed chocolate eating and I'm very good at it. Is there a Chocolate World Championship event anywhere in the world? Maybe I could qualify for that too?

A few more things to add before I finally get to bed at a decent time for a Sunday eve (still got to be up at 5am for a swim session.) Firstly congratulations to our mates Tony, Sean & Ruth who all ran in Amsterdam today. Whenever Tom & I have picked an Autumn marathon, Tony & co have always been running either the week before or the week after so we eagerly follow each others progress and it's fantastic news that Sean pb'd, broke 3.30 (I know all about how hard that demon can be!) and did 3.27. Brilliant. Well done to Tony & Ruth too who both had great races 3.02 for Tony and 1.46 for Ruth (who did the half). It's Dublin for us a week tomorrow and although I won't be running it :( ...did I tell you I was injured!!! I'll be there willing everyone of our mates on through the toughest miles.
Secondly, our good friends Ian and Emma-Kate are off to Oz for a few weeks (lucky things.) EK blew the ladies field apart at the London Tri this year and her prize was entry, flight & accommodation into the Noosa Triathlon in Australia (not bad hey!) so Eekster, I expect you to be giving those girls a taste of the old China Town treatment, have fun out there, and good luck.

So my lovely people I shall sign off and get myself to beddy-kins ready to start the week thrashing out some hard 200's in the pool tomorrow, a turbo in the evening and then pleading with the physio tomorrow late eve to make a magic spell to heal my ankle!

Go, on have some chocolate, you know you want to...

H. x

So close....

After Chrissie Wellington's great success last week I was hoping for more of the same this weekend, unfortunately as I'm sure you know it was a case of 'so close, yet so far' in both the rugby and F1. Although Lewis and the England team gave it their absolute best and can return home with heads held high I can't help but feel a little flat thinking about what might have been.

A few years ago I was lucky enough to have dinner with Hamilton when Ben (Lack - my oldest mate from school) and I had been to watch another friend of ours , Jan Heylen, racing in a Formula Ford race. Even then everyone was talking about him and was touting him as the next motor racing superstar to come out of England. It really struck me then how down to earth and modest he was even as a teenager surrounded by so much hype. Although it came as no surprise to those in the know that he made a huge impact in F1 but to come second by a point in his rookie season is just phenomenal. As anyone who has been following the F1 season will know, Lewis's dad has been pretty much ever present throughout and it's his comments in particular which have struck a chord with me today. Interviewed immediately after the race, when you might have expected him to be devastated at the world title slipping from his son's grasp, Anthony Hamilton said the following...

"To be quite honest, none of us are in pain - trust me, we feel great," Anthony told ITV Sport's Louise Goodman. "We've just had one of the most fantastic Formula 1 seasons ever. If somebody had told me a year ago we'd be fighting for the world championship at this stage, I'd have told that they were dreaming. It's been a fantastic year. We lost it by one point, and we'll come back next year". Anthony added that his son still had many chances to take the championship in his career. "If we don't win it next year, we'll win it the year after," he said. (taken from

That is truly the attitude of a winner! It is impossible to always achieve your goals, it is impossible to always win but what you can do is always give it your best. People sometimes ask me how I'll feel if after months and months of hard training and sacrifice I miss out on Hawaii by one or two minutes... knowing that I will have given my absolute all and remembering these comments I hope I'll feel proud of myself for giving it everything just as I am sure Anthony Hamilton is proud of his son tonight. I think what we sometimes forget is that the only people who fail are those who don't try in the first place, success can't be measured by a time or a place... to truly succeed is to truly give it your best, to put yourself on the line, face up to your dreams and at the end of the day know that you could have given no more, whether you come first or last.

Training last week? Nothing more than ticking over for the marathon really... a couple of swims including my first 'coached' swim with our tri club (LBT) on Friday evening, a great 60 mile social club ride also with LBT today and a 60 minute turbo a few days ago, 10 x 2 mins (18kph) on the treadmill with Tony B on Tuesday and 16 miles at 7.30 pace (2 hours), also with Tony, on Thursday evening. Not forgetting 100 press-ups on Tuesday in two goes... 60 (minute rest) then 40 ;)

Training this week will be fairly steady, although with the marathon not until Monday the 29th we're planning to stick in ten miles at marathon pace on Thursday and will no doubt chuck in a couple of easy short runs over the weekend. A few swims should keep me loose (poor-man's physio) and hopefully be a bike chucked in there somewhere... with 100 press-ups straight off becoming more of a goal (if only for fun) hopefully I'll manage 65/35 sometime over the next seven days??

Other than that, not a lot happening... next week's posts will need to be our first international efforts if we are to keep our 100% record of Sunday night writing. With the marathon on the Monday it better not be a late one ;)

Speak soon,


Sunday, 14 October 2007

Time to spread my wings...

As much as I'd love to write about how wonderful my training's going and that I'm fully fixed for the Dublin marathon, unfortunately none of those things are the case. I fear you may well be as bored as I am that I am indeed still not fixed! Endless physio (some taking place at a wedding we went to on Friday in fact!) and stretches galore, my ankle just doesn't want to play ball. I've endured hours on the cross trainer and I know every crook, cranny, dint and mark on the back of our garage door after spending oodles of time on the turbo. At least I may come out of this with better cycling legs! I ran for 30 mins today, not before standing in a full hot bath with a towel under my big toe stretching my tendon before I was allowed to play out and then on my return, back into the hot bath to stretch and then immediately followed by ice. I appear not to have reacted badly to the run although I can still feel it, so I'm being very careful. Dublin isn't, wasn't and won't be the be all and end all. I'm not promising I'll be happy about it on the day but I know I'd be very silly to run Dublin if I wasn't 100% sure that it has gone, so I think the marathon's canned and I'll be there in spectator mode (grizling away while the others flog themselves - see the sadist in me is jealous already!)

So, to the picture at the top. My wings don't have tendonitis and on the 1st November this year I will be free and spreading them into the big wide world of freelance photography. I've worked for ITV for over seven years now and have loved every second of it but it's time for me to challenge myself in the photography world and step out of my comfort zone and see what's out there. I can't wait, it's a bit scary but I have amazing support in Tom and as always he's helped me every step of the way. I'm looking forward to new projects, new people and my new working life and it's all out there waiting for me to discover it and for it to wonder where the hell I've been for the last seven years!!!

In two weeks time I shall leave the world of employment, comfort, safety and security and step into a world of unknowns but exciting unknowns and it couldn't feel more right. Tom's post is all about the World Champs in Hawaii (our Mecca.) Every one of those athlete's takes a gamble when they step into the water, and they're scared and excited, some make it, some don't, some excel and some don't finish but they never regret the fact that they are there and that's how I feel about going freelance. I'm going to be the Chrissie Wellington (new Hawaii Ironman World Champion) of the photography world...talented just undiscovered.

So, this week has more turbo, more cross trainer and more hot bath stretching for me. My swimming lesson with Clare last week went really well. She pointed out the biggest and most noticeable difference in my stroke... it had become very, very short. Short at the front and at the back, so with a few pointers and a few drills I've managed to re-focus and am concentrating on staying long. It's already making a lot of difference, I just have to practice, practice, practice.

I can't wait for the beginning of December when I can get my head on (hopefully the tendonitis will be well behind me by then) and I'll be in the throws of Ironman training and the push to make it to Hawaii, bring it on.

Before I go I must say congratulations to Martin Yelling (my coach) who enviably made it to Hawaii this year. We watched him cross the finish line at 4.15am this morning after being glued to a computer screen watching the favourites fall and the undiscovered's stealing the limelite, so very well deserved to both Chris McCormack and Chrissie Wellington. Just astonishing and inspirational to see. I can't wait to hear all about it from Martin when he get's back.

I must take myself and my gammy ankle off to bed, our week of 5am starts will be round in only 5hrs and 45mins!

Night :)

H. x

This time next year?

Last night H and I spent nearly ten hours glued to the live video web-cast of the 31st Ironman World Championships from Kona, Hawaii. Having followed our friend Martin's progress from his first ever Ironman race in Austria 2006 it was amazing to see him cross the finish line and complete the journey that H and I are so desperate to emulate. The Hawaii Ironman is the ultimate test of one-day endurance and in order to take part you are required to qualify at one of the many other Ironman events around the world. Martin qualified at Switzerland this year with a time of 9 hours and 15 minutes, in the same race I was 20 minutes away from qualifying, with a time of 9 hours and 56 minutes. On a ridiculously hot day Mart conquered the challenging wetsuit-free sea swim in 1 hour and 8 minutes, the relentlessly windy bike in 5 hours and 5 minutes and the red hot run across the famous lava fields in 3 hours and 23 minutes for a total time of 9 hours, 44 minutes and 11 seconds giving him 187th place out of 1800 of the fittest athletes in the world! To complete an Ironman is a massive accomplishment, to qualify for Hawaii is something else, to then break ten hours is phenomenal!

In the men's elite race the hype surrounding the rivalry between the German 'uber-athlete' Norman Stadler (2 x winner) and the brash Australian Chris McCormack had reached fever pitch. Unfortunately the 'Norminator' succumbed to a stomach bug and having struggled to make the start line pulled out of the race about a third of the way in to the bike. At the time 'Macca' was lying a few places further down the field but with his main rival out of the race it was his to lose and a blisteringly fast marathon of 2 hours and 42 minutes saw him finally take the title of World Ironman Champion. There's a great interview with him HERE (somewhere between episodes 65 and 66) and the fact that he has given up so much and worked so hard for so long to achieve his ultimate goal is more inspiration than I could ever need. I'd really recommend anyone who's set themselves a goal which at times may seem out of reach to listen to the interview with Macca and take something from his positive 'never say die' attitude.

The women's race provided British Triathlon with one of (if not THE) greatest moment in its history. Having only turned pro in February this year and completing her first ever Ironman seven weeks ago Chrissy Wellington (this week's picture) blew the high quality field away finishing with a 2:59 marathon to card a time of 9 hours and 8 minutes and become the first ever British athlete to take the crown. Working her way slowly through the field on the bike she was first lady out of T2 and with the run as her strongest discipline proceeded to run away from the greatest female athletes the world! This was one of the truly special performances in the history of British sport, and hopefully the sign of things to come with Lewis Hamilton and the English rugby team in action this coming weekend.

Details of all the racing in Hawaii can be found by clicking HERE.

How's my training going?... With Dublin Marathon two weeks tomorrow I'm desperately hanging on to what fitness I have left from this brilliant season. I really am ready for an easy month (scheduled for November) and am just about managing to do the bare minimum required to hit the start-line in something like sub three hour shape. It looks like there will be four of us running together in Dublin and with the other three having half-marathon pb's of 75, 79 and 81 minutes respectively if I'm not on the ball it could be messy! I have managed to get all my long runs in and did a very hilly 22 on Wednesday in 2 hours and 35 minutes, which equates to about 3:04 for a marathon. I also know from my Great North run performance (81 minutes) that there is some speed in my legs so hopefully I can keep things turning over for another 15 days and have a good run on race day. Other than the key runs everything else is no more than ticking over, I've not been on my bike for over a week and swim volume is down around 8k per week. Andy KJ and I have kept the twice weekly weights sessions going which has been great, and this week we started a challenge to complete 100 press-ups in one go... On Friday morning my first attempt saw me manage 50, 30 and then 20, with about 45 seconds rest between each set. Overall, I'm starting to feel a little sluggish though and really need to have a big 10 days of training to get the athletic feeling back.

Talking with H today and having watched the Hawaii webcast last night we are even more focused on achieving our goal. It's great to be able to share such an exciting journey with her, to the point where neither of us really care who gets there as long as one of us does. I can honestly say I'd be as happy for H to qualify as I would be if I made it... hopefully this time next year the photo of the week will be of one of us standing where Martin, Chrissie and Macca all completed their epic journeys yesterday evening.



Sunday, 7 October 2007

Exciting adventures...

This week I thought I'd let you know about two really exciting developments which I would love you to get involved in...

Firstly, this Saturday is the first official running of the Hyde Park Time Trial (Today's photo was taken at the start of yesterday's 'dress-rehearsal'). A couple of months ago I was invited to a meeting with the Sport & Physical Activity department at work to discuss possibilities for involving our students in volunteering projects, which at the same time could engage the local community in some way. Having already heard about the Bushey Park Time Trial we thought about running a similar project in Leeds and promptly got on the phone to the organisers of the BPTT to see if they could help... fast forward a few weeks and we've got six days left to get everything sorted for the inaugral HPTT. To cut a long story short the UK Time Trial events are free to enter, weekly 5k races, are inclusive in nature and have the target of engaging the local community in regular physical activity. We are the first UK event outside of the M25 but more events will follow shortly and the long term aim is to have events happening all round the country and even the world! If you are ever in Leeds on a Saturday why not pop along? All you have to do is register for free by clicking HERE and once you've done it that's it forever, you can then turn up on the day to any UKTT event in the country and get stuck in :) See you on the start line!

Secondly, I'd like to invite you to join me and the University of Leeds LOGIK Lifestyle Group to travel round the world in 80 days using only human powered transport!! We actually 'left' on the 1st of October but need your help if we're to be back in time for Christmas, at the moment we're in France (check out the latest updates via All you need to do to join the team is email us at with your full-name and we'll add you to the list. Then, whenever you move from A to B under your own steam i.e. walking to work, going for a bike ride or even playing footy or golf let us know how far you travellled and how you did it and we'll add your miles to the total. We need a couple of hundred miles a day and are a little behind schedule at the moment so please join the team and get moving ;)

Finally in a desperate attempt to start the week with a good night's sleep I'm keeping this short so training and racing wise...

Coming off last week's 1:21 at the Great North my legs were pretty stiff and the week started fairly lazily with swims Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday morning but nothing Monday, Wednesday or Thursday evening and only run-club on Tuesday night. Come Friday I was raring to go though and with Tony B back from his cousin's wedding in Poland we managed to stick in a quick 20 mile run along the canal in 2:22. Saturday saw a ten mile timetrial with BenG where I'd hoped to break my pb of 23:36 (think I could do sub-22 on a good day on a fast course) but with tired legs from the night before and a pretty slow course I rode a painfully long 23:54. Then this morning H and I entered Carsington Duathlon as a team with me doing both the 5k runs and H taking care of the 30k bike in between. I've not seen the results yet but think we were 2nd team out of 6 and about 20th overall out of about 125.

With three weeks to go to Dublin marathon I'd like to get a few more good quality runs in and on Wednesday will be going quite hard over a hilly 22 miles with Tony. It'll then be time to back it off a little before finishing the season (finally) in style on October the 29th in Ireland.

Well done to Liz Y for coming fourth in the Chicago Marathon in ridiculously hot conditions and taking down some serious athletes in the process, also well done to Matt for a great performance in the same race.

Night ;)


Taking the rough with the smooth...

I think the above pic probably sums up mostly how I've felt this week due to the fact that I STILL can't run. I'm trying very, very hard to keep things in perspective but when you're not used to injury and dealing with it, all perspective seems to go out of the window!

I had been utterly convinced that when I saw Liz, our physio on Tuesday, that she was going to say the tendonitis had gone, that I was fixed and that of course I could go out and start banging out some mileage in a desperate bid to to run the Dublin Marathon... then it became clear that I was clearly disillusioned and my prayers of hope to the injury god had gone unanswered as she prescribed another whole week without running. I'm due to see her again tomorrow evening and this time I feel sure she'll tell me that firstly I still can't run and secondly to just forget Dublin. It's a very odd time for me at the moment, I can't quite describe it. I certainly feel ready for the rest that I'm kind of having. I'm sure that my legs are enjoying a rest from the constant pounding and stress that running does to them, although I have been in the garage on the turbo to try and stop my legs from forgetting what exercise is. I should be looking at it as a great opportunity for me to concentrate on my cycling too... but I HATE doing anything under duress. I like to be able to choose to do something rather than to be stuck with only that option - Tom would definitely verify that (bless him, he truly is a saint.) While Tom's been out doing his run sessions I've locked myself in the garage and done my sessions on the turbo, it's taken an ipod full of inspiration (I listen to Ironman Talk) and my stubborn attitude but I'm in there doing it.

I've had four good pool sessions this week and on Thursday I had my stroke looked at by my friend Claire Huddart who swam in the Sydney Olympics in 2000, as you can imagine she makes swimming look so effortless. It's definitely what my swimming needs. I do hours and hours in the pool and although my swimming times have improved hugely, I know I'm not swimming efficiently and just having Claire watch me swim for 50 metres has already changed my stroke for the better. I'm meeting her in the morning for some more top tips so I can work hard on becoming like a fish while my foot stops me being like a gazelle!

Tom has a lot more focus at the moment than I do and to be perfectly honest I do feel well and truly 'raced' out. I think it's a combination of feeling de-motivated by my injury and therefore not having the drive that I usually have and also that this year has been a long season and I'm ready for the break. Not ready to have that break because of injury though so try and work that one see how hard it is living in my head!!!?

This weekend we had entered a ten mile Time Trial on Saturday and today we did Carsington Duathlon but as a team. I was grisly about having to do either of them, my lack of enthusiasm all stemming from 'the foot' has affected the hard wiring in my brain and unlike me who is always willing to step up to the challenge I really kicked against it, even though I would have been more annoyed had I not done them. Tom knows me incredibly well, almost too well and has and is being wonderful even though I'm not behaving wonderfully. The TT on Saturday was okay, I got my heart rate up straight away and just hammered my legs for 26mins & 41secs, not bad considering I'd done three hours on the turbo the day before and I won £10 English pounds coming third on handicap. Carsington Duathlon was something that Tom has wanted to do for a while but as my injury has lasted a lot longer than we both expected I knew I wasn't going to be able to do it and so Tom thought it would be great for us to do it as a team (selflessly giving up his opportunity to do the whole race). He would do the two 5km runs either side of the 30km bike which I would do. Like the Time Trial I kicked against it and like the therapist that he's been I found myself up at 5am this morning preparing to go out and hurt my legs again, only this time we were in it together, and you know what... I quite enjoyed it, and we came second team out of six and about 20th overall in a combined time of 1hr 26mins.

So, all in all I've had a bit of a funny week. I go from feeling like 'the foot's' nearly fixed to wondering if it will ever be fixed, I guess the physio tomorrow is going to answer that one!

Finally today we had two friends running the Chicago Marathon and we've spent all afternoon glued to the coverage online. It's unseasonably hot out there and it looked like the conditions were going to make it a hard day in the office. Our good friend and amazing runner Liz Yelling ran incredibly well running a solid 2:37 coming fourth and beating the likes of Benita Johnson & Kathy Butler, so a huge, huge well done goes out to her. It's time for her to kick back and have some well earned R & R after handing over the baton to her husband and my coach Martin Yelling who is currently out in Hawaii preparing for the Ironman World Championships which will be held this Saturday (13th Oct.) Our other friend Matt also endured the heat in Chicago and ran 3:35 which is fantastic considering that the race was closed at midday for those who hadn't reached the half way point due to the unbearable heat, well done mate. I can't wait to hear all about Chicago from both of you.

Right, I'm going to take my sad face off to bed. I have a swim technique session with Claire tomorrow and as usual it's another 5am start for our household. Maybe if everyone crossed their fingers and prayed to the God of Tendonitis he would stop pressing his thumbs into my right ankle and the pain in there would stop? I'll let you know if the power of thought works, get those positive thoughts flowing...

H... small and a little bit broken this week :(