Tuesday, 29 December 2009


Our title says it all... for the first time in the three years we've been blogging we missed a Sunday deadline!

Christmas has a serious talent for jumbling the days of the week up and before we knew where we were it was Monday!

This time last year Tom and I just got married, honeymooned in Miami, returned home for a fairly unceremonious Christmas and then disappeared off to Lanzarote for one of the hardest training camps of our lives. What a way to start 2009... exhillarated but exhausted!

Twenty-ten is going to be a whole new year and a very different year. If there's one thing we won't be starting the year with it will be fatigue. On Boxing Day Tom and I love to run the Chevin Chase, a 6.9 mile challenging off-road run. Last year having just returned from the States we had our worst ever races on the Chevin. Jet lag and the general malaise from our honeymoon weren't really the best prescription for a good race. This year we went into it in much better condition, following a wonderfully relaxed Christmas with plenty of key run sessions. Regular readers will know we've both struggled a little with our usual commitment to the pool and for Tom on his bike, however running races have been going well and this year's Chase (albeit it an icy snowy challenge) was a huge improvement on last year will both of us placing higher than 12 months ago, and it felt great to race on strong legs even if they were a little too full of quality street.

So, we're putting the finishing touches to 2009 with way too much chocolate, mince pies and the kind of food I might as well just clag to my hips. Unfortunately moderation wasn't one of the gifts from Santa this year, however we have managed to get out and put a fair few running miles in.

At the minute I'm sitting typing this at my mum's house in South Shields with a full tummy and a DVD on the box. Tomorrow we're back to Leeds and counting down the days to January the 1st and the start of an exciting year.

See you in 2010 with some really exciting news,

H (& T) x

Sunday, 20 December 2009

A bump in the road...

There's something about December... every year I spend November motivated to the absolute max, getting stuck into my routine and flying towards Christmas ready to start the new year in the shape of my life... only to come to a grinding halt come month number twelve! There's just something about this month, no matter how hard I try I'm completely unable to listen to my alarm clock, ignore my lazy streak or avoid the chocolate box! This year, as if my own yule tide will power (or lack of) wasn't enough of a spanner in the athletic works I seem to have developed some kind of repetitive strain injury which is causing me a reasonable amount of discomfort through both arms when swimming and cycling. According to my good friend and physio extraordinaire Ove it's likely to be caused by too much time at my computer with bad posture... so less work and more training should do the trick then ;) In all seriousness it seems to be aggravated by swimming so I've not been in the pool for a week and will probably avoid it for another couple, cycling isn't great so other than a pre-crimbo long ride with Ben G scheduled for this Wednesday I'll be keeping off two wheels for a while. In an attempt to fix the problem I'll be partaking in a little sports massage, thinking constantly about my posture, particularly when tapping away on a keyboard, and booking an appointment with Ove asap. I've been working with a few athletes recently and have been emphasising the fact that the priority, for those people with summer goals, should be above anything else to arrive in 2010 injury free, healthy and good to go. For the moment then I'll be shelving my plans for swim PBs and bike miles in favour of a little more running and a lot more recovering. What makes things really hard is that not only do I really want to be swimming and biking there's actually nothing stopping me... except for common sense and the knowledge that if I start 2010 super fit but injured I'll be unlikely to reach the spring whereas if I compromise a little match fitness for a great foundation from which to build toward Lanzarote then 2010 will no doubt be rather special.

On the flip side of course is that running seems to be going really well at the moment... I've seen the light with regards shoes and have swapped my super heavy and somewhat clumpy Mizuno Wave Nirvanas for the lighter and somewhat smoother Mizuno Wave Inspires. For years I've avoided anything approaching lightweight shoes due to fear of getting injured but as I've said a few times, this year is about taking the odd risk in order to maximise speed. I've also got stuck into my Tuesday night tempo run and Thursday evening track sessions (12 x 400 off 2:30) and am enjoying feeling fast for the first time in quite a while. I won't bore you with the stats but due to the track being closed this week I repeated an interval session not done since this time last year and ran far quicker than 12 months ago. This morning we raced cross country with our tri club and again I was both surprised and pleased to finish a little closer to the pointy end than I'm used to. The big test of course will come on Boxing Day when H and I line up for the Chevin Chase, where my best performance came two years ago with 45:59 and 34th place...

At that I'll wish you a very happy Christmas and fall back into my December comfort zone ;)


p.s. today's pic comes from yesterday morning's parkrun where a few like minded people came together a demonstrated that with the right attitude and a little bit of teamwork great things can be achieved :)

Team work...

Another lung busting, leg burning cross country challenge today. Why oh why do they hurt so much?! Is it because it's off road and I don't run off road very much or is it because you know you're not running for yourself but you're running for your team? (see above pic). Leeds and Bradford Tri Club has some very strong athletes and it's great at this time of year to all get together and be running for each other as opposed to against each other. I love it. I love being part of a team, I think that's why I love parkrun so much. It's really not about the time. Of course I have my own personal goals and times I'd like to break but I just love seeing the glee on newcomers faces for doing something they've never done before and knowing they'll be back for more. Being an athlete shouldn't be defined by speed, but by dedication. Not even dedication to a team, but dedication to one's-self. A commitment to move out of a comfort zone and try something new and challenging.

My training's in a bit of a funny place at the minute. I'm not training very consistently due to work commitments and general Christmas busy-ness and that means I'm not in a very good routine to slot training in and then this has a knock on effect because I can't be bothered to do it when I can't do it at my usual time!! I'm actually in good nick at the minute though and that's just enough to keep me hitting the roads for my key sessions so my fitness hasn't gone down the pan thankfully and I'm really pleased with today's run, 7th lady home. Yesterday I had planned to try and nail my 5km time to squeeze under the 20min barrier but the snow and ice put pay to that as I slid around the course in 22mins and 2 seconds. Still, it's out there waiting for me to cough up my lungs in an attempt to pb, I'm just not sure when that will be, I'd have loved to have done it before the end of 2009 but we're marshalling the next one on Boxing day and will be away for the week after so 2010 it shall be.

Tom's mum and step-dad Ray are here for a few days and it's lovely. I knew from the second they arrived that finally the Christmas festivites could commence. The mince pies have been cracked open and the house has been Christmas-ified with a little fat tree and the cosy glow of the Christmas lights, it's great to spend time with them (even though we did drag them to Temple Newsam to stand in minus temperatures this morning while we threw ourselves round the fields!)

Tonight we're off to the cinema to see Where The Wild Things Are so I must go and get ready... ahhhhh throw another log on the fire and pass me a Quality Street will you :)

Happy Christmas one and all.

H x

Daily pix still here and here.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

It's the most wonderful time of the year....

As I near the end of the year I can feel the draw of Christmas joy (usually found in boxes of Quality Street!!) Parties are happening and celebrations of a year gone by are nearly upon us. In fact this time last year Tom & I were approaching our wedding day and a whole year of events and mammoth training sessions which I'll never forget! I'll save the look back on 2009 for another post but today I can feel a change in the air. Something about 2010 and it's speedy approach is very appealing. I chose the above pic (taken at our very good friend Jevon's place) because I feel like 2010 is a new dawning for both of us. Tom's so excited about his new projects it's already like Christmas in our house. I love it, and I can't wait for the whole thing to take off.

Life is good... really good. I'm really looking forward to running regularly with our mate Russell and hoping that his speediness will drag me through to my 2010 desires. I think it'll be really good for both of us to do our long marathon training runs together. I'm so used to doing a lot of my training on my own, especially running, that it will be a nice change to have someone to go through the highs and lows of those long, cold Winter training runs with.

Work is going so well that I'm frightened to jinx it. I've got some fantastic shoots lined up and I'm loving dipping back into the world of TV every now and then. The exhibition project couldn't be going better. I'll be ready to spill ALL info about it for those interested at the beginning of January but I do know that the date will be 3rd February 2010 in Leeds at Salvo's restaurant. The rest of the details etc will be posted like I say early January. I've had an awful lot of interest in my little pictures and am very excited to see them all printed and framed.

Christmas in the Williams household will be a cosy relaxed affair and I can't wait to get my teeth into the Chevin Chase on Boxing Day. Last year I ran like a mule (having just returned the day before from our honeymoon in Miami). A no pressure almost guaranteed improvement from last year, I like it! Followed up by a great afternoon (as is tradition) at the Kennedy household et. al.

So, the clock is ticking, it's Saturday night and tomorrow we celebrate being married a whole year. Time to sign off cyber world and sign into celebrations :) :) :)

Happy Winter training peeps, keep up the good work and do a few bike miles for me seeing as I'm no longer friends with my bike. Anyone want a Quintana Roo Lucero race machine???!!!

Daily pix still here and here.

I'm off to spend time with my wunnerful husband :)

H x

Three hundred and sixty five days...

Tomorrow is mine and H's first wedding anniversary and it seems almost impossible to believe that a whole year has passed since we promised the world to each other in front of our nearest and dearest. Our friend Jevon wrote a wonderful blog entry about the passing of time only last week and here I am, flicking through our wedding pics, wondering just the same things.

Sitting here considering what to write there are many wonderful experiences I could reminisce about and even more exciting adventures in store for year two but for me it's all about the next 24 hours...

Our friend Lisa P bought us a terramundi money pot as a wedding present and for the last 365 days we've gradually filled it with gold coins... tomorrow morning we'll be cracking him open and heading off to Swinton Park Hotel in North Yorkshire to treat ourselves to some well deserved 'us' time. We're fortunate in that we have loads of things in common and really do love spending time together. Although I've never added up the hours (surprising considering my love of stats!) I'm sure that out of every 24 we're within touching distance of each other for well over half.... but... and it's a BIG but... it's probably not that often that those precious seconds, as all seconds are, are spent simply on us. If we're not swimming, biking or running with someone we'll be skypeing, facebooking or tweeting, H might be photographing people and I might be standing in front of people... in the rare moments that we aren't filling one or more of those roles we're probably steeling precious time to visit friends or family or maybe plotting our next steps on this wonderful journey through life. There's even the odd random day, take today for example where I spent the morning in the company of 200 people dressed up as Santa Claus as they ran laps round our local park. Of the last 365 days though, I wonder how many seconds out of our yearly budget of 31,536,000 we actually spent as just us? H is without a doubt the single most important part of my life yet, thinking about it, despite the hundreds and hundreds of hours we spend together the amount of time we spend truly and simply on ourselves, and absolutely positively nothing else, is minimal... at best! I'm sure that's one of my main motivations for long training hours... a 5k swim, 100 mile bike or 20 mile run with H is pretty close to 'just us', certainly closer than most will ever manage... but there's always a clock, heart rate or training partner ensuring that three is most definitely a crowd.


In an hour or so we'll be falling into bed and just before we embark on our final sleep before December the 13th we'll be turning off our phones, unplugging our computers and locking away all our training gear... none of which will see the light of day until we wake up on December the 14th. Tomorrow we'll each be spending every single second of our allotted 86,400 on just us, totally disconnected from the big wide world... just us... 172,800 seconds, very well spent.

Time... how do you spend yours?

See you in 604,800 ticks of the clock,


Sunday, 6 December 2009

Two steps forward and one step back...

It's easy when writing a blog about training to only talk about the good times, paper over the not so good times and make out like you're never injured or ill and pb for fun on a daily basis. The bloggers I most admire however are those who are honest and not only praise themselves when they do well but also let everyone know when things are slightly off course. If there's one thing that I've learnt during my journey from couch potato to Ironman athlete it's that no matter how fit or fast you get there will still be plenty of time where you're not on the proverbial ball and for whatever reason (sometimes 'just because') you feel like you're going backwards. I vividly remember watching an Ironman for the first time (Lanza 2005) having never even seen a triathlon and thinking that these 1,500 super athletes must surely feel like Buzz Lightyear 24/7, never have an off day and float around permanently in some kind of zen like state of uber fitness. Four and a half years later and with five Ironman finishes in the bank I'm sorry to say that that couldn't be farther from the truth... in fact with an opportunity to test your physical form pretty much every week and an easily accessible diary of lifetime best performances it's easy to feel less fit than ever before.

Before I outline what has felt like a somewhat below par week on my iron journey I'd like to point out that I'm doing this not because I'm particularly worried nor because I could do with a little tinternet based support... I just think it might help anyone who's not quite hitting their targets at the moment and ease the 'I don't feel like my training's working and I'm never going to get any better' wobbles... if there was ever a time when outcomes mean nothing and the process means everything then December is that time.

As H has said in her blog we've both been unusually busy recently, and I'm not sure we coped that well with the transition from low training volume and work loads in late summer / autumn through to a return to full training and increased work demands from the beginning of November. Arriving at our mate Jevon's place last Friday my mind was full of to-do's that hadn't been to-do'd and my body was creaking under the strain of four good training weeks on the bounce. A Saturday and Sunday respectively comprising of five hours in the saddle (most of which were spent hanging on to Jevon's back wheel) and a very hilly ten mile running race at max effort, either side of a double helping of curry, beer and chocolate took me into this week with not only broken legs and lungs but also will power. I am pretty good at backing it off though so both Monday's sessions were canned and it quickly became a rest day, Tuesday morning's swim suffered the same fate as did everything on Wednesday. By the time I got to Thursday morning's swim, which was due to include a max effort 400, I was feeling rather flat and with completely the wrong mental attitude only managed a 400 warm-up, 4 x 50m and half of the aforementioned 400 before pulling the pin mid length (number 9 if you're interested), walking (yes walking) back to the side and storming off in a sulk! Thursday evening's run never happened and then Friday became a rest day... well, I had done at least 60 minutes of training up to that point and I'd hate to over do it! So, that made five days where eight sessions were scheduled and only one and a bit were completed, I hadn't even got on my bike and with a 400m swim pb of 5:32 to beat I'd thrown my toys well and truly out of my #winterswim pram when five seconds down at half-way.

Suddenly my dreams of one final season of Ironman glory felt about as likely as Yorkshire not producing the next triathlon world Champion!

It's funny really, no matter how experienced you are it only takes a couple of off days to create feelings of doubt and consign recent feelings of returning fitness to the depths of your most distant memory banks. My point being that it's important to realise that to improve consistently week on week for more than a month or so is impossible for all but the most chemically enhanced amongst us and in order to take a giant leap forward it's necessary to take plenty of small steps backwards along the way. I'd also be willing to bet that pre-Christmas fitness (in relation to lifetime best) is inversely related to race season fitness (in relation to lifetime best). I know for a fact that this week I've been less motivated, slower, felt less fit and generally been more grumpy than this time last month.. but I also know for a fact that come the start of race season proper I'll be firing on all cylinders.

So, if you're worried that things aren't quite on track at the moment and you're experiencing the odd yuletide swim, bike and/or run arse kicking (even it's it's from your own training diary) then fear not... the proverbial boot will be on the proverbial other foot when it comes to the proverbial showtime ;)

Have confidence in your process and I'll see you in the summer,

T ;)

P.S. I think I may have set a lifetime PB for most analogies and proverbialisms (is that a word?) in a single blog entry?

P.P.S. Thanks to my running club friends for dragging me out of my somewhat slack week by way of five very hilly and very very muddy miles of 'doing it for the team' max effort ;)

Winter legs...

One thing I have noticed is that when things aren't in place and organised my brain goes to mush, my motivation to train disappears and my nutritional strategy goes up the swanny!

Tag team illnesses between myself and Tom have meant I've not been in the swing of training for a few weeks and that tiny dent in our usual orderly routine has thrown me out of kilter. Combined with my ever increasing work load (which is brilliant & I'm loving it), I discovered that if things aren't in place then something has to give. This week it's been the sessions that I don't class as key. Still, I don't like it and come tomorrow morning now that I've spent a week making to-do lists and organising my time better I should be able to to get back into my routine.

Winter is certainly here and I'm showing my legs the Winter way. I'm loving the cross country series that we're doing. It's great to run as part of a team and being able to run in two leagues means I get to run with Virgin Active Road Runners and Leeds & Bradford Triathlon, awesome. I threw myself up hill and down dale yesterday getting caked in mud for 5miles of pain & fun. I'm hoping the benefit of doing the cross country series is going to pay me back in Spring and fingers crossed eventually getting that sub 20min 5km time at parkrun!! I've not had a chance to have an assault on it for about 3 or 4 weeks and plan the 19th as my next chance.

I got out for 16miles today. Just to remind myself that I can still run long and really enjoyed that time on my own, ipod in, 8 undulating miles out and 8 back, negative split - running 1:06 out returning in 1:01, that's a good sign for me, I've not run longer than 13miles since The Vitruvian in September so I'm pleased I could average sub 8min mile today.

SO now that order has been restored. Life is back on track, the house no longer looks like Hansel & Gretel have been throwing crumbs all over it in a bid to escape and come tomorrow I have no excuses for why I NEED that chocolate bar or why I'm too tired to do that training session. My brain is de-cluttered...lovely :)

'Til next week....

H. x

Daily pix still here and here...