18 September 2014

The London Duathlon 2014 #MyMoments

I'm not really sure where to begin for the write up of #MyMoments for the London Duathlon which took place last Sunday 14th September 2014. Above everything else, I'm over the moon to have made it to the start line...

After my bike was stolen a around 10 days before the event there were a multitude of ups and downs leading up to the day! When around 5 days before the event I realised I'd been struck down by a bug (not unlike the flu) I was pretty certain this wasn't gonna happen for me!

But it all came together the day before the event. I'd given up hope on the Friday after renting a bike didn't go to plan and I felt like the illness had also won. Then during an email conversation, I had an offer I couldn't refuse of a bike loan from Freya for the event. All of a sudden, I'd gone from down and out, to excited to take on my first ever multisport event!

I had already thrown all my gear together a few days before so I was somewhat prepared. I shared this picture with everyone... no beautifully folded, spaced out and laid out outfit. Just the real deal.

Pre Race Set Up

I met Freya and Madge (her amazing Road Bike) at 8am sharp by Roehampton Gate of Richmond Park. I promptly then made my way over to the Race Village and got myself ready to enter transition to set up. It was a little nerve wracking with all the rules to remember and stickers / labels / numbers to attach! But I got checked in and organised myself.

I laid all my bits out on a bright pink towel ready for when I was back from my run and left the transition zone where I promptly bumped into Alpha and David, my supporters for the day! Seeing them put a smile on my face knowing that I'd get to look out for them each time I came around the course!

Alpha and David kept me company until it was time to step into the starting line up...


Stage 1 Run: 10km

About 30 minutes before the start of my first run, I knocked back some water and 2 or 3 cubes of caffeinated Clif Shot Bloks - energy to help me run my best. I think this contributed to the fact that although I had used the bathroom in the 30 minutes before the 10km start, I decided I needed to use it again while on the start line. It took about 20 minutes for me to cross the start line by which time all I could think about was using the bathroom.

500 metres out of the start and there was a water station. Although very much not needed at this point I decided this had to be a good sign for what was to come in regards to the amount of water stations available. Finally, just before the 3km, there were bathrooms. I nipped off the course and came back feeling ready to take on the next 7km.

Having run in Richmond Park once before, I was aware that it would be a hilly course. Looking back now, I can't say I really noticed the any hills on the 10km run. I spent my time taking in the view, looking out for the Deer and keeping my breathing under control. My iPhone was stuffed in my bra (you can read more about this in my kit list post which is coming soon!) so I could still hear the cheers from everyone who liked my Nike+ status on Facebook. It also meant I could receive feedback on my time, pace and distance.

A little later on the course I came across some of the marshals with megaphones. These guys were funny - made me smile and gave me that extra little bit of confidence. I didn't start to flag until around the 7 or 8km mark which I was proud of! I hadn't run this far for a couple of weeks and had been unwell for the past 5 days! Just at the right time, in the final km were some small children handing out haribo sweets, smiles and cheers of encouragement.

Those children and the fact that I knew I would see Alpha and David on the final straight powered me though to the end of my first run and into transition.

Stage 2 Cycle: 22km

Onto the second stage. As far as I am concerned, this was active recovery from running. Yes, it's still tough, but it's a different tough. It was also the first time ever I was riding Madge. In the first wobbly 500metres I got to see Alpha and David again before I was off!

Having found stability with Madge, I kept focused on the signage warning of a steep climb coming up. I climbed...and thought that was tough, before I realised that wasn't even the climb! This was what I've heard since been referred to as Cardiac Hill. People were walking their bikes up this hill it was so steep! I made a decision to sit it out - I was not gonna let this hill defeat me! ...I struggled, but I did it! I could barely breathe by the time I reached the top but the marshals at the top were so encouraging and motivating that it kept me going and I recovered while on the flat course.

And as we know, what goes up must come down. Following Cardiac Hill were a couple of pretty swift declines! Once I allowed myself to relax and go with it (and also acquainting myself with Madge's brakes) I enjoyed the downhill glide!

Before I knew I, I recognised where I was and knew I was nearing the ned of lap 1. One more lap to go! I slowed down briefly as I cycled past Alpha and David before calculating that I would finish the second lap in around 30 minutes...after conquering Cardiac Hill one more time...the downhills, a couple of tight right turns and what was quite a tough wind in the direction we were cycling!

Second lap completed and it was back into transition to rack Madge and run the final stage of my event!

Stage 3 Run: 5km

Here goes! Running into transition was interesting...jelly legs were all I had. But within the time it took me to rack Madge and have a quick snack, my legs started to feel a little more normal!

Again, I started this run needing the bathroom! I'm pretty sure though, that this helps me to run a little faster! Once I found a bathroom on the course, I was ready to bring this home. What kept me going on the 5k lap was different though. I had seen Becs of The Style Dynamo running whilst I was cycling which put a smile on my face; I hadn't expected to see anyone I know on the course so that was a welcome surprise! I also got a number of compliments on my outfit from marshals and other competitors (again, you can read more about this in my kit list post which is coming soon!). The guys on the megaphone were there again too where the 5km course joined the 10km course for the final 3km.

By this point, I'd come so far I knew I could finish this. I'd enjoyed every moment of the event so far and wanted to enjoy the end too! I'm pretty sure I must've been running with a big grin on my face...and by the time I got to the final straight I saw Alpha, David and Freya all there cheering! I turned off the course to go over the finish line as the commentator welcomed me over (by name...which was a lovely personal touch for us competitors!).

I had my medal placed around my neck, got given a t-shirt, water and banana (no lucozade for me! I hadn't trained with them and didn't wanna risk it!). Just outside the finish line, I bumped into a lady who had been on the same Introduction to Duathlon course with me in August and we chatted about the event until Alpha, David and Freya made their way over.

I honestly had THE best morning of my life taking part in the London Duathlon and cannot fault the organisers at all! So many thank you's to share...

Limelight Sports for the place in the event; All the Marshals for being so encouraging and doing an amazing job; Freya for lending me Madge; Alpha and David for cheering me on the entire time; The unknown supporters at the sidelines who cheered, waved and / or helped keep me going with encouraging words; Everyone that believed in me; Everyone else that offered me the loan of their bike; Everyone who messaged me their support before, during and after the event; My Mum - the first person I called to let know that I had survived!

I'm now more determined than ever to replace my bike and have already decided that I would like to take part in a cycling event in 2015! 

Here's to many more AWESOME events!

Elle :) x

16 September 2014

Breast Cancer Care Women Only Run, 18th October 2014

One year later, and Human Race are back with their October Women's Only run. This time, it's Breast Cancer Care though. 

The Breast Cancer Care Women Only Run will take place in the iconic and beautiful Richmond Park on Saturday 18 October 2014. This event is a firm favorite in the diary with runners of all abilities, with 5, 10 and 15km distances available. This is a rare opportunity to run on closed roads in a friendly and supportive all-female environment, at a bargain price. With entry from just £15 this is the good chance to feel good and do good!

Following on from being the official charity of the event in previous years, Breast Cancer Care is now also title sponsor of the Women Only Run. Runners will have the opportunity to raise money for Breast Cancer Care and help the life changing work carried out by their team. They work with many of the 50,000 UK residents a year diagnosed with breast cancer and their families.
Spanning 2,500 acres, Richmond Park is the largest Royal Park in London. Winding through gorgeous woodland, past a wide variety of wildlife and delightful gardens to be greeted by a stunning panoramic view of central London, this is arguably the most picturesque 5, 10 or 15km course in London. The Breast Cancer Care Women Only Run is the only traffic-free road running event in this unique and unforgettable location.

Unlike your average weekend run you won’t have to dodge cars and bikes, just concentrate on crossing that finish line and picking up your exclusive finishers’ medal. Those who are interested in participating in this great event only have until 9.00 pm on Monday 13 October to enter.
Women Only Series ambassador and Spice Girl Melanie C said “It is important women feel comfortable to try something new, challenge themselves and achieve goals. I think for women it is a wonderful thing to support each other and enjoy it. Exercise builds self-confidence and a healthier lifestyle.”
Buggies will also be welcome at the Breast Cancer Care Women Only Run. This has been a popular option in previous years, and buggy runners will be released in separate waves allowing you to select from any of the distances (5,10,15 km). Those who wish to jog with their little bundles of joy should select the ‘run with your buggy’ option on the Breast Cancer Care Women Only Run booking page.
For more information about this fantastic event, and to book before the deadline of Monday 13 October, visit the Human Race Events website: www.humanrace.co.uk/womenonly

This year, the event falls on my 30th birthday so I won't be there! But I will be remembering what fun I had the year before and will be looking forward to taking part in 2015! 
Let me know if you sign up and how the event goes for you! 

Elle :) x

15 September 2014

Living the simpElle life: Nkeiruka

We're midway through September and already so much is happening! Let's continue the month with some inspiration from someone I've met on my journey over the past couple of years. 

This fortnightly mini series - Living the simpElle life - is where I talk to someone who has been empowered to change.

I heard a great phrase last year -

"The Universe is made up of stories, not of atoms"

 - so that is what I want to share with you, stories, to open up the Universe to us all!

Each individual we meet embodies what this blog is about. They have dug deep to find motivation, they have sought inspiration and in doing so become inspirational to others. They have been empowered with knowledge to change and I hope that is what their story will do for the rest of us...

Meet: Nkeiruka Ughaonu 

I met Nkeiruka when I started teaching Nike Training Club (NTC) session in East London. As well as training, she has always displayed a passion and natural ability in my eyes, for running! How many of us could do a long run an then come to class?! Nkeiruka travelled to Geneva with us earlier this year too where she smashed a half marathon! Nkeiruka will also be running as 1 of 3 in a relay team with me for the Garmin Kingston Run Challenge on Sunday 12th October! Click {here} to sign up for the event yourself! 

...here's Nkeiruka's story...
- {THEN} - 

Elle: What made you decide to start training / running? ...What were your plans / goals?

Nkeiruka: I started running consistently in December 2012 when my sister signed me up for a half marathon in Vienna in April of the following year. Before that, I ran off and on, was a gym devotee for a couple years and attended Nike Training Club religiously. I didn't really have any concrete plans − just complete my first half, get strong and mix my training up. After my half I was adamant that I wouldn't run again, but having been selected to take part in an eight-week training programme for We Own The Night I was forced to dust off my running shoes and train for a 10k. The race was definitely a turning point as I achieved a personal best and from then on I was entering at least one race each month - I ended 2013 with 8 medals! Although at times I might complain about how much I dislike running there's nothing like crossing that finish line or gliding along the pavement that gets my endorphins pumping. 

- {HOW} - 

Elle: What's your favourite way to workout?

Nkeiruka: Running on my own with music or with friends at run club. I also enjoy NTC because it offers a range of exercises with varying intensity.

Elle: What's your typical weekly exercise schedule? 

Nkeiruka: Right now I try to fit in at least three runs a week (which includes run club on Thursday), NTC on Saturday mornings and sometimes power-walking or dancing.

Elle: What / who has been your inspiration?

Nkeiruka: My sister, the many ladies I've met through running and NTC; and fit, strong women that redefine gender stereotypes about femininity.

Elle: What was the first big difference in you, that made you feel proud and excited? 

Nkeiruka: It wasn't a physical change rather it was a mental thing. The two events that stand out for me are running my first half marathon and 10k, which was WOTN. I felt like after that I could tackle anything. It was certainly an emotional experience crossing the finishing line to plenty of cheers and seeing the culmination of weeks worth of training.

Elle: Did you make any changes to your diet once you started training? 

Nkeiruka: Not really. I'm a vegetarian so I tend to eat well. I try to cut down on sugary and fatty foods, eat more fruit and vegetables, and hydrate.

 - {NOW} - 

Elle: How do you track your progress?

Nkeiruka: I'm not really strict about tracking my progress. It's more about feeling good inside and whether I can fit into my clothing. I have a Nike+ FuelBand, which tracks my everyday movements and converts it into fuel (energy) as well as calories and steps. I use the Nike+ Running app to log my activity, so I can compare my pace and mileage each month. In addition to keeping record of PB's.

Elle: Have your goals changed since you started your journey?

Nkeiruka: Now that my focus is primarily running, my goals have shifted slightly to entering races, achieving new PB's, taking on new challenges and running regularly each week. I can't really say this always happens, but I try my best. 

Elle: How do you keep yourself motivated?

Nkeiruka: This is a difficult one for me because I have months where I'm very motivated and others where I don't feel like exercising. What usually helps is if I have a race I'm training for, or doing a running challenge with friends as it pushes me to go out and run when I lack the enthusiasm.

Elle: If you could go back and give advice to the "before" you...or any other person contemplating changing their lifestyle...what would you say?!

Nkeiruka: My advice to anyone considering starting a fitness programme is to find an activity that you love; that way you're more likely to stick it out. Also, surrounding yourself with like-minded people and training towards a goal helps keep you motivated, pushes you to do more and stay on track.

...so what d'ya think?! 

If you'd like to leave Nkeiruka a comment below please do!

If you would like to share your own story please get in touch with me: {Contact Elle}

Until then, keep living that simpElle life ;) 

Elle :) 


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