My first proper race report!

So here goes my first ever race report!

(Apparently the biggest transition in the world, 3800+ competitors, what a sight!)

After getting the first race of the season under the belt at Chirk, I felt ready and raring to go for this that’s for sure!!

So I have done one 70.3 prior to Majorca but this was certainly under different circumstances, firstly I wasn’t doing triathlon to the same standard as I am now and secondly the objection for entering Staffordshire 70.3 was to raise money for charity as I lost a friend to a brain tumour. In all honesty Staffordshire was just about getting around in one piece I had a time of around 6 1/2 hours in mind and to enjoy the race. I had no awareness of nutrition or hydration, no race plan or training plan leading into it but did what I thought I was meant to do and having read things online put my own plan together that way. Anyway the point being It was a very emotional day and 32° heat didn’t help!

So back to Majorca I classed this as my first competitive 70.3 and now with a coach on board and a structured training plan and input into the hydration and nutrition while on the course I definitely felt better prepared and up for this race. I naïvely said to my coach that I wanted to achieve a time of 5-5.15 hours but in all honesty and deep down I never in my wildest dreams thought I would ever achieve this but it gave me something to aim for. I also had the huge advantage of being able to do it with my like minded, amazing boyfriend Ian. Ian has done many Ironman events previously so was really looking forward to competing in this one as well. Being able to train, support, advise, help and watch out for each other while preparing for this event has been incredible. We really push each other along, especially on the days when we aren’t quite feeling it, it’s great to share the highs and the lows with him.

The lead up to Majorca went really well I was pleased with my training unfortunately have a shoulder injury which kept me from swimming for about three weeks prior to heading out but we thought and hoped that the rest would help and make good just in time for the race and this seemed to be the case.

For anyone that hasn’t done a 70.3 Ironman event before but would like to, I could highly recommend Majorca. The buzz and atmosphere around the athletes village and town in the days prior and post race was just incredible and for me summed up everything about the triathlon community. Friendly, similar minded, inclusive, helpful, fun and generally amazing bunch of people all in one place.

So anyway let’s cut to pre race day, we had managed to put the bikes together and take them out for a spin prior to racking just to make sure that we put them together properly and so that they wouldn’t fall apart while out on the bike course. This went really well the roads in Majorca are so smooth and absolutely fantastic in comparison to the UK, it was hard not to get carried away so this set me up with a great mindset going into race day. Going in to rack my bike the day before the race was also an experience I will never forget. This race saw over 3800 age-group competitors start, That makes for one huge transition area and it really was something to say. You definitely had to take pictures and visualise and remember where your bike was let’s put it that way.

So race morning there was the usual butterflies in the stomach and lots of toilet runs ha ha. I like to try and stay away from the hustle and bustle of the other competitors but still be close enough to take in the atmosphere and the energy of it all this is because I tend to get myself psyched out by other competitors so by staying away from them I find this helps just to keep me focused. I made a big decision at registration to go with the under five hour completion swim wave. This may have been a bit silly at the time but now on reflection I completely did the right thing and wish I’d started closer to the beginning of the race rather than hold back and go with the slower of the wave. The swim felt fantastic the water was warm and lovely and clear and I felt strong and thrived on the fact that I was passing quite a lot of people. It was very easy to sight for this race as there was a lot of buoys and I just stayed by the side of the other competitors which made it very easy. When we hit the beach I lapped my watch and By my surprise I clocked a 29 minute swim which was fantastic considering I haven’t swam for around three weeks prior to heading out to Majorca due to a shoulder injury. So out of the water I ran whooping as I crossed the beach, soaked up the atmosphere and support from the crowd and headed to the humongous transition area. I managed to calmly put on my bike kit and pack my wetsuit and ran to find my bike. Now as previously mentioned this was one of the biggest transitions in the world and even with my photo preparation and walk through I still managed to lose my bike typical ha ha. Once I found my bike I was off to cross the mount line and head off on the bike course. I very quickly found my rhythm and found I was overtaking a lot of competitors which pushed me on even more. The one thing I did find hard was having to hold back to make sure I had enough left in the tank for the rest of the race which is the complete opposite to what I’m used to doing in the Sprint distance triathlons I’m used to doing! The smooth Majorcan roads made the bike leg an absolute pleasure to cycle on and even the lump that is Lluc was a pleasure to ride over. I even managed to take in the incredible views, It was absolutely stunning. One of the things that I’d wanted to do during the race was make sure I enjoyed it and not be purely focused on racing, with this in mind I was chatting and having a laugh with people while on the bike not really thinking how it would or could influence The overall results and outcome of the race. While we were pushing hard up the hill I got called back by a competitor who ended up being my coach we had a good chat and then he told me to push on and not wanting to be a rebel I followed his orders and off I went. One thing I would say about the bike leg was it was meant to be draft illegal but this would have been incredibly hard to achieve due to the pure volume of people on the course and at times I found there was big groups of cyclists together and I had to work really hard to try and pull away from these groups. I had planned to take on gels which were provided on the course but unfortunately by the time I had taken a bottle of fluids and secured it in my bottle holder I had passed the gel stations so completed the bike with just fluid and one energy bar. I felt strong coming off the bike and had the bonus of being able to feel my feet which makes a change as normally I suffer with numb feet which I can’t feel again until at least 2 miles into the run. I was a good girl and made sure I applied my suncream in T2 and emptied my rubbish into the bin as I didn’t want to be littering the course and that was it, I was off on the run section. I knew with the run that I need to pace it correctly As I have a habit of going off to quick, so I kept an eye on my watch at every kilometre. The first 3 km ended up being far too quick so try my best to slow the pace down but I still wanted to go with my legs, unfortunately the next couple of kilometres were slower but still not slow enough. The support on the course was phenomenal and definitely pushed to one in the heat. Two laps completed one more to go in and this is where I started to struggle those quicker kilometres and the heat started to catch up with me but I knew I had to push on and the realisation of a five hour 70.3 iroman was becoming more and more a reality and that definitely pushed me on. We were extremely lucky that we had our parents out in Majorca with us and also the fact that our villa was on the run course which made great viewing for them at several points which was greatly appreciated from our point of view, we needed all the support and encouragement we could get! I kept on breaking the last lap down into segments to try and divert from the pain and it seemed to work. I knew once I was on the beach I was into the final stretch and tried to push on but by this point I’d emptied the tank and just wanted to enjoy the race and not suffer. I saw the red carpet and felt quite emotional I wanted to soak up the last few seconds of this race so was giving high-fives to the crowd as I ran on that red carpet and under that finishing arch. I had done it, I had completed it, i raced it but also enjoyed it, I was given my medal and started to cry, unfortunately I get quite emotional at the end of my races ha ha. I had my photo taken and headed into the athletes tent. I’m never hungry after events but still filled up my tray with fruit, doughnuts, water and more importantly a free pint of beer. I wandered around and found somewhere to sit and soak in the atmosphere of the finishing athletes, what an incredible experience. Once I had settled and the enormity of what had happened had sunk in I became energised again and felt fantastic! I’m not quite sure this went down well with Ian when I saw him after he finished as he just wanted to be left to gather himself together, he had a fantastic race but unfortunately found the run hard with the heat and it had completely wiped him out. We stayed in the athletes village for a good hour or so to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy the free drinks. We had just been alcohol free for the last few months so we needed to enjoy this. At no point did I even think about what time I completed it in although I did know from my watch it was around five hours five minutes which I was completely gobsmacked about it was only when I went to find my parents that I found the live results being posted so I thought I would have a look to see how we had got on it was at this point I realised I had incredibly come fourth in my age group but frustratingly and annoyingly I missed out on 3rd by five seconds, five whole seconds! This is where I started to get frustrated with myself and started to beat myself up about areas in the race where if I just got on with it I could’ve very very easily made those five seconds up. I just couldn’t shake it, the competitive side of me just wouldn’t let it go and unfortunately this seemed to overshadow the initial excitement of having completed it in such a fantastic time. On reflection now I’ve dropped it but its still at the back of my mind that if I’m there to race I need to race, if I’m there to enjoy it enjoy it as races could be won or lost by potentially chatting to people or carefully disposing of rubbish rather than keep hold of it or loosing the place of your bike in transition. This has definitely lit a fire in my belly in terms of returning to Majorca to firstly beat that five hour mark and secondly to try and qualify in my age group for the Ironman 70.3 world Championships.

Anyway overall Majorca 70.3, my first competitive middle distance triathlon was absolutely fantastic I completely smashed my expectations of the race and what I could do and now I want to do better and improve so I will definitely be wanting to return next year and also complete more 70.3 distance events in the near future. Again for anyone that is thinking of entering one I highly recommend doing Majorca the weather was incredible, the roads were superb, the support and atmosphere on the course was electric, What’s not to like hopefully see you there next year!

The race season has started!!

The 2019 race season has now begun and what a crazy few weeks it has been!

(That was painful! The finishing line at Chirk tri)

Just to bring the blog up to speed, my coaching via Tri Fitness in Guernsey has been going amazing so far, I have really felt the benefit of having structure to my training. I used to just do what I felt I needed to do or wanted to do previously, whereas now I know exactly what I have to do for the whole week and its great. The coaches Paul and Russell are so fantastic as well, really supportive and encouraging, it really has been such an eye opener. My bike and run have been improving during training which I am obviously super pleased with but I unfortunately picked up an injury with my shoulder which has meant I have not been swimming for about 4 weeks really. I have done the odd splash around to see if there was any progress but this has been met with differing results. Some days I could get in and do maybe 1000 metres and once I could only managed 200 metres and had to get out. I went into the first race of the season hoping that it would be ok for the 400 m swim and luckily I think the adrenaline kicked in and it was fine, although ached the following day. It was also the same going into Ironman 70.3 it had improved but not back to 100% by any means.

So the training and coaching has been going well, the sponsorship with Bikmo has also been going fantastic. They are such a supportive group of people and really are superb at what they do as they are all so passionate about everything bike!

Work wise I have been getting my head down and working hard. The strength and conditioning classes have been so much fun and the response we have had about them has been really encouraging. We have also had requests for another class in another location on another night so we are currently looking into venues which is exciting. I have been continuing with my agency shifts and also some bank work within the local NHS hospital which has been great for keeping my radiography skills up to date and importantly keeping the bills paid!

So my first race of the season was a local sprint triathlon in Chirk, North Wales. I had heard about this event via club members and was told what a great little race it was but it had a challenging run section. As we had a weekend free in the run up to the race e thought we would go and test out the bikes and do a rece of the course. The roads we awful, full of potholes and rubble which didn’t make for a nice ride! we decided to extend the route for another hour or so, so ended up going over the Horseshoe pass. This has a gentle incline and obviously some descents. I am not sure what happened this day as I just wasn’t feeling it at all. I couldn’t keep up with Ian who obviously was jet propelled, or it certainly looked that way! I just wasn’t about to put out the power I wanted, this put me in a mood and I just couldn’t shake it off! We had reached the top of the incline and started to descend down the hill, this is when I realised there was a problem, one of my breaks had failed so I was hurtling down this huge hill with only one break which didn’t improve my mood, ha ha. anyway I managed to complete the ride safely, thank goodness and decided not to run off the bike as planned so we drove it. Now the run route was challenging in the van nevermind on foot! this was going to make for an interesting race!

in the runup to race day the organisers had to cut the bike route short due to roadworks. I wasn’t to happy about this as the bike is one of my strongest parts of a triathlon, so I knew I had to really dig deep and push as hard as I could. What I also didn’t realise going into the event was that there was prize money at stake! Now this might have been optimistic of me but I hoped to do ok at this race, my plan was to use it to get rid of any first race of the season nerves and take it easy. With this new information about prize money I couldn’t take it easy! Triathlon is an expensive sport and every little bit helps!

Anyway I did my usual pre race, stay away from others and the hustle and bustle, keep focused and think about what I had to do. I queued up to start and before I knew it we were off! It was a pool swim and I was very fortunate to end up with the lane to myself for most of the swim which was great, the shoulder held out as well which was a bonus! Transition felt quick and then I was off to dodge pot holes. The bike was short and fast with a little incline on the way back into transition. My T2 transition was awful, I couldn’t get my feet out of one if the shoes in time, as I was to busy avoiding potholes and speed humps, so ended up with one shoe on and one off, hobbling into transition. Run shoes on and it was off up the first hill, ouch!! It was tough after just coming off the bike, but it was done and I had the downhill to enjoy on the way back, so I thought! Up until the halfway point it was actually mainly downhill, which allowed me to get my rhythm and breath back. A few more undulations and I had turned the halfway marker, now just to get back up those hills and get to the finish! Oh boy did I underestimate the hill on the return leg, it was awful and the closet I have been to walking in a race. I knew I had to keep pushing on as there were some very fast runners who would undoubtedly be super speedy on this course, so I just gritted my teeth and pushed on. Up over the top and then the rest was downhill to the finish and it felt great to complete my first race of the season. I was extremely pleased to come 2nd female overall, in what was a tough competition. The bonus of £120 prize money was absolutely fantastic especially as it was my mother birthday on the same day so I spent the money on celebrating with yummy food and drinks, so win win all round I think!

So first race done and dusted next up was Ironman 70.3 in Mallorca!! Bring it on.

My fitness career journey so far!

So at the beginning of the new year I started my journey into a new career in sport. Personal training, corrective exercise coaching, holistic lifestyle coaching and strength and conditioning really. I was very lucky to have a boyfriend that was already in this industry  so could steer me in the right direction from the start and avoid making the same mistakes he did. I didn’t think it was going to be a success overnight and I knew it would be hard work. What I didn’t consider was how my personality would cope with this. The fact of people being interested and signing up for more information or for a free consultation with me and then not getting back in touch or just ignoring my calls/texts, or just being rude on the phone etc. That frustration as well that you know you can help the people that are coming to see you, you could completely transform their lives but unfortunately they just can’t afford what you are offering, those things are what I didn’t account for and I have found it really tough, in some low points it has made me burst out in tears, questioning if I have done the right thing, have I made the right decision to try a different path, worrying then about not paying bills etc. I honestly owe so much to my boyfriend, he has been so patient with me and keeps telling me that I am doing amazing, keeps building me up and I find it hard not to believe him. One thing I do know is that I am so happy when I am with my clients, planning my sessions, participating in sport, I can’t go back to the person I was back when I was just a radiographer. I am determined and I want this to be a success so badly, not just for myself but for Ian (my boyfriend). He is doing so well at the moment and I have been doing a lot of his admin and work behind the scenes really. We have been posting exercise videos and the feedback has been so positive so just building on this now is my focus as I feel the more I get myself out there and be seen the more will realise who we are and what we do etc. I am starting a strength and conditioning class near to where I live this week and I am super nervous but again I realise that unless I am pushing myself out of my comfort zone nothing is going to change, so please keep everything crossed for me!!!

in other news I have been taken on by a triathlon coaching company in Guernsey. Tri fitness have sponsored me for the year and have been producing my training plans for me with the focus at the moment being Ironman 70.3 in Majorca in May. I am putting it out there that I would love to qualify for the world championships so that’s the aim really. The team have been fantastic so far and really supportive so can highly recommend them. It’s the online training that they are wanting to expand on so it’s teally interesting to see how this works really but so far so good.

My other fantastic news is that I have been asked to be a brand ambassador for a bike insurance company called Bikmo. Again this is the most incredible news and I am totally blown away to be asked. This company are absolutely fantastic, I’m sure they won’t mind me saying that they are all huge cycling geeks, but that’s what I love about it. The passion for what they do shines through on their website and with there customer service. If you need any bike insurance and you are based in the UK you can use a discount code of claire5 or clairebrown5 for 5% discount. The insurance covers your bike and all your kit as well, which is amazing as it’s not cheap to say the least!

The only other news, and it’s quite huge really for me is that I have made the decision to race back under my maiden name this year. It’s very likely that I will be starting the process of divorce at some point this year and I would love nothing more than my parents watching me racing under ‘Williams’ I am super excited about it and I really can’t wait to see my name on that GB kit with my sponsors logos. Lots to look forward to this year and I can’t flipping wait.

 

I hope you are all doing good x

New year, new me!

Happy new year everyone, I hope you had a great festive season with your loved ones.

So after an amazing christmas and new year I had the prospect of starting my new life in self employment. I must admit I was feeling pretty nervous about whether I had made the right decision or not, I was told by my old boss that he thought I was having a midlife crisis. I mean who knows maybe that is what it is?! As previously mentioned I feel very privileged to be a radiographer and at the moment that profession is in demand. So although I am nervous about self employment and what it holds for me I know I am a hard worker and I can always fall back on my radiography career and I know the minimum amount of weekend agency shifts I need to do to enable me to pay the bills and maintain the lifestyle I currently have, so what can go wrong right ha ha.

So week one of my mid life crisis has gone amazingly really. I sold my car and bought a campervan, my new bike has arrived and is truly stunning, I am so pleased with it and in terms of personal training clients I have been advertising and getting lots of interest which is fantastic. I have one client signed up with myself and 3 friends who I have been using to practice on who are continuing with the programs I have designed for them and already reaping the benefits.

As for my triathlon training I am currently on week 1 of 4 of a trial with a new tri coach. So far I have loved having the structure to my training program rather than the random, ‘what do I feel like today’ training I have done previously. It certainly has given me a new drive and focus, which I definitely needed after the xmas and new year over indulgence and lack of exercise. If things continue in the same direction I will definitely be signing up with him on a more long term basis, so watch this space.

Mentally this is the best I have felt for a long time as well, I think the time away at new year in Edinburgh and also not having the negative thoughts running through my head about my old job also helps. I am focused and have a new drive about me so I dont have the time for the negative thoughts at the moment, it is such a relief!

So my first week was fantastic, so far so good and no regrets at all!

In other parts of my life I found out on facebook (of all things) that my ex now has a new girlfriend. When I found out it did hurt a little, not because he has found someone else, but because all the way through our break up I had tried to be respectful by not posting things on social media and also the fact that I would tell him and make him aware of everything before finding out things via other methods or people. I thought that being with someone for as long as we had, I owed him that at the very least, whether he wanted to listen to what I was telling him or not. So yes I have found out via facebook! All that aside I am pleased he has found someone, I want him to be happy at the end of the day and I wish them all the best of luck.

Going into week 2 of self employment and I am excited to see what the week brings. I have another great week of training planned for me by my coach, I have my paying clients and free taster session clients booked in and I am really looking forward to some down time with my wonderful boyfriend 😊

 

New beginnings

I’m very conscious of the fact that so far my posts have just been a bit of background behind where I am today. This is not one of those posts!

Since last posting I have had a rough and rocky few weeks, this is due to sort of reaching a crossroad in my life and having to make a decision about which route to take. I’ve talked about wanting to make a go at a career in sport and now I have my qualification I thought it’s about time I put it to good use.

I have been trying to balance a full time 9-5 job, triathlon training and extra weekend radiography shifts with a few clients and it just wasn’t working well for me. The reality is that something has to give and it’s been a tough, long thought out decision but my 9-5 is the part that needs to change. As a radiographer I am very privileged to be in a profession that will always be in demand, especially as I have a wide range of scanning experience in both CT and MRI. I am proposing to use this to my advantage and sign up with agencies and then effectively pick and choose when I want to work. This means I have more time to focus on building my client numbers up and hopefully then less radiography shifts.

I’m petrified of what the future holds for me but it’s time to step out my comfort zone and follow my heart. I have to give this a chance and I know whatever happens I will give it 100%, what more can I ask of myself! Equally I’m so excited to be starting this new path, doing something I love and feel passionately about. I just hope people can relate to my story, see where I have come from and where I have got too, I just want to inspire people to do the same and I want to help them every step of the way.

I am very aware though that I now need to lead by example, I am a walking living advertisement for myself and my programs. I am actually looking forward to using this as my own goal and dream, be the person I want to be, be the best version of myself.

So that’s it, I handed my notice in last friday and it actually felt a huge relief doing it. The process had taken up so much of my thoughts, so much of my mindspace. Once again I felt petrified but stupidly excited. I am going to make this work, I have to!

Just to go off on a tangent but other exciting news is that I treated myself to a new triathlon bike. My current bike is fantastic but when I got a bike fit I was a little bigger and also i was just getting into triathlons so my bike setup was very relaxed and in fact not aero at all. When we have tried to change this setup it turns out the bike is too big for me so there is no where to go in terms of changing or tweaking anything, which means a new triathlon bike was needed, oh what a shame ha ha. I had set a budget and started trawling through the internet but nothing really caught my eye except for some ridiculously expensive bikes. That was it i had to up my budget. I then came across the Trek website where you could customise your bike, beautiful colours and change the wheel set etc and that was it i found THE bike. A stunning purple sparkly, glittery gorgeous bike, i had to have it, but unfortunately this means the budget has had to doubled, ekkkkkk, not exactly what i need right now bearing in mind my new job status. I have been working extra weekend shifts to help pay for it and hey i am worth it. I hope this bike takes me up another level, i have huge expectation of next season. So now i have to wait, fingers crossed it gets here soon. Merry christmas to me. I will definitely post some pictures once she arrives or you can check out my instagram profile as there are some pictures on there already @plasticscouse

A little bit about me – what’s next?

My dream at the moment is to build a business around sport and exercise coaching, posture correction and holistic lifestyle coaching. I would love to set up a new mum’s fitness group as well, focusing on buggy fit, weight loss and general social aspects and support.

My triathlon ambition is to podium at a major championships, I definitely have the determination to do it but a lot relies on luck on the day as well as you do not know who is going to turn up. Previous world championship races I have competed in have seen ex elites and Olympic medal winners in our age group so we have never really stood any chance. We are competing in Majorca Ironman 70.3 in May and my goal is to try my best to get around in 5 hours which is going to be tough but with the form I had this season I think it is achievable and why not set my sights high.

As for the blog I had hoped it might be a great place to share my experiences on a weekly or monthly basis, posting updates such as what training I have been doing, adventures we have had, my journey through the upcoming triathlon seasons as well as posting about my journey hopefully from veterinary radiographer to business owner and sport and exercise coach. I would also like to share my experiences with regards to my mental health which I still struggle with every now and again, I hope that sharing things will help not only myself but more importantly help others, especially to understand that they are not on their own and there is help out there.

I am sure whatever happens there will be many up’s and downs along the way and I can not wait to share these experiences with you.

A little bit about me – Triathlon


As a child I swam at my local swimming club but I quit when I went to university. Let’s say I enjoyed my university years and the weight unfortunately piled on and to be honest a was a big girl in the first place!
I was so determined to get fit again and loose weight for my wedding I started running after work and at weekends. With this new found passion for sport I was dragged along to the local triathlon club by my friend to try out one of their swimming sessions, which I loved! I signed up to the club straight away but felt as though I was nowhere near fit enough to take part in a triathlon so I continued to attend the training sessions and volunteered at the club events. After seeing how supportive and inclusive the triathlon community was I decided to bite the bullet and enter my first triathlon at Nantwich in 2013 (picture below)
Claire Brown
That was it I was hooked, I bought a road bike, a wetsuit and started looking for events to enter the following year. Where things started to take off for me was when my training buddy mentioned that if I had registered my intent to qualify for the Great Britain age group team I would have potentially got a place. I obviously didn’t believe him but thought I would give it a try. I very surprisingly managed to qualify for both the standard and sprint distances at the 2017 World Triathlon Championship in Rotterdam but as the races were on the same day I decided to go for the sprint distance. Unfortunately I pulled my calf before heading out there which I was completely gutted about but thought I would just pull up my big girl pants, tape myself up, take it easy and enjoy the experience fully without the pressure. Well what an experience it was. It was such a honour to wear the GB kit and having people shout and cheer for you all the way around the course was just something that I can’t explain, but what I do know is that it’s made me hungry for more!
I somehow managed to finish 10th at those championships and that was carrying the injury I had. The result at these championships made me even more determined to do it again but hopefully injury free.
I have been extremely lucky to have represented Great Britain this year at both the World Championships in Australia and the European Championships in Glasgow. I am so incredibly proud of the results I got at these events but I still feel as though I have so much more to give and so much further to go with it. My ultimate dream with regards to triathlon is to podium at a championship event. The closest I got was 5th at Glasgow and unfortunately that was also coming off the back of an injury so I hadn’t been running in the run up to the event.
I still to this point haven’t been coached which people sometimes find hard to believe. I am very lucky to have access to fantastic tri club training sessions which I have utilised to my advantage so far. The boyfriend began to coach and advise me on some of the sessions I should be including when we were preparing for Australia which was welcomed and it made me realise that I have taken myself to this point but to get any further I need the help and advice from a professional so I have made enquiries and I have got a coach lined up for the new year.
It’s currently off season at the moment so the training is definitely more relaxed and not as intense but i am already looking forward to ramping it up and to what next years season will bring. So far the target is Ironman 70.3 in Majorca in May and the World Championships in Switzerland in September. I have decided not to participate in the European championships as they are in Russia so it would make traveling quite difficult and it also means taking more time off work.
Triathlon is truly my love and passion, its a community of like minded, supportive and encouraging amazing people and I really can’t get enough of it. It does rule my life, I eat, sleep and breath it. My life revolves around it really, everyday I plan the follow days training, my weekends around long runs or rides or on breaks away I take my kit with me to do sightseeing runs or new swims, I just love it. It’s not a bad thing to be obsessed with really, keeping fit and being out in nature and the fresh air. I am sure in everyone’s life there is something which is their obsession, their love, Triathlon is definitely mine!

A little bit about me – My weight

I have no doubt that a huge amount of people, especially females are always thinking of their weight. It is something that unfortunately occupies a huge amount of my thoughts throughout the day. I have always been a bit chunky, I blame swimming at an early age for that, as I always had the bigger broader shoulders than the other girls. It is also a comfort thing for me, if I am upset or that time of the month I always reach for the chocolate, I can not help that. When my triathlon training is ramped up these cravings do become worse as well as I am always hungry. I have always tried to diet and failed but when I was planning my wedding I was determined that I wasn’t going to look back on my pictures and cringe and that was such a great motivator for me, so I joined a popular slimming club and lost 3 stone in weight and I loved my pictures and how i looked on the day. The weight gradually creeped back on though, not to the same extent to where I started at but I put on around 1.5-2 stone again, with this came the unhappiness and self sabotage again, I had lost my goal, my dream which I had previously. I needed a new target to aim for and this is where the triathlons came in. I signed up for a half ironman so I was putting in the training and the weight came off again, slowly. It was only after chatting to one of my friends after this event that the big changes happened really, she had lost a lot of weight by just cutting breads, pasta, rice out of her diet, limiting fruit and sugar and just continuing with her workouts that she had done previously. She looked incredible so I thought I would give it a go, what did I have to loose! Well the weight fell off me, to the point where I actually thought it had gone too far at one point and my work colleagues were concerned for me. It didn’t help that at this point I had just split from my husband so was using the gym as a distraction.

I have been able to maintain a more healthy balance with regards to gym and food etc more recently especially during the triathlon season. Now it’s off season though and I have gained a little bit of weight but that is meant to happen, I can’t maintain the diet and training during winter like I do in the summer and during the season. It’s hard not to feel down about the weight gain though especially when the new jeans are feeling a little tighter but I need to remember that this is allowed to happen and so long as I continue to eat healthy, exercise and maintain a base level of fitness I will soon loose the weight again when things are ramped up, or at least I hope so!

One of the biggest problems I have is that when I look into the mirror I still see the big girl, the person I used to be and no matter what people say to me I still feel like a big whale! As much as I completely love my parents to death I sometimes feel they don’t realise what they say to me actually really hurts me, to the point where I have come away from meals and spending time with them and started crying my eyes out because they have made comments like how I ‘look like a lump’, that I have ‘tree trunk legs’, that I am a ‘big girl’. In fact as I am writing this the realisation of what they say and how I feel about my body probably does come from them as I do think I have tree trunk legs and that I am a big girl. They would be devastated if they knew this and maybe I am too sensitive and shouldn’t really listen to them but equally these are the people I love the most and turn to, to build me up. My boyfriend is so amazing though and he tells me all the time how he thinks I am beautiful and have a great figure but it will be a long time before I ever feel that this is true. I do think he gets frustrated with me because of this and he wishes I saw myself the way he and others do but again I can’t help but see the big girl looking back at me in the mirror. I know though that I am not as bad as I used to be, we were recently in Australia for the World age group Triathlon Championships and the athletes were asked if they wanted to be part of an interview for the BBC while out there. I didn’t think I had anything to loose so I thought I would volunteer for it, not quite knowing what exactly the interview would be about. Anyway it turned out that it was about the triathlon community, how it’s open to all shapes and sizes and that there isn’t a typical shape or age of person that competes in triathlon and about body confidence. I thought it was perfect, we were given the questions beforehand and I went about writing out my answers as I get really nervous talking to groups of people. I felt so passionately about it, this is what I love so much about triathlon, it is so incredibly inclusive of all types of people, it really is a community that is supportive and open and friendly. I talked about how in the first triathlons I competed in I wore a t-shirt over the tri suit so that people didn’t have to see my body and I could keep myself covered up but after volunteering for a few events and being more involved with the local tri club it was very apparent that no one cares, people see you for what you are doing, the achievement of completing the event and pushing your body to it’s limits, that is all that matters. The interview was fantastic and I felt very emotional watching the final product that they released. I just hope it does inspire people to take up the sport even if just one person who watched it thought, you know what if she can do it then I can, then I have achieved something pretty special, what an amazing thing it would be.

A little bit about me – Mental health

I have never been officially diagnosed with depression and anxiety but I feel it is something that I do suffer with. I used to have some really bad times with depression and have tried to get help from the GP, i.e ringing and trying to book an appointment but they didn’t have any available appointments for another 3 days at which point I thought sod it, I will probably be fine tomorrow, so I have left it. The worst episodes that I experienced were while I was living in Birmingham and then when I worked in Manchester.

When I was living in Birmingham is when I really first noticed it, I would come home from work and just cry all night for no apparent reason, I could spend whole weekends in this state. Things did start to improve when I started running to try and loose weight for my wedding and moved back home to the North West.

When it started to effect me again was when I started working in Manchester. I was working 12-14 hour days and driving another 2.5 hours on top of that, I was exhausted, my work/life balance just wasn’t right and I was taking herbal calming tablets like they were sweets. After a year and a half I left, not because of the place of work, the job or the people, it was purely because of the work/life balance and my high anxiety levels.

Nowadays I still have my real down days but I have found it can sometimes be because I haven’t done any training, when I am due my period or when I am overly tired. I find it so hard to snap out of it and sometimes get angry with myself because I can’t, which then makes me angry and puts me back on the vicious cycle again!

My boyfriend has been extremely understanding and is really supportive, I really do not know how he copes with me really, but I am so glad he does.

The triathlon is a huge help for me in controlling the depression, it keeps my mind active and focused, it generally involves being outdoors in the fresh air which I love and I also love being around the people that have the same common interests as me, people that are supportive and encouraging, it really is such a great therapy for me.

Mental health is such a dangerous thing, acknowledging the fact you suffer with it is sometimes the biggest step to getting help. What I do know is that I am not alone and there are people and organisations out there to help me conquer and suppress it.

Please seek help, tell your best friend, tell your loved ones, I promise they will understand and I promise you will feel so much better for not bottling it up, you will be supported and things will get better. You are not alone.

A little bit about me – Work.

So a little bit about me and my job.

I am currently a Diagnostic Radiographer at a veterinary hospital on the Wirral.

I have been qualified as a radiographer since 2001 and have worked in NHS hospitals in Birmingham and also in private healthcare static sites and mobile vans around the North of England. I enjoy my job but deep down I always feel like there is something else that I should be doing. I am still trying to figure out what it is that I really want to do and with recent changes in my relationship I have now started to think about a going along the lines of sport as it is one of my passions.

Even though I feel this way about my chosen career I still feel very privileged to do this role as I get to meet some amazing and very interesting people. I can help that person and put them at ease while they are undergoing the diagnostic tests for there aliments. I think in the future, whatever happens work wise, I will always like to continue with my radiography role as 1. I have worked hard at my career and to get the experience that I have and 2. Its really well paid and I have bills to pay ha ha.

Radiography when I was in Birmingham was fast paced and felt chaotic at times. It was a major trauma and military hosptial so some of the cases we saw really will stay with me for the rest of my life. One thing I regret is not seeking help to deal with these patients, especially the military patients. There was never any debrief or chance to talk about the cases with the other multidisispliary teams involved, luckily though we had a very tight group of staff that supported one another, we had too! It was while I was here where I first noticed the signs of depression although I didn’t acknowledge the fact I was suffering with it nor did I seek help.

The friends that I made in Birmingham and lived with are my closest friends and always will be. Even though I do not live in birmingham anymore we are all still so close, it feels like I have never been away anytime we meet up.

From Birmingham I went to work in private healthcare on mobile scanning vans around the Midlands and the North of England. I loved this job, I loved the people I worked with, the sites we visited, I even enjoyed the travelling. I would still be in that job today I think if it wasn’t for the company selling the mobile fleet to another company. I felt that this was my time maybe to try something new so I went to work in Manchester doing cardiac CT and MRI scanning. Once again I absolutely loved this job, it was extremely interesting, such a huge learning curve and the team there were incredible. We worked so hard though and it was a tough environment but that brought us all closer and in the days where we were a little more quieter I always tried to ease the atmosphere and try and bring the team even closer together and I think it worked, god we had a right laugh and it was really needed sometimes to boost moral. My anxiety levels were through the roof there though, not helped by the 12-14 hour days and then 2+ hours of travelling per day on top of that and the work life balance just didn’t work out. I was becoming increasingly grumpy and moody and I didn’t like the person I was turning into at home so I made the tough decision to leave.

My next stop was to a lovely MRI unit in a private hospital in Cheshire. Once again I loved the site, the people, the work and more importantly the short commute! In hindsight I wish I never left there really, one of those, ‘you don’t know what you have got until it’s gone’ jobs. I do believe though that things happen for a reason and what’s meant to be will be and my next job move felt as though it was meant to be.

I have always had a love for animals so when a job came up at the local animal hospital for a veterinary radiographer I jumped at the chance. Very luckily I got the job, my dream job. I love the ethics of the hospital, the passion and dedication of the staff to their patients. It’s truly incredible what is available to the patients at the hospital, the access they have to so many multidisciplinary teams and how they all work quickly and efficiently to the same goal and patients best interests.

Although this is my dream job I still unfortunately have the same niggle at the back of my mind that there is something else out there that I should be doing and I am currently hoping that sport could be the answer. It makes me light up, I could talk sport all day long. I love spending time with people in the Triathlon community, they inspire me and push me to be the best version of myself and I love that.

I am extremely lucky that my boyfriend is a exercise, health and lifestyle coach who also does sport massages. This means he has already been there and done that in terms of sport education etc so he can advise me of what are the areas I should be focusing my own education on and courses that would be of asset to me or not. I have been steered in the right direction by him and I am greatly appreciative of that. So far I have completed a sports exercise coach certification and I am currently studying a health and lifestyle coaching course. I want to explore and learn more about post natal fitness, exercise and wellbeing so I have found a course to do next which will cover these aspects which I am super excited about. I would love to run a new mums group including buggy runs, group exercise and social groups so hopefully watch this space!

The next big goal for us would be to have our own studio. We love the idea of a gym and studio space with consultation rooms which we can use for all sorts of exercise and sports for instance dancing, yoga, tai chi, strength and conditioning classes, turbo sessions etc. We want to create an environment which people can relax in and which promotes a healthy lifestyle and wellbeing. We are probably aiming too high at the moment but I feel I would really thrive with it, I guess I have some big decisions to make!

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