Thursday, 26 May 2011

Float like a butterfly, stung by a bee.

Just a short post this time, to update you on the training situation mainly.

This week, whilst training, I cycled in to a bee and it got stuck inside my t-shirt. Whilst it was stinging me on the collar bone, did I panic? Did I stop cycling and flap about like a big girl's blouse? No. I kept on going. (Well, OK, so I panicked a small amount. What do you expect? I am only human!) I was timing myself and was not going to let anything stop me. Even an angry bee trapped inside my t-shirt did not put me off. I just cycled on and tried to flick it out of my t-shirt in a rather ungainly fashion.

In just getting back from the hairdressers I have given myself even more of a scare. I realised that I had asked him for a haircut very specifically. I did it without even thinking. The words just came tumbling out of my mouth before I could think. "It needs to be short enough to go in to a swimming cap, but long enough to be pinned back for running." What on earth am I saying?! Normally no such things even enter my mind. Am I deranged or just triathlon obsessed?

The answer is simple. I am taking this triathlon far too seriously and it has to stop!

I am cycling through the pain. I am doing interval training in the gym. I am worrying if I have not done enough training and if I do not hurt the morning after a training session, I feel like I have failed. Surely this is some kind of triathlon monster, not the real me. I even considered stopping drinking, but before that madness took control I gave myself a sharp talking to that seemed to work wonders.

Perhaps when this is all over I will be able to go back to being a normal person who goes to the gym three times a week and feels proud of that. Perhaps I will look outside and think 'Oooh, that rain will be good for the garden' rather than 'Hmmmm, is it too rainy to go for a bike ride'. Perhaps I won't spend a few minutes of each day thinking about what a difference the money we have raised will make. But I hope not. I hope that these trials and tribulations will have changed me a little, but changed me permanently, and reminded me of the big difference that these small changes can make to everyday lives.

Breakthrough Breast Cancer

Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research


Sunday, 22 May 2011

Running between lamposts.

Well, I've done it! I have done a run through of the triathlon distance and... survived! I rewarded myself with 3 bottles of cider and a cooked breakfast (nothing fried though, I've not let myself go that much!). I am on cloud nine and there are several reasons for this.

First of all, the run was the fastest I have ever done it AND I had done the swim and the bike beforehand. It felt like such an achievement. I finally feel like I am getting somewhere and was running round town with a stupid grin on my face. All I was thinking as I ran along was "I can do this. I can actually do this!". My legs are still like jelly after the bike, but I am informed that this will always be the case, and learning to cope with it is part of the training. I am so glad that I have friends and a boyfriend who have done this before and can tell me what to expect from my body. If I was totally alone on this I think I would have given up ages ago. As always, I am incredibly grateful to people for their help and support. Words of wisdom at this stage are worth their weight in gold.

Speaking of weight, that is another reason I am happy. I have been merrily doing all this training and losing no weight at all since March. This was really starting to annoy me. Although weight loss has not been on my list of goals, I had thought that it might be a perk of the training; I was very disappointed when it seemed not to be. Then, all of a sudden, another half stone has disappeared. Brilliant! Another reason to grin all over the place as I run and cycle and swim along!

An obvious reason to be happy is that, with two weeks to go until the 'real thing' my dress rehearsal triathlon has proved to me that I will be able to get round the course and not utterly collapse. This gives me 12 days as of today (not including race day itself) to get even fitter and to try harder. I need to try and take 7 minutes off my time if I am going to reach a mental goal I have set myself for time. I will give you no more clues than this, as there is a sweep stake going at work and I don't want to unfairly advantage those who take the time to read this rubbish... Although those who can be bothered to read this should have some sort of reward for their faithfulness I suppose. However, it is such a weight off my shoulders to know that I won't be letting anyone down.

I now have t-shirts from both of the charities I am supporting - and you are supporting too if you are sponsoring me! - and have to think of some ingenious way of showing support for each charity throughout the cycle and the run. I am thinking of fashioning some sort of Jekyll and Hyde style t-shirt from both of them.

The worst thing of the past two weeks has been the 'Pool Rage' I suffer from whenever those who ought not to be swimming in the medium lane insist and swimming backstroke, slowly, down the middle of the lane, and blocking up the 'flow' of traffic. It seems so selfish to me, and I find it hard to "tut" or "harumph" when I am attempting to front crawl, and so I must content myself with a mild moan on here instead. I hope, dear reader, you share my views and do not think I am some kind of lane snob!

I would mention that I have been  made to cycle in to work several mornings by my boyfriend. However, since my last blog, where I apparently made him sound like some kind of evil, monster boyfriend, I had better steer away from that. Rest assured he did not literally throw me in to the North Sea and it wasn't all that cold. We have cycled in to work in a head wind though ( and at a distance 1/3 further than I have to do in the triathlon itself), but as I have improved a massive amount since we began to do this, I must not complain about it too much.

Overall, I think I can now do this thing. I would really, really like to meet my fundraising targets. I must not lose sight of that goal in my excitement about the other.

And so, if you haven't already done so PLEASE SPONSOR ME! (Breakthrough Breast Cancer) (Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research)

Friday, 6 May 2011

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside!

The wetsuit has finally had its Christening, and it held up very well in the North Sea! My beloved has decided that I need to try the wetsuit and make sure that it moved well, had no holes, wasn't uncomfortable... you get the idea. The way he decided to do this was to take me to Scarborough, give me a body board, and let me loose on the waves. Needless to say that he was comfy and cosy in his winter wetsuit complete with gloves and a snazzy hood to keep his face and head protected from the cold, cold waters. On the other hand, there I was flapping about, being bundled by the waves in my 3mm thick, little, girly attempt at a wetsuit. I got out of the water after an hour.

The upside of this is that I now know the suit fits, I can swim in it (If I can get by in the North Sea in April, then the Palace lake in June will be no issue - fewer waves, mad seagulls, seaweed...) and I can cope with the inevitable splashing around that I will have to face in June. One thing ticked off the list. Front crawl will be a problem though as the wetsuit restrict my movement and I also cannot see where I'm going when I do front crawl, ending up travelling on a diagonal course. There must be a gadget to help me with this, surely?!

I have also gone more public with the fundraising efforts, trying to get those at work involved in the efforts. We plan a cake sale in a few weeks and in the meantime many generous people are offering me money. I hope they are doing this for the right reasons and not just because they want to pay me to be in pain. Time will tell!

On Tuesday I plan to cycle the 9 miles in to work - and, of course, back again - to see what it is like. Last night I did the cycle and then the run straight afterwards. I am still alive to type this, although I admit at one point on the run I stopped and said out loud "I can't be bothered with this.", realised I must sound like a mental, and jogged on in a sprightly fashion. Other than that, and the obvious pain associated with my wetsuit's christening, the training is going well and I remain confident that I shall make it round the course without looking like too much of a fool.

And another positive is how open people continue to be about the charities I am raising money for and their own experiences with Breast Cancer and Leukaemia. One lady said to me that she thinks people 'forget how important charity is, until they need it' and this really went home to me. I know that support for sufferers and their families is desperately needed, and I hope that what I am doing will go a little way to reminding people how important charity is.

Breakthrough Breast Cancer
Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

When the going gets tough...

Well, it is all getting rather serious here at Triathlon HQ! The weather has taken a turn for the better and this has made running and cycling a lot easier - and a great deal more appealing I have to admit. My new kit (which now includes a pink dayglo running jacket, a snazzy new cycling helmet and a Nike Sports band thing) has been broken in and I am starting to feel comfortable with the swim and the run. I will even admit to a few evenings rehearsing taking off the wetsuit quickly, although I maintain that transition will not be important for me and I still insist and getting dry before I get on to the bike! 

My times have been improving too. It might not take me a whole day to get around the course after all. When I began in November I thought I would be lucky to complete the course in less than 2 hours, but now I think 1 hour 40 is a realistic target. A great deal will depend upon the weather and upon future training of course. I hope that time will improve in the next 6 weeks. However, I also might injure myself and have to hobble round. It could be boiling hot on the day, the chain could come off my bike, I might crash on the bike... actually, I'm not going to think about that. It makes me feel slightly nauseous thinking of what could go wrong on the day. I shall concentrate on how well training is going first. I have stayed on the bike and it is in one piece. The front crawl is coming along nicely, though it is hardly graceful, and the running is still as enjoyable as ever. There. That's better.

What is really rewarding though is all of the help and encouragement that I have been receiving from all sorts of people. It seems that sport really can bring people together and give them something in common that age or experience might deny. At the pool, lifeguards and swimmers have been giving me tips and hints, suggesting exercises and techniques to try. When I stopped for a Magnum ice cream part way through my 20 mile bike ride the other day, the lady in the shop was full of praise for my efforts and determination. At work, at the gym, even at parties and get togethers, people have asked about my training, given me encouragement and shared their own stories and expertise. Nobody has laughed at someone like me (unfit, overweight and generally scathing about keeping fit) doing something like this. Everyone has had a story to tell or something to try. I gave an assembly at another school about it the other day, the theme of the week was the Olympic Values, and the teachers at the end of it came up to me to wish me luck, as did some of the pupils.

People need to talk, this seems to be true. However, people also want to encourage me and share their experience and expertise with me. When the going gets tough, I keep receiving encouragement at just the right time to keep going. Every time someone sponsors me, or tells me a story or gives me a tip for training, every time a stranger stops to take a moment to say something, it makes me want to keep going. I remember that I am doing this for a worthwhile cause, not just for myself. When I feel like giving up, and all the times that I stop mid-run and think to myself 'Why am I doing this?', hope renews itself and I remember that I am doing this for two charities who work hard to help those who suffer from terrible illnesses.


Friday, 4 March 2011

The pain and damage of beginning training!

I have previously mentioned the difficulties I faced actually getting going with training. It has not been entirely fun, as you may or may not remember. However, I now have to keep going with what I have started,and this is proving more difficult than I had thought it would.

My gym membership has begun to pay off. The swimming training - with thanks to my gorgeous new coach Eva - has me actually trying to front crawl. I'm not very good yet, but apparently I have a lovely stroke (no pun intended) and I am enjoying the swimming lots. The running is more difficult for me. I am not long or lean. I do not like running much, indeed I usually try to antagonise runners by asking (or shouting at them from a distance) what exactly they are running away from. But that is rather difficult when I myself am out of breath on the treadmill. Going outside is still beyond me. It is freezing. I am not insane.

Sounds good right? Well, I have had a few disasters too, never fear. The first was when I forgot my socks, but still went running. I have myself a ghastly blister along the side of my foot. I am beginning to think that looking good while I do this triathlon is simply not going to be possible.

The other thing I did was to go to circuit training with my uber-fit buddy Edwina. This meant an hour of running, jumping, skipping, lifting, scrunching, pressing up ... and down. In general, lots of things that fit people to do get themselves fitter. By the end I thought my heart was going to burst out of my chest. I also had several bruises from falling off one of those giant inflatable balls. These are ridiculous contraptions designed to torture and to maim unsuspecting would-be triathletes.

Another major shock to my confidence has been the discovery of various people who are also doing the Super Sprint Triathlon in Blenheim. All of whom ARE lean, ARE fit and ARE being competitive.  Will I have to re-consider my position? Am I still happy to do this just for fun and to get as much money for Breakthrough Breast Cancer and Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research as possible, or am I now going to get serious and think about timing and competition? Am I ready to lose to them and to never hear the end of it?

The answer is easy, but it is long:

A year ago my friend Rebecca lost her Mum after a long battle with Breast Cancer. It was heartbreaking for so many reasons – because we thought she was winning her fight, because she was formidable and funny and ferocious all at once, because our best friend was lost without her, because of the caring family she left behind. Mainly though, it was heartbreaking because we all know deep down that there is a cure out there, somewhere, for Breast Cancer. One day, girls will be able to have an injection and never have to go through what Sue went through, or what her family now goes through every day.

But this was not the first time that my friends and I had suffered a loss. When I was in the 6th form, another of my friends, Claire, lost her sister Laura to Leukaemia. It was such a shock. We had all been at school together months before, and then she had a bad back and a cold, it was suddenly Leukaemia, and then she was gone. Claire still lives with the loss of her sister, and we have all tried to get her through this as best we can. Nothing can fill the gap that a lost sibling leaves behind, and yet those who know Claire would think that she wanted for nothing. For a long time, Claire lost her sparkle and shine; for a long time we didn't know if she would ever be the same again. But she got through it because of her friends and because her family, and because Claire is Claire.

How is this an answer to my quandary? Well, let's put it this way. I can put up with losing a few minutes to those who want to compete. I can cope with this because I am not losing anything like my friends have lost. I am trying to get some money together so that, in the future, wonderful people like Rebecca and Claire will not have to suffer unbearable loss of their own. If that means I get my butt kicked - then so be it. The end certainly justifies the means in this case!

Please sponsor me.
Breakthrough Breast Cancer www.justgiving/Catherine-Yates
Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research www.justgiving/Catherine-Yates0

Monday, 7 February 2011

And so it begins

Well, I would never have thought that doing a triathlon would actually have cost me money!

Originally, I thought it would be the other way around: people would sponsor me and hearing about me making a fool of myself would inspire them to give generously of their hard earned cash.

However, thus far my spending has included:
  • 1 gym membership (more of that later)
  • 1 wetsuit
  • 1 pair of trainers
  • Various items of clothing
  • 1 fluorescent vest
  • A set of cat eye bike lights
  • A bike pump
  • Several water bottles in various sizes - one for running, two normal, and one to fit in my bottle holder on my bike (that I have already lost)
  • A hotel room for 2 nights near Blenheim
Not that I mind spending money. Shopping is something I do really rather well. Also, having already lost 1/2 a stone since Christmas, I will gladly say that this training mullarkey is not the selfless, difficult act I thought it would be. Don't think I begrudge this spending. On the contrary. I am feeling happier, more energetic, more positive and I have something interesting to say about myself. [Cue 'long suffering athlete voice'] "I've GOT to go running... I'm doing the Blenheim Triathlon this year."

The main expenditure that has caused me think though, has been the gym membership. Fortunately, my boyfriend's brother has recently found himself a job as a membership salesperson and trainer type at a local gym. One of the benefits of this is that I can benefit from a 'friends and family' rate. Therefore, I have unlimited swimming and exercise classes for the very reasonable sum of £10 a month. While I know this is very little, it is a lot more than the nothing I had thought it would cost me... ten times more I suppose, or even a thousand times? I'm not sure. Maths is not my strong suit.

Yesterday I went swimming. For free. Well, sort of for free. Swimming is included in my membership. Unless I do anything else at the gym this month that 1000m swim will actually have cost me £10. That's, what, £1 per 100m? Anyway, this swim made me ravenously hungry (but did show that I should be able to complete the 400m swim in less than 20 minutes without stopping by June). So, as I have 'nothing in', I had to go to the supermarket to get my dinner. More money. And as I was hungry I bought several things I didn't need.

Therefore, Sunday's swim has cost me £22.83 in total, unless I go again this month, when the relative cost will decrease. Although, as I say, Maths is not something about which I really know. 

If there is a point of today's inane babble it is simply this: I cannot continue to spend. I must get down to the act of asking people for money. This is something I hate doing. I really do. It makes me uncomfortable to talk about money most of the time.

I hope though this tells you that my training has begun in earnest. I am rushing this update somewhat as I have to get to the gym, and I am going to the driving range afterwards. Despite the cost, I am getting serious. I am determined to do this thing, and I hope that my spending proves to you my dedication to the cause!

It also tells you, that if you haven't sponsored me yet, despite these times of austerity, you are a bad person... Unless you are reading this for the first time. In which case hello! Please sponsor me. I am a nice lady.

Breakthrough Breast Cancer
Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Wetsuit Wonderland

The wetsuit has arrived and the training has begun!

It felt amazing getting in to the gym several times this week, finally using my new trainers, and running faster, lifting more and going longer than I had expected to be able to at this early stage. It seems I may actually get round the course in less than 2 hours at this rate!

This was not the only surprise. As I say, the wetsuit has arrived, and it shocked me to the core. When I got it out of the bag I thought they had sent me a kids' wetsuit by mistake. It looked so tiny I thought I might never get in to it. However, once my boyfriend had hooked me up with a top tip - you put a plastic bag over your foot to make the suit go on easier - I was in to the wetsuit and it didn't look too grotesque. Also, the lace pattern on the front adds a nicely feminine touch I reckon. It looks like a corset or bodice top, and had £100 off in the sale. Female practicality, perfectly balanced with aesthetics.

The issue came though when I had to get the blasted thing off again. The lovely wetsuit has a fantastic back panel and a very secure zip, which ensures that no water will flood down the back of the suit and chill me to the bone whilst I'm swimming in Blenheim Palace lake! So far, so good. Unless that is, you want to get out of your wetsuit in a hurry, which nobody does do they? Except people who do triathlons. They need to get out of wetsuits quickly and without help... Oh bugger!

As the boyfriend laughed at me, and referred to what was affectionately called a 'monkey dance' as I tried to get out of the thing, he also TIMED me. Bless him. At the moment, at least 3 minutes of the triathlon is going to be taken up by me monkey dancing around and trying to get out of the wetsuit.

So, now I have an added difficulty. I have to get fit, get fast, and get used to taking off a wetsuit on my own. Great. And I haven't even begun my Christmas shopping yet.