Oilman Texas Triathlon (Half Ironman Relay).

I have committed to the cause. I have signed myself and 2 friends up for the Oilman on November 2nd as a relay team. I think I need to get my butt to the lake (288) to get some practice in now! Yikes!!!!
I will be doing the swim portion. I’ll probably sign up for the Snapping Tortuga Swim at Conroe on October 19th to practice and also attend the swim clinic that OUTRIVAL are offering at La Toretta on the 25th in aid of the late Matt Cook to support his children.
For those of you who aren’t local; Matt Cook passed away after competing in a triathlon in Cypress (Houston suburb) about 3 or 4 weeks back. Reports suggested it was extreme dehydration. He did receive aid and
EMT attention on the course. Thoughts are with his family and friends at this difficult time. Local athletes have dedicated recent race performances to him and efforts to organise events to support his family are currently going on.


The day after.

I am tired this morning! I slept deeply but I know I am dehydrated after yesterday and will require a few more nights of good rest to fully recover.
In hindsight now, I can see that I wasn’t even close to being fully prepared for my race yesterday. I had a very busy work week and an awful Friday/Saturday being sick and having family issues. It is so important to prepare yourself mentally as well as physically and then preparing your equipment and double checking it at the race too!

I did have a big plus in my book – I calculated my swim time per 100m and it was pretty much my average pool time at the moment which indicates progress. It also means if I could sustain that over 1.2 miles I could achieve a fabulous time! I have a few more weeks before my practice swim and then a couple more weeks before the relay!

Top piece of equipment for the day – my earplugs (the silicone push in kind – not moldable) were amazing! Not a drop of water in my ears!

Have a great day!

Race Report: Katy Firethorne

Getting There:
An early start to get to the location. It was raining pretty hard on the way there, about a 40 minute drive and high hopes that it wouldn’t storm as the weather forecast suggested.
No real signposting on the way into the subdivision of the race which for a first time attendee wasn’t great. We eventually found parking which seemed to be well manned (and about 2 miles from transition).

Setting Up:
The delay meant we were later than planned to set up. It was open racking for the bikes – not something I am overly familiar with or fond of, very poorly organised and people had really spread themselves out. I forgot to check my brake pads – we will come back to this. Made it out of transition with everything I needed and went to wait for the swim to begin. Met up with my colleagues and other friends. A lovely cool low 70s to start, partially cloudy but no rain!

The Swim: 500m
An out and back swim 500m in a small lake (all lakes in Texas are man made). A short paddle out to the starting buoy. Reasonably well supervised with kayaks dotted around. I’m a confident swimmer so even if I panic I can manage myself so perhaps less confident swimmers would have liked more people around. Visibility in the water was poor/low. I started in the middle of my group as I’m not ‘super fast’. I felt strong and comfortable in this swim and got into a rhythm quickly. On the way back in a swimmer near me started to actively drown, being a qualified lifeguard my moral obligation is to assist (that and I couldn’t conciously keep going knowing someone else was in difficulties and not assist). I tried to help as best I could and once he had inflated his own buoy – have to be careful not to put yourself at risk too, I swam to the nearest kayak and yelled for them to help. The guy was hesitant so I yelled again and he started to head over. I continued with my swim and came out of the water to transition feeling pretty pleased as I was still one of the first several in my group to leave the water (this is where my advantage ends).

Transition 1:
Short/Medium run into the transition. Slightly less than efficient fiddle with socks, shoes and HRM. Almost forgot to check my helmet was done up and then running out with my bike.

The Bike Course:
A 13 mile course of pretty smooth roads, not too much traffic and also well supervised by local police. A loop around the local neighbourhoods and over to the local outlets/mall and back in. My average speed was only 17 today :-/ Headwinds and trouble with my achilles meant that my pedalling power wasn’t optimal. Then dufus moment of the day… remember how
I didn’t check my brake pads.. yup… The back brake pad was completely pressed against my bike tire. THE. ENTIRE. WAY! Grrrr!!! I figured it wasn’t worth me stopping to adjust it.

Transition 2:
Quick run in off the bike and racked my bike. Fumbled with my shoes to switch to sneakers and put my race belt on and headed out for the run. The temperature now had suddenly shot up into the late 80s/early 90s. Not so pleasant!

The Run:
A large loop of a group of lakes and a couple of kiddy parks. Plenty of hydration stations (1 or 2 at each mile marker). No shade sadly. I felt better on this run than my run a couple of weeks back but that’s not saying too much. I still have a long way to go. Consistency in training will definitely help with this but I really need to go see a physio about my achilles/knee post surgery.

Overall a pleasing performance despite not really feeling it this morning. My goal was to beat my 1:45 time (on a shorter course) and I came in at 1:27! 🙂 I came 13th in my age group (22 total) which I’m not over the moon about but I obviously need to put in the time to reap the rewards and seeing how much my friends have improved with training is very encouraging. I’ve tried to keep perspective – less than a year ago I couldn’t even walk so to be competing and RUNNING, no less, is a personal achievement in my book (as well as a PR for course distance).
The course itself was nice and simple, well supported and fun. The medals (yes, the bling) were lovely as were the shirts. However; the transition area.. not so much fun, very poorly organised and the open racking not a good thing in my book (on such a big race).

Running advice from an ex-Olympian.

Wednesday night I attended a talk that my running coach – ex Olympian who runs a 4.02 mile at his best, led at our local Luke’s Locker (runner heaven).
This guy is great – really motivational and awesome at giving you feedback at the different sessions. They run various programs throughout the year to help you train for marathons/halves or just generally get into shape and improve at running.
If you’re a runner in the Houston area I would definitely recommend the programs! If you’re not sure how committed you are you can drop in to any of their sessions for $5 and they usually do a core workout after the runs. It’s always well coordinated with maps and rest stops on their longer runs.

Anyway back to the talk…

Key points were:

Milage overall is more important than the different types of run workouts you’re getting in each week. i.e. you’re better off getting in 3 miles 4 times a week than doing a tempo workout, a hill workout and a distance run.

You should know your paces – 5k, 10k, 13.1 and 26.2 if applicable (race pace). You should also know what is your easy and what is you pushing it!

Run posture – jog on the spot – your feet land beneath you, this is where they should land when you run, now lean forward and you’ll start moving. This is your correct run posture.

Keep your shoulders dropped/relaxed.

Keep you arms loose but by your side, they shouldn’t cross your body and then should ‘pump’ by your side in short motions – never extending out past your body – waste of energy.

180 is the magic number! This is the number of footsteps an elite runner has in their turnover each minute. The better the runner the higher that number (some get into the 200s).

Keep your steps short and build on turnover to pick up speed (rather than extending your legs to take longer strides, again a waste of energy.

Work on technique at easy pace to help maintain form at race pace.

Negative splits are key. You should be starting off slower and building to the end of the run.

Don’t run more than a couple of marathons a year – you will cripple yourself eventually and not be able to run in later years.

On your longer training runs start off with 60 seconds slower than race pace then build to 45 seconds slower, 30 seconds and then the last few miles at race pace. Each section should be at minimum a few miles depending on the distance.

Don’t run all your training runs at 13.1/26.2 pace – you are wearing your body out and you won’t be able to ‘speed’ up in the actual race.

Distance practice is far more important !!!

Diet is VERY important – what you put into your body, you will get out in training and performance in races.

Supplements are good to help sustain your training.

Take on protein within the 15/30 minute window after your workout to help your body recover.

Extra weight is not good, the more you exercise and run, the more this will reduce. For every 1lb over your ideal weight/race weight that’s 1 minute on competition/race time.

Strength training is key to help your body build more muscle. More muscle = more speed.

Running shoes should be changed every 6 months even if you’re not elite distance runners. They wear out fast and can’t offer the correct support to your body.

Hill training is the best kind of training for speed gain.

Interval training is a good way to build up some speed and endurance. (NEGATIVE SPLITS!!!!)

Health – take care of yourself and listen to your body. Go get check ups with your Dr. regularly. If you’re fatigued a lot but not changed your diet or training get a blood panel to check you’re not anemic.

Don’t come back from a vacation and jump straight back into a heavy schedule – the first week or 2 should be easy jogging to help your body readjust (and avoid injury).

If you have an injury or a niggle, don’t run if it hurts! Listen to your body!

If you’re interested in his philosophy check it out at https://www.kenyanway.com/the-coach/training-philosophy

He is a fascinating guy and a great coach!



Yesterday was rough; I came home sick from work during the day and had a huge work event to prep for today which was a great success but also extremely stressful and pressured (kind of like a race but without the medal or a high at the end). I didn’t make it to swim practice last night which is probably good because I have a race on Sunday.

I’m doing the Firethorne Tri with my friends and colleagues. So it’s the night before the day before… I had a nice dinner and now I’m chillaxing on the sofa because I’m tired after this week. What should I be doing? Exactly that!
You should taper before a race and give your body a couple of easy days or even rest days. If you want to do some easy running maybe a mile or two or an easy few laps at the pool make sure it is just that.

I do try to make sure my bag is packed a couple of days ahead of my race so that I know everything is in one spot but that’s also because I usually lose items in the laundry or forget where I’ve put them.

Items I like to pack for my race:

Race belt
Cliff bloks
5 hour energy bottle
Tri suit (I leave it in my bag until the morning of when I’m getting ready)
Quick dry cloth
Rock tape (in case my knee is playing up)
Sneakers/trainers/tennis shoes/running shoes – whatever you want to call ’em.
Sunscreen (spray)
Bug spray

Those are the bare essentials, I usually pack a mini bottle of ibuprofen/acetaminophen as well, some pickle juice (for cramping) and a pair of flip flops for after the race.

I’ll post a picture later with my items laid out nicely.

It doesn’t matter too much how you like to pack your bag up but be aware that race marshals will always want to check that you have your helmet so either put it on your handle bars or at the top of your bag so it’s easy to unpack (that way you won’t end up like me unpacking everything at the entrance to transition and holding EVERYONE else up!)

P.S. I did write this Friday night but I fell asleep before I posted it so yes I am aware it is Saturday morning when I’m posting this!

Swim drills to help with performance.


Swim drills help us pay attention to the way our body works in the water. We aim to streamline ourselves as much as we can but we need to practice our technique to help us with this.

Body position in the water : Horizontal (duh!) – you want to be as close to the top of the water and as streamlined as possible. Most of us tend to sink from the hips onwards meaning any small or big efforts from our kick will probably have a minimal effect.

You want to glide as you move forward to help the streamline position. When you breathe you should be rotating onto your side and you should have a healthy shoulder roll as you stroke through the water (this refers to Freestyle). The kick should be to balance out your stroke as most kicks don’t contribute much to propulsion.

Set 1:

Warm up 300m (easy)

5 sets of 75m kick 1, drill 3/6/3 (3 strokes, 6 kicks on breathing side, 3 strokes – alternating sides). This is for technique and body position.

200m easy stroke.

5 sets of 4 x 200m, 25m easy, 25 fast, 50 easy, 50 fast, 100 easy, 100 fast, 200 easy 200 fast. This is to help with speed & endurance.

300m easy to warm down.

Set 2

Warm up 300m (easy)

5 sets of 5 x 50m. First set break of 5 seconds between each, second set break or 10 seconds between each, 3rd set break of 20 seconds between each, 4th set break of 30 seconds between each and last set 1 minute break between each. The laps should be consistent in pace for each set of 5 x 50m.
You should start slower and be increasing speed with each set (in line with amount of recovering time).

200m easy stroke.

5 x 50m (25m drill, 25 swim) Choice of flick drill or superman drill.

300m warm down.


Getting back on the proper eating wagon.

Day 1 of my attempt to return to ‘proper’ eating. I was doing ok a couple of weeks back and then work got busy and I got lazy. It’s easy to just eat whatever is to hand but my efficiency levels and energy levels have definitely been paying for it (as has my waistline).

I stopped to get plenty of veggies, fruit and some oats and alternative milk – I’m trying almond this week. I got home and juiced enough to last me the next 2 days and have the ingredients for a further 2 which takes me at least to the weekend.

I find my time is short in the evenings (and even shorter in the mornings – I’m NOT a morning person), which makes cooking and prep less enticing at the end of a long day – yes I know, it should be a priority!

Anyway, the juicing part is super easy and is very quick to do so I’m hoping that I can get myself back into that routine. (I’m using this only as a supplement to get the fruit and veg into my diet, not as a juice fast).
I’ve filled my water bottle and I’m ready to go!

I guess this means cutting down (or out) on cookies for now.. sob…

I don’t mind as long as my food tastes good and drinking the veggie juices makes me a lot more careful about what I put into my body the rest of the time as I don’t want to undo all my hard work. I also find I enjoy my food more and tend to look for quick, healthy recipes that I’m likely to make. MY friend has just given me a vegan blog to check out with some fab (healthy) energy boosting cookies so there is hope still!

I do have weight to lose to get back to my pre-surgery weight (a year of not being super active has taken its toll) so I really need to stick to this!

Here’s hoping!

If you have any recipes you’d like to share or ideas for staying on track then leave a comment or get in touch! 🙂

(Update: Interesting to see what Sarah Groff, ranked #2 woman triathlete in the world, rates as her top 5 foods in this article: http://espn.go.com/espnw/athletes-life/blog/post/14389/my-top-5-triathlon-training-foods)