30 December 2015


A bit of a lengthy post combining my recaps from the #Festive500 rides 28th - 30th December.

The 28th saw a horrendous headwind make this ride a pain to finish. I can deal with wind for a bit but when it follows you no matter which direction it soon grates me down. I had hoped getting up early would mean I avoided the worst of the weather. Whilst it remained relatively dry the wind soon took it's toll on the 5th day of riding and so I made the decision to retire my ride early. 20 miles added to the Festive500 bank but I was worried the goal of completing the challenge would be slipping further away...

There were a lot of times during this ride I thought about turning home early. My legs were hurting, standing to climb was a challenge. But I couldn't get the idea of reaching Dartmeet out of my head and finally getting to the peak.

I made my way through Princetown, Two Bridges and carried on across the moors, Dartmeet in sight. A couple of climbs and descents later I neared the 12% downhill before it. I zoomed down the hill and reached the cattle grid at the base of Dartmeet. This is the one of the nastiest features of this climb. You pretty much have to come to a stop and slowly make your way over the grid, only to be greeted by an incline that instantly kicks up. I began the climb, legs already no cooperating. I paused where I had the first time I attempted it, contemplating turning back early. I thought about the Festive 500 challenge and how it was all about challenging ourselves. I decided to push on and finally tackle the rest of the climb. It hurt and I had to stop another time before reaching the top, but when I finally got there it was definitely worth it. Number 8 on the 100 Greatest Cycling Climbs = done. Now I just need to return on a warm summers day and try to beat my time...

With Dartmeet finally conquered I start making the jouney home, passing a few groups of cyclists in the opposite direction. Home to cup of tea and a hot bath which relaxed my aching legs.

With reports of 50mph winds and torrential rain, I had essentially written off today as a cycling day. I rechecked the weather and the worst of the winds seem to be dissapeearing around 11am. I went out with the aim of 20 miles if the weather was okay. When I reached my potentail turnaround point, I decided to carry on. The rain was relentless, apart from a brief 5 minute period where it eased off. The wind on the other hand had relaxed a lot. With just the rain to cycle against, it actually turned out to be one of the best rides I've had so far in the 500k challenge. 40 miles cycled meant I edged closer to hopefully completing the last miles of this #Festive500.

Lesson learnt from today? Give it a go, you can always turn back. 

Now just the final push tomorrow to try and reach that magic 500k marker...

I'm taking part in the Rapha Festive 500 challenge on Strava. Cycling 500k in 8 days from the 24th-31st December. I'll be tweeting,instragmming and blogging my journey as part of documenting my progress.

Total: 424/500k.

27 December 2015


After the slight fail of yesterday's ride, it was time to redeem myself. The forecast again wasn't great, winds and heavy gusts were again forecast - but they weren't so bad as to not head out. It would be a challenge, but one that wasn't impossible. During my Ironman training I discovered a ton of routes, some of which I headed back to today during my short explore across Dartmoor National Park - one of the BEST places for cycling.
The winds today weren't as yesterdays but it was almost as if the winds got heavier as soon as I cycled passed the "Welcome to Dartmoor" sign. Thankfully there wasn't as much surface water today so I remained relatively dry, which was a lovely change! From there it was a short ride to Dousland, before looping around Burrator Reservoir. Dartmoor has some amazing views, all of which were sadly covered up by mist and fog this morning!

I started to make my descent off the moors and slightly altered my planned route to bring my down a bit quicker. Taking this different route however meant I was somehow faced with more climbing as parts of the route head up again before dropping down. With my Garmin nearly auto pausing due to the slow speeds up hill, I was very grateful to see the top. After a couple more short accents it soon leveled out meaning I was on the final flatish section home.

Although it was by no means a fast ride, I guess what matters most is getting the miles in. I had a great ride on the moors and it was nice to challenge the legs with some longer climbs and revisit my Ironman training ground again. It was home to a cup of tea and a shower to wash away all the mud and debris I'd picked up along the way. Just under 51 miles for this fourth day of #Festive500 riding.

Once again the lessen was learnt to just keep pedaling!

I'm taking part in the Rapha Festive 500 challenge on Strava. Cycling 500k in 8 days from the 24th-31st December. I'll be tweeting,instragmming and blogging my journey as part of documenting my progress.

Total: 243/500k.


Yesterday's ride (26th December) was a bit of a no go for Festive 500 attempt.
I woke up at 5am ready to get set for the day - with howling winds outside. I then checked multiple forecasts to see what would be in store for the rest of the day. With 40mph+ forecast from 6am to late into the evening it just wouldn't have been possible for me to go out. I'm not that strong a cyclist to battle heavy winds for extended periods of time. Instead I decided to cycle the short route down to the gym, and back, for a speed session on the treadmill. Even the cycle home was a bit of challenge so I think I made the sensible decision not going out for a long ride.

Today's, although still rather windy, went a lot better! A separate blog post coming on my ride from today is coming up this evening.

I'm taking part in the Rapha Festive 500 challenge on Strava. Cycling 500k in 8 days from the 24th-31st December. I'll be tweeting,instragmming and blogging my journey as part of documenting my progress.Total at the end of Boxing Day: 161/500k.

25 December 2015


First off - Merry Christmas everyone!

My plan from the beginning had always been to cycle on Christmas Day. One of the perks of being an early riser is that a 4:45am alarm sometimes isn't too bad. I was out the door just after 5am and on my way, with the aim of returning before 8 - and before the parents woke up.

The route plan for today was flatter one that yesterday's adventure. With the sky clear of rain for the first 10 miles I was optimistic that it was going to be a dry ride. Then the heavens decided to open. Aided by the headwind that seemed to be following my every move the miles seemed to be taking longer to tick off. My route mainly consisted of loops of a section of road, repeating this to rack up my miles before doing the 10 miles back again. I got to 25 miles and the rain, wind and surface water led me to the decision to head home. With 10 miles left to ride I knew the total for the day would be 35. Luckily the wind wasn't as bad on the journey home today. Torrential rain I can deal with for a couple of hours, but a relentless headwind just makes for unpleasent riding. The occasional heavy gust and a mostly calm(ish) breeze for the journey home.

As I neared my house, I couldn't get the idea of failing to do 40 miles out my head. This resulted in my circling past my home 4 times to make up the extra 5 miles to hit the average for the day. With 40 miles on my Garmin I was happy to be just ahead of target two days into the challenge. I arrived home to my parents having just woken up - perfect timing. A quick shower and change before tucking into some chocolate gold coins as a pre-breakfast snack. Now for a day of eating all the foods and a cosy film viewing.

I'm taking part in the Rapha Festive 500 challenge on Strava. Cycling 500k in 8 days from the 24th-31st December. I'll be tweeting,instragmming and blogging my journey as part of documenting my progress. 

Current total = 153/500k.

24 December 2015


If there's one thing I learnt from the pouring rain and horrendous headwind it's, just keep pedalling.

My Festive 500 got off to a very wet and windy start this morning. I began my ride later than usual as the 50mph winds that were forecast at 6/7am were very inviting. I was up by 6:30 for breakfast and then spent a bike of time going over my bike and making sure it was ready for the ride. I set off in the rain, the wind having slightly faded a little.

As I made my way up towards Dartmoor the rain got heavier, And heavier. With a lot of surface water and a the rain from above, I quickly got soaked through but was still warmed thanks to my Adidas kit. With torrential rain and a headwind making it all a little less fun I turned around on Dartmoor and decided to adjust my route.

As I reached my turn around point on the loop, the headwind lifted a lot. This meant for the last 25 miles my average speed dropped. I never thought about turning around to head home early. I wanted to make sure I atleast reached the 40 mile a day minimum. I returned home ready for cosy kit, food and a warm cup of tea. 

I'm taking part in the Rapha Festive 500 challenge on Strava. Cycling 500k in 8 days from the 24th-31st December. I'll be tweeting, instragmming and blogging my journey as part of documenting my progress. 

Current total = 89/500k.
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14 December 2015


Having only purchased my road bike last October, I only briefly discovered the Festive 500 after reading Sarah's blog. My bike mileage was low and there was no way this challenge would have been possible for me to do in 2014.  However, this year I'll be tackling the challenge to see how I fair!

Rapha's Festive 500 is an annual challenge encouraging riders to tackle 500km (around 312 miles) in the eight days from Christmas Eve's to New Year's Eve. If you spread that distance out over the full 8 days it equals just shy of 40 miles per day.

My plan for the Festive 500 is to rediscover some old routes I used for training during my Ironman preparation and to hopefully complete the full 500km. My fingers are crossed for some dry weather as well as some mild temperatures. I'll be mixing up the routes with some flat, easy routes as well as trying to get a good chunk of climbing in.

I'm planning to write a blog post each day documenting my rides each day and will be sharing the posts links via my Twitter and Instagram.

It all starts next Thursday, so who's in?!
Learn more about the Festive 500 here and join in on Strava: Rapha Festive 500 2015

30 November 2015


Mud, puddles more mud and a whole lot smiles. One rather big hill and a couple of small ones thrown in for good measure. The debut of Advent Running's Adidas Trail Team and my first taste of a trail race. Trailscape North, the first in four races that offer trail races for inner city folks and those that love the mud! A huge well done to founders of Advent Running, Claudia and James who secured first place in both the men and women's marathons!

A few weekends ago I headed down, with Jen, to the Newport in Essex. The day before the race organisers had posted a rather lovely image of a HUGE puddle covering one of the paths. This was going to be a lot of fun.

My sock choice was an interesting one. White socks for my first trail race occasion. One of my aims for this race was to see how white I could keep my socks for. It lasted 5 miles before the whole path was covered by a huge puddle. Rather than gracefully edging my way around the puddle, I jumped straight into it. Socks swiftly turned colour and had very squelchy feet for the rest of the race. Was it worth it? Most definitely. The rest of the race was a lot of fun with lovely views running across wide open fields and through wooded land. Thick mud was also a great opportunity to try out my trail shoes, Salomon Speedcross 3. They were comfortable and I didn't have any problems with them rubbing. This was the second time I'd worn these shoes - not the best idea as breaking the no new kit for a race rule! They have quite a deep trend so picked up quite a bit a mud - this was my one issue with them. However, even with the deep tread they worked well on both the uneven ground as well as the short sections that were on the road. The route was very well signed posted and GPX routes are available for you race - great if you live in the area and fancy doing a course recce.

One of the other good things about these races are that you are able to jump down the distance on the day. If you're not feeling the full marathon, then you are able to drop down and do the half course. Likewise it works the same for the half marathon, take the 10k turn off it the full distance isn't to your liking on the day. On the day a group of canine runners joined us for the adventure. This group were set off last to allow runners to get a bit of room before they began. For my first trail race experience, it was pretty awesome. The organisation was fantastic and the location extremely easy to find.

Check out Trailscape - Twitter, Instagram, Website

If you can't run the races yourself head down and support, or even volunteer if you can. The next race in the series is in Cuxton, Kent on 5th December.
Other race dates in the series:
South: Ashurst, East Sussex - 23.01.16
West: Wendover, Buckinghamshire - 05.03.16

*I was very kindly given the opportunity to race by the race organisers.

04 November 2015


The crisp morningsextra layers and the occasional snazzy hat. There's something that I just love about running in the cold weather.

Last Winter I ran through it as part of my runstreak, this year I'll be training for something a bit more specific. I'm excited to layer up and explore. To watch the sunrise at the top of hill or simple sprint through the crunchy leaves.

I recently participated in my first trail rail - Trailscape North (full post to come soon) and LOVED it. In primary school I was ran cross country. Each Friday was the highlight of my week when I would come home covered in mud trainers soaked through. I feel trail running is letting me set my inner child free. At Trailscape rather than avoiding the largest puddle on the course I may have not run straight through it... I couldn't resist. It was like a duck being drawn to water. The more puddles there were the more I just wanted to splash through them - my inner child having a field day.

Trail running is a whole new experience that I'm excited to explore a lot more over the next couple of months. Hills, mud, hillbs puddles, hills and more mud! I'll mainly be sticking to the trails and off road as part of my training but I'm also planning to add at least one road or track run in each week, to try and maintain some speed and switch up my training. I'll also carry on cycling throughout as I've fallen quickly in love with spending time on my bike. Compared to last year I'm a lot more equipped for riding in the cold and I'm slowly getting used to the art of coffee stops (it's taken me a while to accept this happens a lot over the off-season!).

So I'll be the one wearing shorts, running through most puddles and hopefully not tripping over whilst out on the coastal paths. I'm excited to explore and see new scenery and attempt a different challenge in preparation for my first race of 2016.

What are you plans to keep running through the chillier months?

22 September 2015


"There is no easy Ironman.
There's hard, harder, hardest and then Wales."
The words spoken to us by the voice of Ironman, Paul Kaye, at the race briefing the Friday before the big day. Butterflies filled my stomach

Get comfy as this is going to be a rather lengthy post, but I wanted to share my Ironman story with you - as well as having something to look back on. 

The journey to the start line.
After being inspired by Sophie Radcliffe I took the plunge last October and signed up to compete in Ironman Wales 2015. The journey would be long and hard
, but once the idea of signing up had been planted I couldn't shake it. My thought process was - you can do it you just need to sign up for it. You need to train and dedicate yourself to it. I’d had the same thoughts when I decided I wanted to run my first half marathon. Although this event would be a lot tougher - 2.4 miles of swimming
, 112 miles of cycling, and then a marathon - in my head the principal remained the same. Give it your all and (hopefully) the results will come. I trained hard over the following months building up from a pretty low level of cycling. I swam miles in the pool, joined a tri club, cycled some more, ran, spent Monday evenings in the open water, spent many early hours on the bike and then; ranswam & cycled some more. Just under a year later it was time to head to Tenby and see what results that year of training would bring.
Race week.
In the day leading up the race I'd mostly avoided the weather forecast. I knew the weather would change a lot  and panicking wasn't going to help. On the Ironman Wales Journey Facebook page people were posting regular updates. One minute sun & minimal wind, then a couple of hours later thunderstorms were showing. I tried to ignore the forecast as much as possible over the following days. In terms of training during race week I swam, ran and cycled. One last open water swim on the Monday to do a final outfit check, a short 20 mile cycle on the Tuesday, run on the Wednesday, swim Thursday and then rest Friday. That was it. Short and simple. 
Once we’d arrived in Tenby and checked into our B&B we made our way to register. Picked up my backpack and signed the waiver. Back to the B&B before it was off to the race briefing.

Race briefing.
“The swim this year will be a rolling start.” This had happened at Bolton in July and since then there had been rumors that the same may happen to Wales. When this was announced I have to admit I was at first slightly disappointed. I was ready for the washing machine and the sea of athletes heading into the water. Looking back on it
, post race, it was a decision that was very much appreciated.  I think it helped a lot of people and gave them a bit more space in the water with the staggered start. However, even with the extra space I still ended up getting hit in the head and pushed under a couple of times. I probably gave as good as I got though... The rest of the rules were read through - feed station locations were confirmed, along with the cut off times. About 60 minutes later it was over. Off to Top Joe’s Pizza – the best place for pizza in Tenby and I HIGHLY recommend you pay it a visit. When my stomach was fullit was time to fill my transition bags. I’d packed my kit into separate bags for the journey up to make it easier but couldn’t help myself constantly checking once I’d packed my transition kit. I was worried I’d missed something – I definitely hadn’t. One last check and I called it day. There was no more I could do. Alarm set, then sleep.

The day before an Ironman.
7am wake up - a rare occasion when you're up each Saturday at 5am to get ready for work. A fairly relaxed day was ahead. Quick change and I took my bike for a short spin to check everything was working
, thankfully all seemed okay. I took the short ride to North Beach and enjoyed the peace and calm with no one around before the big day. One last loop and back to the B&B for a teeny run to check the legs. Just before 8 I was suited in my wetsuit ready for the practice swim. The sea was warm still and welcoming. I ended up doing three laps of the course (much shorter than the official course) and spent around 40 minutes just taking it all in. I love swimming and it had been one of my favourite sessions during training. Taking to people afterwards we all agreed that this would be lovely condtions on race day. Would they hold out? Once out the water it was time for breakfast and then off to rack the bike. Rack the bike, rack the transition bags, collect timing chip. A walk to the expo and then back to the B&B. I was then informed that Arena were selling ladies swimsuits for £5 so it was back to the expo to pick up a bargain. A few hours then passed before I went to meet my friends Abi & Darren who’d come up for the weekend and are from my triathlon club. We chatted over a cup of tea which was over all too soon, as I received tips on the course. Big hugs and then back to the B&B for crackers and jam. 
8:30pm and the amazing Charlie Brown gave me the world’s most awesome facetime chat. Charlie knows the self doubt that plauged my mind but this chat helped me relax a bit more and focus on taking things as they came – one step at a time. Having those five minutes before the day helped in larger amounts than I think many people will understand. She and Paulie wished me luck and it was soon 9pm. I set my alarm & it was then bedtime.

Race day.
3:50am Alarm sounds - I sat upright. I wasn't tired. I was just thinking straight to the events that would be the day ahead.
By 4:15am I had eaten my breakfast - 2 large shredded wheat and 2 bananas. Then I started to get ready.
I put my headphones in watched and watched thisvideo numerous times. I then watched this one. I’m not normally one for motivational videos but these just seemed to help on race day.
5:15am Head to transition. Bottles on, bike nutrition in top bar bag and a quick press of the tires to make sure they’re still inflated. (I'd just like to mention at this point I had zero idea about my tyre pressues - I merely pressed them multiple times to make sure that A. they hadn't deflated and B. to make it look like I knew what I was doing. Secretly I had no clue - I just knew they were inflated and would be okay.) I checked the bike was in the right gear and that was it. The next time I'd see my bike it would be at the start of a 112 mile journey.
We headed back to the B&B to "relax" for about half an hour before making our way to the beach.
6:10am We were staying less than 3 minutes brisk walk away so I quickly found myself at the top of North Beach. The crowds were already building, as family and friends see their competitors head down the ramp. I applied vaseline everywhere said goodbye and hugged my dad before I made my way down with others. I racked my purple bag, containing my transition run shoes, and then tried taking it all in. This was actually happening. I looked out towards Gosker rock initially confused as to which side I would be swimming on it when I returned on the last leg of each lap. A minor detail I probably should have made sure I'd known. I then realised there’d be hundreds of other swimmers in the water with me – I’d soon find out. I found a spot to myself and was super happy to hear someone shout my name – Cat had found me! We hugged and had a quick chat. We then ran across the sand and jumped into the water. Wetsuits flooded we headed back out. My warm up was short and sweet - I didn’t fancy doing anymore. We made our way to the starting pens and soaked it all in with music blaring across the speakers and the quiet murmurings of fellow compeitiors. Everyone here had trained for many month’s, maybe years, to reach this point. Soon after, the National Anthem played. This was it. It was happening. The time had nearly arrived. We wished each other luck and everyone's mood changed slightly.
6:55am The pros set off.
Just after 7am - It's my turn. The crowd starts to move. I see the clock, hear the timing chip beep, no other thoughts, into the water and that's it. My arms start moving, I start kicking my legs and the swim begins.

The swim.
On the exterior the sea looked calmed. It soon became apparent that looks can be deceiving. Getting to the first buoy felt like an age. Stroke after stroke and it looked like I wasn’t making much progress. I reached the first buoy and began a battle around it. There wasn’t too much swell at this point but the waves were getting choppier. Swimming parallel to the shore you make the journey to the second bouy. Sighting became harder, I was greeted by a wave many times I looked up to spot the next buoy. I reached the second marker and began the journey to shore. Out the water, quick check of the watch, run along the beach and straight back in. This time the journey to the first bouy was more challenging. The swell had increased and it was a far contrast from the conditions the day before. Listening to Charlie’s advice I took one stroke at a time. I focused on my form and my breathing and managed to settle into a good rhythm from bouy 1 to 2. I turned around the second and was on the final straight. Out the water, run across the beach and headed to the ramp.  Swiftly stripped off my wetsuit and found my purple bag, shoving my goggles and swim cap inside. As I was putting on my trainers I had a brief chat with a lady who was doing the same.  I sent her my best wishes and I head off up the slope and began the 1k jog across town. I juggled my wetsuit for a bit before slinging it over my shoulder and clutching the bag in my hand. I enter the transition tent and made my way to find my kit. Cycling gear found I did a full change and made my final kit decisions. No rain meant no jacket was going to be worn - a risk I was willing to take. I saw others with gillets and arm warmers heading out - had I made the right decision? Helmet buckled I went to get my bike - placing my T1 bag with the hundreds of others as I go. Bike found "right here we go" I say to it. Quick turn on of the Garmin and I head out of transition towards the mount line...

The bike.
The year leading up to Ironman Wales had mainly been filled with doubts about my cycling ability. Whenever anyone asked how I felt about the race, or asked what time I was aiming for, I always replied the same way - I just don't want to get cut off on the bike. If I make the bike cut off I'll be extremely happy. I don't care what time I finish in, I just want to finish.

Setting off onto the bike course I knew what was ahead of me - I'd recce'd the course back in July and had been surprised at my avg speed. On the day I KNEW I could replicate that speed, I just had to deliver the results. I paced it well and took the first stretch steadily. I didn’t push too much and knew my legs would thank me later on. My speed was good and consistent. Around ¾’s of the way through the first lap Alex, who I’d met in transition the day before, passed behind me shouting my name. It was lovely having someone to chat to during the race and my mood instantly lifted. It’s a long day on the bike so it’s great to break it up by chatting with others. After 56 miles of undulating course you hit the first of the “major three” hills. Narbeth was filled with music cheering and huge crowds. I took it steady and soon was at the top. One major down, two to go on this first lap. The 16% delight that is Wiseman’s Bridge was next up. I again took it steady trying not to burst out my seat and give it my all to the top. A short decent brings you down into Saundersfoot. THIS is the moment that people say is like the Tour de France. It certainly lives up to the hype. As you head up on the first hill you end up forming a single file line. I sat behind one lady, trying to avoid her wheel. The 10m drafting policy is certainly not followed here! They were shouts of “allez, allez” with others saying “keep steady, keep chipping away”. You take that first hill with a huge grin on your face. I remained seated trying to avoid pushing it too much. I knew I’d be back here again in a couple of hours. After a gradual climb out of Saundersfoot you begin the short descent, sweeping back into Tenby.

70 miles later, I’d made the first cut off. I hadn't ruined my legs and I'd actually made the cut off - more disbelief is occurring here. I set off for the second lap and to face the hills again. Had I pushed too hard? I was feeling okay at this point and still quite in shock that I had actually made it with good time to spare. Repeat Narbeth, Wiseman’s and Saundersfoot before coming back down into Tenby ready for T2. Coming into transition I see my friends Abi & Darren. I saw them at the very beginning of the bike and here they were again cheering from just outside transition. 112 miles after I first clipped in I was back in transition and I made it. I’d actually made it. Now it was time for the final leg. I had over 7 hours to do a marathon. I knew I could make it all I had to do was keep moving forward.  I ran out of transition – another full outfit change into run gear. Once again I saw Abi & Darren. I gave them a hug and high five before wishing them a safe journey home.

The run.
"Hilly" is used to described the Wales run. Yep, they are correct in that. Essentially 3 miles up hill, then 3 miles down - repeated 4 timeswith a weave around the streets of Tenby to round up the numbers on each lap. I knew this would be hilly so had formed an approach to get my round. I had the plan of - walk uphill if I had to and run down using gravity to help. The first lap wasn't completely smooth sailing. Running out of town I felt great – I was doing this, I was happy! Then I met the first hill. It was a bit of a shock to my legs. Taking it steady, I ran when I could and if I walked I then would run to round up the mile - after a short walk break. This helped and got me up the hill. Now I knew what to expect for the other 3 laps. My mood dropped a lot that first lap. I think I was underfuelled, as when I began eating properly on the second I was a completely different person. I got into a good rhythm on lap two ,taking the hills one at a time and trying to push it a bit more downhill. I kept my pace steady to ensure I wasn’t peaking too soon. Lap three. The penultimate time I’d be heading up THAT hill. I collected my red band and made my way back into Tenby. Turning right for the last time, I ran through and out the town. I knew this was the last time I’d be facing this hill. I reached the top of the hill, after essentially walking the whole way up and thanked the group that had cheered me on each time I passed them. Just the short uphill section left that takes you to the band collection. All four bands were on my arm – yellow, blue, red and now, green. This meant I was on my way back to Tenby for the final time. 3 miles downhill, weaved around the town and you reach the moment you can finally turn left. Anyone who saw me on that fourth lap would have seen me shaking my head in more disbelief. I had done it. I'd actually done it. 

As I turned left and took that last corner I saw the lights and heard the crowds. The ground turned red
, as concrete was replaced with red carpet. I saw the clocked and sprinted – although it looks a lot slower on the webcam! Then I crossed the line as Joanne Murphy said the words “Abigail YOU ARE AN IRONMAN.” A huge feeling of relief fell over me. I collected my medal and shook the Mayor’s hand. The red carpet moment was over  almost as quickly as it had begun. 

I walked into the finishers tent and the smell of pizza hit me. Straight to the food table - first a piece of apple, followed swiftly by a piece of swiss roll, then pizza, then another piece of swiss roll. I forgot to pick up my finishers t-shirtso I head back to get that. I went to collect my bags and bike and find my Dad (after having to use a lovely volunteer’s phone in the transition tent as I had no idea where to meet him!). Hugged my dad and we began the short walk home. 

Or rather I then got on my bike and cycled the short distance back to the B&B. I did get a couple of bemused looks from fellow finishers as I cycled past
, but all I wanted to do was sit down. My legs felt fine - not so much the tops of my feet.

Back at the B&B and after a celebratory drinks and nibbles I was informed that I may have come second in my age group. More disbelief (maybe I need to work on my self confidence a bit more?). "Well that might not be true there may be something wrong." No matter how many times I was told that they were in fact the final results I still didn't want to believe them. Turns out that I had in fact actually come second in my age group. After checking numerous times, including after midnight the numbers hadn't change - I had finished in second position. 

I showered and washed my hair before heading back to the finish line to cheer my awesome friend Cat across the finish line with her parents and her flatmate Erin. I'd seen Cat on my last lap of the run as I headed up the hill for a final time, she was heading back down. As I made my way back, with that incredible green band on my arm, I saw Cat again. Her leg was giving her major issues. I gave her a huge hug and walked with her before she sent me on her way. I told her multiple times that she was going to finish. She had plenty of timeshe just had to keep moving. To see her cross the line was a fantastic experience and I was super proud of her for everything she'd done that day and during the months of training.

We took the walk back to the B&B once more before heading to bed. 

Monday 14th September. The day after.
After a midnight bedtime and the events of the day before, I could only muster 4 hours of sleep in total. Sophie had said I probably wouldn't get much sleep that night. She was definitely right.  I was up at 5 headed downstairs and read - Iron War incase you were wondering. Back upstairs at 7:30am to get ready for the day and a celebratory breakfast with everyone who stayed at the B&B at 9am. There were three rooms at our B&B and all three of us competed and finished Wales. It was such a great feeling seeing everyone in the morning and chatting about the event.

Then it was off to Carew Airfield for the Awards Ceremony and Kona slot allocation. At this point I still somehow wasn't convinced I was going to receive an AG prize. I knew the top three in each age group would get a prize but I still wasn't quite ready to believe it. We had a second breakfast whilst watching a video of footage taken during the day (video above by SkyCam) and watched as some incredible photos were shown. It was soon awards time. After the pros had received their prizes it was the age groupers turn
, beginning with my age group - females then males, starting with 3rd place. When I heard Paul Kaye say my name I made my way onto the stage shook Jesse Thomas' hand and thanked him as he handed over the trophy. It was his first Ironman as well and he did an amazing time - he was actually finishing as I headed out for my run! As first place collected her prize she shook my hand and we stood for a photo. It was all a bit of a blur. I was standing on stage, people clapping with multiple cameras taking photos. Definitely an amazing experience. It was soon time for the Kona roll down. I knew that I sadly wouldn't be heading to Kona as we only have one slot in our age category. Jodie who did an incredible job (coming first by over 2 hours!) looked incredibly ready to take it. 

Once the ceremony was finished it was time to head home. We said goodbye to Cat and her parents and made the journey back to Cornwall – trophy on lap all the way.

Ironman blues began incredibly quickly. The Ironman motto is "Anything is possible". Anything really is possible. I said I'd only ever do the one Ironman. The day after I was already looking at races for 2016. I loved the distance and the whole journey of training to get to that point. I wanted to repeat it all over again. And fingers crossed I will.

A thank you...

A big thank you to every single person that I’ve spoken to during training, has wished me luck, or dealt with my questioning my ability. To my parents and friends who dealt with my every changing moods. To everyone at my triathlon club from those who I trained with to the coaches that helped me along the way - Abi & Darren - who took the photo of me above, Jane who made the ACE cake and also had to deal with my mood when I had a severe bonk one training ride.Carly for the early rides, Luke for the battles during some of the first open water swimming seasons and Shane - who I shouted at when I only had to run one more lap... To everyone else at Plymouth Triathlon - major thank yous go to you all! I only joined in January but feel like I’ve been part of for years. To Cat for her ever encouraging words as we made the journey to the start line together. To Sophie for the inspiration and motivation to sign up in the first place. To Charlie for the world’s most amazing pep talk the night before. To James for helping me with my cycling and all the constant worries about  my speed. And to Hannah, Jen, Cathy, Sarah, Cat, Sophie, Sarah, Charlie, Lucy, Charlie, Sophie, Cara, Sorrell, Susie, Victoria, Emily, David, Paulie, Mel, as well as many more that sent messages before the race (sorry if I've left anyone out!!) And also a final thank you to the people of Pembrokeshire who made my first Ironman event a pretty magical experience. You're support was insane throughout the day - from 6am on the beach right through until the final finishers at midnight.

So that’s it for my Wales recap – if you’ve made it this far then THANK YOU for reading and here’s hopefully to another long distance triathlon in 2016. But first I've got an ultra marathon I'm tackling at the beginning of February....

03 September 2015


In 2011 Anna Hughes set off from London for a solo cycling journey around the coast of Britain, covering 4000 miles along the way. Now she's cycling from Lands End to John O Groats as a cycling book tour - giving chats and signings en route. Last night I headed down to Rockets and Rascals (on the Barbican in Plymouth) to attend the second stop of the tour.

She chatted to us about her journey around the coast and some of her favourites stops along the way - highlighting the East Coast as an area that was one of her favourites. She then opened it up to questions before signing books that were avaliable to purchase. I picked one up and will be reading it next after I've finished my current one.

Having only bought my road bike last October I'm still trying to find a solid love for the bike. I've got plans next year to potentially do LEJOG myself and fingers crossed I'll be riding Prudential 100, if I get in! Before then though this chat has definitely made me want to explore my local area. I've only touched the tip of the iceberg of places to explore in Cornwall. Next mission is to head further afield and try to tick off more locations along the Cornish coast. The chance to hear someone else's journey makes me want to cycle more - and embrace the many ups and downs along the way. 

If you get a chance, head along to one of her tour dates. Hearing about a cycling journey like this offers up a rather large dose of inspiration.  

Follow Anna on her LEJOG journey:
Website - Anna Cycles
Twitter - @eatsleepcycle
Facebook - Eat Sleep Cycle
Blog - EatSleepCycle-LEJOG
Tour dates

29 July 2015


GCN (Global Cycling Network) on YouTube is something I've only recently discovered, but I've regularly been heading back to the channel to check browse their wide range of content. I'd still class myself as fairly new to cycling and I'm still learning a lot about the sport. Here are 5 videos that you may find useful if you're new to the world of road cycling!

Whether it's forgetting to unclip or having your saddle at the incorrect height - this guide is a great place to start to help avoid some of those early issues.

2. Changing an inner tube.
An essential whilst out on the road and one I think every cyclist needs to know. I personally use a different technique to the one shown in the video, but the basic principles are the same. One of the most important steps is checking the tyre to make sure you don't damage the replacement tube. 
The entire "Roadside Maintenance" playlist is definitely worth checking out for some other handy tips!

3. I'll admit I'm still a bit of a gear changer. Choosing an inappropriate gear though can result in a broken rhythm and a significant effect on your cadence.

4. Bike maintenance is an area I'm not the best at, but it is an important one. This tutorial leads you through cleaning the bike and also de-greasing - keeping your bike in great working order. 

5. I know it's still Summer but I thought I'd add this one at the end as it would definitely have helped me through the colder cycles! I've made many clothing mistakes along the way but I think I'm fairly sorted now when it comes to my cycling wardrobe options. 
What are your top cycling tips? Let me know @afloralcrown

12 June 2015


 *photos used with permission from the Meringue Girls - shot by David Loftus*
Rainbow battenburg cake, popping candy truffles with processco & strawberry and the promise of "the MOTHER"0 of all carrot cakes. Sold yet? These are just some of the recipes to be discovered in the second cookbook by the Meringue Girls.

From edible gifts, to showstoppers that would impress the likes of Mary Berry & Paul Hollywood - if you're into sweet things that aim to impress - "Everything Sweet" has it all. The photographer for the book (as with the first one) is the incredibly David Loftus, who has shot some seriously gorgeous images!

Last December I actually assisted on one of the shoot days for this new book and have been eagerly awaiting glimpses of it ever since. It was a pretty incredible experience seeing behind the scenes and I'm excited to see everything come together to produce this final product. A big bonus about a cookbook shot? Trying all the recipes that were baked that day! Everything I tried was seriously pretty amazing and I'm hoping to recreate a couple of them myself. The Crème Brûlée tart (pictured above second from left) is HIGH on the list - I may have a bit too many pieces...

The book is released on the 30th July and you can pre-order it from Amazon here. And if you fancy seeing some more sneak peeks from the book? Check out the girls on Instagram.