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Splash n’ Dash n’ Splash again

After pulling out of my first triathlon due to injury I was keen to find another race this summer to enjoy. I had heard great things about the West Reservoir in Stoke Newington as an Open Water facility, so when I saw that Capital Tri put on a Splash n’ Dash race there in August I signed up immediately.


Wetsuit & trisuit packed we walked to the reservoir to get set up.  The facilities there are great and the organisers had clearly laid out a transition area in the parking lot. After a quick briefing and a warm-up that consisted of trying to put on a wetsuit, I was out on the docks with my 8:50am sprint wave. We were to swim 1 lap of the 400m course, exit the water at the ramp, run a few metres to the transition and then start our 4 lap run of the reservoir (5k).


I jumped in the 17* water and realised how cold it had gotten since the last time I was in some open water during the July heatwave. I let the water into my suit and just tried to keep moving for the 2 minutes before we started. A quick photo and we were off. Well, the 29 other people in my wave were off and I did the following:

deep breath
head down
kick kick kick
head up
WTF? I can’t do this. Those 3 kicks exhausted me and I think I moved closer to the start so that’s 403m to go now.


I did a few breast strokes to buy some time and figure things out, but they made me more tired. At the briefing they said if we needed help we could go on our backs and the kayak would come to help us, it didn’t mean we’d have to DQ, but help was there. All I could really think of was catching my breath so I went on my back and did a few big snowangel strokes and thought about how to get around this course. Never had I wanted to just run so badly. The kayak came over and asked how I was and that I technically wasn’t allowed to swim on my back so back to breaststroke it was.

For some reason I just couldn’t fathom trying front crawl again. I just put my mind to slowly doing the breast stroke to each buoy, then the next, then the next, etc. At the time it was the only way I could see finishing this thing. About 1/3 of the way the next wave passed me, then 2/3 another wave went by. I can’t explain to you how slow my breast stroke is, I’ve always preferred front crawl and find it way easier than breast stroke. Except during races apparently.

When I finally made it around and helped out of the water I jogged over to the transition area and had a little sit down. Getting my wetsuit off at the best of times is difficult and I just wanted a moment to chill out. Wetsuit off, socks on, shoes on and off I went. Running was such a delight after that swim and I was really enjoying running in a trisuit. No shorts riding up, no wedgie, no shirt flapping around. All perfect.

2014-08-17 09-29-13-613-MOTION

4 laps done (and elastic bands on the wrist to prove it) and I crossed the finish line to grab a delightful goodybag and grab my time from the timing truck. My 400m swim was 3 seconds faster than my 5000m run, not quite the result I was looking for but at least it was on the faster side. (To compare I have been doing 400m in under 12 minutes in the pool).  I was just so happy to have finished it and be eating a delicious mars bar that I didn’t think much of it while I watched the rest of the Standard distance athletes finish (800m/10k).


We all stayed at the cafe to warm up and watch the presentations.  No prize for dead last, but they did have extra goodybags at the end so guess who went home with 3 mars bars?


I wasn’t too upset with the whole day, pretty happy I finished it and got out to try something new. I did feel a bit of unfinished business with the open water though, and thus arranged to meet up with my friend Laura for another session to prove I could do it.

We met at Hampstead Ladies pond on a Monday after work and even though you don’t need a wetsuit, I asked if I could wear one (promised I wouldn’t be doing #triknob drills) so I could practice swimming in it.  The water was a chilly 16* (mostly for Laura who didn’t have a wetsuit) but once in I had no problem getting my face in and swimming front crawl through the maze of buoys playing sighting games with Laura & Josie.


I’m glad I got back in the water and hope the first splash was just one of those things that sometimes happen in races. Not sure I’ll keep up my open water practice through the whole winter, but am keen to dip in once in a while.

trail running in London’s longest linear nature reserve

I’ve been sticking to running the roads of London (with a few parks thrown in) for the following reasons:

Excuse #1 – I didn’t know of any good trails.

I had heard rumours of an amazing trail that started at Finsbury Park (a mile from our flat) and followed a disused railway along a ridge for 7k up to Alexandra Palace.  This trail achieved myth status when I actually saw Finsbury park with my own eyes and could not believe there was a woodlands anywhere near it. 

Solution #1 – Trust the map and just find the darn trail. 

Excuse #2 – I needed daylight

Running alone in the dark as a woman isn’t the safest thing even along busy, well-lit streets.  I wasn’t about to go for a jog in a dark, unknown forest alone. (Even with my SafeGirl personal alarm – thanks Boutique Sport!)  The winters in London are dark, and my weekends are busy. Finding some daylight hours to test out the trail was near impossible.

Solution #2 – My office closes from December 21 – January 2 and since we’re not going anywhere for the holidays I suddenly have a lot of daylight hours that will not be spent at a desk in an office buildling.

Excuse #3 – I didn’t have trail shoes

As far as excuses go, this isn’t a good one. I know I could have ran a trail easily in one of my 3 pairs of running shoes, and short of some mud stains, nothing would be much different.  

Solution #3 – Have trail shoes magically show up on my doorstep one Monday evening

I saw that the Brooks Running had some samples left from their Pure Project tour to still give away (why interacting with brands on Twitter is awesome) and low and behold, they sent me a pair of their Women’s PureGrit! They’re so orange!

No more excuses TIME TO RUN.

My first impression of the PureGrit shoes were how tight they fit. They’re technically minimalist shoes so they hug your foot much more than my normal road stability shoes.  Since I have size narrow 5.5 feet (same size as Kate Middleton if you’ve forgot) it’s rare running shoes fit me this well.

My second impression was how hard it was to stand up on London side walks in them. They have psuedo-spikes on the bottom and since it’s about a mile and a half to get to the park/trail, I slipped and slid down the big hill to Finsbury Park. Much to the delight of the Halal butchers unloading goat carcases.

I made it in one piece to Finsbury Park and ran straight to the muddy grass. You can see what a beautiful day it was in London. 

The Parkland Trail was easy to find and filled with people walking their dogs. It made me super envious and more determined than ever to find a running dog to rent on Saturdays. Check out this French Bulldog kicking it in the mud.

The trail is really cool as it’s an old railway that was almost completely built before WWII, but after the war was abandoned. There are old platforms still there like this old Crouch End Hill station.

The shoes were so great on this trail. It was mostly muddy, but lots of pebbly parts and the shoes gripped the ground in all conditions. Plus going through a lot of puddles my feet weren’t annoyingly soggy for the whole run. My hairband didn’t last as it flew off into a puddle, so was relegated to my leg for the rest of the run.

All in all it was a (very slow – taking pictures and running isn’t my forte) wonderful 10k run and possibly my favourite run of 2012. 

I’m 10km away from completing the #80milemonth for December and am on the verge of signing up for a Spring half marathon, so hopefully there will be more trail runs like this in my future.

Just when you think you’ve seen everything in London (photo via )

Ice Skating at Somerset House is so mandatory during the holiday season that I’ve gone twice in one week. 

Saturday at the Brockley Market. Exploring SE London with the experts! Food & Mulled Wine courtesy of @Egg_boss @MotherflipperUK @fleishmob.

coffee point

When I saw that @eightpointnine was offering a new service in London to create and deliver a coffee just to your taste right to your door I signed up right away.

The coolest part is you get to name your blend – I chose Coffee Point Mornings to remind me of some of my favourite mornings of my life enjoying a coffee with friends before whatever adventure I was about to embark on.  

Thanks Eightpointnine for the awesome idea (and @gogogojulia for sharing so many coffee point mornings!)

FYI This isn’t sponsored at all. No freebes or anything. A friend of a friend mentioned they did this and I thought I’d give it a try.