The Endurance 10k

Inspired by oor @ironpugsley’s blog : Scenes From A Swimming Pool, my in-built awareness of choppers was heightened this weekend. And Lochore 10k didn’t disappoint!

Picture the scene: a cold, crisp October morning. A misty loch footpath. A 10k with a low limit to participants. 150 max. 

As we warm up by the loch, I spot the first of many choppers. 

Let me clarify the term “chopper”: I define a chopper as someone who takes themselves, and chosen sport, a little *too* seriously. 

Now. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t take your chosen sport seriously, and preparation for any distance and any event is always essential… But this is a 10k. With a water station. Are nutrition packs, with two full bottles in the belt, gels AND a 750ml hand-held bottle necessary? All that weight must be a challenge to carry. I don’t think I even drank that much on the bike leg at Aberfeldy… On a 10k it is a bit excessive. 

It gets worse.

As we lined up on the start line (footpath) I was nudged by my other half. He whispered “camelback to your right”. 

Surely fucking not. 

Well. It wasn’t just *any* camelback. No. No dear readers, it was a Herbalife camelback. She was getting beaten no matter what… 

I started to panic that I’d missed a memo. Was this some kind of endurance race? Was I about to run a great deal further than planned? A quick look at the other 80 people sans 15 litres of fluid attached to them and I was reassured. 

The race started and I very quickly overtook Mrs Herbalife. “Good”, I thought. “One down.” 

Mr Nutrition Pack was running a similar pace to me, so I was treated to the overspill of music from his Yurbuds AND the sloshing of all of his bottles of juice. I was also privy to his breathing. 

Brian perfectly summarised it after watching/hearing him cross the line. “He sounded like someone was kicking a horse”

You may think I’m being harsh, here. But 57 minutes of sloshing, faint dance music and sniffing, coughing and spluttering is enough to fill anyone with the kind of rage that Spurs one on to a 3 minute PB…

Oh! And the PB! I should mention that. Did I mention that? I must thank Mr Nutrition Pack for being so unbearable to run near. Because without his spluttering and sloshing and throat-clearing I’d probably not have been able to keep as fast a pace for as long. 

I do love Choppers. There is nothing like some top quality entertainment and a reminder of when I used to adorn myself with every conceivable thing to improve performance. Turns out it’s just hard work and determination that helps there! 

‘Mon the Choppers! 

10 things what I have learned. 

You know what they say, “every day is a school day” and there is nothing I like more than a life lesson or general finding-out of something. 

In a previous blog I discussed the 8 things I have learnt about endurance. And myself and I’ve continued my education since. 

I shall now review the things I have learnt since becoming Half-IronBean. 

Prepare to be amazed. 

1. I can still fucking eat.

Seriously. My plan to go on a nice easy cut after the tri lasted 4 days before my brain decided that a cut meant holy crap let’s just eat everything I think I’m getting a cold oh god I can’t get sick let’s fix it with carbs. All the carbs. So I went on a cut and gained a kilo. Winning. At. Life. 

Happily I have gone back on that “cut” except now it’s just called “normal calorific intake that normal people eat” and I feel much better. And it’s working. Slowly. 

2. I don’t miss getting up at 5am. 

I’ll have to soon enough. When Etape and VLM training commence in January, I’ll need to fit it all in. Hoo-sodding-Ray. I can’t just pick ONE EVENT. nope. But for now my alarm doesn’t venture pre-6am and I am OK with that. 

3. I recovered FAST! 

After my marathon, I could literally not bend my knees for 5 whole entire days. People called me “limpy” at work for a month. I could’ve gone for a run 2 days after Aberfeldy. I say “could’ve”. I would sooner have eaten my unwashed kit from the day. But I was FINE. 

4. I miss having A Plan. 

I am a list person. I think I’ve mentioned this. I enjoy a list of things to do. My little world is very chaotic and stressful. I speak to many many people every day and make many many decisions. So it is really nice to have my coach put a workout in my Training Peaks for me, and I can just work my own way through it. For those hours spent in the gym I just tick things off a list. And I’m seeing massive improvements in strength. Literally loads. I can lift things. And put them down. It is good. 

5. I have not immediately gained 60kgs and given up all activity. 

I was sorely tempted to burn all my kit… But I didn’t. I’ve discovered a real pleasure in time spent alone away from technology and inane questions about company policy and housework and telly. I *like* running. And cycling. And for the most part, despite a structured plan to improve strength and conditioning, I am getting to do things and *enjoy* them. Such a treat. 

6. I still like soreen. 

Yup. There. I said it. I still like it and would eat it out of choice. It is healthy cake. 

7. I don’t *need* cake to be happy. 

I’ve had to reluctantly admit this. Knowing that January will come and mileage will creep up and carbs will once again get to feature in my world on a larger scale. While I look forward to more days of cake-based joy, I know I can get some enjoyment from a delicious banana or a mint tea. 

*cries a bit about the tea* 

8. I do not miss Lane Rage. 

Saturday afternoon foot-tapping is currently a thing of the past and this is a good thing. I do miss the hour spent submerged in my own thoughts while happily bashing out 3000m without breaking a sweat. But the choppers doing doggy paddle in the only fecking lane are gone from my life for now. 

9. I have not miraculously become an excellent bikist. 

Quite the oppsite. As it turns out you actually need to cycle more than once a week to stay good. I’m just keeping basic miles in my legs right now but I was sorely disappointed to only get 3rds on Strava on my last outing. It felt like it was fast, too. And there was no force 10 gale either. This simply won’t do. 

10. I miss my wetsuit!

I don’t think anyone has ever said that. Only a certain demographic enjoy slipping into something unflattering and rubbery, and I’m not that demographic. But I really miss swimming amongst shopping trolleys and used syringes! I do! There is something liberating about open water. I mean, I could go for a dip but I don’t want to die of exposure. It’s Scotland, for fucks sake. It’s October. It’s basically mid-winter now. 

Roll on May. 

Onwards to more learning of things… 

A Blog About Boobs 

Ha! That got your attention… This *is* a product review. Hopefully a good one. And definitely not for boys. Soz.

A while back, I wrote a blog about boobs which prompted global* outcry and immediately millions** of women sought out a correctly fitting bra because of my blog. I know. I just change lives.

*very small Twitter based chat.

** about 7

It was therefore quite unexpected and lovely when the kind folks at Shockabsorber got in touch to ask if I’d review their Run Bra for them. I’ve never been asked to do that before. I was slightly hesitant due to accidentally clicking through to some very dull and uninformative review blogs over the years… But I do love this product…
Let us kick things off with a picture of said Run Bra:

I know what you’re thinking… But sorry, it’s not me in that picture. Because I categorically do not look attractive while running. Also I live in Scotland. I need 8 layers of thermals over my run bra.

Getting Fitted
First of all, let me remind you ladies, no matter your size, it is VITAL (shouty capitals for emphasis…) that you always wear a correctly fitted bra. *adopts geek voice* Especially when you are engaging in physical activities… Get yourselves fitted, by a trained fitter and try some bras out. Everyone is different and every brand has a different fit. This means that often trial and error is the best way.

A good fitter will measure you but use their eye and intuition to find you the ideal fit. It’s not always as simple as whipping out a measuring tape…
How do I know this, you ask? Because it’s my job. I was trained to fit bras at 16 and I’ve worked with every leading brand in the subsequent 12 years. So you can trust me, I knows my stuffs.

The Bra
The Run Bra keeps The Girls strapped down and safe and is really very comfy. They don’t chafe or shift about and the fabric lining to the cups wicks sweat (boob sweat is the WORST) also, aesthetically, it gives you a nice shape without flattening you entirely. #BanTheShelfBoob

There is only one minor drawback to this bra: when you are in a rush, or not, or sweaty, or not, it is the single hardest thing to get on over your head. And you DEFINITELY need to put it on over your head. Because trying to fasten the upper clasp when it’s on is basically the equivalent of trying to fly an aircraft while cooking an 8 course meal.

Here’s a snap to show you the clasp…

I have spent many frustrated minutes in a swimming pool changing room cursing at it as it twists itself and sticks to my skin meaning my head is kind of caught and my arms are stuck out at odd angles.
However. PERSEVERE. Once it’s on its comfort-all-the-way. And your heart rate is up from all the swearing and hauling of stuff so hey! You’re warmed up!

The bra is unwired, which used to scare me because traditionally, unwired means that your boobs don’t get as much of a robust support. But actually it adds to the comfort and it means your Garmin HR strap (that’s a heart rate strap, not a row of Personnel managers, and other brands are available and probably work better…) will sit tucked under it slightly.

At the moment, the Shockabsorber Run bra is only available up to a DD cup. I’d like to see them push this up to the bigger cup sizes. If you are more generous-of-boob than this, check out Shockabsorber’s Active Classic D+ sports bra (up to a FF) or Panache Sport (it’s a formed cup and is available both wired and non-wired) which goes up to a GG.
Price wise, Shockabsorber are pretty competitive and are stocked by most online sports retailers and department stores. If you shop around you can get some pretty decent prices on the “core” colours (black and white) and on previous fashion colours. Best deals I’ve seen are from around £22 up to £35. I would always recommend you did invest in a decent brand like Shockabsorber.


There are arguments that the sports ‘houses’ like Nike and Adidas have sport at their core so really understand how the body moves. However, from actual proper wearer and fitter experience, stick with the lingerie specific brands.

One of the things which makes this product unique, is that the research conducted by Shockabsorber shows that your breasts actually move in a figure of 8 pattern when you are up and about which, if left unsupported, stretches and irreversibly damages the Cooper’s ligaments attaching the breast tissue to the muscle. Trust me when I say Nike and Adidas are purely trend driven. They look nice but when they are put to the test, if you’re any bigger than an AA cup you’re not getting ‘sturdy’ enough support.

Hahaha. Sturdy. Makes it sound like some kind of girdle. A boob girdle.

User Experience

I’ve worn the Shockabsorber Run bra for weights, running, cycling, yoga and Pilates. The weird looking back panels are actually very comfy to lie on. You don’t notice them. They can twist though so make sure they’re in the right position once the bra is on.

This was also my bra of choice for the Aberfeldy Middle Distance triathlon. I opted to wear it under my tri suit beneath my wetsuit. It dried very fast and there is enough flex and arm room to prevent restrictions on the swim.
Then there’s the colours! I have owned black and white. But lingerie buying, generally, is quite a monochrome experience. I was delighted to receive the black/pink version above.

So! Overall, I’d emphasise the importance of a good, correct fit in your sports bras, girls. This is on of my favourites. But it might not be YOURS. So please go and try some and jump about like a loon in the fitting room (seriously. Make sure The Girls stay put) and find out what suits your shape and sport.

Getting Back on the Horse. Sort of.

Last week I ran the East Neuk 10k. I had been in need of a running race to get me motivated again and it had taken a great deal of HTFU pills and cajoling from my other half to register. It was an out-and-back course over a mixture of tarmac and rough, rubbly farm tracks in a not-by-the-sea section of the Fife coast.

Sold. Wait… Ok Sold. There might be fish and chips at the end.

As it turns out, it was an absolutely BEAUTIFUL day. The sun was splitting the skies as we drove an hour from home to Anstruther up the dodgy A roads. Of course, my phobia of being cold and the freezing cold morning that belied the coming Mediterranean day meant that I very much overdressed. A decision I would regret almost the second I hit start on my Garmin.

The race started and finished at Waid Academy and was well marshalled and supported. I had been really nervous about this race. Mostly because it was my first running race since the tri and I was worried I had possibly forgotten how to run. Of course I hadn’t. And yes I’d been for a few other ‘jogs’ since Feldy… But I just wasn’t getting the pace I wanted. The other reason I was apprehensive was the list of entrants. 90% of the 200 people entered were affiliated with a club. I know clubs are mixed ability but generally, these smaller races are more popular with people who are sub 55 minutes on a 10k. I’m just pleased to get under 65 minutes.

Convincing myself that I wouldn’t be last and that 65 minutes is still a solid 10k effort 4 weeks post middle-distance, I stood on the start line. Baking.

Here’s how the conversation with myself went that morning:

Cold Bean: “Ronhill shorts will be fine. But I always get cold arms. Go with the Brooks top.”

Colder Bean: “Are you MENTAL? No. We’ll go Adidas Climawarm. You’ve done an 18 miler in that in 15 degrees and you managed.”

Cold Bean: “Meh. OK. I can roll the sleeves up”

Stupid, stupid girls. I had rolled the sleeves up before I even got to the start line.

Anyway. I had planned to run the first 5km at my current PB pace of 6min20s per km. Then after 5km, if everything was holding together, I would start to speed up a little. This was basically shot to shit the minute I set off way too fast and then spent the next hour melting. Literally melting. For the first time ever in a race, I didn’t drink all the water I was given at 5k. I downed a sip and the poured the rest down my top and over my head. About 15 seconds of minimal relief. I was still managing to hold a strong pace though.

Around 7km, I heard some heavy breathing behind me and met a girl called Lesley who was dragging herself around her first ever 10k, and first official race en route to the Edinburgh half marathon next may. She was in a world of hurt so I tried to cheer her with some happy thoughts and encouragement. It seemed to work and she was soon picking up a bit of pace again. Speaking to Lesley reminded me of something I ponder a lot when I’m running: Every race is someone’s first race. Every time you toe the start line of any event, it could be someone’s first. Aberfeldy was my first triathlon where the support and camaraderie of my fellow athletes was nothing short of wonderful.

I often think back over my journey and how far I’ve come. My 10k time may still be over 60 minutes but it’s so much faster than when it was 80 minutes. I don’t make half the mistakes I used to save for the occasional wardrobe miscalculation. I definitely enjoy running more these days too. And that’s the whole point, isn’t it?

As I crossed the line I was scooped up by Brian who promptly realised why I was broken and let go because SWEATY. I resisted the urge to tank my bottle of water and sipped slowly while chewing on a dextrose tablet administered by a kind soul who took pity.

So there we have it. 1:01.05 for me and a sneaky 49 minutes for Mr Spence. And Beer! AND BLING! (Nae fish and chips tho…)12036955_10153562856565675_3112241317599811320_n