Social running, Cervia Night Run and the IronMan

Week: 18.09.17-24.09.17

This week my virtual runners are Claire Smiles-Harrison, Lorna and Matt. Thank you for your support and joining me on this fun week of running both home and abroad!

The focus this week was on Paul’s IronMan. An incredible triathlon challenge which includes distances that are bordering on the ridiculous, not only that but you HAD to do it in 16 hours if not you couldn’t class yourself as official finisher. Unfair somewhat?! Why anyone would want to do it, but quite incredible that anyone can. As my blog has recorded this was Paul’s 30th birthday present from me, he has apparently always wanted to do it. Paul has been training all year for this event. He has been out for hours cycling, swimming and running (the latter being his least favourite of the three). I knew that he could do the challenge with all the effort he had put in but still had everything crossed that he would complete it safely and enjoy it. This was the week we would find out if he would.

Date: 18.09.17

Location: Newcastle

Distance: 4.6 miles

Time: 43:31

Run notes: Up and Running Gosforth, a small running shop which is part of a chain of running shops had opened on the High Street. I was pleased to see an independent running retailer open near me. I had also found out a few weeks ago that they were starting a social running club. This sounded perfect to me, because I am a bit put off by the more serious running clubs, because I am not that serious and I am not that good. The date of the first run had been in the diary for a few weeks now.

The nights were drawing in and it was a little cold, so I persuaded Paul as soon as he arrived home from work, to go straight back out again to drive me to the shop. He was currently tapering for his main event so whilst I had asked him he had sensibly declined the offer to join me on the social run.

Not knowing what to expect I arrived at the shop, was given a friendly greeting and signed in. There was about 12 women and 1 man there ready to run. There was also a TomTom representative there so we could try the TomTom watches available for our run. I did this as I have wanted to compare the watch with my own Garmin 230 watch. So I ran with a watch on both wrists!

up and running

I met several lovely runners and had a good chat as we ran at a nice pace to the middle of the town moor and back. The rain was threatening but it didn’t start whilst we were out running. It felt really good to be running with other people, I always find the miles go by much easier when there are other people around. I did my usual saw the shop at the end and picked up my pace – it’s obviously inbuilt in me. I need to learn to stop it!

Here’s  my finding from the TomTom watch:


  • It’s much cheaper than my Garmin watch
  • It comes in a range of nice colours
  • It’s quite easy to use
  • If you get the particular type of Garmin it holds your songs or audio books for you so you don’t need to carry your phone with you (I really like this feature)


  • It’s very chunky
  • Because of the watch structure the fit isn’t as comfy as Garmin
  • The ‘easy to use’ square button which controls all functionality wasn’t that easy for me to use and stopped my run recording several times rather than just pausing it

All in all, its a decent watch which appears good value for the price.

Once the TomTom rep had chatted away to me for what felt like a very long time about the perks of the watch despite me explaining and showing him that I had a Garmin watch (everyone else had managed to sneak away!) I didn’t call Paul to ask to be picked up as he had suggested but ran home. That’s of course when the rain started. When the weather isn’t too cold there is something nice about running in the rain (particularly when you re not going to far. I am not sure I would fancy a marathon in it). I felt refreshed, super committed to my running and happy to be out doing it.


Average pace: 9:17/mile

Splits: (min/mile)

– Mile 1 – 9:48

– Mile 2 – 9:38

– Mile 3 – 9:47

– Mile 4 – 8:39

– 0.6 Mile – 8:20

Achievements: 2 x segment personal records

Date: 21.09.17

Location: Cervia, Italy

Distance: 6 miles

Time: 57:40

Run notes: So we were in Cervia, Italy, with Paul’s Dad and Margaret. Paul’s bike box and us had made it their by train, plane and automobile (that’s not an exaggeration – thanks Mum and Dad for the lift to the airport – it was very much appreciated).

This was it. It was all about the IronMan experience. Paul would be doing the following distances on Saturday:

Swim: 2.4 miles in the Adriatic sea
Cycle: 112 miles
Run: 26.2 miles

What a birthday present eh?!

The weather was nice and sunny, but I had my fingers crossed that it wouldn’t remain too sunny on the Saturday for Paul’s IronMan. There was lots of preparations to be done; Paul had registered:


and signed his name at the start:


We had attended the starters briefing (where we discovered the course had the longest transition Zones for the athletes to be running through – because the distance they were already doing wasn’t enough).

We wandered round the IronMan village and look what we found on one of the stalls!!


Stroop waffels in disguise as energy snacks!!

Tonight was the Athletes Welcome Party – with buffet, and the Cervia Night Run at 6 mile run, which Paul had entered us both into, so that I could have my own IronMan-esque experience. One problem they were on at the same time. Well the Welcome Party started 30 minutes earlier. I wanted Paul to experience everything possible for the IronMan so what would you do?

Well obviously we did both, because that is how we roll. As a side note, whilst the staff and volunteers involved in the event are really lovely, friendly and well organised, several of the athletes taking part were very egotistical, serious, and have the I am better than you attitude and honestly embody everything that I dislike about sport. So with our numbers pinned to our fronts, polystyrene light batons in hand (I love these and have brought them home), we entered the Welcome Party tent dancing to the brilliant live brass band playing all the favourites. We queued to get a plate of lasagne, salad and pork kebabs and bottle of water and sat down at an empty place.


The looks that we received from some of the surrounding IronMan competitors (see previous statement) were, well lets say interesting. We gave them a wave and wolfed down the food, we had 20minutes to the start. The lasagne was so good!


We left making our way to the sports club on the beach to the start line, where we joined hundreds of other Night Run runners. The atmosphere was completely different. There was a buzz in the air.


This photo not only shows the atmosphere but also we are no good at taking selfies!

The perfect music to psych you up for a run was blaring, and I was back to my usual warm up of dancing on the spot but this time with our light batons flashing. Admittedly Paul loved one of the tracks so much we then heard on repeat for the rest of the holiday.


Just before the klaxon sounded we agreed not to run a quick run as we may be sick after our probably ill-timed dinner.

It was such a fun run. The first half mile was on the beach with absolutely no lights (this sadly would never have happened in the UK – due to health and safety regulations) and I was a bit nervous about Paul’s ankles for the IronMan. It was difficult to see where you were going but thanks to the other runners and two volunteers randomly separately standing with whistles to let you know they were there I think we made it off the sand. Then we very slowly ran the streets of the town, through the new areas and the old. It was a brilliant way to get a tour of the city.

An Irish lady ran past us and shouted that she loved our top – I realised that Paul is wearing the same official top as everyone else so it must be me in my MS Trust vest! Raising awareness for MS and the MS Trust on the continent!

As we got close to the finish line, we picked up that pace a little and then suddenly Paul was off! I pretty much couldn’t see him for dust! I gave chase but I don’t have the explosive energy that he does so I resorted to bopping him on the head with my light stick when I crossed the line a few seconds after him.


This was genuinely a great run, there was no official time keeping and the distance was a random 6 miles (.2 short of a 10k). It was there to be enjoyed. And we did.  I love the running top we were given, definitely one I am going to wear to be seen on the dark winter runs and the medals are really great too.

Average pace: 8:06/mile

Splits: (min/mile)

– Mile 1 – 10:21

– Mile 2 – 9:44

– Mile 3 – 9:47

– Mile 4 – 9:44

– Mile 5 – 9:20

– Mile 6 – 8:29

The next morning my hips were aching and I was walking like, well like someone who had incredibly achy hips. I still can’t work out what I have done, there was absolutely nothing on the run to cause this and certainly the copious amounts of gelato could not have been a contributor. We were walking a lot this holiday perhaps it was that.

On the Saturday it was time for Paul’s IronMan. This meant we were up at the 4.45am to have breakfast and get to the transition point for Paul to prepare before it was closed. I think the supporters get more nervous than the participants. I was jabbering away and taking a million photos (I won’t bore you with all of them) while we waited for it to start. I had my plan for the day in my head with my cheering positions for each stage all worked out.


The sun rose, the beach was full of supporters, soon the klaxon sounded for the start and they were off in 5 second waves. This was it, everything Paul had worked for.


13 hours 1minute and 52seconds later Paul had completed the IronMan! He was amazing! I like to think mycowbells at every stage spurred him on (more likely encouraging to keep running to get away from the noise and the idiot shouting HAPPY BIRTHDAY! at him).

I am so proud of him, I couldn’t imagine swimming and cycling all that way and then thinking about doing a Marathon.  He even came down the finishing funnel with such style he made it look like it had been a walk in the park (but had assured me later it hadn’t!)


The next few days, Paul was totally was totally fine, already talking about where one day he might do his IronMan. I however was still oohing and ahhing with every stair I had to walk up. What is this about?!


Well done Paul on becoming an official IronMan!!x


Achievements: We now have an official IronMan living in our house and I have a big light stick – I think that counts as a win!

Thank you Claire, Lorna and Matt for joining me for this great week of night time running, it was such fun meeting new people and spreading awareness of the MS Trust across the continent!

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