Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Lauren Bradshaw's busy summer of fun =)

I have to say what a cracking summer we have been blessed with this year. Delightful sunshine makes training so much more enjoyable plus the fact you can build up a lovely suntan =) It has been a rather manic couple of months with some big challenges and personal achievements so here is a run-down on what has been going on in my quest of sporting glory….!


Cambridge Triathlon (15.6.14) – Based at Mepal Outdoor Centre on a drizzly Sunday morning I competed in my very first Olympic distance triathlon. As someone who has predominantly been concentrating on sprint distance races for the last couple of years the step up to Olympic seemed a little daunting (even though I have completed 3 half iron distance races which are even longer). But for some reason I have had a little bit of a stigma for this distance and on race day I was actually quite nervous. Swimming is definitely not my strong point and so I know I will never be first out of the water but rely on my strengths on the bike and then on the run to come into my own. I managed to place 4th female overall and won my age group so was pretty pleased with that for a first time effort – but I think Olympic is probably not my distance as I do not have enough miles to hunt people down on the bike and then the run!

Great Nottinghamshire 100 Mile Bike Ride (22.6.14) – This was my first attempt at a 100 mile sportive and so again was incredibly nervous at what may or may not happen! I have ridden a few 100 mile club rides in the past but they have always been interrupted with a rather lovely café stop for some cake and tea and therefore to ride 100 miles straight would be a whole new ball game. Fortunately my Ironman boyfriend who can ride 100 miles flat out in his sleep joined me and suggested that I ‘sit on his wheel’! I was a little dubious about my ability to ‘sit on his wheel’ at 35kmh for 100 miles but was up for the challenge. He gave me advice to take on an energy gel every 30 minutes along with regular sipping from my energy fuelled sports drink and the odd Haribo or 2 and I stuck to this plan religiously. At the 65 mile point I was just about clinging on to his wheel when he unfortunately (or maybe fortunately for me) had a rear puncture and had to stop to fix it. We agreed that I would continue without him and he would catch me up. I was very surprised that for the remainder of the 35 miles I actually rode solo as he never caught me up but he finished not too far behind me and so in hindsight the puncture actually benefitted me as I dropped my speed a little to average 33kmh which probably allowed me to finish the ride as I think I may have struggled to keep the 35kmh with Tom but who knows – we’ll have to try another one and find out! I completed the ride in 4 hours and 54 minutes and was the first lady to cross the finish line. I was over the moon with my time and crushed Tom’s optimistic expectations of me finishing within the 5 hour mark =)


Gog Magog Gran Fondo 80 Mile Sportive (29.6.14) – After finishing the 100 miler I thought an 80 miler would be a breeze but it is a lot different to ride individually than sitting in the draft of someone else. Tom and his super cyclist friends had decided to try and ‘smash’ the course so went off in a pack and worked together at a speed that I would have no chance of maintaining and so I went off alone. All was going swimmingly averaging just under 30kmh on a very hilly course until 60 kms into the ride I hit a pothole and my rear wheel exploded. I ended up having a double tyre blow out and had to abandon the ride as my tyres were ruined and was rescued by the support team and driven home. I was so disappointed that I didn’t get a chance to finish this event but I guess these things happen in our sport and I have to take the rough with the smooth.

Carnival Tour 50 Mile Sportive (6.7.14) – So the Tour de France came to town – how exciting! As part of the build-up celebrations for the Tour coming to Cambridge, Saffron Walden Velo hosted a ride that would encompass part of the actual route the professional cyclists would ride on the following day in Stage 3 of the tour. The weather was actually atrocious the morning of the ride and it was torrential rain for pretty much the entire 50 miles. I managed to overcome the rain and finished as the first lady which again I was delighted with and felt as though I was building on my confidence with each and every ride. A special well done to my dear friends Aimee and Nick who also completed the sportive and helped make the day a lot more enjoyable.



Morzine (10.7.14-17.7.14) – SUPER MORZINE!!!! Training camp/holiday. This was my very first trip to the French Alps and I can certainly say that it will not be my last. What a place. I cannot describe how beautiful it is to wake up surrounded by beautiful scenery like that. Simply breathe taking. Anyway the plan was to use the week to train at higher altitude and also to train on the mountains. The weather on arrival was pretty dismal – grey cloud and A LOT of rain! This persisted for the first 4 days (rather depressing) but we did not let it bother us and so front loaded the week with more running sessions. Running around the stunning Lake Montriond and along the fast flowing mountain rivers and waterfalls makes for some of the best run spots you could imagine and some tough hills too! The sunshine decided to come out and play for the latter half of the week which enabled us to do some great climbs on the bike as descending on wet roads is not advisable as my friend Nick discovered when he had a nasty crash down one of the Cols and shredded a significant amount of skin off his hip (fortunately nothing more sinister than road rash though). The first big climb we did was roughly for 7-8K at 9% gradient and that was my first taster of opening the lungs! The climbs got longer and steeper as the week progressed but I can definitely feel the benefits as my regular Tuesday Chain gang friends have nicknamed me the mountain goat since my return as I can easily accelerate up the Cambridge hills (or lumps) now and leave them for dust!!! We also managed to squeeze in a few swim sessions in the amazing 50m outdoor pool and in the lake (which is fed by the melting snow off the mountains – so yes incredibly cold!) Even with my wetsuit and swim cap I felt like I was developing brain freeze so only managed a 2k swim until I had to get out and warm myself up. Morzine is definitely the place to be to improve your training and I hope that I can make annual visits to further enhance my mountain goatness!

BIG Swim (26.7.14) – Considering swimming is my weakest discipline as a triathlete, I decided I should try to conquer my fears and delve into some murky waters and swim the farthest I’ve ever swam in my life. Therefore I entered the 5K BIG swim at Holme Pierrepont in Nottingham along with my boyfriends’ housemates James and Kathryn (who I must add are MEGA swimmers and could outswim a shark). Once again I was very anxious pre-race partly because I had never swam more than 4 kms in one go before and was unsure about nutrition and whether or not I would cramp in my calves which I have a tendency of doing when I swim for a long period of time. We had to do 2 x 2.5km loops which included a little run between 2 points and thankfully the ability to take a gulp of some fluids before diving back in off the pontoon (my favourite bit!). I had estimated that it would take me 1 hr. 45 minutes to complete and if I achieved that time I would be pleased. I came in at 1 hr. 44 minutes!! Super chuffed and not only that my Garmin computer read that I actually swam 0.5 kms further than I should have (probably because I am not so great at swimming in a straight line) – Bonus time!! I felt very satisfied to have achieved that time but not only that just the feat of actually completing the swim in the first place and it also makes the dreaded ironman swim seem less of a struggle to one day tackle. A huge congratulations to James and Kathryn who both placed 3rd.



Outlaw (27.7.14) – So here I am going to talk about an iron distance race which comprises of a 3.8km swim/180km bike/42 km run… yep that’s right! Also taking place at the National Water Sports centre in Nottingham we had made a weekend of mega racing. Tom had entered himself into his second iron distance race of the year and was hoping for a podium finish and so we had to be there to support him. Ironman distance is not only about the physical strength and stamina required to complete the distance but equally importantly is your mental strength. Having a support team around you can make a huge difference in a race that has a marathon at the end of it and so I intended on being the best support crew any athlete could ever wish for! We made flags, bashed bangers, bells and rattles and we literally chased Tom around the course for a full 9 hrs. and 13 mins until he crossed the finish line in an impressive 3rd place! An immensely proud girlfriend with a potentially celebrity boyfriend who will soon be making his channel 4 debut when he was interviewed as ‘one to watch’!!! (Look out for the highlights show end of August on Channel 4!)


Owler (3.8.14) – After the inspiration I gained from watching Tom finish his race I felt like I needed to up my game a little. I made a rather last minute decision and entered a half iron distance race called the Owler held in Ashford, Kent with less than 2 weeks to prepare for it. Though I know with all the training I had been doing it should not be too much of an issue. However, as seems to be the case this year with any big race I aim for I developed an awful tooth infection that left me with many sleepless nights and A LOT of pain on the run up to the race. So much so that I almost withdrew. However, the determined part of me decided to give it a go and try to tackle each section as I came to it. Funnily enough as soon as the horn went to start the swim my tooth pain disappeared and the adrenalin kicked in and so I was able to complete the entire event – yey! Even better when I finished in 5 hrs. and 8 minutes as 2nd lady overall and won my age group. Even better still I won a medal and a mug and a t-shirt with an owl on – and anyone that knows me well knows that I LOVE owls! Lesson learned from this event: DO NOT GIVE IN. Pain is temporary =)


Thursday, 12 June 2014

Lauren's good news!

So it feels as though summer is finally here – well almost – this changeable weather keeps teasing us and especially those of us that tend to ride our bicycles quite a lot! On my last update I talked about the fact that I have had a rather unfortunate start to 2014 with various illnesses and that I was about to compete at the 2014 European Duathlon Championships so here is my race report…


On Friday 11th April a big bus load full of Cambridgeshire based Duathletes and their respective partners, parents and avid fans embarked on a road trip across the channel to Horst in the Netherlands for the 2014 European Duathlon Champs. We all managed to find accommodation based in Center Parcs in Horst which was an ideal base for the race.

The race consisted of 2 distances the long and the sprint. I raced in the Sprint distance in the female age category 30-34 (my first race in this age-group). I knew that I didn’t have the ideal preparation for this race and so decided that I was going to concentrate on enjoying it and not get too hung up on my final result. I was confident that I could put in a good bike performance but that my run would be what suffered the most and this held true. I finished in 8th place (a little disappointing as I was 6th last year – but in a differe
nt age category so a bit tougher this year) but on analysis of my overall time I was only 50 seconds down on last year’s race and therefore cannot be too down hearted about it. As I mentioned in my last blog I had the Worlds to try to get fit for and so that was my new aim. Just get fit!



A part of me ‘getting fit’ involved my BUPA health check that I receive as an employee of Spire Healthcare. It revealed that I have the lung age of a 58 year old (which was assessed through basic peak flow measurements) and as you can imagine as an athlete this came as quite a shock! It does however explain why I have been under-performing and not feeling well and it was suggested that I have what is called Post Viral Asthma. Blood tests and X Rays came back clear and actually with some extended rest, I have not as of yet had to take any medication and think that I am starting to come out the other side.

During my ‘rest’ period I was very fortunate to be invited out to Canada to be the Physiotherapist for the Great Britain Diving team that were competing at a Grand Prix event in Quebec. This was a great opportunity to work alongside some of our Olympic athletes and future hopefuls and the first time I have worked with Divers in a competitive environment and they certainly kept me busy poolside! I managed to squeeze in a few quality run sessions (that were actually along the run route of last year’s World champs that were held in Ottawa) and my data revealed that I was indeed starting to pick up my pace which was encouraging.

As I continued to feel better, I upped the training a little and took part in a sprint triathlon back home in Nottingham at the beginning of May. I raced well and felt as though I was starting to get back into shape and ended up winning my age group and was 5th female overall. This gave me confidence that only a few weeks out from Worlds my performances were starting to pick up. Throughout this time I must give a special mention to my boyfriend Tom Vickery who I must say has been a true inspiration and a real driving force in improving my performance. He very kindly bought me an amazing Garmin triathlon specific training computer that basically tracks my every move whilst swimming, cycling and running and has been very interesting to analyse my training and racing and is really helping me to up the ante. This data can be uploaded to an App called Strava that most competitive triathletes/cyclists/runners use to keep an eye on their statistics and follow other athlete’s daily training (it is like the Facebook for athletes!). You can follow us both on the App if there are any avid Strava fans amongst you!


So next stop –2014 World Duathlon Championships, Pontevedra, Spain. I had a lot to prove to myself at this race. 2013’s Worlds I had food poisoning so had an awful race and after this year’s Europeans wanted retribution! And I got it. I managed to finish in 3rd place in my age category and 8th Female overall out of 175 women. This is my first international medal and I feel so incredibly proud to own it! I had an amazing race, recording a Personal Best performance and had the quickest bike split in my age group which I am also incredibly chuffed with as I have been working really hard on the bike. I can now see where I need to improve – need to get quicker at running and especially running off the bike but it felt so good to be fighting for a medal – it felt like a proper race! Because of my placing I have pre-qualified for next year’s World Championships in Adelaide, Australia which will be amazing! Need to go for Gold now =)

So what’s next…. I have the Cambridge triathlon in 2 weeks which will actually be my first Olympic distance triathlon – so I am excited to see how I fair at that distance. I am then going off to Morzine with Tom and some close friends for a ‘training camp’ (not a holiday) to get some good solid bike miles in the legs and train the mountains – I cannot wait! I have a Half Ironman race called the Vitruvian which is based in Rutland Water at the end of August and so I need to get out of sprint mode and onto the long train! I am hoping to enter a full Ironman race next year so this could be the beginning of the end….!




Until next time =)

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Jane Dixon's first Blog!

‘Write a Blog’, my boss said.  ‘What’, I said.  ‘Yes – about your last trip to the Netherlands’, he said.  ‘At my age’, I said.  ‘No excuses’, he said!

So here I am, at the tender age of – well we won’t go into that now – writing my first ever blog, about one of my regular trips to Europe.  But a bit of background info first.

Here at Progress, I am the Clinical Specialist Women’s and Men’s Health physiotherapist working at Advanced Practitioner level treating such things as urinary and faecal incontinence, prolapse, erectile dysfunction, constipation etc. etc.  All those problems that people generally don’t want to talk about.  I’ve been specialising in this area of physiotherapy for 30 years now, and teach both undergraduate and post-graduate students.

In 2002, I added a new dimension to the ‘tools of my trade’ and purchased a real-time scanner to enable me to get more in-depth information about the problems I was treating.  In fact I was probably one of the first women’s health physios in the UK to use a scanner.  I have a physiotherapy friend who is also a sonographer, so he put me through my paces and trained me up.  Without going into too much detail, the scanner enables me to watch pelvic floor and core abdominal muscles working, and analyse where things are going wrong.  And so to the reason for my trip.

As you’ve probably guessed, one of the things I teach is pelvic floor scanning.  I started teaching in Belgium in 2008, and in The Netherlands in 2011. The course runs over 2 days and is highly interactive. I wouldn't have it any other way, and it does keep me on my toes.

So my recent trip to The Netherlands was a busman’s holiday.  This time I flew to Amsterdam and took the train to Almelo.  Normally husband, dog and I drive and stay with our daughter who lives in Antwerp.  The dog knows all the ‘necessary’ stopping places en route!  But not this time as it didn't fit with other plans.

The course ran according to plan, with 16 delegates all keen to understand how ultrasound scanning improves assessment and treatment of pelvic floor dysfunction problems.  The physiotherapists are very focused and keep me on my toes with the hundreds of questions they ask.  Discussion is always rife, and I find this very rewarding too.  Not only am I teaching, I always leave these courses having learnt something from my colleagues too.

My trip home was equally exciting.  I had to stay overnight at Schipol Airport, as there were no late flights back to the UK on the Saturday.  So I stayed at the new modular CitizenM hotel. 

Rather than describe the layout, I’ve attached a couple of pictures.  Now it’s not every day that you make your daughter jealous but, well ……. 


I’m off again to The Netherlands in May to teach for two days and, yes, I’m going to stay overnight at the airport!!!

Lauren Bradshaw April Update

Spring is here finally! So a lot has happened since my last posting back in January. First of all I turned the big 30 and was fortunate enough to have multiple celebrations with family and friends which included a posh afternoon tea at the Savoy in London! (Far too much indulgence!) However, birthday week I developed the nasty cough/flu bug much like many of you reading this may have also developed as it seemed to be quite prevalent amongst my patient population and it completely wiped me out from work and indeed my training.
 
So despite aiming for a PB at the Cambridge Half Marathon unfortunately it was not to be – my heart rate was still far too high and technically I shouldn’t have ran but me being me wanted to push myself and after the first 3 miles felt awful and did not think I would complete the race. I did however manage to finish in a not so impressive time of 1.37 (personally disappointed after having such great training post-Christmas) and subsequently still have the 1 hr 30 to beat (I will do it!) The event was terrific and the weather was absolutely gorgeous – I think most of Cambridge came out on the streets to support the competitors and I was very thankful for the personal cheering I received from my friends and family – it’s amazing what a boost it can give you.

My story only goes from bad to worse however as I the ended up in hospital the following Tuesday and unfortunately had to undergo surgery to remove a cyst – that would explain another level of why I had been feeling so unwell. Another two weeks off from training was really hard to take but I felt really so unwell that I knew it was necessary rest and as most athletes may empathise, it was like pulling teeth! As I started to pick up a little I had a slight concern that I had a Cycling training Camp coming up at the end of my 2 weeks rest. I decided that I would pack my bike and all my kit and head out to Mallorca with Cambridge Triathlon and Cycling Club and just see how I felt. I am pleased to report that with a sensible start of weaning my way in easily I managed to ride everyday an average of 75-80 miles and progressed from strength to strength each and every day finishing with a 100 miler along the North West Coastal road that was full of challenging ascents and descents and forceful winds! I managed to squeeze in a few runs off the bike (otherwise known as a brick session) but my running (despite being my strength) is really not up to par at the moment and has taken the greatest strain from the illnesses I have had. I have however had the chance to really improve my bike strength and know that my running will come back to being what it was, I just need time.
 
So this last weekend I decided with one week to go until the European Duathlon Championships in Horst that I really needed to get a race under my belt and entered Diss Duathlon. Despite as I previously mentioned not running at my best and still not quite feeling a 100% managed to win my age group and finished 4th female overall. So I have to take the positives of that race and move forwards to Holland where I will be competing for GB in the Female Sprint race on Sunday April 13th. I know it has not been the perfect preparation for such an important race but I feel that I am starting to get my mojo back and will target the World Championships at the end of May as the race to peak for.
 
On another note, I was extremely honoured to speak at the Royal Society of Medicine in London on Monday 7th April at a conference for Aesthetic Performers and Athletes. I spoke about the uses of Performance profiling for rehabilitation specialists and how I as an ex ice dancer used profiling regularly to help achieve personal goals and achievements. The conference was extremely interesting covering topics from nutrition to strength and conditioning and bone health in sports such as dancing, gymnastics and diving. I hope that more opportunities arise in the future to discuss Performance profiling as it is the foundation of my current Masters dissertation and I am extremely passionate about helping our athletes maximise their performance.


All in all turning 30 hasn’t been so nice to me but I will keep on striving to stay fit and healthy and get my race face back on!

Thursday, 13 March 2014

An update from Tom Quantrell

So I have just spent my 3rd day at the National Sports Centre, Lilleshall with England Hockey on my interview/probationary period. 

2 more days to go and then I find out whether I can call myself an England Hockey physio, another day at Lilleshall in a weeks time and then a final day at Bisham Abbey.

Even if I am not successful I have now just about got a full set of quality people I have spent time shadowing during these days, the head physio for London 2012, the head physio for team GB 2012, the head physio for Paralympics team GB and the head physio for the Glasgow 2014 commonwealths.

Not a bad list of people to spend time and learn from. I will keep you posted, fingers crossed I don’t make an idiot of myself over my last 2 days.

Lauren Bradshaw – Specialist Sports Physiotherapist


Specialist Physiotherapist

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Cambridge Half Marathon 2014

What a glorious day for the Cambridge Half Marathon last Sunday!

We assembled a great team to provide much-needed relief to the runner’s tired and achey legs and backs. 
Sports massage is a great way to deal with post-event muscle soreness, and demand was high.  Our team saw over 150 runners… that’s a lot of calves!!

Everyone was genuinely grateful for the treatment they received, and despite two and half hours of continuous massage we were proud to support all of the runners that were supporting charities.


Cris


Here is a photo of most of the team from Sunday!

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Lauren Bradshaw's post christmas update!

Well what happened to January?! Often January can be a month of post-christmas blues and gloomy weather but fortunately for me I was lucky enough to travel to Verbier, Switzerland for my first ever ski trip! If you read my last blog I suggested that I may have some stories to tell from this trip and indeed I do….

So, my entire life I have wanted to go skiing but due to my previous commitments as a competitive ice dancer was not really allowed in case I injured myself (probably a wise move!). Therefore the excitement I felt embarking on my first trip was like a child at Christmas – I couldn’t wait to hit the slopes!
 
Day 1: I spent on the nursery slope figuring out how on earth to put on a pair of skis and indeed how to learn to stand up from falling over a million times. Using a button lift was also an interesting experience and my they do make your legs ache!

Day 2: I decided it would be a sensible choice to have lessons so stumbled upon a nice instructor who took me down my first blue runs showing me how to link up my turns and control my speed. We had a complete white out that day and so the safety of having an instructor was very reassuring.

Day 3: It was my friends 30th birthday so we had a fun day planned. I spent the morning in lessons with my nice instructor who turned out not to be so nice after deciding he would push my ability and started me on red runs and unbeknown to me took me down some black run! I had learnt to parallel turn, parallel stop and tackle the moguls – I can honestly say I was pretty petrified for most of this lesson but felt exhilarated and immensely proud that I had conquered a black route on my 3rd day of skiing!
I believe that my underlying strength and endurance from triathlon along with my balance and technical ability from figure skating really helped me to pick up skiing so quickly. After my lesson my thighs were on fire and decided to meet my friends for lunch only to discover that one of them had dislocated her knee cap and had been helicoptered off the mountain!! After the trip to hospital to collect the injured friend we decided to put the trauma of the day behind us and get on with celebrating the 30th birthday. We had all packed animal onesies and decided to hit the après ski dressed in our amazing costumes (I was an owl!) –much to the delight of the Verbier nightlife we were a big hit!!!
 
For the remainder of the week I returned back to the blue and red slopes and consolidated my new found skiing skills and made the most of the catered chalet food, wine and spa facilities!

I have almost definitely caught the skiing bug and I am already hoping that I may be able to sneak in a last minute long weekend before the end of the season and have already starting planning next year’s trip! Over at Progress we offer ski assessments which looking back in retrospect would have been ideal, especially for my friend who dislocated her knee – as ultimately this almost certainly occurred due to a lack of strength and stability.


So what next….?
I have a very busy spring coming up with a cycling trip to Majorca so I have been busy putting the miles in on my bike around the Cambridgeshire, Essex and Bedfordshire countryside along with many a sweaty evening in my garage sat on my turbo trainer (an indoor training system that you attach your bike to in awful weather!).
 
I really want to build up the miles as we will be averaging around a 100 miles per day on pretty mountainous terrain – therefore I do not want to burn out! I have also been building up the mileage in the running in preparation for the Cambridge Half Marathon on March 9th where I’m hoping to run a PB of sub 1 hour 30 minutes. Progress will be sponsoring the half marathon and offering post-race sports massage so I’m hoping my colleagues can flush my legs out afterwards!!

(Will be nice to be the patient for a change!) I’m also starting to build my swimming fitness up too – however I have a niggling shoulder injury at the moment so I need to make sure I practice as I preach and do my rehabilitation exercises to keep it nice and strong!

Until next time……happy training =)