20 week countdown: week one

May 28th to Sunday June 2nd: ending with The South Downs Relay

I started this training blog with a 52-week countdown, then 40 and here I am with 20 weeks to go. This feels real! I’m writing this retrospectively, but week one of 20 started on the UK Bank Holiday, and my holiday in Portugal with my kids and friend from school, Celia (she’s lived in the US for half her life now but we’re still as connected now as we were from seven to 25 when she left). The focus for the end of the week was the South Downs Relay.

Fiona and Celia – endurance women 50 going on 5

Cycling was not really going to be an option on holiday so I’d already decided to relax about this and focus on the run and swim.

I didn’t achieve my goal of 4K in the sea, but did manage 2.3K which was fantastic. I loved the clear water with the fish swimming beneath me. I was pleased to get two 10-mile runs on beautiful coastal routes completed over the holiday, as well as some easier, shorter runs.

When people thought the world was flat,  Sagres, which is the last stop before America, was once though to be the end point of the world. If it were, it would have been a good spot to finish. It’s an ideal spot for triathlon training too, and even though I didn’t cycle, I appreciated the long, quiet stretches of road and if I’d had running company I might have ventured a it further along the trails weaving their way through the national park.

Homeward Bound

On Thursday morning I had one last lovely run in Portugal and we flew home late afternoon. So on Friday morning I was back home and woke up early, and decided to go to My Ride. With the South Downs Relay, a 100 mile run across the Downs, as part of a team of six, meant I kept the pace and heart rate low and was pleased to see just eight hours recovery on my Garmin.

The South Downs Relay

With a 530am start looming on Saturday I went to bed early on Friday, but woke up, wide awake at 230am! I decided it wouldn’t affect me as I’ve raced tired lots of times before.


It did affect me! I was knackered and one minute a mile slower than I’d hoped/expected. However, as I type this on Tuesday June 5th feeling slightly ill, I think might have been harbouring a few bugs. But this was a team event, and my under performance didn’t deter from what was really a fantastic day of running, as part of a great team from Brighton Triathlon Club. This unique, invitation-only event, is very special to me. I’ve taken part five times now (in the past I ran with Hailsham Harriers) and it felt so good to see so many familiar faces – and to be inspired by older runners still able to record super fast time (most notably my running club, Arena 80’s Women’s team, all over 40 and won in super fast time).

For me the South Downs Relay marked the end of my messing about on the bike period and it’s time to really focus on the bike from now on! My road bike has been ‘pimped up’ by the guys at the Tri Store, Eastbourne, with new saddle, gears and bakes, courtesy of Chris and I’ve been measured for a Time Trial bike. I can’t avoid it any more. On your bike Fiona, on your bike!


Kona Mum on a Mission

Ordinary Women Being Extraordinary

Celia Boothman, 42, runs a personal triathlon and nutrition service and is based in Wales. The mum of two boys, Devon, 11 and Milo, eight, qualified for Kona after completing IronMan Wales in 2016. Despite coming off her bike in Kona, the iron woman soldiered on and completed the world champ race in 11.09. She continues to race, train and coach others and is soon launching training weekends for other triathletes.

It’s a good thing Celia says one of her strengths is keeping calm under pressure. After addicated training programme in the build up to the race of her life, the Kona World Triathlon Championships, she crashed her bike, and was flung over the handlebars. But never one to give, up Celia went on to finish the race and gained second place GB athlete in the 40 to 45 age group.

Based in Ironman Wales country, Celia runs a personal triathlon and nutrition service from her family home.  ‘I focus on performance and nutrition for long and short course triathletes,’ she says. ‘I love working with people who enjoy being outdoors, who love to train and are available to train and have a no fuss attitude to performance.’  Services she offers included one to one coaching, online training and nutrition packages as well as rural training weekends with a focus on great food, and optimum nutrition.

‘I was an active, outdoorsy child and I still love being outside,’ she says. Running is a strength, (she ran a 3.31 in an IronMan marathon), ‘I’ve run from a very early age, managing to get into the cross country team and race against the boys. I loved mud and racing,’ she says. Even though she always a competent runner, Celia had to work harder to master cycling, but time trials and time on the bike helped her reach a high standard, including winning the Welsh National 100 Mile time trial in 2014.’

In her younger years, Celia worked as an outdoor instructor in North Wales, which is where she learnt to perfect her ability to keep calm under pressure and stay in the moment. ‘Once climbing I was with a guy who couldn’t complete a traverse on the route that we were on. I had no choice but to go ahead and take over. I think keeping calm and just looking what had to be done in that moment really helped,’ she says. After doing a degree in textiles, Celia settled on a career in teaching before going to marry and have children.

‘In 2005, now married with two kids we decided to move to Wales – and this marked the start of my new life. I’d always run to keep fit but the time came to join a running club, but the average age was a fair bit older.  So looking for friendships with like-minded people I went along to the triathlon club as I’d heard there were younger members there. My triathlon career started with a super sprint and as time went by, I gradually built up the distance and did more racing. My first proper focussed race was the Anglesey Sandman in 2012 (olympic distance) – it was televised and I won it. I started to realise I was quite good at this and decided to follow a plan for the Slateman olympic distance race, another tough race. A half ironman followed this and by 2014, I was ready to take on my first Ironman.

‘For the first IronMan, I was self-coached, tapping into resources such as Joe Friel’s Training Bible and Your Best Triathlon books. I love to learn and have passion for reading books and podcasts. It took discipline to train by myself but I do quite like to train alone and with young children I had to fit it in when I could. I worked strategies to manage my time around family life, for example, getting up very early to go swimming. However, I didn’t burn the candle at both ends and made sure I was always in bed by 930pm. When training for Kona in 2017 I typically trained around 14 hours per week, but I did hit 25 on one occasion. 

‘The key to successfully completing training was always good planning,’ she says. ‘I’ll always have kit ready the night before if I’m getting up early. Often, I’d use dead travel time to train, for example I’d get my husband to drop me off on the way to or from a day out.’

As well as loving to learn, and train, Celia loves to cook and over the years she’s become more interested in nutrition. ‘Getting fuel right for triathlon training, particularly Ironman is so important. Like my training I always plan the family’s meals and try to keep it simple and healthy and ensure we always have a balanced meal such as a roast, stews with loads of veg, and we eat a lot of veggie meals. We shop at the supermarket, the farmer’s market and we have our vegetables delivered,’ she adds. ‘I used to watch my mother cooking and it’s something I love to do.’ But when it comes to training I do have to eat on the go and will choose peanut butter and rice cakes, left-over meat or oily fish with some pitta bread – but I won’t choose junk.’

I always like to have a goal and I believe that when I’m coaching someone they should have a goal but also love what they’re doing, and do it because they want to, not because someone else has told them they should. Training to be a coach was the natural progression. ‘I started off with the British Triathlon Level 2 coaching then followed this with other personal training qualifications. I launched Love the Rain in 2014,’ she says. Why Love the Rain? ‘I love being outdoors, I love being in the elements – if you love the rain you love life.’

As a coach Celia’s focus is on performance and nutrition for long and short course triathletes. She provides online training and nutrition packages and rural training weekends with a focus on great food, and optimum nutrition. Find out about her services here and download a free IronMan Training Schedule, here. http://ltrcoaching.co.uk/.