Last long run and dating frustrations

This was my last weekend before the Chester Marathon. I had one last long run to do and decided on 12 miles, an arbitrary number based on the fact that I had a good route for 12 miles.

I would have done it on Sunday morning but I was going to be marshalling fairly early at a local race so I decided to do it Saturday…But this also meant a very early morning and sadly not being able to do parkrun as my dad and me were heading to the O2 at 9am. We had gotten tickets to Empire Live, which is an event done by the Empire film review magazine. I’m a huge fan of their podcast and we had tickets to watch the it being recorded live. We also had tickets (it came as a package) to see some old and new films at the cinema there but the timings didn’t work out (we’d have had to have left super early or stayed there later than we fancied) and really we were only interested in the podcast, having a nice meal and a wander around.

Anyway, so Saturday morning saw me up again at 5.45am to be running by 6.30am. I felt very tired in general and like I should be in bed during the first mile but then I woke up a bit and got going (basically woman’ed-up). I saw a gorgeous sunrise over a farmer’s field that was growing pumpkins and it really was a beautiful sight. I wished I’d have taken a photo but I couldn’t be bothered with the faff. A bit later on though I did decide to snap a photo as I was a bit more compos mentos…img_5306The run seemed to fly by quite quickly. The temperature was lovely and cool and only started slightly warming towards the end. I did have a near miss moment with a squirrel that I almost ran over. I don’t know who was more shocked, the squirrel or me! He (she?) lept out of the bushes and in a comedy-esque moment stopped dead-still wide-eyes when he (she?) saw me. Then ran away.

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And my last long run was done! Woohoo! It’s funny because this twelve mile run was exactly the same as one of the first long runs I did when I started this marathon training. I did that run in an average pace of 8.20min/mile and for this run I did it in 8min/miles. Good progress I think!img_5329Then I got showered super fast and we were on the road to London. I decided to just have two apples for breakfast en route as I wasn’t that hungry to have anything bigger straight away and we were having a big early lunch as soon as we got there that I didn’t want to spoil.o2I’ve never been to the O2 before so it was quite cool seeing it – it’s huge! We’d booked a table at a Brazilian restaurant called Rodizio Rico which was fantastic.rodico-o2It was the usual Brazilian-style cuisine with a huge salad bar and the waiters offering different meats on skewers. I was in heaven. I was so proud of my dad who was very restrained and careful about his choices (he’s trying to lose weight). In fact, I think we were both quite good. I ate a lot but not so much that I felt uncomfortable (like I do so often!). It was very tasty but it did start to get really busy as a Marvel event finished and about 20 families with little children came in. Our cue to exit fast 😉img_5341The live podcast was fantastic and really showed how good the guys who run it are as they’re exactly the same on and off mic. They’re so charismatic and knowledgeable about films. There were two guests interviewed as well, Tom Bennett (from Love & Friendship and the Ricky Gervais film) and Mike Colter (he’s in the new Luke Cage series – I didn’t really know who he was but he was a really nice guy and built like a house). It was a really fun thing to watch. We then had a mosey about and a (free!) drink in the Empire Hub (which was like the main congregating area) and then we headed home.

The next morning I was up at 7am to help marshal the Perform 5 race, which is very local to me and is helped run by my club. I took Alfie with me and we walked to the cricket stadium, the Ageas Bowl, which is just up the road and we collected our bibs, signs and instructions.img_5348My instructions were so confusing about which side of the road needed to be closed and for how long. It was really quite stressful. I would have to stop traffic but it wasn’t clear from which way! I was so worried about telling cars to stop but not knowing if I actually should be telling them to stop. In the end another marshal came and joined me on my spot to help out as no one could work out what the instructions meant.img_5354

We worked it out thankfully after coordinating with the marshals up and down the road and could relax a bit until the race actually began. We were around 4ish miles so it would be a while until the first runners got to us. We were right next to Burger King so we used their facilities and bought some coffee 😉

img_5359The lovely Louise and me

I think our position is now a coveted one due to how convenient it’s location is 😉 As the runners started passing through I really got into cheering them on. I started yelling silly things like “Pain is temporary! Glory is forever!” and “the incline is a figment of your imagination!” and got a few laughs and wry smiles. I really enjoyed myself. Alfie even got a few quick strokes.

After my marshalling duties I then headed out for my own run. Four miles round the block. It was windy but lovely and sunny. The run started fairly sluggishly but then I got faster as I went on. The route was a new one to me and nice because it was literally two miles away from home then swinging back for two miles home again so it felt quite satisfying.4-miles

 

 

 

I then got showered super quickly and made some lunch. I had a date planned (met through Internet dating, God help me) for a coffee in Winchester at 2pm so I needed to have an early lunch. I’d luckily had an early breakfast so this worked out nicely…Until the prospective date cancelled at the last minute saying his mum wasn’t well and her partner had asked him to look after her at the last minute as he wasn’t there. I’d practically given myself indigestion trying to eat as quickly as I could to make the time. *Sighs* I’d washed my hair, put a nice outfit on and made some actual effort…for it to be wasted. Oh well! I went shopping with my mum instead. Hey hum.

Do you do any marshalling at races?

Have you been to the O2 before?

Have you ever had a date cancel on you?

Endure 24 – part 1

Endure 24…a 24 hour running event of a five mile lap. You could enter in a team, as a pair or solo. Our running club entered four teams and one madman solo runner 😉 I was part of a team of eight very speedy runners.

Leading up to this event I contemplated not doing it. Due to my annoying hip niggle I just hadn’t got in the miles I wanted to in order to feel really comfortable bashing out as many laps of the course as I could. Ben and his team had gotten out and done a good amount of training with running multiple times in a day over a few weeks. I hadn’t done any of that and hadn’t even got back up to running 10 miles yet. Ben, and several others, convinced me to go though and enjoy the experience while setting myself a limit on the number of laps I’d complete. I conceded this was a good plan: enjoy myself rather than pressurise myself and ultimately risk injury.

Ben and a few others arrived Friday morning to the campsite (yes, it involved camping…portable loos, portashowers and British weather). They set up loads of tents for those from our club who couldn’t come down in the day (like me, I was at work). I arrived Friday evening and essentially the hard graft had been done – thank god, I haven’t put a tent for over 10 years!

Endure 24 Start

A group of us decide to walk the course to see what was in store for us. A lot more undulating than we thought! 90% off road, on dirt tracks and through the woods. Nice and scenic though.

We had a lovely BBQ that evening and basically just had a good old laugh and a fair amount of drinking (*cough* Ben and Mike *cough*). We had a late night and unfortunately a rather early morning with the sun beaming into our tent.

Endure 24 Saturday morningObviously I took my porridge. And obviously I managed to knock over my porridge while cooking it on the world’s smallest stove. Epic oat-related fail.

The event started at 12 o’clock Saturday. Some crazy people cycled down to the local parkrun that morning before to “get some more miles in”. Not me I hasten to add. The weather looked a little precarious but we all prayed for the rain to hold off. What with Wimbledon and Glastonbury happening at the same time this was highly unlikely.

I had told my group beforehand that I only wanted to do three laps (15 miles in total). I explained that I hadn’t prepared properly and my main goal was getting to Berlin marathon without injury. They all understood and that was brilliant. I was put as the 7th runner (out of 8) so the other speedsters could get as many laps in as possible.

On Ben’s team he was number one. We all headed to the start to watch the first runners go at midday. It was all very exciting.

IMG_7084 Look at that concentration

But then the rain began. It absolutely bucketed it down like you wouldn’t believe. Ben got fairly wet on his run, and the number 2s and 3s got absolutely drenched.

Endure 24 selfie Not the most pretty of selfies I must say!

While the beginner runners headed off I quickly got down to the important stuff. Eating lunch. Before coming up I had slow-cooked an entire chicken and roasted three sweet potatoes.Endure 24 Fuel I then shredded the chicken and smothered the lot in BBQ sauce. Heaven. Except when it came to eating it I didn’t portion it out onto a plate. I just sat there munching away enjoying myself. I pretty much ate 3/4 of that bad boy. I was stuffed. I was still stuffed at 3.30pm…30 mins from my first run.

IMG_7087You can’t see it, but there’s a chicken food baby there

The rain finally stopped and it was my turn to go. I was excited.

The first mile was tough because, though it was on tarmac, for the first little bit, it was a slow gradual incline which kind of killed your flow. Then it was onto some trail running. There were a few more inclines and a beast of a short sharp hill towards the end. There were so many people on the course, some bombing it down at stupid speeds or some taking it slow and simply walking (usually the solo runners pacing themselves for the long hours ahead).

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As I started running I knew I had an issue. My stomach was so full. Within a mile I got a stitch. I thought I was going to be sick. Towards the later part of the run I wanted to be sick to at least relieve some pressure. I never eat before I run, whether it’s the morning or evening. I eat before races but only because there’s such a gap between breakfast and actually racing. Usually many hours. OK I had about 3.5 hours between eating and running but essentially I’d eaten 3/4 of a chicken and a whole load of sweet potato…That wasn’t going anywhere fast.

As soon as I finished I hunched over convinced I was going to be sick. A lovely girl from my club tried to give me some food as she thought I needed it and I almost did throw up. Thankfully though the chicken stayed in place. Note to self: never eat that much chicken before running. Ever.

After feeling better I grabbed my stuff and headed to the showers. I thought I’d try and shower after each run. After a little wait I was in one of the tiny little portashowers. Essentially it was a shower cubicle with a bit of space to get changed in. No windows, no temperature dial. It was lovely and warm though thankfully.

The issue I had was that as the water was so warm the room became very steamy and hot. I think I can safely say that one of the hardest things to do is try and put on a sports bra when you’re still hot, the room is steamy and it’s an over the head affair (i.e. no straps to undo). I got stuck half way. It wasn’t pleasant. Then after struggling with that for what seemed like an hour, I then had to somehow get my tight FULL-LENGTH running leggings on too. Jesus. I almost just opened the door and got changed outside. “Excuse my bum, I’m just bloody hot!”

Whew. I felt like a whole new woman after that though. All squeaky clean and lovely. I found myself chatting to a elderly lady as I headed back. She must have been 80 or over. She was small and hunched over and nattered away to me. I asked her if this was her first 24 hour event. She laughed in my face and said she does it every year. She hoped to do six laps! She said she did one event in the 1980s as a soloist and was gutted that she only (only) did 98 miles. My god what an inspiration!

OK I will leave it there for now. I won’t lie, it sort of goes pear shaped from here for me 🙁

Have you ever done a 24 hour event?

Do you enjoy camping? Hmmm. I can’t say I’ve been won over by it this weekend!

Do you eat before running? What do you have?

I am not an injured runner

Hello! Dare I even whisper that things are starting to look a little spring-like around the place? Let’s not mention it…we might scare it away.

My life (and blog) for the past three months has been consumed by my running injury. My knee niggle that stopped me completing my December marathon last year. Stopped me running for the whole of December. And limited my running in January.

[A big thank you for hanging on with me during what was probably a boring and depressing time in terms of content]

But it’s now coming up to the end of February. I have completely a half marathon, ran 15 miles, and gained some of my speed back. And my legs still work.

Yes I ache after a long run. Yes I still get a bit of a niggle and tightness the day after a run. Yes things feel tough and hard and I wonder how the hell I ran that half marathon PB in September last year.

But the tightness disappears. The niggle isn’t there constantly and doesn’t cause me any pain or hinder my running. The speed is coming back, albeit gradually.

My problem these days are psychological. I can’t stop thinking that I’m an injured runner. I can’t stop over-analysing a tightness or a slight twinge. I try not to push too hard in case I do something else to myself. I read every article I see on injuries and injury prevention. I obsess constantly on how are my legs feeling. I poke my legs subconsciously (I kid you not).

I need to get over this. I need to let go and just go for it. I’m not saying I’ll go out and run a 20 miler. I will still be cautious in my mileage build-up. I will still listen to my body when it needs a rest. I will still do my leg strength routine twice a week and core once a week.

But I’m not going to hold myself back from running anymore. In my very gentle, very cautious self-made marathon plan (based loosely on the Bupa beginner one) I had a four mile recovery run planned for Tuesday night.

Ben came home on Monday and said he was going to running club on Tuesday night – the interval session one. The big scary ‘I’ word that my knees tremble at. Ben is completely the opposite to me in running. He is Mr Optimistic. Mr Throw Caution To the Wind. Mr If it Hurts Just Run Through It. So of course he’d be bashing out an interval session two days after a long run.

My legs felt tired on Monday but nothing major. A bit achy, to be expected. So I thought to hell with it. Let’s do this!

On Tuesday night we set off together (aww aren’t we cute?) and met up with the club. One group was going to do a mega hill session and the other group a less hilly interval session (more of a slight gradual incline). I’m not a complete idiot, I went with the less hilly option. I’m ready to get back out there, but I am still being sensible.

And I went for it. I kept up with the lead guys (granted, not the fastest in our club – they were at the really hilly session in a different location) but I was in the lead pack holding strong. 12x just over 300m with 2mins recovery. I reached pace peaks of 5min/miles (VERY briefly)!

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With a mile to the club, just under a mile to the interval spot, then over 3k in intervals, and then reverse of the first two miles.

It absolutely killed me. And I felt bloody brilliant.

Confidence in running

Have you done something that has made you proud lately?

What are you scared of at the moment? Can you overcome it?

Intervals/HIIT – love or hate?

Cake and 17 miles

Happy Monday! I can’t believe we’re into November. Crazy!

This weekend was jam-packed. On Friday night Ben and me went out for our running club Christmas meal. It was so funny seeing everyone wearing their normal clothes, their hair done and without a drop of sweat on them! We usually just see everyone for a race or at the running club.

We enjoyed a very tasty Indian buffet. No photos, but basically I had a lot of chicken tikka (my favourite), butter chicken, salmon (I’ve never had salmon in a curry before!) and vegetable curry. Mmmm, with lots of poppadums.

Then there was the cake!

Hedge End Running Club Cake

Amazing. And it was made by one of the ladies at the club. It was very tasty but we only had very small slice. I’ve become a bit too accustomed to having huge slices of cake or multiple slices…so this was a little disappointing. I know, I’m just being greedy!!

Saturday morning came a little too quickly for my liking. I ran to Parkrun nice and easily:

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Then we lined up for the actual Parkrun. Running to Parkrun my stomach was not feeling good – the Indian was not happy bouncing away in there! But I wanted to give it my best as I’m so aware of the lack of speed sessions I’ve been incorporating to my routine.

I found the run quite tough and even though it was on the flat course (PB potential) I just couldn’t maintain a decent enough pace to get anywhere near my PB.

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A bit disappointing but, let’s be honest, very much expected. What with my annoying niggles and no speed sessions, getting back to my speedier times will take some work. But at the moment my main focus is the marathon. 5k times will just have to be side-lined for now.

Saturday evening Ben and me headed to my sister’s and brother-in-law’s for dinner. It was lovely seeing Ellie and Megan, my nieces, and also just having a good old chin-wag. My brother-in-law, Nick, made an amazing meal. Hungarian goulash from none other than my favourite chef, Jamie Oliver.

Hungarian goulash

Very tasty. This was very easily finished off! And then pudding was a slice of Bakewell tart with salted caramel ice cream and a dollop of what I can only describe as toffee trifle (…because let’s be honest, when is one pudding really enough??). I thought it best not to take a photo purely because I’m not sure I want to remember quite what a pig I was…

The next morning Ben left early to get in 5 miles and then left for a 10 mile race (he had a 15 mile long run on the plan). I had decided not to sign up to the race purely because I needed to get 17 miles in and though I could have done something similar to Ben I wanted to make sure it was a consistent pace and non-stop. I couldn’t trust myself to not be stupid and race the 10 miles and then hamper my following training week.

I was very jealous Sad smile But I got in my 17 miler.

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I tried to keep my pace slow and easy as I’ve never run this far before. And though I have done 16 miles in a day, there were gaps in between as I sandwiched in a half marathon race in the middle.

Overall it went OK. Annoyingly I had decided not to take my gloves as it didn’t look too cold. But then the wind picked up and it started raining and my hands were freezing. Around mile 10 I stopped quickly at a shop to buy a drink and I couldn’t get my fingers to open my bum pocket. They were so numb. I must have looked ridiculous desperately trying to unzip the pocket without success. Thankfully I did manage in the end.

When I got home I literally laid on the living room floor for a bit. I was shattered. I enjoyed endured an ice bath after my lovely hot shower and I screamed the house down. In the summer it was so refreshing (sort of) and now it’s like torture. For the rest of the day I pretty much moved in slow motion.

Clearly I need my body to get used to running such long distances. I’m not too concerned because I remember when I was training for my first half marathon and how I was after my first 9 miler. I remember feeling exhausted. It’s just about what your body is used to.

For the rest of the day I watched the New York City Marathon, read some magazines and just chilled. Perfect.

What did you get up to this weekend?

What’s the furthest you’ve ever run? And what’s the most comfortable distance for your body?

If you could choose any sort of food for a buffet, what would it be? Indians are very tasty but it’s a lot of spicy food!

Solent Half Marathon (1:40:34)

So you know how I said I wasn’t going to race the half marathon on Sunday…well I didn’t technically race it, but I did go a lot faster than I originally intended.

To be honest, I had no idea where my head was at for this race. I went into it with absolutely no plans. In retrospect I don’t want to do that again. I’m not a big fan of not planning my paces or at least having an idea of paces before a race!

Ben and me arrived at the race (which was only 30 minutes away) with my dad who had kindly come to support us (he loves cheering us on and he was excited that this was the first half marathon he could actually come and see).

Pre-Solent Half

It’s a league race so we’ve got our running club vests on

Originally I was supposed to run 16 miles on Sunday but then I signed up randomly to this half marathon. So I decided to run two warm-up miles and then a cool down mile at the end to make it up.

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My dad at this point had marched off to where he was planning on supporting from (around the 5 mile mark). And we headed to the start. The race was chip timed but we soon found out it was only chip timed for the finish. I was stood with the ladies from my running club and we were so far from the front. Very frustrating.

Anyway, we started running and I straight away found myself running with one of the girls from the club and we just matched each other nicely. I did get a bit concerned because we were starting quite fast (7.40mins.mile)…and we didn’t slow.

I’m not really used to running races with other people. I’m also not used to running such long distances WITHOUT MUSIC either. There was a ‘no headphones rule’ for this race as the roads weren’t closed. I can’t tell you how much this sucked. I get bored quite easily and feed a lot from music. Hey ho!

Solent half 3miles

This was around mile three

As we carried on running I realised that I wasn’t going to take this easy. It was nice to run with someone else. It was her first half marathon and she told me she’d “hang on” for as long as she could. But to be honest I don’t know who was pacing who! Then another girl from the running club joined us and we became a power trio, keeping each other going.

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I saw my dad around mile 5 and he snapped a photo and cheered us all on

I found this race quite tough. There were a few nasty slow inclines and a couple of sneaky hills. I didn’t know what pace to keep to and constantly worried I was going to fast for our little group, or not fast enough. It was really hard mentally. I’m so used to running races on my own! But it was nice to have them there.

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Finally the finish!

Physically, I didn’t breeze through this one like the Bristol half. Maybe because it was ‘undulating’, maybe because I hadn’t gone into the race mentally prepared to run fast, maybe it was the extra two miles before the race, who knows! Though I’d say I wasn’t properly struggling until around mile 11, then it became really tough.

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My official time was 1:40:34. I came 9th in my age category and 25th female (173rd overall out 375). Ben helped pace a girl from our running club round and finished 2:08:48. He really enjoyed it.

After finishing and getting the goody bag I saw my dad and then headed off for a mile cool down. Oh man my legs were not happy to start running again. They were so stiff! So I kept it nice and easy!!

This was definitely not my favourite race. It pushed me mentally (no headphones, running with two others, no game plan) and physically (faster than I intended and hills). And the weather was pretty terrible. But I’m glad I did it. Not every race can be a great one! I’m happy with my time don’t get me wrong and it felt like a great work out. I just wished I’d have enjoyed it a bit more!

OH, and there were no medals. NO MEDALS. Shocking.

We did get one of those Choob scarf things though so that’s a slight consolation. It’ll be a good running scarf when it gets colder!

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And as a side note, I love this photo my dad took on his walk to the five mile point:

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It looks like the horse is about to charge him haha.

After the race, Ben, my dad and me were freezing when we drove back home. So wet and cold. I thoroughly enjoyed my shower when I got back!

And the cake I wolfed down Winking smile [from our Brighton adventures]:

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I microwaved that beauty for a minute and thoroughly enjoyed just over half of it before feeling sick. Ben feebly managed a third of his. Pft! Poor effort.

Race + cake = happy Anna

How do you keep yourself entertained on a run? I always listen to a podcast on long runs or for races listen to music. It pumps me up and keeps me going. Though running with a group at running club is good too.

Who’s your biggest race supporter? My dad loves supporting us and he’ll always listen to me yabber on about running. He’s brilliant.

What do you like to get in a race goody bag? It’s all about the medal for me.