Isle of Wight Marathon 2023

The Isle of Wight Marathon, my 29th marathon.

I’d heard about this race from lots of people because it’s a local one (well, a ferry ride away). I knew it was going to be hilly, but on signing up I thought it would be a fairly cold day because it was October. However Britain saw an unseasonably warm weekend and I was packing suntan lotion and planning my race day outfit with the sun and heat in mind.

The race start was 11am which is a lot later than I’m used to but very helpful to allow us to get over in the morning without having to spend more money and stay over in the Isle of Wight. We booked the ferry (50% off thanks to the race discount!) and needed to leave about 8ish to get down to Portsmouth to catch it to arrive on the Island for 10am. Sarah, Kyle’s mum, picked Isaac up at 8am which was super helpful. He could have come with us but we decided it would be easier, and nicer for him, to spend a day with our family and then we could focus on the race and he could have a lovely day focused on him.

I ate breakfast just before we left and we caught the car ferry (Wight Link) with no issues.

It was very smooth. Kyle grabbed a coffee on board the ferry and we got some toast to share. I knew I needed to pack in some more food because of the later food. I also had a banana.

We then drove from Cowes to Fishbourne to the race start, which took less than 20 minutes. It was all very smooth and easy thankfully. This gave me about 40 mins to collect my bib, have a wee, put lots of suntan lotion and Vaseline on (that post race chafe is not the one).

Kyle was going to drive around the course and cheer me on, which was lovey. The roads aren’t closed for this race as it’s quite a small affair (I think about 160 people finished). So no headphones. This was a little bit of a bummer as I do quite like to plug in some music on the final miles to keep me going. It’s always good tho to run a race without depending on external factors.

My goal for the race was to give it a good go. My training leading up to this race hasn’t been conducive for a PB though. I haven’t done enough to support smashing it out of the park. I rarely run with Isaac in the buggy (the only “speed” work I do) and it’s fairly closed to my last marathon. But I wanted to put some effort in at least and see where that got me. There was also £50 for the first female… could I? You never know!

The race began and off we went. The first 5k was more downhill than up and because there were a few females around me I got overexcited and tried to keep up. I was definitely running faster than I thought I was going to!

My first mile clocked in at 7.17 min/mile, oh dear! But there was a significant downhill and I was just enjoying life so I thought, just keep going and see what happens later. There were some tasty uphills that slowed me down and set the tone for the race though.

I was now running side by side with one female. We were leading the ladies and I didn’t want her to get ahead of me. I was stronger on the downhills so would sneak ahead, and then she would catch me back on the uphills. I could tell she was a strong runner. I made the decision to just stay with her for as long as I could.

At about mile 4 we were running in a pod with another guy. We started chatting together which helped take our minds of the course. There was rarely a long stretch of flat. It was all up or down. From looking at the course profile beforehand I knew there was an especially long and climbing hill from mile 11 to 14. Most of the hills we’d come across were short and sharp. I was preparing myself.

Anyway the two runners were really friendly. It was nice to get to know them, have a few laughs and feel like a little team. The marshals were all lovely and friendly too and the scenery was gorgeous. It was all very pleasant – hills aside.

I saw kyle around 7.5 miles. He had water, sweets and Vaseline at the ready if I needed it which was great. But I was good for now. I felt strong. I felt like I could maintain the pace. In the back of my mind, of course, I had some trepidation for what was to come. That long hill and a hill right at the end which everyone said was a monster. I knew it wasn’t going to be plain sailing.

We hit mile 11 and started the climb. To be honest, it wasn’t as bad as I was imagining. I thought it was going to be like the hill near where we live in Portsolent (Portchester hill). But it wasn’t that bad. It warranted conversation stopping but it wasn’t soul sucking. OK, OK, we’ve got this.

We were right out in the open, with fields for miles. The sun was beaming down. I was getting thirsty more often. Though sensibly was properly stopping at each water station to take two cups of water and then start running again.

But there was no shade now. We lost the other guy who was running with us. He shouted to us good luck, which was lovely. Now I was behind the other girl and just trying to cling on to her. Was she going to get stronger? Was she going to slowly peel away? It was all to play for. So far, I just kept slightly behind her, maintaining the same gap.

At mile 14.5 I saw Kyle again. He cheered us on. The girl asked a marshal if there was a toilet and the woman said only the bushes. I needed a wee too so decided to start thinking about diving into a bush at some point.

The girl diverted off into a bush and I wished her well, saying she’d probably catch me up. I decided if there was a time to put in some speed it was now. I needed to increase the gap between us. Of course she could catch me up, or I could burn out and gift her the win. But I wanted to at least try.  There was £50 to be won! I was quite excited by that prospect.

I kept stopping at water stations tho, knowing that despite losing the time it was important to drink water. It was hot and I didn’t want to ruin myself. I also still needed a wee. So I quickly dove into a bush and did the fastest wee known to man. Then I was back on the road. I had a quick look behind… OK I couldn’t see her. It’s mine to lose.

There were some nice downhills so that helped. I passed a few men, feeling strong. But most of the time I was on my own. It was a quiet race after all. Cars and cyclists passed, some beeped and cheered which was nice.

I saw Kyle again around 17 miles. I shouted for some sweets but he didn’t have them out and so I just ran past and carried on. He looked sad to have missed my request (which is all good, he’s not psychic after all!). He said he’d find me again.

Now I was working hard. Maintaining the pace was tough. But in the back of my mind all I could think was the girl behind was gaining on me. It definitely motivated me to keep going. I was counting to 100 whenever we got to a hill and that helped focus on something other than my burning legs. I was breaking up the race into sections… just get to 22 miles. That felt significant. From 18 that was only 4 miles, then at 22 it would be just over 4. Come on, come on.

I got to 20 and Kyle was waiting. I motioned for water. I was so thirsty again. I stopped and drank a good gulp while he said to me “you’re fine, she’s so far behind you”. Bless him he knew exactly what I would be thinking. We both knew I had a solid chance in achieving first female.

I grabbed some sweets and got running again. Hopefully the sweets would help power me up the final hills.

There was a long climbing hill that seemed to stretch out forever. It wasn’t that steep but it was draining. Ooof this was going to suck my energy. I passed another man and he graciously cheered me on.

Then the real work began. From 22 miles on it was just insane. The hills were so steep. I was trying not to hunch over but run strong and upright but it was hard work. I kept counting, which honestly really did help. But a few little swear words might have come out as I puffed my way along. I was slowing down, but there was nothing I could do. It was survival now to get up those hills.

The marshals kept cheering me on saying “well done first lady” and supports on the sides were really chuffed to see a female, so that was nice. It peppered me up a bit. The final hill lasted about a mile and it was brutal.

My mind was spiralling – walk, walk, walk! No just keep moving. Every step was one less on the hill. It wasn’t fair. My watch was about 0.2 miles out so that was mentally tough. Knowing when it beeped I was still a way from the actual marker. I realised I almost certainly going to be first female and then started to consider what my time might be. Before the race I was going to be happy with a sub 3.50 considering the hills and the heat, but now it was looking like I could get sub 3.30!

Finally I saw the mile 25 marker and knew I was out of the woods.

There were no hills left – we’d driven past earlier so I knew what was in store. I was cheered to the finish and wowee was I glad to stop!

I was first female, 12th overall with a time of 3.28.07. I am absolutely over the moon! More than I could ever have dreamed of. I will definitely be giving a lot of credit to the other girl (who did indeed come 2nd). Without her I wouldn’t have gone as fast or pushed myself. Especially at the end, that fear that was right there pushed me on more than just the motivation I could have supplied myself.

So I’m grateful to her. I later found out from her mum that she hadn’t been very well in the latter stages. So who knows, had she not have gotten sick she might have beaten me! But she still finished strong 13 mins later. So fair play to her.

Then I got a free massage from JSM Hub Therapies, who were amazing. Then we drove back to the ferry. We bought some snacks. We even managed to catch an earlier ferry and be home an hour earlier than we expected!

I really recommend the race. It was well organised, beautiful views and friendly support. Though be prepared for some brutal hills towards the end. The one in the middle was not the one to be worried about, that’s for sure!

Have you ever done the Isle of Wight Marathon?

Alton Towers Half Marathon

Ages ago Kyle and I had signed up to the Alton Towers Half Marathon. Sadly when the time came around for it, Kyle was only just coming back from injury from his London Marathon. So he dropped down to the 5k instead, which was also on the Sunday. But to be honest, he was far happier with that distance anyway!

The great thing about these races are that after you’ve finished the race you can then go round the park and do all the rides. We both love theme parks and rollercoasters so this was perfect. And handily my grandad lives about 30 mins from Alton Towers so we could kill two birds with one stone and visit him as well. I don’t get to see him enough so this was really lovely.

After lots of thought, we decided to leave Isaac at home with the Nanas. The drive from Portsmouth is a long one (3.5 hours) which would be hard going for him and then be stuck in the running buggy for most of Sunday. Anyway the Nanas couldn’t wait to look after him so it worked nicely. Of course I missed him and it was hard leaving him… the longest time I’ve been away yet. He had a great time tho in the end.

We arrived at my grandad’s on the Saturday and had a lovely dinner catching up with him properly and then headed to bed early. We were shattered from an early wake up (Isaac doesn’t understand lie ins yet!) and a long drive.

The next morning, after breakfast, we drove up to Alton Towers. The race felt so well organised. We parked and walked to the race village. It was very misty and a bit chilly, but a lot warmer than you’d expect for mid-November.

As my race started first I said goodbye to Kyle and headed off to the start. We did a minute silence for Remembrance Sunday, which was a nice touch, and then the race began.

Having been to Alton Towers many many times in my youth (due to my grandparents living so close) I was well aware that it would be hilly. I mean, straight away, as we began the first 200m, it’s literally uphill. But it was such a cool race in that you were literally running through the park and past all the rollercoasters that I didn’t mind.

We ran past Oblivion and the Smiley, then headed off to other parts of the park. I was behind the 1:40 pacer, tho I didn’t think I’d go that fast. I was keeping to just under 8 min miles and felt comfortable there.

We whizzed through CBeebies Land where there were Telly Tubbies to high five. Then headed round past the gardens (thankfully not down into the gardens because that would be a very steep uphill!), past the Wicker Man and the rapids. There were lots of themed people wearing costumes cheering us on which was cool.

Eventually after going through the park, past all the rides and through the different themed areas and the castle, you head out to the less exciting part which goes round the car parks. To be honest it was fine. There was loads of support from spectators and volunteers so it didn’t feel boring. And you can’t expect the whole race to be exciting all the time. It’s a two lapper, which I quite like. It means you know what’s coming for the rest of the race.

The car park was quite hilly but there were also good downhills to get some speed back. Towards the second lap I put on some music to keep me entertained and I felt myself get far more into the race. I always find the further into a race the better I feel as I warm up. I naturally sped up and felt like I had more energy so this was encouraging.

As I hit the second lap I was really enjoying myself. During the week proceeding I’d felt very tired and demotivated running but now I felt back to normal and was loving it.

I saw Kyle a few times as he’d finished his race and had headed back to the car to get changed and pick up our stuff. He waved and cheered me along.

The crowds as you got back into the park after the car park section were really strong and the cheering was fantastic. It helps that none of the rides are open yet so all the spectators are just watching the race. I high fived loads of kids which is always good fun. Honestly, I had such a good time during this race!

I was so pleased to finish strong with 1:37:30. Far faster than I’d expected.

I met up with Kyle shortly after. He’d had a good race and finished with a time of 21:30. Coming back from injury without much training, he was really chuffed.

And then I popped to the loo, got changed and we headed to the rides that were now slowly opening up. We had such a good rest of the day enjoying all the rides and being like kids again. Kyle got a doughnut chicken burger. And I got a sausage baguette. It was a great day.

Then eventually after doing as many rides as we could be bothered – the queues were so short because there weren’t as many people in the park – we decided to head back home. That evening we had a lovely carvery with my grandad to coelenterate.

All in all it was such a good weekend. Seeing my grandad, doing a great race and enjoying Alton Towers. We’re definitely signing up for next year!

Do you enjoy roller coasters?

Would you do a race around a theme park?

My next marathon impending

This Sunday I have the New Forest Marathon.

I‘ve previously done this race a few years ago when I was pacing my friend Mike to get a sub-4 hour marathon (we missed the goal, but had a great race regardless).

I’ve been training for this race for about 12 weeks or so and feel like I’m in good shape. Not PB shape or anywhere close, but hopefully looking for a comfortable race where I can maybe push the pace a bit to see what I can do. Apparently they’ve changed the course from last time and it’s “fast and flat”. Well we will see! It definitely wasn’t fast and flat when I ran it last time.

My training has gone really well. Kyle has also been marathon training as he has a place for the October London Marathon. We’ve gone on lots of long runs together which has been really nice. I do love a solo long run listening to my favourite podcasts but I love running with Kyle as well, even if he’s a little grumpy about it 😉 It has meant though a lot of planning with regards to Isaac.

Normally once a week Isaac goes to either my mum’s or Kyle’s mum overnight over the weekend and we use that time wisely for us getting out the next morning to get our run done. Though sometimes we’ve had to tag team parenting and do our runs separately.

We’ve also had a few trips which have meant juggling around. For example, we went to Cardiff for a weekend a few weeks ago. I wanted to show Kyle around where I went to university (I did psychology there) and we also had a fun Pizza 10k race on the Sunday.

After a lovely Saturday moseying around and eating everything in sight (love that they have a Mrs Potts Chocolate House in Cardiff now!), we decided to run 10 miles Sunday morning before the race so we could get our 16 mile long run done. As the race didn’t start until 10.30am we had stacks of time beforehand.

Our 10 miles was lovely. We got to see more of the city and I could really show Kyle around. Though I did manage to trip over in Cardiff Bay and cut my knee open! It was a bit of a bloody mess but thankfully I was OK to continue running, though it did look a bit of a state.

We got to the Pizza 10k in enough time to get it cleaned up by the first aid team and then we were off.

It was a great race doing two laps around Bute Park – a park I knew so well from my time at university. I felt really strong and managed to push the pace quite a bit. I even managed to nab second female!

For this training cycle I’ve managed to do two 18 milers, a 17 miler and a few 16 milers. I never really go over 18 miles as I generally find that’s enough for me. I’ve been running three 10ks during the week, a parkrun and then the long run Sunday. Some of the runs have been with the running buggy and that’s hugely helped my strength.

My strength training has actually fallen to the wayside a bit as time has just run out. I know it’s not a great thing to miss as it’s how I try and stay uninjured, but life happens. I’ve been managing once a week, which is better than nothing. I do about 5 minutes worth of resistance band training while I wait for my porridge in the microwave which works my glutes. Usually before each run I do this too. In my eyes it’s about consistency and what you can squeeze in. Little and often helps massively.

So finger’s crossed Sunday goes well…

Our trip to Camden Market – all the food!

Kyle and I had a little mini-adventure this week.

We decided to have a day date just the two of us and go to London for a foodie trip. We had considered bringing Isaac but it was likely to not be that fun a day for him. It would be a lot of time in the pram, being ferried around and his naps would be all over the place. Instead he stayed with his aunty and had a lovely day with her going doing fun things like soft play.

After she came and picked him up, Kyle and I walked to the train station and headed to London. The plan was to go to Camden Market as there are so many food stalls there which looked incredible. After arriving, we walked from Waterloo Station to Camden, which was about 50 minutes. We do love a walk and it whetted our appetite nicely.

We got to the market at 11.30am and the place we were intending on trying first wasn’t actually open until midday so we needed to mooch around a bit beforehand.

Because we were both quite hungry at this point we landed ourselves in front of Funky Chips, which looked divine. They had “nacho chips” which sounded incredible. Basically Peri Peri dusted chips (fries for any Americans) loaded with cheese sauce, jalapenos, sour cream, more grated cheese and two delicious sauces.

Loaded nacho fries from Funky Chips

It was AMAZING. We hoovered these up so quickly it was unreal. I’m not a big spicy food fan but the jalapenos were delicious – enough heat to be warming and flavoursome. A very good start indeed to our foodie outing.

Then we headed to Oli Baba’s for their famous halloumi fries.

Halloumi fries from Oli Baba

These were delicious. Crispy, salty and sweet with the pomegranate seeds scattered on top and a perfectly balanced hint of mint.

Then we followed that with a Bill or Beak honey butter fried chicken burger. It was a sticky, greasy, crispy mess but SO good.

Honey butter fried chicken burger from Bill or Beak

After that we FINLLY headed to our main attraction, the Uh K Dogs n Juicy (basically Korean corn dogs). We were so excited. Corn dogs aren’t really something you see much of in the UK so we were really stoked to be able to try them. I went for a half turkey sausage and half mozzarella sausage, dipped in sugar and coated in mustard and ketchup. Kyle went for a full mozzarella, dipped in Cheetos dusting with cheese sauce.

Corn dogs from Uh K Dogs n Juicy

They were really good. I sort of wish I’d gone for a full mozzarella in the end as the cheese was amazing but to be honest I have no regrets. It was fun to eat and the cheese pulls insane.

Then we squeezed in our last savoury item by enjoying a delicious New York Reuben. This was a bagel with sauerkraut, salt beef, cheese and a sauce. Delicious!

NY Reuben from Bagel & Brisket

You might think we were full by then, this was not the case. We decided to end the day with something sweet.

Doughnut from Churros Donut

Kyle enjoyed four churro doughnuts (which I had a few cheeky bites of – the dough was so soft and melt in the mouth) and I got two scoops of cookie dough (Mini Eggs and Red Velvet flavours) topped with a coop of gelato.

Cookie dough from Naked Dough

Stick a fork in me, I was done! We had spent a fair bit of money, walked A LOT and eaten a ridiculous amount of food… we were ready to head home.

All the stall owners we met were so lovely and friendly, which really made the day even better. Everyone had a story to tell or nice things to say and couldn’t be more helpful or generous. It wasn’t hugely busy either which was nice. I mean it was a random Wednesday but it was nice not

It was such a lovely day. Of course I adore my child and love being his mum, but it’s nice to take a break and spend some quality one-on-one time with Kyle from time to time. We both had such a lovely day. Then it was back home to be parents again!

Have you ever been to Camden Market?

What foodie stall would have taken your fancy?

38 weeks pregnant

So one more day until I’m 39 weeks pregnant and almost one week until my due date (7/07/21).

Scary stuff.

Honestly though I can see myself going at least a week overdue. I just have that feeling. I’m not starting maternity leave until I pop so I at least have some structure and routine to my day so I’m not staring at the calendar. I think if I was on maternity leave now, or even next week, I’d be so bored. We’ve pretty much done everything for the baby coming. I’ve cleaned everywhere. I feel prepared and ready. So nothing left to do but wait.

But waiting is fine, to be honest. I don’t feel particularly uncomfortable. My pelvis and lower back do ache from time to time, I can’t wait to sleep on my back again and my nose getting congested every afternoon and evening without fail is annoying. But I’m lucky to really only be “suffering” from those issues rather than some of the more severe and uncomfortable symptoms some women can get. I’m highly aware of how easy my pregnancy has been compared to others and for that I’m grateful.

I’m VERY grateful that I’ve still being able to run as well. It’s two to three 5ks a week (a definite step down from 32 weeks where I was still running 25-30 miles a week). The calf niggle I got stopped me for a bit and then, when I got back to it, my pelvis and the general heaviness of my tummy made running further fairly uncomfortable and the recovery afterwards takes some time. But 5k is manageable and comfortable. I’m fairly intuitive with when I run now too. Have I had a good night sleep? How does my body feel?

While I’m really sad parkrun didn’t start back up again on 26th June (it’s been pushed back to August), we still went down to Netley Abbey (my home parkrun) to meet up with some running buddies for a “not parkrun” and coffee afterwards. We got there for 9am and were pleasantly surprised to see so many familiar faces running around the course. It didn’t feel crowded or unsafe. The sun was shining and Kyle and I enjoyed running the three laps around. Though Netley is far more hilly than I’m used to compared to flat Portsmouth. I definitely felt heavily pregnant running haha!

I managed to complete the 5k in just under 30 minutes, which I’ll happily take right now!

Then we went and sat outside the café and enjoyed some tasty rocky road that the lovely Sheryl had made and (decaf) latte. It was so nice – it almost felt like old normal times. It does make me sad that by the time parkrun is (hopefully) back up properly I won’t be able to run because I’ll have recently given birth. But I definitely want to pop down with the little man and support Kyle running. With parkrun it’s not just about the running, it’s about the social connections and that lovely Saturday morning warm fuzzy glow you get after being there.

On Sunday we went to Stansted House to go to the Nostalgia Festival, where Kyle’s sister, Laura, had a stall and the rest of his family were also there to support. She was selling her handmade wigs (which are just GORGEOUS). You can find her on Instagram @theWiggie and see her products HERE.

We even went on the carousel, which was hilarious and good fun.

The Nostalgia Show was good fun. We moseyed round the different stalls, selling vintage bits and bobs, and the street food vendors – so good.

For lunch I grabbed a chicken shawarma with halloumi fries…

Delicious food from Cairo Van

…and then followed that with an extremely chocolatey brownie.

Brownie was from a food truck called Gin and Tea

We even entered Alfie into a very light-hearted dog show that happened. He sadly didn’t win but he ALMOST won the most waggy tail award. He was robbed!

And back to running, I had a fantastic run on Monday morning in the cooler temperatures. My legs felt pretty good and the usual pelvic pressure wasn’t as strong. I actually ran a lot faster than I have in a while, which was surprising.

I was tempted to run a bit further but I decided to play it sensible because I wanted to run later in the week and recovery does take a bit longer. So pushing my body further is not the most sensible. All about consistent quality runs now!

So on to the next week I guess! Who knows how many pregnancy updates I have left to do eh!

Do you enjoy going round stalls at festivals?

What would you pick: regular fries, sweet potato or halloumi?