Marathon Talk Run Camp 2019 – part 2

On to the second part of my Marathon Talk Run Camp recap.

Catch up with Part 1 HERE.

After a fun evening I was up at 7am to get myself ready for the Carsington Water Half Marathon, which most people from the camp were doing too. To get in some extra miles, a few of us decided to run there. It was about 5 miles away so this would make a solid long run.

It was very misty that morning and a bit chilly, but I knew it would clear up and get warmer later so I decided to wear a vest and arm warmers. Though it was quite amusing that the guys I was going to be running with had somewhat overdressed, the wusses 😉 They regretted it within a mile!

I forwent breakfast and had a black coffee – as is my usual pre-long run standard. And then we got going. The first part of the run was back up the giant hill that we’d done hill repeats on the day before. It went on f.o.r.e.v.e.r. We tried to maintain a jog but it turned into more of a walk as the hill goes on for a fair way (we only did a small section of it during the session).

Then we got going properly. We ran down the long trail which was, for the most part, flat. As the trail had originally been a railway, it cut through hills and there were pockets of cold and warm air, which were very bizarre to run through.

Top of the hill

Eventually we moved off the trail and onto the road and then across a field with a giant hill on it. Dave’s magic route cutting off a corner of the road, I think I’d have preferred the road 😉 The views, however were beautiful.

We got to the race start area and I picked my bib up and met up with the others who had driven there.

We had a quick photo of the Marathon Talk group and then everyone headed to the start.

I sort of wanted to run with my friend John but I was getting vibes from him that he wanted to do his own thing, and no one likes a clingy hanger-on that you feel you have to politely run with 😉 so I decided to just run however felt comfortable.

The resevoir

The Carsington Water Half Marathon is one loop around the reservoir and then a 10k out and back bit. It was described as undulating and compact trail underfoot. It was dry and quite warm now the mist had cleared. It was very scenic – such a perfect day for it (albeit a leeeetle warm after being so used to cold weather).

I started running and got myself into a nice rhythm of around 8 min/miles. After 5k runners who were doing the 10k started coming back the other way as it was an out and back race for them. It was fun watching them come the other way – it’s like people watching but for runners: “ooh love her leggings”, “wow look how he runs” etc.

But then I got a bit bored. I didn’t have my music, I wasn’t especially pushing the pace and I really wanted to talk to someone to take my mind off the monotony. Sometimes I feel like a fake runner when I feel this way. I don’t always rely on music or podcasts to run but sometimes running is DULL and I need some external entertainment. Yes it was beautiful and peaceful, but I was bored. Though admittedly this is good training – training the mind for the monotony of a marathon.

I heard a man catch up with another man behind me and start chatting so I was able to listen in to their conversation (somewhat creepy I guess) and found they were both at the run camp too. This was interesting! And then one of the men pushed on… and I dropped back to chat to the other man (who I later found out was called Gareth).

Ahh and what a relief! He was happy to chat, we were running the same speed and now the miles were flying by. It’s amazing how much two people can waffle on about running having never met before.

The undulations were fairly hard going but with someone now to distract me it went a lot easier and quicker. I was hot and my lovely arm warmers were now annoying me and causing a bit of chafing. I worried we were going to have to do the entire loop of the reservoir again but then realised no we would do an out and back section.

We then started to see the faster runners heading back towards us and knew it wouldn’t be long. I cheered on lots of people from the camp – including the very speedy Sarah (from Art of Your Success – her designs for running goodies are amazing FYI). It was also INCREDIBLE to have Dave Moorcroft (and his lovely wife) cheer us on too. As well as Tony Audenshaw give us a cheer as he ran past (what a legend).

Photo Credit: Paul Andrews (thank you!)

As we go to mile 11 I could feel myself speed up. I was going into race mode without even being aware. Gareth wasn’t quite in that mode and told me to go ahead. I felt a bit bad but I thanked him and headed off. I put the hammer down and felt ready to stretch the legs a bit.

It was amazing to run to the finish feeling strong (some might say because I sandbagged 80% of the race… but heyyyy ;-)) . I finished 1:42:41 which I am so pleased about considering I’d run the miles beforehand (and the day before!), it was warm and hilly and I hadn’t been trying particularly hard until the end.

Holly Rush came first female (I mean she’s just incredible) and Sarah came third, so very well done indeed to them.

Thank you to Max for this photo 😉

John very kindly gave me a lift back to the centre and I was able to grab a shower before the masses and so actually have hot water. I was also then one of the first in line for lunch… priorities eh 😉

Jacket potato, chili, cheese and salad

I also found the stack of chocolate cake – I mean WHAT.

All in all the weekend was so much fun -as always. I’d fully recommend people to go to it if it sounds like it’s something they fancy. It might be basic accommodation but it’s really not the point of it. It’s the least important part.

Martin, Tom and Holly

Having gone to the different events over the years I’ve gotten to know so many other runners. And actually meet people I only really talk to via social media (like the lovely Anji Andrews – she’s an incredible human!).

It’s just so nice to spend time with like-minded people who you can have a giggle with, run with and talk running shizz with. And with these camps, as always, it’s not about the running – that’s kind of additional to the fun of it. On to next year I say!

Have you ever done a run camp?

Do you ever get bored while running?

Marathon Talk Run Camp 2019 – part 1

This weekend gone was my 5th Marathon Talk Run Camp.

Now usually it’s set in the New Forest in the Sandy Balls camp, which handily for me is just down the road. However, this year it was in the beautiful, but distant, Peak District.

At first I wasn’t going to go. It was just so far for me to travel – by train or car. However, I was persuaded when one of my fellow Austria Run Camp buddies (and fellow Southampton AC runner), Dave, offered to give me a lift up. This meant making it a lot more cost effective and less boring of a trip up and down.

I took a half day on Friday, Dave picked me up and off we went. It was a rather lengthy 4.5 hour journey, but chatting away to Dave the time flew by. We arrived in Matlock, checked in to the Mount Cook Adventure Centre (our home for the weekend) and headed to a local pub to meet the rest of the Run Campers that we were familiar with.

Though the food took forever to come out and there was a worrying moment of “cash only” until a card machine was found, we enjoyed good company and a solid meal. I had the steak and chips with a blue cheese sauce.

It was so lovely to see all the familiar faces (though we’d been keeping in touch through social media and WhatsApp of course). Then we headed back to the centre to sort ourselves out.

There was a large area where we could sit and get drinks in the same building as our rooms

The rooms ehhh… were rather basic. I mean, Sandy Balls was never luxury but these were truly dorm-like standards, with bunk beds and basic amenities. However you’re hardly going for the Ritz and I can sleep anywhere so really it was fine. My two roommates were lovely and friendly and I had a solid night’s sleep.

The next morning we got up fairly early to head down to Bakewell parkrun, which was about 30 minutes away. We’d been warned beforehand to pre-order anything we’d want from the Hassop Station Café so the staff could be prepared, so there was a giant queue building up already before the run.

Despite it all looking very nice, I was glad when a few others decided to avoid the queue and just go into Bakewell proper afterwards to find a cafe there. I knew I’d be hungry for breakfast post-run and it would be lovely to have a mosey about Bakewell while we were there.

I wore some arm warmers as it was slightly chilly

Bakewell parkrun was located on the Monsal Trail and runs along a former railway line. As all the local area was, it was beautiful. It was a straight out and back, pretty much flat (though we were told it was slightly inclined on the way out).

I think usual attendance numbers for Bakewell parkrun was around 200, but with the Marathon Talkers descending it pushed the numbers to 400 (they had been pre-warned).

I wasn’t sure what I was fancying but with the surge at the start and the thoughts of “hmmm it would be nice to make the most of the flat-ish course” I decided to see what my legs could do.

I started running around 7 minute miles and it felt comfortably difficult. It was literally just straight out running, a few bridges going over a road but no major change in elevation at all. However in the back of my mind was the “gentle incline out” that the run director had warned us about. I’m sure I wouldn’t have noticed it had she not said anything!

Liz Yelling (Martin Yelling’s wife and Olympic athlete extraordinaire) overtook me just after a mile and disappeared into the distance (I think she had started with her kids, and then they’d given up). And as we got closer to the turnaround we started seeing the faster runners zooming back towards us. So fast. My friend, Dave, was also amongst the front runners and I cheered him on as he flew past. He always looks very happy when he runs.

My friend John caught up to me before the turnaround which was nice, though it suddenly added on a pressure to remain at that speed. I quite like an out and back as you get to focus on other runners going the other way and because I knew quite a few people from the camp I was constantly cheering people on and smiling away, which took my mind off the pain of running fast.

Photo Credit: Steve Morgan

Eventually we got to the finish and I was pooped! I’d hung on to John just about and finished behind him. My time was 20:54 – back in the 20s, whoop!

Dave managed the eye watering time of 17:24 which is INSANE – and he’s a 50-54 category! And the 1st three runners were 15:xx. SERIOUSLY.

After finishing up and cheering others on, a group of us headed into Bakewell. The town was beautiful. I was so pleased that we made the decision to not go to the parkrun cafe as we heard it was packed. Instead we found the Old Original Bakewell Pudding Shop which had a restaurant above the bakery.

I subsequently spent £15 on two Bakewell tarts (one iced, one not), a Bakewell pudding and a white chocolate rocky road! I didn’t eat them all there and then though – I wanted to take them home to share with my family and Kyle.

I then ordered myself a large English breakfast with all the trimmings… eggs, sausages, bacon, black pudding, beans (contamination!!), mushrooms, hashbrowns, toast and a Derbyshire oatcake underneath.

Now I’ve had Staffordshire oatcakes so I was very excited about this addition. It was delicious (they’re basically savoury crepe-like pancakes).

Then we moseyed about Bakewell for a little bit in the beautiful sunshine. It got very busy quite quickly though – it seemed like it was a very hot tourist spot. We eventually headed back to the centre for a freshen up and lunch (though I would not be needing food for a bit!).

After lunch, we had a really interesting talk from Liz Yelling and Holly Rush, both exceptional athletes in their own right (from Olympic medals to UTMB and Comrades amazingness). They were very inspiring but also quite funny. For example, Liz mentioned that her peak maranoia before a big race extended so far to take her daughter out of playschool and quarantine her in the house. And friends were asked beforehand if they had colds before hugs were exchanged. I mean wow.

Tom Williams explaining the session

We then headed out for the session. We ran up a GIANT hill and separated into groups (self-selected by our parkrun times). Perhaps foolishly I selected the 23 minute group and I don’t think this was possibly the best idea as it wasn’t challenging at all.

I was in a group led by Holly Rush. The session was 3 x 4 minute tempo efforts, following by 1 minute hill sprint. I felt a little frustrated because the 4 minute efforts weren’t really a tempo speed for me (7.30min/mile) so I was struggling not to run ahead. Holly was very vocal and strong in her views that we should stick as a group so I just gave up on thinking it was a session and enjoyed it as a leg stretcher. Hey ho!

Photo Credit: Tanya Raab

We then ran back. I showered (luckily I got hot water – there was a limited supply and a lot of people had cold showers) then it was time for dinner. The food isn’t always that great at these things. Bulk catering and making things cost-effective means it leaves a lot to be desired. However I had a solid meal of a jacket potato with chicken curry and salad (I also added cheese because…).

Then we had a REALLY inspiring and interesting talk from the legend that is Dave Moorcroft, the previous 5k record holder (13 minutes!!) amongst many other accolades. He was such a lovely guy with so many fascinating stories. Really one of the highlights.

Dave Moorcroft being interviewed by Tom

And then it was time for the annual MarathonTalk Run Camp Quiz, hosted by none other than the amazing Tony Audenshaw.

I managed to grab a selfie with him earlier in the day

Honestly, he is one of the nicest people. He’s also hilarious.

The quiz was good fun, though my team (“Anna’s Apples” – yes really) didn’t win. We did however know the winning team so I was able to snag myself a slice of the chocolate cake prize 😉

Group shot outside

I’ll leave it there for my recap… the next day includes more fun and games and the Carsington Water Half Marathon.

Have you ever been to a run camp?

Do you enjoy hearing talks from other runners?

Have you been to the Peak District before?

Back to speed work

Down South we are having some gorgeous weather lately.

Crisp and cold in the morning and then beautiful sunshine later in the day. The temperatures are still chilly but this only means perfect running conditions for me! I love it. It puts a spring (ha!) in my step.

Do you remember that time I briefly went to track for a bit? Yeah neither do I. A distant memory. It was never going to last due to the amount of faff it took for me to get there. I had to leave work later, drive to Southampton, park 3 miles away and wait for about 15 minutes before running there. My entire evening disappeared. Totally not worth any of the speed gains in my opinion. Yes I did enjoy doing regular speed work in such a controlled way but realistically it just didn’t fit into my routine or make me particularly happy over all.

But anyway, I do know I need to do some speed work. Doing it regularly makes me happy. It breaks up all the samey runs I do and makes me feel strong. At the moment I plan to do them once every two weeks to keep an eye on stressing my body too much and avoiding injuries but I’m quite excited about it.

Kyle and I actually did a speed session last week together round the lake at work. It’s a perfect area to do it as it’s fairly soft underfoot (so less stress on the body), there are no cars, no traffic lights, it’s flat and one loop is about 1.5 miles.

I thought we should test out some mile reps. We started with a one mile warm-up and then the reps would begin. We weren’t going to run together but just run at our own speeds. Incidentally these paces were very similar and actually having Kyle ahead or behind me really helped motivate me to keep up or keep him from catching me. After the rep we’d do a cool down jog for 0.5 miles until we got to the start point again. And then we were off once more.

The reps were hard (to be expected!). I felt it in my lungs and legs. It look a lot of concentration to hold on (but also not to blow myself to pieces too soon).

But I’m really proud of myself for reaching the paces I did. I’ve never done mile repeats this quickly. Genuinely think it helped doing it with someone else. Hugely more motivating than doing it solo.

Speaking of Kyle, we had a lovely Valentine’s Day together. We had a very relaxed evening not doing too much.

He cooked my chicken wings and ribs, which of course are some of my favourite foods. And then we chilled watching Sex Education – which is hilarious by the way (tho a weird blend of British and American-ness).

He bought me some lovely gifts, which included some of my favourite chocolate.

I adore Hotel Chocolat! I was very chuffed. Of course they didn’t last long…

Did you celebrate Valentine’s Day?

Do you do speed work?

What’s your favourite speed session?

18 miles – feeling tough

I know I’m a bit of a weird creature in that I really do enjoy marathon training.

In general it’s enjoyable, it’s fun and I like doing it. But it can be hard. My motivation can dip and I can find myself wondering how am I going to do it.

Usually it’s the long run that I dread (though it’s also the one I feel most accomplished with and happy about usually). The thought of running 18 miles, almost three hours of running for me, well, it’s a long time. It’s a long way. It also means waking up on a Sunday morning and not being able to just lay there, or get up whenever. Because the later you leave it the more it eats into your day.

I felt this way leading up to my weekend long run this week. I had 18 miles planned and originally I was going to do it on Sunday. But the thought of going to bed Saturday night knowing I had to wake up and run all that way seemed really unappealing. Kyle offered to run a bit of it with me which was lovely but the route we’d go would mean he’d run 9-10 miles with, still leaving me with a good chunk left on my own. Urgh.

I decided to float the idea of running to parkrun on the Saturday. We’d have to set an alarm and get up relatively early anyway on the Saturday and by combining the long run with parkrun would break it up and mentally seem far easier because all you were doing was travelling to parkrun – a destination run is far easier, mentally, than just a big loop. However this would mean that Kyle would be running 15 miles in total rather than say 12-13 miles. Bless him, he agreed to do it.

So I woke up Saturday morning just after 6am to run about 5k beforehand, then picked up Kyle to then run to Havant parkrun. Though Havant parkrun is actually only four miles away from where he lives we needed to run a bit of a long-winded route to get there to get the extra miles. Actually it was very similar to the route we did last week to Southsea. The very hilly route through Waterlooville, Purbook and up the dreaded Widley hill…

Just finished the Widley hill

As soon as I started running I realised this run was not going to be easy. My legs felt heavy and I felt tired. I was a lot slower than the week before. Annoyingly the thing about running an almost identical route is that you have an identical comparison. After the first three or so miles after Kyle joined me we both moaned that it felt so much harder. It could have been because earlier in the week we’d done our first speed session in a while… or the fact that we’d gone to the cinema the night before and had a Subway quite early for dinner. Either way, it was like running through porridge. We were probably 30-40 seconds per mile slower.

But we got to Havant with 10 minutes to spare

We were both dreading parkrun at this point. I’d just run 15 miles and Kyle was on almost 12. The run there had been so hard and such a grind. And Havant wasn’t a particularly easy parkrun. It wasn’t flat and had an especially steep downhill section which would be brutal on our legs. The ground was also very uneven and hard.

Zack, Kyle’s brother, met us there. He was just going to run parkrun (never “just” but you know what I mean) and was very kindly going to give us a lift back. He’d forgotten his barcode and wasn’t feeling very well so all of us were a bit “meh” about starting the run.

Kyle and I decided to run separately as neither of us wanted any sort of pressure to run at a pace we didn’t fancy. We just wanted to zone out and run however we liked. I was amazed to find that as soon as we were off my legs felt a lot better. Maybe the mini-break had helped? Whatever it was I was able to find a nice rhythm and run quicker. Perhaps I just wanted to get it done and finish the run.

I caught up with two men who were chatting about one of them surprising his partner with a trip to New York and I was able to zone out and listen to them chatter. I briefly considered telling them about the best cookie place (Levain Bakery) but decided not to interfere. Though when I went past them I wished the guy a lovely holiday and he laughed and said thank you.

I finished, HUGELY surprisingly to me, in 23:24. Kyle wasn’t too far behind, having cruised nice and easily in, followed by Zack who hadn’t had struggled a bit but still managed a stellar strong time. We were all glad for it to be done though! What a feeling to have 18 miles under my belt! And no injuries or niggles. I was quite surprised my calves didn’t feel too bad considering I’d forgotten my compression socks… perhaps it is all in my head that they work on long runs eh!

I enjoyed a truly wonderfully hot bath when I got back to Kyle’s. I wanted to lay in there forever it was so good. And then enjoyed a giant mug of tea and steaming bowl of porridge. Honestly, these are the simple things I really crave after a long run. So good.

This photo makes me laugh – Kyle looks very happy with the run haha

For the rest of the day though I felt so drained. I was exhausted. I haven’t run that far since the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon at the end of December and I could really feel it. I even had a 40 minute nap later in the day. I was just absolutely shattered. It’s amazing how quickly you lose the adaptations your body makes during marathon training.

My post run porridge and tea, so good

Luckily though I was able to significantly refuel with a solid dinner with Kyle and my parents that evening at the newly opened Hancock’s in Whiteley. It was my dad’s birthday on the 14th (yes, Valentine’s Day) so we went out to celebrate.

The meal itself was a bit “meh” but the company was lovely. I went for cauliflower bites to start which were a little boring. Basically just cauliflower with buffalo sauce on.

My dad was disappointed that they weren’t able to do steak (something was wrong in the kitchen apparently?), so instead we both ordered the whole chicken (each). It was about the same price as a full rack of ribs so we were both SUPER surprised at how big it was. I mean, it was literally like they bought a family sized chicken from Asda! It was quite tricky to eat to be honest. Like carving straight in on your plate.

But the pudding was the star of the show. Chocolate fudge cake brownie. I mean, wow.

I think Hancock’s needs a few more weeks to find it’s feet if I’m honest. The food was OK but nothing to scream and shout about. My pudding was amazing but Kyle had the waffles and really it was just a waffle with a blob of ice cream on and some sauce. But as I said, it was the company that was the best bit. My parents, Kyle and me had a really nice evening together. Crazy I know, but sometimes food is secondary for me 😉

How far are you willing to run to get to parkrun?

What are your cravings post long run?

Have you had a disappointing meal recently?

My five minutes of fame

So apparently I don’t write into the void of nothingness and  occasionally more than my mum reads my blog… (I am joking somewhat, I know I have some amazing incredible readers who I love to chat to virtually and in real life).

But I was quite surprised when I got an email the next day from a chap from the BBC asking about the blog post I wrote the other day about being 30 and still living at home with my parents. Apparently some new figures had been released regarding people in their 20’s who couldn’t afford to move out or who had moved out and then had to move back home (“boomerang children”) – it was apparently happening A LOT more than twenty years ago.

I’m not entirely shocked and it does make me feel somewhat better – I’m not the only loser! (I’m joking, I’m joking). So yeah the chap, Theo, asked if my parents and I would be happy to be interviewed about it for BBC South Today, like the next day! I mean, sure I’d love to be on telly for a different reason than my incapability of flying the nest completely but ehhhh it sounded fun.

My dad was unfortunately away in Bradford on business but my mum was off of work because of her arm (she’d sliced a tendon accidentally the other week by a silly picture frame related incident). I told Theo I’d double-check but I was more than certain it’d be fine. My mum would love it.

Well, it turns out my mum was actually getting her hair done the next day and couldn’t possibly rearrange. CAN YOU ACTUALLY BELIEVE IT. Our chance for fame and fortune and she was BUSY. Eventually though I managed to rearrange the interview to be in the afternoon so she would be free. I’d have a half day at work, pick my mum up from the hairdressers and then we’d go home for the interview.

When we arrived at the house they were already there with this GIANT satellite bus thing. What we didn’t realise was on top of the interview segment thing (which would be aired that evening) we were also doing a LIVE bit at 1.30pm as a sort of mini trailer. WHAT.

This was incredibly nerve-wracking I can tell you. What I can also tell you is that three people from the BBC we met were super friendly, accommodating and lovely. The reporter, Anjana, was so nice. She didn’t push us or make us feel uncomfortable. We were very much put at our ease.

Anjana, the reporter, and Doug, the camera man

We had a few rehearsals before the live bit and then we were ON AIR. Please do not swear. Eeesh it was nerve-wracking. I had the panic moment of my brain going entirely blank but then I was fine. It was literally only a minute a half so it went quickly. My mum didn’t fluff it up either, happy days.

Then we filmed the longer bit. This involved more questions, more interactions and then a walk upstairs to show my bedroom (god how embarrassing) and a bit with our dogs as a kind of “scene setting” context thing.

All in all it was a really fun experience. It was cool to see how these segments are produced and how adaptive and quick thinking these TV people are. How they can come up with how to do an interview and “set the scene” so quickly.

Seeing it back? Mortifying and cringe-worthy. THAT’S what my face looks like? THAT’S what my voice sounds like? God almighty. I could only watch it once and I just felt very uncomfortable. We came across fine I think. Nothing controversial or crazy. Just watching myself speak or “relax” my face into it’s apparent resting bitch face was just an awfully enlightening process. Hey ho, my 5 minutes of fame. I can be grateful that I wasn’t be trolled online I suppose!

Have you ever been on telly?

Have you ever been interviewed?