parkrun Smackdown – Kyle vs. Anna

Bit late on the recap, but the weekend before last Kyle and I decided to have a ‘parkrun smackdown’. (I will quickly preface this by saying I know parkrun is not actually a race, this is just a bit of fun between Kyle and me).

This basically meant we were going to race each other at Southsea parkrun. We had often wondered who would win over a 5k between us. I train a bit more in general than Kyle and have been running longer, but Kyle is far better at sprinting and running shorter distances than me. So it would be interesting.

I ran down to Southsea parkrun (almost 3 miles) as I knew I’d need a bit of a warmup beforehand, especially for a 5k. I struggle to go from 0 to 100 that quickly. Kyle drove down with Isaac and I met him, his mum, sister and my dad there. We were all going to go for breakfast afterwards. Something to look forward to after all that pain!

It was fairly windy, annoyingly, and very warm. Southsea parkrun is an out and back and so you run 1.5ish miles out along the prom and then back again. The wind was coming from the West so the first half of the run would be lovely with a tail wind, but then heading back would be dreadful.

There had been some fun banter all week between Kyle and me. Some good old fashioned trash talk. But in reality I had a sneaky suspicion that Kyle would beat me. He would straight away run ahead and I didn’t think I had enough mileage to catch him up. We would see…

As parkrun begun I was ahead for, oh, all of 5 seconds before Kyle zoomed past me. Then it was basically me desperately trying to keep him in my sights. I looked at my watch and saw low 6 minute miles and thought “oh wow this isn’t going to stay like this!”. But I knew I needed to make as much gains as I could while the wind was in a favourable direction. It would all change when we get to the turn around point.

I managed to keep Kyle in my line of vision but I wasn’t gaining on him. I hoped that maybe after the turnaround he would start to lose his energy but it was a longshot. We got to the turnaround and straight away the wind hit us in the face. Now it was going to get tough!

I never did manage to gain any closer to Kyle but I didn’t manage to lose too much distance either. As I hit 2 miles I started to do the maths in my head… with the pace I’d been running so far could I be in chance of a sub-20?

Ooof it would be a hard ask. I was putting everything into it and my legs and lungs were burning. Sadly, as I hit 3 miles I realised this would be impossible. I wasn’t running fast enough. I crossed the line (behind Kyle) at 20:23. Kyle finished in a fantastic 20:11.

The winner!

We were both really pleased with our times. I mean, this is the fastest I’ve run in MONTHS for a 5k.

However there was a little bit of a disappointment lingering for both Kyle and I that we hadn’t managed to get a sub-20. More so for Kyle as he was so close, whereas I guess for me I’d really need to get my skates on! I reckon though Kyle would have smashed the 20 minute mark had the wind not been so strong.

The disappointment didn’t last long tho as we were then off to the Parade Tearooms for some breakfast. I say breakfast but my meal of choice from there will always be their gigantic Jayne Salad. It’s epic and I always order it, regardless of the time.

Calling it a salad is somewhat of a push considering it doesn’t contain that much salad compared to the piles of bacon, potato, chicken and cheese (which is why it’s so divine).

Anyway, a lovely morning! Family, parkrunning and breakfast 🙂

Have you ever raced someone at parkrun?

Would you eat a salad for breakfast?

Romsey Beer Race 2022

The Romsey Beer Race – my favourite race of the year. And due to COVID, a race that hasn’t been held since June 2019. So it’s been a while.

I’ve done this race five times before. I just love it! The course is undulating but is in such a beautiful, picturesque location and the weather is usually pretty good, albeit sometimes a bit too hot. This year however it was very cool and cloudy. The perfect race conditions.

Though I usually hate to actually race as running fast isn’t really my thing. I prefer a long slow run (or a marathon!). But there’s something about this race that gets me going. Every time I’ve done it I’ve given it a good go.

Kyle had floated the idea of running together and pushing each other on earlier in the week but I said I wasn’t sure because I didn’t know if I wanted to race or not. But as Kyle and I drove into the area I started to get the buzz and asked him if he still wanted to. He (semi jokingly) said that maybe we should run our own race as he didn’t want me to “hold him back”. Trash talk, I see. He was joking but in reality we both knew we’d rather run separately than run together. I was happy with that!

The night before my parents had looked after Isaac so we were both feeling pretty good with our solid night’s sleep (something of a rarity these days!). We met my parents and Isaac there, as well as Kyle’s mum and her partner, Tony. Kyle’s brother and his girlfriend also turned up to support too. A lovely support group!

We positioned ourselves fairly near the front. With less than 400 runners this wasn’t too scary but still scary enough. The front runners are VERY fast and I definitely don’t measure up to them but we wanted to give ourselves a good chance to get going quickly.

This worked well as the front runners sped off (as did Kyle) and I didn’t have to wind past anyone and people didn’t have to wind past me. Straight away I felt like I was good to give it my best, whatever that would look like. I had the buzz and my legs were feeling good.

We ran round the cricket pitch, then we ran up the road to where the bulk of the supporters were, including our family. I’ve done this race so many times, as have my parents in supporting it, so they knew exactly where to stand for a great spot.

They cheered us on and up we went to our first grinding hill. It’s a fairly long incline, pretty much the entire first mile. Kyle was ahead – I used him as motivation to keep on grinding and try to get faster.

I knew I’d have the advantage on the downhills as Kyle tends to slow down whereas I have a bit more of an “run with abandon” approach to downhills. Though Kyle is stronger on the uphills.

I caught up with him using that downhill and slowly, slowly overtook him. I jokingly said “well done” as I ran past. The banter between us was very friendly, I want this to be clear. I wasn’t rubbing it in, and he wasn’t annoyed. We both agreed it was good that we were racing each other as it pushed us both on.

I spent the rest of the race knowing Kyle was right on my tail. It was definitely a motivator. I didn’t want him to overtake me! And it pushed him on because he obviously did want to catch up.

Anyway, the race continued with a few more undulations. I was at a huge advantage having run this race five times before to know roughly how long these would last – not as long as the first one, but some steeper. Because I knew the course so well I could judge my speed to know if I could maintain my pace. I felt quite comfortable, as comfortable as you can be trying your hardest. What I mean is, that while I was definitely on the pain train and my legs were burning, I knew I could maintain it.

It also felt incredible short because I’ve only really been running marathons over the last few years! Five miles of pain was a lot different to 26.2 miles of tough sustained exertion (and only painful in the last few minutes). I felt confident.

And then my shoelace came undone. I had a new pair of Brook Adrenalines on and the laces are a bit short and shiny, so don’t tie together that well. Urghh what an utter pain! I stopped on the side and tried to tie it up as quickly as I could. Kyle was just far enough behind that he didn’t get a chance to overtake as I was off again quickly.

It probably took 5-10 seconds and then I was motivated to make up for lost time so realistically it didn’t affect things at all, I don’t think. It merely stopped the memento, which I was able to regain again quickly.

I got to the final stretch, before you head into the field to do the lap around it before finishing.

I still felt like Kyle was just behind me so used that to keep pushing but I was fading. I barely had a sprint finish in me.

If Kyle was on my shoulder he definitely could have out-sprinted me as he has such a good sprint finish.

My finishing time was 33:49 (my PB is still 33:43). Kyle finished 34:48. We were both really happy with our times. We had some banter at the end, as you do, but it was all in good fun. We’ve actually decided to go head-to-head in our next parkrun (tomorrow) to see what will happen.

Kyle is much better at shorter distances. I’m much better at longer, slower distances. Over a 5k will be very interesting. My prediction is that Kyle will speed ahead straight away and be ahead of me for most of the race. Then it’s up to me to try and overtake, which will be such a big ask considering how fast I think Kyle will go. If I’m honest, I don’t think I’ll be able to beat Kyle. He’s been running some solid 5ks and he has that power in his legs which I don’t.

We will see 😉 The trash talk in the house this week has been amusing. But as long as we both put some welly into it, we’re both going to come away with solid times I think (I HOPE!) so in my eyes it’s a win win.

But anyway, back to this race. I fed Isaac after I finished which took quite a while, bless him. I sat there just desperate to get some cake but he was not letting me go anytime soon haha!

I actually came second female which was lovely because I’ve managed to place a few times at this race. I’ve now been second twice, first once and third once. Not too shabby! (I will stress again that this is a small race and previous times another local 10k has happened on the same day which a lot of the speedy club runners were more drawn to).

Finally I was able to grab a cake (a blondie) and a beer (for my dad) and we waited around to get my prize.

The weather was warm enough to not be uncomfortable but not need a coat. The after bit is one of my favourite parts of this race as it’s just so friendly and you can chat to different people while enjoying a lovely cake and drink.

I then collected my “medal” – a beer glass, love it! (Oh by the way, the first place female was INCREDIBLE. I didn’t have a chance in hell of even being remotely her competition, she smashed it!)

And then we headed off to one of our favourite pubs, the Osborne View, for a roast. It was such a lovely day. I’ll definitely be signing up again next year. It’s such a well run, friendly and fun event.

Now on to the smackdown with Kyle… 😉

Southampton Marathon 2022

The lead-up to the Southampton Marathon was far from ideal.

We’d had a week of poor sleep as poor Isaac had gotten a cold from nursery and I therefore now had a cold too.

I can’t believe how quickly Isaac became ill after literally his first couple of days in nursery! I had been warned that illnesses would crop up quickly after he’d start but I didn’t realise it would literally be the day after. Poor little man was so snotty and had such a cough. We tested negative for COVID so that was good!

We’ve also recently stopped Isaac going to the Nana’s each week overnight. We made this decision because what with him going to nursery twice a week and then seeing both Nanas on the other two days, it felt like our Isaac time had diminished so much. As much as I loved having that night of sleep and lie-in the next day, it felt wrong him going away somewhere else again in the week.

So this all entailed me not feeling particularly fresh. But I had no time goals or great expectations for the marathon so I thought I might as well see what happens.

Kyle drove Isaac and I to Southampton while I ate my three pieces of toast.

We parked and walked over to the race village where we met Kyle’s mum, his sister, his brother and his brother’s girlfriend – the support crew! My parents were sadly suffering from a sickness bug so couldn’t come.

After a quick wee, I headed to the start. It was a bit nippy and windy but otherwise a lovely sunny morning.

It felt very odd to be in such proximity with so many people and someone joked had COVID even happened. This is the first time I’ve been in such a crowd – the other races I’ve done haven’t been quite as busy or packed at the start.

And then we were off! It felt really exciting and I couldn’t help but have a big grin on my face. The crowds of supporters really upped the atmosphere and I felt so buzzed. I let the bustle of runners carry me along and the first mile flew by in a blur. There were loads of people around me and I just remember thinking how much I love a big race, especially a big marathon.

Then we got to Itchen Bridge, the first of the major hills. It’s such a long grind up that bridge but the support along it was great. The wind was against us as well so it was hard going. I decided to take my mind off it by simply counting to 100. Amazingly this really worked! As I got to 100 I’d reached the top and was then heading back down, which was obviously far easier.

From Itchen Bridge you do a little loop down by the water and I saw some of my running club friends which was lovely. And then it was back towards Itchen Bridge again for the 2nd of the four times I’d have to run over it. I counted again as I ran over it and it worked nicely once more.

As I ran down the other side I spotted my lovely supporters and they gave me a big cheer which boosted me along. As I continued on, I knew my next major milestone would be the football stadium so I looked forward to that.

Running through the stadium was fun. It was spongy underfoot as they’d put some kind of turf down to protect the ground and I felt very springy as I ran across. My pace was still quite consistent and I felt pretty good.

Then we were off towards Bitterne. I remembered parts of this from the two times I’d run the half but knew that the route had changed a little. In the back of my mind I was praying that the big hill around mile 11 wouldn’t be there…

We ran along the river and again it was just so lovely how many people were out supporting. Loads of people giving out Jelly Babies, water and even offering to spray you with a hose as we passed houses.

I didn’t feel too hot at this point but I’d started to take on more water. A few sips here and there at each aid station. The drinks were these weird plastic bag things that required a bit of navigation to get to work and you were in danger of being aggressively squirted if you weren’t careful!

Sadly there were more hills to come even before the potential mile 11 hill. As we climbed a particularly long incline I heard a pacer say that there was only one more hill after this one. Ah OK then yes mile 11 hill was likely still to come!

The hills on the course were quite tough, I won’t lie. And mile 11 was no different. I just used my counting technique which helped. It also helped not really minding too much about pace. I would of course slow down going up the hill but I found I made it up on the downhill so it all evened out.

As we got nearer and nearer towards the finish, running along part of the Southampton parkrun, the crowds were getting more excited. They were yelling at us that we were almost there and not long now. Of course this was true for the half marthoners, but not for the marathoners! We still had to do this all again.

A slightly depressing part of the course was that the marathoners had to run literally down the finish line and then right before we went over the line we turned left to go again for another lap. It was a little bit frustrating!

Now we were on to the second lap and I knew exactly what was to come. I quite like this about a two lapper. The first lap is all about taking it all in, and the second lap you’re just ticking off the sights you’ve seen before.

But now the course was far more empty. No more half marathoners crowding the field. The supporters were few and far between now as the bulk of the race was over. It suddenly became a little bit like a ghost town at times.

I saw Kyle and Co. again which was lovely and they peppered me on nicely.

What was nice though was that the supporters and marshals that were there all cheered you on pretty much individually. I got a lot of “Go Anna!” which was really nice and encouraging.

Itchen Bridge the 3rd and 4th time came and went, though a lot harder this time. No longer did my count to 100 get me up the hill, it was more like 160. And now there was limited shade from the wind as the field was so empty.

But do you know what? I was still having a great time. I was far more hot now and each time I went past a water station I grabbed a water and kept it with me so I could sip as I went. I definitely needed it now! I was also so pleased I’d worn my sunglasses.

I got to mile 18 and remember distinctly thinking “ahh I love marathons”. I know that might sound a bit twee but honestly I do love them. Yes they’re so hard, long and boring at times but I was just in my little zone ticking off the miles enjoying myself. I had my headphones with me to listen to some music but I didn’t actually fancy it at all. I was quite happy with my own thoughts and the sounds from outside.

As I got to around three miles to go I decided to push on a little bit harder. I actually caught up with a guy I’ve known for a while and we swapped hellos. Then we just sorted of stayed in step with each other.

We didn’t chat – we were both too tired and in our own little worlds. But when he edged further on I pushed myself to keep up, and likewise for him. So in the end I we were really pushing the pace to the end. Far quicker than I think I would have had I been on my own that’s for certain!

The finish line sprint was amazing. The crowds were really thick here (including my family) and everyone was bashing on the barriers and cheering so the atmosphere was electric and ridiculously loud.

I properly sprinted to the end – faster than I’ve probably done for the majority of my marathons! But I was loving it.

My time was 3:30:08, which I am SO pleased about considering I had no time goals in mind. It was a lot faster than I’d intended.

Am I sad I didn’t dip under 3:30? Of course 😉 But no, seriously, I’m so happy and honestly don’t think I could have given anymore in that sprint.

Then I met up with my family and enjoyed a lovely roast dinner later in the day.

I am honestly so happy with how the Southampton Marathon went and really only have happy memories from the day. I just ran at such a consistent pace and never felt like I was over-reaching (until perhaps the last couple of miles which were definitely a hard push!). it just further reminded me of how much I love a pressure-free marathon.

In short, hilly, hot, windy but thoroughly enjoyable!

Maternity leave is over

And just like that my maternity leave is over. Just over 9 months of being away from work and looking after the little man – it’s gone so quickly!

We’re very fortunate that I’m only going back four days a week and Isaac is only going to nursery for two days. The other two days he’ll be with the Nanas (Wednesdays with my mum and Fridays with Kyle’s). Having help from our family is obviously massively beneficial to us financially because it literally has halved our childcare costs.

Childcare in the UK is quite an expensive thing and I know a lot of mothers can’t afford to even go back to work because the cost of childcare is more than their salary. So yes, we are very very lucky.

It also means Isaac gets to spend time with two people he really loves and feels safe with. I can also easily check in throughout the day to find out how he is and what he’s up to, which is lovely. Both Nanas adore spending time with him and I know they’ve really been looking forward to this time.

Nursery will also be good for him because it will challenge him in a new environment with new faces. The nursery staff will help develop him in ways I wouldn’t have had a clue about. He’ll become more confident and learn what it’s like to be around other babies.

First day at nursery

I have mixed feelings about going back to work and childcare, as I’m sure all parents do. I’m going to miss seeing him so much. I’ve literally gone from 24/7 to four days only seeing him in the morning and the evening. It’s a hard adjustment.

At the same time, it’s good for me too. I get some mental and physical space and can focus on things I haven’t been able to while looking after the little man. Working will be a lovely time for me to use my brain and no longer be Anna the Mum. My days with Isaac were solely focused on him and housework so now I get a bit of a breather.

I can eat lunch without rushing or multi-tasking. I can go for a walk without the pram. I can write my blog. It feels very odd. Like something is missing or I keep forgetting something.

Mondays will still be the same as before, which will be nice. I’ll be spending the day with Isaac looking after him. I’m glad I still get this day as just having the weekends feels so hard.

In terms of running, the plan is that Kyle will drop Isaac off to nursery in the morning and then I’ll pick him up later. As the nursery is only 3 miles away we’re planning on using the running buggy to commute him there and back.

Kyle will run him down, leave the buggy there, then run back. Then in the afternoon I’ll run down, pop Isaac in the buggy then run him back. That’s the plan! Who knows how well this will work, we shall see. Also, I’m hoping Isaac will get a cheeky nap in the running buggy on the way back as it’ll be about 25 minutes. That’ll be ideal!

So that’s that’s the current state of play. I’m sure they’ll be lots more change and shifting things about but so far this is the plan. I really hope Isaac thrives going forward and that he’s happy. It’ll be a big change for us all, but mostly for him. So fingers crossed…

Have you sent any of your children to nursery?

What does childcare look like for you?

Goodwood Marathon 2022

Yesterday I ran the Goodwood Marathon… for the 3rd time.

This means I’ve now run round the Goodwood Motor Circuit 33 times. That’s a lot for quite a dull course . So if anyone hears me contemplating running it again, please punch me.

The reason I did it again was because after running the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon in December as a “can  I still run marathons post baby” kind of test and feeling like it went really well, I wanted to  do another marathon where I could  push the pace and see how well I could do. The only available marathon nearby and relatively soon was Goodwood. So Goodwood it was!

My training had been really good so I felt quietly confident. My overall goal  was for a sub-3.30 hour marathon. I felt like I could achieve this if things went well on the day. Like the weather wasn’t horrendous and I didn’t have any sickness or injury issues (always a risk during a marathon). And internally I hoped I could get a significant sub-3.30… it just depended how much I could give and how well I could run (of course).

The weather unfortunately wasn’t the best. It was very cold (standard for February obviously) and fairly windy. I’ve run Goodwood before when it’s been super windy and it was really hard work. I spent the first half of the lap battling the wind and then the second half recovering. I wasn’t that excited for the prospect of another race like that. But you can’t control nor change it, you just have to accept what you’re given on the day.

The night before Isaac stayed with my mum and dad so I could get a solid stretch of sleep. I was very grateful! But also, both sets of grandparents really love to babysit Isaac and take turns each week having him for a night. So we just made sure their turn was the night before the race.

I had a large veggie pizza from Asda and went to bed at 10pm. Because I’m breastfeeding, when Isaac stays with the grandparents I have to pump before I go to bed, during the night and first thing in the morning.

Obviously in the middle of the night isn’t the most fun experience but I’ve got it down to 15 minutes of entire wake time for the whole process so it’s really not that hard. This helps keep our milk stores in the freezer topped up so I can give the grandparents milk when they look after him. It also means my boobs don’t feel like they’re going to explode!

Anyway, that all went fine and I was awake bright and early at 6.50am and we were leaving the house at 7.45am to get to Goodwood for around 8.20am, where we were meeting my parents (and Isaac) and Kyle’s mum. I ate toast on route. I normally have porridge but because I know there aren’t any toilets on the course I wanted to limit the amount of liquid I’d be having before the race.

I picked up my bib, went for a wee and was ready to go. It was cold and breezy but I knew once I started running I’d be fine. My family got themselves a bacon bap and a hot drink and wished me good luck.

We were called in waves of predicted start time and I went with the sub-3:30 bunch. I stood chatting with two other ladies while we waited to start. They were aiming for similar times and so once we started we naturally just stuck together in a little group.

One of the women had the Nike Vaporfly shoes on and they squeaked with every footfall. In fact, it amused me greatly that you could tell who was wearing them without even looking because of that tell-tale squeak.

The first few laps were fairly dull. I found I was comfortably ticking along the miles at 7.40ish and this didn’t feel too much of an effort. I love the marathon for this reason. It’s a strategy game. A pace that feels good at the start can be so much harder later, but do you risk it? Do you play it safe and go slower then hope to speed up later? The risk being you might not speed up and might have missed banking those faster times. But can you ever truly bank time in a marathon?

Normally my strategy is to go slow and increase as I carry on. 7.40 isn’t a slow pace for me by any means but it has been a comfortable pace I’ve been running a lot of my long runs. I could potentially knock it down to 7.30/20 later on if things went well. So I decided to try and keep under that pace.

The wind was from the south which meant it was dead against us as we ran along the stretch past the supporters (the complete opposite to the last time I ran it). This was SO much better because as hard as the force of the wind was, you could use the crowd’s cheers to push you along. And then when you got round to the quieter section of the course the wind was pushing you along – exactly where you needed it.

By lap three I was on my own having just gently stretched ahead of the two ladies. The 20 miler race had started so there were more people on the course now and the faster runners were speeding past. It made things somewhat more interesting.

After the first lap, the nanas escaped, sensibly, to the warmth inside but my dad and Kyle braved the viewing deck and cheered me on every lap which was lovely. I will stress that I never ask my family to come and support me. Of course I’m always over the moon when they come to one of my races but equally if they don’t want to I’m absolutely fine with going on my own. After all, it’s my hobby and it’s not exactly a quick thing!

But they were really keen to come. I mean, let’s be honest the nanas love spending time with Isaac so that helped 😉 but my dad and Kyle are always really enthusiastic about cheering me on and getting geeky about pace times and goals. I think they were quite happy it was a race I was actually going for this time as that’s always a bit more fun for them to watch!

Anyway Isaac was having a whale of time apparently while I was out running.

By lap five I’d decided I needed a wee and started to look for good spots to run off the course to a well concealed bush. Unfortunately, Goodwood isn’t that great for hidden spots. The spot I’d seen others heading to (and a spot I’d used on the previous marathons) was quite a way off the course. However I managed to find a concealed spot behind a barrier quite close to the course (I stress it wasn’t an area people would normally walk!).

Ahh relief! I knew I’d only need that one wee during the race so I felt a lot better. Then my next plan of action for the next lap was to pick up my fuel from the aid station table. The race organisers had said we could leave our own water bottles and fuel at the water station so I had a bottle and a box with some Guylian Seashells and my headphones.

I’d decided that I didn’t want to use traditional gels (mainly because I didn’t have any and didn’t want to buy more) so figured chocolate would be a) more enjoyable and b) just as effective. Quick acting carbs! Guylian Seashells are quite melt-in-the-mouth so I hoped they’d be easy to get down.  I have quite a strong stomach when it comes to what fuel I can use (I’ve used chocolate before) so I knew it’d be OK.

Unfortunately with the cold weather they weren’t quite as melty as I’d hoped and involved a bit more chewing. This was fine tho, it just meant I needed to hang on to my water for a bit longer so I could wash them down. I had two and felt a bit more peppered up!

I have to say there isn’t much to talk about from then until mile 20ish really. The laps were ticking past and I was bored out of my mind. To keep myself amused I was counting up to 100 and back down again. There really wasn’t anything else to do other than look at other runners and smile at the marshals (who were incredible by the way – standing out in that windy cold weather cheering us on. Utter heroes!). I ran past my friends Mike (who I ran the Portsmouth Coastal with) and Gabby. They were going a more leisurely pace without a goal time in mind. They seemed very chilled and relaxed! It was nice to briefly speak to them.

As I got past mile 20 I decided to pop my earphones in and listen to some music to rev me up a bit. I stopped at the aid station to grab them and had a bit of a fluster when I couldn’t find my box.  Luckily the marshals had just moved it to one side, whew!

As I got going again I had one lap of music before I decided to switch to a bit more of a higher tempo playlist. Unfortunately for whatever reason this caused my earphones to stop working and I lost the music altogether. Ho hum!

But by now I really only had two laps to go so I was a bit more focused and ready to push as much as I could. I started counting faster in the hope that would help things. From the time on my watch I knew I was firmly in the sub-3:30 territory… and suddenly had the realisation that I could get close to sub-3:20!

My dad and Kyle were being the most fantastic supporters and I could tell they knew what I knew and that I was looking to be getting a faster than predicted time.

I definitely gave a bit too much in my penultimate lap and realised I wasn’t going to be able to take much more seconds off my pace. My legs were feeling incredibly hard done by and I didn’t have much more in the tank to suddenly drop a gear and zoom ahead.

As I got to the final lap I passed Mike and Gabby again and they enthusiastically cheered me on which MASSIVELY helped. My dad and Kyle were shouting at me to keep on pushing but jeeze as I got the full force of the wind again down that straight it just felt impossible to go any faster.  In fact my pace slipped to 7.45+. I tried my best to push through and it was only after getting round so the wind was more of a crosswind that I could catch my breath and bring the pace back down again.

Then I started to feel droplets of cold rain. This last lap wasn’t going to be pretty. I was literally counting down each 0.1. I could see I had the chance to get under 3:20 if I really pushed hard. The marshals were amazing and they cheered me along – as they had every lap. It really mattered!

By the time I was hitting the final mile and seeing the finish line in sight the rain was starting to come down and the wind was stronger. It was such a grind to get to that finish straight and to push myself forward. I looked at my watch and realised I had about one minute to get there.

My whole family were at the finish line and were cheering me on as I grinded my way to the end. I could barely raise a smile to them I was so focused on just FINISHING.

And whew, I finished in 3:19:37!

I am SO chuffed you wouldn’t believe. I really worked hard for that time in this race. It wasn’t a breeze. While I still managed to wave and smile, it definitely wasn’t the level I’m usually at during a marathon when it’s all flowers and rainbows and I’m loving life.

This race was a rarity for me in that I went there for a purpose: to see how I could do. It wasn’t about enjoying the miles, like I normally do.  It was seeing what my body could achieve seven months postpartum. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed the race. It was bloody hard and I fully grafted my way through it, but I still get such a thrill. Just not to the extent of some of my other marathons where I’m not going for a time.

I’m very proud of myself. I honestly didn’t think I’d do as well as I did. I thought I was in a sub-3:30 shape, possibly 3:25. Realistically I knew I’d never be in reach of my PB because honestly I’d have had to have gone out a lot faster and felt more comfortable increasing the pace later (which I definitely wasn’t able to do), but I didn’t think I’d get my second fastest marathon.

So I’m very pleased! A tough marathon but one I’m very proud of. And again, I can’t stress how much I appreciate my incredible supporters – especially now we have Isaac and can’t just swan off whenever we want. I’m beyond grateful to them and feel very lucky to have such a supportive family 🙂

Now on to the next marathon – Southampton in April (fingers crossed!).