Portsmouth Coastal Marathon 2021

Sooo it’s been a while since I last blogged!

I wont lie, the desire to blog has been very low. Time is very precious right now and when I have a few moments to spare I don’t really fancy blogging. I do a lot of updates on Instagram but it’s just not the same as having a bit of a ramble on here. And what better time to have a little ramble than post marathon! My favourite blogs to write are race recaps and I love to keep the memories of the race, while they’re fresh, alive on here (even if no one cares or no one reads!).

I came back to running after 12 weeks of giving birth to Isaac and I did it sensibly, but I also did it with the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon in the back of my mind too. From starting running to that race it was about 12 weeks… which could be doable for an “easier” paced marathon. A marathon that I really enjoy for its festive and fun atmosphere, it’s literally on my doorstep, just before Christmas and one that isn’t about PB attempts (at least for me).

My comeback to running went well – nothing felt off, my pelvic floor held out and I slowly built up the miles. I hope one day to write a bit more about this journey but for now the Sparks Notes is that I built the long runs up, did supplementary strength training to keep my body strong and just ran consistently 3-4 times a week.

I’d managed to (gently) coerce my good friend, Mike, to run the marathon too. We’ve run another marathon together before – the New Forest marathon – when I tried to help him get a sub-4 hour.  This time though it wasn’t about me pacing him, just about us running together enjoying the race and each other’s company. I wasn’t aiming for any sort of fast time and Mike just wanted to get round, which sounded perfect as that would roughly be around an “easier” pace for me considering the long runs I’d managed to do beforehand.

I had a Papa Johns pizza and some chicken wings (sage and onion festive flavoured – they were incredible!) the night before. And my usual porridge in the morning. Kyle’s lovely mum had Isaac the night before so we could get a good night’s sleep before the race, which was just so helpful! He’s waking 2-3 times a night still… So Sarah came over in the morning with Isaac and to drive down with us to the start.

It was so so lovely. Kyle’s mum, sister and brother were coming to support Mike and I as well as my parents. It was really lovely of them and it meant so much to us to have those cheers throughout the race. I’m very lucky to be part of a family who are so supportive.

Yes it wasn’t a goal race but it was my first race post baby. The Portsmouth Coastal isn’t a big race in terms of numbers (less than 1,000?) and while the marshalls are incredible there isn’t a huge amount of consistent support round the course. So knowing we’d see my family 4 times around the course was such a boost.

I met Mike down at the start area about ten minutes before the start. I had a quick pre-race pee and then we were off. The weather was fantastic. No noticeable wind. Not too cold. No rain. It was perfect.

For the first seven miles (before we first saw my family) Mike and I had a nice relaxed start, chatting away and catching up on life. The miles flew by! We also saw a few people we knew from Hedge End Running Club as well as some other familiar faces. It’s such a local race that you just see so many people, which is great.

The annoying bit where you run across the shingles wasn’t too bad. There hadn’t even been a bottleneck to get onto it like there had been the two times I’d run it before. So it was just a quick amble across – try not to break your ankles! – and we were done. Whew.

We did go a little too quick perhaps as we bumped into people we knew and without realising we were speeding up. We all laughed and realised this could be problematic and that none of us wanted to go too speedy! So we slowed down again. It’s always dangerous during a marathon to go too quickly at the start because you feel so good. You’re so fresh and the miles haven’t really hit you yet. But it’s a long race and you have to be cautious because you have literally hours to go!

I was feeling really good though. Nice and comfortable and like I said the miles seemed to fly by. Suddenly we were at Farlington Marshes where our support crew were waiting. We got a big cheer which was lovely, Mike picked up his Lucozade which Kyle was holding for him (handy having supporters for this!) and we were on our way again. Isaac was having a nap in the car so I didn’t see him then, but he was in excellent hands of course.

The course had slightly changed from the previous races but it was still mostly familiar to me and I’m sure I bored Mike to tears with “when I ran this a few years ago…” conversations we had. I’m a broken record!

Both Mike and I were feeling good and enjoying ourselves. The miles were ticking off and around 10 miles (I think) we started seeing the front runners of the marathon heading back. Wow!! We cheered them along – it’s amazing how fast they were! I love and out and back race because you get to see the faster runners coming back and it helps pass the time.

We passed the Lambrook pub where my family and I were actually going to go for lunch after the race. It was funny to think in a few hours it’d all be over and I’d be sat eating a big carvery there later.

Mike and I got to around 11 miles where there’s always a festive aid station (shots of port, cups of mulled wine, mine pies and Jaffa cakes) and where the next location our supporters would be. The last time I ran this I was waving so much and paying too much attention to the cheering that I almost ran into a bollard (a hilarious video was of course captured). As I ran past them this time my dad shouted “mind the bollard!”. Haha I definitely saw it this time!

As the route had slightly changed, we wouldn’t be running too much further on. The turnaround would come sooner. This was a nice thing to do because previously it used to be quite a long run out at this point and the route was quite samey with the terrain and scenery not changing too much. It sort of goes a bit off road (not crazy off road, just on compacted trail and away from the traffic etc.). I needed a wee at this point so was on the lookout for a well concealed bush. Thankfully I saw a fork in the road and ran off there to do my business. A few people shouted I was going the wrong way but I said nature calls and they laughed.

I’d told Mike to keep running so now was the job to catch up with him again. I felt a bit uncharitable picking up speed and overtaking people and (they must have wondered what the hell I was doing suddenly sprinting along). It was also tough going to suddenly be trying to run a lot faster than I had been before, but it wasn’t too long before I’d caught Mike back up and could settle back into a more reasonably chilled pace (and catch my breath!).

Eventually we reached the turnaround point and headed back the way we’d come… all 13.1 miles of it. I love this point of the race because now you know exactly what you’re in for. The route does slightly change from what we ran to begin with but it’s basically the same (we avoid the shingles this time because the tide will have come in).

I sent Kyle a quick voice note on my phone to ask him for some Vaseline as I could feel a bit of chafing happening but as we got to the cheer spot we couldn’t see them. Then suddenly across the road I saw Kyle and his brother Zack race over shouting that they didn’t realise the turnaround was quicker this year haha! Thankfully he had the Vaseline and threw it over to me as I waited for them to cross the road and told Mike to go ahead. Then I had to catch him up again.

As we got to about 16 miles Mike started to slow down a little. But we were still going a nice clip and were in good spirits. We had another annoying bit of shingle which wasn’t nearly as fun to cross this time with all those miles in our legs!

At mile 19 we saw my family again and they gave us a lovely cheer. I gave Isaac a quick kiss as he was now awake. It was just so lovely to see him mid-race. Something I would never have dreamed about in a million years!

And then we were off back towards Southsea seafront. Things were getting trickier now. We were starting to slow down more and more now. I wanted to keep Mike’s spirits up so kept talking rubbish to him (which I’m sure he really appreciated…) and hopefully helped him. We stopped at an aid station and I decided to risk it and have a mulled wine. It’s Christmas why not eh! It was delicious.

The changes in terrain as we headed over some grasslands didn’t help Mike’s twinges that he was starting to feel in his quads. I wish I could have helped him but there’s nothing really you can do but keep encouraging. Our pace wasn’t descending too badly and we were still trucking along so this was good.

I needed another wee and knew there was a toilet ahead so I told Mike I’d dash in and catch him up. And now we were on the Southsea prom, just one long stretch to the finish along the waterfront. We had slowed a bit more now and Mike needed to do some run walking to help with his painful quads. I knew he felt frustrated and just wanted to get to the end now.

Mike said he was happy though as this had happened a lot later in the marathon than he thought and we were actually on for a faster time than he’d expected. We literally had only a couple of miles left and despite the long straight dragging out in front of us, we’d be done soon.

We saw my family again right at the end and we got ourselves together and ran to the finish. Ahh it felt so good! My time was 4:13:19.

Despite Mike’s painful legs, he said he was really happy with the race and the time we’d done. I think we’d both expected to be around 4.30 so to be so much faster was a happy surprise. Our intention was never to smash out a fast time or go for a sub-4 but to get so close to his PB (around 4:08) this was such a decent result!

Myself, I was so chuffed. Yes I’ve run faster marathons but I’ve never run a marathon after a baby and to feel so strong all the way through has given me such confidence. To know I can do the distance again and not break has made be very happy indeed. I can’t wait to see what I can do in another marathon now.

I got reunited with my little man which was just lovely. Though he had been fed by my family while I was running, I did need to feed him myself as my boobs were quite full now! So I sat on the grass and fed him while I enjoyed a post-marathon glow 😊

After doing some post race celebrations and chats with Mike, we headed off for our carvery. It was delicious. Nothing like a gigantic plate of roast dinner to refuel after a marathon eh!

So in a nutshell, I’m SO pleased with how this race went. I had a fantastic time running with Mike. He’s a great person to run with and it’s such a festive fun race before Christmas you can’t help but enjojy yourself. I mean obviously it’s still 26.2 miles, but for me during this race they just seem to fly by as it’s so varied and enjoyable. And of course, a huge thank you to my incredible family who just made the race so much more amazing by being there for us. I feel so warm and fuzzy 🙂

Now on to the next race eh! 😉

39 weeks pregnant

So the week leading up to my due date (7th July).

It’s mad how quickly this has all gone… and yet now how slowly it feels like it’s crawling by. I suppose that’s to be expected – everyone says it happens. You have this date set for you and you just look ahead to it all the time. Everyone asks and you count the weeks and the days… and then it comes and the likelihood is nothing happens (for your first baby at least). But hey ho, it is what it is.

This week has been really good. I managed to run 4 times (5k each time) and weirdly have felt quite good and semi-speedy on these runs.

I still wouldn’t manage any further than 5k I think as the pressure on my ligaments and pelvis gets a bit much but otherwise I feel great.

In general I feel pretty good. My sleep had been a bit better. Less waking up in the early hours of the morning wondering why I’m not asleep. I’ve managed to fall back asleep when I’ve woken up. I’ve felt well rested. My body in general feels fairly comfortable. No major aches, no issues… I’ve been very, very lucky I know. And my anticipation for the baby to arrive is purely because I want to meet him sooner rather than feeling fed up of still being pregnant. It’s also not as hot as it’s been so comfort levels are fine currently.

Kyle set up the birthing pool which we’ve hired so that’s ready to go. We’re planning a home birth so this is rather exciting. Of course I’m well aware things could change and we could end up at hospital for a multitude of reasons but our plan is to stay at home if we can. So fingers crossed!

I’ve been eating all the dates every day (apparently supposed to help with labour, who knows!), drinking red raspberry leaf tea (to help naturally induce labour, again who knows!), walking lots and bouncing on a birthing ball. But we’re prepared. We have everything ready. We just need a baby now 😉

OK some chocolate covered dates too!

At the weekend we had a rather busy one with heading to Reading for my lovely friend Emma’s birthday party. My parents kindly offered to drive because they were concerned being so close to my due date that if something were to happen I wouldn’t be able to drive that distance back (hour and 45 minutes). Kyle can ride a motorbike but he can’t drive at the moment (he was planning too but lockdown and COVID scuppered that a bit). My parents had towels laid down and everything bless them.

Emma’s party was lovely. It was in her garden and it was just so lovely to see her in the flesh. We talk every week but it’s nice to finally see someone properly. Her mum and her did an INCREDIBLE food spread.

I mean it was insane. All the cheese, deli meats and salad bits with her incredible homemade sourdough bread. I was in heaven. Not a sausage roll in sight!

And her vegan chocolate cake was INSANE. It was like the chocolate cake from Matilda – dense, moreish and so tasty.

And Alfie joined too

It was such a lovely afternoon catching up and enjoying the sporadic British summertime.

On the Sunday Kyle and I had lunch with my parents at the Osborne View, a lovely coastal pub near to them. The last time we’d been we were sat outside under an open marquee so it was so nice to be actually inside. It felt like normal!

Kyle and I shared a baked camembert to start and then I had their super tasty Caesar salad for main.

It was lovely! Potentially one of the last times of us eating out without a baby – who knows!

So for now I’ll keep waiting. I’m now on maternity leave from work which is bitter sweet. I had planned to work until I pop but due to a HR misunderstanding they put until my due date and now payroll and HMRC are all sorted I can’t change it apparently. But I think this is probably for the best as I can de-stress and properly relax. For how long, who knows eh!

What’s your favourite salad?

What’s your favourite cheese? I bloody love Camembert. But to be honest, there are so many cheeses I love.

36 weeks pregnant – and our baby shower!

So I’m at week 36 of my pregnancy.

How’s it all been going? Well I’ve been really very lucky. My pregnancy, so far (touch wood!), has been fairly easy going. The first trimester was a terrible slog of nausea and exhaustion, but that lasted maybe 5 or 6 weeks? So in the grand scheme of things, I’ve been very fortunate.

I haven’t had any major back or hip pain as of yet. And my energy levels have been very good – despite some terrible night’s sleeps. In terms of symptoms currently, I still get very congested in the evenings. I get heartburn if I eat too late or too much (two things I’m quite bad at). And I have nights where I wake up at 3 or 4am and just lay there wide awake, but I tend to read and wait until my body wants to go back to sleep – and weirdly I don’t feel too bad during the day (maybe training my body to get by with less sleep…). And just generally getting up off the sofa and rolling over in bed are hard work. But other than that, I feel fantastic.

From a running perspective, things were going really well until for whatever reason my right calf started playing up at the end of week 32. Perhaps it was a combination of my new trainers and my changing body (weight gain, pelvic position, relaxin hormone loosening everything, etc.), who knows. But basically it started bugging me on a long run – just a bit of tightness, nothing major. Then when I went for another run a few days later it definitely got worse and I found I was limping slightly afterwards and it had started to bug my hamstring and a little bit in my back.

So I did the very sensible thing of taking some time off (18 days). It made sense with going to Newquay to take the time off anyway. Then when I attempted to run again it still bugged me so I had a couple of acupuncture appointments to ease the tension. It definitely helped. I then tried a 5k run which, while not perfect, was far better than before.

I’ve since seen a chiropractor too which, regardless of my injury, I wanted to have to keep me in optimal condition before the birth. Lots of people had recommend that it can help align you and make things a bit easier later.

The appointment was fantastic. She said my pelvis was slightly twisted and my ankle was locked up, which was probably contributing to my running issues. So she “re-aligned” me and I’ve got a second follow-up appointment next week. What I loved about the appointment was that she had a giant pillow with a bump shaped hole in so I could lie on my front without squashing the baby. It felt amazing!

Since then I’ve just been sticking to 5ks. The discomfort is still there but not nearly as bad and it doesn’t get worse during or after so I’ll take that! I’m just so grateful to still be able to run in some capacity so far along in my pregnancy. Of course I know I’ll need to give it up when I give birth and recover sensibly (I don’t want to do any long term damage to myself and let’s be honest, I’m going to be shattered!). For now I’d just love to continue running while I still can. While I have no major responsibilities like keeping a baby alive basically, haha!

And in more exciting news, at the weekend Kyle and I had our baby shower! I was so excited about it and it didn’t disappoint. Kyle’s sisters, Laura and Lucy, were incredible and arranged the whole thing.

The glam-mas to be

I knew the date but nothing else. It was honestly so so lovely. I had so many of my friends and family there. Luckily we had EXACTLY 30 people and it was in my parent’s garden so we didn’t break  any COVID rules either. Though I would have loved to have invited some of my friend’s partners, but we just didn’t have the numbers sadly. I’m a big believer in baby showers not being just a female thing.

We had a few games, lots of food, cake and, after a bit of a cloudy start, sunshine!

I had such a good day. We also asked if people wanted to buy us gifts to buy us reusable nappies as this is the route we’re taking with our little man. I just hate the idea of all those disposable nappies on landfill for 500+ years.

We got some lovely gifts in the end (some nappies and some other items – I don’t think people entirely got our memo haha). Regardless it was just so lovely to receive so many lovely gifts and to spend time with all my favourite people in one afternoon (tho sadly a few people couldn’t make it – tho this helped with keeping COVID compliant).

So all in all, I’m feeling very loved, very comfortable and very happy!

Did you have a baby shower if you’ve got children?

Have you ever seen a chiropractor?

29 weeks pregnant

The past couple of weeks have finally felt a bit more normal since lockdown is easing more and more.

And I’ve definitely felt more pregnant – or at least looked more pregnant!

The weekend before last, on the Saturday Kyle and I headed out for a run. He was going to run about 8 miles with me while I would go a bit further. The run felt amazing! Previous long runs have felt a bit of a slog due to one thing or another: the wind, the baby’s position and how tired I was. We ran a bit faster than previously and I was able to do 13.1 miles in total – and felt great!

Pregnant running is very similar to normal running in that you have good days and bad days. But I think for me, the worrier and over-thinker, I start to seriously wonder if this is it and my pregnant running is over. Then I go out for a run a few days later and everything feels fine again. Ups and downs! Sometimes my hips ache more than usual, sometimes I feel super heavy and tired, sometimes the baby is in an odd position which feels uncomfortable… and then sometimes it all feels amazing and I’m running along smoothly feeling incredible.

I’ve just learnt to not expect too much and to take each run as it comes. In my mind I’m counting down the weeks to the end and every run I get is a gift. I’d love to run until my due date – however that will look; run-walking, shuffling along, doing 2 miles here or there. I’ll take what I can get as long as the baby is still healthy and I’m enjoying it.

Anyway on that Saturday we were allowed to go shopping! Now while ordinarily I would have probably waited a while for everyone to calm down, I was keen to get a few bits and pieces for the baby and myself in terms of maternity wear. While living in leggings is a dream I was keen to change things up and wear some maternity jeans occasionally too. Everyone said H&M did really good ones so I wanted to check them on in person.

So Saturday we were able to tick off buying the pram (the Upperbaby Vista), car seat (Joie) and a pair of super comfy and flattering maternity jeans – job done!

And a few little extras…

With my parents, Kyle and I headed in Southampton where we had a John Lewis appointment to help us select our pram and car seat. This made things so much easier as honestly we didn’t have a clue and having someone talk it through with us was perfect. We were able to select the pram that fitted best into our lifestyle. We got to physically push it and see it pack away etc. This was so much better than trying to do it online.

We then enjoyed our first meal out in months at the lovely local Osborne View pub with my parents. We were sat outside (obviously) but under a partially closed marquee which made it a lot less cold. Though to be fair the weekend was so warm we were fine.

I had chicken wings to start and a mozzarella salad and a side  of chips (I can’t get enough of salty chips right now). It was delicious.

On Sunday Kyle and I headed to Bristol to meet with our friends, Kate and Jay, so we could meet their adorable identical twins who were born in January. Kate was so lovely and gave us so many baby things that she no longer needed – so so helpful! And then we headed out to Bristol Harbour for a lovely alfresco meal in Spitfire.

I went for the chicken (another thing I can’t get enough of) and chips and it was very tasty. It was just so nice to feel normal. Seeing friends! Eating in a restaurant! It was just fabulous.

Playing mum

We then hung out on the College Green in the sunshine catching up before grabbing some VERY tasty and indulgent treats from Mrs Potts Chocolate House.

Kyle and I picked up a couple of double chocolate stuffed cookies (drizzled in melted chocolate!) each and I had to get some of their rocky road again.

So all in all, a very happy, love-filled, calorie dense weekend 😉

Cookies or rocky road? I’ll always go for rocky road first and foremost.

Have you been out shopping yet or to any restaurants?

Just keep swimming… or running

I realise my blog has suddenly become quite pregnancy focused. Somewhat understandable as that’s what’s currently going on right now for me, and let’s be honest there’s not much else happening anyway!

I’m now a couple of days away from 15 weeks and feeling miles better than I was during the first trimester.

Some days I get a little bit of random nausea early in the morning but mostly I’m out of the woods. Just general tiredness really. And other than the increasing size of my boobs, I pretty much look the same as before. I don’t currently have a noticeable bump. If I eat a lot in the evening (like when we get a takeaway at the weekend) it definitely pops out more, but I’m guessing this is mostly bloating and the food I’ve just eaten. By morning I’m back to “normal”.

Other than my pregnancy, Kyle and I are just pootling along through Lockdown 3.0… WFH during the week, Facetiming family and friends and then getting a takeaway or two at the weekend to keep us from going mad.

Last weekend was nice as my friend Mark was able to join me for a 10k run on Saturday morning. It was just so nice to run with someone else! I did used to run with Kyle at least once a week but he’s struggling a little with motivation (no races, no parkrun) and doesn’t particularly want to get up early in the week like I do. For me, if I don’t run in the morning I’d really struggle to go later as my motivation just dips completely.

So anyway Mark and I were able to run together and it just reminded me how easy running feels when you’re chatting away with someone. Hopefully we’ll do it again soon. He’s coming back from injury so my pregnancy pace was luckily not too slow for him! (He’s quite zippy normally).

I’m trying not to think too much about the coming months if I’m honest. Kyle and I deliberately didn’t take any holiday other than the Bank Holidays over Christmas so we could carry more holiday over to this year. The plan being that we could go on a little “baby moon” (hate that phrase) before the baby arrives.

We have to take this holiday though before the end of March and I’m panicking we won’t be able to go anywhere because we’ll still be locked down. Obviously I don’t expect us to go anywhere abroad, but I’d love to go somewhere other than Portsmouth right now! A little AirBnb, some walks, some time together just the two of us.

I’d dread that we’d have to take the holiday and be sat inside our house. I would go mad. And I don’t really want to take any holiday after March for the 2021 allocation because this is going to help boost my maternity leave pay. Argh. But it’ll be what it’ll be.

So we just work weekend to weekend and try to find little things to keep us going. Like ordering doughnuts from the local bakery. Or trying new takeaways near us.

Delicious cake from The Parade Tearooms

Or going for walks down to Southsea and getting takeaway coffees and cake.

Anything to just keep it from feeling too much like Groundhog Day.

How are you doing?

Are you planning any holidays this year?