Saturday, 20 May 2017

A Great (Houghton) North Run

For those that think its grim up north, well you are wrong! I awoke to beautiful blue skies and the sun beaming overead. It was the weekend we were to celebrate my Dad's birthday so we had all headed to t'north. 

I knew the day would have more than a little tipple involved so my plan was to get up and run before the masses awoke and get a run under my belt. Behind my dad's house there is a path that runs adjacent to open countryside, filled with friendly dog walkers... "'eh up love", "keep going duck". 

I did a nice flat,out and back route along the path concentrating once again on my gait and foot placement. My pace was comfortable and a little faster than I had been of later - perhaps due to the lack of hills. 

Returning along the path I could see the bar my Dad built and was looking forward to enjoying the rest of the day with the family and having a slight smugness that I had managed a run before most of them had got up for the day. 

It was 3.6 miles so still not a huge distance and I didn't feel quite ready to up the distance much further yet, but maybe the old (running) Liz is coming back!


Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Badger badger badger badger stret-ching stret-ching!!

As I get back into running regularly (ish) I am required to do more pre planning and to get up at 5:30am at the latest to squeeze in a run before my other half leaves for work and I return to parenting duties. First fail, I forgot to set the alarm... doh!

Luckily hubby woke me at 5:45am and with my kit already laid out at the end of the bed I leapt (this may be an exaggeration) into action and out the front door. It was raining. I was never a fair weather runner so decided I shouldn't be one now. Besides, it was very muggy out so the light drizzle was very nice to cool me down and I'd had the good sense not to put on a long sleeved waterproof which would soon turn into a me shaped oven once I warmed up.

I trotted along, happy enough but I was finding the run tough this morning. I took a strategic turn up a hill which I knew I would have to walk but would give me a flatter run for the rest of my route. I felt smug as I passed the growing line at the McDonalds Drive Thru, no doubt the inhabitants of the cars also felt smug that they were about to get their McMuffin and not soaking wet and clad in lycra!

The hill passed and I was running again, trying to concentrate on my technique, my feet seem to land differently so I was working hard to correct this to a more efficient gait. I reached home after 2.5 miles (shy of my planned 3 miles but time was not on my side today). I started to stretch, leaning against my porch then seemingly out of nowhere a large badger appeared by my feet.... being poorly sighted the badger jumped upon seeing me, as did I and he circled back and scooted around the neighbours garden looking for an escape route! (so I took the opportunity to grab my phone and take a few pics for evidence!)

Sunday, 23 April 2017

London Marathon 2017 - Training is over-rated (it's really not)

I'm awake, I can't sleep. My bag is ready, my race kit is laid out. I'm really going to do this. I'm going to run the Virgin London Marathon with no training. 

I am dropped off my by husband and young daughter (clapping and waving happily at me and she has no idea why) close to the blue start where I will complete last minute preparations, drop my bag in the luggage trucks and make my way to my starting pen. I chat to a lady named Sandra who is approaching her 70th birthday and from Bromley (close to me) and we wish each other luck.

In the loo queue again, nerves are taking hold of my bladder but not my mind. I have done this before I can do it again. I have no time in mind as such but I'd like to be ahead of the bus that goes round collecting runners who will finish in less than 7 hours... I really don't want to be on the DNF bus. There is no shame in this, I just can't face being on a bus that is going at 4 mph for what will feel like an eternity. (I imagine it to be not entirely dissimilar to the episode of Father Ted with the Milk Float). 

I am in my starting pen, its packed with runners who are flinging off their extra layers by the side of the course waiting for the start. It happens, or it doesn't, we edge forward slowly towards the start line as the pens ahead of us start to pick up pace and run over the start line, determined and starting their garmin's as they cross the first chip sensor mats. 

Already I am swept up, I have a walk/run strategy (I would be stupid to do much else at my current level of fitness or lack thereof), but I start with a run not a walk, but its the first mile and everyone watching is so expectant. Just before the first mile I see the bright pink coat of my daughter, held aloft by my husband, she grins as she see's me and reaches her arms out for me to take her. I give her a kiss and a cuddle and set off on my way again. 

After 3 miles my garmin is not working - no satellites located - and I am regretting the extra layer I added on this chilly morning. I quickly whip of my vest and long sleeve top, replacing the vest and ditching my shirt at the side of the road. Much to the surprise of a helpful police officer who was asking if i was okay as I stripped to my sports bra! 

I spotted the PWR flag and stopped for a quick snap knowing that the water station manned by this fantastic club was coming up soon. As I ran through I could hear Karen with the megaphone (or she can throw her voice very well), I grabbed my water and one by one they all realised a fellow PWR was in their ranks and they all started to cheer, I got a surprised cheer from Donna... not surprisingly as nobody knew I was running. This really raised my spirits and I continues on my way, walking for 10 minutes and running for 10 minutes. 

A comfort break was required, frustrating to queue whilst taking part in a 'race' but hat's how it goes. I passed the Cutty Sark and its roaring crowds, by this point I was pretty fed up with my Garmin and was unable to work out if I was on track or not. I knew to avoid the bus I needed to keep my average pace at 16 min/miles or less. I started to wonder what the hell I was doing, why had I decided to do this today. I was at 8 miles and I was pissed off. 

I carried on grumpily, until I looked at my wrist and realised I had picked up a pacing band at the expo, I could use this to work out if I was on track. Much happier that I felt I had some control back I carried on looking forward to the next major landmark... I turned the corner and there it was, Tower Bridge. Awesome! 

I was under my mile targets for a 6 hour marathon by about 8 minutes which was good and gave me some wiggle room. Next stop, the halfway point and then its all downhill... mentally at least! I looked across at the faster masses and saw some other PWRs I shouted hello to Chris B, then soon after saw Phil and Jenny but they didn't spot me. I was feeling so much more positive about the whole thing now. I checked my phone during one of my walking intervals and saw a message from my husband saying he was at Canary Wharf waiting for me, what lovely news. as I started up an incline I saw another PWR runner and as I apporached I saw it was Matt S, we had a quick hello and I continued on my way.

As I approached the 30km marker I once again spotted my little girls pink coat and waved at them both, she was once again delighted to spot me and I stopped for a cuddle which gave me a lovely energy boost. Matt passed me and gave me a pat of encouragement on my shoulder. 

I was in a great place now, I was enjoying the crowds, my husband advised me my pacing was very even and especially brilliant with no training - they don't call me the metronome for nothing hahaha!! I was getting messages of support from people all of which spurred me on.

I saw some great posters and the supporters were on great form if not a bit tipsy now after hours cheering and drinking. You're in for a treat if you're a runner named Ollie, "ollie ollie ollie oi oi oi". Another comfort break was on the cards although the queue moved faster this time but still added a good 5 minutes stoppage time. 

Soon enough I was at the 20 mile marker, I stopped for a picture and once supporter was cheering me on as I did it. Only 2 Parkruns left to go. That's definitely doable!  In celebration I took a Jammie Wagon Wheel being offered by some beer swilling members of the crowds and enjoyed it as I entered my next walking interval. 

I saw a few ice cream vans and silently cursed myself for having no change on me for a 99. So I kept on going, my energy gels and Lucozade supplemented by the kindness of strangers mostly in the form of jelly beans.

Soon enough I was to see my support crew again as they waited for me just under London Bridge, only a few miles to go and I may have been a little giddy and delirious. I'd lost my advantage now and was looking at a finish time of just over 6 hours by my calculations.... and this was fine by me. This couldn't be right could it, no training, a baby later and no running but pretty much just nailed this?!  

I was buzzing now with less than 3 miles to go and I heard a familiar voice, I ran across the road and got a hug from a former work colleague and friend. What a nice surprise for us both. I kept going, I could feel my pace had slowed a little and running was getting tougher as I felt a sharp pain in my big toe (I think a blister may have just popped... yuck). Onward I went, I wanted to run the last 200m so I opted for a bit more walking, less running for a while and then it was upon me... 800m to go, 400m to go.... I could see the finish line, I started my run towards the line, I crossed and was handed my medal by a smiling volunteer (not a prince), I looked around in wonder, being congratulated and congratulating other finishers. I went for my finishers photo. 

I'd only gone and bloody done it! I was gobsmacked and thrilled all at once, I had made a crazy decision (it wasn't the first crazy running decision and surely wont be the last) and it had paid off. My legs were aching, I was scared to look at my toes but I had just run the London Marathon with no training! 

My support crew were at the finish waiting for me with a meatball sub... could this day get any better?

On the train home we spotted fellow PWR #mikethemod and congratulated each other. What a fantastic end to a surprising and thoroughly enjoyable day.

#reasontorun #runninglondon #thisgirlcanuk

NOTES: As a trained running coach I would not advocate running a marathon without training. Whilst its true that I did this one without any training I have run 3 marathons and one ultra marathon before (albeit a couple of years ago pre-injury and pre-baby) and knew what I was letting myself in for. I also have some very supportive friends and family. Thanks you to everyone and your words of encouragement, this was not a secret marathon, I really did just decide 3 days before!

Thursday, 20 April 2017

I may be about to do something a little bit silly

I've been feeling angry, angry and jealous pretty much any time I see somebody running. I am so frustrated with myself that I am unable to run. Even more frustrating is that all anyone is writing about on social media (and rightly so) is that they are ready for London Marathon on Sunday... arggghhhhhhhh!

What makes it worse is that I have a place, a place that I will lose if I don't run. I have already deferred once and so that's no longer an option. 

How can I possibly run? I haven't done any training whatsoever since I had my daughter in February last year. Well, I did two or three parkrun's over the last year but that's it. 

So I made a decision, I decided to go to the expo today, I collected my number and I soaked up the atmosphere and positive pre-race energy, I was determined to stop feeling jealous of those who are running. 

Then I thought, hmmmmm maybe I can do this? I can walk pretty fast, I'm a London commuter after all. There's no expectations as nobody knows I will be doing it. I have run the marathon before and therefore have a legitimate and tested race day plan (timings will need to be adjusted of course) but maybe this is doable. 

I asked a few people if they thought I was crazy..... my husband, my chiropractor and my personal trainer.... they all agreed I was completely mental to consider this but they both know me and my capabilities and thought I was more than able to do it. They said as long as I dropped out if it became too difficult or I was putting my body at risk then crack on! Doh, I thought a professional may tell me no and I'd have to listen to them... no such luck. 

So this is happening.... or is it?!

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Marathon Verses Labour Training

So as I wait for the impending birth of my first child I have been thinking about the similarities of running your first marathon and having your first baby. As I have little to write about in terms of running at present this seemed like a good outlet to try and put down some of these feelings and thoughts.

Signing Up

The decision to tackle a marathon is a large undertaking, committing to training and preparing your body in the best way you can to take on something that only 1% of the UK population have completed. Starting a family is of course a much bigger undertaking than a marathon but a lot of the principles are the same, people will see you differently and your body will certainly never be the same again, 

Building a Base

As with marathon training you need to make changes to your body. Eat healthy, cut out toxins such as alcohol, sleep well, take care of your body, exercise sensibly, have a plan in place but remain flexible and don't push too hard. 

Training Hiccups

I am sure some women have a beautiful idyllic idea of pregnancy, a lovely round bump on which you can balance plates of cakes, plenty of well wishers telling you that you are blooming and that pregnancy suits you. I was concerned from the beginning when the morning sickness struck.

I am going to liken a training mishap to morning sickness. I myself suffered for the first 4 months of pregnancy with nausea, vomiting and dizziness as my body changed with this tiny little being growing inside me. I was unable to do things I had planned, feeling like I was deviating from my training plan and convinced that I was never going to reach the end whilst feeling so rough. But this, like with an injury passed in time and I was able to get back on track, feeling much healthier and feeling my baby move within me, reassuring me - like a good time in a training race - that everything was going to be okay. 

Tapering & Carb Loading

So, moving on a few months, my energy burst and confidence was waning again as I felt my increasing size was slowing me and the inevitable tapering (maternity leave) making me feel lazy and restless as I wanted to be proactive but knowing I need rest so my body is ready for the big event. Eating vast quantities of carbs to make sure my body has the energy I need when the time comes making me feel bloated but necessary.

Waiting Game

The big difference I feel now that I am so close to the big event is that I have no idea when it is!! I mean we have a due date (5 days away) but that's just an indication really... at least with the marathon you know exactly when its going to be! I remain anxious, excited, scared but I also know that what I am about to go through will take a lot of mental strength not unlike a marathon. I don't know exactly how long it will take but I know I am prepared mentally for the long haul, I have my support crew in place and cannot wait for the day to arrive.

In Summary

You will make huge changes to your physical and mental being, your life as you currently know it will never be the same again, you will question your decision many times but when its all done you will look at that medal / baby with such emotion and pride and love that you will know it was the best decision you ever made. Whether you want to go through it all again is another question entirely and one I am not equipped to answer yet in terms of a baby but as for marathons I am in!