Hackney Half: The one that was a little bit shambolic

It wasn’t that long ago that London didn’t really have many big half marathons.  There was Run to the Beat, which died an embarassing death after a few fiascos and loosing their sponsors, and there’s the Royal Parks Half who insist on a ballot only entry system which I find frustrating.

Anyway, more recently there seems to have been an explosion of high profile halfs in the city and one of them is Hackney.  I entered back in November mainly because I hadn’t run it before and it’s was one of the biggies.  At £52 though, it ain’t cheap and I believe that included an early bird discount.

The first fail was realising that, although I had opted to pick my race pack up rather than have it posted (because the £52 price tag isn’t enough they charged you for posting and it annoyed me) you couldn’t actually pick it up on the day of the race.  The race village is a good 3 hour round trip from where I live but luckily I managed to rope a pal at work to collect it on my behalf.

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I was meeting Lee with my race pack at 8:30, this meant a 5:30 alarm and I was still late.  Hackney Marshes is a real trek from Stratford station but it does mean you can use the nice toilets in Westfield, I highly recommend this ’cause there ain’t enough at the race village…

The race started at 9am but I didn’t cross the start line until 9:18 despite waiting in the pen for some time.  I already knew I was going to have to use one of the on-course toilets because I never would have made the start if I’d tried queuing – I don’t think I have ever had to do that before.  They came up just before the 3 mile mark.  I had to queue.

I was also desperately thirsty, not helped by the warm weather, but hadn’t studied the course to see where the stations were.  I think it was just after 3 miles but when I got there it was a total shambles, there weren’t enough people and there were too many thirsty runners.  I had to queue…and a little bit fight..for my tiny cup of water.  I was still thirsty.

Surprisingly upbeat at mile 10

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The course takes you around Hackney, Dalston and Victoria Park.  It’s all on closed roads but it’s pretty twisty and narrows in quite a few places.  It’s not flat but not exactly hilly, I guess it’s what you call undulating.  There aren’t a great deal of water stations which is probably why every runner wanted water at every station, they just didn’t seem prepared for it at all.

The support and atmosphere was brilliant, as the course is on residential roads there were plenty of people who had come out of their houses to cheer and hand out bananas and sweets.  It was much appreciated and, for me, these people were the only thing I loved about this race.

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At around 10 miles I spotted Steve on the sidelines cheering me on which also gave me a huge lift.  I was worried he’d be bored waiting around for me but the race village had plenty of bacon sarnies, coffee and entertainment and apparantly the app was tracking my progress well so they did get some things right.

The finish took you back to Hackney Marshes which was,  you guessed it, a shambles.  The race village is pretty awesome though, it has a mini festival feel, lots of food stalls and entertainment (although I didn’t see any of it) which is great for supporters and a post race little lie down.

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What’s good about it?

  • The atmosphere
  • The crowd support – Hackney you were brilliant
  • It’s Run Dem Crews home turf and they know just how to give you a boost
  • East London is pretty cool

Ermmm, I think that’s it and, sadly, these things aren’t really anything to do with Virgin Sport’s organisation

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What’s bad about it?

  • The race pack collection – they either charge you extra or make you trek over to the village in the days before the event
  • The water stations – not enough of them and not enough people on them.  You don’t ever want to QUEUE at a water station but you had to. Every. Single. Time
  • The course is undulating, not bad in itslef but does mean PB potential is slim to none
  • The course also narrows quite sharply in places
  • Did I mention the water situation? Yeah, I was thirsty…
  • The finish area was chaos – why don’t you want your runners to have any WATER?!
  • The t-shirt – it’s just too short
  • The medal is chunky but I don’t love it I’m afraid

Virgin Sport – If you had put more effort into the end to end experience of your runners than who the DJ’s were going to be you may have delivered a much better event.

If you’re looking for a London Half I would give this one a swerve…

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Adidas 1 Hour City Run

It’s fair to assume that most people wouldn’t be enthralled at the idea of running round and round in a one mile circle.  But there’s a certain charm about doing it in the City centre of London, on closed roads, with music being pumped into the streets, random people lining up to high-five your sweaty hand and large timer ticking down the seconds as you race against  the clock…even if it is dull and grey while the rest of the country apparantly basks in sunshine.

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Sunday was the Adidas 1 hour city run, part of a series of City Run events that take place across the capital but, rather than running a set distance, this race challenges you to run as far as you can in an hour. One Hour. No Limits.

I was going to sign up to this a while ago but, in all honesty, the £40 price tag put me off for such a short race…however, my incessant Instagram competition entering habit finally came up trumps and, not only did I win a place, but I was also treated to a pair of the brand new Ultraboost 19 by Runners Need!  Not a bad win considering these are one of my trainers of choice and I was tempted to enter the race anyway!

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I’d already met some of the winners at a Runners Need event the week before so I recognised some of the gang when I arrived at the event village near St Pauls Cathedral but, if in doubt, we were all wearing the same kicks so they was easy to spot!

We were introduced to 400m hurdler Lina Nielson, who took us through a warm up before heading to the start line.  There was a little bit of hanging around but we were soon off on the first lap.

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The course starts at Mansion House going up to Bank, then past the Guildhall and St Mary-le-Bow church and there are chip mats every 0.1 miles to track your distance.  It was a bit twisty, but not overcrowded, and there were a great group of spectators just after the 0.2 mile mat who went wild if you gave them a sweaty high-five, it was worth taking the bend wide just for that!

There are large digital clocks on the course so you can see how much time you have left and, when the hour is up, a hooter sounds and you make your way back to the event villiage, which isn’t very far no matter where you finish.

Start line selfie with the Ultraboost crew

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There’s something mentally challenging about knowing that it doesn’t matter how fast you run, or how much effort you put in, you won’t actually finish any quicker…which is unfortunate because that’s usually how I sweet talk myself to keep moving forwards…

So, what’s good about it?

  • However fast your friends may be, they will never be able to finish the race before you!
  • The T-Shirts are pretty good quality and a good length (I hate short t-shirts!)
  • The medal is chunky if you’re into the bling  thing
  • FREE race day photos – you don’t have to bankrupt yourself if you find a gooden’ (I didnt but ‘ere you go anyway)

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  • Grenade Carb Killa protein bars are given at the end, none of this apple nonsense
  • There is no ‘front’ or ‘back’ so you’re never out on your own no matter where you are in the field
  • There are four start waves if early Sunday mornings aren’t your thing
  • The course wasn’t over crowded (at least not in my 11:30 wave)
  • There are chip mats every 0.1 miles to give you an accurate finish distance (although I did weep internally when I missed my final one by 5 seconds)
  • There are plenty of clocks (four I believe) round the loop so you know how long you have left
  • They went plastic free on the water – paper cups on the course and cans at the finish (now if only they could get rid of the unnecessary plastic wrapping on the t-shirts…)
  • I ran past Ted Baker so many times I now know what top I want to buy next 🙂

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What’s not so good about it?

  • As well organised as it is, I don’t believe in a £40 price tag for anything shorter than a half marathon
  • The twisty course plays havoc with your GPS
  • You can’t wear your club vest…
  • There wasn’t any coconut water left for my wave which I was really disappointed about
  • I imagine there is a potential risk of dizziness if you’re super fast…but I wouldn’t know so that’s somewhat unconfirmed

It’s a simple idea, it’s a little bit different, it’s well organised, it’s smack bang in the middle of London and they put on a pretty good show. Is it £40 good? Probs not but there are worse things to spend £40 on.

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A Sunny Hampton Court Half

Around about 8pm on Saturday night, staring at my Chasers race vest on the floor and listening to Taylor Swift (low point, I know) I had a meltdown.  I had a meltdown over a half marathon.  A distance I used to fly around in a decent time with joyful boundless energy finishing with a skip and a smile (this may not entirely be true…but it’s how I remember it…). In the midst of that meltdown I vowed to finally resurrect that girl from the grave.  Might take a while though.

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Anyway, the unopened race pack I had left on the side (despite arriving in a timely manner a couple of weeks before) indicated I had been in denial.  I also hadn’t really read any of the event emails which turned out to be an error because there was a Park & Ride option I should have signed up to…which had since closed.  Luckily street parking was aplenty, just frowned upon (soz).

I went to bed wondering if I could still run 13.1 miles and I woke up thinking I was going to do it anyway.  It was an early rise for an 8.30am race start but I actually didn’t mind, waking up on race day is just waking up on race day and 30/40 mins here or there doesn’t really make much difference, it’s always going to be earlier than one would wish to rise on their day off…or in fact ever.  It was glouriously sunny (OK, it was dark at 05:50 but it turned into glourious sunshine) and it felt like Spring was on the way.

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The event is well organised and I seamlessly positioned myself towards the back of the start pen after downloading my self-lothing doubts to some Chaser pals.  They put me at ease – it’s funny how a sea of blue, green & white bobble hats will do that.  I actually felt a bit excited that I was going to run a half marathon and that a half marathon was actually quite a long way and I could totally do it, not do it well, but do it all the same.

The route is quite lovely, especially in the sunshine.  It starts at Giggs Hill Green in Thames Ditton and follows the river from about mile 3 taking you past Hampton Court at mile 10.  I even remebered to look around and take it all in rather than ploughing on obliviously like I often do.

They say it has PB potential but I’m somewhat doubtful as some of the course is on open roads and the pavements can narrow.  Given I’m no where near PB level I cannot confirm or deny PB potential-bility but I can confirm it’s a great event and there are always a few Royal celebs…

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My plan was to run slow and finish the race.  Not only did I successfully manage to execute the plan without getting swept up by the people around me, I felt better than anticipated and I actually enjoyed it.  Amazing what a bit of sunshine and a palace backdrop will do.  Sure, there was some walking near the end, but it was all methodically planned and under control.

Headphones were banned because of the open roads so I had a lot of time alone with my thoughts (and my inside singing voice which, whilst angelic, is somewhat like a broken record).  Anyway, a few things occured to me:

  • I love running
  • I love running in the sunshine
  • I love race day
  • Running makes me feel strong, even if it is slow
  • I’m still desensitised to distance if I think 9.98 miles to go isn’t very far because ‘it’s less than double figures…’
  • High-fiving Henry VIII flanked by a couple of his birds doesn’t give you super powers
  • I STILL haven’t mastered the art of smiling for the photographer
  • Seriously, there are 103 photos of me, there is only one half decent one

 

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So, the sub zero frost has subsided, the sun is out, spring is on its way and my happy running mojo is back.  The next goal? Knock 15 minutes off my time in May’s Hackney Half…

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#BeatBoxHill

Last Sunday I thought it would be a good idea to run up Box Hill.  Twice.  When my alarm went off on Sunday morning I wondered whether this was a horrible mistake.
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If you’re not familiar with Box Hill, it’s part of the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that offers stunning views for miles across Dorking.  I’ve cycled up it a few times and always been rewarded for my efforts.  But I’ve never run up it.  At least not the zig zag road bit that feels like it won’t end.  Because, why would you do such a thing?
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RunThrough debuted their Beat Box Hill 5k and 10k to offer a pretty unique opportunity to run up and down 2.5k long road that zig zags to the top and, if you’re in for the 10k, you get to do it twice! I know, what a treat!  I love me a unique opportunity and obviously I wasn’t going to get out of bed and go all that way for the 5k…so twice up the hill it was.
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The car park is at the bottom so the first task is to trek 1k to the start at the top, it’s steep, really steep, but the amuzing signs in typical RunThrough style made me chuckle.  It was a sunny but crisp morning so it was worth a bit of hanging around at the start, there was even a choir belting out a bit of Don’t Stop Believing so I had a little dance (obvs).

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The race starts at the top of Box Hill, which means the hard bit comes later.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about that.  OK, I am sure.  Angry, confused and hurt is how I felt.  I mean, what the hell?!!  They tried to organise people in order of speed but that didn’t work because I overtook a lot of people on the first descent and I certainly wasn’t running particularly fast.  It was pretty annoying as it’s fairly narrow if you stick to the assigned half of the road but, as there was no one coming the other way I ignored the cones (soz).

Other people aside, the first 2.5k was fun!  Although you know it wont last, there’s something liberating about starting a race, on fresh legs, with a solid downhill section.  In other words…wwwweeeeeeeeeeee.

At the bottom, you run round a cone and start the 2.5k back up again.  It was tough but I took my time and Box Hill isn’t actually that steep, it just goes on a bit and you know walking isn’t an option because once you start walking up a hill it’s game over…that and the voice in your head won’t let you…or is that just me…?

Photo Credit: RunThrough
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I didn’t hate it, 2.5k isn’t that far and once you’re at the top you know you get to fly back down again.  The second loop was much quieter because I think the majority of people opted for the 5k so I preferred the second time down.  It was still really sunny and it was warm when there was no shade.  The marshals were fab, they yelled encouragement and asked for smiles and banged their tambourines.

The second time back up the hill wasn’t as bad as I expected, I think the marathon fitness is finally kicking in and, although I was by no means fast, I was consistent and didn’t have any intention of giving in to the burning legs.  Finally I was at the top and at the finish line.  I think my face says it all…

 

Photo Credit: RunThrough
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I loved the Box Hill 10k.  I really did. I came so close to staying in bed that morning and I’m so glad I didn’t, it was a lovely run, tough, but lovely.  Sunshine, green hills and running, what more could you want on a Sunday morning (apart from poached eggs and smashed avo but there’s always time for that after).  Genuinely, the worst bit was climbing back down the steep grassy hill to the car park, I hated that bit!

Word of warning though, hills will give you aches in places you forgot about…like your core and your glutes…it hurt to walk for a couple of days.  Doesn’t matter though, I’ve now beaten Box Hill both on wheels and on foot.
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Berlin Marathon

Training for the Berlin Marathon was hard.  Proper hard.  It was literally like starting from rock bottom and building back up to 26.2 miles.  My enjoyment was limited but I point blank refused to let another opportunity to run Berlin slip away because it was ‘too hard’.  I’m not that kinda girl.

I was supposed to run it last year but luck was against me and a string on injuries put me firmly on the sidelines.  I promised myself it would be me next time and I couldn’t let myself down because that would totally suck.

On the bright side, spending last year being a Berlin tourist meant that I could concentrate on all the important things this year such as laying down, eating carbs, napping and eating more carbs.  Luckily I found some pals who were up for doing the same and we got an apartment near Hermannplatz in the south of the city.

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The Expo: The Stressful Bit

Arriving on Friday afternoon meant I could head straight to the expo to maximise the opportunity for resting and napping on Saturday.  Situated in a disused airport, it was big and busy.

They’re quite hot on ID but, once you pass all the checks, you get given a wristband and sent on a mammouth trek to the opposite side of the airport to get your number.  Berlin gives you a choice of opting for a bag drop OR a poncho.  If you choose the poncho you can’t drop anything off on the day, but they will give you a poncho at the end of the race which promises to be both warming and multi-faceted.  Obviously I wasn’t that silly, but Charlotte and Cathryn seemed to think it was a brilliant idea and couldn’t stop raving about how jealous we would be…

It’s worth noting that if you want a finishers t-shirt you need to pay €30 and buy it in advance.  It’s a bit offensive on top of the €108 entry fee and a bit worrying if you’re not entirely sure you’ll finish but, for me, it wasn’t an option, I wanted a finishers t-shirt.  I also came away with an event jacket and a pint glass but I didn’t spend much time at the other stalls because I just wanted to get away from all the people.

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Hasenheide Parkrun: The Warm Up Bit

Our apartment was rather conveniently, and maybe a little bit on purpose, located next to Hasenheide Park which is home to one of the 10 parkruns in the whole of Germany.

Hasenheide usually attracts a field of less than 100 but a whopping 517 people turned up to run this weekend.  They were awesome.  Truly brilliant.  Although totally out of their comfort zone, they had put on a host of extra marshals and could not have been more welcoming or excited to have us.  Hasenheide was the epitome of running spirit and it was lovely to be a part of.

The course is pretty, especially under the morning German sunshine, winding around the park and including a short, but very sharp hill.  I loved it, thanks for having us!

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The rest of the day was spent as planned, sitting, and eating, and napping, and eating and laughing uncontrollably on the carb high.  For dinner we headed to a local Italian called Masaniello for a massive bowl of pasta with a side of garlic pizza bread and another side of, ermm, bread.  It ticked all the boxes – definitely recommended.

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Berlin Marathon: The Main Event

The marathon starts in Tiergarten Park where you will find some very long and unorganised queues for toilets (not your usual German style), some inconsistent bib checks (it’s easy to jump the fence if you’re so inclined) and some questionable starting corrals.  You’re placed into your start zone based on your marathon PB, no matter how old it is, and if it’s your first time you’ll be at the back.

Runners are set off in three waves, 20 minutes apart, which helps with crowding on the course, especially with over 40k runners, and you head straight through the park towards the Victory Column.

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As planned, I started off slow and tried not to get swept along, it wasn’t long before Cathryn trotted past me and it was nice to see a friendly face.  The race is well supported with spectators cheering on either side.

The water stations are plentiful and well stocked and they also supply some kind of warm herbal tea (slightly odd when you’re expecting a cold electrolyte drink) and a rather ‘interesting’ beetroot sports drink.  I don’t think I liked it but in the latter stages I knocked it back anyway. Needs must.

The miles ticked by and my first focus was to get to the halfway point.  My longest training run was only 18.5 miles and I only did that once.  It wasn’t my normal prep so I was a bit worried about how I was going to get to the end.  However, I knew people at home were tracking me and I kept thinking about the finishers t-shirt and jacket I had already bought…finishing was the only option really.

I kept progressing, half way came and went, and I took my planned walking breaks where I had mentally scheduled them.  If you’re going to walk, I really recommend having a structure to it (ie 0.1 mile walk, 0.9 mile run) so you don’t get disheartened, honestly, it works.

I didn’t take the gels they offered (there’s only one gel station), but I did take some pieces of banana towards the end.  I’ve never done this before but, as usual, I couldn’t face my last gel so opted for my pre-packed Haribo Smufs and banana.  It really seemed to do the trick so I’ll be doing that again!

The last few miles are a bit of a blur, everything hurt and it was hot, but I knew I was going to make it.  I took water at each station and plodded on until I finally turned the corner and saw the iconic Brandenburg Gate.  From then on I just kept running until I crossed the finish line.

It was a road marathon personal worst time, but I had already accepted that and was more relieved to finally complete my 14th marathon after 2.5 years out of the game.

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After I collected my bag the only thing I could do was plonk myself on the ground and not move.  It hurt.  I was just going to have to sleep right here.  Luckily a super perky Alice came and found me and scraped me off the floor before taking me to the group and bounding off to find me a goody bag which I had missed (where does she get the energy from?!)

We had a successful day all round with everyone finishing the race.  Alice and Sam got new PB’s, Ed smashed it as usual, Charlotte and Cathryn ran strong times and were awarded multi faceted ponchos, Ellie completed her 2nd marathon despite struggling with an injury over the last few weeks, and I completed my 2nd Marathon World Major.  Most importantly, I think everyone had enjoyed it.

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10 Things I learned from the Berlin Marathon

1.   You can’t blame the conditions for your poor performance when Kipchoge decides to totally obliterate the world record by a massive 78 seconds. You also can’t expect the UK to give this any kind of decent news coverage because apparently it’s not significant enough.

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2.   If you have any adverse feelings towards beetroot make sure you swerve the bright red sports drink on the course.  It won’t end well for anyone.

3.   If you forget to pack any pants and are forced to buy new ones at the expo, you will be at considerable risk of bankruptcy, but you’re highly likely to get a new PB.  Sam forgot all his pants.  Sam has a new PB.

4.   If you fancy running a sub 3 marathon, getting a new PB AND coming home as 6th Brit you should do as Alice does.  Alice likes to swop running for pilates, water for Aperol Spritz and excited race morning banter for solo quiet time.  If it works, it works…

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5.  When you’re faced with a pre-race portaloo without an inch of toilet paper in sight, you can always rely on tearing off strips of your pre-race foil blanket.  Almost as genius as actually remembering your own toilet paper right?!

6.  If you decide to have a little sit down after 25 miles like Ellie, be prepared for a friendly but persistent German lady called Brenda to repeatedly shout ‘nine’ and drag you on your merry way.  We like Brenda.  Ellie is undecided.

7.   The Berlin Marathon does NOT end and the Brandenburg Gate, there is still 400m to go.  If you’ve run this before you will know this.  Unless you’re Alice.  Who promptly stopped running and stopped her watch whilst wondering why everyone else was still powering past…and she still got a PB!

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8.   If you haphazardly opt for the warming and multi-faceted poncho over the traditional and sensible bag drop, be sure you’ve mastered the look of unequivocal joy on the outside to mask your deep, crushing disappointment on the inside.  Charlotte is available for advice on how to nail this…

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9.   Don’t expect four post marathon runners to agree on a post race cuisine in any less than 58 minutes.  Also do not expect Charlotte to even remotely tolerate a vegetarian menu, even if the restaurant has a cute name like ‘Burrito Baby’ and you’ve already conquered the challenge of sitting down.  After further debate, we ended up at Jimmy Woo’s.

10.  A personal worst marathon time on the clock does not equate to a personal worst marathon experience.  Far from it.  Marathons are about so much more than just the time, most importantly they’re about the people you share them with.  Thanks guys!

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Done is beter than perfect

I know I’ve been suspiciously quiet for a while now.  Being quiet isn’t really my thing. But being completely rubbish at running isn’t really my thing either.  At least I’d like to think so.

I’ve been so rubbish that I haven’t really had anything positive to say about any aspect of running at all because the last few months have been physically and mentally painful. It’s physically painful to push your body through runs it doesn’t want to do because you know it’s the only way forwards.  And it’s even more painful to tell your running friends you can’t run with them at the moment because you just can’t keep up.  They don’t even believe you.  And yet it couldn’t be truer.  I got beaten in a 5k race last night by a friend who’s half way through growing a baby…and yes, I tried.

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However, I think I’ve started to turn a corner.  Not in terms of how my running is progressing, because it barely is, but in terms of my attitude, and that comes down to one thing…I’ve dumped the Garmin.

OK, not LITERALLY, because that would just be ridiculous and it’s pretty, and purple, and it gives me heart palpitations just thinking about it.  But I have stopped looking at it and I’ve genuinely stopped caring.  Because I’ve found that caring and worrying about my speed is the biggest barrier to getting me in my trainers.  So I can’t realy afford to care right now.

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I’ve been running for a long time now and during that time I’ve witnessed many friends go through cycles of going from the top of their game to the bottom, and then back to the top again.  And the common denominator?  Consistency.  A consistent and sustained effort to climb back the ladder…slowly.

So that’s what I’ve been trying to do. After coming up with every excuse in the book not to go running (ie, the wolf of Wandsworth is on the loose so it would be too dangerous), I’m finally back in the habit and it’s much less of a chore and more just a part of daily life – mostly because the Berlin Marathon was creeping closer and closer and so it was either fight or flight and I ended up paying so much for the actual flights that fighting was the only option.

I’m literally running the slowest miles I’ve ever run but I am getting fitter.  It doesn’t feel like it, it feels bloody horrible, but it wasn’t actually that many weeks ago that my ‘long’ weekend run was 8 miles and last week I ran 18.5 miles, slooooooowly.  It was actually supposed to be 20 but much to my frustration and annoyance, it just didn’t happen.

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I’m on track to run a marathon personal worst in two weeks time (except the time I ran around Medoc drunk, but I’m not sure we can count that one) but I’m more interested in the fact that I’m on track to run a marathon full stop.  And it’s been a while since I can say that.

Done is better than perfect.  A PW is better than a DNF or, worse still, a DNS.

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Tough Mudder: The one I said I’d never do

Tough Mudder is one of those events I always swore I would never do.  Mostly because the price tag is simply offensive, but also because it’s 10 miles of obstacles…and I am not good at anything that involves upper body strength.   However, it also bugged the hell out of me that it’s the one I had never done.  So I had to do it.

When my work pals decided to get a team together, I found myself parting with my hard earned cash to roll around in the mud collecting bruises.  What else are Bank Holiday weekends for right?

MediaCom Mud Runners: The before photo

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It was an early 5am start to head down to Henley for the London West event but the sun was shining, it was going to be a beautiful day and I was in high spirits.  Our start time was 9:30 and we were ushered into a holding pen with a fairly small group of people for a little warm up and to get down on our knees to make the Tough Mudder pledge.

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The course is 10 miles broken down into two laps.  And it’s hilly.  Like, proper hilly.  In fact, one of the obstacles is Killa Gorilla and is simply running up a very steep hill, and then down again…and repeat.  Bad times.

The obstacles are a mix of having to climb over things of various heights, often involving people lifting you up, running up things, water based challenges and rolling around in the mud (in Devil’s Beard you literally get on the floor and roll down a hill under a net).

My favourites were the water based obstacles:

Block Ness Monster: Jumping into cold, muddy water you have to grab and hold a large rotating block to get over the other side…before moving onto the next block

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Shawshanked: Pulling yourself backwards up a dark tube, you reach the top and have to fall backwards into a water pit below. Loved it!

This isn’t anyone I know but perfectly depicts why I loved the water challenges!

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Cage Crawl: You float under a cage elevated just above water and pull yourself along.  Just don’t freak because there’s no way out until you get to the end!

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Arctic Enema: A simple slide down a tube into an ice bath that takes your breath away.  It doesn’t end there cause you then have to fully immerse yourself again under a beam to get out.  It’s a tad chilly

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My least favourites were the ones with high walls, they had a narrow edge at the top and you were totally reliant on other people to get you up there.  However, Everest was quite fun where you had to run at a curved wall with people at the top to pull you over, and the Pyramid Scheme was also good where you made a human pyramid to get to the top of a high ledge.

The Best Bits

  • The atmosphere and camaraderie.  It was second to none
  • Team spirit – not just from my own team but from every single person out there who worked together to help each other out
  • The water challenges. I loved them all!
  • The photos are free to download…but only if you’re lucky enough to be snapped
  • The hills.  Love to hate ’em…but I know they did my fitness the world of good
  • The pledge
  • Getting a piggy back from Lucy in the ‘Hero Carry’!
  • The weather.  We were so lucky to have such a warm day, I think it would have been miserable being in and out of muddy water in the cold!

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The Worst Bits

  • The big price tag #1: You’re looking at £100 – £140 for the ‘full’ 10 mile version
  • The big price tag #2: It cost me £15 just to park my car in a field. IN A FIELD
  • The big price tag #3: £3 for the bag drop.  Fair enough, it went to charity, but surely TM could have siphoned off some of the entry fee for the charity?!
  • The lack of water stations: Even without the hot weather there weren’t nearly enough stations.  I lost count of the number of people I saw suffering from cramp – this was inevitably down to dehydration
  • Some obstacle duplication: Not the end of the world, but it would have been nice if they were all unique
  • The lack of photographers
  • The climbing / high wall challenges: OK, this is just me because I can’t do them and am totally reliant on people helping me over (sorry guys!)
  • The hills: Did I miss the warning about ALL THE HILLS?!
  • It totes ruins your nails 🙄

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The Ugly bits

  • The scrapes
  • The bruises
  • The DOMs.  I opted for rolling rather than walking the next day
  • …but I wouldn’t expect anything less and I’d have felt cheated if these things hadn’t happened!

MediaCom Mud Runners: The after photo

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It’s fair to say that Tough Mudder exceeded my expectations in a lot of ways.  It’s a lot of fun and it’s totally do-able if you don’t mind some hard graft and getting bashed around in the mud.  Importantly, it genuinely is a really inclusive event that brings out the best in human spirit, everyone is willing to lend a hand…literally.

Is it worth the price tag though?  I’d have to say no…but it’s not far off.  If you love this kind of thing it’s very much worth getting your mates together and having a go.  I mean, no one messes with people wearing this little outfit now do they?!

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