Green Belt Relay – Round 3!

Last weekend was the annual Green Belt Relay, it’s one of the Chasers favourite events of the year and never fails to be an awesome weekend away.

At the start line

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The Facts:

  • GBR is a 220 mile running relay around London’s scenic Green Belt
  • The race is made up of 22 stages over 2 days
  • Stages differ in length, terrain, elevation, and navigational difficulty to allow everyone to participate
  • Teams of 11 race 1 leg per day across the 2 days
  • A record 40 teams entered the GBR this year, Chasers made up 3 of them
  • Although the routes are marked, you are reliant on your own navigation to make sure you don’t get lost
  • The smooth running of the event relies on participation from all teams to help marshal each stage and provide water stations
  • It is not flat!

Marshaling duties – Chasers this way, Serpies, errr, that way…image

The Highs:

  • Chasers took 9 stage wins in total
  • Bryn smashed the leg 17 course record by over 3 whole minutes!
  • Leg 3 and Leg 14 were lovely routes
  • There was a pub right next to where Graham and I were marshaling (phew)
  • We got to stay at the high class Miami hotel in Essex again
  • I got to spend the whole weekend with Gemma
  • I didn’t crash a minibus!
  • It was Nathalie’s 30th birthday so there was lots and lots of cake
  • We rescued 2 injured runners from leg 10 and safely got them back to their friends and relations

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The Lows:

  • I had a bit of a breakdown on not just one, but both of my stages
  • My legs didn’t work
  • My lungs didn’t work
  • I was a little bit sick in a bush near the River Lea
  • We accidentally forgot to pick up the leg 10 runners at the end of their run – sorry 😦
  • Sleep. There was none
  • A Serpie on leg 17 rudely told our helpful marshals to ‘get out the way, I know where I’m going’ – Simon Barrett, shameful & unnecessary, you give Serpies a bad name

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The Learnings:

  • There’s a possibility I still haven’t fully recovered from the London Marathon
  • It’s easier to write the route on your hand than look at a map
  • No matter how many times Gemma tells you how pathetic you are, it won’t make your legs move faster
  • No matter how pathetic you actually are, Gemma will never leave you
  • It’s much more fun to cartwheel and pirouette at the finish line than run sensibly
  • No one can beat Bryn
  • You can always count on Ross to run an extra leg if there’s an injury
  • You can also always count on Ross to wear very tight shorts
  • No one enjoys Ross’s very tight shorts as much as our Barry. He even has a special dance
  • You can’t wash your hair with a bar of soap no matter how hard you try (and Jenn really did try)
  • The Green Belt Relay was, as it always has been, a very well organised, fun and all-round brilliant event

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Huge thanks to the Stragglers, and everyone else involved in organising the GBR, and Bryn for organising the Chasers.  Until next year!

The Finish Line

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The only real trouble with the Green Belt Relay is that there is no down time, no time for a drink, and definitely no time to pop into a cactus fair…

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Review: Best’s Bootcamp

I always have good intentions of giving my tired limbs a whole week off exercise after running a marathon, but I’m shamelessly addicted to sweat drenched workouts so, when I was invited to be one of the very first people to try out London’s hottest new bootcamp since Barry’s on Thursday, I really couldn’t say no!

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When I turned up to Best’s Bootcamp’s brand new swanky studio in Charing Cross, it was clear this was going to be a tough workout, the trainer’s were all ripped and the studio, complete with DJ, looked serious…perhaps not the gentle return to exercise my body had in mind!

The dimmed room is lined with 22 treadmills facing floor length mirrors, with each having a workout station behind it so you can switch between running, and strength based exercises throughout the class.  I was given a treadmill (a treadmill complete with a personal fan no less) to start on, so my legs would just have to deal with what ever was coming their way!

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Named ‘Tread Army’, we were given the choice of starting on 8, 10 or 12 kph which steadily increased by increments of 2 throughout the 7 minute warmup, before I knew it I was up to 14 and hoping I wouldn’t fly off!

We then switched to the floor station where we were now the ‘WorkerBs’ for 7 minutes of squats, lunges and jumps on a soft box which, handily, you can flip over for a choice of 2 heights, I took the lower option, don’t judge me!

The studio has a unique Trainer Cam on the wall so, wherever you are in the room, you can always see what you’re supposed to be doing and focus on form rather than straining your neck to see what’s going on.  I though this was a great addition because, with just 60 seconds or so per exercise, you don’t want to waste any time.

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Already exhausted, I was back in the Tread Army again, increasing both speed and incline for some lung busting hill work and speed intervals, the legs were coping well.  Back on the floor we performed various kettlebell moves to  work on the arms, back and glutes, I’m not used to kettlebells so this was hard!

The final sweat session on the treadmill involved more speedwork and hills, but also involved some downhill running (who knew treadmills could go downhill?!)  This felt really odd to me and I couldn’t quite get used to it so I went back to zero (I kept the speed the same though, I promise!).  We then moved on to the last section of floor work to attack the abs, and attack we did with a mix of weighted sit ups and planks.

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Aaaandd finally the 50 minute workout was over, the very first Best’s Bootcamp class complete – ouch!  On leaving the studio we were treated to a post workout shake from the Blend Bar.  I chose the Berry Blast which was a mix of strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, almond milk and vanilla whey, perfect recovery, it was delicious!

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I thought Best’s Bootcamp was a pretty fantastic workout, intense, tough, sweaty and a good mix of cardio, strength training and HIIT.  To make the most of it, I would recommend having a good base level of fitness beforehand or you might struggle, but otherwise it’s a workout that delivers on everything you could want from a bootcamp, with some pretty top notch equipment, in a stylish studio, and changing rooms stocked with Kiehls, hair dryers and GHDs.  And how did I feel the next day?  Errr, it hurt, but that’s the only way I would have it!

Best’s Bootcamp is just a 2 minute walk from both Charing Cross and Embankment station and opens on 9th May, with individual classes priced at £20.  I highly recommended you check it out, I have a feeling it’s going to be very popular very soon! #BeYourBest

Many thanks to Marcel Grabowski Photography for all the great photos and Best’s and Action PR for having me. I was invited as a guest to try out Best’s Bootcamp. As always, all opinions are my own.

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London Marathon #4: The One That Got Away

I got the feeling early on I wasn’t going to hold the pace.  I just knew it.  By the time mile 18 rolled around I had reduced myself to a walking break and everything felt a little fuzzy.  Despite Chris telling me we could still make it, and quite literally pushing me along, I could feel the A plan, the B plan and the C plan slowly slipping away.  The London Marathon dream was over and all I could do was simply finish.

The thing with the marathon is that it is unpredictable, and no matter how experienced you are, and how prepared you are for every eventuality you can control, there is still a lot you can’t control and you have to be a little lucky on the day for everything to go your way.

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I’m not sure I could have been much more prepared for my 4th attempt at the London Marathon.  I got a lot of things right, I felt good, and I knew I was in good shape, but something just didn’t quite go my way.  Instead of bringing home a new shiny PB to be proud of, and the BQ I desperately wanted, I trundled over the finish line in 3 hours 53.  Not a bad time I know, but it wasn’t the day I wanted and it wasn’t the race I’d trained for.  It was, however, the race I got.

I met some of the Chasers at the tube station bright & early on Sunday morning but it wasn’t long before Alex had to leg it back home again to pick up his forgotten timing chip (ohhhh, Alex!!).  We arrived in good time and I met Chris who had once again offered to pace me, despite having just run both Manchester and Brighton marathons in the last 2 weeks! Due to my poor pacing skills and self-doubt, I lept at this chance and was really pleased to be able to avoid the official pace groups (which get very busy) and have someone I knew by my side.

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It was a perfect day for running, cool, dry and not too sunny.  I had 4 plans, the A plan was to finish in under 3:35, the B plan was a guaranteed BQ and the C plan was a GFA, and the D plan was to never run a marathon ever again.

The start was crowded as usual but, as we were in a start pen further back than we wanted, there was a lot of weaving in and out of people and the first mile was slow. I tried not to panic and Chris stopped me tearing off at a silly pace to make up the difference. We soon settled into a good pace around 8mm, the crowds lined the streets, I saw Barry screaming at me at mile 6, and I remembered why I love the London Marathon so much!

Without Chris I most definitely would have ran the first few miles too fast so I just concentrated on following him.  The weather stayed perfect and, apart from a brief spot of hail, it was dry and the sun wasn’t too warm when it did come out.  Around mile 9/10 I had the distinct feeling I wasn’t going to keep up, I voiced my concerns but Chris wasn’t having any of it and we cracked on.

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I saw Mum & Dad on the opposite side of the road around the half way point and my friends Rick & Merissa cheering very loudly.  The Chasers were at mile 14.5, I was really looking forward to seeing them but for some reason I didn’t know they were there until we’d past.

By the time we were around mile 18 I had to stop and walk, I felt dizzy and all I remember was Chris saying ‘you’re better than this, come on’.  I tried to negotiate some walking breaks and we agreed we’d have one at 20 miles but I didn’t even make it that far until I was walking again.

After that, everything is a bit hazy and it became a cycle of me stopping to walk, Chris giving me some tough love and pushing me on, and each mile rolling by.  The Chasers were just after the 20 mile mark and there was no missing them this time, it was just what I needed!  Run Dem Crew were at mile 21, who always deliver on support, and Mum & Dad at 22.5.  I know there were other people out there shouting at me, sorry if I missed you!

I wasn’t feeling at all good, I felt sick and a bit out of it but I really couldn’t tell you why.  Chris dutifully picked up water whenever I wanted it and offered non-stop encouragement, but I knew I wasn’t getting a BQ and was increasingly unlikely to get a PB.  I tried to soak in the atmosphere that only the London Marathon offers, look at the sites and do as I was told, the miles were still ticking by.

With just 1km to go I still found myself walking and bumped into fellow Chaser Dorcas, she saw me walking and came back for me.  We finished the Frankfurt Marathon in exactly the same time so she said we would finish this one together too! Plodding down the home straight, it was a 3:53 finish, a comfortable sub-4, but no where near what it should have been.  I had executed a perfect D plan (no more marathons).

No BQ, no GFA and no PB. Gutted.

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All I really wanted was to sit down, but sitting down on the finish line is often frowned upon, so, with Chris holding me up, I shuffled, and shuffled, and eventually made it to my bag and my parents.

Chris was, yet again, a total star. He said all the right things, pushed me when I needed it and was even the water boy!  I think I would have easily come in a lot slower without him there, but he didn’t take any of my babbling, nonsensical crap and made sure I didn’t give up, I was all ready to have a little sit down on the side of the road at one point.  I’m just sorry I couldn’t quite achieve this time, or do what I said I was going to do, sorry Chris!

I’m obviously disappointed with my performance, but I’m not nearly as upset as I thought I would be.  Maybe it’s because I still got to run the London Marathon, and the London Marathon truly is the greatest marathon on earth, and I even got to run it with Chris.

I don’t know what went wrong, I was ready and I was prepared, I even had a personal pacer, but it just wasn’t to be.  Right now I’m completely torn between:

  • Flying to Latvia in a couple of weeks to try again (perfect timing but I don’t speak the language)
  • Heading to Liverpool at the end of May (much closer, but not so perfect timing and I don’t speak the language)
  • Heading to Estonia in September for the last chance before Boston opens (more time to recover, but the thought of  another marathon season makes me want to throw all my trainers away)
  • Honestly never running another marathon again (the best idea I’ve ever had but I’m going to need some new friends)

Even I don’t know what I’m going to do next but I’m definitely looking forward to a summer of shorter races and post run ciders in the sunshine!

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Hey London. I’m Ready!

On Saturday morning I smashed my Parkrun PB, knocking 19 seconds off my previous best and a whopping 1 minute 13 seconds of my PB this year!  My PB now stands at 21:50, it’s the confidence booster I desperately needed AND one of my 2016 goals achieved!

I didn’t do it alone though.  One of the best things about being a Chaser is the support you get from others and I was lucky to have not 1, but 2 Chasers pacing me round Dulwich Park.  I wanted a sub 22, but I didn’t know if I could do it, I really didn’t, and I was a bit worried Rob and Nick would be annoyed if they had gone out of my way to help me and I failed.  A sub 22 always seemed so out of reach.

With some strong words from Gemma beforehand, I set off determined to block out everything around me other than what the guys were telling me, they knew exactly which line to take, I drafted when it was breezy and I kept on their heels.  I always, always set off too fast so it felt surprisingly comfortable until the last half a mile or so…I thought I was slowing down a lot but I didn’t want to look at the pace.  When we hit the last 200m both Rob and Nick were shouting ‘come on, come on’ and I thought I’d missed it, I could barely believe it when I saw the time, it was a comfortable sub 22!

I am absolutely elated with my new PB and hugely grateful to Rob and Nick for helping me achieve it, thank you!

As an aside, I think it’s incredibly sad, and shameful, that Stoke council have voted to charge runners for Little Stoke Parkrun because, apparantly, they need to replace the path (a path that is no doubt used by a whole range of people throughout the week, not just Parkrunners).  In a society where we should be actively encouraging people to eat less and move move, Parkrun has been instrumental in getting a huge number of people off the sofa and into their trainers.  It really has revoluntioned Saturday mornings and this is a massive blow to the Parkrun community who’s ethos has always been about providing free, safe events that are accessible to all.

If you want to support Little Stoke, you can sign the petition here  #LoveParkrun

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Of course, I know that a 5k PB doesn’t mean a marathon PB, but it has made me realise I can achieve things I thought were beyond me, especially with a little help.

It’s the final few days before London and I’ve been testing the carb-depletion diet.  The science behind it is, by spending a few days eating a low carb diet, you deplete your muscles of their glycogen stores so when you begin the carb loading process they can store more glycogen than they could before, and more glycogen in the muscles means more fuel on race day.

I’ve read mixed reviews, and I don’t know if it will make a difference, but some people swear by it and I had nothing to lose by giving it a go, marginal gains and all that.  Honestly, I can’t wait for all the carbs on Thursday though, there’s only so much fish, chicken, avocado, eggs and courgettes you can eat and I’m not really a ‘no-bread sandwich and hold the fries’ kind of girl!

Looking back over my training plans I’ve had some really strong runs, I know I’m in good shape and I know I can do it.  I just have to actually do it.  Plus, if I needed any more motivation, I have a bet with my friend Martin that I can beat him with a 55 minute handicap.  Loser buys the drinks all night.  I don’t want to be the loser.

I’m ready for you London, I’m ready.

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When the taper brings nothing but self-doubt

There’s less than 2 weeks to go until the London Marathon.  The day when the last 18 weeks of training are put to the test, the day when you realise if all the hard work and sacrifice was worth it, the day when you bask in glory…or crash and burn in a devastating fall from grace, the day when everyone else knows whether you succeeded, or whether you failed…

There’s less than 2 weeks to go until the London Marathon and that means it’s time for the taper to slowly chip away at every ounce of confidence you ever had.

5-Ways-to-Stop-Self-Doubt-in-its-Tracks

The taper’s a funny thing, you spend all winter looking forward to those 2/3 weeks at the end of your plan when the intensity drops back and the long runs look easy, but when it gets here it’s not quite as much fun as you thought.  By the time the taper arrives you know it’s too late to change anything, there’s absolutely nothing more you can do to make yourself fitter, stronger, or faster except wind down, rest and eat well.  It’s terrifying!

On Saturday I went for a Parkrun PB, I actually wanted more than a PB, I wanted a confidence boosting 21:59.  Having gone to bed early, and dragging myself out in the pouring rain on a Saturday morning, I fell off the pace quickly and finished in a disappointing 22:23.  Rubbish.

However, it was my 2nd best Parkrun time ever, and this time last year I could only dream of anything starting with a 22, surely that’s a positive thing and a sign that the hard work is paying off?  So, this Saturday I’ll be trying again, one last shot at sub 22 before judgement day.

It’s difficult not to question every decision I’ve made over the last few weeks.  Should I have picked up the pace a bit more in my long runs?  Could I have tried just a bit harder in the Hampton Court half?  Should I have pushed through the last 2k at track last week when my legs didn’t work rather than bowing out?  Did I run too fast at tempo?  Was 3 x 20 milers enough?  Could I have done more, run further, tried harder???

Once you throw in the phantom injuries, imaginary niggles and overwhelming paranoia you realise the taper is anything but fun.  You’re convinced you’re going to get sick from the snotty nosed teenager that just sneezed on you, or you’re going to accidentally fall off a bridge into the Thames and break your leg, or Snoopy, the crazy dog who lives down the road, is going to bite your arm off and tear you limb from limb.  Convinced. (Snoopy really is a nutter you know).

I really don’t know what race day will bring this time.  I do know that I’ve run more miles (yes, I’ve counted), and put in more effort (yes, I’ve calculated) than I have for any other marathon, but I really don’t know if I’ve done enough.  I do know that I’m not ready for this taper, not ready at all.

And I don’t know if I can do it.

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Never be ashamed of a scar

I’ve never quite been brave enough to share this story before now, but finding the courage to do so makes me realise how far I’ve come, and how much running has made a difference to my life.  It’s scary to admit you had a problem, a problem where you were addicted to self destructive behaviour that led you down a dark path.  It’s scary, and a little bit embarrassing.  Despite being a problem that affects many people, particularly in the world of sport, it’s a topic that people just don’t talk about enough.  I’ve read many peoples stories that have helped me in the past, so if my story can help someone else then it’s worth sharing.  Please be aware this post discusses eating disorders.

I wasn’t always as fit and strong as I appear to be now.  I say appear to be because, most of the time, I really don’t feel it.  But, despite this, I’m aware of my achievements and I’m aware that I couldn’t have achieved them without being fit and healthy and having a sensible approach to nutrition.  It’s something I have learned over many years.  Running has become so much more than a hobby to me, it literally keeps me sane and it’s showed me how strong I can really be.  When I can’t run, it’s fair to say I’m pretty unbearable to be around.

What most people don’t know about me is that I was bulimic.  Whilst I believe it’s a battle I’ve well and truly won, it will always be a part of me and I’m not sure I will ever have a ‘normal’ relationship with food.  My illness was characterised by a combination of restrictive eating, long periods without food, binging and purging, pretty text book you could say.

Eating Disorder charity, Beat, estimate more than 725k people in the UK suffer from an eating disorder, but the true number is likely to be much higher.  And it’s not just women, around 25% of those are men.  Eating disorders can be difficult to understand, they’re complex and built on distorted versions of reality and cycles of behaviour that are difficult to break.  They also carry a certain stigma that people need to ‘just get over it’ or ‘it’s a lifestyle choice’ that means it has become a taboo subject, it really needs to change.  No one with an eating disorder would ever choose to have one, it’s lonely & isolating and physically & mentally exhausting.

In a country where we now face an obesity crisis that is becoming a national health issue, and we’re bombarded with reams of airbrushed and photo shopped images throughout the media, as well as on social platforms, being more open and honest about eating disorders and food issues is more important now than it ever has been.  I worry about young people growing up in a world surrounded by social pressure and unrealistic expectations that dangerously blur the lines between fact and fiction.  There’s not enough transparency around the fact that a lot of what you see simply isn’t real.

Like a lot of people, I started running to lose weight, it’s the easiest way to drop the pounds, but I didn’t enjoy it.  Exercise was simply a way to burn calories, that’s all.  But as time went on I did start to enjoy it and it became something I wanted to get better at, setting my sights on longer distances and faster times.  Around about this time my relationship with food changed from being destructive to much more positive and shaped by smart choices.  You just can’t run on empty, or at least not very far, and I started to see food as a source of fuel.

On Sunday I ran a 20 mile race with my club, I don’t need to tell you that 20 miles is a long way, but in all honesty, I often forget to respect the long distance runs and the demands it places on the body.  Recently I’ve been feeling completely exhausted and I was determined last week to stick to all my sessions, knock out some big miles, take my iron supplements, eat well and sleep well.  I came away with a new 5k PB and a solid 20 mile training run.  On Saturday, I ate healthily and ate enough to fuel my run, I’m not saying that was the only factor, but I have never felt as strong over 20 miles as I did on Sunday.  I was delighted with my pace and the way I felt.  Eating like a marathon runner sometimes scares me, but I know it’s necessary and I know it makes a difference.

Not being able to run stresses me out more than I can put into words, I have been known to go into a frenzy worrying that I’m going to wake up 2 stone heavier.  Similarly, I can feel horrendously guilty if I don’t run as many miles as I planned because I don’t have the time, or don’t want to, or drank too much wine the night before.  It takes a lot of mental strength to cope with that.  I’m getting a lot better at it.

Bulimia no longer has any power over me, I don’t have room for that in my life anymore.  Running really changed my life, especially the commitment and dedication involved in marathon running, and, despite my ups and downs, it makes me happy.  Achievements make me happy.

I’m not sure if you ever fully recover from an eating disorder, it will always be a part of you, but it’s certainly not something that defines you and it’s definitely something you can shut the door on.

I will always be very conscious of what I eat and I will probably always struggle with body image, I accept that, but when I look back and see how far I’ve come, I realise that it’s no longer something that controls me.  I’m stronger now than I ever have been.

 

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Hampton Court Half & Project Boston

On Sunday I ran the Hampton Court Half Marathon.  I always think a half during marathon training gives you a real indication of how it’s going, it lets you know if you’re on track to hit your target, or if you need to re-evaluate your goal.  For this reason I was nervous, more nervous than I had been about a race for a while.

In October I ran a 1:50 and a 1:49 half but, according to the McMillan race calculator, I needed to be running 1:42:30 to get a comfortable BQ in the marathon.  It felt like a lot to shave off…

It was a pretty early start to get over to Esher for an 8:30am race start but I was pleased to bump into some other Chasers.  They operated a wave start system but, rather than using coloured zones and policing it, people could start where they wanted so it wasn’t ideal.  It also started late, 16 minutes late to be exact, which was quite frustrating when you’re stood in the cold in just a vest.  Apparently there were issues with the park & ride system where they wanted people to pay £6 and get on a bus to the start – I ignored this and parked near the start for free, looks like that was a good idea all round.  Definitely room for improvement on the organisational front.

I made the bold decision to start with the 1:40 pacer, or rather hang just behind the 1:40 pacer and see what happened.  The plan was to hang onto him for as long as I could, but I didn’t want to let go until at least 7 miles…ideally.

The route was on a lot of pavements along open roads which I think made it difficult for the pacer to keep an even pace, add in  weaving around people who had started in the wrong place and I felt like I was all over the place! Every time we sped up I thought I was going to lose him, then we settled down again and it felt comfortable.  This went on until around 6.5 miles when he started to disappear as we ran along the river.

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Annoyingly I had forgotten to turn the mile alerts back on my watch after my last track session so I didn’t really know how much time I was losing, but I felt like I was plodding.  Often during the back half of a race I mentally give up, I allow myself to slow down and tell myself I don’t care about the clock, but that didn’t happen, I just kept pushing as much as I could.

The last mile seemed to drag but eventually the crowds thickened and I crossed the line in 1:44:01…90 seconds off the pace but slightly better than I thought towards the end.  I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about it, I’m still not.

The route itself wasn’t particularly scenic, apart from a small section where we ran past Hampton Court, it was quite dull.  It was fast and flat with great PB potential, but it took you on a lot of pavements along open roads which wasn’t ideal, together with the disappointing start I think the only reason I would do it again would be for convenience rather than anything else.  That said, you got a  great medal and the goody bag was well stocked!

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In summary

The Good:

  • I’m pretty sure Hampton Court was my second fastest half marathon ever
  • I finished in the top 8% of women
  • I couldn’t have given it anymore.  I honestly never stopped pushing which shows my mental strength is back on track
  • It was windy in the 2nd half…that may have made me a bit slower…
  • There are still 9 whole weeks until the London Marathon
  • My Run Britain handicap is heading in the right direction
  • I’m not giving up yet and, if all else fails, I’m bang on track for a PB

The Bad:

  • The splits aren’t great – I fell off the pace and it hurt
  • I was about 90 seconds away from where I needed to be to be on track for a BQ.  That’s actually quite a lot
  • It’s only 7 weeks until the taper…

The Ugly:

  • The outlook for project Boston is looking distinctly grey and cloudy
  • I know I won’t be happy simply with a PB in London

Project Boston – to be continued…

On the plus side, I think I made back my race entry fee in Vita Coco, my favourite!

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Only Human

This week my body gave up on me.  Easy jogs home from work not to anger my hamstring, emergency doctors appointments, and 2 days working from my bed was not what I had planned for this week.  My immune system appears to be punishing me.

I’ve been feeling exhausted over the last couple of weeks.  It’s probably not surprising considering I’ve been consistently running more miles than I ever have done, as well as regular spinning classes and yoga.  Throw in a busy job in advertising that doesn’t let me sit still for 5 minutes and seeing friends and I’ve been wiped out.

I’m pretty good at looking after myself, most of the time.  I eat a lot of fresh healthy food, my colleagues have stopped being surprised at the colour of my morning smoothies, I drink ridiculous amounts of water and I go to bed early when I’m tired.  But I’m also busy, and being busy can be exhausting.

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Over the last couple of weekends I’ve been really pleased with my long runs.  17-18 mile solo efforts with some faster paced miles and a strong finish, it’s been a refreshing change from last years laboured efforts.  However, my weekends have also been busy and I haven’t had the time to recover properly, like, erm eating actual food and resting.  Turns out not eating after 17 miles and rushing round London drinking all the prosecco until 3am isn’t ideal, especially when you don’t eat before your long runs either. Lesson learned.

Last week I promised myself I would eat more carbs, remember to take my iron supplements (despite peoples insistence that all I need is a big fat slab of blood-dripping cow flesh, it’s never going to happen) and get more sleep.  Despite keeping my promise I still couldn’t drag myself out of bed at 5.50am for my morning session and I still got poorly.  Blah blah blah.

This morning I was desperate to go to Parkrun.  Sadly, I didn’t make it.  But I’m listening to my body because, in the wise words of my fabulous friend Kate, it knows better than me.  I’m only human, it’s one of my biggest frustrations in life.

On the bright side, I did find the time to make these protein packed healthy Chickpea Blondies thanks to my friends at These Girls Do!

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Marathon Training: Feeling Good

It’s been about 2 months since I fell out of love with running and I would rather have stuck a pencil in my eye than put my trainers on and jog round London.  However, I’ve always been a bit fickle and since then, I seem to have remembered exactly why I love running so much and I even rather enjoyed my run commute despite the -5 degrees temperature this week!

I think it was a slightly hazy time somewhere between the 4th and 5th cocktail at the Chaser Christmas party when I fell in love with running again.  It was at this time when the ballot was drawn for the Chasers club places in the London Marathon and my name was the first name out!  Of course, I missed the actual event having been in the toilet/at the bar/chatting about life with complete strangers/some or all of the above, which I was pretty gutted about, but I was SO EXCITED to get a place!

Since then, I’ve been firmly back in training for the last 5 weeks and, in a surprising turn of events, it actually seems to be going well…  I’m not entirely sure what’s happened to me, or if I’ve simply been spurred on by the pretty punchy target I’ve set myself, but I’ve been running better than I have for a long time and it feels great!

New Year’s Day double Parkrun crew. A very muddy Wimbledon followed by a chilly Fulham!

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Generally, I’ve learned that really high mileage plans don’t work for me.  I’ve tried it, I got tired, I got injured, I resented having to go for a run, and, importantly, I did not run well on marathon day.  5 runs a week is enough for me, it allow me to run 40+ miles, do all my key sessions, a recovery run, and I still have time for a spinning class or 2 and my favourite Tuesday morning yoga class.  I’m definitely not planning any 70 mile weeks any time soon!

Running just seems to be a bit easier at the moment, I’ve been doing my track sessions at an even, or progressive, pace without vomiting on the 400m line and I’ll even admit to possibly, maybe, enjoying it this week which I don’t think has ever happened before!

Tempo sessions have also been going well (ie I finish them without feeling like I’m going to drop dead) and I’m so happy to be running with Ruth again.  Ruth and I used to run together a lot when we were training for the Rome Marathon, then she got quicker and I got slower and she became a little dot on the horizon.  Ruth is still speedier than me but I enjoy chasing her, and the other speedy girls Jenna and Kristy, round a cold dark Battersea Park.  Throw in some long runs at a pace I’m happy with and I’m actually feeling quite positive.

All I have to do now is keep it up for the next 13 weeks without getting injured, errrrm, should be fine if I go to yoga every week right…??

I hope your Spring marathon training is going well too!

Post long run coffee last Sunday

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2016: Goals

I don’t really believe in new years resolutions, if you want to change something just do it, you don’t need to wait until the 1st January.  That said, I think it’s important to set goals and challenge yourself.  Sharing goals is a bit scary, whilst it doesn’t necessarily matter if you don’t achieve them, I think it does matter if you don’t give them an honest effort.  So, as we’re about to head into a new year, these are my 2016 goals…

1. Run 3.30 – 3.35 in the London Marathon

Yep, I said it, my Spring marathon goal is a PB, a GFA and a BQ, all the acronyms!  My current PB is 3:47 so I’m looking to knock about 15 minutes off it which I don’t think will come easily.  I know there are a lot of people who think I can’t do this one, but I’m going to give it everything I’ve got and I believe I can do it, you’ve got to at least believe in yourself right?

I want to go to Boston.  It’s Boston or bust.

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2. Do more Parkruns

I don’t run nearly enough Parkruns and that needs to change.  I both love and hate Parkrun, I love pushing myself, I love the atmosphere and I love getting that little text message but I can get a bit worked up about it beforehand.  In 2016 I want to try 5 new Parkruns and run my first sub 22 5k…ermm, I may need a pacer…please?!

This one will be starting bright and early tomorrow with a New Years Day Parkrun double!

Pre-Christmas party Chasers outing to Brockwell

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3. A new 10k PB

This one might be one to focus on later in the year given I can’t even run 5k at my 10k PB pace at the moment!  Still, it was 2011 when I somehow managed to run 45:24 round Poole Park and it’s about time I make a serious effort to duck under 45…given my shocking pacing skills, I may need a pacer for this one too…anyone?!

4. Up the strength & conditioning work

Just over a year ago I took up a weekly yoga class and I’ve really noticed the difference, it definitely helps long run recovery and I’m sure it’s helped on the injury front.  I’m even getting better at it, I can very almost, nearly, sorta do a headstand and everything!

In recent weeks I’ve also been adding a weights session into my routine, I was quite shocked at how strong my legs were in some places and embarrassingly weak in others.  2016 will be the year of yoga, weights and core…as well as all the running of course.  I may need to quit my job…

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5. Stop being so hard on myself

In all honesty, this might be the most difficult for me, especially as I don’t even realise I’m doing it until someone points it out (usually Clare, thanks Clare!)  The problem is, I run in a club where I am one of the slowest runners and it makes it very easy feel inadequate even when I get a PB.  I’m never going to be the best runner but that doesn’t make my achievements less worthy of other peoples, they’re just different.

The last time I remember feeling genuinely elated with a run was at the Frankfurt marathon, next year I’m going to make sure I celebrate the way I celebrated in Frankfurt, be happy when I make progress and stop comparing myself to other people.

So, these are my 2016 goals and every one of them scares me.  Can I do it? Errm, in the spirit of the above I’m going to say a big fat yes!

Happy New Year x

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