Ultra Packing (Heineken Race to the Tower, Double Marathon Edition)

Let’s kick this post off by saying, I have NO IDEA what i’m doing.

To date, I have run ONE Ultra Marathon, 100km over 2 days, last July, at Race to the Stones. And you know, my comparisons of running things really are often on a parallel with MY experiences of pregnancy and childbirth. For example;

At the beginning, it seems like a good idea, exciting even!

You buy all the new gear and gadgets, clothes, sometimes even bedding.

You spend months in training, usually putting on weight due to the sheer amount of carbs you need to refuel your training runs.

Somewhere close to the end you’ll realise this IS happening and you’re going to have to put your body through some sort of sadistic experiment of pain and endurance, and it was YOUR CHOICE.

You get cross, and irritable and bloated and fearful and SO EXCITED and then SO BLOODY SCARED of what is about to happen…

But then, it happens. You rise ethereally above your own body and wonder if this may well be your last experience on earth. The all consuming pain and tiredness pulling your soul away from your exhausted body until gloriously the finish line appears! One last push and your beautiful reward awaits you!! Somehow you find the strength to haul ass over that line and you realise that you, my friend, are S U P E R W O M A N.

So in this instance, this is all for a medal…

I will be posting again on what I pack for the other two Threshold Sports ultras, as this year I thought it was important I did as many ridiculous things as possible, so i’m doing all three events in 2018. So this post will concentrate on what i’m packing for Race to the Tower, and I am doing the double marathon (52.3 miles), straight through option.

So first things first, Threshold do not have a mandatory kit list like some ultras do. Each ultra will be different and you need to make sure you find out if you have a mandatory list. They won’t let you compete if you don’t meet kit list requirements and some will even bag check you en route.

They do have a suggested list, which I haven’t followed to the letter, but last year for my virgin race I definitely took most things they suggested out of sheer fear of the unknown. I’d have packed a sink if it was on the list.

It’s also good to remember that these ultras in particular, are really well supported. The Check Point aid stations are usually no more than 8 miles apart, and they are so well stocked with foods and drinks, that vary slightly depending on where you are on the route, and what package option you are doing (eg soup and bread at later CP’s for straight through people etc).

So for this reason, I don’t pack much in the way of food for Threshold Ultra series. (You can food with you from the stations too – a good tip was take nappy/dog poo bags with you so you can fill them up and snack en route instead of waiting around at the station for ages).

I think the best way is to give you a nice list of what I bring for each part of the ultra. So what’s in my kit bag, what’s in my ‘after’ bag, what’s in my medical bag etc.

So let’s look at what I take in my Hydration vest (subject to change!).

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  1. Hydration Vest. As mentioned, these are well supported so I opted for a Salomon ADV 5 Skin set. This vest is 5l and come with two fast soft flasks for front pocket storage. After using a bladder last year, I decided i’d prefer to carry both water and electrolytes with me on the course. This option means I can do that, and also it’s easier to refill if you don’t want to keep taking your pack on and off for 50+ miles.
  2. Waterproof bag, 2l. This bag contains my change of clothes and all my medical kit. If it rains, you don’t want to be changing into wet kit. This is a little industrial for my kit to be honest, a dry bag would have been better, but I was running out of time and Amazon Prime only had this one to get to me on time…
  3. A portable battery pack. In this day and age, you’d have thought they could invent a battery that lasts for 14 hours but seems not. So this is a very important piece of kit. This one is 12,000mAh, and should have enough charge to power up my iphone 8 x3, not that i’ll need 3 charges, but i’ll also need to charge my Garmin, as the battery life is around 7/8 hours in running mode. Make sure you also bring the cables you need!
  4. The soft flasks – one I have written ‘electrolytes’ on, it might seem silly but after miles and miles the little things help the brain that’s probably clocked off out of boredom…
  5. Sunglasses. These are just from New Look, nothing fancy. I can’t really run in a cap or visor. I find it bounces in my field of vision and it makes me feel really sick. Find what works for you!
  6. Collapsable cup. Again, there’s been a big ‘Sturdy vs Collapsable’ debate over on Instagram, people you do you. If you want to take a sturdy cup with you, do it. I don’t even know if i’ll take the cup anyway! But this is important as a LOT of race organisers are now eradicating waste and getting rid of cups at events like this.
  7. Tissues. For noses. Or, emergencies….
  8. Tailwind. I discovered Tailwind while training for Brighton Marathon, and absolutely fell in love with the stuff. I do get dodgy gut with certain nutrition products, and this is perfect. No problems at all. I’ll probably go through 5 packs of Tailwind, supplemented with High 5 electrolyte tablets that are provided byt Threshold at the CP’s.
  9. Nutrition. I am bringing four gels with me this year, just for the option or to maybe break up food intake a little. I use High 5 in Mojito flavour. I’ve found they are lighter to take down, and they don’t give me any GI issues. Again gels etc is a big field and it’s important to do some trial and error on what brand and type works for you. Don’t assume one brand will work because others use it fine (like i did for ages with SIS gels…). My trusty Trek bars. If all else fails or you’re feeling a bit ropey, it’s good to have a trusted source of nutrition with you too. Trek bars do that for me. Also good in case of emergencies to have some food stashed away.
  10. Head Torch/Strobe light. Again, if you’re doing the straight through option this item is actually mandatory, complete with a spare set of batteries for it. I just bought mine from Amazon, and I also have a little clip on strobe light for the back of my pack, which is made by Nathan.
  11. Medicine. Now this obviously needs to be used at your discretion, but it is GOING TO HURT. Depending on if you already have an injury you may want to take some before you begin. Personally, I have one paracetemol and one ibuprofen every 2 hours, from around 30 miles, BUT again, it’s all to do with necessity. I also carry Immodium instants (which work quickest) in case of GI issues.
  12. Jaybird earbuds. These are the bomb. I HATE wires. Like really can’t stand them. Everything should be wireless. These are called RUN, they’re amazing and also allow me to have one ear in without the worry of the other swinging around. I was gifted these headphones, They’re a bit pricey, but I really do rate them.
  13. *Not pictured – Waterproof and windproof jacket. Mine is a Brooks LSD jacket, which folds up into itself.

 

Here’s a list of what goes into my drybag, in my vest;

  1. Fresh vest.
  2. Fresh runderwear!
  3. Long sleeve top.
  4. Fresh buff.
  5. Plasters (large plasters, small cut strips, compeed, alcohol wipes, small scissors)
  6. Spare batteries.
  7. K Tape.

 

Here’s a list of what goes into my drop bag for the end of the race;

  1. Oofos. Literally the best recovery shoe ever ever EVER. I love my Oofos. I have 4 pairs. Black, Blue and Pink flip flops and a pair of the Oomg shoe. After any race, training, and ESPECIALLY after a long ass Ultra, they go straight on my feet. Its the absolute best thing ever. Have I sold them to you yet?!
  2. Injinji. Again, I can’t big these up enough. Since wearing them after getting inter toe blisters at London marathon in 2017, I am converted and now won’t wear anything other than these for any distance over a half mara. They come in lots of styles, this year i’ve opted for a mini crew, so the trail debris is better kept out (last year i wore the trainer/no show version and i had to fish out half of the Ridgeway from in there).
  3. Hot Water Bottle. It’ll be late, and i’ll get cold quickly. I also get stomach cramps sometimes after a long distance. So this is there to help with all those things.
  4. Towel. Wipe down and clean once i’m done. It’s not a shower but it’ll help a bit.
  5. Baby wipes. Same idea as above. Get some of the grime off my face at least, and maybe the armpits get a little attention.
  6. Brooks long sleeve warm top. It’s all about staying warm at the end. Layers are where it’s at!
  7. Long sleeve base layer. Primark winner.
  8. Jogging bottoms as an extra layer to go over my compression leggings.
  9. ZeroPoint compression leggings. Same as the Oofos, ZeroPoint are my go to recovery product. Spray on some magnesium spray (not pictured) first, to avoid those leg tremors. (I have a code for 20% off using the link, ZPCHARLIE)
  10. Spare Battery, fully charged.
  11. Trek bars.
  12. Collapsable cup.
  13. Spare Jaybird headphones.
  14. For Goodness Shakes. These recovery drinks are incredible. I’ve experienced quite a few protein recovery drinks and i have to say that personally these are the best by a long way. They taste like a milkshake, not powdery at all. Thanks to FGS for sending me these for the ultras.

 

I hope that has been somewhat helpful. Even now i’m thinking of all the things i forgot to mention like the suncream (very important) or chapstick, preferably with sunscreen in it. My GO PRO!

The thing is, you can pack what you like.

Once you’ve done one, you’ll know what you want with you, what you needed and maybe also what you didn’t. Also each type of ultra will require different things too, so make sure you do your research, and you’ll be great. Now all you need to do is run the actual thing!

 

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Liverpool Rock ‘n’ Roll Weekend.

This weekend I ventured up to Liverpool on my own, to take part in the American born Rock ‘n’ Roll race series. These races are held across the USA, Canada and a few other international places like Madrid, Dublin, Edinburgh and of course Liverpool.

It seemed to be Liverpool’s 5th year, and although there were a few issues I thought the race organisers probably needed to address (awful long and confusing queues for packet pick up at the expo, for example) it was actually a really well put on event. I loved the whole festival feel, and having entered both the 5k on the Saturday morning and the Marathon on the Sunday, I was indulging in the whole weekend.

What was much more wonderful was that I knew there were so so many Instagram running crew going, including my South West squad, Martha, Daryl, Jemma and her husband, and Matt (who you probably know as @thewelshrunner).

Saturday morning we got up for the 5k, Jemma was racing the distance but Martha and I were going along for a jolly. Unfortunately, Martha decided she’d have a nice big fry up and promptly felt rather ill, pretty much as soon as we started!

We saw Jemma on the return but she was in the pain cave, but it gave us temporary distraction from Martha’s imminent vomiting… it actually never showed itself but there were a number of close calls! However we made it back, where the race finished INSIDE the expo with lights and smoke machines. It was all rather American!

It was such a warm day too. I think we did a really good job getting round. And it happened to be another rather special day with some sort of wedding happening, so very aptly, the 5k medal was a rather stunning diamond ring shape. 

Martha and Jemma had been asked to speak at the expo on Saturday afternoon and, along with our friend Matt, they all had slots to chat about running. It was brilliant and they had lots of people listening.

After the talks we all went off to Pizza Express (of course) to get some carb loading in. Location wise, It was perfect as the expo, Pizza Express, and the start/finish lines were all in the shadow of the hotel. This took so much stress and anxiety out of navigating our way to and from each place. I know this isn’t always possible as central hotels are usually pretty pricey. But this time we proper lucked out and felt very calm over the whole weekend!

After pizza and spending time/meeting with some lovely folk, we all tripped back over to the hotel lobby where we spent 6 hours just hanging out with each other. Talking about running, life and eating MORE carbs in preparation for what would be another hot day of running. This time, attempting 26.2 miles in the heat and hills of Liverpool!

We all turned in around 10 and tried to get good nights sleep.

Sunday morning and pre-race traditions were in full swing. Bagels and Porridge were consumed, Beet It shots (urghhhh) were very quickly downed, things were taped up, plaited, packed into spibelts and hydration vests, selfies taken and anxiety tactics put into full force!

The boys (who weren’t running) put their cheer plans in place and the girls set off towards the start corrals.

Anticipation and the weather hotted up, and we joked, danced and chatted to while away the time until we were ready to start. The start was delayed by about 15 minutes, which wasn’t great for Martha as she’s been struggling really badly with heatstroke. Unfortunately, at mile 2 Martha decided she would need to drop out around 11 miles (or when she could) as she was really feeling unwell. Jemma and I did insist we stay with her as long as we could, but she wanted to get on with it alone. I totally understand why. It’s so hard if you feel like you’re holding others back, and you don’t want to be a burden. I knew it was better for her if we left to push on through, so reluctantly, Jemma and I ran ahead. 

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This idiot decided to run in front of the boys taking our picture… grrr

We made a new plan for the two of us (the original plan being we’d be using the race as ultra training so it was never going to be raced) which we readjusted to aiming for 9.30-10 minute miles, and walking hills when we needed to (and there were some nasty ones in that rather hill packed course!). We felt good and the plan seemed to be executing itself well. 

I was fuelling with Tailwind and water from the course. I took water at each station and probably had half a bottles worth to drink, and poured some of the rest over my neck. The tailwind I had in another bottle and sipped every mile or so up until around 22 miles. I also took a gel at mile 2, 8, 15 and 22 or 23. I was really pleased with my fuelling actually, considering it was a really hot day, I never felt dehydrated. I did start to feel a little sick towards the end of the race but it was so warm by then and we spent the last 4 miles along the Mersey in direct sunlight!

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The course, as I said, was FULL of hills. They just would come and come and come. Some were ok to run and some were too much on such a hot day. We had to keep reminding ourselves that we weren’t racing this as a marathon, but using it as ultra training, so it needed to have walking and slower running involved. 

As well as the hills, we were taken through so many beautiful parks. I didn’t really realise how pretty Liverpool is until running through these gorgeous parks. Tunnels of trees, fields, flower displays, blossom, streams, ponds and bridges proved welcome distractions from the heat, but also providing much needed shade. 

In contrast, the route also took us up around Everton’s Goodison Park and even right THROUGH Anfield stadiums, however being adverse to football in the way my children are to broccoli, I only really appreciated the cool shade it gave us for those few meters we were inside!

One of the big draws to the Rock n Roll events is the presence of bands around the course. I was actually really impressed just how MANY bands there were on the route. It didn’t feel like we went more than 3-4 miles without music being played to us, whether that was a rock band or simply some dance tunes pumping out of a RnR van to give us a nice motivational boost. Jemma and I really enjoyed the music, having a good boogie as we ran through the different stations, even being treated to ‘Yellow Submarine’ as we ran past the Cavern Club, or ‘Penny Lane’ as we ran up, yep, Penny Lane (which, by the way, was rather underwhelming…). However as Jemma pointed out, we did actually spend a penny there!

penny lane

At the finish there was also a festival and concert headlined by Space (remember them?!) which was pretty cool. You also got to pick up your remix medal there. More on that in a sec.

Around 12 miles ish Jemma suggested we high five at each mile marker. Something that became our way of getting through the distance and encouraging each other. Every mile sign we would slap hands together, which for the last few miles became a hand grab and squeeze….

We’ve got this! We can do this!

The last 4 miles take you along side the Mersey, which Jem and I felt really at home with. We both live by the sea and are both very familiar with running along prom and sea wall for miles. Even so, the miles were hard work at this point and it all felt rather longer than I would’ve liked it too. Not to mention the lack of any shade along that stretch. Between swigs, I was dousing myself with water every couple of minutes, just to try and keep cool. 

We finally diverted off the river path and started on the final approach to the finish, passing the effervescent cheer squad who literally make my entire life in every race, and lovely Daryl was there too. Jem reached back to me but at this point I was battling feeling a bit sicky. I couldn’t push myself any more, and we had decided at 20 miles we could still see this is under 4:30.  We were focused on finishing STRONG; we were tired but we both felt strong despite the muscle fatigue and heat, and the crowd helped us along to the finish line by confirming our feelings. It felt great to hear them shout we looked strong. To finish a hot marathon like that is such a privilege. Jemma grabbed my hand and we crossed the line together, feeling super strong and super proud of ourselves for running such a confident race.

Once again, tailwind worked a treat for me. I’ve had no sickness post race so I think I definitely need constant electrolyte intake during long distances. This seems to really help me. I am literally covered in salt when I finish so I think I do suffer from quite substantial salt loss – especially when it’s hotter. I was pretty pleased with the fact that I didn’t seem to hit my usual wall around 16/17 miles. Not sure whether it was because we weren’t attacking the race as much or if it was just down to great fuelling. 

What was also brilliant was that while we were out clocking the long miles, Matt was smashing the Half marathon and only went and won it! He’s a clever boy that Welsh Runner. 

medal trio

So the MEDALS! Well this was one of the main draws for me when entering this race, because you could get three (or more!) medals in one weekend! As I’m a bit of a medal magpie, this was a BIG BONUS! The races over the weekend are, 1 mile, 5k, Half Marathon and Marathon. If you do two or more of these races (bearing in mind some of them clash time wise, for instance you couldn’t do the mile and the marathon) then you get to pick up a ‘remix’ medal. A pretty cool rock n roll electric guitar, complete with spinning plectrum and guitar strap (lanyard). 

You can also pick up an ‘encore’ medal if you have taken part in the previous year. There’s also a world rocker medal, if you complete two (or more) Rock n Roll events within a year. Basically, there’s a whole lot of swag at these races!

I picked up the 5k and Marathon medals, along with a remix guitar and they’re amazing. The 5k ring medal is probably my favourite actually, although the marathon (and half marathon) medal is pretty darn cool too with the Liverpool Wheel (like the London Eye) as a spinning part. It’s shaped like a plectrum too which is another awesome nod to the theme of the whole event. Both the race medals I got have also got epic sparkly enamelling detail in the writing. They just have wonderful detail in them. 

So to sum up, I had a BRILLIANT weekend. I got to spend a few days away from mum duties and saw some wonderful running chums for much longer than the usual quick anxiety-inducing-pen-shuffle meet ups that we’re used to!

Liverpool you were great. Maybe see you again next year?!

 

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Brooks Cascadia 12, Trail Shoe Review.

Let me give you some background.

Last year, I ran my first ultra marathon. To prepare for such an event, I thought it wise to join the ‘trail shoe gang’ and buy a pair of lugged miracle makers. 

Being a complete running gear newbie, I went for what seemed to be the popular choice and bought myself some Salomon Speedcross 4 GTX.

At this point, the most ‘trail’ I came across was a mile or so across a farmers field, which is muddy probably all of 30 days in the year (but seriously it gets super muddy) and then another few miles or so if I run out towards Reculver towers past my friends farm. That’s literally my local trail.

Anyone with half a brain would know not to buy a full trail shoe for that terrain. But they were pretty, and obviously, as I said, I had NO IDEA what I was doing!

Taking the Speedcross out, I knew immediately they were the wrong choice. They were heavy and stiff, with deep lugs for soft, wet and muddy terrain. I tried them out probably 4 or 5 times, before selling them on to my friend, who DOES frequent that sort of terrain on the South Downs!

So I was back to square one. Luckily I’d read up quite a bit of what people were suggesting as appropriate shoes for the Race to the Stones terrain. Mainly hard packed chalk, gravel paths, some road sections with a few fields and farm tracks. If the weather is good it shouldn’t be too bad underfoot, and the elevation is pretty gentle (but constant!).

There were lots of votes for road shoes, so I decided instead of spending £100 odd on an emergency pair of hybrid trail shoes with a couple of weeks until race day, I would stick with what I knew, and that was my Nike Pegasus. 

Let me just say that we were dealt a plethora of weather conditions for Day 1 of Race to the Stones, but my trusty Nike road shoes served me so well.

Anyway this is a review of BROOKS CASCADIA 12!

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Brooks kindly sent me a pair of Cascadia 12, as we find ourselves staring into the face of ultras once more, with still no actual progress on a trail shoe. Whilst I am still to sample other trail shoe delights, I have been rather pleased with the Cascadia so far.

Within the first week, I ran almost 30 miles in them. The first outing was a 25 mile country road ultra-training run, literally out of the box. The second, around the farmers field on an undulating muddy path, with plenty of technical stepping to avoid ankle destruction.

The first thing you notice about the Cascadia 12’s are the quite lively colour options. Ive noticed a few of the more ‘serious’ ultra runners have called for more subtle colour ways, but I mean, they’re gonna get trashed and covered in mud anyway, maybe just buy the least lairy option (there are some nice blues and purples if you don’t fancy the bright pinks and blues). Anyway I quite like the bright colours.

Putting them on for the first time, I was hopeful for a fit that was more like my road shoes than a trail shoe. I wasn’t disappointed. They felt comfortable and padded, with a chunky collar at the heel and cushioning along the insole. These shoes are neutral, and didn’t pinch or pull up on the side of my feet anywhere. 

In normal shoes I’m a 5, and I have been wearing 5.5 in running shoes until these. I decided it was time to go up a whole size instead (Do you know it’s literally only millimetres’s difference between shoe sizes?!)

I had some Brooks Levitates a few months before in a size 5.5, with a normal width. Whilst these pinched my right foot to begin with (which is slightly wider than my left) they loosened off and are very comfy now. However with this in mind, and knowing there wasn’t a width option in the Cascadia, I decided to go for a size 6 to allow appropriate swelling room.

It was the perfect decision. The Cascadia 12 is wider in general, with plenty of room in the toe box. I wear injinji toe socks for any long distances and the toe box more than accommodated the toe splay.

The grip on the soles is perfect for loose terrain. When I tested them around the farmers field, they handled really well, and I felt I had enough traction to boost me over the tire tracks and freshly ploughed dirt. They also felt really stable when I was running miles on  countryside back roads and handles just as well over the tarmac as they did the grass and the woodland paths. I found if stones were getting stuck I could easily kick them out without having to stop and pull them out.

The weather has been dry recently so I can’t comment at the moment on using them in wet/soft muddy conditions, but i’ll be sure to update the review once I have.

In terms of cushioning, I found them decent. Unless you go full Hoka, I think you pretty much know how much cushioning you’ll get in a trail shoe. These are reasonably cushioned, but after 25 miles, I think any footbed is going to feel a little sore. I didn’t feel sore for long though, as I can do after a long distance in a more forefoot striking shoe like the On Cloudflows, which is a good indication of their level of comfort.

I liked the fact that I could feel connection with the road, and although it’s clear you’re wearing a trail shoe and not a road shoe, there was enough movement and response from the shoe to keep me comfortable.

It didn’t feel too heavy, but just the right weight to remind me I should be running marathon/Ultra pace in these, and not 10k pace.

 

My conclusion of the Brooks Cascadia 12’s;

Style: 8/10

Comfort: 8/10

Handling: 7/10

 

Hope you found this helpful!

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(I was sent the Brooks Cascadia 12’s as a gift, and the views in this review are my own.)

 

 

 

Mum to Marathon, Pt2.

In October 2016, I signed up for Brighton Marathon, because as I mentioned in the previous post, i’d been on the London reject list once more, and I was DESPERATE to get a marathon under my belt. Even if only in training for the 100k ultra marathon i’d signed up for, called Race to the Stones.

However, come November, the charity i’d signed up to run for, Mind, got back in contact to say a place on their team had opened up, and did I want it. I literally had about an hour or two to decide.

I rang Andy and laid out the facts.

“I’d have to raise £2000….!”

“It’s only two weeks after Brighton!”

“It would be pretty BADASS though…”

We chatted it through and decided that, given my luck in the ballot, this may be the only guaranteed entry I got to London, so I made the bold choice, and took the place.

‘How on earth am I going to raise two grand?!’

Fundraising.

Oh fundraising. It’s one of those things isn’t it. People are ALWAYS doing it. It’s great, don’t get me wrong here, but when it came to the thought of asking people for money, I was super duper nervous and worried.

I ran through the classic list of ideas, bake sales, quiz nights etc, none of which sat with me. Then I realised. I was sitting on a goldmine of talent and possibilities. I could use my professional contacts in the Children’s Book industry, and round up a bunch of illustrators to donate work to the auction! Draw for your Mind was born that November, and as people started to hear about it, more wanted to be involved.

get your bid on

Over a weekend in February, I think we auctioned off about 90 odd books, art and prints from all sorts of illustrators, and that combined with the donations on just giving pages from friends and family etc, totalled up to around £5300.

I’d love to do another Draw for your mind, but felt i’d asked a lot of people last year, so this year I chose not to fundraise for any of my events. Anyway, I was on a total high. Couldn’t believe i’d totally smashed my target. Now all I needed to do was focus on the running.

Then disaster struck…

I got injured.

Ironically, the very lady who had inspired me to run and train for Race to the Stones, Jemma Lewis (@thisgirlcanrunfar), also got injured literally with a day of me. We both crashed and burned at the height of training. March 5th, I ran my first (and only) 20 mile training run, before my hip stopped playing ball. Physio and Sports massages x a million later, we worked out that because I had weak walking muscles (and strong running ones) when I was walking and feeling the pain in my hip, it was because the muscles weren’t pulling my hip into place properly, causing an impingement and friction in the joint. However, it seemed to just be when I walked, not ran, so quite soon, the physio was allowing me to run.

He recommended that I defer Brighton, and focus on London, which gave me a couple more weeks to play with for recovery. I had a few good runs where the pain was not too much of a bother once i’d started running. This one day, about two weeks away from London, the pain was intense during running. I couldn’t even make it a mile. It hadn’t been there for the running before. What fresh hell was this?

If you’ve ever been injured, you know that the constant analysis and second guessing is exhausting. Unfortunately my injury also meant that the pain moved around, so one time it could be up in my lower back, then deep in my groin, near my hip joint or somewhere in my thigh. I posted to ig in a pretty dramatic way (VERY unlike me…) that this was it. My Brighton and London Double dream was out of the question, Brighton was deferred, but now it looked like I wouldn’t even make London.

BUT all those donations! All that fundraising….

tragedy

I got in contact with Mind, and unfortunately they couldn’t guarantee me a place for the next year. I could carry over my fundraising but i’d still have to apply with everyone else.

I decided I would give London a go.

I put on my big girl pants, and planned with Martha (@martha_runs), my newly acquired running wife, that we would both start together. In fact, loads of us were injured at the start of London that year. It’s a miracle we all made it to the end!

I’m going to save my London Marathon story for a separate post because I want to write it up properly (only a year over due…).

But this was it. This was the moment I finally went from Mum to Marathon.

 

Did my problems disappear? No.

Did my kids turn into exemplary human beings? Not a chance.

Was my depression cured? Nope, still there!

 

Do you know what did happen though?

 

I realised that I can do incredible things. I mean, I MADE TWO incredible things* from my body. In pregnancy, my relationship with my body changed. It actually helped me to love it.

PND tried to rob me of a new found love for my body.

Running my first marathon reminded me of how badass it was when my body did its thing, and birthed two kids. It took me back to the ‘marathon’ of childbirth (in a lot of ways it’s scarily similar; Loss of bodily functions, crying, screaming, sweating, swearing…) and reminded me that I CAN DO HARD THINGS. How BADASS I STILL WAS AND ALWAYS WILL BE.

I could also run a REAAAAAALLY long way for a long time and survive it. And the hugs from my kids when I met them at the end?

Worth every injured step.

 

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*my wonderful children who are wonderful.

 

 

 

 

Mum to Marathon

It’s almost been two years since I started on my fitness journey.

I’d battled with Post Natal depression and my weight since my son was born, and despite trying Juicing and Slimming World, nothing quite sat right with me. But I wasn’t really exercising.

Before I got married, I went to the gym 4 times a week and it worked for me. With my daughter, I stayed active throughout pregnancy, using the gym, pool and (infrequent) running, and I was fortunate of a small baby that time around. We had planned to have a minimum gap of 18 months between kids, and as it had taken us 13 months to fall pregnant the first time, we’d assumed it would take a similar time for number 2.

So when we found out I was expecting one month after coming off my pill, we were a little shocked (but happy!). I had a 10 month old, and now I had to battle through pregnancy whilst looking after a baby on the outside.

I was much sicker with my son. I remember M being in the corner of the kitchen playing as I threw up into the sink… thankfully she was pretty unaware at that point of what was going on. Being pregnant the second time is a whole load of different.

ANYWAY – back to the fitness stuff…

I found it very hard to fit anything in at this point. Even though I have an incredible husband, once he was home from work, I’d be entirely exhausted from looking after a human on the outside AND growing one on the inside. My fitness suffered, and my diet became questionable.

The problem however, came once i’d given birth, and the eating continued as if  I were growing a baby. I wasn’t anymore, but my diet carried on the same.

The new mum fog descended, and with two under 2, my mental health started to take a beating. It’s quite incredible what sleep deprivation can do to you. M slept through from early on, but J wasn’t a fan. He was up 3-4 times a night until he was 2. And this only triggered my PND.

I want you to understand how paralysing it is to feel out of control and in charge of two human beings. And how scary it is to not be in control of yourself AND have to look after two human beings. I remember at my lowest point, I was screaming at Andy (poor sod, he’s put up with so much…) and actually clawing at my face. Then looking behind him to see M had toddled into the doorway and was crying. WHAT EVEN WAS I?

I’d known for months I had PND, and had suggested it to Andy on numerous occasions, to the response of ‘Go to the Doctor then’. The shrug off response only fed my doubt of perhaps it was just me and I needed to just chill. Fact was, Andy had no idea how to deal with it, and like most people who don’t understand depression, He didn’t have the responses I needed. This manic episode however, forced him to admit what was going on, and told me I needed to go and see the Doctor. Finally it was the acknowledgement and permission I’d wanted from him to go and seek some help. It wasn’t just in my head.

We went to the Doctor together when J was 6 months old, December 2013. I cried with embarrassment as I explained to her I wanted to die to make it all go away, and how I wouldn’t cry, but instead got so angry I would scream the house down.

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She was wonderful, and prescribed me my first set of happy pills.

I wasn’t sure how I felt. I wanted to feel better but this wasn’t what I thought depression was. I’d always been of the persuasion it was black clothes, dark rooms, crying and lamenting. I had a strong view of depression, courtesy of stigma.

What I began to realise was I could put on a brave face. People didn’t have to know if I didn’t want them to. This was the only power I had left. The power to trick them, and sometimes myself, into believing I was fine. Fine with the weight. Doing a great job as a parent.

I took the pills for about 4 months before deciding I didn’t need them. I was wrong, and it took me a while to get them back into my system after abandoning them for a couple of months (they usually take a good month to kick in). I’m not sure when I came off them again, but I reckon it was another 7 months of using them to aid my recovery.

When I came off the pills, I felt I was in a better place. Life had settled into a rhythm and I was much more used to how it felt with two little children. I was able to manage myself a lot better, and J’s sleep had started to settle down too, so I was getting that important sleep my brain needed to chill. However I’d now got myself into habits with eating that weren’t helping in any way. For a while it would take the edge off; wine, chocolate, cakes, takeaways (all still my downfalls btw) but I got to a point where I HAD to do something about it.

In 2014, I celebrated my 30th birthday, and I thought it would be a great way to inspire myself into healthy ways, but despite my best efforts, 30 came and went, and although i’d lost some of the weight, it wasn’t the glamorous turnaround i’d been hoping for.

It wasn’t until 2 years later (and 2 years of failed Slimming World attempts) that I realised, if I was going to do this and lose this extra 3+ stone, it would have to be through the way I knew had worked for me pre children. EXERCISE.

It was just after ‘Lean in 15’ had burst onto the scene and I signed up for another instagram profile, under the handle ‘leancleancooke’. May 5th, 2016, I posted my first picture, a quote saying ‘Don’t give up. Great things take time.’

It was my battle cry, this time I would see it through, I would stick to the plan. I needed to break the destructive cycle for my physical AND my mental health.

Once I had got into the Hiit workouts, and the VERY different way of eating (sw – no fat lots of carbs, L in 15 – high fat, low carb) I saw the weight drop pretty quickly. I lost my first stone within 2 months, and by December 2016, I was back in the high 9st’s. Something I hadn’t seen for 3 years. I also realised for the first time, it was about how I looked (bear with me!) not how much I weighed. I didn’t have scales at home, only weighing myself when I was at my mum’s or a friend’s. This really helped my perception of weight.

Once i’d found a rhythm with exercise, I quickly wanted to get out running again. I knew from when i’d dabbled in running for enjoyment back in 2009, that running helped me lose weight and feel really good. I’d run a Half marathon in Bristol in 2009, and was planning on stepping up to London Marathon (which obviously I got rejected for, and every year since…) but i’d turned my ankle and fallen out of the running swing of things.

Fast forward to 2016 and starting with running around the field at the back of our house, I would complete a couple of 1.7 mile laps a week, slowly does it, building up my momentum and pace. I soon pushed it to 5k, and then I vividly remember trying my first 10k. The socks were old, the trainers weren’t right, and boy did they make me pay for it…

GET YOUR GAIT CHECKED PEOPLE!

Once I felt brave enough to go into the scary running shop (not actually scary) – I tried on a good few pairs of trainers, but being the secret label lover I am, I went for what I knew best (and aesthetics were important at that point and I didn’t like RUNNING BRANDS) and bought a couple of pairs of Nike Pegasus, which are still my trusty trainers.

It’s a bit tricky to know where to take my writing from here, because from this point, it sort of went a bit crazy.

I knew I was goal orientated so I booked myself onto my second ever Half marathon. But then I wanted more of a challenge so booked onto two more Half marathons, one being my first taster of fundraising, for Tommy’s the baby charity. My Brother and Sister in law were going through a really hard time trying to conceive, and had two horrible miscarriages, losing two precious babies. It felt like the only gesture I could give at the time.

I realised the 3 Half’s were within a 6 week time frame, and training stepped up a notch. This was my first challenge. I was doing something BIG. Something good.

Maybe I’ll do a separate post about them one day, but they happened, and although they weren’t the quickest (you try running around the Isle of Wight sub 2hrs) I felt happy to nail the third in my then fastest time, 1:57!

The only logical step from here was to try and get that marathon box ticked. But instead, I did something really crazy. Having had (once again…) a ‘Sorry’ magazine drop through my door a couple of weeks post Half-Trio-Challenge, I shook off the inevitable London FOMO and booked on to do Brighton Marathon instead.

This is the crazy bit….

When I signed up to instagram, I began following a girl called Jemma. She was honest and slightly outspoken, and like me, she had never run a marathon. But she HAD just run an ULTRA Marathon. 100k over 2 days. I had so many questions.

WHAT IS AN ULTRA MARATHON?

COULD I RUN AN ULTRA MARATHON?

JEMMA RAN AN ULTRA MARATHON WITHOUT DOING A MARATHON FIRST! MAYBE I COULD TOO?

I spoke to Andy, who clearly in a moment of his own madness, said I should indeed sign up to said ultra marathon, and let me use our (very sparse) cash to do so.

It was the most impulsive, scary and bloody exciting thing i’d done for YEARS.

I was taking back control over my own life. Those years of depression and physical compromise were melting away with one race entry. I was going to do something really huge. Me. Not my kids. But me.

To be Continued…

 

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The Big Half (Race Report)

I just want to start off by saying, having organised a race myself, how extremely stressful it is to do so. So I want to congratulate London Marathon Events for putting on a new event of this size, and pulling it off pretty darn well.

I do love/hate London races.

They’re usually extremely overpriced and very busy (not good for those of us with an anxious disposition!)

The buzz is that you’re in LONDON – and I love our capital very much.

We drove into London the morning of the race, and so my hubby and kids dropped me off at Tower Bridge, which was very helpful. I arrived about 8.10am, 50 mins before the start, and didn’t feel rushed at all. In fact, it was probably the calmest start to a race i’ve had. I didn’t need to use the bag drop however so I didn’t experience the crush of that like some others did…

I used the toilet with a minimal queue, and spoke to Jemma (@thisgirlcanrunfar) from Spain, who rang me to say good luck. She’s a good egg that one! I was texting with Martha to try and meet up, but she informed me of how busy it was, and we’d probably never find each other.

I turned the corner and started up the street towards Tower Bridge and who did i see?!

I ran up to M and gave her a BIG hug, before she set off to her cheering spot.

After that I kept turning around to other friends all at once! I saw Kev (@kev_halls) and then noticed Sophie (@sophielaps_), and then Shellie (@shellie0055) was there, and then ChiChi (@chichi.runs) came up the stairs… it was amazing like a big reunion. Love my running friends!

We strolled across Tower Bridge together towards the start pens and got all those pre race excitement feelings..

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I said goodbye to the others and carried on walking, and met Laura (@laurajbrine) and we chatted about our race plans.

See my race plan was pretty much that i’d be running with and pacing Martha, but her hip had been hurting, so regrettably she’d decided to pull out of the race. With that plan gone, I thought I may as well set off with a p.b in mind (sub 1.44) and see what I could do.

I felt pretty good, but in actual fact, i’d not fuelled enough, had no race nutrition with me, and had run 7 miles the day before – not an ideal background for me pushing out a new personal best! I left Laura and was about to get into pen B when I saw Jordan! (@projectmarathongirl) Yay! I’d not seen Jordan for absolutely ages, and I knew she was going for a good time at the race, so I was so so glad to squeeze her before she sprinted to glory (seriously, she qualified for London Marathon Championship place 2019!)

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Standing in my start pen, you could feel the excitement bubbling as they announced the elite start – Mo was off… and we almost were too. We began to move up to the start line and then we were off.

I went out too quick. I knew it was.

I wanted to aim for steady 7.40ish pace, but I was too excited and I couldn’t pull it back enough. I soon regretted it as mile 2 (pretty much the entirety of it) was a tunnel, down first, and then an up which lasted for ever. My pace was still pretty good at this point, cashing in a few 7.19 type splits before it all started to crash around me…

I was running with music to start with, and wow did the Jaybird’s not disappoint (but also why you shouldn’t use them if its not a shut road race) – they cancelled all other sound and it was pretty noisy around me with choirs and crowds and footsteps.

I passed (very briefly) Suzie Chan (@suzie_chan) and Sophie Raworth off the news (@sophieraworth) and shouted something about how much I love them both… oh gosh. Such a fan girl, but they ARE both amazing. Go and follow them if you don’t already (you looney).

Mile 3 came and went, through Canary Wharf and reminiscing the last time I pounded these roads at the London Marathon. I started to realise that possibly, this wasn’t going to be the race for me. Mile 4 was ok, but then Mile 5-6 started to hit me big style.

The route was boring in places and the undulation was unexpected. And then there was the cobbles…. streets and streets of cobbles…WHY!

Miles 7 and 8 got harder. As I ran back over Tower Bridge at mile 7, I could feel the previous days miles catching up with me. I forced a smile out (well I did enjoy the bridge to be fair…) but I knew the wheels were falling right off.

I wanted to stop. I had to take a cup of Lucozade to try and get some sort of energy going. I drank water at each station too, and walked while drinking – something I never do in a race. I stopped to stretch out a couple of times and I walked to video and chat to Andy. I hugged people. I stopped for hugs.

Mile 8 I watched a girl fully cut a massive corner – to which I commented quietly, “cheater!” – as I did so a guy pulled up to my shoulder and laughed – I turned and it was only Kieron! (@anxious_to_ultra) He was knackered too and stuck with me over the next mile and a bit and tried to encourage me.

I think the photos below were around 6.2  miles, when I nearly missed the mat because I was up on the pavement trying to avoid all the cobbles. I dashed back and then realised there was the photographer! If looks could kill…

I looked at my watch and i knew a p.b had slipped out of reach, I was on for 1.44.56, and there was no way I could push harder. My motor was full throttle. I stopped to stretch my calves and Kieron carried on.

Mile 8,9,10 passed by in a dull blur, the only hilight seeing Laura (@murraylaura) and her calling out my name for encouragement.

My splits were dropping hard and I was now averaging 8.45 ish, my new goal was to smash the last 5k and get a sub 1.50, I couldn’t do worse than that.

I came around past Becca (@redfaced_runner) and Lizzie (@lillybet.runs.alot) and the cheer squad, and ran over for a much needed hug and encouraging word. These guys seriously, they mean everything in these race situations and I am forever grateful for their cheering skills and willingness to freeze their butts off to cheer for other people!

Then as I left mile 12, I saw my Martha again. As i approached her i shouted “I HATE RUNNING!”. I felt like total crap. Then Martha said “Daryl’s just ahead of you!” – er what? Daryl (@run_daryl_run) is super quick – his Piriformis was playing up again and he was agonisingly pushing on to the finish. Martha ran down the road with me for a little bit, then we realised the official photographer was taking our picture! So funny. We got to run together after all!

I knew my sweet little family were waiting for me just by the finish line and i’d had my instruction of where to look. I clocked them and gave my kids a kiss, and then carried it on the last 100m to the finish line underneath the Cutty Sark, obviously prioritising coverage for the ‘gram!

I followed the crowds and wandered around to get my medal and goody bag, then met my family at the festival in Greenwich Park. I like that there is something to do at the end, but it’s always super hard to get any signal to message anyone in those places. It was really cold too, so we met Daryl and Martha to say goodbye and then walked back across Blackheath to where our car was parked.

Oh, by the way, I managed a mile pb! FINALLY a sub 7 minute mile!

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In conclusion, I enjoyed this race for the most part. I wasn’t too bothered about the route but thats probably due to the fact I was struggling so much, so it wasn’t on my radar too much! I enjoyed the smattering of crowds and seeing so many people I knew, and despite the pain on the day, I’m looking back with fondness on my pics. So it can’t have been that bad.

Just like childbirth….

 

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London Winter Run 2018 (Part 2 – the bit with actual running)

Off went the Klaxon, the familiar surge of bodies moved forward, and with the usual start of a large London race, there was a decent bit of waving and kerb jumping for most of the first 2 miles.

I started to move out of the pack as much as I could, trying to stick to the side and follow others also clearly concerned about getting a specific time. I do get frustrated with the fact you can put any goal finish time in when you register, which obviously results in faster people tripping over slower people who have been over optimistic and therefore placed in the wrong wave.

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2017 medal, 2018 (temporary) medal *see below

My aim was anything lower than my current (in training) 10k PB of 46.59, but I was pushing to see if I could get anywhere near the magical 45 minute mark (which would mean 7.10-7.20 min miles). I’d managed that for 5k but wasn’t convinced i’d hold that pace for 6.2.

After the first mile of trying to break free (7.31) I knew i’d have to make up the time, and to be honest, I thought i’d lost 45 right there, so I moved my goalposts to as near 46 as I could.

The second mile I managed to make up some time and ticked over at 7.14, but I was starting to flake already. URGHH! I knew there would be moments when I doubted myself but I wasn’t expecting them to start so soon into the race…

Mile 3 dipped again, and I found I was in a pattern that continued for the whole way (which later on realised was linked to the elevation of the course!). 7.42 this time. I started to wonder if I was going to back off, but each time I got a slower mile, I pushed harder on the next one. I would constantly go through a checklist – I do this when i’m pushing myself, runners logic or whatever. But I will go through a checklist;

  1. Is my breathing ok?
  2. Are my legs feeling ok?
  3. Is anything else jeopardising how I feel right now?

And then I work through that list and reason it out. E.g, if my breathing is laboured, but my legs feel fine, my mind is in a good place etc, I know to work on my breathing and calm it back down into a pattern I can cope with. And if ALL things have gone to crap, well, i’ve not ever got there…yet!

Mile 4. A guy dressed in a santa hat, placed over a certain part, and some weird thong contraption, ran past. Bizarre and probably absolutely freezing… but it clearly motivated me to get myself going too, as I pushed back to a 7.17.

Mile 5 – struggling again… at that point, my shoulders had completely ceased up. I think a combination of starting to lift weights and being active over the weekend had made my shoulders spasm, and I was in so much pain. I was just praying they’d ease off, but it took a good mile. The whole mile I thought about, and actually nearly stopped. 7.40.

Mile 6. Gave myself a little pep talk (along with muttering some other choice words about my feelings towards the effort I was exerting) and decided to go full in. I had under 2 miles to go, and there was still time for me to get a PB, even if it was a few seconds.

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Finish line sunshine!

I checked my watch and realised I was actually very close to getting JUST sub 46, but I just couldn’t get any more effort out. I was maxing out.

On the Strand I knew Becca and the others would be there waiting with signs and cowbells and I used that as motivation to push on to them, then I knew it was just around the corner to ending this hell!

Cowbells and cheers digested, I stuck on turbo mode and pushed the last 0.20 of a mile to the finish line, at 6.36 pace, pretty sure it was the longest, furthest 0.20 i’ve ever run, but there it was. PUSH PUSH PUSH to the end. It hurts but it’s nearly OVER!!!

I ran over the finish line and stopped my watch a little after it had ticked over 10k, so my watch shows 46.17, but official time was less (wahoo!) at 46.08.

Medal trio

Martha, Me and Kev

At this point, and on the day, I don’t think I could’ve pushed more. I was tired after helping out at a conference friday/saturday, I had hideous shoulder pain and it was freezing, and in parts, quite gross headwinds. But despite all those factors, I still got a PB.

My actual race PB for a 10k is last year’s Winter Run, which was 50.24. So in a year, i’ve managed to shave a whopping 4 minutes 16 seconds off that time. And I think that is something to be proud of. Imagine if I did that next year? (yeah, not gonna happen… but sub 45?)

 

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*the temporary medal – the medals I was enticed to do the race for, have sparkly enamelling and a snowflake in the centre which spins! When I crossed the finish line, and took this medal it was lovely but I was super disappointed… turns out the medals are stuck in customs, and once released, Winter Run will be sending them out to the participants. So, two medals for the price of one! (i’ll update the post with a picture of the proper one when it arrives).

London Winter Run 2018 (Part 1)

First let me say how much I love this race.

It is organised well and it’s obviously for an incredible cause.

It is also where I first met up with other runners from Instagram, in 2017. I had been active on the gram for around 7 months at this point and still working it all out. I had a message from Becca (@redfaced_runner) saying I was very welcome to come and hang out with her and a group of runners before the race.

I was so excited to have been included in a gang of people, who, as it turns out, had only really just met each other a couple of months previous to that.

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I met Becca (@redfaced_runner), Ian (@ianrunsldn) – who weirdly knows my brother from YEARS ago, James (shoulder_runner), Shellie (@shellie0055), Soph (@soph.dxb), Amy-Lou (@to5kandbeyond), Kieron (@anxious_to_ultra), and Mr Tommy Barber (@barbertronruns) who made me feel so welcome and part of the group. Happy one year anniversary you lot!

Last year I thoroughly enjoyed myself, so I rebooked for this year – promptly after seeing what the medal was like… (oh my gosh, spinning sparkly snowflake centre? YES PLEASE!)

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I rocked up to Trafalgar square, after parking in Vauxhall, and jogging in 2 miles for a warm up (I had 11 miles on the marathon plan so I was squeezing them in around the race too) – to be greeted by a squealing Becca with THAT sign, now famous in races all around the land, and the most wonderful hug. LOVE THAT WOMAN. Why we still do not have a picture together though, is nothing short of ridiculous…

We were then joined by Martha and Kev, who i’d met at the Beachy Head 10k/Marathon after (s)talking on ig. Kev then channelled his inner femininity after Becca donated her bib to him.

We popped in to the cafe and were greeted by a million other runners and grammers, some who I knew and some I needed to meet!

Can’t remember all but it was lovely to briefly see Amy-Lou (@to5kandbeyond), to FINALLY meet Jim (@jimgandon26.2), Derrick (@derrickgoesrunning – who I met last month at the first Scrambled Legs and Bacon run, in Kent), Ian, Georgina (@fitcetera), Lizzie (@lillybet.runs.alot) who I ADORE, Laura (@laurajbrine) and probably loads others, sorry.

Martha, Kev and I left the cafe for bag drop, and were joined by a new friend, Suzie (@suzieliveshealthy). We dropped bags, and made our way to the snowmen, which was a BIG deal for Martha as she hates any type of mask… but she sucked it up and we took this epic picture…

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There were some warm ups, and then the coloured waves were asked to walk round to the starting line, where there were foam snow cannons and people dressed as penguins and stuff like that…

We jumped about, trying to stay warm, feeling eager to get on with it and get some blood moving around our freezing bodies. The other three stuck together, but I was on a pb mission, so I was ready to get going. Waiting made me feel more nervous about doing it…

One amazing thing about Cancer Research is that it humbles you, and reminds you why people are there. There are many (myself included) who would be doing this race just for training/medal/fun but not necessarily raising money for CRUK, or indeed MIGHT not give much thought to the reason behind an event like this with all the excitement and grandeur that a race this size brings.

So, at the start when everyone is lined up, I love that they bring everyones attention to those who have fundraised, those who know someone battling cancer (pretty much all arms in the air) and those who were racing who are battling cancer right NOW.

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We were ready to go, all that was left was the 3,2,1…

 

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Run Up To Christmas

In my past experience of running, I would always have stopped come November. It got too cold, too wet, too windy… I was the epitome of a fair weather runner. But November 2016, something felt different. Like I could stick it out. But I needed a challenge.

I found out about the ‘Marcothon’, a run every day challenge throughout December, with the only rules that whether slow or fast, it HAD to be 3 miles or 25 mins, whatever came first. If you missed a day, you’re out. Well to me that’s a challenge and I LOVE to compete with myself so it was a brilliant incentive to keep pushing through December.

Turns out, December is actually a bloody awesome month to run in. I was treated with gorgeous orange sunrises and sunsets, crisp air and peaceful sunny but icy runs.

I. LOVED. IT! I even got a 5k and 1 mile p.b on Christmas Day!

Fast forward to November 2017, and I found myself looking to do the same sort of challenge. When who should come along but Clare and Kev. After a huge success in the summer with ‘Marathon in a day’, a challenge where runners were asked to cover the whole 26.2, however they wanted to break it down, over a 24 hour period. Part of the proceeds went to Mind, which is a charity very close to my heart.

Read more about it HERE

Sadly I missed the boat for this one as I had other commitments, but as soon as they announced they were doing another virtual challenge, I was all in.

I knew I wanted to use Run Up To Christmas to push me on, and having completed 120 miles the previous December, that was my target to beat. I took great motivation from my friend Katie Ekins, who decided to go for the highest target, 250k, from 1st-25th December. I decided i’d give it a go, knowing it was an average of 6 miles a day…

I had a massive mileage base though, having completed a lot of distance runs throughout 2017, I figured i’d go for it and see where we got to. I could always drop to the 150, 100, 50k goals if it went tits up.

December looked so different this year. I was running further, better, stronger, and best of all, with friends. Instagram has made me so many friendships through running, and although most don’t live close by, once you’ve run an ultra with someone, they’re in your life forever…

I ran with dogs, I ran 20 miles in thick mist, I ran my 1000th mile for the year, I ran up and down the South Downs with new friends, I ran Parkrun and a 10 mile race with my favourite running couple and I took a whole load of selfies and watch shots to boot.

I completed the 250k on the 24th December.

I ended up rounding my miles up to 185, the furthest monthly miles i’ve ever done. I had my highest weekly mileage too, something between 50-55 miles. And the best part… I didn’t injure myself!

I’ve already signed up for 2018. And if you get on it quick, you can pay last year’s prices still. You get a kick-ass medal, with a ribbon corresponding to your distance, oh AND people can donate km’s they’ve run, to you, if you don’t quite meet your goal. Isn’t that incredible?

If you find it hard to stay inspired through the winter, find a challenge (there are plenty around) – RU2C is a safe bet, it donates to Mind, and we all know how much running helps the mind, right?

 

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The First One

It’s never easy is it, starting something new.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll have a great idea for something new and exciting, and then go to actually birth the idea into life, and BAM! crisis hits.

What is it about moving into new territory that has us so fearful?

Fear of failure, I suppose.

In a society where social approval is becoming part of our DNA, it’s hard to do anything without the critique of friends and strangers a like.

So i’ve decided this year, to start a blog. I’ve blogged before, as part of my day job as a children’s book illustrator, but career stuff has been hard lately, and following a large period of time wrestling (and still wrestling) with Post Natal Depression, I turned to running to give me hope and purpose.

It did. It does.

You may have joined this blog because you follow along on my instagram, which I LOVE; but I also want to be able to process further, speak for longer and ponder more deeply, about this free* sport that has captured my heart, body and mind.

 

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*definitely not free!

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