HEINEKEN Race to the Tower, 2018.

Seriously, grab a cuppa and a teacake. This is a long one…

I live in East Kent. The ‘Garden of England’ and possibly one of the flattest places in England too. You can see for miles. On a clear day, you can even see France.

The Cotswolds. Probably one of the hilliest undulating places in the UK. At it’s highest point (Cleeve Hill which, yes, we climbed) it reaches an elevation of 1,083 ft (330 m), just to the north of Cheltenham. We apparently could look out over 6 counties on top of the many, many hills we climbed. I spent most of that time a-top a mountain, trying to regain consciousness in the 23 degree heat (yes we’re not used to the heat over here).

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HEINEKEN Race to the Tower, is the first in the Threshold Sports ultra calendar, but it is the newest of the three, only in its second year (2017). Considering that fact, the event seemed teeming with excitable and slightly nutty people, looking for a new challenge, or just grinding out another long distance run on the casual.

The thing I love the most about the Threshold events, is the diversity of the people it attracts. Ultra distances are still more of a niche than say a marathon, although it is coming up in the popularity stakes, but the clientele was broad. With the opportunity to do different weekend packages, you can take on the ultra distance in one go, over 2 days, or opt for one of the days, and complete a trail marathon. There are people in their early twenties looking for a challenge, people raising money for charity, ladies with calves the size of my head who CLEARLY do this sort of thing every weekend, power walkers with poles and backpacks, crazy fast runners (A woman won this year, the first woman winner of a Threshold event, she did it in 8hrs 56!) . Despite the different approaches to how you tackle it, everyone has the same ascents and descents to navigate, and everyone gets the same views to enjoy. And that sort of thing brings you together with the strangers around you. Naturally you sort of end up in a pack, where you play the overtaking game, sometimes for the entire distance with the same people!

So, let me get on with bringing you into my race day!

Hannah and I were staying nearby in Stroud, so we had a nice short journey to the start, after travelling up from Kent on the Friday night. This was really nice being so close to the start, as it took a lot of pre race morning stress away. I woke up at 6 and re packed my Salomon hydration vest with what i’d need. We were in a very fortunate position as Sarah’s boyfriend, Tom, was going to be following us along the route, with extra things we’d need. This meant I was able to take some of the weight from my bag and put stuff in the car with him. Things I wouldn’t need all the time like extra Trek bars, a change of socks and shoes, suncream, and head torches*

*more on that is a little while!

I scoffed down a customary bagel, filled my soft flasks, one with water, one with Tailwind, and we bundled into the car, all excited and nervous.

We turned up and everything was pretty casual – the way I like it at a race. I had a courtesy toilet visit, chatted with some friends and gave all our extra stuff over to Tom for the crew car. Andy presented us with a nice fat donut, which I popped in my drop bag (and then took 2 days to eat it…)

We were enjoying chatting so much, the noise of the briefing and the next wave starting was just background noise. Until Andy pointed out it was in fact, OUR WAVE.

We said Goodbyes/Good lucks, and ran into the back of the pen, as the MC counted down 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… No time to think about it, we were off!

Marathon One.

When you start a race like this, maybe it’s slight hysteria or nerves being released (and I remember it being the same when we started Race to the Stones last year) but you can’t help but laugh and goof around. It’s like all the nervous energy releasing from your body, and we spent the first few miles chatting with other slightly nervous excitable people, and being silly. There was a photographer just after mile 1, so at least we got one really fresh picture…

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The first 4 miles are up and down, and my calves started to burn. ‘I am not used to this’… I started to wonder if my calves would systematically explode during the course of the race; I was feeling okay about the inclines but also very aware that this was only the very start.

We were already being treated to incredible views, hills all around, valleys and lush greens everywhere you looked. You really can’t fault the view. For all the horrible climbs (and there are some EVIL ones) you are always rewarded with the most breathtaking scenery, which for me, made it all worthwhile.

Pit Stop 1 was only 5.6 miles in. There was only one big climb to get there, which took you through a gorgeous little Cotswold village and lots to distract you with, so it came around pretty quickly. I was excited to get back to my first check point, with all the wonderful memories of last year, I couldn’t wait for the girls to have their first experiences. We didn’t plan on staying there for long. Grab some food, post an insta story and do a wee.

I noticed that we had picked up some guys to play overtaking with, and it just happened to be Chris from Threshold. We joked about how we felt about the hills, and he showed me his elevation transfer tattoo (which i’d missed at the start due to not being a professional ultra runner and being a professional procrastinator) – to which we decided we were idiots and if we were already feeling it in the calves, how would we make it through those SIX enormous climbs?!

The next portion of the course was relatively ‘flat’ but it was quite a long stage, at 8.2 miles in distance. We encountered our first style to climb over, and joked about the amount of gates and styles we would encounter across the 53 miles (160 by the way). There were a few technical down hill sections in this part, for which I was grateful to have chosen trail hybrid shoes. I wore the Salomon Sense Rides for the first marathon, and the Brooks Cascadia 12’s for the second. We also ran past the bottom of that famous Cheese rolling hill, Cooper’s Hill in Brockworth. To be honest, I wouldn’t chase a cheese down it and you can see why so many people break things falling down it. I for one was glad to pass at the foot and not scale the thing!

We rolled into Pit stop 2 and I needed to check my feet. They were fine when we were climbing but as soon as we started to descend the hills, my feet felt sore, and I wanted to check for hotspots before anything blistery (it’s a word) happened. I stuck a plaster on the sore side, although nothing was visible. My feet were definitely feeling the elevation, not used to the repeated impact of meeting the toe box or the friction from the angle my foot was at for the decents. I wasn’t surprised they were feeling a little tender. We’d travelled 13.9 miles at this point, so were a quarter of the way through the distance. With only 4.7 miles to the next pit, we pushed on quickly, not realising the horrors that awaited us in just a few paces.

We’d decided for this next section we would have our music in to break it up a bit and i’m so glad we did. I needed the motivation. We passed under the motorway, and passed some farms and eventually crossed a road to meet what was like a single woodland footpath. The first incline (well it was one BIG incline for 2 miles, split into 3 sections) was a shocker. Soft dirt underfoot, surrounded by trees and bushes, like an overgrown alleyway. However this particular path (the climb up Crickly Hill) had an incline of 879ft over a couple of miles. Now I don’t know if that means anything to you, but it was STEEP. People were pulling to the side of this death alleyway for a breather, hands pushing down on thighs just for some extra power up. This is where those walkers and their poles came into their own. Boy I envied the poles…

I haven’t even mentioned that it was like a jungle in there. The temperature was in the early 20’s, but in that single file, claustrophobic environment, it felt like 40. The only way up was to keep putting one foot in front of the other, despite feeling like you weren’t making any progress at all. My quads were burning and I could feel the sweat dripping off my face. FINALLY we made it out, and took a nice, deep, breath.

Only to turn the corner to find another steep incline, and then another.

As I said earlier, the saving grace from these awful awful ups, is the view you are rewarded with once it’s over. Not one person came out of that ascent without taking precious time to drink in the view.

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Pit stop 3 was the other side of the hill, so we jogged down to it, enjoying some distance at a nice running pace. Tom was meeting us around here, so Sarah refuelled and then ran on to find him, while Han and I devoured the watermelon! Oh sweet juicy goodness. It tasted SO GOOD. There were also a couple of Threshold people with water spritzers and I enjoyed having a bit of cool water sprayed over my head. Not sure it actually helped but it was temporary relief from the heat.

I just want to stop and say a big shoutout to the Threshold volunteers. I cannot fault them. They were all friendly, helpful, quick to help out like show you where things were or offer to take a picture for you (obviously VERY important) and I think that is part of what makes them such a good organisation. I don’t know where they find these people but I want to hire some myself.

The next stop would be base camp. We left the check point and carried on over the next 7.5 miles of ups and downs. One really big down, and one last up before we could grab some food, a breather and change clothes/socks/shoes etc.

I made a fatal error at this point. I’d grabbed a little Freddo, and 2 miles in, decided i’d eat it. This was just the wrong decision for me, and as soon as he hit my stomach, it leapt into action, alerting me to the fact it had some stuff it needed to get rid of.

Like NOW.

Desperately I scanned the landscape for somewhere to duck in, I looked at my watch and worked out that we still had 6 miles to go to basecamp and quite frankly, I wasn’t going to make that. Trapped behind a line of walkers through an open field, i begged them in my head to ‘hurry the hell up’.

I ran round them, and shouted back to the girls with panic “I’ve got to GOOOO!”. I ducked into dense enough woodland to be incognito, but still able to see the road and the trail of people plodding up yet another steep inline, and questioned what on earth I was doing with my life. Well I guess there’s a first time for everything, and if it’s good enough for bears, it’s good enough for me.

Something happened as we hit 22 miles, and I just had a bit of a temper tantrum. Maybe it was ‘Bear-gate’ that had knocked my confidence (although much relief was had by it!) but I was hot and my feet hurt and i’d started to think about the fact I had no-one waiting for me at the end of this race. I had a little rant on ig stories, and just got on with it. Anyway, there’s no way i’d have made it to the end with that attitude. I set my mind on climbing the last hill to base camp, until we heard the loudspeaker and cheers for runners coming in, or finishing their races.

We ran in together and then split off to do the bits we needed to do, as quick as we were able. I changed my socks and top, and put my Brooks Cascadia’s on. I needed a wider toe box and they actually made a big difference. I also taped up my instep with a compeed, but wrapped round my foot with a layer of K tape to hold it in place. This worked so well and I didn’t have any other issues with my instep the rest of the day.

HEINEKEN Race to the Tower 2018 by Pic2Go UK 14:46:37

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The food in basecamp wasn’t to my liking (in fact probably the only downside of the whole event. Whether we were too early for some of the food or for some other reason, this was the only thing that let the side down.) I wasn’t fussed as I only wanted a Trek bar anyway! so I went off and had a little bit of a foam roll, a trip to the loo, and we were good to go once more.

One marathon down, one to go.

 

Marathon Two.

My first mistake on leaving basecamp, was mis-reading the distance to go until the next pit stop.

At this stage, it’s literally life or death to me to know how far between each station. It becomes less of a physical challenge and much more of a mind game.

This is where, potentially, I let those little demons in my head, tell me i’m gonna get sick and have to stop. I read the distance to the next stop as being 6.6 miles. I read it wrong, and it was actually 5.7. This should be a good thing as we’d reach the stop sooner than expected. The funny thing is, at this point, every mile feels like a rather long time, and unfortunately we missed a marker arrow just after we’d left basecamp. We ended up doing an extra mile or so and an extra incline to kick off our second half!

The fact i’d read and processed there were three more sections, and then finding out I still had three to go, was a little stressful. Reader, note that from this point on, things get ridiculous, childish and totally unreasonable. Much like this incredible article I read the other day. (please read it if you’ve ever run or are considering running an ultra. It’s so true!) ‘Ultra runners vs Toddlers’

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I’d warned the girls that i’d probably get a bit cranky once I was tired, and to just keep short accounts with each other. We had a couple of disagreements on the way but we sorted them out. We had all started to feel the mileage and were dealing with things in our own ways. The landscape had stretched out at this point and we ran for a few miles across rolling hills, past locals who were so supportive, past sheep napping in any cool spots they could find, and yes, still hobbling it over styles and through A MILLION GATES (which by now, was getting pretty boring).

As we came into Pit stop 5, 31 miles in, we worked out timings and tried to do some maths based on how much ground we were covering and when we might expect to get to the finish. If there’s one thing I know about running an ultra, it’s that I have no idea how my body will respond, and certainly I didn’t know how it would respond to an extra 22 miles from this point in. This was officially the furthest i’d EVER gone. We were a mile or two ahead of the course markers thanks to our detour, so it was a constant mind battle to remember we were further than the signs were telling us. Sometimes this felt really hard to take, and it was a mental battle to carry on past those signs, knowing we were ahead.

Our next worry was that we hadn’t picked up our head torches from Tom, and now it was looking more likely we would need them before we met him around the 50 mile marker. This threw up a bit of anxiety, but thankfully Tom was able to come and meet us earlier on the route, and basically saved the day!

On the way out of Pit stop 5, we were treated to another steep section, weaving us through woodland, and up a very steep path which twisted back on itself three or four times. I had to be careful where I was stepping as the tiredness was making me feel a little unstable and a wrong footing up there would have been rather unfortunate.

A speed walker who we had been doing the Do Si Do with, strode up the hill past us with his massive backpack, and I asked in disbelief how on earth he was doing it. He mumbled something back and disappeared off again. Until next time, giant walker man!

We had agreed to meet Tom around 36 miles, so we could pick up our head torches. Sarah and Hannah had been running together for a while (this is what seems to happen for 3’s – and what happened with Daryl, Martha and I last year, you just swap places about) while I had dropped back to have a little space. We did what we needed to do from the boot of the car, and I told the girls I needed to keep moving. What I really needed was 5-10 mins alone to regain control of my feelings. I was thinking more and more about the finish line. Seeing Sarah with Tom along the route, and knowing Han would have her partner at the end, made me feel super gutted that this time round, my family weren’t going to be there to see me in.

I carried on up the route at a walk, and took a moment to scoff down another Trek bar. I knew it was important to keep up my energy with some food, as at this stage it’s easy to start feeling pretty sick. What i’ve not mentioned is the Tailwind. What a game changer! I bought the stick pack, so it was easy to top up (every 10 miles I would refresh with a new stick and water) and I would alternate between a big lug of tailwind and plain water. It worked perfectly and I didn’t cramp up or feel sick the whole time. I really rate it. And it’s kind on the stomach.

We passed Sudbury Castle (ish), through a field of cows, with a Bull right in the middle of the herd. They were literally across our path so we sidestepped very carefully, praying this wouldn’t be how we ended our day! More fields that felt like they went on for ever, at this point everything hurt. Shoulders, feet, knees, brain, heart! I was tired and bored of fields. Clearly the organisers knew this is how we’d be feeling as we came up on this sign…

Pit stop 6 came and went, same old routine, new water, loo stop, check in with the girls and on we’d go. Now the sun was setting and there was a haze across the sky. It really was beautiful. One thing I really love about being out for a whole day, is getting to experience outside at all times of the day.

We were also grateful for the drop in temperature, which gave me a little bit of a boost.

We climbed another two incredibly steep inclines. One in silence, the second with another guy we’d picked up halfway up said hill. We walked and ran with him for a couple of miles, which was so good because it was quite a long stage, 8.6 miles, so to have someone else in the group perked us up a bit. We watched the sun setting from the top of the second hill, everything now bathed in an orange tint, the last bit of warmth from the day disappearing. I suddenly realised JUST how long we’d been on our feet.

We put our now much needed head torches on our heads, and left Pit stop 7. The next time we stopped would be the finish, but not before one last ridiculous climb.

We tried to run as much of the next 5.3 miles as we could, just to get it done. Things looked so different in the dark, and it was now getting pretty chilly. We needed to keep moving from that aspect alone. I’ve not really run in the dark. Not like this anyway, but knowing a few friends were finishing around us, it felt ok, like it was just one last big slog together, despite there being no-one really around.

I didn’t enjoy the tunnel vision I got from following my head torch, I could only see the girls’ legs in front of me, and I was really conscious of where I was placing my feet. A turned ankle at this point was not on the agenda. I also hated the fact that the moths and midges and whatever else kept flying into my torch and face, and also that we had to run through some spooky looking woods and cornfields. I have a rather overactive imagination so I was grateful it didn’t seem capable at this point, of imagining my very grizzly demise…

When we ticked over to 50 miles, it was sort of a bizarre feeling. It was such a big distance I couldn’t really process that we’d come that far. I still can’t really.

‘Fif-ty miles’ I said to myself. ‘FIFTY! That’s ridiculous…’

We came out into the town of Broadway. Walking, running, dragging our feet and trying not to trip over or vomit, tiredness was in full force. We wanted it to be over and this town seemed to go on for ever. The one redeeming factor was people outside the pubs cheered as you ran past on the other side, and it was the most wonderful thing to hear “Keep going! You’re amazing!” or “well done!”… doesn’t read like much but it was everything at that time. We had less than 2 miles to finish this thing.

We knew there was this one last evil climb, and when we finally got to it, boy it did not disappoint.  2 miles and 313 meters up to the Broadway Tower. In the dark. With sheeps’ eyes reflecting all around you (it’s weird). That hill, in the dark, it went on for an entire lifetime. We feebly kept encouraging each other to carry on, met with a mix of emotions at each statement. One moment i’d be happy for the encouragement, the next I just wanted to just ignore the fact that we still. weren’t. there.

A few more gates for good measure, a set of stairs, and the Tower popped out from the horizon, all lit up in green, like something out of the Wizard of Oz.

Once again, we could hear cheers, and the announcer welcoming people to the end. It was so close! Sarah called to us and said let’s run! – my response was “I can’t!”. But Han reached her hand back to me, “Come on Sweetheart!”

I grabbed it and started to run. What we didn’t realise was that about 15 seconds into this  triumphant last dash to the finish line, THERE WAS ONE MORE GATE! 160!

160 styles and gates.

8,042ft elevation gain.

14 hours, 54 minutes, 53 seconds.

53.77 miles.

Fumbling our way through the gate, we grabbed hands again, and used the last fragments of energy we had to run ourselves, together, over that finish line!

We’d made it.

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And we all had our own way of responding to that finish…

As I said, I had no family at the end. I had a few hugs from people I knew running, and the girls, but it was really hard that my husband and kids weren’t there. (ps this is not a guilt trip to them in any way!) so as the girls were with their partners, I wandered off to find my bag, because all I wanted was my Oofos! At least my feet got a nice hug.

I think i’ll leave it to another post to talk through what I DO post ultra, but in short, and emotionally; right there in that moment I guess I just felt numb. Like I couldn’t quite believe what i’d done. The magnitude of something like this is hard to process, and now, 5 days on, i’m still struggling with doing so. I suppose when you leave your comfort zone to do something beyond yourself, it leaves you slightly beyond mentally, too.

I hoped writing this blog post would be cathartic, and bring some release, but i’m still waiting…perhaps my emotions are still back at mile 36.

They’ll catch up.

sign-off

 

You can register interest for Race to the Tower, 2019, HERE. Entries open on September 5th, 2018.

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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!

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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. 

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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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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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