ASICS Frontrunner, Uncategorized

There’s Always Room To Dream

The last week has been an unbelievable whirlwind. The kind of week where when I think about it, I do a little head shake in disbelief.

Take it back to January. ASICS opened their 2018 frontrunner applications to find new members to join their existing inspirational frontrunners. Of course, I applied. How could I not. I remember submitting my application, shaking. I really wanted this. I really wanted to be part of such a positive, encouraging network of people. I wanted to be inspiring, like the frontrunners I had followed and watched as their journeys progressed. Immediately I tried to forget about it. As the days and weeks passed I could see so many wonderful people from all backgrounds had applied. So many others wanted the opportunity just as much as I did.

Imagine my complete shock when I received an email to say I had been successful. Out of 4600 applications, I had been chosen as one of the 26 new members. I screamed, I read the email over and over. My eldest daughter squealed in delight as I read it to her. She squeezed me with an almighty bear hug around the waist, her face completely lit up and told me she was so proud of me. My husband was proud of me. The youngest two, just wanted a treat, trying to take advantage of the excitement!

I’ve never thought of myself as inspirational. I’ve never really thought of myself as anything other than just getting on with it, sharing as I go. Maybe encouraging. I will always try and encourage anyone to just try. Try it once. Try it twice… just to make sure. I’m ridiculously positive. I do know that. I truly believe that there is a positive in everything if you look for it. I’ve been through some almighty soul crushing moments in my life. I’ve lost a child, something no mother should ever experience. I have a serious condition which has the potential to be life threatening on a daily basis, and will no doubt lead to life changing complications in my old age. I’ve made mistakes left, right and centre…. but generally I learn from them. Even whilst doing the three peaks challenge solo and breaking my wrist on the first mountain, I still remained positive, and managed to still complete the challenge in 22 hours before heading to A&E. I wouldn’t advise climbing Snowdon in the dark solo with a broken wrist however.

I’m relatively new to running. Two years. I didn’t really start taking it more seriously until last year even, when I stared training for London Marathon! But I’ve been hooked since. I love everything about it, I love learning about it, expanding my knowledge, learning from others, sharing with others. And whilst I was sat in a conference room in Birmingham this weekend, meeting fellow ASICS frontrunner team members for the first time, I realised this was just what this team meant. People from all walks of life here to share, encourage and promote running. Not just for frontrunners, but for anyone. Everyone. It was an exhilarating feeling being surrounded by so many motivational, inspirational people. Not one of us were the same. We all have something different to offer. There may be similarities, some of us like marathons, some ultras. Some triathlons, some a bit of everything. New runners, experienced. Old and young. But we are all individual. A diverse group bringing our individuality together, to get moving. To encourage. To support.

I left Birmingham, happy. Invigorated. I left feeling part of something special. I am beyond excited to see where my journey goes this year. And yes, I’m still going for that GFA. That’s my goal, because I don’t like being told I can’t achieve something. No one should ever listen to that.

“Don’t limit your challenges, challenge your limits”

Paris Marathon Training

A Positive February Flop

Well, the last three weeks (pretty much the whole of February) hasn’t gone to plan. Very much off plan. Plan, has not been life.

The wheels first came off with a hip niggle that was fine to run with, until I took part in another trail night race. Although a fantastic race, the uneven ground, mud, tree roots and almost waist high ‘water features’ left me a hobbling mess. To be precise, running across a field with a severe camber…. really finished me off. Unfortunately this was at the beginning of the race, which left 5 miles of hobble. I’ve no doubt this would of been fine had I not had the underlying hip niggle. Lesson learned. Don’t tough it out.

To add insult to injury I then developed a horrible ‘flu type virus’ that absolutely wiped me out for the best part of two weeks. Joint aches and pains, and absolute exhaustion. Horrible.

Not quite over any of the above I then decided it would be a great idea to tough it out at Llanelli half marathon. I’d heard it was such a lovely route, along the coast, nice and flat. Part of me maybe even thought I could sweat out the remaining bit of flu. In case you haven’t realised by now, my great ideas are normally ridiculously stupid. It was the most painful race I’ve ever run, and that’s saying something after my horrid London Marathon last year. The first few miles flew by, but then it hit me. Every bit of me screamed and hurt. The big flu telling me I’m a fool. The hip, groin and quad all telling me I’m a dick, and this is payback. Run, walk or crawl resonated in my head….. the crawling so appealing. As it was, it was a slug shuffle at best to a 2:08:55 finish.

There is something about ‘runners’ that will keep us from admitting to ourselves that we need to slow down. We need to take care of ourselves. We will hit the training sessions hard, give it all. Obsess over plans, paces. Do all the research, how do I become faster, how can I go further, how can I get stronger? Yet when injury or illness comes knocking on the door, we try to fight it. Work around it, just keep on going. We very rarely, listen. One of the hardest parts is acknowledging and accepting there is a problem. That actually, you need to take a step back. For me, admitting there is a problem has meant admitting there’s a weakness. That I’m failing. Who likes to say that out loud? In fact, who wants to admit they may not be able to run for a while?

But by acknowledging a problem before it explodes, you can take positive steps to correct it. Accepting you have a problem, gives you a priceless peace of mind. There’s an issue, but it’s ok! We are all works in progress, from the runner just starting out to seasoned ultra marathoners. It would be a very rare thing to find a person immune to injury and illness. It happens. It’s normal. I’ve tried to retain a positive attitude during the last few weeks, and done my best to be proactive once I realised that I had to stop. I’ve done the resting, the cross training, all of the stretching and strengthening that was lacking previously. I’ve visited the sports therapist, and necked vitamins. I’ve stayed away from Dr Google (once a professional had informed me of the problem…..before that I was most definitely heading for a chopped off leg) Just tried to be patient and ride it out. I’ve accepted that this is a big dent in the marathon training, and that actually I will need to adapt my goals for the 8th April. 6 weeks to go and I’m just happy to be able to do a few miles. To be able to build up some base mileage again, whilst paying attention to my body. Hopefully normal service has resumed. If not, well I’ll keep working at it until it has.

So here’s to running, run happy, run short, run long…..but most of all listen to that body of yours.

Paris Marathon Training, Uncategorized

Don’t expect it to be perfect. It won’t be.

Marathon plans. You write them, colour code them, print them. Dutifully tick off training sessions, swap them around, do everything in your power to not miss a session…. because we all know when you do, the feelings of guilt and failure come in. Which in itself is ridiculous, missing a few sessions will not ruin the rest of the hard work! There’s something about a ‘plan’ that means even when a leg is hanging off, or you can’t move your head without a needing a whole pack of Kleenex shoved up your nose, you will still try and stick to it. But reality Is, that I know of no one who hits every session, who has had the smooth perfect training cycle for a marathon. There are far to many external factors, there’s life. And doesn’t that like to throw a spanner in the works!

Week 4

Well the luck bucket seemed to have half emptied for the last two weeks of training. Not so much running wise, that’s been pretty good, apart from the standard tired legs.

Week 4 was supposed to end in a half marathon race plus a bit extra to make up my long run. Since most of my long runs are solo affairs, I’ve booked events with the aim of going steady and at least having some company to break up those long slogs. The event was the Windsor winter half marathon, held by F3 events at Dorney Lake, a 2 hour 30 minute drive from me, but hey…. would be worth it for a ‘flat and fast course’ and a bit of bling.

Well that wasn’t to be. After dutifully doing my bit and driving to the event, I was then met with a huge queue of traffic. Standstill less than 2 miles from the car park. As race time approached I realised it would be touch and go if I would make it! Then I received a message to say the half marathon had been cancelled and downgraded to a 5k or 10k. I was sat stuck in traffic to get into a car park of a cancelled event. Wonderful. As the original race time came and went I turned the car around, with a fair few choice words and began the long trudge Home. By the time I got home I was tired. A near enough 6 hour round trip (thanks to weather and traffic) a Burger King stop and numerous costas weighed heavy! Still, there was a long run to do, so I headed straight out to get it done before I could think about how much I wanted the sofa and comfy clothes!! 16.5 miles later, soaked to the bone the job was done. And actually the rubbish fuelling and lengthy car journey didn’t have too much of an impact. Mentally it was tough.

Week 4 total – 43 miles

Week 5

Pretty uneventful…. until again, the long run curse! First of I’ve broken my hydration pack. To be fair, for only a cheap one it’s done it’s fair share of work. I’m currently researching hydration vests before making another purchase, and will be sure to share the results. So the eve of my long run I decided I would stick to 4.5 mile loops, which went past my house. That way, I could create my own little aid station, therefor saving having to carry a cumbersome water bottle. Friday came, and it was set perfect for my long run…. glorious weather, the older two at school and the toddler at nanny’s for a good few hours. Friday was my day, a weekend of night shifts approaching and the last thing I wanted to squeeze in was a long run on very little sleep. So off I trotted on this perfect day, to come across a dog playing in traffic 4 miles in. I stayed for a while watching it, coaxing it on to the pavement, thinking it would bound into one of the many open gates surrounding me. It didn’t. I started off thinking if I went away it might go in. It didn’t. It just kept picking up twigs and following me on the pavement. Concerned it would start playing chicken with the traffic once more I ran back to the place I had come across it. Still no sign of owner or it wanting to go home. I couldn’t leave it. Luckily I was wearing my spibelt, so off it came to act as a temporary lead in order to take little Houdini back home then to sort finding owners. I didn’t realise quite how much he would pull and my poor Spibelt along with my long run was soon destroyed. It took an hour of waiting outside before pooch was reunited with the most ungrateful owner. Long run ruined, but dog safe and sound. Completely worth it.

On a side note, I had been storying the whole thing on Instagram, and the wonderful people at Spibelt had seen the story, and are sending out a replacement for me! So nice, epic customer service.

Week 5 long run was completed a day later, yesterday. It wasn’t meant to be. I had gotten a few hours sleep following my night shift, had woke up and feasted on cheese scone and coffee before deciding on getting a few miles done. The few miles soon ticked by into 17 miles at an easy pace. I’m thoroughly enjoying catching up on Marathon Talk podcasts at the moment, and I’m sure that contributes to the miles going by when on the longer runs!

Week 5 total – 41 miles

At this point I’m feeling really good with, for me, the high mileage weeks. Whilst training for London Marathon 2017 I ran 100 miles in January. So far this month I have run 171. A huge difference. I was plagued with injuries during London training, never felt quite right. For some strange reason my legs are seemingly loving the higher mileage. I’m not complaining though. Perhaps it’s because I’m more diligent with stretching and strength training. Perhaps because I am sticking with the majority of my miles being easy paced. Whatever it is, long may it continue in February!!

Paris Marathon Training, Uncategorized

Week Three. Who dares, wins.

Week Three of Paris Marathon training has been such a fantastic one, following on from a great week 2, I’m almost too scared to start week 4. It’s been a week of fun, with two very different races completed, and still running every day for the Run Every Day Challenge for the charity Mind.

It’s been a lower mileage week (40 miles) than last week (47 Miles) as technically, following the ‘Advanced Marathoning’ plan it should be a recovery week. Now, I am a little behind on the 16 week plan. More like I just missed the first couple of weeks. December and Christmas lead up happened. We all know what that is like. But since kicking back in to it, I’ve decided to follow with the recovery week as scheduled, so as not to mess with the remaining plan anymore.

This week has consisted of

Monday – 1 Mile warm up (to continue run streak) followed by 40 minutes of HIIT

Tuesday – 8 Miles (general aerobic with 10 x 100m strides

Wednesday – 5 miles (easy)

Thursday – 5.3 miles trail night race

Friday – 5 miles (recovery)

Saturday – 3.1 miles (easy, grass running)

Sunday – 13.1 miles half marathon race (completed at a steady effort)

Sprinkled with core work, strengthening and stretching (a lot of stretching)

The races (side note…. absolutely loved my bib numbers this week. Containing my lucky number 8… winner, winner!)

Race one. Rogue Runs, Beechenhurst night race.

Based in my home stomp of the Forest Of Dean, 5.3 miles of wonderful woodland paths, tracks and bridleways, hills, ankle deep mud and all in the dark of the night? Glorious. Such a fun, wonderfully organised event. When the race director advises at the start line to run is at your own risk, promptly followed by holding up a local newspaper showing a man with the tip of his finger bitten of by our mean looking wild boar residents, you know it’s going to be a good one! There’s something very primal about adventuring in the woods in the black of the night. For someone who has the elegance of a baby elephant wearing roller skates, it was as much as I could do to stay upright during some of the more difficult mountain bike trails. Which seemed to slope off in every angle all at once, covered in tree roots, rocks and mandatory mud. That’s mandatory mud before the actual ‘mud bath’ now that woke me up!

But it was so much fun. It did cross my mind at various points how sensible I wasn’t being considering one wrong step could of resulted in no more spring marathon, but I felt alive. It was fun. And sometimes, that is just what is needed to keep the mind fresh and focused on the relentless marathon training.

Race number two. Gloucester Half Marathon.

Again, another well organised event, with the most friendliest of marshalls! By no means flat. But lovely country lanes for the most part, with some ‘inclines’ I wasn’t expecting much from this one, other than to use it as a training run. Having so far remained unscathed from winter bugs, a lovely breathing restricting but snot flowing cold had come and taken its hold. I tried to keep it easy and relaxed, although I was aware at quite a few points I was working far too hard for that, and had to have a few walk breaks to try and regain some control of my breathing as my chest tightened!

Absolutely over the moon to have walked away an official PB by 12 minutes! This excites me more than I can describe, because it shows me that the hard work is paying off. I’ve taken a gamble doing a high mileage training plan, and so far it’s working wonders. I’ve been questioning all the easy paces, it’s hard not to, but if it’s working….. I need to trust in it a little bit more!

Uncategorized

A good week for the dreams

So last week two huge nuggets of wonderful news happened. Firstly, my awful history of zero ballot luck changed and it was a yes for Chicago Marathon 2018. It’s booked. It’s on. You see, my whole ‘good for age within a year’ kind of hinged on finally getting some ballot luck (there’s some irony there somewhere) due to my last day of the challenge being 7th October 2018. Chicago will be my final chance, on the very last day to obtain GFA. It’s set up perfectly. It would be perfect wouldn’t it, to swan in at the last minute and smash my goal at such an iconic marathon.

However I also don’t have much luck when it comes to something having the capacity of being perfect, and it coming to fruition. Just seems to work out that way. However, just as my ballot luck had to change at some point so does this.

Second bit of news, was a surprise gift from my husband of race entry to Race to The Stones. 100km non stop. All being well, I can also add ultra marathoner to my accomplishments. This makes my belly do all sorts of funny dances, both a mixture of excitement and fear. But I can’t wait for another challenge. It’s food for my soul! In all honesty, one I may not have had the balls to go ahead with, so the much needed gentle push has been very welcome. It’s all or nothing!

So there it is. Next year is firmed up and ready to be tackled head on.

First up though, Paris marathon training is in progress. I have decided to follow an 18 week plan from a wonderful read ‘Advanced Marathoning’ there are so many different plans and training ideas when it comes to marathons. One size does not fit all, and your choice of plan to follow or create is ultimately a very personal choice, a balance between what works for you with life commitments, fitness levels and what your body favours. Some may go for plans based on time, mileage or even just plucking one out of thin air. Having been through two marathon training cycles and trying two different plans, I’m hoping that I’ve learnt enough to be able to say this will work best for me. I shall be doing a separate blog post for this, along with documenting my weekly training. It’s just a little hectic right now, and I’m trying to make it through the festive period without turning into a self combusting turkey. Can’t imagine that would be pretty.

Uncategorized

The November run streak. Two thirds done.

So what’s a girl to do when you’re at a bit of a loose end prior to marathon training schedule starting? I decided run streak! That is running a number of days in a row. Everyday. Minimum 1 Mile. Not naked running. Although this may have been an option to get some speed in the legs for fear of being seen!

There’s a couple of reasons why I am running every day throughout November. I am not very good when there is no structure to my running. I need routine, a plan, a challenge. Something to stop myself from taking the easy option of sofa and a small giants portion of cake. So the small giants portion of cake hasn’t gone, but happily sticking to my run goals for November is there at least.

I also wanted to build up a good aerobic base prior to marathon specific training. To be quite frank, just any base is more than welcome after my complete slow down, almost complete halt following Berlin Marathon.

Finally I wanted to do something for Diabetes Awareness Month that I wouldn’t normally do. It can be hard running with Type 1 Diabetes. It can throw a million and one challenges at you. So what better way to flip the proverbial bird than to run every day! No rest for the wicked!

20 days in, 100 Miles covered. What have I discovered during my short time of running every day? Quite a bit.

I have learnt to go slow in order to run more. Almost every run has been a relaxed easy pace. This has worked wonders for me. October was spent entertaining an array of niggles. Since running more, at a slower pace the niggles have subsided and I feel so much stronger. This hasn’t all been down to easy miles. I have been very conscious of spending time daily stretching and incorporating strengthening routines, all of which have been beneficial!

There have been a few rest days. For these a mile plodding along with the dog has been a welcome break.

There have been times where I thought I didn’t have time or felt too tired to run. Fitting it in around work, family, kids, general everyday madness has been a challenge some days! It’s amazing how you suddenly find ways of fitting in a run….. and how much better you feel for getting it done.

I’ve also become very reliant on dry shampoo. It’s been my saviour, many a day! 😂

10 more days to go, until I finish my November challenge. Hopefully I will still be as chirpy at the end of it. Hopefully I will have hit my goal of 150 Miles. Hopefully, I can then save money on coffee and dry shampoo!

Uncategorized

The Challenge Is On!

It’s on like donkey Kong. Well, actually it has been since the 9th October. It’s just that life has got in the way a little. So, a new blog. to document my journey over 12 months of trying to achieve what many would see as an impossible task.

To qualify for good for age for London Marathon. Sub 3:45. Now for the speedsters, the natural runners amongst us, this is more than achievable. For me, it means taking a wholesome 1 hour 25 minutes off my current marathon PB. Admittedly Berlin Marathon, my second of 2017 did not go to plan. That’s a story for another time. But there it is, it’s still personal best. It does mean however, planning the next year around clever training, juggling work, children, the ups and downs (literally) of type 1 diabetes and life in general.

Why would you do this? I hear you cry. Another rejection in the London Marathon ballot. The odds are very rarely in your favour due to the popularity of it. It doesn’t stop there. If you want to run the Abbot World Marathon majors (which I do – two down), well you’ve more chance to do so, being good for age. Ballots do not like me, and no amount of positive or wishful thinking have ever given me a chance in them. But also, stubbornness. Pride. An opportunity to prove the doubters wrong and show that if you want it bad enough, you can achieve it. Or at least get close enough to say you’ve given it everything.

Doubt and restrictions set by others kills more dreams than failure from trying ever would.

Official training for Paris begins the beginning of December. It will be very different to my previous two marathon training cycles, and I shall of course be sharing as much as possible. Right now, its crack on with trying to be in the best place possible to begin a high mileage training cycle.

So there it is. This is what it is. Hopefully an honest and upfront account of my journey to Good for Age. The ins and outs of training, and results. It’s going to be a roller coaster, no doubt about it.