Monday, 18 April 2011

What A Way To RUN LDN! #MyVLM 2011

I guess in truth this story started over a year ago; when I first started training for the London Marathon. Back then I was doing everything right in terms of training and I never expected that I wouldn't make it, then wallop! From nowhere (well maybe from somewhere...) I was out with injury - 'over training' they call it! Hello, there a marathon fast approaching?! So the 2010 dream was shattered, but I did go on to run 10 half marathons instead and became to love that distance.

My VLM spot was deferred to 2011 and my training well it should have just continued from 2010, but injury in my eleventh half marathon (should have stuck to 10, I know) took longer than expected to bounce back from and stresses in life meant running took a back burner. I wasn't planning to run this year and wondered how I would tell my chatity that. I didn't do any fundraising beforehand as I hadn't put in the training I thought I needed to complete. Furthermore I was actually really worried about doing all of the training as it had lead to injury before and, well I've just had enough of injury! I did go to the VLM Expo though and I got the buzz... Some strange bloke managed to convince me that if I've run 10 half marathons in the last year the marathon would be no problem... Ahem....

Anyway, onto the day itself, the atmosphere was great, everyone was really friendly, such a sense of camaraderie; we were all in it together, run, walk or crawl we were all determined to get to the finish for whatever personal reasons we had. My plan, if you can say I had one, was to run/walk as much as I could and walk all the up hill sections, so not to put too much pressure on my poor untrained muscles! The first half went really well; I ran more than I walk (habit), but I did run really slowly and walked whenever I saw a hill. The first half felt amazingly long! The fact that I was counting to 26 and not 13 was seriously scary and I questioned my sanity many times. Getting to the halfway point was bliss and I smiled! Just need to do it all over again now... *sigh*

After 16 miles my ankle wasn't really having any more of it. Running became painful and I walked a lot more. Then I cut the running to just when I hit a mile marker to see how it felt, not good, not good at all. Remembering the ligament injury I had a year ago, I figured walking and smiling (and giving the 'royal wave'), was my best bet! I met up with another runner, Amanda, (Love you Amanda! Mwah!) who was walking at my pace and we kept each other company and chatted for the remaining miles. It amazing what you can learn about a person in 10.2 miles! This last ten miles was the best part, we laughed and joked, waved at our adoring fans, danced to the bands and DJs that played on the sidelines and kept each other going. 

I told my best friend when I was at the start line that I was running - she wasn't impressed she wanted to come, I told my over friends that evening and my sister was again annoyed I hadn't shared the big day out! To be honest I wasn't sure up until the point I had my medal in my hand that I would make it, and I figured the less people knew the less I'd disappoint. Luckily there was no disappointment, just and wonderfully happy, wonderfully proud and wonderfully sore me! I will be buying the ridiculously expensive official photographs and framing them alongside my medal and I will be entering the ballot for next year; it's the day after and the pain has faded slightly and like a mother with 20 kids, it's the end result that counts and not the pain you go through to achieve it...

Best moments of the day:
  • Man with a sign "You've been running through my mind all day..."
  • Crowd singing "Sweets for my sweet, Sugar for my honey" to me, yes me!
  • Talking to the two rhino's, the horse and the guy with the washing machine on his back...
  • Dancing to the bands as we walked around
  • Getting my finishers MEDAL!!!

What an amazing day, roll on next year! Pain is temporary the memories, and the medal, will last forever!

Monday, 14 February 2011

Saucony 10k TCR

First race of the year completed! Didn't feel enthusiastic going into it - prob cos it was a dull, grey and drizzly day. But glad I got out there and got it over with! Dad was with me this morning, taking lots of photos and video footage as always - its a good thing I usually smile when I run!

They changed the route this year - it was just two laps instead of last years three, which was much better. The organisation was a little better as well; the pen was marked out with finish times for placing. Unfortunately there weren't a large number of runners there to make if worth it; people did go towards the right starting places, but it made the pen seem very sparce! I got part way there and realised I may as well hang back in the 40-45 mins part and just tag onto the back, it would sort itself out once we started running!

Going round I felt very comfortable with the route, being that I had had to run around it three times last year! I'm not sure where it changed exactly, but I think they just elongated a section to make each lap 5k and save us running around three times! The change was much appreciated! I didn't have a time in mind going in; this was my first race of the year and my training so far has been pretty non-existent! I just really wanted to get below 60mins, so that I had a good starting point to get my training off the ground. I knew the best way for me to stay focused was to pick someone out from the crowd who was running just above my pace and try to keep up with them; most of the time its not that I can't run faster if I tried, but just that I have nothing to compete against! Anyway I found a lady who was just ahead of me, that I would need to step up a gear to match so I ran against her, using the, few and far between, down hills to get past her and trying hard to keep my pace up on the many inclines. It was very much a battle during the first lap, but bewteen 4-5km she rushed past me and that just tickled my competitive streak! I got ahead and kept on ahead of her until I lost her then I stopped looking back and just imagined she was right on my heels to push me even further. As the last 2km hit I stepped it up a little bot more just to keep a good pace really; this is the bit where I normally start to flag and I didn't want to do that today. There where two men ahead of me and I decided to overtake them as well and started another little battle with a guy hot on my heels! As we round ed the last corner though I sprinted off to the finish and didn't see him until he came up behind me after the race to say well done! Oh, and let me know he had a little niggle in his calf, which is why I was able to overtake him! Men!

All in all it was a good race and a good day out at TCR; I do love that event! Its good to be back in the saddle for 2011, I really do need to get my race schedule and training sorted. I am very mindful of London Marathon coming up, but nervous of the training too. Not because I'm a stranger to hard work, but because I was injured the last time I trained for London. I want to be smart about it this year, but I'm worried I'll either push myself too hard or not enough - its such a delicate balance. I've got a couple of halves planned, so I'll see how I get on and work it out from there...

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Half Stevenage Half

Getting up this morning I knew today wasn't going to be a good day. I had to drag myself out of bed, force myself to eat, I felt nauseous all the way to the race, realised I hadn't taken my medication before leaving the house, and when I got there I was told the car park was full, then it wasn't. I finally got parked, grabbed my spare meds out of my bag and then it started to rain. I seriously debated whether or not I should just start my car and disappear! Instead I just added a base layer to my outfit and walked the 15mins to the start.

It was a good start, I'd arrived early enough to warm up properly and did a couple of gentle jogs around the track and some stretches to get the muscles moving. My bag was in the baggage tent, I'd used the loo (v. important) and I was ready to start. Even once we were off I still wasn't really in the mood; something wasn't right, but I didn't know what. I felt fine and I happy to keep running, but my heart wasn't really in it. The first km beeped on my Garmin, but I didn't even acknowledge it. I figured I could get through the race at a pace that was comfortable, but not too hard; no PB, just a finish! A little after the 1st mile marker I started to get a pain behind my right knee. It wasn't anything worth noting, just annoying, I figured the muscle had tightened up and I needed to stretch it out or something. I continued on without thinking too much about it, but the course was undulating and whilst the pain wasn't bad on the flat, when the hills it it became progressively worse. After 5 miles I could no longer run up hill and had to walk those stretches. The course consisted of two laps and the amount of pain I was in made my decision to drop out after the first lap very easy. I did injury back in March and struggled to finish the Reading half marathon, I wasn't going to do it again I figured the quicker I stopped running the less damage I was doing. 

As soon as the course looped back to the start I dropped out and found the nearest St John's Ambulance for treatment. A bit of rest, elevation, ice and a tubigrip later and I back on my feet trying to minimise the hobbling (street cred lol!). I handed my timing chip back in and collected my goody bag and t-shirt. I must say I am supremely disappointed as the race was advertised as awarding all runners with a medal and technical shirt, but instead we only got shirt. So I'm not disappointed I didn't complete, just annoyed my knee still hurts all these hours later (yes I was hoping I'd faked it...). Walking's not too bad right now, but seeing stairs makes me cry! Coming down is almost barable, but going up is a nightmare. I've figured out that it hurts more when I bend my knee so I've been trying to get up and down the stairs without bending my knee. I see a physio appointment very soon in my future and not a whole lot of running!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

Ten Halves in 2010

So I've done it! I've completed my personal challenge and run 10 half marathons in 2010; all for Scope! Scope have been brilliant along the way, sending me good luck cards and congratulations certificates and even post race massages and snacks! It's been a tremendous journey from my first half of the year; the Roding Valley Half where I ran 2:10:38, to my longest; the Reading Half where I had the ligament injury that kept me away from the London Marathon, to my PB, which I achieved at the Royal Parks Foundation Half in Hyde Park just days before my 30th birthday! I was really hoping to get a sub 2:00 time, but I pushed as hard as I could and came out with 2:01:39; shaving nearly SIX minutes of my previous PB! So that was none too shabby!

Before this year I had only run one half marathon; Run To The Beat in September 2009, and that was purely by chance! It had never been my intention to get into half marathons, just like it had never been my intention to get into running! In 2009 I had been working up to running 10k, and I had even entered a 10k race in Watford for the April with my bff, come the day though it was rainy and I hadn't done adequate training so it was an easy decision to give it a miss. I did still meet up with my friend later that day and her father-in-law made a comment that made me want to take my running more seriously. That year was the first year I actually made a plan about what races I was going to run and set myself real workable goals in terms of finish times. I got a PB at the Women's 5k Challenge that year and went on to run the Bananaman 10k Chase in Willen Lake, my first 10k race and setting myself a PB of 53:53 that I am still yet to beat! It was this race that lead me to my first half marathon. Leukaemia Research as they were known then are the official charity of RTTB and they had extra places going for the race in just two weeks! As it was such short notice they didn't even want any money; they were just giving the places away and I could hardly say no! I had an 8k race the day before, which I completed and my plan for the day was just to enjoy the atmosphere and get around the course! Leukaemia Research were going for a world record for the number of people dressed as bananas before the race and I was eager to take part in that! I put on my banana suit and warmed up with my fellow bananas, had a photoshoot, signed the register and decided to run the whole 13.1miles wearing the suit! It was such a fantastic experience that I knew I just had to do it again! It's funny how you can be so afraid of something only to realise there's nothing to be scared of at all!

The idea to run 10 in 2010 came to me after my injury, I had just been using the 21.1km distance as preparation for the London Marathon. After my marathon dreams were smashed I wanted to think of a challenge I could do that would be worthy of the kind of support I would expect for the London Marathon. I wasn't particularly enjoying the 13.1 mile race, but I knew that I could recover and train an get back into it. It would be hard work, but not as much hard work as the marathon and if I could maintain that level of fitness for the whole year I knew it would have lots of other benefits for me. I decided to choose my runs carefully as running four halves in four weekends had caused my injury. I laid them out trying not to do two in two weekend, always giving myself a break in between to recover. I also had the London Triathlon in my diary so there was serious cross training to be done as well! It been a hectic year, I've had two respiratory infections that have kept me in bed for weeks and yet I've kept pushing for these halves. They've really kept me going!

Now 13.1 miles is my race; I own it. When I look for races I look for half marathons, there's the odd 10k, 10mile and 5k in my diary too, but 13.1 is where I live; that's me; it's got my name on it and it calls me Mommy! This is the distance that really pushes me, where I can prove something to myself; where I separate the girl from the woman; where I find my own. And to prove the point; I'm not happy with 2:01:39 as a PB I need to get sub 2:00 and as such I'm going to keep running half marathons until I hit a figure that I'm happy with. And yes all you runners out there know that this is just the start; once I hit my goal, I'll simply move the goal post and keep on running. So if you see me out there, come along and run with me; life is for the taking and I'm running with it!

Monday, 25 October 2010

Birmingham Half

What a day! I won't go into all the drama I had with my car breaking down before the race, but I'll stick to the event and the run itself! 

Another early start! Kick off was 09:00, which meant I had to get up at 05:30 to get up to Brum on time. For some reason they closed the baggage drop at 08:30, which didn't help, so I decided to forget the baggage drop completely and just head to the start straight from the car park. I'm really against such early starts when its so cold, at this temperature you should only run when the sun is high in the sky!

The start was really messy, there were signs displaying the colour coded pens, but they were small and everyone seemed a little confused as to where they should be. It took me a while to find my place and I had to climb over the barriers to get a space in the pens. Luckily there were a couple of nice young men in the pen who helped me over, which was a good start. It was a slow start; I was close to the start line, but didn't get across until 09:10. That was a bit of a farce as well as once we got over the finish line we had to walk for the first 200m! I think the problem was because the course narrowed suddenly so the was just no room to run ahead. Either way it  added valuable seconds to my time.

I started without my usual fuel drink, as I forgot to take it out of the fridge, so I decided to put my faith in the organisers and go with whatever was available on the course. Luckily the water stations were all n the right places and I managed to get water at 5km, Lucozade at 6km and well after that I wasn't exactly worried! Luckily I had spent the week training without taking fuel or water on up to 11km, so it didn't put me out too much. The cruelest part of the race was when we went past Cadbury World and I could smell all the lovely chocolate! The aroma just filled the street, I've never been to Cadbury World, but a trip is now in order!

The thing I enjoy most about my running is my innate ability in the run up to a race to forget things like 'undulating', or 'hilly' in the race description... Nonetheless, it wasn't long before I remembered... Considering how hard I found the inclines I did really well time wise. It was a serious struggle, I went into this race certain of a PB and I had hit just under 11km at the half way point so I was certain I would make it. Unfortunately the last 5 miles of the course were the hilliest points and it was a serious struggle on tired legs; even my usual mantras couldn't keep me going for long.

I eventually finished in 2:02:23 on a slightly long course of 21.3km and received a text confirmation of my time (always nice). The rest of the finish line was yet another joke! The finish was so congested that you had to push your way forward to get on the mat to register your chip time. It then took 15mins to walk through the congestion and get to where they were handing out space blankets and goody bags. The one good thing is that the goody bags contained sized t-shirts in ladies and mens styles and sizes and I was able to get a shirt that fits for once! The medal is nice and shiny too, but I wasn't hugely impressed! All in all it was a good and challenging race, there were however too many organisational issues that really let it down. Would I do it again? Yes, just maybe not next year...

Splits - in km as I find it works better for me as I'm running!
1km - 5:18.4
2km - 5:28.68
3km - 5:42.43
4km - 5:35.2
5km - 5:53.4
6km - 5:52.16
7km - 5:45.66
8km - 5:54.44
9km - 6:04.29
10km - 5:11.16
11km - 5:42.62
12km - 5:34.2
13km - 5:39.86
14km - 5:56.68
15km - 5:50.7
16km - 5:41.2
17km - 5:34.37
18km - 6:54.53
19km - 6:20.84
20km - 5:57.06
21km - 4:57.95
0.3km - 1:27.56