Image versus knowledge


Just today I read an article on Greatist.com by a fitness professional Jonathan Angelilli  of Train Deep . Read more here….

It resonated strongly with me and I felt I needed to put down my thoughts too.

I’d like to think that the people I help to train are inspired more by my coaching style as opposed to how I look. That their desire to train comes from somewhere deeper and isn’t just about the aesthetic.

These days it is fast becoming harder to focus on what’s happening inwardly.
We are constantly bombarded by images portraying outward appearance and what we see is a very small section of what a fit/healthy person is.

This attached article illustrates a few issues I’ve had lately, the whole booty bouncing, fit-spiration groups they mention get me down as it’s such a narrow view, and sex is used negatively. It doesn’t fully encapsulate true beauty, sexuality and simple healthy living.

Everyone I help to train is beautiful and unique, they are being sold by the fitness industry a very narrow ideal and it’s becoming a struggle sometimes to get people to see outside of what is presented to them.

I am as susceptible as everyone and have found myself wanting to be the ‘hot trainer’ but quite frankly this is stupid. You train with me because I have knowledge to impart and it is also my role as a fitness professional to help and inspire and if I don’t then I fail as your coach and fellow human being.

The pictures I post of myself on social media leaves me wondering if they are too much or what message they are sending out to people.

I like to believe that the message I convey is one of having fun, that I when I am out running I am doing something that nourishes my soul and that it is less about how I look and more about how I feel and also the places I am in.

This is how I wish others to feel too.

I am just like you, I want to be liked and loved and be told I am awesome, the more I focus on the outward though the more the real me disappears.

How much to put out there and in what way?

Meon Valley half marathon magic


Running trails always appeals more than running roads, yes there is mud, yes there are tree roots, most likely some cow pat, and quite possibly hills, but it’s those elements that make it more fun and engaging for me.

 

The changing shape of the route, the footing always different, the scenery and of course the people.

 

All of the above I found in the Meon Valley Half Marathon organised by Second Wind Running http://secondwindrunning.co.uk/ which is ran by Phil and Teresa, both with extensive running careers themselves.

 

When an event is organised by runners, you can pretty much be sure you’re in for a good time.

 

Arriving at the Meon Village Hall with my friend Andrew we were directed to a suitable parking slot by firstly being questioned on our speediness for a marathon.
‘Not very, plus we’re doing the half’ was the response.
This was the correct answer and we were given a very nice spot right by the start/finish.
As the day was rather chilly it was welcome to have the race HQ within the village hall.  A big thanks to Meonstoke/Corehampton for this.
With two halls separating registration/food and race bag/shop kit it was very organised yet informal.
Spotting Sandra Hopkins and Russ Bestley at registration made me realise just how good a standard of runners were going to be taking part.

 

Race number taken (9) Andrew set about waiting for a potential drop out so that he could also run as he’d not been able to get a number before the race day.

 

Luckily his persistence paid off (130) and I then got the joy of knowing he’d be the task master for the day.
Andrew kills the hills and also tells really really bad jokes…I promptly took my hearing aids out. (You’re fab really Andrew)

 

Seeing Phil Hall back from his recent NDW100 finish and Simon Whelch after his NYC marathon at the start was great as I’d not seen either of them for some time, they’d both had a really good year of running and were here to do the Marathon.

Run chat and pre-race photo taken the good old fashioned way I wished them well and left them on their merry way.
The nice thing about this event was the merging of the marathon and the half.

 

Though I appreciate that having two races on the same day limits a few things, it’s really good to be able to come and meet up with people who you wouldn’t generally see because they’re running a different distance.

 

Once the Marathon runners set off, we went about preparing ourselves.
I was rather nervous, and of late I’ve been getting more frequent palpitations.

 

So I have found that amongst all the excitement I sometimes need to have a bit of a quiet moment or two as nerves affect me more now it seems.

 

As I’d taken my hearing aids out I couldn’t really hear what was being said by Phil despite his microphone, but I had caught a few things like turn right at mile 5 and 10, plus some bored souls had decided to remove signage so to be extra vigilant about the course route.

 

As we walked to the start some 500 metres away, jumping the massive pool/puddle gave us all an insight to what was to be.
Countdown and off we went, charging along the disused railway line knowing that within a 1km there’d be our first major climb.

 

The first 7 miles takes in the South Downs way with a mix of trail and road/track.

 

Old Winchester Hill, with about 400ft of ascent in 1.5 miles is not a particularly easy climb, add in the rain sodden clay and many runners it was a true mud bath.

 

Staying up-right as well as going straight was a challenge in itself.
Knowing that this was by far the toughest climb though helped as I knew I could just go steady and save myself for the later climbs.

 

Andrew being a hill killer also became gate king so I could slide through the gate a the top rather than skate into it and injure myself.
I loved the next section, tight track, muddy and slight downhill.

 

Nicely marshaled at the crossing and then the steep descent to the first checkpoint at the farm.
Downhills are my favourite thing in trail running, I may not be graceful but there’s something about hurtling down the hill that releases the inner child in me.

 

There were some more kind runners were waiting for their own group and holding open the gate at the bottom so we could just sail through again. Thanks to them.

 

A few road sections prior to the next hill allowed me to open my running a bit and loosen the legs.

 

Up to the next track we went, were we seemed to fall into place with a couple called Euan and Sally.

 

 

Quite nice to have people around you of similar pace or faster as it urges you on.
As we crossed a road we spied Keirnan at the crossing poised with a camera.

I really hope he got a decent picture of us, he looked like he was having fun. High five to his daughter also for standing around handing out sweets and cheers, not many young girls would be up for this on a Sunday.

 

The next major hill also on the South Downs Way was up from Coombe to where the path met Droxford Road, about a 200ft climb over 1 mile.

 

Euan was certainly made for hills, he and Andrew bounced up whilst I settled into a steady pace with Sally before she pulled away at around mile 7 as we descended a really nice bit of track.

 

 

I think this was my fastest section after the second hill. We’d left the South Downs Way now and the next section was perhaps the easier part, but of course with already tired legs from all the mud, two of the major hills and with a sprinkling of short climbs, it didn’t necessarily feel easy.

 

The last major climb was from just outside the hamlet of Chidden along a country lane that then onto a field track, with around 230ft ascent in just under a mile, my legs were not best pleased.

 

At the turning off the country lane to the field we were greeted merrily by David Harvey, another awesome local runner, who kindly told us it was the last hill or rather major hill so he said.

I then went into a diatribe of swearing at this last ‘major’ hill much to another guys either shock or amusement.

 

At around mile 10 we were now following a wider country road as opposed to lane, and with that, a few cars, but like any small event, we were cautious and didn’t take up the whole road.

 

Luckily we had no issues here and were able to open up our stride again in the knowledge that we were almost at the next descent and the final few miles.
The last section was back to the formula of tight trail, lots of mud and more fun.

 

At this point running down became an art form on tired legs and I made a supreme effort to stay upright but I was able to keep up with Andrew just and moan at a joke or two about an Irishman and a pub. Yes they are that bad.

 

Approaching the road for the last km was quite welcome, and also a chance to put a bit of a kick in, before turning onto the field at the village hall with a lap on the grass, which seemed then to sap my legs.

 

Crossing the finish line in 2 hours 1 minute and 22 seconds in 58th place out of 138 finishers. I am a middle pack runner.

 

I think that was both the hardest half marathon I’ve done and also the most fun.

 

With over 1200ft of climbing, most of it along muddy tracks and trails with a spattering of road sections it wasn’t your usual half marathon, it was way better.

 

A kindly lady placed the medal around my neck as I tried to mumble a thank-you.

 

 

My legs of course thought I was an idiot but I rarely listen to my legs. I gave them the satisfaction of a warm down walk and stretch to placate them.

 

Shoes off and into the hall, one of Andrews friends had come second lady so we clapped and cheered the respective ‘placers’ in the half marathon before going on to collect our race t-shirts and then into the food hall for some much needed grub,a lovely cup of veggie chili.
This was a brilliant addition to a very well organised race.

 

Such good value for money as an event, I don’t run for medals, I run always for the spirit of running, for being part of something and sharing a day with like minded people.

 

This medal was very well earned though and the £20 was worth it for that.

 

Having somewhere to park, somewhere to keep warm, be fed, have a shower, receive a medal, get a t-shirt and a goody bag plus have fab marshals as well as organisers you really would be hard pushed to find something that was better value for money, or money aside, something just better.

 

Thank you to everyone who made this race one to remember.

If you like stats he’s the course as ran by me.

Ups and Downs of the South Downs Way 50


WOW just discovered this that I didn’t post back in April this year from the South Downs 50.

Judging from last weeks event, I go a lot by feelings and my mental state as this post is rather in the same vein.

You have probably read already many others blogs about the event,  so you probably already know the stats.

But here they are again.

  • 50 miles/80 km course along the South Downs Way.
  • 85% trail, 15% road according to Centurion runners website.
  • 13.5 hour cut-off time
  • 315 people started the event.
  • 301 finished it.
  • 1st Male, Paul Navesy in 6 hours 11 minutes.
  • 1st Female, Edwina Sutton in 7 hours 09 minutes.

Right on with what my race was like.

As the title suggests this is about the Ups and Downs of the South Downs 50 mile event I took part in last month.

It’s taken me 5 weeks to write what happened on that day.

Why?  Well a lot has to do with the mental struggle I went through during the event and how that made me feel after.

The South Downs 50 was the most mentally exhausting event I have done to date.

It was the one I had set as my ‘must do’ or as some call ‘A’ race’ for this year.

Any other event prior to this one, through great and awesome, were seen as training runs.

South Downs way had been firmly set on a pedestal by myself.

I knew I could complete it, I wanted to complete it, I had to complete it.

Everything leading up to the event had been smooth, training was fine, could have been better but I wasn’t able to beat myself up over missed miles.

I had it set in my mind I was physically capable.  The challenge I knew would be mostly mental.

How much though?

After 2 DNFs last year I think that prepared me, and in some ways made me stronger. I have not called them bad races, they are DNFs and they have been great lessons.

Nothing prepared me though for this event.

Start, still smiling
Start, still smiling

 Yet I still managed to get to CP1 in the time I had estimated for myself 2hr15min.The hill out of Botolphs is a bugger, and just after that is a yuk road section which I slowed down tremendously on as my heel really hurt.

 So I was so happy to see the downhill for CP2 at Saddlescombe and about 5 minutes behind my estimated time of 3 hr 30min.

I like downhills in the UK, rolling but not barmy vertical descents.

sdw50botolphs2014

After a 10 minute stop at CP2 I felt pretty good mentally going out, and was trying not to focus on the physical pain.

The weather had turned a bit just after CP2 and fog had started to descend along the Downs making it seem quite bleak.

At this point I just had a little mantra in my head.

Run until it hurts, then walk, if it hurts to walk, run again.  Focus on the next Aid Station

This worked. I passed numerous walkers out for a stroll and some other runners doing the SDW50.

The downhill section into CP 3 at Housedean I felt high as a kite. By now though I was 30 minutes behind prediction, it had taken me 6 hours to get to 26 miles.

Aim to finish became my next mantra.

I decided to put a support around my foot to try and ease the pressure I was feeling.

Jack and Jill

This seemed to work and I was out of CP3 in 10 mintues.

The next section is a bit of a climb but that was OK and I chatted briefly with a lady.

The chat was just fine, and then I decided to pull away a bit as a stop was needed.

My stomach pains (joys of being a women in an Ultra) had been giving me jip since CP2 but it now let it’s upset known.

Great! The joy! Women out there will understand how sometimes are bodies timing really is very poor.

Anyway.

During the chat with the lovely lady who’s name I can’t remember,  i had mentioned my reason for wanting to do Ultra distance.  My parents.

They had both passed away from Cancer, Mum in November 2008 and Dad in May 2011.  As soon as I started talking about them, my emotions just rocketed. I managed to keep this from showing but as soon as I was by myself I struggled to contain the sadness I felt.

I stopped and cried, from afar I probably looked as though I was just taking a break.

But I was in a state of turmoil.

All I could think about was how I was doing this for them, and they weren’t here.

I wanted them to be at the end so badly for me.

Conversely this also pushed me, I cried and walked then broke into a jog.

I let the pain I felt emotionally push me.

Making sure I finished became the goal.

Getting through to CP4 at Southease was hard as I battled now a niggle in my hips, along with the foot pain, stomach issues and my mind on my parents I was a mess.

Climb out of Southease
Climb out of Southease

 Oddly though as soon as I saw people I was OK.   The inner battle I tried to keep concealed.  From CP4 it was about getting to CP5 at Alfriston simple as that.

At CP5 I spend a good 20 minutes chatting to the crew who were awesome at making sure I was OK.

But I was envious of the people who had family and friends come to see them here as this was one of the points crew to come to meet you.

Again, thoughts of parents crept in and how badly I just wanted them there.

I tried not to let the emotion I was feeling come through, I didn’t want to be the one who put a downer on things.

It’s funny the game face we can present to people around us.

View back to Southease
View back to Southease

Change of socks, cup of tea and crisps then I was off.

From here i knew I would finish it was just a case of getting through to Jevington and then the home straight.

The section between CP5 to CP6 is short and this is really quite a bonus. Though the climb out is quite hard I actually enjoyed the physical aspect, and the ache in my legs took away the talk in my head.

I saw no-one on this stretch between CPs.

Coming into Jevington night was descending and here I put my head torch on after  a brief chat with the American guy, which got cut short with ‘would love to chat but you’ve really got to get a move on if you want a sub 12 hour’. Alright then. I was off.

The bit out of Jevington I had ran a few times, and I actually quite like it.

Knowing a course is such a boost especially this far into an event.

Seeing someone jog down to me a bit from the trig point I thought they were lost, but no, it was a guy called Drew who had been up there for what sounded like a while helping guide people down to route for getting into Eastbourne.

I admired him for doing this and take my hat off to Centurion who picked such great crew team.

The road into Eastbourne is pretty dull, and long, if you don’t know the route then at night it could be a bit tricky.

Only two weeks before I had ran this section so I was confident, again another boost for me.

Coming around the corner into the Sports Grounds, was such a relief.

I felt happy to be nearing the end, but also kind of sad I wanted this awesome feeling to carry on even if my body didn’t agree with me.

Picking up the pace to a fast 4mph confirmed that I was actually wrecked physically but mentally I was actually really alert.

Over the finish line I went. A few photos taken with some dude who’s released a book and I creaked over to the centre where I would find equally disheveled runners with that f**k I just did that look in their eyes.

Overall this course is a fantastic way to see the British countryside and to really test yourself if it’s your 1st 50 mile as it is so well organised by Centurion that you can’t really go wrong.

The aid stations and volunteers are all amazing and deserve a medal too in my book.

Entering is easy here’s the link

http://www.centurionrunning.com/south-downs-way-50-2015/south-downs-way-50-2015/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The OCC – feelings during and after the ‘little swiss sister’ of UTMB race


4am alarm and I am not feeling bright eyed.

The early start Occ in Orsiere
The early start Occ in Orsiere

Early mornings have never been my forte, especially when they are enforced.

We’ve been told to get to the bus stop at 5am, after that a 1 hour drive or so to Orsiere.

The route is windy and I have a lot of my mind I focus on processing what I am about to do.

Masses of people stream out of the buses at Orsiere, looking wide eyed, all nervous anticipation and kitted in lycra from a whole host of brand names.

We are all here for the same thing though.  It’s a new race –  the OCC.  Orsiere,Champex and Chamonix.

During the week of the Ultra Trail Mont Blanc it is the smallest of the 5 races on offer.  With a distance of 52.4km and 3300metres ascent it is still not without it’s challenges.

At 8am we are lining up for the race in the gorgeous chocolate box Swiss town of Orsiere.  I start to take stock, place myself at the back, take a moment and then the music plays.

It is then that the emotions come over me like a wave and I let them.

They are routed in a desire to do and to be part of something that challenges me.

There is a sadness which I do not ignore, I know it well.

The loss of my parents is always there, will never go away and it is this too that drives me, that makes me want to push myself and make them proud even if they can’t be here to watch me.

I want to run in their memory, take them on my journey in my heart and head.  So I let these mixed emotions wash over me, and prepare me.

Then smile through tears and think of how lucky I am to be here.

There are many people throughout my lilfe that have been part of my journey, I am thankful for each and everyone of them. I truley believe people come into your life for a reason and they leave it for a reason too.  Just as much as these people standing at the start they are part of my journey.

The bells have been sounded, the cow bells do not stop however, the first 2 miles there is a constant clanging as 1200 people steadily climb up the first ascent to Champex Lac.

This section is extremely busy and to be honest a tad frustrating.  It’s now I wish I had started further at the front.  The first section of 7.6kms with 580metre ascent takes me about 1hour 28 minutes.

Queues from Orsiere to Champex the first 7km
Queues from Orsiere to Champex the first 7km

I eat a nakd bar and down a coke and get out of the aid stop quickly.

Beautiful flat section at Champex Lac
Beautiful flat section at Champex Lac

Fortunately you can make up the time on the next section as the route is flattish for 5km or so, though the numbers of people is still quite alot I am able to pick a few people off on the ascent up to La Giete.

Ascents I really enjoy, not that I run them, just stick to a strong hiking pace.  I know that the downhills have a tendency to wreck havoc with me on these sort of descents.

UK hills they are not, running up is hardly an option, running down is a challenge in itself and an art form.  Something that I am yet to master. But then this is also what it’s about, a way to learn.

Making sure you are aware of your strengths and playing to them is key I think to how well you cope mentally.  Focus on how bad you’re at something is just destructive.

Somewhere between Champex and Giete
Somewhere between Champex and Giete

From the first peak at Giete to Trient it’s a downhill 5km with about 600metres descent, knarly roots and smooth shiney thus slippery rock.

I never letting my mind think this is tricky, the aim is to pick the route focus a little ahead and do not waver, stay as strong as I can.

Trient is a welcome site, full of supporters from all over the world.  The queue for water is long, and takes around 10 minutes, which is an inconvenience but well that’s life sometimes, things slow you down and you deal with it.

Pretty and busy aid stop at Trient
Pretty and busy aid stop at Trient

It is at this point that I have some food, ½ banana, mini soreen malt loaf and coke as well as a sandwich I made, camembert. It’s so yummy and gives me the kick I need.

I chat briefly with a women crewing for a young girl called Rebecca, nice to hear English and I meet Rebecca and wish her luck.

After 25 minutes or so at Trient I am out and up the next climb 5.5kms with 820metres which is tough going, and you see a number of people sadly walking back down to Trient perhaps daunted by the prospect of another fierce climb.

The heat is quite intense today, but to be honest we are lucky as the weather 2 days ago was atroucious and the Friday night of the UTMB is even worse.

So the shade of the next part is a blessing for us.  Once we get above the tree line, the heat is still on, but our breaths are more taken away by the views which are sublime and awe inspiring.

I take the time to look, be inspired and of course take some photos.  It is moments like these that need to savoured.

There is no illusion held with me that I will win or even be close to being near the front.  These kind of events are for me about the journey, an experience.

Climb from Trient to Catogne
Climb from Trient to Catogne

At this point I see Rebecca again and we chivvy each other along till the next check point at Catagone the highest point at 2009 metres.

She is stronger than she thinks and I sincerely hope that she didn’t mind me giving her a gentle tap and telling her that she can run as she starts to walk.

Having someone with you, all be it briefly, is often a great boost, so thank you Rebecca if you read this.  You were awesome.

The route down to Vallorcine with 5km and 940metres descent is another rutted, root laden downhill section. My quads are starting to complain and the tiredness sets in.

So once at Vallorcine I make sure I take on some more food, ½ bag of crisps, orange, coke and a mini soreen malt loaf.

The food is so important, sometimes just from the mental side.  The bag of crisps is just the boost I needed in all respects.

After a while the tiredness ebbs a bit, I force myself to eat another mini malt loaf as we wind our way around to Col des Montets no water just a check point where they scan you in and up to Flegere. 10km or so with over 900 metres.

Dipping my head in a few waterfalls along the way helps to ease the heat. Though I am sure I look like a drowned rat it is such a lovely feeling having ice cold water cover your head.

This section is actually quite tough as the route is really rutted with roots and a lot of rocky sections with big boulders to pass and squeeze around, in these routes there is no time to think about pain as is it is taken up by negotiating the route. Which in a way is a relief.

Onwards we climb, and numbers have definetely thinned out, though I still pass people on the way up I am aware that my pace has slowed quite a bit, I have not really been breathless but the muscles are starting to tighten almost everywhere. In other words it hurts now.

There is a light relief of a flattish section, a traverse across before another climb to Flegere.

This climb, which is not pleasant, is a rocky scree moraine field that I am sure looks lovely covered in snow but in summer daylight looks like a tired runners nightmare.

Again it is here that I focus on the fact I am stronger at climbing up, the poles have been such a bonus and though it’s my first time using them in a race and I sure some peoples calfs were a bit annoyed with me they were fab during the entire event.

Another 20 minutes or so at Flegere the final check point.  I take on some coke, eat a few more crisps. Make sure I have enough water. I start to get a bit cold so put on gloves, my hands have a tendancy to suffer from the cold.

The descent starts with a yuk 1km or so on what would be a ski route, basically a wide track that is loose and stoney and very much downhill.  My legs are screaming at me now.

Once we are in the trees and the route is more technical I can focus on that but a long descent it is, switch backs cutting into the forest where you can always see what is ahead.  A lot of people pass me.

As my legs start to protest. I try not to listen but it is really quite painful now.

There’s a great short section which goes past Chalet De La Floria Buvet a short traveres across the mountain side where you can strectch the legs a bit as it’s not too steep.

This is momentary and the descent continues.  From Flegere to Chamonix it is 8km with about 870metres of downhill.  The aim is to just get down.

Once you pass into Chamonix onto road, the sound of people cheering ‘Alez, go, go, super’ is such a boost.  Along the whole way I have tried to say Merci, thankyou or simply smile.

Here you cannot help but smile the encouragement is infectious and you want to do your best.  I join up with a guy from Paris, Francois,  for this last section and we push each other to the end, winding our way through the erupting cheers of supporters.

All sweat, fatigue and happiness that we are finishing.

I spot a few runners who I know from the UK, Mark and Glenn, grab one of their hands and I think I convey a message of complete elation as I don’t think words make any sense at that point.

The finish I am stunned.  I turn to look at the French guy who I ran the last 1km or so and give him a congratulatory hug.

At this point I also see Rebecca come in. Again words are pretty meaningless but I think we both appreciate the enormity of what we accomplished.

Stunned finish
Stunned finish

We get guided out to applause and I sit for what seems like forever, as my brother wanders what the hell to do with me.

Though to be honest all I want is a bath and new legs.

Mark and Glenn have also come to offer congrats, which I appreciate, they can’t stay for a beer as tomorrow is race day for them, the UTMB.

Bigger and harder and something at this moment I am re-considering as more of long term goal.  The mountains are not to be looked at lightlely.

This race I have learned alot, that passion for running drives me, as does grief.

There is a desire to do well, but I am thankful just simply to be part of it. I always need to remember this if the wheels come off and the A game has gone out the window.

I need to work on my descents, and get even stronger on the ups.

Make sure I always have something that comforts me food wise.

And that support is invaluable but at the end of the day it is what’s in you that counts the most.

The only person that can push you to do your best is you.

 

Overall

The race is an amazing and perfect way to test yourself on the last part of the UTMB.

Well organised from start to finish.

Busy near the start so be prepared for queues or start near the front.

Use poles, they are invaluable even for tricky descents but learn how to use them properly.

Loads of supporters on route, cow bells and klaxons.

Wave at the helicopters and the photographers – (you might make it on the live TV).

We got a t-shirt at the registration and another at the finish-no medals.

In comparison to UK check points it’s actually a bit limited, cheese, sausage, banana, orange, chocolate, tea coffee, water and coke. No electrolytes or gels that I could find though maybe they did in the bigger races.

By no means is this poor for a 53km I just think the UK ultras I’ve been part of are very well supported.  So in this instance as I was glad to have my stuff.

I ate

2 nakd bars

2 mini soreen malt loafs (I wish I had more)

½ pack of salted crisps

1 camembert sandwich.

½ banana

¼ orange

I drank

4 electrolyte GU bru tablets making about 1.5 litres overall

4 litres of water (ish)

5 cups of coke

2 cups of tea

 

With 52.5kms 3332 metres ascent.

I finish in 11 hours 29 minutes and 16 seconds.

91% finished the race.

I was 761 out of 1109 runners who finished..

And was 154 out of 274 females.

There were I think at my count 52 UK runners.

Here’s the link if you are interested for the race results.

http://utmb.livetrail.net/classement.php?course=occ

 

 

South Downs Way 50 musings


As I sit here chomping my way through a particular brand of crisps as a way of carb loading pre South Downs way 50 miler, I can’t help but feel just a tad nervous.

I’ve been trying to channel the inner ultra running Goddess in me, I just checked in the mirror and she hasn’t turned up, but I dusted of the crisp crumbs (must hoover later).

After scouring pages and pages of other peoples blogs, checking Garmin stats of other runners paces for their long runs and read and re-read all the pre race instructions I have come to the conclusion that I am pretty unlikely to turn into some awesome ultra running gazelle

Sad but true.

I have tried many times to adjust the waist strap of my run pack so that the little waistline bulge I seem to have aquired over the last 18months (nothing to do with crisps of course) looks streamlined.

Whoever told you that running Ultras make you become this super lean human being was lying.

It makes you a carb craving monster with a hunger so insatiable that even a bunny in spring can’t match the levels I go to to get my fix.

Ok so my thighs look strong and I have glutes that jiggle in ways that would make Beyonce and J-Lo proud, but that doesn’t help when I am trying to fit into my skinny jeans or, you know, run fast.

All the self mocking aside, I am about to attempt something that I have been dreaming about for around 10 years.

I won’t bore you with why it took so long, let’s just say life got in the way.

And here I am, 3 days and counting, waiting to complete my first 50 miler.

Actually it’s my 3rd attempt, having DNF’d at 70km in Race to the Stones 100km and DNF’d at Wye one Way 50 mile after 38miles, I have become really good at DNFs.

I know what can go wrong.

These are a few of things I have experienced

Getting lost…..once all we had to do was follow a river, I ended up on a hill, and carried on.

Heat exhaustion…..well I just had to attempt 100km on the hottest day of the year.

Not having enough water….I forgot.

Toilet incidences….even the smallest, skinniest of trees look viable, we’ve all been there haven’t we.

Being sick…never again will I look at orange squash in the same way

Chatting too much….pretty sure I’ve lost me a fellow runner due to my natterings….and we all know how much a ultra runner likes a good sound off you know the whole my knee, arse, hip pain is so much worse than yours competition.

What I do know for sure is that this is going to be a very big milestone (no pun intended) for me, one that has taken so long to get to.

I really want to relish every moment leading up to it, try and enjoy the time I shall be doing it and then ensure I get adequate amount of well dones after it.

Wish me luck, and if you get a chance to, please tell me to MFTU and get my amazingly rotund glutes moving.

 

Plank effect


Sometimes I set myself little challenges, ones that are manageable with time, life constraints and other life goals.

Normally I don’t advertise these small triumphs but for whatever reason I changed my mind for this months (February).

I thought that by sharing I would make myself more accountable and perhaps get others to try the same, thus motivating each other to achieve a common goal.

Basically the challenge was to get a Personal Best doing the Plank.

Until February I had been doing 3 minutes to 3 minutes 30 and I was happy with that.

There are a few other major challenges that I have set myself for this year, I wanted something that would give me a boost outside of the bigger things I am aiming for.

The little challenges will, I hope, help the bigger challenge.

So I got my PB, 6 MINUTES: 01 SECONDS.

I will never beat the current world record, 3 hours 7 mintues 15 seconds in 2013, nor do I want to, but I beat mine and that is always going to make me feel good.

http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/records-8000/longest-time-in-an-abdominal-plank-position/)

First 50 km Ultra New Forest Running Festival


Running an ultra whether it’s a local 50 km or world renowned Marathon des Sables takes determination, motivation and quite a lot of crazy with a sprinkling of nuts.

 
After my first attempt at getting into Ultras where I didn’t make cut off time and only managed 28 odd miles (there were another 5 or so to go) I was gutted. 
 
But instead of wallowing in self pity or deciding that Ultras just weren’t my thing I entered myself into another race.
 
A longer one at that 50 miles along the beautfiul South Downs Way.
 
The lessons I learnt from the first attempt I started to put into practice, after of course a well deserved rest over Christmas which extended a bit into the New Year, whoops.
 
I started running hills every week sometimes twice which I hadn’t done before. 
 
Living in Portsmouth I am not blessed living on the edge of lovely inclines so Butser Hill and around has become my training ground.
 
I also added once a week some core work, nothing spectacular the usual that meant I started to feel a bit stronger.
 
Obviously distance running and a few back to backs but anyone with a life knows how hard that can be.
 
A few races in between such as a Eastbourne half marathon and a 21 miler helped my race mindset.
 
I’ve managed to crack at least 80% of what I wanted to do from the lessons I learnt from my first Ultra attempt.
 
So yesterday I set myself up to my second Ultra attempt 50 km in the New Forest on my quest for the 50 mile run next month. 
 
Yes the hill training and long distances had helped, but my core suffered and I hit a wall of pain in my hips after the first lap (17kms) so knowing I had another 2 laps to go was a struggle.
 
What did I rely on, how, when in pain do I push on?
 
All mental, that and the help of others.
 
I had the pleasure of people keeping me on track.
 
Paul was one, who remained with me for about the last 3 hours and even gallantly let me cross the finish line before him.
 
At one point we were joined by a couple who were dancing and singing as they went along, I really, really wanted what they had. 
 
Along the way I received texts from my boyfriend, clients  friends either asking me things like “had I finished” after 3 1/2 hours ha, right. 
To the lovely “you’re a warrior” “you’ve a strong mind and body go for it”.
The Marshalls on the route we’re fab and despite the fact it started to snow in the afternoon they still had smiles on their faces. 
 
Those texts, along with fellow runners, kept me going.
 
So now I can actually say I’ve completed my first Ultra. 
 
Despite the fact I am sat behind my laptop nursing a bad back I am so happy I crossed that finish line and it’s all down to mental strength, a bit of crazy in me, people texting and fellow runners and marshalls helping me along in my plight to be an Ultra Runner.
 
Next up is the South Downs Way, April 13th, 50 miles with 4800ft ascent. 
 
Bring it on. 
 

Giving it a go Ultra Coastal Trail Series Endurance Life


As I write from my bed about yesterday’s event (bed due to the fact I can barely walk not because I am lazy) I am already mulling over next year’s challenge.

So despite not making the last part before cut-off time I still ran the ‘Marathon’ normally that would sound reasonable but the marathon was about 3 miles extra, yep my Garmin 410 read 28 miles some others read 29 miles with over 6,000 ft (2,000 metres) of climbs.

For those who aren’t sure, a Marathon is normally 26.2 miles and yes those extra few miles hurt especially with hills thrown in.

The Ultra was unbelievably tough, ridiculous even, out of 120 people only 46 made the cut off time to complete the full 33.6miles

I did the ‘Marathon’ 29 miler distance in 7 hours 34 minutes.

To give you an idea of the undertaking here are the results of the male and female winners from the two distance both the Ultra 33.6 miles and the Marathon 29 miles.

Amazingly the male Winner for the 33.6 mile Ultra did it in 6 hours 7 minutes.

First female did it in 7 hours 13 minutes

The male winner for the 29 mile Marathon did it in 4 hours 32 minutes.

First female did this Marathon in 5 hours 41 minutes.

So I reckon I did OK considering this was my first attempt,  at what I later found out is the hardest trail race of the whole Coastal Trail Series with Endurance Life of which there are 11 across the UK.

Race day couldn’t have been more perfect weather wise and though it was nippy to start with we soon warmed up especially with the first climb straight up from Lulworth Cove with the first 0.3 miles having an incline of 238 ft everyone walked it well those attempting the Ultra did, all about not getting too overzealous at the start and for a change I managed to keep the pace down.

I really enjoyed the first 10 miles or so, hills were hard but we pushed on, and enjoyed the minimal flatter but by no means flat sections.

Then we came to the 2nd water station and I asked if there was a cut off time, as we hadn’t been told at the start, reply “2pm”.

Sounded fine, we’d been running for about 2 hours 15 at this point I was thinking about keeping the pace low/steady for the first half of the race.

It was then that we realised that it was almost 11am and we had another 16 miles to go to get to the checkpoint before cut off, seemed tough but do-able at the time

Then more hills and more hills, it was just relentless.

But to be honest I thought I could cope with the hills, until the hills become mud slides with barbed wire and thorn bushes either side. No exaggeration.

I think I came of lightly, and only managed one ‘arse over tit’ moment, others didn’t fare so well.

For the first 13 miles or so I had the pleasure of running with an awesome Ultra runner, and I am sure she kept me going for that first part.

After that I was buoyed along by texts from my boyfriend waiting patiently at the finish line, and friends back in Portsmouth.

Those messages helped so much and I can’t thank those enough for helping me along, it does wonders for moral it really does.

At the 3rd checkpoint, mile 18 by 1pm, no way was I going to do the next 8 miles in 1 hour, on a flat course for sure, but this wasn’t flat.

So I sucked it up with many other Ultra runners who hadn’t realised there was a cut off time and did my best to complete the 29 mile marathon.

Which we did, with swearing and sweating combined, crawling and sliding.

To be honest once we’d taken off the ‘stress’ of time we actually enjoyed ourselves and were able to marvel at the scenery and what was a truly fantastic day

I like to think my parents would’ve been proud of me today, regardless of the distance covered or ascent gained and happy that the money we’ve raised so far will help others who have or have had Cancer be able to get better support and treatment.

At the start of this write-up I said I was mulling over next year’s challenge, well I’ve actually gone and done it now, I’ve entered a 50 mile race in April along the South Downs Way.

I think I’ve got the running bug guys and girls.

Thank you to everyone who supported me, listened to my training schedule and me talk running at weekends, who donated and who passed on their ‘good lucks’ and to those who ran with me on the 8/12/12 Susie, Guy and Tom, and others whose names I didn’t get but spirit and motivation I did, every one of you made me have an incredible day.

Without you it wouldn’t have been possible

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almost there


Last long Run done and dusted before marathon, about 22 miles.
Man did it hurt.
I know training for these events are never going to be like a walk in the park, but I really did feel pain at the weekend.
Having to back track 1 1/2 miles did’t help especially as i’d already ran 15 miles by then.
Should have realised really as my route took me through Titchmarch marshes which after heavy rain meant puddles become epic hurdles as rivers flooded routes.
Oh well all part of the fun.
The lovely thing about running especially off road is the places you end up and villages you pass through that perhaps you’d not have otherwise been too.A sense of exploration.
I must admit I had to really push my mind as my knees started to complain, two days later and they feel fine.But at the time I was so close to giving in.
My mantra is ‘mum and dad’.As they are my main motivation for doing this.
I won’t give up otherwise it would feel like I’m giving up on them.
Now I’m tapering I can look back at the journey be proud and look forward to the event and just Enjoy it knowing how hard I worked and all for a great cause.

how does it feel?and balls


How does it feel?

Mentally good afterward.

Physically my body is going what were you thinking???

So I’ve done another one of my weekly long runs in preparation for my up and coming challenges.

Perfect day for it, have to admit that I did get to sit on the Hayling Ferry there and back, and no I didn’t equate this into the duration of the run.

See I knew you’d think that!

Really good to go out on a slightly different route and most of it off road which is always a bonus for me.

Found it odd that I was the only runner out yet on the Hayling Billy Trail, when I came back to good old Pompey I passed a fair few plodding the promenade I kind of liked being the only one for a while though.

With the help of a tennis ball, yes a tennis ball, I helped to ease of the tension that had built up in my hips a bit and my calf’s not just from today’s run but all the running I’ve done this week having clocked up just over 37 miles I needed the tennis ball.

The a tennis ball by the way I use as a self-treatment to ease the knots in my muscles, aka pressure points. I also have started to use them with clients as well for helping them to reconnect to their feet and ease of any tension.

Already planning my next route need something a bit more hilly though.

For now I am going to enjoy my Gluten Free homemade coffee an macadamia cake.

Now that feels really good