Worcester Marathon!

20160522_143726I only bloody went and did it! At last I can call myself a proper marathon runner! Worcester Marathon – conquered!

I was SO nervous and jittery last night as I got all my kit together, although surprisingly I slept fairly well. It helped that because Worcester is only half an hour’s drive away, I didn’t have to get up at stupid o’clock! The alarm went off at a very respectable 7.30am, and after a leisurely porridge breakfast I was off!

What was also rather lovely was the fact that my hubs was able to drive me there and back. He usually works on Sundays, but he’d decided to call off his tour for the day to come and cheer me on, yay! And let me tell you, I was SO glad that he did! It was so nice to see him a couple of times on the route and get a cheeky little kiss as I went past to keep my spirits up 🙂

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Me and hubby at the finish!

I was surprised at how big an event it was! Nearly 1000 runners took part, which made for a brilliant atmosphere – on the first lap at least! There was a half marathon at the same time though, and only 255 of us were mad enough to complete the full marathon, which meant that most of the runners and supporters had gone home by the time I started the second lap! It was a beautiful countryside route though (confusing that the medal has Worcester Cathedral on it, seeing as we didn’t actually go anywhere near the city centre!) but OMG it was hilly!! There were a few quite big lumps, but pretty much all the way round was either slightly up or slightly downhill – it never felt particularly flat! “Undulating”, I think they call it!

I had some running buddies on the first lap – two ladies called Rebecca and Lina from Regency Runners in Leamington who I bumped into on the start line – I’d actually met them before in Stratford when I did my second 401 Challenge “marathon” (in quote marks because I’m not 100% convinced that, as a standalone effort, it really counts as a proper marathon if you stop for lunch halfway round!). Lina was doing the half marathon, so we said goodbye to her at the 11 mile mark, which is where the full marathon runners peeled off to start the second lap-and-a-bit. I stuck with Rebecca at her speedy 10 min/mile pace for most of the first lap, but she pulled away from me at around 13 miles and finished in a brilliant time of 4:26:22! ),

I dropped the pace a little bit and stayed with another girl called Jess who we’d got chatting to early on in the race, but she dropped back even further after a few more miles and I heard on the grapevine that she actually retired with an injury at some point. I hope she’s OK! 😦

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Things really started to get tough at around 16-17 miles. I’m not sure if it was “the wall”, but I definitely found it quite mentally challenging once the field significantly thinned out.  It didn’t help that I had to have a quick, ahem, pitstop at around mile 20 (fortunately there was a portaloo, so I didn’t have to use what my friend Amy calls the “facilitrees”!), and I had a massive battle with myself about whether I was going to let myself walk up a big hill that I knew was coming up. As it turns out, I didn’t walk that one, but I did take a few little walk breaks a bit later on. I’m a bit disappointed about that, but I’m not going to dwell on it. It was my first marathon so it just gives me something to build on next time 😉

The last little bit of the race was really nice as it veered off the road and onto the Worcester canal tow path. As I came into the Sixways Stadium car park towards the finish line, Lina came running alongside me, cheering me on and willing me to sprint the finish – I  may not quite have sprinted but I did pick up the pace and finished the race with a big smile on my face – brilliant! I finished in a time of 4:43:36 – a bit slower than I’d have liked, really, but I really don’t care – I did it!! I had wanted to get under 4.5 hours, but now that I’ve done it and realise just how tough it is to run a marathon, I’ve re-evaluated and really don’t think sub-5 hours is bad at all! Like I said, there will be a next time, so it just gives me a target to aim for! 🙂 2016-05-24 21.43.56

https://www.strava.com/activities/584416640/embed/d0b4a6edfc3e4a46d3619120ea93bad00568a9c4

MTR#35: 10 miles – last long run argh!

2016-05-15 15.02.16Today’s 10-miler was my last long run before the marathon next weekend, aarrrgghhh!!! My legs felt a little bit tired, but I was in a good mood, the weather was perfect and I had some great tunes on my iPod so it was easy to keep going. I particularly enjoyed air-ukeleleing to Noah & the Whale!

If the weather gods could arrange for exactly this weather next week – sunny with a nice cool breeze – I’ll be very happy indeed!2016-05-15 18.41.52

I’ll be doing a few short ones this week and then this time next week I will be a proper marathon runner!! It’ll be tough, for sure, but there’s no doubt in my mind that I will make it – the question is, will my right big toenail?!?!

 

https://www.strava.com/activities/576916468/embed/cdfa8922626a784dfb1cddcb52cf3c92e66b63d8

MTR#32: 12.7 miles, but ugh.

2016-05-08 19.51.52Well that was officially my worst run ever.

Having not run all week, apart from a quick and reluctant 5km last night, I knew I needed to get my long run in today, but I was SO not up for it! It was supposed to be my first taper run of 14 miles, so I planned a route that would take me to Tom’s cricket club, where I could have a sit down and watch the cricket for a bit before running back.

Well, that was the plan and I more or less made it to the cricket club OK (just a couple of uphill walk-breaks near the end), but after that I totally lost it and ended up taking a shorter route home, and walking a lot more of it than I’d like.

It was really hot today, which didn’t help, and I felt like there was nothing in my legs, but more than that I was just in a really negative mood. I’m not sure why. It was a beautiful day today, so I tried telling myself to enjoy the scenery even when I was walking, but for some reason everything was making me grumpy.

Bah humbug.

https://www.strava.com/activities/576916451/embed/e56f2105ac84547bb89cadb75ac38c7e5c05c169

MTR#30: 20 MILES!

2016-05-01 16.14.55Oh. My. God. I just ran for over 3.5 hours without stopping and covered 20 motherflippin miles!

SO TIRED!

I was so nervous about doing this run, my longest training run before tapering for the marathon! I wondered if I would be up to it, considering I have been ill recently, and did over 13 miles just the other day, but er, yes, it seems I was!

One thing that has been rather lacking in my marathon training so far is proper fuel. I still haven’t managed to get to a sports shop to buy some gels, but I figured I would probably need a bit of sugary help today, so I got some fizzy and non-fizzy cola bottle jelly sweets from the convenience shop instead! I ate one sweet every mile, which gave me something to look forward to every 10 minutes or so – in fact I definitely appreciated the mouth-watering qualities of the fizzy ones! I am exhausted now but I never felt like I’d completely hit the wall, and my stomach was fine too, so it must have helped (although the sweets did start getting a bit squidgy towards the end from being in my pocket!).

Still not entirely sure where I’m going to find the oomph to keep going another 6 miles…but I’ve been saying that throughout this training and I seem to keep adding the miles on…what’s another 6!?

All together now….TAPER!!!! 😀

MTR#26: 15 miles

2016-04-15 18.39.56I tried really hard to excuse myself from running today as I’m a bit ill, but Tom made me go :-/ Although the glands under my armpits are a bit sore and swollen (which I’m sure you really wanted to know!) and I have a bit of a sniffle, I don’t feel that bad really and it’s certainly not on my chest (yet…) so I’m glad he convinced me to go in the end. Plus we’re going on a little mini-holiday tomorrow so I’ll be having 4 days off – needed to get my long run in, especially as I have missed one training run this week (naughty naughty!)!

Happily my long run this week was a bit of a step-back, so I *only* had to do 15 miles. I took it pretty slowly and dare say I rather enjoyed it, although I am really achy now! I think that might be more to do with the flu I’m fighting than the running, but it probably didn’t help that today’s route was rather hilly!

https://www.strava.com/activities/546274730/embed/41f54ea40b977b1f1e9fb54d7f09bd3f51b61b2c

MTR#23: 2nd 401 Challenge marathon!

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At the start

The absolutely amazing Ben Smith was in Stratford-upon-Avon today, so I just ran a marathon with him…

For those of you who might never have heard of Ben Smith or have a clue what I’m talking about, let me rewind.

On 1st September last year, a bloke from Bristol called Ben Smith began his epic ‘401 Challenge‘ – a challenge to run 401 marathons in 401 days. That’s 401 MARATHONS IN 401 DAYS. Not to belittle what Eddie Izzard recently achieved in his 27-marathons-in-27-days challenge for Sport Relief – and to be fair he did it in South Africa where some days he was running in 40ºC+ heat – but what Ben is doing is absolutely incredible.

Why 401? I think I am telling this right…but basically, after weighing up the various endurance running world records, Ben decided to smash the previous record for the most consecutive marathons by doing a round 400. Then someone dared him to do a victory lap on day 401, so the 401 Challenge was born! He’s aiming to raise £250,000 for two great anti-bullying charities: Stonewall and Kidscape.

If you want to donate some money to his causes, you can text BEN to 70660 to donate £5, or you can donate online here, or buy some 401 merch here.

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Sopping wet, half a marathon down, half to go!

Anyway, I heard about Ben through good old Facebook, and met up with him in December last year to run what I thought would be part of his 102nd marathon in Worcester. I ended up doing the whole thing. It was bloody brilliant. Ben runs at the pace of the slowest runner in the group, stops for lunch and whenever anyone needs to, and Just. Keeps. Going.

So, going back to my opening line, the absolutely amazing Ben Smith was in Stratford-upon-Avon today, so I just ran a marathon with him – again!

The route was more or less the Stratford half marathon route, except we started and finished each loop at Stratford Sports Club and stopped at The Old Tramway for lunch. It’s funny – and I guess shows how much progress I have made in the last year – because there’s a notorious hill on the Stratford HM route, which I remember very well from when I did the HM last year, but d’you know what? I barely noticed it today – and I did it twice! I mean, I *noticed* it, but it was more than manageable!

We faced all weathers today! It looked pretty gloomy when I left this morning, so I had my 401 Challenge long-sleeved running shirt on, topped with my rain jacket, which was – at that point- wholly unnecessary. The jacket came off after around 4 miles as I was too hot. At around 8 miles I phoned Tom, who I knew was heading into Stratford, and asked if he could bring me a running vest as I was absolutely boiling. About 2 miles later the heavens opened and we all got completely drenched! So the running vest (which the wonderful Tom very kindly brought me) was needed not to keep me cool but because everything else was soaked! The sun came out again in the afternoon, and made a lovely end to a lovely day, meeting lots of new and lovely running people.

Extra special kudos to a 50-something year old guy called James who has only been running for 6 months, and only ever run 6 miles before – he completed the whole marathon! What a legend!

https://www.strava.com/activities/539376507/embed/eaa8276e46e15402799a2f8c9aee5ed4c9600591

MTR#20: 17 miles!

2016-04-03 19.07.31The day of the week I dread, then love…long run day!

Today’s target was 17 miles, which I am pleased to say I accomplished, though I am bloody knackered now!

I did take a couple of very short walking breaks, one for which I paused my Garmin so that’s not reflected in the total mileage. This happened a couple of miles in while I took a few minutes to call the police!! As I ran along a country lane I was noticed a car parked up by a farm gate on the side of the road. As I approached it, the four chavvy-looking young lads inside all started shouting to their friend in a field to get back in the car. Odd. Even odder was that as I ran past them, they all tried to hide their faces from me – the lad in the field, who I noticed was carrying a black bag of some sort, even attempting to hide behind a tree (though I clearly saw him!). I’m not sure what they were up to, but they were behaving very suspiciously so I noted the car’s registration plate number and dobbed em in a few metres down the road!

After all that excitement, the rest of the run was fairly uneventful; I just kept on plodding. I actually felt pretty amazing at around the 8-9 mile point – which was ace because that was a particularly hilly bit of the route – but at about 13-14 miles the tiredness really started to kick in (even after my second very short walk-break to eat a chocolate bar). By the end of the run I was achy and tired, but still I did it!

I’m told that, apparently, I will eventually start to feel like I did at 8-9 miles, when I get to 14-15 miles. I look forward to that as I really can’t imagine running another 9 miles on top of what I did today!

https://www.strava.com/activities/534993308/embed/93396e49b42d4aa0aa04496cf819e0ad0145a1d6

MTR#16: 16 hilly miles

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That is the face of a very tired woman.

Happy Easter and welcome to British Summer Time!

I’d been dreading this run all week as I knew I’d probably have to do it on my own, without my running buddy Becky to keep me sane! I meant to do it yesterday, but then beer happened on Friday night so yesterday I was mostly, er, hibernating. At least I’ve now earned the dinner and drinks we’re having with friends tonight (if I can stay awake!)!

Tell you what, 16 miles is a bloody long way!!! And, unlike last week’s largely flat 15 miles, this week I ran a pretty hilly route to test myself. I have no idea what the course profile of the Worcester marathon is like, so I thought I’d better do some hill training! I also forgot to go out and buy some energy gels in the week, so I took a chocolate biscuit with me for energy – not the ideal thing to try and eat while running along, but at least I had something to keep me going – and it didn’t give me a stitch or upset my tummy so all’s good.

My legs feel really tired now, and it’s almost unfeasible to think that I will have to run another 10 miles on top of what I did today in just 8 weeks time! On the other hand, once I’d got over the half marathon mark today, I found it easier – mentally speaking – to keep going, because I knew I could run 15 miles, and what was one more little mile? The hardest bit was probably the first 5 or 6 miles when I still had double-digit mileage left to go.

Oh, and today being the day the clocks went forward for British Summer Time also means it’s the first day of the 5×50 Challenge 2016! I had ummed and ahhed about whether or not I was actually going to sign up for it this year, but I’ve decided I will after all. Between marathon training and netball matches I’ve got most days of the week covered for exercise anyway, so on those days where I don’t have anything particular to do I’ll try and get better at stretching and active recovery.

https://www.strava.com/activities/528223227/embed/b42a9cd91b594d062bcf41bbc54e66518cfb348c

 

MTR#12: 15 miles with Becky – over the half marathon hump!

2016-03-20 14.37.43Well that’s it now, there’s no going back – I am now officially over the half marathon hump! 15 miles – booom!!! 😀

I actually had 14 miles on my marathon plan today, whereas Becky had 20 on hers as she’s doing Manchester Marathon on 11th April. We planned to meet in Stratford after she’d done 6 miles, then we’d continue on together to do 14. When I met Becky she’d only done 5 miles though, so instead of stopping after my 14, I did an extra mile to keep her company while she completed her 20.

I definitely started to tired towards the end – that last extra mile seemed to take forever! – but I generally felt pretty good: no pain today, in pretty good spirits, and I didn’t feel completely spent, which is a good thing as I’ve got to be able to pull another 12 miles out of the bag in 9 weeks time!

Becky gave me an energy gel to try, which I quaffed at the 8 mile mark. No idea if it helped or not, and I’m not a big fan of the sticky, sludgy consistency, but it seemed OK on my stomach so I’ll definitely get some for myself and try them again.

It was a beautiful day for a run, and it was nice to run somewhere different for a change. Chuffed to bits with the sub-10 min mile pace too!!

Rather rudely Strava says I only did 14.9 miles, but my Garmin definitely said 15.03!!

https://www.strava.com/activities/522139972/embed/9e8557e5603de309364bc878d8560c23fae98b70

MTR#8: Long run – 12.5 miles

That smile belies the nausea...

That smile belies the nausea…

It’s never a good idea to get drunk the day before a run, especially not when you’ve got 12 miles on the training plan! But I conveniently forgot about that while getting stuck into the gin at a party we went to last night, so today’s run was rather, er, difficult!!

Still, it was a beautiful day to be outside and although it wasn’t easy, or always very comfortable, I did it, and my pace wasn’t too shabby.

So that’s Week 2 of marathon training DONE! Next week’s long run will a real test: 14 miles, which will be the furthest I’ve ever run in one go. I may give the gin a wide berth next weekend…!

https://www.strava.com/activities/516193747/embed/2e711d60ef4c0125a09a7c7ee4b829b1087043db