A new adventure

On the 20th of August I was in Wales, on holiday. The reason for choosing Wales was easy: I was going to take on the challenge of Racing a Train. Sounds very different I thought. I like different. I signed up!Image result for talyllyn railway race the trainDoesn’t it look fab? My family would be on the train and I would run. Everyone would happy.

Unusually this race takes place on a Saturday ……. and in the afternoon. It turns out that afternoon races are not good for me. There is far too much time to get nervous. I was really nervous. It appears that I was stepping right out of my comfort zone with this race.

So lets put this into context….

I am a fen girl who is used to running on the flat with relatively dry weather. This race takes place in Wales which is wet and hilly. Gales were predicted on the day of the race along with rain. We had travelled down in rain on the Friday and it had continued to rain on Saturday morning. It was going to be muddy! The wind was not that bad for a town on the sea-side but would still be a factor when running the race.

As we arrived in the town where the race started we saw some runners completing the races from the morning. They looked tired and quite muddy. This just added to my mounting feeling of dread. I soon texted my friend saying that I just wanted it to start as I knew that I would be alright once it started.

Lining up at the start it appeared that I as slightly better prepared than my brother who had somehow failed to charge his watch! As the train whistle rang out to start the race we set off. My brothers words of advice echoed around my head: save some energy for the second half as it is more uphill.

Predictably I set off faster than I would have liked but we did have the wind behind us. I managed the first 6 miles in exactly an hour which I was pleased with as the terrain was uneven. I even got to wave at what I thought might be my family on the train as it steamed past! As we got to about half way the ground began to slip away quite steeply to one side – one poor man nearly fell into the bracken a couple of times. At this point I decided that safety had to  come first which was just as well as it got a LOT steeper after this point.

 

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An action – taken whilst running photo.

 

Just after the half way point the path became very narrow and steep. I slowed to a walk but was very aware of those behind me so at the first opportunity I decided to stop to let them past only to find that they were happy walking and ended up holding me up! (Trust me to be so thoughtful of others!)

Once we had passed this part we came to the next, unexpected ‘obstacle’ –  a bog.

We can’t go over it, we can’t go through it. OH no!  We have to go through it.

Squelch, squerch, squelch, squerch!

(Excerpt from the well known children’s book: We’re going on a Bear Hunt)

It was FAB!

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By now I was really getting into my stride. I suppose that I now knew that there was no time pressure, I was just here to enjoy it so I started taking photos.(There was a lovely marshal by this waterfall who actually took my photo with it but I shall spare you that image!)

I would just like to add here that the marshals at this event were the most amazing people ever. I may have been in a vest but these people had to stand in the driving wind and rain for a long time, in the middle of nowhere. They all smiled and were polite. They were nothing short of awesome, especially as a lot of them were not exactly young.

The 14 mile race took me 2 hours and 44 minutes. The elevation gain was 413 metres. Not fast, not flat and VERY MUDDY. I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT. Would I do it again? Definitely. Trail running rocks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The day before

I ma writing this blog post mainly so I remember how I am feeling…… slightly on edge, stressed, excited, nervous, worried……all of those things and more. I cannot really relax and am wondering what an earth I have done….I know that tomorrow it will all be OK but today??? Not so.

I have done lots of distraction type activities that can also come under getting prepared e.g. painting nails:

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(A huge thank you to my wonderful friend nnotsogranny).

I have also painted my toenails in preparation for the day after where open toed shoes will no doubt be the only option! My tag is on my shoe, my label on my bag and some essentials packed. Then I have been on social media and made a little film 🙂

Devices are all being charged fully to ensure that nothing fails on me during the big day. I am, of course also eating and drinking well (chocolate and biscuits count right?) to ensure I have the energy for it all.

I really want this day to be over but to go on forever all at the same time. One thing that I have noticed is that I feel different to how I felt before the other long runs. I am not worried that I cannot do it because I know that I can. I am just dazed by the whole thing. It seems to be everywhere, on the radio, TV, everyone I meet wishes me luck.

The local support from family and friends is amazing. Yesterday I had a big donation to my fundraising page which brought me to tears. The worst thing is, that I don’t know who it is from so I cannot even tell them how much it has meant to me. I am humbled by everyone’s generosity and kindness.

This time tomorrow it will all be over, I cannot decide if I will be excited, relieved or sad.

 

 

Running for charity

This post is a bit late in the day really but throughout the training people have been asking who I am raising money for. When I got the place in the marathon I decided that this time I would just run it for myself as I didn’t want to ask people for money again.

Following a week where I seemed to have rather a lot of enquiries I decided to undertake a quick pole on twitter. It  revealed that maybe I should sign up for a charity so people can give if they wish to. I decided that I would choose to run for Mind again as it wouldn’t cost them anything for a new vest (I already have one) and it is a charity that remains very close to my heart. There is no pressure to raise any money at all but if people feel as if they would like to give then they can.

Not a week doesn’t go by when you don’t hear of someone struggling with their mental health and my heart always goes out to them. My immediate response is that I want to help. Unfortunately I know that I do not have the skills required. Yes, I have suffered in the past but I have no qualifications. The charity does, so the best thing I can do is to raise money for the charity so they can help all these people that need their help.

Should you wish to donate then the link is here.

A bit of a booster

Just a quick post to say that I have just returned from my final long run. 7 miles. I really enjoyed it. The sun was shining, the birds were singing and I kept to my steady marathon pace. It was a great bit of confidence boosting before the next week. I wanted to do more but managed to restrain myself. Bring on next week🙂

 

The awful Taper

I cannot work out if I am sticking my head in the sand and avoiding running or embracing it full on. The mileage has reduced and the running has got harder. I am supposed to have more time on my hands, except I haven’t. I am buried in the cyber world of the computer, searching like a maniac for……I don’t really know.

To put it concisely….I am out of sorts.

I cannot believe that in a week I will be running the London Marathon.

The running has been happening but it feels hard. My legs feel heavy and it is all a bit of an effort. The idea of running 26.2 miles is unthinkable despite knowing that I have am probably fitter than I have ever been. I also feel like I could sleep forever and I am constantly feeling as if I am going to get a cold.

Oh the joys of the taper! Tomorrow I have my last long run of 6 miles. Then that is it.

Once I had competed the Oakley 20, 3 weeks before the marathon, I knew that physically, there was not a lot more that I could do to prepare my body anymore. Training takes 3 weeks to benefit your body so no last-minute cramming (despite the monstrous urges).

I have instead turned my attention to all spending:)

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I love a bit of post.

One day this week I received my one in a million t-shirt. (This year the 1 millionth person to run London Marathon will cross the finish line and everyone who has run it since the start can get a t-shirt with their finishing number on.) I also received my magnetic race pins that say ” I completed the London Marathon”. I love magnets as they don’t put holes through all my best t-shirts and hold running bibs firmly in place. Of course I had to get some for my running partners too. As you can see the company not only sent them through really quickly but also gave me a lovely hand written note. Now I call that brilliant customer service. (For anyone interested the company is called Pinrace. No I have not been paid.)

When it comes to races, I always have to have my nails painted and London is always a special race. My friend last year did my nails for me and has again volunteered. I recently saw on Facebook some ideas for nails and so went hunting online for transfers:

I found these and look forward to getting them on my nails.

This weekend I have been researching shoes to wear for after the marathon as well as gels and things to take with me to help me get around in the first place.

Anything to keep my mind off what I am doing!

My Handmade Wardrobe

Spring has begun to spring here in the UK and I have very much had spring cleaning fever (by that I mean clearing out all the junk that none of us needs). It started off as quite fun but I am now at the point where I have had enough and the house still does not quite look like I would like it to. Hey HO, I shall persevere.

With As part of my Spring clean I decided to tackle my clothes. To be honest I am a bit fed up with my clothes. I don’t know whether it is an age thing or I have not updated recently but I just don’t feel excited by many of my outfits now. Sorting through them I did notice that I have a lot of greeny/browny coloured clothes. I always thought that I was quite a colourful person but it seems not. This is something that I will have to consciously address over the next few months.

I did sort out quite a few things to get rid of (including some smelly running tops that my husband will be so pleased to see the back of). As May is rapidly approaching along with the challenge started by Zoe called me-made-May  where you pledge to wear your handmade and upcycled clothes as much as you  declare, I decided to take photos of the things that  I have made so that I can truly see what clothes I have ready for the May challenge. (Last year I thought that I would have made loads by now…..)

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This was my first ever knitted item that I made when I was a teenager. It is incredibly warm and only worn when I want a bit of comfort.

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This poncho was the first item I made on my return to knitting.

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This Angel wings ‘Bolero’ is a favourite of mine. Nice and warm but not too bulky.

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This falling leaves jumper looks amazing on.

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This is a wrap dress that is the first item of clothing I made from cloth as an adult.

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My first pair of trousers.

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A jersey top.

I also have 2 pairs of socks, a scarf and three shawls. I wear the shawls the most.

At the end of last year I thought that I would manage to make 1 item of clothing a month. I have failed on this target so far although I have a cardigan that is nearly finished (buttons and ends) and another one well on its way. I also have the pieces cut out for another jersey top so if I get my skates on, I am not that far off my target after all……I have just not finished one a month.

 

 

YAY

Sunday was Oakley 20 – a 20 mile event that takes place in an undulating area. I was not looking forward to this at all. I have run it twice in the past and have hated it both times. In addition I told someone from the club that I was running it and he basically said it was a bad idea. Me being me convinced myself that it would be a good idea as a good confidence builder for me should it go well. If it didn’t then……….(lets not go there!)

Bad omens

As I was getting ready to leave I managed to slice my finger on a blade as I was getting something out of a cupboard. Not a good omen.

My Garmin watch strap has broken. Then I left it in the car……so I had to go back for it, I left it in my bag after handing it in…….I had to go back for it. My finger started bleeding everywhere……..no-one had a plaster. Nothing was going my way at all. (Well it wasn’t raining I suppose!)

Demons

I am hoping that I am not the only one who remembers bad parts of runs in minute detail? Once we arrived and parked (on the verge of a road) we made our way down to the start which was quite a walk. All I could think about was how it was all down hill which meant that we would be running up it, twice. It was one of those hills that I had given up on previously.

Saving grace

One thing in my favour was that I was lucky enough to have the lovely company of my brother. He is a lot faster than me normally but he very kindly decided to run with me. This was so awesome of him. He is completely mad (like me?) and so was very entertaining. He also had loads of stories to tell me about running the super challenging marathons that he runs and would like to run. This all passed the time well.

Letting it all slip away

About a mile in 2 St John’s ambulance men passed us on their bikes. I will go and get a plaster for you he said as he sped up to catch them. They were lovely but it did seem to take quite a long time to get a plaster on my finger (about 2 minutes) and all the time I was standing still people were streaming past. I began to think that we would be so far behind everyone else they would all have gone home. Of course they hadn’t in reality.

The good thing about it was that once we started up again we were actually overtaking a lot of people as their pace was that much slower than ours. I also hadn’t realised that there are some people who set off with the idea of walking up all the hills, right from the start and not just when they can no longer face is as I usually do. This made me feel a bit better as I knew I was strong enough to tackle most of the hills.

Waiting for the tumble

It was quite a hot day and there were water stations every 3 miles which we took advantage of. Early on the miles ticked by nicely. I was still quite stressed as I was waiting for everything to come crashing down, specifically I was waiting for particular areas in the race to come up and bite me.

The race consists of one long loop of about 13 miles and then one shorter route. I knew that I could get around the first bit Ok. It is the second loop where I have trouble. As we approached the end of the first route I kept telling myself that it will all be fine. I am strong…..Eventually I passed the first hurdle, and then the next. I am not saying that it was easy but I was still running. I was determined to get further along this year before stopping. I wanted a PB.

As we entered the part of the race where I had never before managed without walking I began to dare to think that I could do it although I was getting a bit tired now. My brother kept singing you can do it, you can do it….(from the film and reminded me to pick my feet up, all of which helped.

7 miles to go was the worst bit as it is still another hour of running to go and I was also beginning to tire. My mind began to play nasty tricks on me. As we got down to 6, then 5 I began to wonder if I was going to make it. I knew that there were some killer hills in the miles 16-18 and kept thinking that if I could get through these I would be OK. My family had come to support me and kept trying to ring me….I had no energy to answer their calls in this race but at mile 19 did manage to pull my phone out. I had not stopped yet…..

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No medals for this race but a hoodie is the reward. A different colour and design every year. This is my favourite yet.

Nor was I going to! I ran the whole way. How I managed it I don’t know but I was so chuffed. My watch said I did it in 3 hours 23 with my official time being 3 hours 25 (that plaster!!). That is a PB of over 20 minutes. Chuffed? You bet. Stiff? Absolutely.🙂

The gamble had paid off. I am now in a really good place for the London Marathon but for now…..TAPER time.