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You can change the outside…

…but it doesn’t change the inside!

Recently I’ve changed a few things. Most noticeably I chopped off about 6 inches or so from my hair! It was the longest it had been in years and I decided it all had to go. I love it, I can’t just tie it in a ponytail like I have been. I have to actually make an effort to do something when I get up in the morning unless I want to leave the house with bed hair! Which isn’t such a great look for the school run. I’ve also had a major colour change. Blondes don’t have more fun so what was the point in staying as one! Ok so that wasn’t the only reason.

Ultimately I know I’ve been making these changes because I’m trying my hardest to put distance between myself and bittersweet memories. Memories which are so good but also so painful too. I’ve thrown out clothes that hold memories. Things that were worn on days that were so amazing. But that now I just look at and all I see is those memories. Memories that hurt now.
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But really though although you make these changes, the physical changes, they don’t change what you feel on the inside. I wish they did. I wish I was a robot that could just delete the feelings, erase them from the computer, never think of them again. But I can’t, I’m not a robot sadly.

Trying to deal with this bomb of emotions has been so hard for me. This time last year I had no idea I’d be in the situation I’m currently in. I’ve learnt alot about myself the past 3 months. I’ve realised things about myself and I’ve shared those with those who are important to me. My life has been turned upside down and inside out with the most amazing memories of some of the happiest times in my life. Times I wouldn’t change for the world. I just have to find some way to accept they are over now, and move on.

Moving on is by far the hardest step in this process and one I’m not quite at yet, no matter how many times I think I am.

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6 months of training planned!

This week I felt really unwell and had to skip on a couple of runs, boy did that kill me, I’m awful at admitting I can’t do a run. I would rather try than not go but I felt truly horrendous. After skipping on Tuesday and Wednesdays runs I went out Thursday instead!

However not running gave me some extra time on Wednesday to do some planning. I opened up Google Calendar and added in all my training runs for my Hal Higdon marathon training plan, I worked backwards from the marathon as my maths is awful and I couldn’t figure out when to start otherwise! Then I came up with some form of training for my current time between half marathons, its only 4 weeks so its not like I could follow a standard training plan!

I’ve also added to my calendar some strength workouts according to the Muddy Race beginners training plan, strength for me is my biggest weakness in the respect that I can’t stand strength training! If I went to the gym I’d be game for weights machines but I don’t. I find sit ups boring. Planking boring. Squatting boring. But I know with Judgement Day and Brutal fast approaching I really need to improve my upper body strength so I have to do it. And I know I’m a sucker for being stuck to what my calendar says. My first strength workout was Friday, it was hanging over me all day until I eventually did it in the evening. I knew if I didn’t do it I’d feel massively guilty! So I did it!

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Novembers training

It does feel good having my training all sorted between now and April does feel a tad daunting, thats 6 months of training planned basically! And also incredibly organised, it wouldn’t have happened had I not had that morning of non running. Its kind of nice knowing I don’t have to think about it.

Annoyingly today I ran 10 miles and have screwed my knee right up. Its been painful a few times after runs recently but I’ve just ignored it! Today I can’t ignore it. It hurts. Alot. I’ve taken painkillers, put ice on it, and I am PRAYING to god it goes away! I’m doing the runner thing of being in denial!

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New Challenges!

Before I had run Bournemouth the other week I knew what my next challenges were, I knew what my training plan was going to look like. And then I read a post on my friend Vikki’s blog and it reminded me how I’m no good at dealing with the here and now. I am forever making plans. Okay admittedly with running you kind of do have to plan because you need to have ideas about how your going to train for that event and you need to have booked your place, so you can’t exactly be spontaneous with running but even so I’m rarely focused on the challenge thats right in front of me, I’m usually focused on the next one that will push me.

So at the moment although I have a couple of 10ks and a half marathon ahead of me my main focus is on Grim Challenge and Judgement Day! I don’t know that its a bad thing as such but I guess I’ve started to realise why I’m always seeking the next big thing. The next challenge to push myself. I get a sense of achievement from doing it and am always looking to ‘better’ myself. Its all on a personal level and I’m not entirely sure where it comes from, possibly its my head still being in a 16 year old headspace of wanting to not be the stereotypical teenage mum. Maybe its from trying to show the doubters that I can do things. Either way I do it.Quot

This year I did my second skydive. I ran my first half marathon and then 12 weeks later ran my first marathon. This weekend just gone I took part in my first mud/OCR style race and have a couple of epic ones coming up before the year is out. So I’ve achieved quite a bit I guess, and yet I’m already looking at next year. I’ve already set myself a couple of goals.

  1. Run two marathons (Ran 1 in 2014)
  2. Run eight half marathons (Will have run 4 in 2014)
  3. Complete a tough mudder
  4. Complete a Spartan race

Its only October and I already have my 2015 goals! See thats how much I look ahead! Tell me I’m not the only person already looking ahead?

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OCR Cherry Popped!

For months now I’ve been enviously looking at pictures of OCR races and secretly wishing some of my friends were mad enough to join me! During the summer when things werent great I had a chat with a few people who do them and they told me I should bite the bullet and enter as the races are really friendly and even if I did go alone I wouldn’t end up alone. So I took the plunge and entered 3 races, the 1st was this Saturday just gone and I had convinced a couple of my running buddies to give it a try with me as it was quite a tame course compared to many!

We rocked up Saturday morning at a YMCA campsite in Southampton to rain, now don’t get me wrong I was mega excited to get muddy but theres nothing worse than starting a race cold and wet! Thankfully the rain eased off ready for the start time!

The first part of the course was up and down across a huge long grassy field, if theres anything I hate running on long grass comes top of my list, I always turn my ankle doing it and my pace drops right down. You went up and down said field 3 times and it was by far the most boring section of the event! After that you crossed over to the other side of the site and into the woods which was great fun! It was hugely muddy, soon after we were faced with our first dunk in water, we had to cross a stream. I bravely said I would go first, well it was my idea after all! I plunged in and then battled to get out the other side! It was hard to climb a riverbank with nothing to hold onto! In the end one of my team mates gave me a good old shove up the backside and I managed to clamber up, we then helped haul each other back out. Once we had crossed once we crossed back over a bridge and ran a bit further down where we had to cross again but this time twice in the water. As this was only a stream I actually found I didn’t find the water too cold, although my face in the first picture of me would suggest otherwise!

We then meandered through more woodland and mud before facing one quick dip across a stream width but deep bit of water where it was easier to swim the few metres, again it was tough to get out, you just had to find your footing somehow! Once out you then rentered and walked along the side of a pontoon before clambering back out and then it was round to the longer water section, you had to get across to a sluice/slide of concrete where you were then plunged into another pond of water and then had to clamber over a tree and then concrete block to get around into another stream where the mud was ridiculously thick, I don’t remember how I got out the first time, my friend got stuck in it behind me and a couple of gents had to help pull her out of it. We then had to run back around and start it all over again.

The sodding field of zig zagging was still there and still boring, mind numbingly so! I was eager to get back over and enjoy the water again! That felt like more of a challenge. The second time around the lake felt even colder and I took a mouthful as we plunged into the bottom pond and promptly tried to spit as much out as possible! Knowing how my friend had got stuck the first time I had a plan for navigating the thickest bit of mud, stay at the edge! I used as many trees as I could grab that were firmly in the ground and not going to give way under my weight and used them to pull myself around until I could grab the bridge and pull up to exit! It worked other than my foot entering the thick mud at one point and I thought I would lose my shoe! I didn’t though! We finished in 1:38 which I’m pleased with for a 10k distance with obstacles, mud and swimming!
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Thankfully this event had hot showers which were very welcome at the end of the event! I know thats a luxury and most events don’t! We got dry and warm and went for a coffee. I was on such a high, and still am in a way. I cannot wait to do another race now! It was so much fun and I loved getting muddy and wet and challenging myself! Its 2 days later and my calves still hurt, as do my shoulders, chest and arms but I love that feeling of knowing you worked really hard! I’m hugely proud of my bruised and battered legs which I’d be proudly showing off in shorts if it wasn’t for the season change!

Would I do Fuddy Mud Sucker again? I would, but I’d do the 5k option not 10, having to face that boring field for a 2nd time was mind numbing and theres no way I’d want to do that twice again but other than that it was a lovely beginners event and now I have a time to beat next year!

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Contemplating personal bests

So if you read yesterdays blog post you will know i achieved this years goal of a sub 2:30 half marathon. In March my first half marathon was 2:34:34. Then in April i ran a half on a marathon training run and got it to 2:32:49. I had booked Bournemouth hoping i could pb. But then last weekend i failed to get my 10k pb im chasing of sub 60 and that knocked my confidence. So much so that i let go of pb hopes and planned to just enjoy bournemouth and not push that hard or anything and just see what happened.

Race morning I had a clif energy bar for breakfast and a bottle of lucozade. I cant stomach porridge in the mornings so ive been looking for an alternative. This was a good alternative. I stopped drinking an hour before the race. Often i unconciously drink right to the start!

When it came to the actual race I wasnt using gels this time. They dont sit well in my stomach and i want to avoid them for marathon training next year! I had a packet of sports beans 30 mins before as advised on the packet and then had them in my belt bag. I took no more than 3 sips of water at all the water stations and barely touched the lucozade i was carrying on me. I had a couple of sports beans about mile 7 as i felt i was flagging slightly but that was it. Totally different to my usual gel routine! So maybe less is more for me.

I wish i knew what it was that helped me pb Sunday. Maybe its because i had been so relaxed and excited about the race. Maybe it was fuelling. Maybe it was sheer fluke! Who knows?! Either way im massively thrilled about it. I never expected to knock even a couple of minutes off let alone 9!

Im now wondering if I train right over the next month if I can pb at a pancake flat course im running at the start of November. Maybe i could get a sub 2:20 :-/

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Bournemouth Half Marathon – A personal best!

Saturday evening my brother drove us down to Bournemouth so that I could run Bournemouth Half Marathon on Sunday morning. We got down there and discovered we had a family room rather than a twin, no complaints from me! And decided to head out to have a walk along the sea front as I wanted to check out the finish line before we went out for dinner! We found our way down and the Supersonic 5k had just started so we stood around for a bit cheering the runners on, there were some awesome lit up costumes including a guy dressed as a xmas tree! I was happy once I had found the finish and knew the layout ready for Sunday so we headed into town for dinner.

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After a fretful nights sleep in which I woke numerous times for no apparent reason the alarm went off all too soon at 6:15! I’m not good at eating early in the day but I managed to stomach my energy bar and a bottle of lucozade. Got myself all dressed and ready to go and was down in reception for 7 to meet a lovely Run Mummy Run lady who had offered to pick me up so we could go to the start together! We got to the start at around 7:15 and were delighted to find toilets that weren’t portaloos! There were some portaloos available for those who needed them but we were able to queue in the athletics stadium. I’d made a point to stop drinking just before 7 in the hope that I’d only need the one toilet trip! It was a bitterly cold crisp morning and all too soon it was time to head to the bag drop and take off my hoodie! It wasn’t a nice feeling it has to be said! Note to self winter races from now on require a black bag for the start! By now it was 7:45 and we needed to get to our green pen so we headed over and found a spot the side and took a couple of pics and chatted to keep us calm in the lead up to the start. The great thing about RMR is you can meet fellow runners who you already have something in common with and you feel like you’ve known them decades, it really helps to put you at ease at the start of races!

The race started pretty much on time which was a relief, the sun was so low and I wish I had taken sun glasses with me, for the first couple of miles I had a couple in front of me running to the pace I wanted to do so I stuck with them for a bit focusing on the gentlemans trainers and ignoring all those who were overtaking me. I knew If I stuck to a steady pace I’d feel better for it later! Around mile 4 they slowed a bit so I overtook them and found a Mum and daughter who I followed for a bit. Then I clocked a lady i had chatted with at the start line and told myself I had to keep her in my sights. Just before mile 6 we joined the beach which was lovely. I didn’t have headphones in and the crowd had spread out so I just enjoyed listening to the sounds of the waves crashing and focusing on keeping a steady pace. I had set my garmin up to a virtual pace of 11:30 but found myself running slightly ahead of it most of the time.

Just after mile 8 you approach boscombe pier and I thought at that point we were going to be running up it, turns out not, we had to turn inland and approached a dark forested area which contained a hideously steep hill, away from crowds the majority of people walked, I may have annoyed a few runners asking them to move over, politely!, so that I could run it! By the top I thought my lungs would explode but they didnt and all was good! I knew I was approaching where my brother was waiting for me and that gave me a new burst of energy knowing I was going to see him. He was waiting next to mile 9 for me and then ran on a bit further to see me again just before we went downhill. Theres a mega steep downhill between 9 and 10, I love downhill running and whilst those around me were putting their brakes on I let my legs take me and I overtook about 15 runners and flew down to the pier area where there were huge crowds cheering us on. Then was the tough part, you were right next to the finish at that stage but had to run all the way back to boscombe pier along the sea front! Just after I passed mile 10 I allowed myself to check the time on my watch, until then I had only looked at my pace. When I saw the time I realised if I ran a steady 5k for the final 3 miles I would be on track to knock almost 10 minutes off my personal best. It was bloody tough to keep running at that pace but I did it and found myself overtaking quite a few runners. Eventually we reached Boscombe pier and I came off it to discover my brother stood by the side of the road with an ice cream! I grabbed a mouthful as my mouth was so hideously dry and I really needed something and then carried on whilst he overtook me and tried to get to the finish ahead of me! I could see him up ahead and kept almost catching him up, it certainly helped me keep my pace up! Bournemouth pier was getting nearer and nearer and before I knew it I was rounding onto it, I overtook a blind gentleman and his guide and then turned back and heard the marshall say 200m to go, that was enough for me to find the 2nd wind and I broke into a sprint overtaking another 3 runners and heard my brother shouting ‘Go Hayley’ from a bend and the marshall next to him joined in with the encouragement. I crossed the line and stopped my garmin and that glorious message of ‘New Record’ popped up! I was overjoyed and pooped all at the same time. One of the marshalls came over and offered me some water and said there was more around the corner.
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Once you crossed the line it was a little walk around to go and fetch your medal and t-shirt, I was thrilled I can now fit a small t-shirt (ignoring the fact the t-shirts are generously sized ;-)). I’d agreed with my brother we would meet at the reunion area and I sat down and stretched whilst I waited for him. I was dying to get in the sea so once he arrived we grabbed my bag from the baggage trucks and I headed straight for the sea front and headed in waist deep to soothe my legs! It hurt but no different to how it hurts when you have an ice bath. I got changed in true british style in the middle of the beach before we headed up to cheer on the marathon runners. My brother suggested eating in the Harry Ramsdens restaurant as we could get a table overlooking the route. I spent my lunch paying no attention to my food as my head was hanging over the side determined not to miss my RMR friends who were running the full marathon, the wait paid off and I spotted 3 out of 4 of them. I’m sure the fellow patrons in the restaurant appreciated my enthusiastic screams when I spotted them!

Overall I really enjoyed it, the route was mostly by the sea which was really nice, we had the perfect weather for running and it was well organised at the finish and start areas. Would I do it again? Yes? Am I contemplating doing Bournemouth full as my 2nd full marathon next year … quite possibly! ;-)

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Birth trauma has no expiry date

Its approaching 8 years since I gave birth to my eldest son. Since then ive had numerous counselling sessions about his birth and spoken with specialised birth reflections counsellors. Day to day it has very little impact on me. But sometimes there will be something that triggers it and it all comes flooding back. The feelings of guilt, dissappintment, heartbreak, failure.

Tonight i was flicking through the channels trying to find something to watch and i came across “Dont drop the baby” which is about educating fathers. It was a really fascinating program and its a shame not more dads have the opportunity for that level of support. Then it came to the births and one mum who wanted a nice natural waterbirth ended up with complications, and that was it. That flood of emotions comes flooding back, hits like a ton of bricks.

The crazy thing is its not the fact i almost died that affects me, its the how different things went to what i had hoped for that bothers me the most. And knowing that because of my two uterus’ i will never be able to attempt a natural birth unless i want to put my life on the line again.

Time is a healer, so they say. But maybe it just numbs it. It still sits there under the surface waiting to be unplugged. Note to self;  dont watch that program again!!!
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