Brighton Marathon Race Report – #24events24months

Well after 16 weeks training the day has finally been and gone. I’m sat here writing this with two sore little toes, painful knees, aching muscles and general overwhelming exhaustion but also on such a high!

The weekend started Saturday when I headed down to Brighton via train with my friend who was also running, we got to the expo about 2 and didn’t face any queues, walked straight up to get our numbers no problem. We had a wander around and also recorded some messages on the Saucony stand ready for mile 23 – however on race day that didn’t work! BOOO!
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Before heading off to check in at my hotel and then head for ice cream on the beach! Possibly not great pre race fuel but hey ho! I knew I’d struggle to sleep Saturday night and I wasn’t wrong, I tossed and turned for hours before I nodded off and then when I did I kept waking panicing that I had missed my alarm!

Eventually I woke up to my alarm and felt incredibly sick – the nerves were in full swing! I grabbed a shower and got dressed before heading to breakfast. Stomaching anything was hard though and I just couldnt do it! I was looking out the window at mile 25 and just couldnt face eating! 2 pieces of toast and some weetabix later and I headed back to my room to try and not throw up. I KT taped up and then headed to meet my friend at the station.
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On the way I bumped into two other buddies so we made our way to preston park together which was nice! The park was huge and spacious so it didn’t feel like there were 16000 runners trying to get ready.
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After dropping our bags off we joined the longest toilet queue in history. I may have got a bit annoyed at seeing spectators using the loos! Surely they could wait until we had gone?! 9:15 arrived and we had just finished in the toilet and made our way to the start. Being the last wave we had to wait a while to cross the start but the elites and early runners had already lapped the park and were running along next to us so we cheered them on whilst waiting. And then it was time to go!
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Jo Pavey was there waving everyone off and the crowds meant you couldn’t run fast which was probably a good thing. I overtook a few people and then spotted a lovely lady I know from Instagram up ahead so I made my way through the crowds and tapped her on the shoulder. We had a quick chat and ran together for a bit before I headed off. I was trying my hardest to hold my pace back but it was damn hard. Around mile 5 I spotted my friend Debbie who took a delightful picture of me.
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I knew my family were along the sea front and I was dying to get there. I was still feeling strong at that stage. I rounded the corner and shortly after heard a shout of HAYLEY that sounds really familiar and looked across and saw my best friend and my dad there. I was ahead of pace so ran over and gave them a huge squeeze before carrying on down the road to find my Mum, the boys and their godmother who were near the marina, spotted them and a high five later and I was heading on up the hill. I know that hill as I’ve run it before when I’ve stayed in Brighton and during Brighton Half so knew how long it was. It didn’t fail to disappoint. I was glad for the out and back though as I was distracted looking out for all my friends and cheering them on as I saw them! An hour later and I was back down the hill to give the kids and my Mum a kiss before continuing down to the town which I knew would be full of crowds. I wasn’t sure where my Dad and bestie had moved too but figured they may be past that section.

As I passed mile 14 I spotted my best friend and ran into her arms – I was starving, I never get hungry on runs – EVER! But for some reason yesterday hunger tormented me the whole way around. I nabbed something that I can’t even remember off her and carried on, she told me she would meet me again at mile 18 so I clung onto that. The road in Hove. Oh. My. God. It was never ending. I looked up at one point and all I could see was runners, I couldn’t see where it ended! I was starting to feel quite sick from all the shot blocks and was relieved when someone had some orange segments. I took a quick selfie at 16 and posted it on instagram – at 17 I spotted a toilet with no queue, that actually contained loo roll! And ducked in so that probably knocked a minute or two off my time. At this stage I was still 10 minutes ahead of my pace but knew I wasn’t going to be maintaining it now!

At mile 18 as promised was my beautiful best friend bouncing up and down cheering on the runners and I ran into her arms. She walked with me a bit whilst I snacked again on her little packet of something lol and then I headed off to get to 20. I knew from there it was just 10k. I got there and faced the long road of hell which is the power station. Going out to it was ok. I saw all my buddies and had awesome hugs and tears with 3 of them as they were heading back but when I got to the power station and turned around oh man that road back felt like it was the longest!

At the St Johns I asked if they had anything salty and she gave me some dioralyte … turns out it tastes bloody disgusting so I chucked that after a few sips and topped up my bottle at the next water stop.

23 soon came around and I started to get tearful about Matilda and why I was running. Once the tears started they wouldn’t stop, every person that cheered me on I cried more. And then I spotted my best friend and that was it I was pretty much full on sobbing. She grabbed my arm told me she wasn’t having it and dragged me along telling me to effectively pull my shit together! It was just what I needed and I love her for it. I was on track to still get in under 5:45 which was my Plan B goal. At 25 I left her and started to pick up a bit of a good run pace and another girl near my felt encouraged and said she would join me so we ran down together towards the finish and declared ourselves finishing buddies. Just before 26 I turned around and spotted a man in a rhino suit about 50m behind us and told her we needed to move our shit or the rhino would beat us. I was not going to be beaten by a man in a rhino suit! By now we were at the roundabout and the finish was in sight. My family were on the left hand side cheering me on as we suddenly found a burst of energy and ‘Sprinted’ (I’m sure it actually did not look like a sprint) down to the finish. I was elated to be there and to get a PB! Arms in the air and we crossed that line! I was so happy! A few more tears may have occurred!

We grabbed our medals and cotton tshirts (WHY?! Who wears a damn cotton tshirt – no one! Get your act together Brighton and go for technical then we could all advertise your great run to others when we are training) and some water and snacks before finding our bags. At the end was one of my lovely friends who had said she would wait for me and I grabbed her for the biggest hug before we headed off to find my family.
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I had been fantasizing for half the race about getting into the damn sea so once they were all there I headed in to soothe my legs. Natural ice bath! Can’t really go wrong can you. It hurt like a B****h and I may have swore rather alot but it defo helped!

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Overall I did enjoy the race. It was hard, seriously hard, but I knew I had the mental strength to get through and I did. I’ve knocked 27 minutes off my marathon personal best and had a race that was enjoyable, probably because I knew so many runners doing it. Would I do it again …. Yes!

Now to recover for a little bit and then its time to start training for Liverpool Marathon … EEEK!

Don’t forget this is all for an amazing charity – so please do sponsor me!

 

 

Brighton Marathon – Its here!!!!

How the heck has this come around so damn fast?! It feels like only yesterday that training began! Its been a rollercoaster generally going with the first half being all up and looking positive and then peaking at 20 miles and since then its all gone to pot with training courses taking up unexpected time and holidays, illness getting in the way! I haven’t been running anywhere near as much as I would like to have the past 3 weeks but I guess at least I won’t be overtrained.

I’ve trained for this marathon on 3 runs a week, purposefully because I felt when I did Edinburgh last year I was never getting recovery time from runs and went into the race already tired and that just spelled disaster on so many levels. So this time I am definitely going in the opposite. I had some awesome strong runs during those 3 runs a week, following the pattern of long run, recovery run, speed/tempo run. I could feel myself getting stronger, but that now feels a distant memory and I’m left wondering how the heck I am going to manage 26.2 on Sunday.

I am conscious its as much mental as it is physical and I know I have the mental strength and stubbornness to get through the race. If I cross the start line I won’t stop until I’ve crossed the finish. But what happens in between could be incredibly messy. I know towards the end I’ll get emotional, thats if I don’t to begin with! I cried during my last run on Thursday as I thought about having my family there to see me finish. When I did Edinburgh last year I only had my dad and he only saw me at mile 26! This time around I’m going to have my kids there, parents and friends and that means the absolute world to me! But will also spell plenty of tears no doubt!

The bags are packed. The vest is ready. All thats left to do now is get to Brighton, collect race number, carb load, sleep and then run 26.2 miles! Easy … right?

Of course I’m not just doing it for any old reason, I’m doing it for Matilda Mae, Jennie and family, The Lullaby Trust and all those touched by SIDS. Please do donate. I’m so close to £500, it would feel amazing to break that this weekend!

 

www.justgiving.com/24events24months – or you can text donate as below:

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Not part of the marathon plan!

All winter I have been massively smug at not getting so much as a sniffle. My youngest has been ill numerous times and ive not caught any of his nasty nursery bugs and have remained perfectly healthy. That was until this weekend when on Saturday evening I came down with an almighty cold which has floored me. :-(

With less than 2 weeks to go now until Brighton marathon and my confidence low anyway this is the last thing I needed. It hasnt yet gone onto my chest so thats good but my ears are threatening to turn into an infection I think which would be less than ideal.

Feeling so crap has meant sleeps not exactly happening which is hampering my recovery too I reckon. Im drinking loads, lots of vitamin C, cold and flu meds that arent touching it and generally praying this buggers off sooner rather than later.

If anyone has any magic cures for painful sinuses and ears I’d love to hear them?!

2 weeks to go – Confidence crash

Well for someone who was so happy with how their training had gone. Was feeling really strong, well trained and confident thats all gone! The last two weeks have been challenging trying to fit training in around various life events that popped up. Usually i have enough time its ok but things have been full on and a reminder that when i return to uni next year I wont be able to juggle being a single mum and training for anything. It is imppssible. Last week I got out for a couple of short runs and then ran the new forest 20 miler on Sunday. This week I managed a run on Wednesday evening which was a short and horrific 5k and then 10k on Saturday morning that was meant to be 10 miles. Last night I also came down with a horrific cold, having survived the whole winter without being ill… I GET ONE NOW?!?!

Im upset that my confidence and PMA (Positive mental attitude) have vanished. I was banking on them to get me through it. Now my head is just filled with self doubt and worries about my ability to do this. And to do it well.

I wanted to smash my current marathon time by 30 minutes. Now Im almost 100% certain that wont happen. Maybe letting go of that hope now though is a good thing. Last year when I did edinburgh, my first marathon, i spent weeks unable to see what an achievement in was as i focused on how i had failed to reach my target. Maybe this way i wont have that hanging over my head.

I know its better to turn up to the startline well rested but I cant help but worry I havent done enough.

If anyone has any tips for finding your mojo id love to hear them?

Ultimately I know i will complete it because im doing this for charity. Im doing it for everyone who has sponsored me. Im doing it for Matilda Mae and her brave parents and beautiful siblings and all the other angel babies and their families affected by SIDS. I WILL finish that 26.2.

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Want to win £100?

Well I have a really easy way which also helps charity?! Interested?

As part of my fundraising for 24 Events 24 Months I am doing a fundraiser which sells dates. There are 365 in the year and so far 120 are sold. Each date is £1. You can purchase as many or as few as you want to. When all 365 dates have been sold there will be a random draw and one lucky winner will get £100 and the charity will get £265!

To find out the available dates check out the facebook event HERE

What will you spend your £100 on? Race entry fees? New Running clothes? A special night out? The possibilities are endless!

Brighton Marathon – 30 days to go!

I think its safe to say I’ve massively slacked off on the blogging front! I’m going to blame uni work!

So anyway! 30 days to go … thats like less than a month now! I may be starting to have a bit of a freakout!

Last weekend I took on the Nuts Challenge which although only 7km broke me for the sheer amount of mud and obstacles! However because I’m bonkers, on Tuesday when I still had aches from Saturday I set out for a 20 mile run. I felt that I needed to do the distance to mentally tick it off! It wasn’t pretty and in a way it may have been a good thing doing it when already aching because it meant that I did take it slow and steady rather than going out hard as I quite often do. It was a massive struggle. I fuelled ok I think. Shot blocks definiately work better for me, although by mile 19 I was starting to feel like something solid would be nice. I think I may try carrying a cereal bar with me on my next 20, I don’t want a repeat of Edinburgh Marathons vomitting session!  Water is still a bit of an issue. I struggle to pace it out.

Generally though I’m *sort of* feeling as ready as I’m ever going to be I think. This week is going to be a 40 mile week, next week will be roughly 30 I think and then its time to taper off almost! I’m anxious about the taper period. I know I’ll get that whole maranoia of ‘because I’m not running as far I’m going to lose all my fitness’ but I also know its so important to go into the race with fresh legs!

Chatting with one of my friends this week we were talking about being ready mentally. We were talking about how we both felt we had the mental strength that no matter what happened we would cross the finishing line even if we were crawling. I remember last year at Edinburgh towards the end it was just one foot in front of the other. Inching my way there. But I made it. And hopefully this year I’ll make it feeling even stronger!

The Nuts Challenge – 7km – #24Events24Months

Well its safe to say anyone who follows my facebook page will know that I was absolutely terrified of this race. I couldn’t quite pinpoint why I was so nervous although the fact it had won the award for Toughest Course at the Mudstacle awards probably hadn’t helped things! Then seeing that the water slide I was dreading had been extended…. all little things that probably messed with my head!

We arrived nice and early and set off to collect our packs and watch the first couple of waves head off. Watching them as they headed over the first hay bales and then down the field and off into the unknown! Once they had gone we went to check out Hamburger hill and watch the leader plunge into the water! … It didn’t do anything to help encourage me! Once we had seen that we headed back to the car to get our race gear on and get ready to go. The cars are parked about 5-10 minute walk away depending on how fast you walk!

By the time we were both dressed we had just enough time to dash to the loo, pop bags in the bag drop and keys at the key drop and then it was time to go! A quick warm up which as usual was more like some aerobics class and thus I chose not to knacker myself out before I had even started and then we were off! Down some nice muddy fields and then back around to go over the first haybales. The obstacles have all kind of blended into one. There was plenty of things to climb over, gates, logs. Lots of stream crossings, often down steep banks that involved sliding in on your bum and being helped out the otherside by some kind fellow. 11034344_865127743528328_6999171959761869684_o

The things that stuck in my mind are:

  • The firemans pole – I had been dreading it and it was as bad as expected. I’m not sure how high it is but it felt like it was about 3 storeys tall! I got up there, sat there a while freaking out before deciding I wasn’t doing it, then my friend shouted up at me I was doing this for Tilda, and I knew I couldn’t climb back down that cargo net, there was only one way I was allowed to go and that was down the pole. So again I sat there. Staring at it. Stood up and wrapped my leg around, sat back down, shed a few tears. And then suddenly I was on the ground with adrenaline coursing through my body and jelly legs! I don’t remember making the decision to finally do it. I don’t even remember going down. I’m 90% certain I screamed loudly although as I say I literally do not remember it!
  • Barrels up a slope – thats what I’m going to call them! They are literally a long tube with a rope in it, going up a steep slope. I was certain I wouldn’t be able to get up but with a bit of advising and coaxing from a marshall I managed it, I really do not know how!
  • Tyre wall – I felt so unsafe on this. I just couldn’t get a good grip and trying to get over the top without feeling like you were going to fall didn’t go so well!
  • Hamburger hill water slide – I had been dreading this one too. I hate going underwater, until that point I’d been splashed in the face but hadn’t gone under. I knew this was an inevitability on this obstacle though. I sat at the top and Helen told me she was going to count me down or she would push me. She got to 3 and I went myself. I needed to be in control of it and weather I was ready or not it was going to happen so I decided to just go. I shoved my hand over my nose and promptly flew off the end and went under bum first. I had a few moments panic trying to find the surface, probably mere seconds, and then I was up and searching for the out! 10842194_865127443528358_4294298024568813346_o

There were however a few hilarious moments including laughing at myself when I attempted to stand up having slid down a hill on a tyre and my feet went from beneath me and I landed on my back!

I can’t say I enjoyed it, I’m not certain why. I think maybe because it tested my fears to the maximum, but thats exactly the point of doing this challenge, its not all about being fun! Its about trying my absolute best. I can however say I tackled every single obstacle and completed them all. I didn’t walk around a single one and for that I am proud.

Will I be back at nuts? Yes. I have unfinished business. Maybe now I know what is coming I’ll enjoy next time more. Who knows!

This ticked off event 5 of my 24 during 2015 to raise money for the Lullaby Trust in memory of the beautiful Matilda Mae who passed away suddenly and unexpectedly aged 9 months from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. A healthy baby who went to sleep one night and never woken up, a beautiful angel in the sky. The Lullaby Trust support the research and families affected by SIDS. Please do donate if you can. Thank you.

http://www.justgiving.com/24events24months

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Bath Half Marathon – Race Report

Ok so this ones a week late. I do apologise! Things have been hectic!

We got up bright and early, well not bright actually because it was still dark and headed down the M4 towards Bath. As we had left crazy early and the race didn’t start until 11 it meant having breakfast at a service station! Not necessarily ideal but I had croissants which I may have had if I’d been at home anyway so it wasn’t a problem!

I’d been advised parking in Bath could be a problem and to hit up the park and ride. We headed to the Lansdown Road location and were greeted with a queue already at 8:30 in the morning! I was glad we had got there when we did as I know a few people barely made it to the start on time thanks to 30-60 minute queues at the park and ride! Once we got into Bath itself we followed all the other runners towards the runners village.

I bumped into an old friend and stood chatting before heading off to pop my bag in the bag drop and visit the loo one last time. Around 1030 we decided it was best to head for the start line.

The start was RAMMED, it felt more claustrophobic than the start of Edinburgh Marathon, maybe because it was down smaller streets. Eventually the gun went off and we meandered around to the start line. The gantry clock showed it had taken us 10 minutes to get there. And then we were off! Down one road for a few hundred metres and then a sharp right turn down a hill. A nice way to start the race but I was conscious I’d be coming back up it again! We then went right and headed around the first of the two laps. The crowds were wonderful at this stage and as I had my name on my vest I got plenty of support. Queens square was just a wall of noise! Although marketed as a flat course there were a few short sharp ‘undulations’ that took the wind out of my sails, especially on the second lap! The route continued on down before crossing the river avon and turning back again to rejoin where we had started for a second lap.

By mile 4 or so I was really struggling and wondered if I was going to have to kiss goodbye to my attempt at a PB before decided that no I was going to try my hardest and what happened happened. So I kept on going keeping an eye on my pace and trying to maintain it. When I realised at 10 miles that if I could run the next 3 km in a reasonable time I was on track for a nice big PB I stuck with it and maintained the pace.

The final stretch saw us heading back up the hill we had started down, weaving around a roundabout and then a sharp left and onto the finishing straight. How the hell I managed the sprint finish that I did I do no know. I’d already picked up a sprint on entering a bend and then a woman overtook me and my competitive side kicked in so I sprinted harder!

Crossing the line at 2 hours 16 minutes and 59 seconds! A whopping 6 minutes off my previous PB that was set at Bournemouth Half Marathon!

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I may have cried a bit when I crossed the finish. I ran Bath a year after running my first ever half marathon at Silverstone. I again ran in my Lullaby Trust vest and I ran it for Tilda. I couldn’t have pushed harder for her.

Would I run the race again? Probably not. The whole route was congested and you had to keep your wits about you not to bump into slower runners. The finish funnel was just an absolute mess, it was solid wall to wall with runners and took me almost 15 minutes to escape from. Too many people in too smaller area. Also the park and ride service (which wasn’t part of the half marathon organisation) was shocking on the way back. The queue stretched around the block with people jumping in taxis instead and waiting over 20 minutes for any busses to appear. We then had to stand with a 3 year old on a bus that I’m certain was overcrowded, try the train if your thinking about doing it! The route was lovely, cute medal, nice t-shirt, big changing tent was great. But those minus points did detract from the overall experience and wouldn’t encourage me to return.

Brighton Marathon Training : 48 days to go (Week 10)

Week 10 was half term which meant things were never going to go quite to plan. What didn’t help was having a poorly little man for the week so sleep was quite sporadic. My confidence had also been knocked massively by my *almost passed out* run last weekend!

Tuesday I was scheduled to do 3 miles according to my plan but I wanted to just run and run and run. My head wasn’t in a very good place, can’t remember why not! But something had happened and I was stressed! I decided to go over to windsor great park as I keep telling myself I need more hills practice so I parked up outside Savill Garden and didn’t really plan a route I just kind of ran! I ended up doing 6.5 miles with a 10:32 average pace! As you can see it was quite hilly!

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Wednesday my eldest son requested we go out for a run so I did a little 2km with him and then came home and did some strength work.

Thursday I had planned to go out first thing in the morning before we headed off for a day out, but the forecast wasn’t great so we decided we would go out first and I’d run in the afternoon again. I spent the day absolutely dreading it. I just really did not fancy it. Even with my new #TeamRed UKRunChat tshirt to wear! Eventually though I got myself out the door. It was supposed to be a speedwork session with 1600m speed and 800m recovery but I decided to be kind to myself and just go for a steady run. It averaged 10:35 which I was pleased with as I had been trying to stick to 10:30 as much as possible.

Friday was supposed to be a rest day. But I found out at lunchtime that my Great Aunt had passed away and it had triggered my anxiety in a bad way and I knew the only thing that would calm me down would be to go for a run so I popped my trainers on and headed out the door for a 5k. Nothing fast, nothing special but one that was needed. Averaged 10:09 pace!

Saturday I rested and got ready for Sundays 18 miles in Brighton! One thing that I did differently this week was to make a concious effort to eat more carbs in the lead up to the long run. Friday night was pasta, Saturday lunchtime was a baked sweet potato, Saturday evening was pasta again. This week I was pulling out all the stops not to have to cut my run short thanks to feeling faint! I knew I needed my take a shot block every 20 minutes.

I woke up Sunday to a nice frost in Brighton. I hadn’t packed gloves or a buff so I wasn’t very pleased at the sight of it! But I pulled on my big girl pants and sucked it up. The weather was dry and there were 5 extra miles to be done before I started Brighton Half Marathon. I timed them so that I would finish them and arrive at the start with just enough time for a toilet break and then I’d be off. It worked out well. For the first 5 I didn’t take any shot blocks but did have some sports beans. Once I started the half I was religious about taking the shot block every 20 minutes and low and behold there was no passing out. I managed 18 miles in just under 3 hours 30 minutes which I am THRILLED about. Average pace being 11:38! Faster than my long runs are meant to be but it showed me I can run a fab pace when I put my mind to it! The first 5 I’d been really slow and held back to try and not burn out. And then when the half started I was determined to keep the 2:30 pacer behind me as long as I could and I managed it until about mile 9 when she got ahead (she was however the most erratic pacer I’d ever encountered but thats another story!), my Brighton half chip time was 2:32, not my worst half marathon  time and I’m pleased with it as I wasn’t ‘racing’ it!

That 18 mile run has given me my confidence back. I’m really pleased with how it went and am also mega shocked at the pace and time that I did it in.

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Planning fuel and nutrition on long runs!

So after my hideous blood sugar crash on Saturday I figured its time to sort out fuelling on my runs. Last year I used SIS gels which were fine on training runs but when it came to the big day after 3 hours of gels my stomach couldn’t take anymore and I threw up, not fun!

This year I knew gels were a big no no for me. I’ve been using  handful of jelly babies but as the runs get longer these just aren’t enough. So having done some reading up on how to use Clif Shot Blocks correctly I’m going to try and be better about using them!

The website recommends having 3 15 minutes before activity and then 3-6 an hour. I’ve used a runners world calculation on how much carbohydrate I need per hour and from there I’ve calculated 4 shot blocks an hour, so going to space that out.

I’m going to give this formula a try on Sunday and see how I get on! Wish me luck!