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!

Brighton Marathon Training : 55 days to go (Week 9)

So week 9 wasn’t a brilliant week. But thats ok. That happens. (Or at least I’m trying to tell myself that!)

Easy Run on Tuesday went ok, faster than the pace Smart Coach dictates it but thats nothing new.

Wednesday I planned to try a group cycling class but it got cancelled so instead I brought a Davina HIIT DVD. Was suprised how much I enjoyed doing it, going to aim to do it at least once a week.

Thursday was 7 miles – 5 @ 10:29. I always find the slower warm up mile really hard, I just feel so awkward! I managed the 5 quite easily and then a nice cool down mile. I had one mile that was super fast as I was envisaging finishing the marathon, having my kids there to see it, getting that medal around my neck and knowing I’m running it for beautiful Matilda Mae and the Lullaby Trust and knowing that I’ll cry when I finish.

Friday was a rest day which was lucky as my youngest has a stinking cold and had barely slept.

Saturday was my long run. I had planned to do 16 miles. For the first 10 miles I felt pretty damn good. Splits for the first 8 miles started with an 11 which was great and I felt nice and steady and strong. So good that I wasn’t paying that much attention to fuelling which I think is where things went horribly wrong. Shortly after mile 10 I started to feel mega faint. This has happened to me before on runs and I hate it. I sat down and had a couple of dextrose tablets but I couldnt properly shake it. I had met up with a friend and managed to run/walk/occasionally sit on the floor and get rid of the light-headedness another 3 miles before I called it a day. I could have pushed on but I’d have been stupid to do so. I was exhausted from little man not sleeping properly and clearly hadn’t fuelled correctly either. Lessons learnt!

Its hard not to feel despondent and down after a crap run where you didn’t reach your target. But I got chatting with some people on twitter, I wasn’t the only one who had had a bad run that day and it was good to chat about some of the reasons why it had gone wrong. I really have to look at my fuelling and come up with a better breakfast strategy too I think. Theres still a few weeks until the marathon so theres time yet.

Mentally its quite a tough battle. I have a goal I want to reach. A beautiful reason for wanting to run these marathons. Its just convincing my body to keep on going no matter how tired it feels!

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Brighton Marathon Training Week 8

So after last Sundays PB on the day after I’d done a 13 mile run, Monday was firmly a rest day! My calf felt incredibly tight so I didn’t do anything other than a bit of foam rollering. My plan this week was a ‘Easy week’.

Tuesday I was meant to run 6 miles however my calf felt like it had a knot in it and knowing my history of that I decided not to push it too far. I managed 4 miles in the snow instead, was a good test for my trail shoes but further aggravated a blister I had on my toe that then turned into a blood blister!

Thursday I ran 6 miles, I chose the Long Walk in Windsor. Parking at Bishopsgate and running down to Windsor Castle and back again. Very straight and slightly hilly so it was ideal training, I need to do some gentle hills. Its not the most inspiring route but it serves a purpose!

Friday was a running rest day but I did a HIIT 20 minute workout and then some yoga, I didn’t think that I’d worked all that much but when I woke up Saturday I had DOMS! Not what I needed going into The Eliminator Race but as you’ll see from my race report and video we still had fun. Its safe to say Sunday I had DOMS on top of my DOMS! Everything hurt! But sometimes you need to run! It was one of those, if I don’t run I won’t calm down moments and so I ignored the DOMS and off I went. 5k averaging 10:28 so quite speedy for me but wasn’t uncomfortably slow!

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I don’t have any big events now for the month of February with the focus firmly being on Brighton marathon!

Oh and I also got a mention on Marathon Talk this week on their Rate my run segment!

After running 13 miles for marathon training on Saturday I didn’t expect to PB at the Winter Run in London. However I put on my charity vest, thought about the beautiful baby who’s memory I am running in and dug deep. Tomorrow is 2 years since she passed away and the least I can do is withstand a bit of discomfort to run hard in her memory. I knocked 55 seconds off my personal best and thought of beautiful Matilda all the way around. Sudden infant death took her too soon aged just 9 months. Running in her memory is a true honour.

Race Report : Eliminator Race – #24events24months

Anyone who follows my 24 Events 24 Months facebook page will know that I was apprehensive about this race. Usually I watch all the youtube videos, read race reviews etc, to prepare for whatever I’m taking on. But because The Eliminator Race was brand spanking new there was none of that to prepare me! Pippingford Park has quite a reputation and I knew there was potential for brutal hills.

The journey there is only about an hour but we got a bit sidetracked chatting and took a wrong turn so took a tad longer but we soon found a queue of traffic that lead to the entrance of Pippingford, I’m sure the locals were loving us! After paying our £5 we parked up and headed for the toilets and registration. In a way the fact we were a tad later was nice as it meant we had just enough time to get everything sorted and then head to the start line! Although the organisers had lost £5k worth of marquees which were going to be the heated changing area they still managed to provide a small bag drop which was great as it meant we could leave our dry robes there to put on as soon as we finished. Once we had deposited them we ‘joined’ the warm up in the sense that we jumped about and watched everyone else. I also had a quick hug with my buddy Muddy Crossfit Girl who was working the finish line.

We started pretty much on time, and I remembered to start my garmin! Bonus! The first stretch was downhill, for quite a while, but we knew it wouldn’t be long before we were going back up again and we were right! The first 10 minutes were downhill and then after that we came to a HUGE hill, all we could see as we looked up was a steady stream of runners meandering their way up! Garmin shows me it took us 10 minutes to get up it, as we looked back we could see across the valley to the event village, it was a fab view there was no denying that!

10974267_906005459430368_5147764392967497302_oAt the top of said hill we came to our first plunge in water. There was a queue for getting in and as usual a few queue jumpers. Whilst we were waiting one guy went charging through and then suddenly dived straight in head first, none of us knew why…. until we were in there! Turns out there were two massive trees under the water and as I was leading us through the water I hit them both with my shins and have some lovely bruising to show for it! Whilst in it I hadn’t realised how cold the water was but when we got out and I couldn’t feel my legs I realised it had been pretty chilly!

From here it remained flat on top of the hill for a short time before heading down about 100m and then back up again, I hadn’t noticed when I was going down that next to us there were people going back up! I’m glad I didn’t see that! Downhill running is usually something I love but on this terrain you had to be so conscious of where you put your feet so I never picked up much speed. It was then downhill again and into a wooded area which provided plenty of thick oozy mud, I spent much of my time ‘mud skating’ and decided I was going sideways as much as forwards! The woods brought a few more dips in a stream, a couple of them had some really high banks which was hard work, including one which came out the river and then went so ridiculously steep that I was on my hands and knees and just couldnt get any grip to get up, we ended up having a chain of people who managed to pull me up! More woods after that before we finally came out into the boggy fields. We had just been commenting that there really wasn’t very much water on this course when suddenly we came across a nice muddy pool and then two ponds!

The finish was uphill so no sprint finish and I dread to think how the finishing photos will look like! I spotted Muddy Crossfit Girl handing out the medals and ran into her arms for a huge hug!

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Once we had our breath back we grabbed a tshirt and headed to the bag drop to pick up our dryrobes before dashing to the car to change. I’ve got to admit I don’t know what I’d do without my dryrobe!

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When we were dry we popped back to the Event village to grab a hot chocolate, there were two catering vans and I decided on the shortest queue! Hot chocolate is hot chocolate after all! Obstacle Race Magazine, Muddy Kit and Mudstacle also had their tents in the event village along with a medal engraving service. There were plenty of toilets and overall it was a well organised event. My only grumble was that the course wasn’t 5 miles and I’m not the only person who’s garmin clocked less than 5 miles! I made it 4.3 miles which is significantly shorter :( Overall though a well organised event, more water would be nice but the course was certainly challenging and throughly enjoyable. We finished inside 1hr 15 which I’m happy with, it was faster than I thought we would be but then we didn’t run as far so swings and roundabouts I guess!

www.justgiving.com/24events24months
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