Great Newham 10k and Family Run

Last weekend bright and early we set off for East London. Parking at Westfield for the day we then had the fun of trying to find our way out and to the Olympic park! Easier said than done! Why can’t they have a big sign saying ‘THIS WAY!’

Eventually though we found it and sat in some of the lovely shady bits whilst I waited for Mark to arrive. The morning was already blisteringly hot and wasn’t giving me much faith for a PB, I’d already pretty much written it off. I know I don’t run well in the heat.

Once Mark called to say he was there and we had located each other we dropped bags at the bag drop which was pretty much an unsupervised one, but free so thats kind of ok! Dashed to the toilets and then squeezed our way into the white wave. Our wave was 2nd and then the 3rd and 4th were set off an hour after us!

We started late and already just stood in the heat I could feel the sweat dripping down my back! They kept announcing for people to take it easy and not chase PBs and stood there I knew I wouldn’t be. I’d run as much as was comfortable I decided.

Once across the line we set off for an out and back past the little fun fair they have constructed before taking in an outer loop of the park, passing the bag drop and toilets before making our way up some lovely bridges! In that heat they felt like hills!

The route headed around the Copper Box arena before taking in some of the lovely (#Sarcasm) east london buildings and decor before returning into the Olympic Park at 5km. We then had a few more out and backs before going around the velodrome. At this point I started to feel a bit queasy from pushing myself in the heat and munched a couple of dextrose tablets and soon I felt alright again. Eventually we made our way back to the stadium and on running through the tunnels, thinking at this point we would then be turning into the olympic track, but NO! Instead they were mean and they sent you off round a track on the outside of the stadium! I could have cried!!!!! But eventually we were running back into the stadium and suddenly around the olympic track! I found a bit of a sprint before realising actually 400m is a long way when you’ve already done 10k! So had to ease off a bit again before reaching the last 100m and going for it! Mark grabbed my hand and dragged me along as we sprinted the last stretch across the finish line. I pretty much collapsed at the side trying to regain my breath before we had a long saunter out of the stadium to find the water and medals! In that heat they really could have done with handing some water out inside the stadium!

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The medal was really cool other than it not mentioning the 10k anywhere on it and so I quickly twigged that there was a chance we would get the same medal for the family run!

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Later that afternoon I lined up with my boys, girlfriend and mum and we set off round the family run, totally unsure of the distance. The website had said 2k, the guy at the start said a mile and the actual distance ended up being 2 miles! It was super hot with next to no shade, alot of kids were struggling in teh heat but we made our way around with Mum and my eldest power walking and youngest alternating between running and being carried on mine of the girlfriends shoulders before they got their turn to run around the olympic track which they were super excited by!

When we finished there was an absolute MEGA queue for the medals and water, something that really could have been organised a lot better but they seemed to lack volunteers. Annoyingly it was the exact same medal I’d got that morning which I have to admit is frustrating and a minus point for me. I like different medals for different events, even if it had been the same medal design and just a different ribbon colour!

Overall it was a good day. Its a novelty to run around the olympic track thats for sure. I think the route could be better planned out though in my opinion. There has to be a way to avoid taking you out of the stadium once you are inside it!

Would I do it again? Probably. Would I do the family run again to get the same medal, less chance but possible. Worth the money? Probably not. Its on the pricey side for a 10k but I suspect they get away with that because of the ‘olympic stadium’ pull!

Mens Health Survival of the Fittest – London – 2016

Its no secret that I LOVE the Mens Health London event. I first did it in 2014 with the lovely Elle and it was pretty much my first ‘proper’ OCR. I did it again last year on a freezing cold November day which saw snow across wembley that morning as we stood unwrapping medals as part of our volunteer shift before running it in the afternoon.

This year it was announced they had moved the event from November to July. I have to admit I did find this quite exciting. Running my favourite event without losing feeling in my toes, fingers and other extremities was quite an exciting prospect!

So that I could run it with my buddy we went in a later wave as he was volunteering for the morning so I rocked up about 12 to the event village, zero queue at registration, not the most helpful of ladies giving out T-shirts, and then proceeded to mark up my ‘headband’ which I have to say is the most annoying thing rat race have ever come up with! I didn’t wear mine and just wrote my number on my arm. Wasn’t fancying a white tan line across my head or round my arm!

I had a wander around the event village whilst I waited for Mark to finish his shift and could tell there just wasn’t the atmosphere there usually is at the November events. I watched a few obstacles for a little while and then Mark arrived and we got set to run. They had a free drop for valuables which involved providing a password and then had to pay £2 for the bag drop which they call unsecure and yet there are people manning it to pay the £2 to!

Our wave set off on time and we were soon facing the familiar obstacles that are a standard part of MHSOTF events such as the hay bales a few metres from the start line! Running around the stadium, up the stairs, down the stairs, up the stairs again! Up the stairs with a cone, down the stairs with a cone!

Then off into the industrial park for a length of running which is most definitely ‘trying to add distance’ part of the race! As usual we went down and through the storm drains which were SO much shallower at this time of year than they are in November! It was like a puddle rather than a wade!

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Having a natter in the storm drain lol!

Then out into some obstacle heavy areas with space hoppers, crawls, bounding onto stiles, over walls, an irish table, breeze block crawls and much more! We then crossed the road back into Wembley car park and hit the final obstacles, containers to clamber up, cargo nets to cross, the jump onto a huge air bag, the water-slide and finally the travelator.

Screaming when you've had laryngitis for the week doesn't work!
Screaming when you’ve had laryngitis for the week doesn’t work!
Again lets not discuss the face LOL!
Again lets not discuss the face LOL!

We got there and there were no queues so I took one look at it and sprinted with the last bits I had left in my legs and surprised myself with getting up it first time! Last time it took me a few attempts and a helping hand, this time I did it completely by myself, was very pleased!

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The goodie bag was sorely disappointing this year and definitely something that has got worse over the past 3 years. The medal was decent enough and the ribbon has London on it so I assume the medal design will be the same for all the events with the ribbon just changing on them!

There was much less of an atmosphere than there usually is at MHSOTF events and I found that side of it quite disappointing but I still loved the course. For me its everything I love, road running and obstacles so its by far one of my favourite events!

‘My way or the high way’

Has anyone else noticed how judgemental people in the fitness world are about people who don’t train the way that they train?

I was reading some instagram posts today on various topics, weight training, pole fitness etc and the key theme that often came up was the opinion that people believe their way is right and they aren’t prepared to hear anything different. I’ve noticed this comes down to trainers as well as individuals. They will explain all the reasons why any other form of exercise is the worst possible thing someone could do because their way is the only way forward! Why can’t people just accept that everyone trains in a different way? What works for some doesn’t work for others? What some people like others don’t like? Its like marmite, you love something or you hate it.

For me I hate anything like yoga thats calming and you need to lie still and ‘calm’ your mind with because I can’t do that, thats not me. But I love going all out hard in a spin class. Equally the idea of being in a small more ‘masculine’ weights gym terrifies me, I’m much more comfortable somewhere big where I feel invisable!

I admire crossfit participants I don’t feel it is something that would work for me personally but that doesnt mean I shout about that being ‘wrong’ to people who do crossfit, infact I’m usually found admiring their physique and strength, like the lovely Georgina who looks absolutely stunning and can lift some awesome weights!

Some people only cycle, run, walk, dance, swim, row, play a sport etc. They don’t do anything other than that because they believe that is what works best for them, or because that is what they enjoy. Theres no way you’d catch me  running around a hockey pitch or in a rowing boat but that doesn’t mean I think thats wrong.

So why is it the fitness industry in general can’t just accept that what is ‘best’ is different for everyone?

Gym Love!

I’ve always been a all or nothing kind of person. I get hooked on one thing and that is my thing that gets all my love and attention. It occurs in many areas of my life. Fitness is one of those.

For many years running was ‘the thing’ that I was in love with deeply. But last year when I faced my gym fears due to injury I quickly found a love and obsession for the gym. That was great until I injured my back in November and couldn’t get back in the gym until the end of January! But since then I’ve been totally on it!

I try to make an effort to do classes as much as I can because for me I know I work harder in a class than I tend to in the gym. But if timings don’t work out then I’m quite happy to do a workout in the gym. I don’t feel totally comfortable in the big boys weights rooms but if I poke my head around the corner and its got less than about 10 people in there then I’m happy to go do my thing! But if its busy then I’ll head upstairs and find a quiet little spot!

Ultimately though I’ve seen changes in my body. I can see myself getting stronger. Be it in the muscle definition as well as the numbers on the weights. I like that!

But at the moment I have to juggle it with my running and my heart isn’t in the running. My heart is in the gym. So that’s tough because on a rainy day I’d rather just go to the gym! Which is exactly what I did last week! It was pissing it down so instead of going for a run I went to the gym! Nice air conditioned happy place!

This week I’ve been a bit better about getting my run done first and then ‘rewarding’ myself with a gym session. Which seems a bit weird but thats jut me😀

Now I just have to tackle the food! I’ve been bingeing way too much recently but thats a whole other blog post! Baby steps. Its a marathon not a sprint!

Falling out of love with OCR

For a while now I’ve been aware I have fallen out of love with mud. I don’t know if doing so many events last year just meant I no longer appreciated it. Or if I just didn’t enjoy it anymore. But I was conscious how much I didn’t want to do it anymore.

This weekend just gone I went up to The Suffering Race as a spectator and support crew. Sunday afternoon I found myself sat by a tree watching participants bear crawl to a log, crawl under it and then jump hop all the way through a lake, looking muddy, and broken. And it made me wonder why I ever wanted to put myself through that, it looked like hell!

I felt like that was a whole different person who used to do those races. It didn’t feel like it was ‘me’.

Don’t get me wrong I love going to OCR events and seeing all my buddies and cheering everyone on, but taking part is definitely not going to be happening as much.

I only have a few booked, London Mens Health Survival of the fittest which has minimal mud at the end of July. Dirty Dozen 18k in the middle of August and then just Tough Mudder and the rest of the mens health series towards the end of the year. And then I can’t see me booking anymore.

Why would anyone want to put themselves through muddy pools of water and carry stupidly heavy stuff?

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Oh wait … yeah. I did!

Training plans + Life

In September I am going to be taking on Rat Race Man v Mountain, 22 miles up and back down Snowdon. I spent a while searching for training plans as the official rat race one is based upon time. I’ve always had an issue with time based plans. I personally feel that being a slower runner its all well and good me being ‘out on my feet’ for 2.5 hours but on race day I could well be out double the time I’m training at, if not more! But after discussions in a few Facebook groups I decided I would give the time plan a go.

It officially started last week. I achieved 1 of the 4 runs last week.

This week? I’ve so far managed one of the four. Tomorrow I’ll be adding the second one in but thats all I will fit in this week as I go away this weekend.

It turns out at the moment between my volunteer commitments, the kids, appointments and a few other things, its actually really hard to fit in 4 runs a week at the moment. I don’t want to be doing them on the treadmill in the gym but I can see that happening for some of the ‘undulating’ runs as I live in the flattest place on earth!

As someone who likes to stick as rigidly as possible to my training plans I am finding it really hard not being able to train properly. I think the biggest problem is that the long runs are scheduled for the weekend, all my weekends between here and august are pretty much full! Weekdays I don’t really have the space for those long runs so its all ending up a bit jumbled and making me feel quite stressed.

I know this is an event that I have got to train for. There is no way I’m going to get up snowdon in a half respectable time if I don’t train well!

Race Report: City of London Mile

Last year I saw posts on FB about a mile race in central London which was free to enter and had a medal at the end! I wanted in! So this year when entries were announced I was straight in there. You could choose from a selection of waves and I decided on the womens wave. There were mixed waves and family waves too.

So this morning I rocked up in the city and alongside St Pauls an hour before my wave time. I popped to the toilet, had a mooch around and took in the atmosphere before dropping off my bag at the bag drop and waiting for my wave to be called. Eventually after the previous wave has gone it was time for the women to line up. You line up at the first point and are then taken by marshalls to the next holding area before being moved onto the start line once the previous wave has gone off. It was well organised.

We were on the start line in plenty of time and at 1120 on the dot the gun went off, literally, and we were off! I was quite near the front of our wave and I went out hard. ‘It’s only 1600m’ in my head. ‘Just a mile’ ‘It’s not far’ and so I kept pushing. The halfway sign appeared in no time at all! I looked down at my watch to see it had clocked under 4 minutes! I was gobsmacked but knew now that I was on track to get a pb so I just had to push through.

We rounded a bend and in the very far distance we could see the finish line. It felt like it never got any closer. A couple of times I had to take my foot off the gas a little to regain some breath. Before pushing as hard as possible to the finish line. There was a band playing in the last 400m which was lovely. I crossed the line and tried to find some form of breathing again with an uncomfortably dry throat. I glugged down a bottle of water and picked up my medal before finding a spot in the shade to regain my composure!

Whilst I was sat there two ladies I had been chatting to at the start walked past and they had both managed great times too. I was thrilled I’d got a PB taking my mile PB down to 7:58.61! Under 8minutes! I couldn’t believe it! I’ve not being run training that much recently so I really didn’t expect to do that well today! It made me wonder what I could achieve if I was in top running fitness!

The race village was really well organised. A cake stall and coffee stand, mizuno shop, an engraver and info stand as well as plenty of toilets. It was right next to St Pauls underground station on the central line so it wasn’t difficult to get to!

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For a free event you really couldn’t ask for better! All I paid for it was the £14 for my ticket into London and that was it! And I have a really cute medal for it!

I shall definitely be back next year!

#OrlandoStrong

As many people will know in the early hours of Sunday morning on 12th June one lone gunman opened fire in a gay club in Orlando, USA. Unfortunately his rampage took the lives of 49 innocent men and women as well as injuring 50+. After a few hours the police blew a hole in the wall and the shooter was killed.

I’m a lesbian. I’m gay. Whichever way you choose to look at it. So its not really a surprise that this really affected me. LGBT clubs are designed to be a safe place for LGBT and their friends to enjoy and feel like they are welcome, not judged.

London Pride Parade 2015
London Pride Parade 2015

The gunman was killed. There are questions about his motive, was it homophobia, was it terrorism? A debate occurred on Sky News where one of the participants walked off the live debate as they were not prepared to hear it was both. We aren’t going to know for certain because he has been killed, he won’t face justice. He won’t face the death penalty. He won’t be held accountable for what he did. He won’t be able to answer the questions about why?

London Pride Parade 2015
London Pride Parade 2015

He won’t be able to see the way the world has come together, LGBT and their allies to show love towards Orlando this week. To the families who lost their loved ones and to the many injured. LGBT communities have rallied together. Orlando has rallied together. Vigils have been held around the world.

Yesterday I had a day in London and knowing I was there I couldn’t not visit the London memorial to pay my respects. Flowers, candles and messages of love and support for the victims fill St Marys Churchyard in Soho. Outside some of the clubs there are smaller memorials. It was across the sea but it has affected us too.

June is pride month. Gay pride events around the world occur. And every year the debate is started again as to if we still need to have gay pride? We don’t have straight pride so why have gay pride? When attacks like this happen, when homophobia on this level, as well as smaller attacks such as a trans woman having bricks thrown at her whilst she walks to her local shop, when being gay is illegal in 76 countries still, then yes! We do still need gay pride. We still need to educate the ignorant. We need to show the world that love is love and it makes no difference according to the gender.

London Pride Parade 2015
London Pride Parade 2015

And so the LGBT community will keep fighting for equal rights, to have a voice, to show we are not outcasts. And we will continue to stand together through the attacks on our community. Because being gay is ok!

Race Report: Cookieathon

For years now I’ve seen people posting epic medals they have recieved from Saxon, Vikings and Norman events and have been desperate to join in the fun!

A couple of months ago I signed up for cookieathon. It was laps of a wooded trail. Didn’t sound that bad!

The start time was nice and early at 8am. I’d stayed over at the girlfriends the night before as she is closer so we only had a half hour drive to get there. When we got there about 7.30 the car park was already getting quite full! I popped over to collect my number, got everything ready, went to the toilet and then it was time to be briefed and head off.

The route had a short stretch down a hill towards the start of the loop, this stretch had quite a lot of large rocks, mud and such as we were warned to be careful along it. Once at the bottom we turned left and continued downhill for a while to start the loop. The loop we were using was 5.33 miles and had a decent amount of hills in it.

The first lap I got chatting to a lovely lady who does TONS of events, all about training, running the events themselves and alsorts. It was great as I paced myself well. I tend to go out hard but as I was chatting with her we took it steady, she was aiming for an ultra that day!

At the end of the lap you return to the start area to have your card punched for the laps and can take on a whole array of snacks, water, squash! I grabbed a few glasses of squash, some fudge and cookies before a quick toilet stop and then headed out for my second lap. As I had lost my running buddy at this point I ended up going out quite hard. I felt good and wasn’t feeling the need to walk so I just kept on running for a good mile until I came to an uphill.

I had originally planned 3 laps however it was now raining quite hard, I was running quite fast, so I decided that a better option was to do two laps but with one pushing harder.

I’ve not been training recently so even 10 miles was going to be an interesting experience! The second lap seemed to fly by! I overtook quite a few people who I’d spoken to earlier in the race and before I knew it was running back up the hill to the aid station.

As this is a timed event over 8 hours you ring a bell when your done. This was now my bell running time! I was presented with a HUGE medal and an epic goodie bag and offered the chance to enjoy more bits and pieces from the aid station.

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After that we headed home for a shower, and a well earned snooze!

I can’t wait to do another SVN event, it was so friendly with people encouraging others as they overtook etc. The volunteers at the aid station were just brilliant and so welcoming! Lovely atmosphere! Maybe next time i’ll aim for marathon distance!

Gym Bugbears

I’ve been a member of a gym now for almost a year. Its not the first time I’ve been a gym member but it is the first time I have actually stuck with attending a gym. The first time I have attended gym classes. The first time I’ve made friends at the gym.

But over a year you learn alot about other people.

Such as the guy who comes into the studio every week at the same time as you and your friends and makes the most insane noises during his workout.

Then theres the guy who in a very quiet weights room who feels the need to grunt and groan incredibly loudly whilst using the resistance machines!

Oh and what about the equipment hoggers?! The ones who take up a whole bunch of machines for their workout and won’t allow anyone else to use them!

What about the ones who leave their weights equipment on the floor rather than putting it away! I walked into the small studio at my gym yesterday and there were weights, medicine balls, kettle-bells everywhere! It annoyed the crap out of me so I put it all away!

The class chatters – if you come to a class then listen to the instructor and actually do some work rather than stand there chatting to your mate and ignoring what the instructor said so they have to repeat it again!

And on that note, those who come to classes and just completely ignore what the instructor tells them and just do their own workout and seem to do nothing the instructor says?

Those on their phones in the gym having conversations. I have no issue with those texting, but I was on the rower and a woman was stood at the mirror ‘doing weights’ except she had her neck bent to one side and spent the whole 20 minutes having a very loud conversation on her phone!

Don’t get my wrong. I love the gym. Its become my happy place. But some people really need educating in gym etiquette and general manners sometimes!