Mara-mania

Well I may have done something very silly. I *may* have signed up for a marathon! What was I thinking? To be honest I’m not entirely sure.

I’ve always said I would never sign up for a marathon due to the time commitment to train. I have entered the VLM ballot a few times but the chances of getting in are slim so I never worry about that too much.

Back last year when I did the Severn Bridge half the organisers announced that they were planning a full marathon for this year that took place over both bridges. Well that was an opportunity I couldn’t turn down. To run over both Severn Bridges? It’s a dream come true (yes I know, I lead a very boring life!) However, due to the fact that the new bridge goes back into public ownership this year and the confusion surrounding that, it has not come into fruition.

Surprisingly I was really disappointed. I was actually shocked at how disappointed I was that I wasn’t going to run a marathon this year. I thought I would be pleased, dodging a bullet so to speak. But no, I was actually disappointed. So I started looking at other marathons. I finally settled on the Race for Life marathon in Lee Valley London, mainly because of the 8hour cut off. I feel that the 6hour cut off of most marathons would be putting too much pressure on myself.

Payday came and I signed up. I’m currently swinging from “woohoo!” To “what have I done?” I have 6 months to train. Six months to double my longest distance of 13.1miles. And do it comfortably. I am running with a friend so I have every confidence that we will chat our way around the course so it won’t be a flat out run.

I am currently on the look out for a good, flexible training plan that will fit around my (ahem, my kiddies’) busy life. If you’ve got any suggestions then please let me know. I need all the help I can get.

Silverstone Half Marathon

I’m back running half marathons again. I haven’t run longer than 10k since before Christmas but I was so relaxed about this race you’d think I’d been training for months lol!

I was a massive F1 fan growing up. My weekend plans revolved around the TV coverage of the Grand Prix even if that meant getting up at 3am, so I couldn’t wait to run the actual, real life track at Silverstone.

Everyone told me that this was a boring race with nothing to see or keep you going but I didn’t care! I just wanted to be on that track.


My mum came with me on a road trip and I decided that I would run to enjoy this one. It’s a flat, fast track so ideal for a PB but I was going for the experience not the time so I really wanted to enjoy it.


Standing on the start line I met one of my running club so we started off together. She started to struggle after the first mile with her ankle and told me to run on. I felt so guilty. I’ve never left anyone behind before but she insisted and I actually felt in a really good place so I did.


Due to the nature of the course, spectators were few and far between but the marshalls more than made up for the lack of encouragement. They were friendly, smiley and very loud! There was also a DJ that you could hear every so often as you came near to a speaker/sound system.


The course itself was amazing for me. I ran the starting grid, the pit lanes, I ticked off the corners that I could name, I ran the service road. It was amazing. The only weird thing for me was that it was so disorientating. Everything looks the same (tarmac and grass), and there are no landmarks to orientate yourself. There was a marker at each mile, don’t get me wrong but I literally could have been going round in a figure of eight and not known any different. You’ll see why when you look at the route plotted on my Strava.


I hit a wall just after mile 10. I had rang my mum to let her know I was nearly done and then I just felt like I had so far to go. My own fault for not training I know, but I was doing so well time-wise and I had been feeling so good that it took me by surprise. Mile 11-12 was the worse part. That mile felt approx 5 miles long. I really didn’t think I could finish. But I knew my mum was going to be at the finish waiting for me so I struggled on.





I crossed the line and burst into tears!!! Haven’t done that in a while lol! It was a combination of the final struggle plus the overwhelming excitement to be at Silverstone. And I actually managed a really good time! I knocked 2mins and 7 seconds off my PB! It does make me wonder how much I would have knocked off if I had *actually* trained for it though!!


Ah well! There’s always next time. Right?

Save

2016 Roundup

Wow! Can you believe it’s 2017 already? Little Lady will reach her double figures this year! Time really does fly as you get older. Last year has gone in a flash. I think I have achieved quite a bit in 2016.

I did quite a bit of running


We did quite a few things as a family


I made a number of things from fabric and wool

And food featured a lot in 2016 too


I love looking back at highlights of the year and can’t wait to start making “highlights” in 2017 too. 

What was the best bit of your 2016? Can you pick one?

From First to Last

After the joy of the Severn Bridge Night Run I should have known I was due a bad run. 

My club has recently started holding a monthly handicap 5k race. I did the very first one and loved it. It was fantastic to see the runners on an equal playing field.


I came 5th in the very first one and was mega impressed with my time (28:41) until we all realised that the course was short of 5k. I was slightly gutted as my time had smashed my previous PB by a minute. But obviously the lack of distance explains that. 

The rules of the handicap race state that your starting time and place are set by your PB in a previous handicap run. This stops people stating they are slower than they are in order to win. It’s a good rule but it meant that yesterday I had to use the (unachievable) time of 28:41. 

As it happens I was still the slowest and therefore first to set off. It was cold and foggy and my legs felt like lead. I was struggling for breath when I was overtaken just over 1km into the run. I was then overtaken twice more before the halfway point. As we ran the bottom loop every man and his dog overtook me. It was so embarrassing. 

As I came up the last stretch I could see that I was last. But not just last, last by quite a while! I was mortified. Every single person had overtaken me! I had tears in my eyes crossing the finish line and would have cried had Little Lady not been with me!

My time wasn’t a bad one. In fact it’s about right for me at the minute but going from first to last really hurt.


I’ve had a bit of time to think about it since then and really it’s not the end of the world. We all have bad runs and I need to remember that. I had such lovely messages of support from members of my running club who saw how upset I was and that really made my day. It reminded me how supportive the running community can be. 

Onwards and upwards

Severn Bridge Night Run

Wow! What can I say? This run lifted both my mood and my confidence. I absolutely loved it. 

A couple of weeks ago one of the ladies in my run club posted about this run and I immediately signed up for it. It sold out pretty quick apparently so I’m glad I didn’t stop to think about it. 

It was a 5 mile run and I’ve never run a 5 mile race before. I work in kms so I don’t think I’ve ever done a 5mile run in training either. Obviously (as I’ve run Half Marathons) I’ve run further but never just 5miles. I had no idea what to expect or what time I would be likely to finish in. 


My 10k (6.2miles) PB is just over 64mins and this would be just over a mile shorter. However my running hasn’t been up to scratch lately and I was afraid that a big crowd would trigger my anxiety again so I decided to aim to finish just under an hour. That should be doable. 


This picture is at the start. 

Four of us went from my club and the other 3 are very speedy. So speedy in fact that both the ladies won prizes on the night 🙂

The bridge itself is 2.2 miles long so we ran along the right hand side pedestrian walkway into England, up and over the toll booths, into the services and back round onto the other side of the bridge to run back over it. 


I felt very strong running the race. There were a lot of times I could have stopped but when I actually thought about it my body wasn’t actually tired. It was my mind. I pushed through and played games to occupy my mind allowing me to keep going. 

I was pretty pleased to see the 4 mile marker and I knew I had enough to push for the finish. There was a girl in front of me that I wanted to overtake so I started to chase her. But then I was passed by a group of 3 women! I decided to go for it and try to catch them. I over took the group of 3 just before the route took us off the bridge but then we were faced with a hill. Not a big one or a steep one to be honest but I was suddenly afraid I had pushed too soon and I would blow up before the finish. I knew my chances of catching the girl I wanted to pass was slowly fading as she made her way up the hill. Then I spotted one of our run club who had come back for me. He shouted at me and I knew I couldn’t slow now. So I pushed up the hill and not only caught but overtook the girl I had been chasing. I got to the top and ran back down the other side knowing the finish was only around the corner. 

As I rounded the corner, the other ladies from my club were waiting for me. One shouted “run faster and you can sub 55!” I glanced at the time above the finish gantry and sure enough it showed 54:49. I had 10seconds to cross the line if I wanted sub 55. I ran as fast as I could and I did it!! I finished a whole 5minutes faster than I originally wanted! 🙂 

I was so pleased I couldn’t stop smiling. Even when both the other ladies won prizes for being so fast. I was genuinely happy for them. But I was also so happy for me. Not because I had run fast. The race was comfortable for me. To be honest I probably could have pushed a bit more but I needed this to be enjoyable. The fact that I got a really good time (for me) was actually just a bonus. 

Here’s hoping for more races and runs like this one. 

Pen Y Fan

Pen Y Fan is the highest peak in South Wales and according to Wikipedia the highest British peak south of Cadair Idris in Snowdonia.  Not only that, it is also No 88 on my Day Zero List 😉 I’ve wanted to climb it for a while but I’ve never got around to it. So when one of my running club posted that he was thinking of running up Pen y Fan I over eagerly said I’d join him 😳

The day before I was so nervous about going. There would be 5 of us altogether and all of them faster than me. I thought about pulling out but I knew how disappointed I would be if I did. So I decided instead of putting too much pressure on myself to make it to the top as fast as the others, I would set myself a different challenge. If I let them run off, make the top and start coming back down then, as they passed me, I would turn around and follow them to the bottom. My challenge was to see how far up I could get before I had to turn around. 

On the day I dressed warmly but as it was pretty sunny out already I had hopes of stripping layers off. That was until the snow started to come down on the drive there!! There was a lot of nervous laughter in the car at this point. What on earth were we doing??? Then the guys started talking about going up one route and down another. That spoilt my plan. So I mentioned my challenge. I was going to keep it a secret so they didn’t think that I was wimping out by not making it to the top. As soon as I mentioned my plan G said that there was no way he was letting me come all this way and not make it to the top. They would wait for me! I can’t tell you how much this meant to me. 💕

We parked up and could see the snow on the mountain 

 I’m starting to wonder what I’ve let my self into!!

We crossed the bridge and off we went. Wow! It was so much harder than I thought! My legs were screaming from both the cold and the exertion and I could barely catch my breath due to the wind. I struggled on run/walking as best as I could. I was so in awe of the others who just kept ploughing on. 

The higher we got, the less views we had as the fog was hiding the beautiful surroundings. 


We passed a few walkers and they took pride in telling us we were mad! Lol! Says them who were up earlier than us to start out 😉

It got colder and colder and I did feel sorry for the guys who started out in shorts! Mrs C kept telling me “it’s just over the next ridge” except it wasn’t 😂 but she kept saying it. As much as I took the mick out of her for being so wrong all the time, she did an excellent job of keeping my spirits up when I could easily have said “stuff it, I’m going back down”


It was very hard going and I could easily have stopped but between Mrs C and the little part of me that would have been gutted not to reach the top, I kept going. Then finally I could see the top. A walking group laughed as I ran past them shouting “yeeeeeeeesssssssss!!!!!!!!!!” 


It was an absolutely fantastic experience and probably the craziest thing I have ever done. I would love to do it again. Although maybe not in as much snow. 

In the Company of Wolves

*Disclaimer – I was given free tickets for this event but I wasn’t asked for anything in return. I am writing this post because I had such a good time I want to share it with you. As always all opinions are my own, however, the photos are publicity shots taken by Theo Moye (Burn the Curtain Theatre) that were provided by the company after I asked for them.*

Last week the Run Director from my local parkrun offered free tickets to an outdoor theatre production designed for runners. It was based at Cwmcarn Forest Drive and started at 7.30pm. A few of the girls from my running club asked for tickets and so I did too. Mainly because I do enjoy the theatre and I thought this would be a different experience. I lived the closest to the Run Director so I went and picked up all the tickets. During the 2 days that followed my emotions ranged from excitement of doing something new to bricking myself at the thought of running through a forest in the dark!

We were asked as runners to wear red and the walkers to wear blue. We were told to expect around 4-5miles of running (2.5miles for the walkers) but apart from that I really didn’t know what to expect.

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Photo by Theo Moye 30/07/14 Burn the Curtain Theatre present a Company of Wolves.

We set off on the night clutching head torches and huddling together for warmth. We were welcomed and given hand stamps. We waited around til7.30pm when a man took us down towards the lake. There we met the priest and he was very excited that we were able to join him to witness the very special village wedding. He introduced us to the groom and told us that he would help us to warm up while we waited for the bride. What followed was the best warm up routine I have ever seen. He burst into song and had us doing all sorts of moves incuding squats and stretches as “actions” for the song lyrics. I have floated the idea that we should include the same warm up on club nights 😉

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Photo by Theo Moye 29/10/14 Burn the Curtain present ‘A Company of Wolves’ at Sharpham House, near Totnes.

After the warm up the Duke burst in shouting that the bride was missing and he was afraid she had been taken by wolves. It was at this point the runners and walkers were separated as the runners were tasked with finding the wolves and the walkers had to find the bride and return her to her groom.

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Photo by Theo Moye 31/10/15 Burn the Curtain present ‘A Company of Wolves’ at the Forestry Commission’s Haldon Forest Park near Exeter.

As we split off I wondered if it was a good thing to chose the runner group as the faster runners all ran off and I was struggling to keep up with them especially as the paths were so steep. As it got darker however, everyone tended to stick together more and we ended up running more as “a pack” so to speak. Even though the faster runners ran off at first, the slower runners didn’t miss anything as nothing happened until the whole group was together which was obviously a bonus.

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Photo by Theo Moye 29/05/15 Burn the Curtain present Company of Wolves at Longleat.

We met back up with the walkers at about half way, we were provided with hot chocolate and told to mingle and share any information we had learnt so far. The hot chocolate was very welcome as it was so cold at this point, although I was glad they had only given us half a cup when we started running again and it was sloshing around my insides!!

Peter The Priest walking with the Village

Photo by Theo Moye 29/08/14 Burn the Curtain’s A Company of Wolves, Riverside Valley Park, Exeter.

Once it was completely dark I have to admit I was quite nervous. We met a wolf lady who made us turn all our torches off and that was quite scary. It was weird. As much as I knew that nothing would happen to me/us, there were still a lot of things going around in my head. I’ve come to the conclusion that I have an over active imagination lol!

Runners Running in to the Night by Theo Moye

Photo by Theo Moye 30/08/14 Burn the Curtain’s A Company of Wolves, Riverside Valley Park, Exeter.

I won’t give away spoilers in case any one wants to go and see this production on one of the future dates but I will say that I didn’t expect it to take the path it did.

The Duke 2 by Theo Moye

Photo by Theo Moye 30/08/14 Burn the Curtain’s A Company of Wolves, Riverside Valley Park, Exeter.

Having said that, I enjoyed it immensly. I would definitely do it again. Some people said they would like to do it as a walker next time to see it from the other side but I could quite happily do it as a runner again.

The Duke Addressing the Village by Theo Moye

Photo by Theo Moye 29/08/14 Burn the Curtain’s A Company of Wolves, Riverside Valley Park, Exeter.

I did find the run get easier as we went along. Could be because the pace slowed as it got darker I don’t know. It was very cold though. Out in the forest at 10pm it gets pretty cold! I was shivering getting back in the car.

The actors were amazing. They kept in character the whole time and either ran with us or between our group and the walkers. They obviosly have a high fitness level and I’m pretty sure they have as much fun doing it as we did.

If you get chance to see something like this then definitely go for it. Even if you can’t run, pick up a walker ticket. Just wrap up warm and bring spare underpants (joking!)

It was the best fun I have had in ages! I can’t wait for the next one. 🙂