Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Fowlmead...........well was it a challenge

It sure was......it was pouring with rain before we even left home, Two hours of driving and although the rain had stopped and started many times the day was looking grey and grim.

The week before I had been on antibiotics to try and clear a touch of Tonsillitis and a head cold, I had made up my mind that if I didn't wake up coughing or spluttering I would run, I had been feeling better since the Thursday, but looking out the car at the rain lashing at the windows I did begin to wonder if maybe I was suffering with a fever for considering that this was a good day to attempt my longest ever run. 

As we pulled into the car park at Fowlmead Country Park it became obvious this was not going to be quite as flat as we thought, The challenge information had said 19 metres of elavation, not hilly but undulating........ I had joked with Mark that I hoped this wasn't going to turn out to be just one big hill.......We could see the park cafe and then this steep slope up to the starting line/base station. Mark went and collected our numbers while I struggled to change into my running tights in the front of the car...*.note to self get dressed at home no matter how long the journey*

My strategy was still to use a run/walk ratio right from the start, I didn't care if everyone went off like a bullet. I was going to stick to my plan and just take it steady, after all 6 hours is nearly three hours longer than my longest run ever. 
We listened to the event briefing, I set my trusty Gymboss to gently bleep and vibrate at each change of run/walk and my Garmin so I could keep a check on the elapsed time, then we were off. Lap 1 was pretty uneventful just trying to get my pace right and not freak out when everyone vanished and I was all alone trying to make sure I stayed to the route. I tried to register landmarks so I would know how I was doing on future laps. 

Laps 2 & 3 were very wet the heavens opened and the trail was starting to get very churned up 64 runners sploshing over the same 3ft wide path led to some pretty quick sand type tracks not the ideal surface for Luna sandals even with injini socks........it was close to the end of lap 3 that I did my first of 2 spectacular Dawn French moments straight out of the Vicar of Dibley.......I'm sure you all know the scence where she jumps in a puddle only to find it comes up to her head............well I slipped and landed sideways up to my armpits in lovely muck.....as Fowlmead is an old coal mine the mud isn't really mud it's Black coal dust tiny tiny bits of grit that get everywhere like sand.........

My second fall came just a few yards further up the same part of the route on lap 4 and it was at this point I decided I was going to quit at the end of lap 5 a half marathon would be just fine............then the sun came out for the first time...........Mark caught up with me (well lapped me really) for a quick chat and that encouraged me to set a new plan, finish the 5 laps in the Luna sandals and then change into my trail shoes and just plod out whatever I could manage till the time was up.

After a change of shoes and a lump of cake I headed back out and finished a further 3 laps, On that last lap I tried to take in all the scenery and soak up the feelings of what for me was an amazing event, all those weeks and months of plodding along on training runs to increase my distance. All those nights where Mark had encouraged me to go faster or push myself harder. All the support from my husband who patiently puts up with my moaning and groaning. Just as I was off daydreaming in a world of my own I looked up to see Barry my husband coming along the path to cheer me on, we had a quick chat and he said Jaime (my future daughter in law) had gone on to the finish to get some photos of me crossing the line. By this time Mark had already finished an Ultra distance of 29 + miles but when he found out that I was going to be the last runner he ran back to run the last 100 meters with me to the finish.......

Yes I was last ....64th place......but I had also completed a fantastic 21.6 miles in 6 hours 9 mins and 27 seconds which put me in 42nd place for distance covered. I know it's slow and I may never be speedy but I will also never forget the fact that 15 months ago I could not run for 30 seconds........I am not disappointed with the result, but there is a little nagging voice that wants to know if I hadn't had two toilet stops (which you had to walk 100 yards downhill then go into the cafe to the loos) maybe just maybe I could of squeezed in another lap or 2 in the time allowed.......................guess we will find out next year  

Before I sign off I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone that made this event possible - the organisers and volunteers were amazing but also my hubby Barry for putting up with me and driving us to and from the event, Jaime for putting up with my cranky mood and last but not least my son and running buddy Mark  who tries his best to bring out the best in me. 

Friday, 10 October 2014

Can You Hear That Banging Sound?...........................

Well can you hear that banging sound?.........that would be my heart!

I keep asking myself.....Are you scared yet? but a little whisper of a voice 
comes back saying......................Nope but I am nervously excited, if I can just stop my knees from making that knocking sound, I might even be able to run...for a while

16 months ago I hadn't even gone for a gentle jog let alone thought about trying to run, so I really can't quite believe I am saying this, but in 24 hours I will be lining up at the start of the Fowlmead Challenge 6 hours to run as many 2.67 mile laps of the beautiful country park as you can run in the time limit.

When I chucked caution to the wind many months ago and entered this event, secretly I thought, oh well even I can manage a couple of laps, then grab a coffee and watch Mark finish (whatever insane distance he achieves), but it wasn't long before it dawned on me that Mark was, how can I put this, encouraging me to complete the whole thing and stay out there for 6 hours. 

My first reaction was 'No way' then as the weeks have gone by and my long run has increased in distance, that little voice has been starting to say things like, 'If you really tried you might be able to go for 3 laps' or 'With a bit of a push, you could do 5 laps, that would be a half marathon' by this point if you have a good imagination, you should be able to hear manic laughter.........Stop....just be quiet, this madness has to stop!!!!! I knew I was in serious trouble when I found myself consulting pace calculators to see if there was anyway I could increase my pace to be able to squeeze in enough laps (10) to do a marathon! 

Well the simple answer is No.....No way, I am just not fit enough or fast enough (this year) After finally coming to my senses, it's time to make a sensible plan.......... I know that no matter how slowly I go, I am just not able to run continuously for 6 hours, so the only way I can stay on my feet and moving is to set out with a Run/Walk strategy right from the first mile. So that is what I am going to do......will I manage 3 laps? a half marathon or more? Your guess right now is as good as mine.................but I am sure looking forward to the journey......................see you on the flip side!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

I'm Really Not Much Good At This Blogging Lark !!!

Well here we are again..........it's August and this is only my second update for the year!!! I really am not good at this blogging lark. Maybe it's more because I don't think anyone else is really that interested in anything I have to say...............

I may not of been a prolific blogger, but I have still been out running and so I guess that is really the important thing. So what have I achieved so far this year? 

March saw me reaching my 55th birthday so to celebrate that milestone I went for a 5.5 mile run, at the end my son Mark presented me with my very own set of tags, if you follow the link to Mark's blog you will see that I brought him tags in December when he did 34 miles for his 34th birthday.

My next challenge began at the end of March, I signed up for the 5x50 
this challenge is to do 5k or 30 minutes exercise everyday for 50 days, you can run, walk, jog or crosstrain. This was great fun and really made a difference to my fitness levels. This took me till nearly the end of May to complete and then it was time to focus on the Race for Life, the event that had been the reason for me to start running in the first place (more on that later)

Nearly forgot there was one more special event, My one year anniversary of running, Mark and I were due to go out for our weekly run anyway but Mark suggested we go back to the Parkrun course that we had used for my graduation run. It was a really warm evening and I was struggling to breathe in the humid conditions, Mark was pushing me hard, it was only towards the end when he was really trying to keep me going that he confessed that he was trying to get me to beat my PB (personal best) I can honestly say it's the first time since starting that I came really close to throwing up......which Mark seemed to find hilarious..........But thanks to his well lets just call it encouragement I did beat my PB when we got back to the car Mark presented me with this:
The compass is my new Monkey Tag Monkey Tag Running is a group that Mark has started on Facebook for runners to get together and arrange local runs just for fun.

So back to the Race for Life..........The big day arrived and off we went, to be honest I was a little nervous, I had built this up in my head as being the run that I had to complete non-stop as fast as I could, however on the day this was not to be. There was so many people that finding a clear space to run was harder than I had imagined. I found myself constantly getting stuck behind groups of people holding hands as they ran blocking most of the path or mums with their kids in buggies, at first I was really frustrated but then after having to stop and walk to allow myself to find a gap between people I knew that I needed to just chill out and enjoy the run no matter what, otherwise it was going to be such a dissapointment. There will be other days for me to run fast or slow run/walk or just run, but the most important part of the Race for Life day was to be part of the great experience of running with nearly 3,000 others all trying to support the fight against Cancer.

So there you have it, almost caught up to the present day. I could promise to post more often, but do you know what? sometimes life just gets in the way.....

Plans for the future...........
9th & 10th August - Volunteering at CP11 - NDW100 by Centurion Running
20th September - Crew for Mark at Tooting 24 - 24hrs to run round a track as many times as possible 
11th October Fowlmead Challenge - 6 hours running round 2.67 mile laps

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Goodbye 2013

Well It's been a while since my last post, but thought I should really do a bit of a round up just to finish off the year. 

When 2013 began I had no idea just how much it would change my life, and in such a positive way

I was due to graduate at the end of November from the C25K (couch to 5k) but during the last few weeks of the plan I had been invited to join a 'Run for Fun' group on Facebook they had organised a Christmas Challenge 5k run on the 1st December, the idea was that all the members that wanted to take part would all run 5k anywhere they wanted but at the same time as everyone else, this seemed like a great way to do my graduation run and commemorate 5 months from starting my running adventure. I knew that my 30 minute graduation run would not get me to the full distance, but I figured that I could run/walk the rest.

As always my wonderful supportive son said he would do the run with me, we agreed we would use a local Parkrun course, my husband, my other son and his partner and Mark's partner Jaime all came along to cheer us on. It was a cold but dry day, we arrived at the park only to find the car park full, so ended up having to park right at the other end of the park leaving us a good walk to our starting point, we used this as our warm up, waved goodbye to our supporters and off we went, 

Our course was to include 3 laps of the lake, the first lap I was still trying to settle into a steady pace and get my breathing under control, by the second lap I was feeling good and apart from having to run around people with pushchairs and avoiding the swans and geese we were doing ok. As we headed into the Third lap I was starting to get a bit tired but I knew I must of almost covered my 30 minute run, within a few mins Mark congratulated me on graduating with a quick high five. I asked how much distance was left for the 5k and he said maybe once more around the lake would do it, I had to stop and stretch for about 30 seconds as my calf muscle was starting to cramp, but I didn't walk we just went straight back to running, about half way round the lake I was really getting slow but Mark kept encouraging me on, he ran ahead and stopped at the 5k distance so I had a finish line to aim for which thankfully was less than a quarter of the way round the lap, I had to dig really deep to keep going but soon enough it was over and I had done it, I had run the whole 5k and that's when Mark told me I had also beaten my personal best by over 7 minutes.........we celebrated with hot chocolate and coffee walnut cake from the park cafe and Mark presented me with my Christmas Challenge medal. All in all a day I will remember for the rest of my life.
Run for Fun 5k Christmas Challenge
I have really enjoyed my running journey so far but I have a lot of people to thank for keeping me motivated, the support from Mark has been amazing and I would of given up long ago without his encouragement, but I must also say that I have found great support from a forum on Runners World in a thread called Starting Again From Then Beginning, also the Run for Fun group on Facebook and the Couch to 5k community on Health Unlocked. I have made so many new online friends, people that I have never met but who have been there for me on the low days when I have needed a virtual hug. Thank You One and all xxx 

Well I have made it, my original plan was to be able to run a 5k so that I could run the Race For Life so what now? I hadn't really thought about that when I started but I am now hooked, I am a runner and I am loving it, so now to plan what 2014 will be about, certainly the promised Race for Life in July, maybe some Parkruns and well who knows I may even look at a race or two.

My first challenge for 2014 I have signed up for is called Run the World which is organised by the Run for Fun Facebook group I will be trying to run a total of 400 miles this year........so I guess it will be watch this space......will I do it!!!!! I sure hope so 

Happy 2014