Saturday, 12 November 2011

Full of cold...but lots of stories to tell, yarrrrggh!

I need a good old blog update. It feels like something is majorly missing when I haven’t managed to get an update out there…like there’s a few jigsaw puzzle pieces missing or something along those lines! I have been a bit full of cold (still am…)! However, lots of adventures have been happening in the meantime between the cold and general goings on. So there are about to be a good few blog updates all at once. So here goes….

Foxy’s Staffordshire Marathon - 27/10/11

My first marathon back following the 100th and man was I having withdrawal symptoms, seriously! It was only a few weeks off running a marathon, but I was really feeling it. Mentally I felt unfocused and jittery and in need of a challenge to focus on and look forward…an imminent event to get my teeth stuck in to. Physically I felt ‘fat’ and unfit and not quite myself. It just doesn’t feel right when I’m not doing something. However, sometimes I just have to admit defeat and realise that I’m not superwoman. 

I mean I can do them and feel fine…but I’m not superwoman in the logistics and money sense all of the time. Sometimes it just can’t be done and funds will not allow and in those instances you’ve just gotta’ put it to the back of your head and go out on some training runs and bask in some gym endorphins. Anyway, it was really nice to do this one and be amongst friends. It was a tough course though! The route consisted of 4 out-and-back sections. We would run down the canal approx 3 ½ ish miles and back and out again and back and out again and back and out again and back. It was a very narrow canal path and pretty muddy in sections and the slight camber of the path definitely made me ache a fair bit. The repetitiveness was tough, but the friendliness of the people I know and some of the people on narrow boats – two men on a boat gave me a round of applause that made me smile – made it more enjoyable. Overall, I had a nice day out and finished it off with a lovely pint of Guinness.

Snowdonia Marathon – 29/10/11

Wales is beautiful. The weather is always unpredictable, the scenery is wild and mysterious and the surroundings are just spectacular. Obviously Wales is a very big place, but no matter where you go, there tends to be something of natural beauty to write home about. Snowdonia is of course famous for its mountain :) And there are a fair few hills – to say the least – in this tough ‘road’ marathon. In fact, some dub Snowdonia Marathon as one of the toughest road marathons in the UK – although there are two sections that are off-road; it is largely on road. Starting in Llanberis, the route follows the A4086 and climbs to the top of the Llanberis Pass (Pen y Pass 1,100ft). Therefore, the first 6 miles really do get your legs a bit. Having done the race in both 2009 and 2010, I knew what to expect from the tricky bits and the weather was certainly very wet and windy (especially up this bit) last year. Yet, this year, the weather seemed to be even worse. 

The wind resistance up this first 6 mile stretch was ferocious…really biting chilly wind and rain. However, I do believe – I don’t think I’m alone in thinking this – that without this notoriously awful weather, Snowdonia Marathon wouldn’t be quite the same…its almost part of the challenge. Dropping down to the Pen Y Gwyryd junction, the race then follows the old road along to the campsite until it joins the A498. The first 2K are track, downhill, then the surface returns to tarmac. There is a short, sharp uphill back up to the main road at the campsite. The route then continues to Beddgelert (200ft) and then continues along the A4085 to Waunfawr. From here it is a rapid climb to about 1,200ft at Bwlch y Groes (a short length is unmetalled) and then downhill to the finish in Llanberis.

Now the first year I did this, when I first began the marathon madness I managed to get 4 30ish something. Last year I was very very slow and got in just under 6 hours. This year I was a little faster than last year and got in just over 5 hours. I’m happy with that because I did Foxy’s Staffordshire marathon two days before. I also managed to get a 7ish minute mile in coming down the off-road section after the first tough climb…I’ll take that! It was also a lovely day as it was Rob Bishop’s – a fellow marathon nutter – 100th marathon. So, at the end of the race we were all stood around to congratulate and eat cake and drink champagne. The only downside was that I had forgotten to pack my normal clothes to change into after the race and only had my hoody to put on over my wet running gear. I was pretty freezing and shivering…brrrrr

Rutland Water Marathon - 06/11/11
I was feeling pretty bleurrggghh. Ok, I was feeling really full of cold. In fact, as I write this, I am so full of cold that I haven’t exercised all week, gone the gym, run or anything much at all. It is a full-on horrible nasty cold and I am totally bunged up and without energy. I always feel sorry for myself when I’m like this. I can see mad runner friends on facebook racking up the marathon numbers and theres me, all stationary and not up for action like my usual running self. But last weekend I decided to put the cold to one side and run as planned…that is maybe why I can’t do so now ha!

It was early morning and the alarm went off about 5am and got ignored. Eventually I got up with not much time lost. I was getting driven to the event, so I just needed to be up really with a little breakfast and some coffee. I didn’t really have much to eat at this time, so we got a Costa on the road…I was fuelled around by coffee and a lemon and poppy seed muffin. Yum! When we arrived at the event HQ car park, we were told that the race start was a 20min walk away. I laughed because I thought he was joking, but turns out he wasn’t. I did feel a bit disorganised, but I wasn’t going to rush to the start. I still needed to pin my number on, get my shoes on and go to the loo and also, fill up my water bottle. I figured, there were still lots of people wandering to the start and it was chip timed anyway, so it didn’t really matter if everyone had started when I got to the start. I finally swaggered over to the start line within about 10 seconds of the race starting. 

My stomach wasn’t great, I had snot all over my face and my cold was getting to me. Amazingly, I had a lovely day. I popped some charcoal tablets to settle my stomach – fantastic tip really, especially if you think you will become quite bloated…it really does help! I also tried out some Hammer Nutrition Perpetuem Solids – a chalky kind of energy chew. I don’t love taking gels and the only ones I can stomach properly are High 5 and SIS ones. I felt like these really helped. I ran the entire race with one of next year’s Brathay 10in10’ers, Davey Green…it was lovely to chat to someone so excited about doing something that I have experienced this year. It’s good to pass on advice and to share the excitement all over again. 

Overall, I felt good; even though I definitely needed to stop and walk a few times to wipe my nose and breathe properly…I hate colds. Even so, I felt energised in the last few miles and managed to leggit. I overtook about 5 people :) and finished in just over 5 hours. I was so happy about this, because after battering myself solidly for the last 2 years non-stop, I feel like some of my ‘speed’ is finally coming back. None of it was a struggle – apart from the obvious cold – and in better circumstances I feel like I could ramp it up more and get back into the 4ish hour territory again…something that has seemed so impossible for quite a while now. However, it was a very chilly day and my cold has now worsened…eeeek. I have sniffled my way through the entire week and continue to do so, but I am drinking lots of fluids and relaxing and hope to hit the gym and sauna tomorrow to try and entice some of the cold out of me. After all, I have Likeys Brecon Ultra next weekend :) and I know how tough and wet and chilly weather-wise this event can be…so I need to be as well as I can be. This reminds me, I also need to get the zipper on my OMM jacket fixed pronto…in time for next weekend.

GREAT NEWS is that I now have yet another goal for 2012….I got a ballot place for the GUCR…or Grand Union Canal Race 2012…145miles from Birmingham to London along the canal network…exciting and terrifying all at the same time. There is going to be A LOT of training and running of canals to make them my friends. Generally, I don’t mind canals and they can be quite interesting, but they can also be extremely tough and I know it’ll take hard work and dedication…but I’m up for that!

GOOD NEWS – because I have an awful cold and an event that I had really wanted to do was full this weekend, I got to spend yesterday with two of my favourite people who I haven’t seen in years…Simon has just come back from Aus and Sophinda is still living in my old uni town, but due to work, commitments and lack of money and organisational skill we haven’t really seen each other in so long. It was so amazing to catch up really and I laughed like I haven’t done in so long. I forgot what it was like. A fantastic day was had :)

So now, it just leaves me to say that I am going to go and drink lots more tea and take horrible cold killing stuff

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