Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The List

Whilst *attempting* to be organised yesterday – a big ask for me because I am rarely organised – I decided to update my Excel database list of marathon/ ultra distance races I have completed. So I drank some coffee, sat down at the computer and inputted lots of numbers and times and things. I eventually worked out after a few mishaps in my calculations (Excel has a mind of its own with numbers and lines sometimes I swear) that I have run 27 road marathons, 54 trail marathons & 47 ultras. I think I did about 65 ultra/ marathon events in 2011. Therefore, apparently I have the UK female record for the most marathons (includes trail stuff) run in a calendar year, which is pretty nice actually.

I enjoyed my little trip down memory lane whilst updating ‘The List’. You start to remember all the adventures, all the mud & times you took unintentional diversions! There are so many adventures within that list of races. I’ve written notes by each entry. Some of my favourite notes/ notes that provoked the most memories are:

Marathon No.5: Baxter's Loch Ness Marathon, 04 October 2009; Time: 04:00:06 – “Pb :) - bus's broke down - great marathon atmosphere”            
Marathon No.10: ULTRA race 45 miler - Day 2, 24 January 2010; Time: 12:11:00 – “Very stiff, but met some lovely people”

Marathon No.17: Neolithic Marathon, 02 May 2010; Time: 05:24:46 – “Day after DNF at Malvern hills ultra (45miles in)! Made me happy”

Marathon No. 34: Ridgeway Challenge 85 miler, 28 August 2010; Time: 25:54:00 – “Feet were in the most pain, but lovely pub at the end!”           
Marathon No.64:  Brathay 10in10 - Day 2, 14 May 2011; Time: 05:40:57    - “I can’t believe what I'm doing - lovely to have support on the course”

Marathon No. 72: Brathay 10in10 - Day 10, 22 May 2011; Time: 05:52:13    - “Hugely emotional & surreal - 2 yrs to the day since my first marathon”      
Marathon No.99:  Where Ravens Dare, 01 October 2011; Time:  09:14:00 – “Very tough, very hot, 5,500+ ft of ascent - 30 miles; got lost :)”

Marathon No.1: Brathay Windermere Marathon, 17 May 2009; Time: 04:04:35 - “First marathon - really enjoyed it / rained a lot at the end!”          

And I remember thinking; it was after my first marathon at Brathay that I was inspired by those 10in10 runners, but at my second marathon at the Isle of Mann, I thought aloud that I wanted to run 100 marathons. It’s nice to go down memory lane sometimes and remember all the little obstacles and unexpected adventures. It helps you to overcome the more difficult obstacles faced through a temporary lack of adventure and achievement. Through it all I know that there are many more adventures waiting for me over the horizon       
“The only real treasure is in your head. Memories are better than diamonds and nobody can steal them from you”Rodman Philbrick

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

'Keep going girl!' Liverpool Marathon

Well, I really enjoyed Liverpool Marathon :o) It has been ‘ages’ since I’ve done a marathon and I haven’t done a really big city marathon for much much longer. I love smaller, quirky and off-road events, but every once in a while it’s really great to do a big event with lots of people. It takes me back to when I first started running and the huge array of different runners and different abilities; it’s always nice to see someone finish their first marathon and there are always lots of them at these events. Also, I haven’t been doing as many events this year due to money and logistics and the last few months have been especially sparse on the race front. Therefore, I was interested in seeing what my running time would be like for this marathon. I have been training again…well, running on my own throughout the week a number of times. When I was knocking out marathons every weekend I very often didn’t train during the week at all and just used it as down time.

Having missed out on Chester, Liverpool is the next closest race to me and it feels like my ‘home race’ just as much as Chester does. I know Liverpool well and I love the city and the architecture. The view over the water in the first half was stunning. If I hadn’t have been running well for once and in some sort of rhythm, I would have stopped to take a picture ;-) The skyline just looked lovely in the morning misty sun and you could see the radio city tower nestled amongst the Liver Buildings. Running towards the Liver Building once through the tunnel was great. They really are fantastic buildings. And the support was so heart-warming around this bit. You have to love the enthusiasm of scousers ;)

I had a really strong first 14 miles and I didn’t stop once and I liked my pace. Then at around 15 miles I really needed the loo. Then I had a bit of an energy dive and took a gel. I have really gotten out of the habit of taking gels. Also, I was feeling all shivery at this point. You know that disorientated feeling you get when it’s a slightly breezy day, but you wear a vest because you know you’ll warm up too quickly otherwise…so you wear a vest, sweat a lot, sweat dries on your skin and then you end up feeling both warm and chilly at the same time? Well, I was feeling a bit like that. Does that make any sense at all? Also, I lost a bit of focus around the 15-17 mile point as it was a long straight stretch with faster runners coming back around the other side and a bit off-putting.

The support was fantastic at this race. Coming out of the tunnel was a very memorable moment. There was a huge band of drummers and the noise and atmosphere put a huge smile on everyone’s face. I also really liked running through the tunnel. I have driven through it countless times but I’ve never before run through it; I’ve never fancied the Tunnel 10k. It was an interesting experience. 

I made a point of not looking at my Garmin yesterday.  I started it a few minutes before we even made it to the front of the crowd of runners and past the start line and then I left it in the zipped pocket of my waist pack. I didn’t look at it until mile 20, when I hoped I might be able to pace myself for a ‘not too bad’ time. I never used to bother with watches. For the first year and a bit of me doing events I didn’t own a Garmin. My times were quicker because I didn’t do so much and trained smarter, but I know I am also guilty of checking my Garmin far too much instead of listening to my body and feeling how I run.


Yesterday I felt good in places and ran strong with how I felt at the time. I went with it. I didn’t rely on my Garmin to tell me what pace I might be running. It felt like enough at that moment. I will definitely try this tactic a lot more. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Garmin, but I think it can distract me a lot in races. Mainly I find it useful for training purposes, crazy off-road events where you don’t necessarily always have a clue how much mileage you are supposed to have done and also, I just like being a geek and uploading the maps and data afterwards. It’s interesting.

I’m going to say that my running was great to start with. Then I lost focus. Then my quads became an issue. I stupidly decided to do some kettle bell squats earlier in the week. These were not even strenuous at the time. Yet, somehow they have left me with DOMS for days. So, going into this marathon I knew my legs were not 100% and I would probably feel that later on and I did. So weighing up the facts, I definitely had the potential to be faster yesterday. I have been faster in the past. However, I have been nowhere near this fast any time in recent memory. It wasn’t super speedy but, for where I have been in the last few years, it felt great to finish in 04:30:33 :O) I’m getting some of my speed back, slowly… woooo! 

I’m really quite pleased with that time. It gives me a bit of hope that I’m moving in the right direction. So, afterwards, we hit a lovely pub we discovered a few months back at Matthew St. festival and I had 3 recovery Guinness’s = happy Sunday. We got chatting to another runner and his wife; they were such lovely people. It was really nice to hear stories about the marathons they have done all over the world. And he was drinking Guinness too… its catching on ;)

Thursday, 27 September 2012

"Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time" , Troly- Curtin

Well ... that worked up a sweat & another 10.39 miles for the week :-) Since we’ve had all this crazy rain today & thunder & lightening earlier, I thought I’d be prepared. I went out on my run all geared up with my OMM on again. It turned out to be the calm after the storm (or before the next). There was a nice breeze. It started off drizzly but drizzled to nothing. Ultimately I ended up feeling pretty hot and sweaty and ended up stripping off the jacket, always fun in the dark when your headphone wires are tangled all over the place. It’s part of the challenge…

And the weather has really been mental today. There’s been lots of lightning. I love storms. Obviously I don’t like running in them (though they certainly make you run faster, like cows…not that you could logically outrun either, but you somehow convince yourself that this is possible and not some illogical crazy runner logic. By the way, cows can run, fast…), but I love watching a good storm and fork lightening. It’s one of nature’s best shows. Then again I’d also like to witness a tornado one day, not for their destructiveness, but for the sheer power, wonder and natural phenomena of it all. And because I cannot comprehend it. It’s interesting to face things that you cannot comprehend. But anyway, yep, the storm had passed – I kind of wish it had passed earlier, since I couldn’t get into Liverpool for Starbucks catch-up with my friend because of flooding on the tracks and serious disruption/ cancellations on Merseyrail trains :(

Sooo weird...

So, I was out for my run. I bumped into two lovely runners I know & had a nice natter and continued on my way. I was thinking that tonight would be an 8 mile night at the most, so I was happy to get a bit more mileage in than I had hoped for. Big developments tonight were that the slugs were back! They were massive. The mysterious ‘floating in thin air’ spider webs were also back in force, probably because it has stopped raining. And there were lots of gnats about again. The trees weren’t dancing as much tonight and I couldn’t see any dodgy hanging branches, so that was good. Lots of puddles about, but that’s the fun bit. Oooh, I nearly forgot that I saw a rabbit. I got really close to it too. In fact, I thought it might be injured because it just stood there and didn’t seem phased by my presence at all. I don’t know, I got squeaked at the other night, I see foxes and get chased by cows and now I don’t frighten rabbits; I’m like Liz Doolittle…

The ‘occupy Auto lift’ hippies that have been camped out on the hilly road outside Auto lift for the last month or so were gone! I was shocked because I was so used to seeing them and their camp. I’m not even sure why or what they were doing there for so long. I’m sure it all made perfect sense to them.

Running up the hill felt much easier today. It’s all a matter of breathing and again, trying not to make it look like I’m struggling too much up the predictably strugglesome’ hill in front of a bunch of glaring motorists.

The song that got me through the last little stretch tonight was a bit of Wheatus and ‘Teenage Dirtbag’. Yes, I know. I have all sorts on my mp3 player. I like to change it up. Last night my power song was ‘Megalomaniac’ by Incubus. A bit of cheese here, a bit of indie, a power ballad or two, some rock and you’re good to go.

By the way, excuse me for the blog writing craziness this week. I’m on a roll; both with writing and running. I guess being ‘in between jobs’ there are only so many jobs you can look and apply for & this way I can occupy my mind. Although, I fear my mind is being too occupied. I haven’t slept earlier than 3am all week. Last night was the worst and I slept for only 3 hours. I tried and tried and I just couldn’t. So, what do I do when I can’t sleep? I seek out interesting snippets of information, usually philosophical to read. But then I end up thinking far too much about what I just read, so rather than trashy, mindless reading, my mind goes ‘Whoah, I thought/ felt/ that happened to me once.’ With my mind gripped by thoughts of insomnia I decided to have a little read around that very topic. Some good snippets of wisdom that struck me were:

"The last refuge of the insomniac is a sense of superiority to the sleeping world." - Leonard Cohen} this struck a chord with me, largely the second bit. Whenever I’m running an ultra & you get onto the night bit, I can’t help but feel a sense of ‘superiority to the sleeping world.’ You’re on an adventure and they’re not. Sure, they might be having nice dreams, but you’re out there actually living yours. And seeing things and experiencing stuff. See, even when I just cannot sleep and I read something not even directly related, I automatically relate it to running in some way.


"Every morning I think: What’s the latest I can sleep in ‘til, and still be on time for work? Well, I used to think that, before unemployment turned every day into a Saturday. " - Jarod Kintz } This one is more self explanatory and made me feel more miserable, but he writes quite quirky stuff, so I’ll let the author off ;-) It made me think I have too much time on my hands, and yet so much to do with it, but only so much that can be done…and I feel lonely *sigh*

"All I want is to sleep--to dream. Life is better in dreams." - Christina Westover} and this one kind of contradicts my feelings of superiority about experiencing more than the sleeping dreamer, whilst crazily running through the night. Sometimes life is better in your dreams. Unless you hallucinate (like some long ultras will give you), then your mind tries to entertain your waking self with bizarre creatures and mad imagery; both entertaining & frightening & maybe funnier than dreaming…

Post -run mugshot of the day...

I just had a thought; If I can’t sleep tonight (which I’m currently not doing because it is gone 2am and I am still wide awake), what will be my reading topic of choice?

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

“Think left and think right and think low and think high. Oh, the thinks you can think up if only you try!” - Dr. Seuss

I guess I was going to begin by saying how great it felt to be out there in the rain tonight. It did. I felt relaxed & I had a nice run. But as I sit here I feel profoundly down all of a sudden. Isn’t life strange? I need to be more social. I spend far too much of the day alone. Alone is good if you don’t feel lonely, but the loneliness is creeping in, so I’m feeling the need for social interaction.

Another nice 10ish miles was run tonight, on a bright note. It was absolutely torrential rain out and there and it was lovely. I had fun dodging puddles. There weren’t so many slugs or snails out tonight. They were obviously overwhelmed by the crazy amount of rain and puddles. Lots of leaves everywhere.  The branches were still hanging around. In fact, there were some really dodgy branches out there tonight. They made me run at fun angles and faster. I was convinced the really big one that has been hanging around for a few weeks now was going to fall. All was ok.

It's a bit rainy out there....

I saw & had a little chat with a lovely runner friend out running tonight as well. She was the only other runner I saw out there. We both had our OMM jackets on. They truly are the best in the rain.

Things that made me jump tonight had nothing to do with weird shrubbery or spider shaped branches. Something made me jump and laugh. Some creature squeaked at me. It was a really cute squeak. It sounded like one of those dog toys, but it was definitely an animal. I was running past the garden of a small farm, so it was probably just a mouse or something. It was really funny. It put a big smile on my face. Then with two miles left to go something growled at me. I cannot determine what it was. I was running past a dark grassy verge where people often walk their dogs. It scared the life out of me, because I thought ‘Uh ohh, DOG!’ Retrospectively I think it was actually someone revving up an engine from one of those houses beyond the verge. It definitely made me fun faster!

Running mugshot of the day ....

Philosophical ponderings of the day: “As soon as we notice that certain types of event "like" to cluster together at certain times, we begin to understand the attitude of the Chinese, whose theories of medicine, philosophy, and even building are based on a "science" of meaningful coincidences. The classical Chinese texts did not ask what causes what, but rather what "likes" to occur with what.”  M.L. von Franz