Tuesday, 7 February 2012

What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

I have not written a big blog in quite a LONG while and I have really been feeling the need to more than ever, despite the fact that nothing much has really happened. But I feel it needs to. Firstly I feel the need for a festive update of running and stuff….Yup, I know we are now into February…it really has been that long! I have been meaning to update recent race shenanigans. There haven’t been many, but I guess there were a few over the Christmassy period….

Christmas Enigma Marathon – Day 1, 21 December 2011

I had to wait a month for this one. It was my first marathon since the Cornish Marathon and it seemed like such a long time. In reality, it was merely a month, but having become accustomed to running marathons or doubles or an ultra every weekend, this was a long hiatus from running for me. This break was gladly broken and although I wasn’t looking forward to the lappy’ nature of the course (we would have to run around the course 17 ½ times to complete the marathon distance), I was more than happy to be out there running a long distance and seeing lots of familiar faces and friendly runners.

During my month off I had been out running more on my own. ‘Training’ isn’t something that I am always that familiar with; owing to the amount of long distance events that I have done in the last 2 1/2 years; training has taken a bit of a backseat to much needed rest and there’s been a bit of sleep deprivation- triggered lack of motivation. I was interested to see whether my increased training and increased rest from longer distances had increased my speed a bit. I knew that this theory would not be fully tested, due to my mindset not being at its best on a multiple lap course. Some people love laps, but I like to go on an adventure or a journey and run into the distance…I don’t much like going around in circles and it always plays with my mind and interrupts my focus a bit. However, that being said I was still hoping for a bit more speed. I hadn’t got below a 5-hour marathon time in well over a year. I used to be a 4 hour marathon person when I trained better, rested more and did not run so many marathons. I felt a bit sickly/ cramped up in my stomach in the last couple of miles of this marathon – mainly owing to a lack of salt and inadequate refuelling, I concur. Yet, I nearly cried…in fact, I think I did shed a tear upon reaching that finish line in 4:47:17 …it has been such a long time since I had done this ‘well’. I also knocked out a few 8 -9 min miles during the day. I was made up; I didn’t care how I did on Day 2!

Christmas Enigma Marathon – Day 2, 22nd December 2011

I was feeling a little bit stiff and not exactly looking forward to Day 2 and its familiar laps. However, I was again excited to be in such excellent company with all the other crazy runners I know and I had been promised a Christmas shopping meander in Milton Keynes after the marathon. Shopping, now, there’s something the aim for. And so I ran as well as my mind and body permitted and jogged on. I wore my reindeer antlers for a lap, until the wind resistance threatened to send them flying off my head. I tried to keep focused and just relaxed and enjoyed my day. I wanted to do as well as I could, but really I wasn’t so worried about time. Ultimately I finished in around 5:17ish – Job done and a lovely two days had. And Milton Keynes provided a really good shopping experience!

Sunrise to Sunset Holly Challenge Marathon, 27th December 2011

I tried to be good over Christmas and not over-indulge too much, but I think I failed. I’m not normally a ‘drinker’. Well, I don’t go out a lot or have a lot of mad alcohol fuelled benders like lots of people my age often do (although I’m not criticising it…sometimes haha). I normally crave a good pint of Guinness after an event or a nice cold lager, but there’s nothing unusual or over-the-top about that. Christmas, however, always seems to bring out the Baileys, Gin etc; Although, I think it was all the nibbles that accompany the presence of such drinks that had me feeling sheepish. I don’t know how I would have felt if it had not been for these events.

Christmas day had not provided me with a good run, owing to a harsh ground frost and me deciding to go and explore an off-road footpath up the road. It was a marked signposted right of way. However, this didn’t stop some angry scary farmer woman shouting at me from far away to get off the grass…and I was on the very edge of the field. I was already feeling a bit low and that’s why I had gone out for a run in the first place. After that debacle, I decided to run off home and thus, my run was much incomplete.

I was really looking forward to the Sunrise to Sunset challenge - another great chance to see some lovely familiar running faces and have a nice run about. I wasn’t looking forward to the laps…33 laps if I remember correctly and there’s a nice hill thrown in there that you must encounter each lap. You had the option of doing 33 laps for the marathon distance or carrying on until sunset and thereby completing an ultra of whatever distance it ended up being. I had intended to carry on. However, the laps played their mind games and my left hip-flexor was also complaining. I really didn’t fancy messing up my hip flexor and fortunately it has been ok since that day.

I decided to just do the marathon distance. It was a great day out and I ran faster than I had previously run early in the year on that course. We were also treated to jacket potatoes and bolognaise on completion. Yum! Small independently organised events like these always make me smile. They’re small, but so friendly. You always end up seeing so many familiar faces and there is always a sociable atmosphere. If I’m ever feeling down, I think about people such as these and remember that the world is full of fun, inspiring, kind-spirited people. You just have to think of them and block out the baddies and then it’s a brighter day. This is one of the best things about running; the people.


Back to earlier thoughts of not much happening lately; well there was Christmas I suppose. That feels like it was so long ago now. It came along so fast and it went by even faster. And now we are well into January and the New Year. Its crazy how fast time goes and yet at the time it can sometimes feel like it is dragging by a little bit with all the ‘boring’ everyday bits and bobs going on. But it goes by so fast. I want this year to be the year where a lot happens for me, but I don’t want it to absolutely fly by. It makes me sad to think that it absolutely flies by. And then before you know it you’re another year older and you try to figure out what you have achieved from it all.

Last year I met a few goals that I wanted to and a few are still outstanding. I reached 100 marathon distance events and I completed the Brathay 10 marathons in 10 days challenge; I met lots of amazing people and had some amazing adventures. I did NOT find a new, ‘graduate level’ job (or whatever that means these days); I did not complete a 100 miler; I didn’t visit some faraway destination abroad; I didn’t come to any significant conclusions about my future career

This year I aim to find a job, complete a 100 miler, complete more a 100+ ultra, and come to some conclusions about where I want to go career-wise; in fact start a career full-stop. I want to be more motivated and not have as many lie-ins (January doesn’t count…January is a cold & tiring month). I want to train more and bring up my speed and reach a greater potential. I want to smile more and care less about the unimportant things that can often bring you down. I want to appreciate the little things in life and be less materialistic, because it never makes you happy. I want to read more and be inspired by the words and work of amazing people. I want to keep in touch with all the people that mean the most to me, whom through time or circumstances I may not always see enough of or speak to enough.

Yesterday I got to meet up and speak to a really good friend from university and went to visit my old uni town of Aberystwyth. It was full of laughter and longing for the ‘good old days’. I miss the fun and excitement of not always knowing what’s around the corner and I miss the feeling of there being endless possibilities out there to explore. Lately it has seemed that there are not many possibilities out there for ‘us graduates’ in this country. And I guess I have been feeling angry and frustrated about not fulfilling my potential or using my mind or what I have learnt in any of the ways in which I would like to. It was lovely to visit Aberystwyth though. It was nice to walk along the promenade and look out to sea and remember why I enjoyed being there so much and why I enjoyed living by the sea so much. I think, in the future, I would really love to live by the sea again.

Tonight, I was undecided whether to go for a run or not. It was my day off and I had done little all day and I really craved the fresh air and exercise. So, I made up my mind and decided to go out for a moderate-length run and deal with the icy pavements and frost when it came to it. It was definitely very icy out. Yet it was a really enjoyable 6ish miles and I'm very happy I decided to throw caution to the wind and get up off my bum and head out the door. I did some icy interval running, i.e. run, stop, dodge ice, run, stop, dodge ice - much fun and highly recommended. From this little experience has emerged another resolution: Don’t over think things, go out there and do it.

What would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?

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