Sunday, 22 April 2012

Motivating Me

I neeeeed some motivating words to get me out of the door to train, because the training part of things isn’t going so great at the moment. It’s me really. I just need to get off my bum. 

I still keep getting that weird feeling like this is all an exam I’m preparing for and every kid in my class is revising more than me and I’m stuck in some sort of mind-slump, unable to concentrate and get past the first chapter so I keep re-reading the same line again over and over but not really taking much in. I guess preparing for a big run is kind of like revision in a sense. You have to plan your strategy and remember all the key points, but you don’t want to worry too much and cram too much in so as not to cause greater anxiety and in this case, physical injury.

So, I’m sitting here at the computer again and contemplating going out for a run which I have done all weekend pretty much: contemplate. But there has been no action. And I keep finding silly excuses like people will look at me and think I’m some London marathon wannabe inspired to get off the couch by watching the race on television…ok, I don’t look that unfit, I just get paranoid I guess. Or how about the excuse that there will be loads of footie-mad lunatics roaming the streets from the pubs, having just watched Man U vs. Everton (at least, that’s who I think has been playing today?). 

Well, I guess I don’t live in a majorly rough area and even though there are some local pubs I doubt I’m about to get accosted by a bunch of random weirdoes and even if I got heckled I have my iPod earphones in anyway and I really shouldn’t/couldn’t care less because words that I can’t even hear from a stranger really won’t matter to me or have an impact on my run or my life. Soooo, the big question is what is really stopping me from going out for a run? And the answer to that is really nothing at all. Nothing. Just me and my silliness and my overly active imagination. Yep, it’s been a slow weekend. I really must get out more. And on this note, I really must get out of the door for a run more and so I will…after I have summed up what I think I am trying to attempt to say.

On a London Marathon note, I have never done ‘THE’ marathon. I’d quite like to I guess. It’d certainly be a shock to the system to run a marathon surrounded by so many people. All of the marathons or ultras that I normally do are pretty low-key and you will often spend hours upon hours alone or close to very few other signs of life, never mind runners. So it’d be quite nice to experience the buzz and overt excitement of it all.

The only race that has come close to the crowds of London was my first ever event at The Great North Run in 2008. I was overwhelmed with the emotion of it all and the crowds and the people. It'd be nice to encounter such mass enthusiasm again. Alas, I never seem to make it in. And charity places are a no-no really. I mean, it has been hard enough over the last year or so trying to raise money by running 10 marathons in 10 days and now, 145 miles in 45 hours. I can’t imagine how much harder it would be to raise so much money for a single marathon, even if it is ‘THE’ marathon ;-)

Finally, as I put my bum into gear and move away from the computer to go and find my running stuff and put that on and venture outside into the fresh air which I WILL do once I have stopped rambling on and GO outside to go and RUN, I think I shall cluster together some inspirational thoughts for the day….

Somewhere in the world someone is training when you are not. When you race him, he will win. Tom Fleming

Fear is a great motivator.  John Treacy, 1984 Olympic silver medallist

There is no such thing as bad weather, just soft people. Bill Bowerman

It hurts up to a point and then it doesn't get any worse. Ann Trason

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go. T.S. Eliot

Get out there and do what you love!  Kara Goucher

Saturday, 21 April 2012

A Coventry Way 40

April 15th, A 40 mile meander

When my alarm went off yesterday (Sunday) morning at 4.30 am, I wasn’t best pleased and I didn’t really want to get up. I’m not the best morning person in the world and the air was cold. It has really gone quite chilly again. Brrrrr. But I like this…for sleeping. It is the best sleeping weather when it is chilly outside and your pillow is cold but you’re all cosy and snuggled down. So, I had to try extra hard to really wake up. A good strong coffee helped  a bit and in the end I didn’t actually leave the house until nearly 6am, but I had to get up early to wake myself up and get all my stuff together which I hadn’t done on Saturday, because I’m not too organised and just wanted to chill out. As it turns out, the drive down to Coventry really wasn’t so bad. The motorway and the M6 is never great, but it was as well as can be expected and my car drove well (always a bonus and always a bit uncertain).

I had signed up for this race last year, very last minute and managed to snag a place by emailing the organisers, since all the places had officially been filled. Ultimately, I was never able to make it because my car was having a few technical difficulties and I simply couldn’t get there. I was really disappointed to miss it and so, whilst planning some races on the computer around Christmas time, I decided to enter early and make it my mission to get there this year. Therefore, actually making it to the race start was a pretty good achievement for me and my car.

So, the route didn’t seem too taxing. We would be following the Coventry way footpath and way marks and had a detailed map booklet to guide us and we could start any time from 6am to 10am. I like the fact that you can really start any time. Since I was planning on running/ walking/ meandering I decided to start at about 8.40am.

I can’t believe how sunny and picturesque yesterday was. There was a cool, sometimes very chilly breeze but there were blue skies and the sun was often warm and shining. The countryside was beautiful and varied. There were a few little hills, lush green fields and all sorts really. It was so well organised. The check point were fantastic and everyone was well looked after. There were cakes, sandwiches of all varieties, coke, cordial, and sweeties…really fantastic value for money.

At around the 18 mile point, there was a little bit of drama, but we weren’t really a massive part of this drama. What had happened was that some walkers had been caught up in a field with some rather lively cattle and a bit of a stampede had ensued with the cattle/ a bull/ the walkers. A few walkers had been really shaken up and slightly injured and one of those walkers had ended up in hospital with two broken collar bones = ouch! 

The irony of it all from my perspective is that I actually thought the cows that I happened to come across on the route were really chilled out and relaxed and normally I am terrified of cattle. As soon as I enter a field with cows in it I am on the lookout for the nearest escape point and it doesn’t even matter if my nearest escape is a barbed wire fence…I’ll still give it a go. In fact I have given this a go at High Peak 40 when there was no other way to get past a whole herd of highland-type cattle. Luckily for me and my companions, we were diverted away from and around this field once the confrontation has occurred and so we didn’t have to deal with any moody cows! It added on a little extra mileage, probably a mile but I don’t mind.

Ultimately I had a really great day. There is some really pretty countryside here and it was lovely to experience it. Again I can’t tell you enough how friendly and helpful all the organisers and the marshals were and what a great event this is. I am so happy I got to take part this year and will definitely take part in the future. It was such great value and really very pretty.

So the run was really pretty, but my feet are not quite so pretty.....

So, another good, long, time-on-feet training run towards my Grand Union Canal Race adventure. There were even some canals in there too. My feet have been a bit peely/ dry these last few days but that’s not really down to the Coventry Way 40 miler and more down to not getting a pumice stone out enough…they’re looking a bit better now with some soothing foot cream!

Also, I have decided to dedicate my GUCR adventure to Claire House Children’s Hospice – a local charity that does excellent work. I have uploaded a Just Giving gismo gadget to the right of my page and it’d be lovely if I could raise as much as possible.


Monday, 16 April 2012


Northampton Running Festival Marathon – Sunday 8th April

This weekend was so disorganised of me and I was feeling the need to budget with regards to petrol and events and general living costs. But I fancied a nice marathon and so I managed to hatch a plan and get driven ‘dahhhn sowwth’ish to Northampton to do a run that I haven’t yet done.

It was laps, 12 of them and I wasn’t so much looking forward to this prospect, but the grounds around which we were running were really quite pretty and so I was able to put the dread of laps to a corner of my mind…well, for most of it. Inevitably my concentration and focus always succumbs to the curse of the laps and this time was no different but I was able to laugh about it. I was also running around yet another lake…I think I must have a thing for lakes considering the amount of marathons I have run around them (Furzton Lake, Caldecotte, Windermere….) On the completion of each lap, we collected a coloured hair bobble to show that we had completed each lap…it was almost like a little game, running around and collecting them :) Yep, anything where I’m navigating, getting stuck in mud or in some way collecting things on route becomes a game to me and adds a sense of fun.

What I really liked about this event was the huge mix of different people doing different distances, of different ages and abilities. I haven’t done any events in ages where there has been such a diverse mix of people. There was a 10k, half and a marathon. It was nice to see those attempting their first event and seeing them out on the course, tacking the hard bits and pulling through it and onto the finish. It took me back to when I first started doing events and how it was all so new and completely unpredictable. It was nice.

Despite my loss in focus in the latter stages, I felt I was running quite comfortably and I was happy with that. I do like Go Beyond Ultra, the organisers of this event. I’ve previously done their Northants Shires and Spires Ultra and they’re a bunch of really nice people. Ultimately I enjoyed a really lovely training run.

Ooooooo and before I forget, this was my 118th event of at least marathon distance :) 'Da daa daaaaa, da da daaaaa' (118 theme tune in case you couldn't guess ;-) )

Friday, 6 April 2012

Gin Pit double marathonage :)

Gin Pit Marathon –Day 1: Sat 23rd March

I stayed up mega late on Friday night as I decided to take a peek at the Sports Relief programmes on catch-up. Luckily my running destination on Saturday and Sunday were only a short way up the motorway and only 39miles away…this is really close for me, because normally I’m travelling here there and everywhere and I’ve been known to get in the car at 3am before and drive to an event and then drive back home afterwards. It can be a bit tiring. So, I was feeling immense relief at the closeness of these marathons.

Saturday was a scorcher from the moment I got in the car at 7.30ish am. 

I’m not the best in the heat, it has to be said. I’m more arctic ultra-wannabe rather than MDS Desert dreamer. Yep, I love the summer and I don’t mind wandering around in the sun or relaxing in it, but put me and exercise and the sun together and it’s not an amazingly happy combination. That being said, I have a strange urge to tackle some of the ‘crazy American races’ in the future when I’m faster and wealthier haha… Anyway, it was a lovely day though.

The route started off on trails and after around 8miles made its way onto the canal which was really very pretty to begin with, with lovely olde-worlde Tudor buildings and posh houses. However, the canals inevitably made its way into Salford and the industrial north. I think this was the least pleasant bit. It’s not the runs fault though; it’s just the place and the dogs. I need to get over it, but I fear I never will. I’ve been petrified of ‘scary looking’ dogs since I was little. I’m ok with some dogs. I don’t love any dog jumping up at me or running towards me, but as long as they look remotely ‘cute’ in a broad sense then I’m not too scared of them. However, unfortunately for the unfortunate looking dogs, there are certain breeds and stereotypes that I just can’t shift from my mind. For all I know and I suspect more often than not, the dogs in question are just fine and well mannered, but it’s just the way they look. ‘Status dogs’ really frighten me and they seem to be rife right now in more urban areas. 

Anyway, there were lots around this bit of the canal…it always seem to be along canals where I see the most scary dogs. And they often seem to be just left to wander around and not on a leash. I had one of my usual panics and got a bit scared. I was all alone, feeling a bit flustered in the warmth and then I had to pass a scary looking dog that wasn’t on a lead and its owner just looked at me blankly as I passed. I probably was looking like a right idiot, because I was actually really scared. So, my running was practically nonexistent for quite a few miles whilst I tiptoed down canal paths away from fearsome looking dogs. I felt a bit low. And I very nearly contemplated not doing day 2.

All was ok in the end as I caught up with some familiar faces in the last 4 miles. It was lovely to not be alone and talk to somebody. The canal paths ended, we got onto some roads and eventually back onto the trail and were homeward bound. 

I had a lovely cold glass of fizzy apple juice at the finish with lots of ice. I was frazzled.

Gin Pit Marathon –Day 2: Sun 24th March

I made sure to put my clock forward the night before and got into bed early….well I suppose I didn’t get into bed too early really because the time was changing, so hmmmm….complicated. I was awoken at 10.30pm ‘real time’ by friends asking if I wanted to go for a drink in the pub down the road, to which I replied I was in bed. So I had to explain that I was now on ‘future fake’ time in order to get up early. That lost hour really does make a difference though! Gosh I was knackered when I woke up on Sunday morning. I just wanted to go back to bed. I had to stop myself from climbing back into my pit. I reasoned that I would really not sleep much later anyway because soon the sun would be shining in through the window and it'd be warming up. I was definitely glad I decided not to be lazy and got into my car and drove up that motorway. It was a slower, but happier day on Sunday. I wasn’t running alone and there weren’t as many scary dogs around and about. Yey. 

However, we did encounter something that I have never before encountered on a run. We ran past a crime scene. A body had been found in a field and a full-blown murder investigation was in full swing. There was forensics on the scene in full body cover, multiple police vehicles, support officers, cordoned-off footpaths, and police keeping guard of the footpaths. It was all very surreal and interesting, yet obviously sad. So after we ran away from the scene of the crime (literally) we just had to tackle the last bit. And I nearly forgot, we even encountered a chicken. How could I forget the chicken that crossed the road to get to the other side? We never got to find out why exactly the chicken decided to play chicken, but it sure was funny watching Davey trying to shoo it back onto the pavement and behind a fence. Classic.

I liked the last bit a lot. There were some nice trails and evidence of countryside again. There was also the big puddle, but I didn’t mind. Overall I think it’s fair to say that a good weekend was had by all.

Garmin Update: On the Saturday it worked. It worked all day pretty much. I think it started to go a bit mental after around 22 miles, but overall its performance was ok. On Sunday, my Garmin was crappy. The screen was flickering and well before the 20mile mark, the screen had become utterly unreadable. The pixels had splattered into random flickering dots. I still managed to get satellite connection and hooked it up to my computer afterwards to view my route. However, it’s not really too great that you can’t use it whilst you’re actually running and it was only really chance that I managed to record the run, because I couldn’t read the screen in the slightest for it to tell me what it was actually doing. So this = bad. I simply can’t afford another. And I rely on it so much. So for now I’ll just have to struggle on with my unpredictable dying Garmin 310xt :(

I love back-to back marathons. They’re great training runs really. Realistically, I’m not going to get myself out of the door and run a massive run on my own. I could if I was motivated and organised enough to do so, but realistically I know I’m rubbish at planning a route and sticking to a plan of going out for a lengthy lonesome run. Therefore, these races are great for putting in some extra miles.


There will come a day when I focus on races again. I had only just started out running events when I hastily seemed to ditch the idea of actually racing something and bettering my time and just as I was on the up time-wise, I discovered the madness of multiple marathons and ultra’s and time seemed to take a backseat and I look upon events more as fun social training runs now. I’d be lying if I didn’t confess that it upsets and annoys me sometimes when people just presume to call me a slow runner; not that there’s anything wrong with going at your own preferred pace. I don’t know, it just gets to me how others can perceive my pace and how people can judge you. That’s not important though, I just thought I’d rant. It has been one of those weeks.

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us” – Ralph Waldo Emerson