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 ;)