home      my running story      races from the beginning      talk to me       product reviews      

Friday 31 January 2014

Thames Trot 50 Miler: A Positives-Only List ...

When I am worried about things, I often find writing a list helps. I write down what is worrying me and then I can look at it, see it in black-and-white and decide whether these things are actually scary and if they are, what I can do about them. Try and find a positive spin on things.

I did this for my upcoming race, the Thames Trot 50 … most of the route of which is still underwater due to the recent torrential rains. I made a list of negatives, then tried to answer these with positives.

However, the idea of two lists – the positive and the negative - was scuppered by a friend who told me to throw away the list of negatives. I did so.

I was left with this. It doesn't make a lot of sense but maybe you can work out what the negatives ... were.

Negative ….
Positive: Wearing flippers is fun. It would make it a lot more interesting than a normal 50 miler wearing trainers.

Negative: ...
Positive: Can always resort to a cork. Although maybe immodium might be a better idea. Would be embarrassing having to admit to the reasons behind shooting a fellow runner with a cork accidentally.

Negative: ...
Positive: Although snow was forecast a few days ago so that'll make a nice change.

Negative: ...
Positive: I'll have pick'n'mix sweeties.

Negative: ...
Positive: Will have crème eggs.

I like this idea of positive only lists. In fact it all sounds positively jolly. Sweets, flippers and accidental shootings.

Monday 27 January 2014

Gear Review: UltrAspire Surge Race Pack/Vest

What UltrAspire say:

“This is one of our athlete's favorite packs because of the way it hugs the body. A light weight racing vest with dual side compression and 2L hydration compartment for those who prefer a reservoir. It's so comfortable, you'll forget you have it on.”

How much: £71.99 from Ultra Marathon Running Store 

What I wanted:
In a nutshell, something light, with lots of pockets.

I wanted a vest that would hold a water bladder rather than carry a handheld bottle (the slosh sound annoys me* and I can only comfortably carry these in my right hand for some reason!) I was running a 50 mile race so needed something that would hold enough food to take me through that. I tend to get backache if I carry too much weight on my back so I wanted something lightweight that I could strap on tightly to reduce bounce while running.

So something light, comfortable and which would hold a water bladder and enough food for a 50 miler.

So … what was the verdict?

I occasionally get back problems but wearing this didn't cause any pain or issues even with the 2 litre water bladder full as the pack fitted so snugly. If I made sure I adjusted the straps as the water level dropped, then I could keep the pack snug to my body. It was easy to adjust on the move.

I’m a fairly average-sized female runner and it fits me very well, although there is plenty of strap for adjustments to be made. I even tried it on my 4 year old and it could be adjusted to fit her.

Chafing & Blisters
None. I’ve worn this on a 30 mile run with the water bladder full at 2 litre capacity and vest fully packed and also tested it with the water bladder part full and had no chafing, marks or blisters either time.

There is a hole in the hood for the hose to fit through. This a bit fiddly as it gets in the way of the material hook to hold the bladder in place. Looks as though it's designed for the hose to run up the back of the bladder and there is a centrally padded part but I didn't want the connector to rub so fitted it backwards and it works fine this way.

I had been very concerned when I’d received the pack as it as it looked tiny. (I’d chosen it online as a Christmas present) but once I started packing the food and bits and pieces in there seemed to be plenty of space and plenty of pockets. There was a zip compartment on the front which was great for essentials and the zip stopped me showering the floor with coins and gels every time I bent forward to tie my shoes. There was a pouch on the other side strap for my phone or which would hold a water bottle. I used it for my phone and it meant no faffing about when the phone rang or for the occasional photo.

Even more importantly I could even put hand into back pocket to retrieve snacks. Brilliant if you're a gannet like me. Snack access is important!

The bladder seals at the top with a sliding seal rather than a circular cap which is very handy and means you don’t have to worry about a bad seal or a twisted thread leaking and soaking the contents of the pack. I'm speaking from experience here. I loved that it was clear whether the bladder is sealed or not. These are also available on their own from the Ultramarathon Running Store for £23.99. 

  • 2 litre hydration bladder is included in the price.
  • The pocket on the pack hood is very handy for easy access to hydration tablets and plasters. 

  • There's a pocket that seals with a magnet on the left strap. Not entirely sure what this is for but you probably don't want to check your bearings with a compass near this.
  • There's a hook on top of pack to hang which is handy when it's fully packed. Unfortunately on my pack test it had to pass the 'Can it hang on the back of loo doors' test. It does.
  • The pack is fairly water resistant. I have run with it in rain and hail and the pack contents stayed mainly dry although for long run loo roll probably best to seal inside a plastic bag unless you want to go on a Big Leaf search.
  • There are loops in various places for buffs, gloves etc which is handy and places you could add keyrings, carabinas etc as you wish.
  • Rubber loops on the zips for easy unzipping with gloves. It's easy to undo the main strap on pack with or without gloves.
  • Pack is sturdy and feels and appears well made.

  • The front pocket has holes in the bottom. I didn't realise this the first time I used the pack. Luckily I was running laps and and managed to retrieve most of the lost goodies on the 2nd lap.
  • The material hook to hold the bladder in place inside the pack gets in the way of the hole in the hood for the hose which makes it a bit awkward if you want to thread the hose through but it's a minor inconvenience and not one which affects the use of pack.
  • The clips across the body to hold the pack in place can be awkward to unclip when hands are cold. It's not too bad but can be tricky to release the pack from your back.

Value for Money
It’s middle of the road as far as price is concerned and having had several packs which have been discarded for various reasons (uncomfortable, silly design, not enough pockets, not enough storage), I’m very pleased with this one and wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to others. It performs like a much more expensive pack.

Points out of 10: 9
Light as a feather when on and fully adjustable. It lost a point as the easily reachable front pocket has holes in it and I don’t want to lose snacks on the run!

Lightweight yet sturdy, this pack performs far beyond its modest price. It fits snugly and doesn't move when you're running and can be adjusted to fit most sizes. It offers excellent value for money and has enough storage for plenty of food on the move. I'd buy it again.

Specifications (Taken from UltrAspire website)
  • Large hole microfiber mesh for ultra breathability
  • 2 Litre Hydrapak hydration bladder included
  • Dual side compression with Compressi-flex™ for stable load without restricting movement
  • Quick access hydration compartment
  • Stretch mesh energy gel pocket
  • Patent pending Magnon Electrolyte Pocket™ with easy worry- free magnet closure
  • Light weight zippers pulls easily grabbed even with gloves, cold or numb fingers
  • Left mesh pocket over zippered inner pocket for securely stowing night time accessories, energy foods and other necessary gear
  • Contoured shape profile for comfortable stable ride
  • Stretch mesh quick stash panel for easy access
  • Top zippered pocket for head lamp, cell phone or other supplies

Weight: 290 grams ( 430g with reservoir )
Colours: Pitch Black, Ultra Red

*Tip for all runners using a bladder – if you squeeze all of the air out of it you don't get the irritating sloshing noise.

Sunday 26 January 2014

UltraMarathon Fear - Don't Forget the Monster Repellant

I may have mentioned this a couple of times but I've got a BIG run coming up … ok, ok. I get it. You know about the 50 miler. Well it's JUST sinking in for me. I've suddenly realised that I've got to run the equivalent of Coventry and back 2 and a half times. And that knackered I-want-to-lie-down-and-be-fed-creme-eggs feeling I get after a marathon? I've got to NOT STOP when I get that feeling … instead I have to RUN ANOTHER FRICKING MARATHON.


And breathe.

I may be slightly overreacting. Oh God. I'm really not.

OK. Let's break it down. What am I actually scared of?

The cut off times. What if I'm running too slow and don't make it to the checkpoints in time and I get disqualified?
Right let's be sensible. If I'm running at the pace I've chosen then I should have plenty of time. I'm not going to be near the front but unless something goes dramatically wrong (stuck in bog, stuck in loo, eaten by hiker) then I shouldn't be last either. I'm sure that if the paths are SO bad that I'm slower than the 10 min/miles then doing a 50 miler in such conditions will not be the best choice for my first. There will be other ultras.

What if my ITB plays up. It does sometimes.
If it does, it does. It will be one of those things. I can call it a day or push on depending on how bad it is. It will be a call I'll have to make on the day. If I keep up the exercises and stretches I'm doing now then I'm injury proofing myself for the future.

What if I need to poo and there are no pubs?
Suck it up, buttercup. There will be hedges. Don't forget loo roll.

What if I'm running too slow for my running buddies?
They'll either tell me to get a shift on or run ahead. You can only control your own race.

We're meant to be in pairs after 3pm. What if I'm too slow or no one wants to run with me ?
Well then it will be like being picked last in PE. You'll just have to run with the teacher.

What if I DNF?
You won't be the first to DNF ever. And you probably won't be the only one in the race. You can console yourself in the pub while eating the remains of the chocolate covered coffee beans.

What if I get lost
Don't get lost. (Note to self: attach self to another runner using a combination of liquorice whips and half chewed food)

What if I cry?
Hide tears by stuffing more chocolate covered coffee beans in mouth.

What if I forget to get checkpoint stamp thing stamped? Don't know much about this but apparently there is something to be stamped.
Get EVERYTHING stamped. Including backs of hands just to make sure correct items stamped. Don't want to be disqualified on a technicality.

What if I'm last?
I'll just have completed a 50 MILE RACE. I think I'll be ecstatic no matter what happens. Unless the pub near the finish has run out of cider. That would be BAD.

OK. Now I've written them down and broken them down a bit, I feel a lot better. Things could go wrong but they're mostly manageable things. However, this is my first proper ultra. Maybe there are things to be scared about that I don't even know about!

I decided to check and asked Twitter. Big mistake.

Answers ranged from
  • 'monsters' @theiron_bear
  • 'spiders' @smithy71 and @neily_wilko
  • 'Needing a poo and having no toilet roll. That's my biggest fear' @philippadavey
  • 'wanting to go further once you've finished' @teamb_o_b
  • 'the urge to sign up for more and further distances once you've finished. Ultras are mega.' @carl_ara
  • 'absolutely nothing' @ben_wittenberg
  • 'loneliness in the dark, buddy up if you can' @ultraboyruns
  • 'feet getting too wet and blisters. Take towel and dry socks to change into if need be.' @ayearforhope
  • 'you should be scared of being scared. Relax. Chill. Treat it as a jog and you'll nail it.' @louisbedwell
  • 'your alarm not going off. Forgetting your running fuel' @libeeloo67
  • 'nothing. Be excited, is ace! (oh, apart from if you have to swim through river water) Floods. Take your cossie.' @TheLozzatron
  • 'Lions n tigers n especially bears! I'd love to help but my longest run currently a 10th of that distance!! Food related issues?' @rach_2_oh
  • 'Starting too fast. Other than that, nothing. Relentless forward progress.' and 'just keep in mind the old saying … the 'wall' of the marathon is childs play compared to the death grip of the ultra.' @methill 
  • 'Scared it will be over too quickly. That you will want more. At some point it will beeping hurt but feel good at the same time.' @supersubfigo

So it looks as though my fears are unfounded.

So long as I remember food, loo roll, spider spray, alarm clock, to go slow, to want more, my swimsuit, my blister plasters, crème eggs and monster repellant it will be child's play.

I may need a bigger running pack though. Now where did I put that suitcase on wheels?

Thursday 23 January 2014

30 mile training run: Can’t I just Get a Lift Home?

My back was sore, my knees were aching and I was grumpy. I was sure the paths would be flooded in front of me. I thought I’d probably need to stop for the loo sometime soon. I was grouchy and it was cold. I was 3 miles into my intended 20+ mile run and things weren’t going well. I couldn’t really call for a lift home from 3 miles away. Well I could. But it would be shaming. It would be like getting a lift to the end of a parkrun

Just to add extra grumpiness, I’d given up chocolate, alcohol and processed food for January so I’d had to leave all the Christmas chocolates, alcohol and pudding to everyone else. And then just to rub salt into the running, grumpy, wound, there in my path, shining like a beacon of sugary temptation was a Quality Street chocolate. Lying on the pavement, perfect in its shiny pink wrapper, tempting me.

I’d like to point out that I’m not in the habit of picking up food from the ground. Especially not sweets of unknown source and vintage. But it was a STRAWBERRY CREME. The best of all Quality Street chocolates. Plus it was the 5th of January and I’d had no chocolate or sweets for 5 whole days. Swearing at the person who had laid it in my path, I jumped over it – while drooling - and resisted the urge to stop and shove it in my mouth, wrapper and all.

Before I had left the house, I’d filled my running pack ready for a long run. I didn’t want to have any excuse or reasons to cut the run short and go home. I only had a few weeks left until my 50 mile run and I needed to be as ready as I could be – barring the usual obstacles of dogs, toilet trips and rubber ducks – so I had tried to be ready for any eventuality this morning.

The main 3 were in the back pack: Loo roll. Snacks. Money. While I didn’t want an al fresco poo, the loo roll was there should the need to jump in the hedge arise. I’d packed some things to eat so there was no excuse to stop for food at a pub ... and stop ... and stop. And I had money for coffee –which would double as a fare for a taxi home should my legs give up. I also had a banana sticking out of the side pocket like a sideways smile.

I wasn’t feeling the running love today and my legs felt heavy and dull, but I just took it slowly. Today wasn’t about speed or pace but about getting some miles in, some time on my feet. I had snacks to occupy me, a water bladder in my backpack and a good audiobook to distract me should the route get boring. Unfortunately I would be running mainly on roads and pavements today as recent flooding had meant that a lot of the trails and paths were underwater and many of the fields were now sporting impromptu duckponds. And ducks.

Still, that didn’t mean the views had to be dull. The Brownsover railway line trail didn’t look too watery so I risked running up it, jumping the puddles and enjoying the crunch of my feet on the gravel. I came out underneath the recently excavated viaduct and looked out across the fields. The sky was dull and grey but there were hours of daylight yet, ready for the running. Just needed to convince my legs.

I passed quietly through the village of Newton and down past the St Thomas Cross and although the road wasn’t blocked, there were floods up to top of the little stone bridge and fields were under fast flowing brown water. My legs and brain ganged up and tried to convince the rest of me that the paths would be flooded, my routes blocked but I ignored them and carried on. If I could resist the pink Quality Street laid in my path, mutinous body parts were no problem.

Up the hill into Clifton-Upon-Dunsmore and past the pretty church and into the hidden footpaths. Across the fields ... and sprint. I don’t tend to add in speed sessions going across fields, but there are shaggy cows with massive horns in these pastures and I worry that one day they might fancy a runner for lunch. They didn’t. Climbing the stile and putting a sturdy fence between me and the cows, I had a gentle trot across the grass and down the hill over the canal bridge.

I’d expected this. It recently seemed to be an unbreakable law that applied to every run of mine over 4 miles. A familiar rumble from the tummy. Sigh. At least I was still within 6 miles of home and knew where all the pubs were. I lurched into the zombie shuffle at speed and made it into the pub. Paid for my loo stop with a packet of peanuts which were slotted neatly in my running pack and got back out onto the road.

I was very impressed with my pack. I had been concerned when I’d received it as it looked tiny. (I’d chosen it online for a Christmas present) but once I started packing the food and bits and pieces in there was plenty of space and a multitude of pockets. There was a zip one on the front left which was great for essentials and the zip stopped me dropping pound coins and bank cards every time I bent forward to tie my shoe and there was a pouch on the other side for my phone. So no faffing about when the phone rang, when I wanted to change audiobooks or for checking twitter. I could even put hand into back pocket to retrieve snacks. Easy-access food. Brilliant.

At just over 9 miles I got to Draycote Water which was my make-or-break point. To get my distance in today I would need to lap the reservoir twice – each lap is 5 miles round. Soul destroying? Yes. But it was also the last challenge. After I’d done this all I needed to do was run home. But first ... again. The loo. Sigh. At least the pack had passed the “Can it hang on the back of a loo door” test.

The reservoir is popular with walkers, runners and cyclists although dogs are not allowed. It’s like a small yap-less, dog-mess-free haven. No fear of being tripped by extendable leads or chased by a fuzzy snappy hound, simply of being mown down by an overenthusiastic speedy cyclist or overtaken by a speed walker. Or worse - a hiker. Maybe if I got mown down or eaten by a hiker I could go home and sit in the warm?

On multiple laps you start by exchanging nods with the cyclists and runners, then as the laps pile up you end up practically on hugging terms. Today I was only doing 2 laps, but in the rain and cold but at least I was sharing the misery.

Running in laps meant that I found a downside to my new pack. The front pocket has holes in the bottom to allow for strap adjustability. I didn't realise this and lost a cash and several snacks. Trotting around the reservoir dropping money and food, I must have looked like an out of order snack machine. However a benefit of doing laps was spotting the lost items (and therefore discovering the holes) on the second lap.

I had a brief moment of optimism as the rain stopped. Then it started sleeting. I’d been cold for most of the run as I was going so slowly but now I was cold AND wet AND icy. It was time to replicate the ultra ‘Feed station’ stops and I stopped for a coffee and a chocolate crispy cake. Ah that’s the ‘No chocolate for January’ resolution broken ... But I justified the cake to myself by calling it Running Fuel. Not delicious delicious crispy cake. But I was now warmer and stopping for a while had given my jacket a chance to dry out. It was cold and I was still slightly damp and desperately wanted to call for a lift home. But I wasn’t going to do that in the ultra. So I couldn’t do it in the training run.

I plodded on. There was ice at the sides of the path and the water was grey and stormy. There were waves on the usually calm reservoir and the ducks were nowhere to be seen. I got my head down and pushed on. I may be cold. I may be wet. But I have snacks. And I passed a loo every time I completed a lap. I could DO this. The running, not the loo stops. I’ve already proved myself there.

Surprisingly once I’d hit the 20 mile mark everything got a lot easier. This clicked it in my head into ‘a long run’, any extra miles were a bonus. And all the loo stops and upset tummy could be used as ‘worse case scenario’ training. If it happens in the race, I could think “At least it’s not sleeting” or “At least there isn’t a cyclist in the hedge with me.”

And I was now on the home straight. Laps completed, I left Draycote Water with the light fading and the headlights of the cars lighting up the roads. Coming into the village of Dunchurch, I once again had to nip into the pub to use the loo. My stomach was obviously going for the record number of “Loo Stops During a Long Run.” This wouldn’t be so bad if all of these stops were for mulled wine or for peanuts but at least I was getting a nice sit down.

The daylight disappeared quicker than I'd expected so I changed my route on the way back. I wanted street lights rather than running in the dark so ran back through the centre of Rugby. The audiobook was turned off and running songs were turned on. And I promptly started run-dancing to good songs. Hmmm ... maybe this long run lark wasn’t so bad after all. If I could do the Time Warp after running 20+ miles, then surely running 50 while NOT doing the Time Warp would be a breeze?

I arrived back in my street, in good spirits and wet clothes to find I was .75 of a mile short of 30 miles.

Bloody hell.

I started the Runners Misery – the laps of the streets surrounding their house that every runner knows and does to make up the distance to whole miles. If taking loo roll on long runs is the first runners law, then “Thou shalt not have less than whole numbers on thy Garmin” is surely the second.

I arrived home – the second time to find a hot bath and a cup of coffee waiting for me. The 3rd rule of running. “Phone Ahead”.

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Running Mile Repeats Without Knowing It ...

I have to apologise for my lack of posts recently. I was blaming my tiredness on my over-enthusiastic acceptances of resolutions for January.

I was obviously feeling suggestible on New Years Day as signed up for the 30 day Plank Challenge, Dryathlon, Sid’s Poppyfields Appeal, Jantastic, Janathon and no processed food for January. If you were going to ask me to lend you a tenner, you can forget it. I think I’ve used up ALL of my suggestibility for the year.

However, upon perusing one of the blogs I follow, I’ve realised that my lethargy isn’t down to lack of Quality Street chocolates or mulled wine withdrawal. It’s all the fault of that pesky Abradypus who has had me running mile repeats with her ... and I didn't even know it. The cheek!

Picture from Abradypus here
Crafty … very crafty. Now who can I get to run my marathon for me?

Monday 13 January 2014

Runners Trots, Rubber Ducks & Always Ask for a Wire Coathanger

Time was running out. I could practically HEAR the Countdown clock ticking down my seconds. It's like the running equivalent of the final conundrum. What words can you make out of O H S H I T Y O U R 5 0 M I L E R A C E I S 4 W E E K S A W A Y ?

The Thames Trot 50 mile race was nearly here and my longest run had been 15 miles. AND I had stopped halfway for some mulled wine. And that was 3 weeks ago. The run, not the wine. I've had wine since then.

However, I had done a Santa Run since then and that was 12 miles. Although we stopped at 5 pubs ... well 6 including going back to the first pub, so maybe that only counts for 5 x 2.4 mile runs? Although maybe all the mulled wine counted for a bit more because surely we were weaving a bit?

Anyhow, I needed a run. The longer the better.

I set out with dogged determination and my trusty trail shoes on my feet. The lanes had been flooded from the rain earlier in the week and the roads were still damp and dirty. Looking across the hedgerows to the church tower in the distance, I noticed 2 swans swimming serenely in the fields. There was still a lot of debris around but the water had started receding and as I drew closer to the village, I noticed a yellow speck at the side of the road.

I picked it up. A rubber duck.

It must have been floating down the river and as the Thames burst its banks, the duck must have sailed on and ended up in the middle of this country lane. Quite a long way from a bath tub.

I set it free on the Thames again and watched it bob away with the eddies of the river. Keep an eye out for it if you cross the Thames. Hopefully it will make it all the way to London. From the source of the Thames to the capital of the country.

The duck was a nice start to my run and I carried on with a spring in my step and a rumble in my tummy.

Hang on … what?

As anyone who runs will know tummy unhappiness on a long run is a BAD thing. It is also the reason that we carry loo roll on long runs. I was loo-roll-less. Luckily there was a pub in the next village. No one wants to have to search for big leaves while crossing their legs.

I sprinted into the pub. I imagine the regulars seated around the bar possibly saw a flash of neon, the smell of desperation and heard the pub doors swinging in my wake, but I reckon I may have managed a new 100m PB. Good going when you're clutching your stomach and groaning like a zombie.

Now Christmas food can be a terrible thing. Don’t get me wrong. It tastes delicious. But it creates MONSTERS. This is a public blog. I'm not going into any details. But you remember Mr Hanky the Christmas Poo from Southpark? This was his bigger scarier cousin. This was Mr. Handtowel.

And he was going NOWHERE.

I like to think I’m a courteous runner. I run on the pavements but always say “Hi!” and wave to other runners. I move aside for grannies and wave at small children. And I always, always stop if someone falls own in front of me at races.

Except this time I wasn’t a courteous runner. I was a cowardly runner. I was too ashamed to go back into the pub for a wire coat hanger. Instead I gave the loo one last desperate flush in hope and desperation. Then I ran away.
I managed to get a good distance away from the pub in a record time before slowing the pace somewhat. I'd been dreading the shouts – or screams – but all was silent and peaceful behind me.

OK. So far the run had been a bit eventful, but I could relax now. I'd released a rubber duck (NOT a euphemism), my stomach was a lot calmer and I had some nice miles in front of me. It was a beautiful – if slightly 'damp around the edges' day – and I was in the heart of rural Gloucestershire and ready to get some good miles in.

I ran through the lanes feeling happy, following the wooden signs marking the way to the Thames Path. The first section was down a tree lined lane. The leafless trees were beautiful against the blue sky and the cool wind made me appreciate the running. Through the gaps in the hedges I could see the gleam of water in the fields, but I could jump most of the puddles and the day was bright and beautiful. A good day to run.

However, the problems started when the lane turned into a track and the track took me into a field. A very soggy field.

First I was jumping over the puddles. Then the puddles joined up.

Fine. I could deal with this. Cross country running is MEANT to be a bit mushy and muddy, right? Although there wasn't much mud. The huge amounts of water seemed to have washed it all away.

First the water got over my feet. Then my ankles. When it started encroaching on my calves I made a decision. I couldn’t see a single bit of path ahead. All I could see was water. And ducks. Ducks shouldn’t’ be sharing your run route. And swimming.

Sigh. I turned around and headed for home.

Ok. So a long run just hadn't been on the cards, but I'd got out for a run on a lovely day, the sun was shining and I was running back to a MASSIVE tub of Quality Street with my name on it. AND there were still some strawberry cremes hiding at the bottom. I was sure of it. Thinking of the chocolates, I smiled and greeted a walker I passed, then BAM karma struck!

I got a canine clothesline.

The dog belonging to the the walker – who was actually a DOGwalker – appeared and decided I was looking far too happy for someone who had just violated an English pub – and decided to remedy this by swerving in front of me and taking my knees out. I was far too distracted by the thought of chocolate to save myself, but managed to catch the road with my elbows and palms rather than my teeth. Lucky really as missing teeth look RUBBISH in race pics.

The dog wandered off unconcerned and the dog walker checked I was ok. I was fine. Just shocked that karma had caught up with me quite as quickly as it had. I made a resolution there and then.

If things go wrong? Always ask for a wire coathanger.

Karma hurts.

Friday 10 January 2014

2013: 1234 miles, Running with 75,000 people and wearing ALL my Race Tees

2013 … How on earth do I sum up an entire year in running?

Numbers of trainers owned this year: 
8 pairs (Salomon Speedcross3 – 2 pairs, Asics gel Hyperspeed, Asics GT2000 – 4 pairs, New Balance spikes, Hoka Mafete Low)
That's a lot of shoe rubber left on the trails, roads and pavements this year!

Countries run in in 2013:
England, Holland (for a tram counts, right?), Cyprus, Ireland, France.

Number of races run: 10
That’s approximately £330 in race entry fees. Eek!

Number of runners run with in all my races:
Approximately 75,900. That's a lot of miles covered between us!

Number of DNFs: None.
BUT 2 x Did Not Starts ... New Forest Marathon, Great South Run. (Due to calf injury and illness) Booooo!!

Miles run according to fetcheveryone: 1234 (although it’s not quite right as it’s got me down as only running 33 miles in October. I ran 2 races in October and one was a marathon ...!)

But that's not enough to sum up 2013 ….

I know ....THIS will sum it up. Here - check out ALL of my awesome 2013 medals.

But wait ... that’s not enough ...

Here are all my RACE T-SHIRTS for 2013. At once. Phew! A bit warm!

And just to finish it off. ALL my 2013 medals AND all my 2013 race t-shirts.

Highlights of 2013:
  • Running Paris Marathon as part of #target262. 20 minute PB, a negative split and 10 minutes under target. That’ll do Pig, that’ll do. 
  • Running Endure 24. A 24hr race. I divided my time between sunbathing, running and camping in the portaloo.
  • Trying to run a sub-20 5k time without having a poo.
  • Thunder Run 24. Blistering sunhine, torrential rain and really sticky mud. 54 miles. 
  • Dressed as a police officer running up hills, at night, away from MASSIVE cows.
  • Running the Essex Way at night with a mulled wine stop. 
  • Chasing mulled wine through the lanes of Warwickshire dressed as Santa Claus

Wednesday 8 January 2014

FAIL: Never Work with Children or Bicycles ...

I had a sore foot, a child under one arm, a bicycle under the other and it was starting to rain. The trip to Draycote Water had NOT turned out like planned.

4yo had had a new bicycle for Christmas. A ‘Hello Kitty’ bicycle no less. It was pink, white and she had a pink helmet with flowers on. And there was a seat for a doll on the back. She could only have been happier if she had been crowned Fairy Princess on the same day.

I had visions of running around the reservoir in the sunshine, a smiling red cheeked child pedalling away by my side, her pigtails flying in the wind. My imagination added in mother-child bonding time, ice cream stops and some speed work as I tried to keep up with her enthusiasm.

I hadn’t expected to have to leap out of the way of her mad cycling, getting my foot run over when I didn’t jump high, fast, far enough. She got so mesmerised by her feet pedalling that she forgot to look where she was going so lightning reflexes were required to stop her catapulting the wall and ending up in the reservoir and turning this into a team triathlon effort. I did manage to get some speed work in though, running back to apologise to scattered walkers who had leapt to safety when a furiously pedalling pigtailed child had energetically flown through the centre of their group, sending walking sticks flying.

However, after a couple more minutes of weaving and adult ankle maceration, she abruptly stops. “My legs are saying they’re tired”.

What do you tell a child with possessed legs? “Um ok. Let’s have a bit of a rest, shall we? We had a rest. Then we’d go again. For about 3 metres. Then stop for a rest again. It was like the most frustrating interval session ever. Just as I’d start running, she’d stop and if she’d veered towards me, I’d have to attempt an awkward hop to avoid ending up in the doll seat on the back of her bike. If I ended up in that I’d be wedged in for life.

After a few more intervals and hops. She stops again. This time for good. Not even chocolate can persuade her to start pedalling again. Then it starts raining.

So. Child under one arm. Bike under the other. This counts as cross-training, right?