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Several months ago everyone was discussing their Spring marathon plans. ‘Shall I enter a Spring marathon?’ I thought to myself. After not very long it occurred to me that I really didn’t want to run a Spring marathon, so entering one would have been a really silly idea! So I came up with a better plan – enter a Spring half marathon, train for it properly and try to do a decent time.

Obviously training ‘properly’ is a highly subjective concept. In this case it meant thinking about the length of my Sunday runs for a couple of months, and making more effort to force myself out the door to run after work. I don’t think Hal Higdon will be knocking on my door asking for advice on writing training plans…

I found a brand new local race that lots of friends were running – an ideal choice. One of these friends, Andy, offered to pace me to a sub 1.50. This was particularly generous of him after a failed attempt at pacing me at the Valentine 10k last year. I hasten to add it failed purely due to my lack of fitness and motivation, Andy was great. 1.50 sounded just about feasible so I gratefully accepted. Once Hayden regained some post-injury fitness, he decided to join #teamKirsty too.

Race day dawned a little grey and windy but very mild. The 7.04 bus arrived on time (funny that) and Andy kindly picked me up at Hampton Court station. We met the others and got ready to race. Except when I was standing on the startline it occurred to me that I hadn’t warmed up at all. Oops.

We set off and it was quite congested but after a couple of miles we seemed to be more or less on track. It was great fun running with my pacers/bodyguards. They collected my drinks, looked after my shotblocks and handed them over at the right times, shielded me from headwinds and provided a constant stream of positive motivation.

After a few miles we noticed the mile markers were coming up way too early. We assumed one was misplaced and there’d be a really long mile towards the end. More on that later!

We meandered along the river to Kingston, getting some great support along the way. There was some competition over who got the most namechecks from the marshals! As we reached the turn point in Canbury Gardens I started to flag a little – this was by far the fastest I’ve raced over a long distance for quite some time. However once we were on Portsmouth Road the shotblocks kicked in and I got a second wind. We overtook a lot of people in this section which is always motivating.

The final mile or so was hard work, and the people around us must have got annoyed with the constant stream of ‘well done Kirsty! Great running Kirsty!’ from my roving fan club. Frankly everyone should have one!

Eventually we crossed the line – to discover we had only run 12.77 miles. It turned out that there had been a marshalling error early on, and once one person goes the wrong way of course everyone else follows. A little annoying of course, but it’s not the end of the world. At least I have a new PB! I do appreciate it must be frustrating if you were on target for a PB or it was your first half marathon, but it is just a race and nobody died. And it’s not like they did it on purpose. Anyone can make a mistake.

If we had run the full distance, I don’t think I would have quite scraped under 1.50, unless I’d found a superb sprint finish from somewhere. Unlikely! It probably would have been around 1.50/1.51. Either way, a considerable improvement on my last half marathon when I couldn’t even get under 2 hours.

After the race, we all headed to Carol and Jonny’s for bacon sandwiches and scones. Perfect race recovery.

Thank you to my fabulous pacers, and all the marshals, supporters, water station people etc. A great 12.77 mile race!

January 102 miles

At the beginning of the year I was feeling pretty motivated about my running. I’d just started training for the Brighton marathon and was feeling positive about a sub-4 attempt. I had an excellent start to the new year by doing the NYD double – 2 parkruns on NYD. I ran Bushy and Kingston and ran between them – but then got a lift home! Later that day I discovered that completely by chance I was one of only two ‘doublers’ who had run exactly the same time at each parkrun. Spooky! However as soon as term began things started to go downhill. Things at work continued to be enormously stressful and this was having a huge negative impact on my running. The weather was horrendous as well. I went to the first training session of the year at Ranelagh – and then almost did not go again for the whole year. I just could not motivate myself. Usually the fear of a marathon is enough to boot myself out of the door, but it just wasn’t happening. I started building up the long runs but the rest was extremely hit and miss. Mainly miss. Probably my best run of the month was a random 5 miles in Bushy Park one Monday morning when we got the day off for snow!

February 111 miles

I did a few races in February and they all went really badly! First came the Watford half marathon. According to my schedule I should have done this in 1.50. I couldn’t even get under 2 hours. At this point I binned the sub 4 idea and stopped pressuring myself because it was achieving nothing. Next was the Southern xc at Parliament Hill, a race I usually enjoy for some unexplained reason. It had been postponed from an earlier, snowier date, but the ground was not in a much better state. It was so muddy I felt like I couldn’t really get going, and reached the finish feeling like I could happily go round again. The following day was the Valentine 10k. It was a beautiful cold and sunny morning. Andy had offered to pace me to a sub 50. This went really well until 7k, at which point my legs fell off and I sent him away. I just didn’t have the speed endurance due to lack of training. When Lent began I decided rather than give something up I’d take up the 30 day shred, and for any days I missed I’d give a pound to charity. The charity did quite well… I did some great training in half term. However you can’t make up six weeks of rubbish training in a week. I ran my 300th parkrun in February, that was exciting!

March 94 miles

Looking back, this was possibly my worst running month of the year. I can’t believe how little training I did with a marathon coming up. There were two good bits – the Surrey Spitfire and St Alban’s parkrun. I really enjoyed the Spitfire and have a great photo of Sharon and me running together. I pushed hard at St Alban’s and managed to run a semi-decent time. The worst run was the NTLM. The weather was awful and I felt awful. I then caught a virus and missed the Cranleigh 21. if the weather had been nice like last year, I would have gone and jogged a lap. However as it was snowing I decided to skip it. I was starting to feel very, very bad about the marathon…

April 83 miles

Holiday time, but too late for my marathon training. And still it was snowing. In fact it was colder at Easter than it was at Christmas. Of course on marathon day it was sunny and warm. I had a lovely weekend at the seaside with Sharon and David, only spoiled by the fact that Sharon and I had to run this fricking marathon! I actually enjoyed it for the first 14 miles, at which point I completely hit the wall. Now why would that be I wonder?! Somehow I managed to to struggle to the end without too much walking and finished in under 5 hours if not 4! the strangest thing was that I felt completely fine afterwards – I didn’t deserve to feel fine. I would definitely do it again with some better training, it was a very enjoyable (?) and well organised race I thought. Shame the same could not be said of my preparation for it really.

May 74 miles

Finally the weather started to improve and I tried to get back into the zone. I went to Ranelagh a couple of times and track, but didn’t really feel like I was getting anywhere. I did take advantage of both (sunny!)bank holidays for extra runs. On the second one I did the Bupa 10k. I had a club place again but they wouldn’t let us in the elite tent this year! Probably a good thing as I ran like a lame three-legged donkey with all three legs tied together. Enjoyed it though, especially the great view I had of Mo winning the race. The new season of Arethusa began and I set a very slow marker at the first one. The GBR was cancelled this year – at first I was disappointed but then realised I was nowhere near fit enough to run it anyway!

June 81 miles

I had a really nice start to the month with a birthday run at the Dorking 10. I felt like I’d found my running mojo for the first time in ages. However, it didn’t last and apart from one little jog and another trip to Arethusa I didn’t manage any midweek runs at all. The stressful environment at work continued to have a massive negative impact on me. I did manage to run all 7 at the longest parkrun. A hugely enjoyable day but possibly not very clever to run 22 miles considering my state of (un)fitness. I completely hit the wall at parkrun #6 (Kingston), stumbled round #7 (Bushy) and nearly fell asleep into my pizza! The following weekend I could still hardly move.

July 34 miles

My worst monthly mileage since records began! The end of term was in sight but I felt like getting there was all I could achieve. Running seemed virtually impossible. Also it was about a billion degrees. All I did was parkrun and some Sunday jogs. Finally the summer holidays arrived, finding me about as unfit as I’ve ever been. From day one I started trying to regain some fitness, not worrying about how far, how fast, or how many walk breaks I took. It was hard but finally I was enjoying my running again.

August 77 miles

Not a very impressive total considering I get the whole month of work, but I was very unfit and couldn’t run very far each time! I may have been slow but I was at least consistent and pretty much made it out 5 times a week. Had a lovely run to and round the first Osterley parkrun – never seen so many people dripping with blood at the end of a parkrun! (Los of tree roots).By the end of the month I’d built up to about 8 miles, felt a lot better and was determined to keep it up when term started in September.

September 60 miles

Not great, but better than July at least. I braved entering a couple of races again this month. First was the Bacchus half marathon – this one was just for a laugh. I was perfectly willing to walk as much as necessary. In the end I hardly walked at all – but stood still quite a lot whilst deciding what to eat next at the amazing drink stations! Then came the Kew Gardens 10k – achievable target for this was to run it all with no walking. No problem and was pleased to finish in 55 minutes. I went back for the last Arethusa, ran a much better time than earlier in the summer and just managed to out sprint a 7 year old. It’s the small victories that count :op

October 62 miles

In October I got into quite a good habit of some after work midweek runs. I couldn’t quite manage to make it to training at Ranelagh, but did at least boot myself out the door for a few miles a couple of evenings a week. Not much to write home about, but a huge improvement on the summer term. I tried out another new parkrun at Fulham Palace and was really pleased to run my best time for a long time. I had fun marshaling the CP10, and did my first Ranelagh mob match (a home run in Richmond Park) for a long, long time. It was also the first time I’d even shown my face at Ranelagh for quite some time so it was good to catch up with people.

November 83 miles

Almost starting to sound like a decent monthly total again! In November I ran my target race which I had pinpointed in the summer at my most unfit – the Brighton 10k. It’s one of my absolute favourite races, and I’ve always run well there regardless of my level of fitness. So it seemed like a good one to target. The weather always manages to be absolutely perfect (well, nearly always) and this year was no exception. I had a great run and was extremely chuffed with my time. I felt like a runner again instead of someone who was trying to get fit. I did another mob match, this time on Wimbledon Common and it went a lot better than the previous one. I did some more parkrun touring to Gladstone Park, followed by coffee with Leilani. I was slower than at Fulham but it’s a hilly course and I improved my course time by about a minute.

December 71 miles

Should have got a few more miles in this month, but being on holiday at the end of the month hasn’t quite counteracted the tiredness at the beginning of the month which is always so hectic. I was on a roll with mob matches and did another one at Coulsdon, very muddy and fun. Couldn’t quite manage Ken’s predicted time though! On the mob match theme I also did the Stragglers one in Surbiton and ran there to make it into a long run. I made my comeback to Tuesday’s nights at Ranelagh for a very important training session – the Christmas cracker relay! All; the other festive runs were done and enjoyed as usual – Christmas Day parkrun and Boxing Day CP4. Respectively my 9th and 14th time in a row. It’s good to have traditions! I then caught a cold which has somewhat diminished the potential for running lots between Christmas and NY when there’s nothing else to do.

Total – 931 miles

So in summary a pretty atrocious year for my running! However, I’ve learn some important stuff about not letting work rubbish have a negative effect on training and I’m starting the new year feeling positive about running. I’ll also be starting it tomorrow with another NYD double parkrun. So that’s good, right?!

My original running target this year was 100 miles a month (that would be 1200 miles over the year, maths fans!). However that soon went out the window owing to an extremely stressful period at work which led to disaster as far as running was concerned. Complete lack of physical and mental energy.

At the end of the school year in July I found myself to be about as unfit as I could ever remember being, and 10 pounds over ‘race weight’. Not good.

However things began to look up (6 weeks off work will have that effect I find) and gradually I regained some fitness, lost some weight and found my running mojo.

I have now reached the point where I’m ready to start setting targets and challenging myself again, which led me to wondering if I could make it to 1000 miles this year.

I’ve run 797 miles so far, and there are 8 weeks and 2 days left of the year. I need to average 25.3 miles a week (that ignores the spare 2 days) or 3.5 miles a day (that doesn’t). That won’t sound like much to many runners, but for me that is a challenging but achievable target. I hope!

When I first entered this race a year ago, the plan was to make a serious attempt at a sub-4. But things happen… In September a very stressful period at work began, and then came the never-ending Winter. It was like Narnia, always Winter but never Christmas. Well there was Christmas, but Winter just carried on and on and on… I really struggled to motivate myself to train properly. The long runs were ok, but decent training midweek just wasn’t happening. I couldn’t even make it to the track at the end of the road, let alone to Ranelagh. I did no speedwork or hill training at all. I wasn’t feeling ‘the fear’ of the marathon which is usually enough to boot myself out the door.

 

In February I ran the Watford Half marathon, where I should have been going under 1.50. I couldn’t even get under 2 hours. This was when I officially binned my sub 4 target – I knew it wasn’t going to happen. Although I was glad to have taken the pressure off myself, it had the unfortunate effect of making me even less motivated, if that was possible. Oh dear. I did some great training over half term, but you can’t catch up on 6 weeks of training in a week!

 

At the beginning of March I ran the Spitfire 20. It went really well and gave me a bit more confidence. I even bought a photo of Sharon and I running together during the first four miles – I usually look terrible in running photos but in this one we both look like we’re enjoying ourselves! Towards the end of March, as the snow continued to fall, I caught a nasty virus and missed the Cranleigh 21. This did not fill me with confidence,

 

Anyway, I’ll get to the point now. Sharon and David kindly invited me to travel with them to stay with David’s parents who conveniently live near Brighton. David cycled to the coast on Friday while Sharon and I went in the car. We went to the expo (which was decidedly underwhelming) and settled in for some serious relaxation.

 

Saturday was a funny day – we didn’t know what to do with ourselves. Eating lots of beige food, and a confusing game of Cluedo helped to pass the time though! It poured with rain all day but we were confident that the forecast was good for Sunday.

 

Sunday dawned brightish and definitely early – I was quite glad when David knocked on my door at 5.30 as I could stop pretending to be asleep. We were completely organized in our pre-race routines and arrived at the start at around 7.30 while the toilet queues were still short. Perfect. We milled about and queued for the aforementioned toilets a few times. Sharon and I were both feeing very nervous.

 

Soon it was time for David to head off to his first cheering spot. I dropped Sharon off in her start corral and headed to mine. Due to my unrealistic predicted time I was very near the front. I was a bit embarrassed about that but actually it was quite nice to have such a clear start. I made sure I kept well to the side!

 

I had an unscheduled comfort break before I’d even completed a mile – this is not usual for me! I found a handy tree which provided some cover, not a lot but I wasn’t really that bothered. It was only when I ran on that I began to wonder if it was someone’s garden… I think it was the edge of the park! Never mind.

 

I managed to spot David, Danny and my parents a few times in the first 5 miles or so, it’s always nice to see a friendly face. The course wound around the town, then along the coast to a village called Ovingdean and back again. I enjoyed this part of the race very much and felt great for the first 14 miles. I was very careful not to go too fast, drank lots of water and ate some sweeties. The water pouches were rather good, although I did squeeze too hard at one point and nearly choked to death.

 

A feature of this course that I enjoyed very much is the way it doubles back on itself a lot, so you can see all the people in front of you, which I find quite inspiring; and then all the people behind you. It’s always reassuring to know you’re not last! I loved seeing lots of my friends and clubmates and cheering them on. On the way out to Ovingdean I saw the leaders on the way back – that was exciting. Everyone on my side of the road was clapping and cheering. Possibly a waste of energy but never mind.

 

At half way I got another cheer from my parents, and headed off the other way towards Hove. I got to 14 miles and suddenly my legs felt completely knackered. I panicked slightly, because this seemed far too early to feel this bad! Oh dear. I made a pact with myself that however much I had to slow down, I was not going to walk until 20 miles.

 

I don’t think about much while running marathons, but get myself through the miles by thinking about the next exciting thing that’s going to happen. I use the word ‘exciting’ loosely – for example ‘one more mile til the next water station’ counts as something exciting to look forward to. Well, I was very much looking forward to getting a shotblok at 17 miles, I like shotbloks. But disaster, at 15 miles where they were giving out gels, I only processed after it was too late that they were giving out shotbloks too and I didn’t take one. I sensed impending doom for mile 17… and indeed there was nothing. The bastards. I had a couple of jelly babies instead. (Thankfully I did get a shotblok at about 22 miles, but by this time I was sick of all the sugary shit I’d been eating. I still ate it though).

 

I passed Sharon going the other way in Hove, she wasn’t too happy either. I got another cheer from David too. I stopped at St Johns somewhere around here for some vaseline – bliddy arm chafing. My arm hurt so much for a mile or so before the vaseline that I forgot about my legs!

 

I got to 20 miles and decided to carry on running to the turnaround. It was the last turnaround so I thought that was a good target to aim for. It was further than I thought. Then I decided to get all the way round the turnaround. It was around a fish factory or somesuch and very stinky and horrible so I really didn’t want to walk around it. I finally caved in and walked at 22 miles. It wasn’t much nicer than running but my legs were utterly dead.

 

I devised a plan and walked from the time it took my garmin to beep each mile until I got to the mile marker where I ran again. (The garmin always beeps too early). I say ran – I was managing 12/13 minute mile pacing by this point! This strategy got me through the hell from mile 22 – 25, and I ran from there to the end. I got a huge cheer from my parents at the finish, and managed a ‘sprint finish’ at the dizzy heights of 10.30 minute mile pace!

 

I think I was smiling for my finish photo because I was so flipping relieved to get there. I burst into tears when I crossed the line though – again I think it’s just the relief. My time was 4.48.03 – nothing to write home about but I’m not really bothered, I had no time goal. I’m sort of happy I went under 5 hours though.

 

I trekked through the finish area- medal, foil, goody bag, kit bag blah blah blah and eventually fought my way through the crowds to the meet up point, where I was very happy to see my parents and David and even happier to sit down, take my shoes off and eat my marmite sandwich!

 

Note to self – next time, train properly!

 

 

January 76 miles

 

The year got off to an excellent start when I was awarded my 250 parkrun top on NYD. I was very proud to be the 6th person and first lady to reach this achievement. And I love my shiny gold t shirt! It seemed to make me run quite well too and I did some sub 25 parkruns this month. I also took the 250 top on tour to Gunnersbury (freezing) and Wormwood Scrubs (muddy). I did a few not-very long runs of 7 or 8 miles as I wasn’t particularly training for anything. I ventured out in the cold for a few decent sessions at Ranelagh and the track too.

 

February 60 miles

 

This is invariably my worst training month of the year. Once again it was freezing, snowy, and I was horrendously busy at work. Plus I caught a cold. All my runs this month seemed to be a bit nothingy – lacking focus I guess. For example a couple of times I went to the track but ended up just doing a little jog instead. I did manage to run the national xc champs at Parliament Hill, a race I strangely enjoy every year! For once it wasn’t too cold.

 

March 68 miles

 

In March I decided to do the 30 day Shred. I only managed 15 days (and they weren’t consecutive) but it was strangely enjoyable, maybe I’ll have anther go next year some time and try a bit harder… I had a couple of virusy things this month, one of which I blamed for a shockingly bad run at the Clutton Cup. I came last and was beaten hollow by my mother. She enjoyed it, which is a good thing as it was my mother’s day gift to her! I took part in NTLM but only did two laps as I wasn’t feeling great. I met Zoe and some other girls who were training for their first marathon. I had a very enjoyable day out supporting at the Cranleigh 21. It was a very hot day. I ran one of the short laps the opposite way round. I was extremely pleased not to finish second at the Baker Cup! I did an ok time despite lack of training.

 

April 105 miles

 

Holiday time and the weather improved and I finally managed a decent number of miles, including some long runs of 10 miles. Hurrah. I was a bit more focussed this month as I was thinking about the build up to the GBR. So my Saturday runs were a bit longer too. Over Easter I even got my road bike out and went to Richmond Park with my brother; I also went to the swimming pool once with Meredith! I ran the Towpath 10, a very nice local race that I’ve never done before. I wasn’t really racing but was quite pleased with my time anyway. I had a great day supporting the London Marathon in the sunshine (and showers) and an interesting day supporting the Milton Keynes marathon in torrential, biblical rain. This got me thinking about my own marathon running, and I decided that to get over The Fear I needed to run one that was not about times. So I entered the Bacchus marathon in September at Denbies Vineyard.

 

May 130 miles

 

Wow – this was my biggest monthly mileage since 2008! I did some decent long runs and was much more consistent about midweek training, including bringing a Wednesday run back into the mix. It’s all so much easier when the weather’s warmer and it’s daylight. I had another great weekend at the GBR, and my Wednesday running became more focussed with the return of the Arethusa mile. I also had another opportunity to enjoy the elite experience at the Bupa 10k on a roasting hot day. I visited Frimley Lodge in the rain for an extra bank holiday parkrun. At the end of May I officially started marathon training for Denbies.

 

June 131 miles

 

Lots of interesting running opportunites this month which meant some more good mileage. I ran some extra parkruns over the Jubilee/my birthday weekend (Riddlesdown and Nonsuch) and decided to do a half term mini streak. On the Tuesday I accidentally ran 11 miles – there was a parkrun in the morning and then a test event for Crane parkrun in the evening. It bucketed with rain for this – we all agreed it was out wettest parkrun experience ever. Over the week I ran 5 parkruns on 4 different courses (not including the test run at Crane) and was very pleased to go under 25 mins in all of them. A really fun event was the longest parkrun. I challenged myself to complete all seven and was really pleased to achieve this. It was actually easier than I expected – I put it down to all the marmite sandwiches I ate in between each run. It has become a much bigger event with two others in different areas. Ours is still evolving as new parkruns start and the route changes. This year we did Bushy, Bedfont, Old Deer, Richmond, Wimbledon, Kingston and Bushy. I have so many parkrun tops I was able to be ‘parkrun fresh’ for each run! At the end of the month I ran the WD7k – I’m usually away for this but the date was moved to avoid an Olympic clash. This race always seems like hard work! I ended the month with yet another new parkrun venue – Gladstone Park where I used to train when I lived in West Hampstead. Hilly, but they gave us flapjacks at the end!

 

July 86 miles

 

Another traditionally poor running month for me due to end of term shenanigans and WCF camp. This year there was the added excitement of the Olympics starting. I managed to keep the long run build up consistent at least even if the rest was a bit haphazard. However, I did run a pb! My first one for literally years. Thanks to the Arethusa mile I ran a mile pb of 6.55. So pleased to go under seven minutes. I was also pleased with a 16 miler on a hot day after 9 days of no running. We followed the Olympic cycle race route for this, and also got the only bit of sunshine the day could offer. Despite it being a very wet summer, all my long runs seemed to be on really hot days. This turned out to be a good thing. I made sure I went up and down a few hills too! I had a great run at the Coad Cup and managed to come third. I ran the Elmore 7 as part of a long run and enjoyed it much more than when I’d tried to race it the year before.

 

August 126 miles

 

I spend the whole month glued to the telly watching the Olympics and watching the Olympics zoom past my doorstep; interspersed with marathon training. Unfortunately one did not counteract the other and I put on 5 pounds in 2 weeks! I also cycled 86 miles on my road bike this month which is unheard of. I did the Olympic time trial route on the closed roads before the race, and then onmy dad’s birthday we did the road race loop (minus the 9 laps and the Central London part of the course) to Box Hill and back. I also did the Thames Turbo Tri which was the second time this year in a pool. I had my best triathlon run ever, completing the 5k in 25.08. My bike and swim times were atrocious though! I continued my weekly attendance at the Arethusa mile but couldn’t get a good time this month. I did a really tough 20 miler on a very hot day, which included a visit to Andy Murray’s gold postbox. I had a shorter run to Mo’s postbox too! Saw Mo at track one evening. That was exciting. Andy Baddely set a new course record at Bushy parkrun and my team came 6th in the Ratchford Relay.

 

September 94 miles

 

Marathon time! The Bacchus marathon at Denbies vineyard was a great experience. It was a very hot day (30 degrees) and it is hilly and mostly off road. Luckily this had never been about chasing a time for me, just completing and enjoying a marathon. Which was definitely achieved. Plus it was a great race and I’ll definitely do it again. Maybe the half marathon! After the marathon I was a bit directionless in my training unsurprisingly. I tried another new parkrun, Hampstead Heath, which had the best but most expensive coffee shop ever! I enjoyed the last few Arethusa miles of the season, but had a terrible run at the Page Cup. I was determined to do some decent base training for Brighton marathon in October.

 

October 57 miles

 

However, this did not happen at all. This was an extremely stressful time at work and I allowed this to affect my running negatively. I was struggling to run midweek at all really. I did have some enjoyable weekend runs though – a mudbath at the Orion mob match, Bushy parkrun’s 8th anniversary, and best of all being part of the winning realy team in the Kingston Breakfast Run! Less enjoyable was the first fixture of the Surrey League – I hadn’t done much xc for a long time and it showed. And hurt!

 

November 67 miles

 

I addressed the issue of running after work to an extent with some very pleasant local runs with Meredith. Better than nothing but not the hardcore training I should be doing! I did another xc, in Reigate, and enjoyed it a hundred times more. Despite the rain. I also did a circuit training session led by Karen, I was still in pain 4 days later!

 

December 68 miles

 

Made it to the end of term and determined not to let work affect my running in the same way again. The ususal fun Christmas running events coincided with marathon training starting on Christmas Eve. This time it is all about the time – I’m aiming to go sub 4 at Brighton in April. Christmas Day parkrun was run in pouring rain, ankle deep puddles and mud everywhere. Fun in a way, but too cold and wet for socialising afterwards which was a shame. Another parkrun tour to Eastbourne where it was very windy.

 

Total 1069 miles

 

A bit hit and miss this year but not bad overall. Next year will try to be more consistent midweek.

Bacchus Marathon

 

After an unpleasant experience in the snowy wastelands of Bungay, I went off the whole idea of marathons. Four years later, I decided it was time to get over myself and get back on the horse as it were. I came up with a plan to enter a marathon that was either so silly or so difficult that the focus was not on times. And so I entered the Bacchus marathon at Denbies Wine Estate. This is England’s answer to the Medoc marathon – a hilly, mostly off-road course, wine and snacks at all the water stations, fancy dress encouraged and a hog roast and more wine at the end. I am not really a drinker, and I don’t do fancy dress, but the rest sounded ideal.

 

I loosely followed a 4.30 training schedule, but really didn’t care what time I did. I just wanted to enjoy it. Despite the rubbish summer we had, somehow all my long runs seemed to be on quite hot days, which was rather lucky when race day came and it was 27 degrees or so, with blue skies and sunshine. And the race didn’t start until 11am, so we’d be out in the midday sun.

 

At the start I was much less nervous than usual, as I was putting no pressure on myself to do anything except finish. It wouldn’t have mattered if I was nervous, as there were loads of loos with no queues!

 

We set off around the vineyard, and the first drip of sweat rolled off me just before the one mile marker. Never mind, it wasn’t long before the first water station. These had an amazing array of water, squash, gels, oranges, bananas, raisins, pretzels, crisps and sweeties. I mainly went for the pretzels and bananas; and the water, gallons of water. All the way round the first lap I felt thirsty the whole time, was very salt encrusted and not sweating enough. I was alternately paranoid about dehydrating or dying from drinking too much! After a while I discovered that 3 (half full) cups at each water station was about right.

 

I walked through every drinks station and up a steep hill, but ran all the rest of the first lap. I was feeling the heat but felt fine and was enjoying it. It never crossed my mind to quit at halfway. We went round a cone and over a timing mat and set off on lap two. The first lap took me 2.23.

 

The first couple of miles of lap two really annoyed me – I felt like the lap hadn’t started properly while I was still in the vineyard and I couldn’t wait to get out of it. It really got on my nerves! Then I came to a tiny incline – and I just could not run up it. So I walked. I was fine about walking. As the lap continued I walked up every single hill – at one point I walked two miles with no running! I also walked some flat bits that were in the sun. Thankfully there were plenty of shady bits. The course was absolutely beautiful with stunning views.

 

I did various bits of mental maths along the way, such as ‘there’s nine miles to go, how long would it take if I walked all the rest of the way?’! Luckily I didn’t need to find out, as once I got to the top of the biggest hill I found my second wind and ran most of the last five miles or so. The final mile was a fantastic downhill on tarmac back into the vineyard. Nearly all the rest of the course was off road so this felt lovely! It was my fastest mile by far and twice as fast as my slowest! I even managed a sprint finish.

 

At the finish there were medals and t shirts, and a table with fresh fruit, tea and cakes! How good is that? You could then stroll straight into the BBQ area and claim your hog roast and wine. I couldn’t quite face that but I felt …. fine really! I have never felt so untroubled by having run a marathon. OK so it was my slowest ever time and an hour slower than my fastest, but it’s still a hilly marathon on a hot day and it’s hard work!

 

I absolutely cannot recommend this event highly enough. Every bit of the organisation was faultless. It’s also really easy to get to on public transport, and not far away. So why was I the only Ranelagh in the marathon, and none in the half marathon? I’m definitely going back next year (but I think I’ll do the half!), and I would love to have some blue vests for company!

I didn’t really plan this one, it just evolved….

Saturday 2nd June – 5.83 miles

Today was my birthday, so I thought I’d start the celebrations with a nice parkrun in Bushy Park. Plus a warm up and down. I tried quite hard, especially while making sure I beat Clive over the last half mile, and was pleased to finish in 24.18

Sunday 3rd June – 6.35 miles

This was the end of week one of my marathon training schedule. All week I’d been pretty much ignoring the schedule, but I thought I’d take advantage of the instructions to do a (not very) long run of 6 miles. It was raining and I had a hangover, but I didn’t notice the hangover until afterwards!

Monday 4th June – 3.35 miles

To celebrate the Diamond Jubilee there were some extra bank holiday parkruns. This morning Peej, Danny and I went to Riddlesdown, a new venue for me. It was freezing cold and raining a bit in traditional bank holiday style, hence my extremely lame warm up. However, I somehow managed to run an excellent time – 23.47. Definitely a season’s best!

Tuesday 5th June – 11.24 miles

Another parkrun tour this morning, this time to Nonsuch with Ralph. We joined in with a fun group warm up and I tried hard but my legs were tired. Pleased with my time of 24.28. Nice cake stall and cup of tea afterwards. In the evening I went out in the rain (which was once again pouring down) to take part in the test event for Crane Park parkrun. I hadn’t really factored in the running there and back, but couldn’t really think of a better way of getting there! I had a lovely run round in the bucketing rain with Sharon (I think it was the wettest parkrun experience any of us had ever had) but felt incredibly tired when I got home. It then dawned on me that I’d inadvertently run 11 miles today. Ah well, it’s good for me apparently!

Wednesday 6th June – 2.51 miles

I still felt absolutely exhausted today, so much that I could barely be bothered to get dressed. However I eventually put some running kit on and went out at 8.30pm to run the Arethusa mile. I felt like I wasn’t trying hard at all so was very pleased with my time of 7.35. (I am aware that I am blowing my own trumpet a lot here but it’s been sooo looong since I’ve done any good running it’s just nice to be logging some semi-decent times again! (Anyway, it’s my blog so I’ll say what I like!)).

Thursday 7th June – 4.44 miles

I felt back to normal today and enjoyed a track session of 15 x 200m with 100m jog recoveries. I won’t bore you with the splits but they were pretty consistent.

Friday 8th June – 2.53 miles

I toyed with the idea of having a much needed rest day, but my legs felt ok so I decided it would be more fun to see the tree damage in Bushy Park after two days of windy weather, and keep the streak going. So I did.

Saturday 9th June – 7.47 miles

First Crane Park parkrun today. I ran there with Orlando and ran home again with Ralph and my mum. Really pleased to finish in 24.47 on tired legs, specially as that meant all four parkruns this week, on different courses were all under 25 minutes. Makes me think that maybe, one day, I’ll actually run a new pb again?!

Sunday 10th June – 4.08 miles

My marathon training schedule called for a long run of 7 miles so I decided that was yesterday, as this allowed time to go for coffee afterwards! A nice easy run in Bushy Park with Orlando and my mum.

Total distance – 47.8 miles

Conclusion – it’s so much easier to train when I’m not at work! But I don’t know if I could manage a longer streak. Maybe I’ll give it a go in the summer…