fairweatherrunner

running blog


5 Comments

Dymchurch Marathon

I won!

Well not as in came first but I did…

  • acheive my aim of finishing my 3rd marathon happy!
  • beat my previous best time by 20 minutes.
  • enjoy (most of) it and feel good.
  • run (practically) all the way. I hope to be excused a brief  section in the middle of the last mile in the face of a (by that stage) 40mph headwind when it really was quicker to march/stagger.
  • have a great day running with some lovely people.*
  • question that maybe I’m not such a  fairweatherrunner.**
  • discover that Oreos are the perfect marathon fuel at 21 miles.
  • decide I definitely  want to run another one…
  • Oh, and I was first lady home!***

So I reckon that does make me a winner.

*The benefit of multiple laps is the support of other runners.  Lots of thumbs ups, well dones and waves as we passed each other and the front runner lapping me on his way to finsh telling me well done, keep it up.  There was definitely a pattern to it on Sunday.  Happy and encouraging others on the way out with the tail wind and then battling back into the wind with a grimace receiving encouragement.  It was great to run the first few laps with Louise who I ran my first marathon with, see Cassie smiling through a tough first marathon, exchange ‘ looking good’ and ‘we can do this’ with Helen  and get a big hug on the last stretch home from Cathy who came to support.

**It started windy and got very very windy.  The adverse weather conditions actually  gave me something real to moan about rather than worrying about imaginary niggles and made me bloody minded and even more determined to be strong and tough it out.  

***It was a small field and many runners were on their second, third, fourth or fifth marathon in as many days, but shh… we won’t tell anybody that  –  I’m making the most of  it because it won’t happen again!

Many thanks to Saxon-Shore for a brilliant, friendly low key marathon. It was perfectly flat, mud free and uncrowded.   I liked the laps, although after a few I was questioning  whether I had passed a very large rock in the middle of the sea wall ot not.

 


5 Comments

I’m Back

Really back this time.

I’m running a marathon tomorrow.

Yes I know I should have blogged about it earlier.  I did get a nag from Cathy for not updating my marathon training and mentions from Sharon and Alma which nudged me back to my blog but I felt a bit of a fraud having a running blog when I wasn’t really running.

I have dabbled during Juneathon and Janathon, writing  a bit about my excuses for not running and the odd BMF class, parkrun or classy plank.

I’ve had false starts, comebacks and ‘return’ races.  I managed a 2 week run streak during Juneathon this year and a comeback 10K at the end of Janathon but I have not seriously run or trained for any event since the London Marathon in 2014.

Then two things happened.  I stood on the scales at Easter to weigh my son’s suitcase and I went to cheer this years London Marathon.  The mean old scales told me the truth I didn’t want to hear and watching the marathon made me think that maybe it wasn’t as bad as my memories were telling me.  I set about losing some blubber and my subconscious started thinking about running another marathon.

Facebook and wine don’t mix.  On May Bank Holiday Sunday evening I found myself entering a marathon with Cathy, Helen and Cassie.  It’s a flat one and the medal and goodie bag (beer and cake) are fantastic. (We’ll worry about the strong winds on the Kent coastal sea wall tomorrow!)

Fast forward to this Autumn and after a slow start I finally got into my marathon training.  I said I would run it –  so I had to grit my teeth and get on with it.   But I started to enjoy myself.  Regular running and being 12 pounds lighter have done wonders for my pace and stamina.  In October I ran a good HM at the Exeter Great West Run and felt really strong on a hilly course.  If I hadn’t had to make an unplanned loo stop I would have pipped my HM PB by a few seconds.  Mojo returned.

My previous attempts at marathon training have felt like a chore, hating the really long, long runs.  I can’t say I love them now,  and I could do with running a few more of them, but for the last weeks of my training I have had a new business like attitude to training and focus on my plan.

The icing on the cake was running a 10K PB of 49.06 two weeks ago.  I ran 50.38 in 2010 and have been trying to get back there, or under 50 minutes ever since but 52  is the closest I’ve managed.

Marathon training rocks!

We’ll see what tomorrow brings!


18 Comments

London Marathon

It was a once in a life time experience which I’m glad I’ve done. Some parts, like running over Tower Bridge were amazing, but I hated much of it.  Never again, although I do now have unfinished business over 26.2 miles.

I have to admit it’s taken me more than a few days to write this blog post.   I’ve been putting it off. I’ve been a bit down in the dumps and disappointed in myself. It didn’t go as I wished, I didn’t enjoy it.

As time goes on I am getting things into perspective. I had a bad day, a bad race. It was probably a combination of any of a number of things. Mistakes in fuelling and hydration, a too sharp taper with a bruised rib, under training, not taking account of the warm weather…. Whatever it was or wasn’t, bad races happen. Normally I shrug and get on with the next one a little wiser and tougher. But it’s harder to swallow when you’ve built up for a big race where the training has taken over for the previous 4 months.

I always said (before my first marathon) I wouldn’t run one until I was very very old because it’s such a long way and old age would give me a valid excuse to stop for a cup of tea (or two, or stronger) along the way. I think I must have meant this one and I should have stuck to my guns because London is probably the right one for tea (beer) stops. Not that I’m criticising it. I found The London Marathon an amazing somewhat overwhelming experience. But not a comfortable run.

It was impeccably organised, I was marshalled onto the right train at Charing Cross, got to the blue start where the loo queue was manageable and I dropped my bag in the right lorry, where they checked I had my timing chip and everything I needed, and walked to the start pen. It was busy but calm and civilised

I lined up with confidence. After my 20 milers I just had to do the same and then hang on and try not to slow too much over the last 6 miles. As long as I kept running then I’d hopefully be ok for about a 4.30 ish finish.

It took me a while to settle and hold a steady pace, not being pulled along with the pack at too fast a pace. At 5K I felt the buzz from feeling that I was part of something really amazing. I enjoyed the atmosphere of running around the Cutty Sark but had my first taste of the effort and concentration needed to hold pace as it became crowded. The support from spectators was amazing but at points they were spilling out onto the route pinching the flow of runners, even obscuring the blue racing line.

My problems started when I felt I needed to stop for a wee. I was reluctant because the queues looked like I could say goodbye to at least 10 minutes race time. I carried on, envious of the men at every opportunity in a line against the wall having a pee. At 10 miles I knew I wasn’t feeling the love, I was not ‘in the zone’, lost in my run and my thoughts. I was having to concentrate way too much on my surroundings and to hold pace with stop-starting in front of me, many distractions from sights, sounds and smells all around and empty water bottles to watch for on the road.

The turn towards Tower Bridge came suddenly and was one of the highlights as we ran up to and over the bridge. The crowds either side of the road were huge and the roar of cheers amazing which literally took my breath away. I’m not usually breathless at that pace, it’s the legs that go first, but the noise, crowds and the heat was quite claustrophobic.

At halfway I began to realise I was in trouble. I’d run a good steady half in 2.11,  well within my usual comfort zone, but had worked harder than I realised to do it. I had sipped water but knew I’d not drunk enough for the heat, holding back because I didn’t want to stop, and although I’d taken gels my legs were tiring and feeling wobbly. I pushed on keeping an eye on loo queues.

At about 15 miles I got a wonderful boost from seeing my brother and getting a big hug from my sister in law. It’s amazing how much pace and mileage you can get from a hug!  I was aware of roughly where friends were going to be on the course but there were so many people. Unless supporters had a banner people were impossible to spot. It was disorientating trying to look up and down both sides of the road for a familiar face and disheartening when I got well past the area they might be. How I managed to see the people who did spot me is a miracle. I was sorry to miss others, a couple of BMF buddies in particular because I was so looking forward to using one significant word to describe how I was finding it. (F***ing hot, F***ing horrible!)

After Westferry I was beginning get stomach cramps so my stop for the loo became necessary. Fortunately  I didn’t have to plod on too long before I found a portaloo with no one waiting. Then I was able to get some water and a gel down and went on to have a good patch between 16 and 18 miles and began to think I could pull things together. It was then I turned my ankle on a water bottle, nothing too bad that a hop and a stamp couldn’t cure but enough to weaken my resolve to keep running and start my first walk break.

It was great to see Alma and Louise around that point. I was so happy to see a friendly face and more than tempted to stop and chat far longer.  Carrying on I was less aware of my surroundings or the sights of London, just pleased that the course had turned and I was heading in the right direction to the finish. I was beginning to feel nauseous and settled into a pattern of taking walk breaks for a couple of minutes each mile.

Around 20 miles. I was overtaken by the 4.30 pace maker. I tucked in behind and tried to stay with them but the nausea and stomach ache returned and forced me to walk and I settled into my long run-walk to the finish. I was raising money for a good cause and I had to get my medal so I stopped feeling sorry for myself, put a grin on my face and turned to plan d. Finish.

Which I did after 4 hours 51 mins.

I was probably both an idiot and a wimp on the day. Now I must stop being cross with myself because I was slower than last time and remember I ran a marathon and in not too bad a time. I will run another marathon, but after I’ve forgotten about the training for this one. Next time if I want to get so competitive with myself I might seek some advice for training, fuelling and hydration and find a slightly less busy one with the odd quiet stretch to allow for a bit of head space.

In the meantime you’ll find me out getting therapy on my bike and at BMF.

20140416-195338.jpg

 

 

 


7 Comments

A tale of two 20’s

I am now officially celebrating the start of my pre marathon taper.  The worst is over, I’ve reached the peak of my training and (hopefully) the hard work is done so I’ve just got to keep my head on, taper my training wisely, eat and rest right  (the best bit) and then turn up on the big day!  I spent Sunday afternoon celebrating the start of my taper after the second of my 20 mile runs.  On the sofa, feet up with tea, hot cross buns and then a glass or two of wine and a huge dinner.

So what about these 20 mile races? One week apart, one hot and hilly, the other, endless laps with a scattering of hail stones.

Both were organised marathon training races. An essential part of marathon training for me without which I would have struggled to run that distance. Entrance fees well spent.  I find any run over 2 hours a tedious slog and can just about muster the will power to run any further than that every few weeks when training.  Fortunately in both these runs I wasn’t alone as plenty of other crazy folk were out plodding the same path wearing race numbers.  People overtook, I had others to overtake and could look back and still see people behind me. Safety from complete boredom in numbers!

The first was the Surrey Spitfire 20.  A regular fixture, well organised race. Nice scenery of the surrey hills starting from an interesting base at Dunsford Aerodrome. However it was hot and there were great big (for softy Londoners like me), hills!  I did not have a great run. I find I do not like 2 lapped races.  The first lap feels long enough…. and then you have to do it ALL again Ugh!  I ran the first lap just slower than target pace (to take account of the heat and hills.) Fine, great.  On lap 2 I decided I don’t like races on race tracks either. The first part of each lap might have been flat but 2  miles on hot black tarmac seeing a line of runners going on forever in front of you! Headphones are banned for this race, understandably, because much of it is on open country roads with traffic, and at times the quiet, hearing only birds and runners feet hitting the Tarmac was energy sapping. I weakened early and walked a hill at mile 13 and that set the pattern for the second half.  At one point walking uphill on a busy road I harboured thoughts about mugging a passing cyclist for his bike!

The good, (yes it wasn’t all bad) was a great sense of community. Without music, passing runners actually talked and encouraged each other with marathon chat and dreams of ice-cold Pimms!  I have to thank one club runner who I chatted to at mile 18 and kept me going to the end before I sent her off for a sprint to the line to beat a fellow club member!

I did not enjoy the run, my  mantra for tough times (counting one, two, three, four) became expletive, expletive, expletive, expletive! I won’t meet hills at the London marathon but I suppose they’ve made me stronger and practise racing in the heat might prove useful for marathon day. Not least to remind me the sunburn hurt more the next day than my legs. I didn’t feel great that I’d had to walk so much but was happy to finish in 3.25.

This Sunday it was the Hyde Park 20. A newer, smaller, well organised, marathon training run with 16 mile and (for the very speedy) a 24 option. The race is made up of 4 mile laps so it was 5 times round for me. I thought I knew Hyde Park well, I certainty do now.

A cold start where I needed a lightweight jacket.  Then my sunglasses came on and off over the run as we went through the seasons and as I removed my jacket we got to hail. During the first lap I felt as though it was going to be a tough run but I settled into it and got stronger. I had music which helped and found that multiple shorter laps were better than two long ones.  Each time I reached a point I thought about only having to run that bit 4, 3 or 2 more times etc.  By the time my wondering mind came back to the thought I’d be practically back there again. Some fun young Marshalls, dancing to keep warm, also kept my spirits up as I said hello each time I passed.

I did think I was dead at mile 5 when I was overtaken by Elvis but began to doubt it when I overtook him back at mile 13!  It was only going past the start for the last time at the start of lap 5 that I started to flag and the relatively flat course developed hills. My pace dropped over the final 4 miles but I was very happy not to have walked apart from one or two steps through the water stops during the second half to gulp water.  A good 20 mile run, I was delighted to beat last week finishing in 3.19.

Surrey Spitfire gave me respect for the distance and strength to face a tough marathon.  I learned that sometimes target paces have to be relaxed for the conditions and not to beat myself up and give in, but to dig deep and keep going as best I can (plans b, c and d). Hyde Park restored my confidence in myself because I ran the whole way and felt stronger. I even managed to wobble home (through the park) on my bicycle afterwards!

Note to self for marathon. Don’t be an idiot, don’t be a wimp!
;


Leave a comment

‘…changing lives one mile at a time…’

Three weeks to go before I run the London marathon! I’ve run my 20 mile long runs and am into the taper to the big day. I’m also fundraising.

I’ve not sought sponsorship for any races since I ran my very first 10K back in 2006. But London is special. For me it is the marathon and it’s my home patch. I was lucky to get a ballot place so have no obligations but wanted to celebrate by raising some money for a good cause. I wanted to choose a relevant, small local charity, one without charity marathon places.

I chose Home Straight because it feels right to plod mile after mile around London to help others change their lives for the better through exercise, one mile at a time.

I’m writing about it now, not just to drum up donations (please feel free!) but also to help spread the word/raise awareness about Home Straight to the running community, who follow my blog or me on twitter, who will appreciate how the benefits we get from our passion for running can also help people who are homeless, marginalised or suffering from substance abuse improve their lives by getting them into running.

This testimonial sums up what Home Straight is and does. It makes me feel that every hard mile of my long training runs was worth it…

“I was first introduced to Homestraight running club around November 2011. I was then 43-years-old and had just got out of a treatment centre.

I had been drinking alcoholically and taking drugs regularly since being a teenager. During the final ten years of my using I was a full time heroin addict, who was unable to hold down a job or even form relationships with people. I’d come precariously close to being homeless, and was living temporarily in a spare room in the house of my sister’s family when I first attended Homestraight.

Despite the severity of my situation, I had still relapsed and continued taking drugs after leaving the treatment centre. However, I decided to throw myself into a fitness regime proposed to me by the club. After a gentle start I was training four times a week: a combination of running, circuit training, stretching and some strength work.

I cannot stress enough how much this helped me turn a corner in my recovery. I want to make it clear that attending AA and NA meetings, often two or three times a day, plus having a sponsor, was not sufficient to keep me clean. That didn’t work for me the way it does for some people.

What did work was having a dedicated fitness program. I trusted my trainers, goals were set for me, and my commitment to the club grew over time. Before too long I wouldn’t have missed it for anything. Not only did it enable me to abstain from all drugs and alcohol, within a year I had given up smoking. I never planned or expected to give that up. But after a while I wanted to see how much my running would improve so I did.

I am completely clean today, have a home, girlfriend and a job. I still attend classes twice a week. My experience tells me that beating addiction requires everything you can throw at it. Having a fitness regime administered to you by fitness trainers who know what they’re doing is an essential factor in this mix. I cannot thank everyone at Homestraight club enough.”

‘I wouldn’t have missed it for anything” reflects how I also feel about BMF classes (similar to sessions attended by Home Sraight members.) It is BMF that I have stuck at and attended regularly for 9 years and got me into running. Both have also changed my life in many ways too.  Not least finding a great community and many good friends.

Many thanks to those of you who have sponsored me. It means a lot to Home Straight and has really helped give me the grit I’ve needed at times to get on with my training when I’ve found it tough.

You can sponsor me at virginmoneygiving/Rachel Bedford17 or find out more about Home Straight here..

Thank you.


7 Comments

Marathon training

This time last year I ran my first marathon at Rutland Water and this week I finally started training for my second.

It is just as well I’ve got 5 months until the London Marathon because it gives me time to get back in shape having lapsed my running a bit recently (not to mention gained a few pounds) and as many marathon training plans are for 16 weeks it also gives me a month to build up gradually and to try out my own ideas.

I’ve thought a lot about my training. What parts of training for races have I found difficult in the past? What are my barriers? What do I find easy to stick to and most enjoyable? Which bits do I find hardest or require a lot of self-determination and effort to get on with and how I can avoid situations that I will find hard to complete?

I’m not over keen on long runs, less so when I have get out of bed on a weekend morning to run them (or anything really) and even less so to run them by myself. I am good about getting to BMF classes regularly, even when I am totally unmotivated to do any other exercise because it’s sociable and fun, I (quite) like shorter speedy runs, I can motivate myself when there is a bit of self completion involved or a self or social commitment to fulfil. Some of the traditional training plans with 4 or more days running fill me with panic and dread about being able to keep up with them after many weeks.

So where does that all get me to?

Midweek training and long runs (unless it’s a race with buddies), keep up regular BMF classes with only 2 or 3 additional runs each week. Weekends for rest and recovery apart from when I can get myself to parkrun or have a planned race.

I will go to BMF classes on Monday Wednesday Fridays, Run my long run Tuesday (unless I have a weekend race) and a do a Tempo run or intervals session or go run club on Thursdays, I may swap a BMF class or the Thursday session for a Saturday parkrun when I want or if I need to rest tired legs midweek but otherwise plan to have my rest days at weekends.

As I planned this out I had in the back of my mind that by December I would revert to a ‘proper training plan’ will lots of runs. However the more I researched the more I felt confident with my schedule. The runners World Smart Coach gives me a marathon plan with just 2 key runs per week (a long run plus a speed/tempo/pace run) with cross training or rest on other days, no different from may own plan. I’ve also had a look at the FIRST training program (Run less, Run faster) which has 3 key runs (track repeats, tempo run, long run) and two cross training sessions. Effectively I am following the Smart Coach plan and its mileage and pace details (which I will check are in line with those from the FIRST plan for my target marathon time).

My plan starts properly 16 weeks before VLM so in the meantime I’m getting accustomed to my 5 workouts and building up my total weekly mileage gradually in preparation.


9 Comments

Focus

Hello World!

Getting back into training again after a summer break usually takes me a couple of weeks in September while I adjust to Autumn routines, get my act together and dig out my mojo. This year it’s taken me nearly 8 weeks, Oops!

Excuses? Yes lots. Since the start of September things have been rather full on with work, home, family and life plus my OH has had a stressful and disruptive month work-wise so my focus has not been on running nor blogging.

I did get a bit of focus when I received this in the post…

20131022-224156.jpg

 

And then some more focus when trying to find something to wear recently. I had to admit to myself that my clothes were not the problem but my lack of running and therefore expanding muffin top!

I haven’t been totally sedentary. I might not have made it out of my front door once on a run since the summer but I have been to BMF 2 or 3 times a week which has maintained my general fitness. I have also run a couple of un-trained half marathons. The first was Run to the Beat at the start of September, enough said about that the better! My record slow finish time wasn’t just my complete lack of training as the race crowding (standstill at one point) and a long loo queue added a good 15 minutes.

The second was the Ealing Half Marathon . A great race again, like last year, which I treated as a long Sunday run (with added bonus of water stations and support along the way). I was very pleased to find that I had maintained my fitness enough to be able to run the whole distance, at an easy pace, without getting puffed and only 9 minutes slower than last year. My legs however, having not had many miles in preparation, were feeling quite painful for the last 3 miles.

My final focus was to pay for my London Marathon ballot place this weekend so I’m committed! I already have a Brighton Marathon place for the week before London so I have some thinking to do before then.

I’m going to start training on 1 November. I have 5 months so have time to try out my idea for a training plan during the first month and see how it goes. But more about that later, time for me to get out that door…