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‘…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.

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Bath Half Marathon

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My ambitious marathon training plan (the one I follow when things are going well and I’m feeling good) called for a sub 2 hour half marathon last weekend.  Fortunately my other plan (which I refer to more often when I’m feeling exhausted and a little fed up with marathon training) only required 14 miles of me so I had a back up plan if I needed it!

But I was also keen to run under 2 hours again for myself (even if only by seconds) having done so in all 4 Half Marathons I ran in 2012 but not in any I ran in 2013.

So after a lovely day on Saturday with lots of good company, shopping , eating and all round fun, race day arrived.  We had a leisurely start having treated ourselves to a hotel only a short walk from the start so we were not out in the cold rain for too long before the off.

It was busy at the race start and I wasn’t too happy to find myself in the crowds stuck towards the back of my start zone where there were also people wearing the coloured race numbers for the zone behind.  I also overheard someone around me discussing her planed pace and my heart sank. I realised I would have some work to do to weave in and out and get ahead if I wanted to stick to my planned pace of 9 mins per mile, a whole minute faster than that. (Note to self on my honesty and accuracy of predicted finish time for mass, popular races!).

I had decided not to be an idiot and try for a PB or a fast race, but to start out at a good solid pace and stick to it. That should take me round just under the magic 2 hour mark, to give me confidence in the eyes of my ambitious marathon plan and be a good even paced test of how my training was going.

As feared it was very busy and In the pack I had to really work at settling into and maintaining my pace without wearing myself out from weaving in and out in a sort of fast-slow race interval run. The Bath Half is ‘Bath flat’ as I found out last year . I was disappointed not to be able to take the opportunity of the downhill just after the start and bank 30 seconds or so of faster pace for later as the first few miles were very crowded.

It eased a little and I was able to keep close enough to my plan for the rest of the two lapped course.  At mile 10 I was smug in overtaking a couple who had been ahead of me until then and had annoyed me by ignoring the marshals always running outside the cones on the right hand side of the course reserved for the overtaking front-runners as they lapped us.

The last 3 miles felt like a marathon in themselves, not just ‘a parkrun to go’.  I was still having to overtake and squeeze through gaps of people running three abreast.  The uphill before the last turn to the finish didn’t help either.  On the turn to the finish I glanced at my watch and realised I was dangerously close to 2 hours. I was a few seconds over target average pace plus because of garmin inaccuracy  and/or too much weaving in and out of the crowds I was going to run a bit over 13.1 miles so needed a good sprint finish to duck under 2 hours.

It was close, but I did it with 15 seconds to spare!

A big, well organised and supported race in a lovely city.  This year was a bit too crowded for my liking so although it’s a great race I think I’ll be giving it a miss for a few years before I come back again.

bath2014


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The ups and downs

My marathon training continues with many ups and downs.

This week has been hard going.  Janathon is over and it continues to rain.  I’m now in week 7 of my training so the initial enthusiasm has gone but the end is not yet in sight.  The miles and intensity are increasing and it’s getting tough.

After 14 miles last weekend I rested at the start of the week but then couldn’t get going again.  It was cold and wet and apart from BMF I couldn’t get myself out the door for yet another loop of the same old routes. It doesn’t help that I am totally in love with my new bicycle and would rather be out riding it than running.  But then I remembered my un-cancelled gym membership and compromised.  I cycled to the gym, ran intervals on the treadmill and recovered with 20 gentle lengths of the pool before cycling home.

Today was even harder.  I was out and about (yes on my bike again) but couldn’t muster the motivation to go out and run.  Looking at my stats and what I’d left myself for the weekend I had a last minute pang of guilt (fear!) as I was about to pour a glass of wine.  I threw my kit on and dashed out the door for a quick 30 minutes.

Yes, it turned out to be one of the good ones. Avoiding one street from my loop, because of the busy pavements at 6pm, I took a parallel poorly lit private road which was darker than I thought  it would be.  One way to keep up a good pace! Feeling good I kept up the effort.

The rain arrived minutes after I got home and the smug feeling got even better when I looked at my stats.  A perfect progression run with miles at 9.35, 9.00, 8.24 pace.  Couldn’t have run it better even if I’d planned it!


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Just another day…

Yesterday was the last day of Janathon.

Time to round up my running mileage from 99 to 100? Or  110 as suggested by @abradypus!  And what do I round up my 61 miles cycled to?

But this isn’t the end for me. Far from it. I’ve got 2 more months of marathon training so will be carrying on exactly the same.  Plus some, as I get into the peak of my training and on to very long runs .

I will still blog on a regular basis but won’t be blogging everyday, which is the hardest bit of Janathon.   It will actually be good to spend less time trying to think of something to write, getting it down on screen, corrected, re written and have more time to read other people’s blogs.  I have a big backlog of Janathon blogs to start with.

So yesterday, it not really being the end,  but just another Friday I did the same as I usually do on Fridays.  I pedalled to Hyde Park where I did a BMF class.  It was a normal BMF class (as far as any BMF class can be normal)  with rather too many burpees, a lot of squats and many laps running around a triangle (a big one, it was about 400m,), all finished off with a couple of sprint races  My team won both,  I’m good a chosing fast team mates! Then I cycled home with a very cold wet bottom (blooming V sits) and freezing hands (press-ups and planks in a puddle which soaked my gloves).

It was also another typical Friday because I failed to blog. Last week I was feeling blah and fell asleep.  Yesterday I spent a lovely afternoon visiting a friend in hospital with two other friends but by the time I got home (horrible dark cold wet evening and slooooow tube trains), cooked and ate dinner and sat down with a film and glass of wine it was already late and my mind was even blanker than usual.

Janathon day 31.  5 miles cycled, 1 BMF class (3 miles running)

Janathon 2014.  102 miles run, 67 miles cycled.


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Coldest Wettest

Run yet…

Plan A was to run first thing and then get on with work all invigorated and smug having got my run over with.  But it was raining and cold this morning so I moved on to Plan B.  According to my iPhone weather app the rain would clear or ease by mid day so I would work until then and have a lunchtime run.  It continued to rain and I did get some work done but started to get  thoughts about plan C, to run this evening. However the thought of dark and wet run didn’t appeal one bit so I ended up with plan D.  I went out when there was just enough daylight left for my planned 8 miles.

It was raining when I got out the door, it rained all through my run and it was still raining when I got home.  It was cold, the rain stung.  Any target pace or need to do a couple of intervals in the middle of my run fell by the wayside.  I pressed go on my Garmin, put my head down and just got on with it at whatever pace my legs would do (give or take up hills. slow pedestrians and down hills).  It wasn’t one of those nice “I didn’t look at my pace but it turned out pretty good” runs but it wasn’t too shoddy either.

I followed the same route as a previous run (8.21 miles) but must have cut a half mile corner somewhere or other because I got home at 7.73 miles. Today was not a round-up sort day. Once in sight of my door I was heading straight in for a hot drink and to get warm and dry!  Unfortunately that shortcut was at a price –  I assumed today I would reach 100 miles for the month but once logged it for Janathon I have had to settle on a nice round 99!

Janathon day 29   7.73 miles run

Janathon totals; 99 miles run, 61 miles cycled.


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A good long run

I was rather late getting out for my long run today.  It probably had something to do with the box of empties which I put out for recycling this morning!

When I did get out I had a really good enjoyable run and was thankful for many things today…

  • My delayed run meant the rain was easing when I left home
  • The cool light drizzle during the first half hour washed away the last of my thick head
  • A group of youths cycling on the pavement actually apologised that I had to detour to avoid them!
  • The peace and quiet of 4 (more empty than normal) London Parks on a wet Sunday
  • Only being asked directions by 2 sets of tourists
  • The loo attendant letting me in at 2 mins past 4pm when she was about to lock up
  • A good feeling run on what ended up being a beautiful afternoon when the rain cleared.
  • Getting to my door and my Garmin reading 12.01 miles!  Job done.

Janathon day 26.  12 miles run

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A dark one

Today’s run was a dark one.  I couldn’t run first(ish) thing (after waking up, drinking tea, chaffering pampered teenagers to school) because I had some deliveries scheduled for today.

Deliveries received, big piece of work finally completed, I had a pretty productive day. But then it was dark and I was feeling cold from sitting still all day. I have to admit all I wanted to do was collapse on the sofa with a glass of wine. But I rested yesterday, I knew I had to run for marathon training, Jantastic and Janathon so I pulled on a second layer and my long skins tights and forced myself out the door.

I went out thinking I’d dash off a ‘minimum’ 3 miler but as I started it wasn’t too bad although I had limited time. I knew I should really be running more like 5 or 6 miles with some intervals at 5K pace so compromised on 4 miles at HM pace (ish) in my (by then) over heated state.  To extend my loop I headed to the park but realised only when I got there that it was closed because it was dark and I would not be able to use that route for my turning right loop.  I carried on and then turned left for a different loop.  It was good to run new streets.  A few were a bit quiet and dark which sped me up but some were over busy and slowed me down with groups of people standing outside restaurants, bus queues and idiots walking along looking at their mobile phones.  At one stage I even had to hurdle a couple of rubbish bags!

Janathon day 21.  4.01  miles run.

I saw this on twitter today and laughed.  Tonight I got home at 3.94 miles, and yes, I ran past my door 3 times and got funny looks from passers-by running past them 3 times!

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