fairweatherrunner

running blog


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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!
;


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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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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!