Thursday, 14 April 2011


I'm famous, (well sort of)! At least amongst the select few who thumb the Ilkley Gazette & Observer each Thursday. Another one for the scrap book, (I don't photograph well).

I'm back on my running feet and feeling suprisingly niggle free since Sunday's efforts. A day off from running on Monday has been followed by light and easy running to get the legs turning over. It's been lovely to have no targets, sessions or mileage to hit; just plain, easy, blissful running for a couple of weeks at least.  It's shorts and sunnies time and I'm properly enjoying it. 

More importantly, best wishes to fellow bloggers and running mates  out there who are taking on London this Sunday. I can't wait to hear news of all that winter training paying off. We're gonna see some fine times this year I know it. Go for it guys, do some damage to those PBs!

Monday, 11 April 2011


So, I did it. I've really gone and run a marathon. Raced a marathon even. It's now slowly starting to sink in that it's really all over. And I think it's got to be one of the hardest things I've ever done.

Arrangements over the weekend went swimmingly. The drive up was trouble free with a stop off at Tebay for some motorway fare overlooking the Howgills (spookily at the same time as fellow blogger AMcD). We found a great spot in Glasgow to sleep and eat and the second leg of driving onwards to Fort William set up the mood with the most breathtaking scenery I've ever seen. The B&B was spot on; just a mile away from the race start and a great porridge breakfast was ordered to set me up for race day.

I was feeling sicky nervous the whole of Saturday; when not obsessively checking the weather forecasts that is. Our hosts assured us it would be fine weather, having narrowly missed some major storms this week. I was thanking my lucky stars that the tormenting winds had eased down to a breeze. So, after a dreadful nerve-wracked night's sleep I awoke well before 7am. The sky was already hazy blue and promised fine weather for race day. I managed to stuff down my porridge (tricky when feeling sicky) and build in numerous loo stops to allow for a more nervy than usual pre-race tummy.  The race start was a relaxed affair with a small field of around 400 runners, all slapping on the factor 20 cream as the sun burned off the early morning haze. I should have taken note...

We were off pretty sharpish and I found myself somewhere near the front 20 or so from early on. There were no ladies in sight but small clumps of blokes, though none that matched my pacing plan. In fact I struggled to find the relaxed clip I'd found in my recent 20 milers. My running seemed to range wildly from too fast to too slow. There was nobody near me to shelter from the breeze and so after mile 3 the race became a fairly lonely ride.

The course info reports a flat and fast route but strangely it felt uphilll all the way! Either an optical illusion or I reckon this was an early sign that I wasn't feeling quite right. The 6.17 pace that felt so easy a few weeks ago felt nowhere near as relaxed and by the half-way turn the guys in front were dropping off pace rapidly. I seriously began to struggle too. It was a challenge not to panic, knowing full well I was too tired for the HM point. I dug in and tried to stay calm, passing another three guys who seemed to be struggling to breathe easy in the heat. By mile 15 I found myself in what I think was 4th place but there were no other runners in sight, only seemingly endless stretches of shimmering straight road ahead. I felt wasted.

Somehow I kept going, taking it a mile at a time. My pace continued to drop off until mile 24 where I felt so slow I was convinced I was nearly walking. The final two miles saw me lose three spots to 7th overall, at which point I seemed to crawl in at 7 minute pace to cross the line in 2.51.33, (missing out on the healthy course record bonus). I'm not sure how I did it. I was feeling slightly delirious and verging on teary. It was a relief not to see M until 26.2; any sooner and I fear I might have collapsed with the emotion.

I don't think I've ever felt quite so bad in a race but somehow still managed a reasonable time, (which I'm now finding really quite encouraging). I'm still not sure what happened. Post race reports indicate the freakishly warm weather was worth at least 6 minutes for many finishers. I just seemed to struggle with the pace from early on. I was first lady by a fair gap and won a big cheque, a weekend away and a bottle of whisky for fastest debut.  Sadly, I didn't get my big silver winner's trophy as last year's leading lady hadn't returned it.

Whatever the cause of my race woes, I'm glad I crossed the finish line. I'm in one piece, with a fine and shiny red blister on my right toe to match my trusty scarlet T6s; the fine pair saw me through the hardest race of my life so far. Until that next one of course. And last but not least, thank you to M. He was a superstar. He's probably cringing as I plan the next big race, what with all my spreadsheet tinkering, fretting and pre-race stress to deal with. But I couldn't have done any of it without him. Thanks M :] Results now here.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Appreciation & Apprehension

I just had to blog to make lugging this flippin' thing all this way worth the effort. Our B&B has free Wi-Fi so I can settle my nerves with a wee bit of blog fiddling and try to distract myself from anxious pre-race thoughts...I'm now feeling all sicky and nervous; not a great state when trying to eat and adequately fuel oneself for the big day

After a glorious journey through breathtaking scenery we arrived in Fort William just in time for a spot of lunch at the Nevisport Cafe. They had my favourite cake (ginerbread loaf!) which has to be an omen. The sun is shining, with just a gentle breeze rippling over the loch waters; a hypnotic sight that makes me think of this tune. We've just had an amble over across to registration; a wonderfully low key affair. I'm number 119. Eeek!

M did the driving up from Glasgow as I snapped away through the car window at endless vistas of rugged mountains and mirror lakes. This place is incredibly beautiful and I'm totally smitten. The weekend has been finely topped off by a load of good wishes from loads of folks posted via my blog, email and text; all wishing me well for the big day. Thanks very much to all of you for your kind messages; I'll try and not disappoint you tomorrow. Most of all I hope I'm gonna get round whilst mostly enjoying myself. Apols for the blurry  through-the-car-window shots, hope you still get a flavour...

Monday, 4 April 2011

Toe Tapping and Taper Trials

It's been a long and foot-tappingly frustrating week. Last week's feelings of triumph at finishing the last of my long runs has quickly faded; I've been at a loss for what to with myself in the absence of any major miles. The training has dropped to mid 50s and with it my double helpings of puddings. (I'm trying to avoid developing more cuddly bits than I really need in time for M day). 

To pass the time at the weekend I escaped the house and meandered around the village pointing my new toy at random, twee things. The legs are not full of the expected spring and I'm generally experiencing a parade of niggles. I'm really not keen on this taper lark. But yes, I know... it'll do me good.