Attitude, Race Review, Reviews

Race Review: Great North Run 07.09.14

I ran my first Great North Run in 2006.  It was my first half marathon and took me 2 hours and 45 minutes.

Since then, I’ve run every single one expect for 2012 which was the husband’s 40th birthday.  I’ve got my half marathon time down to 2 hours 15 although recently it’s stuck at around the 2 hours 20/25 mark.

I absolutely love the Great North Run.  It’s amazingly well organised, the atmosphere and the spectators are fantastic and I get a lump in my throat every time the Red Arrows go over.  I run with a good friend and we travel to Newcastle on the train together then she waits for me at the end and we go home.

This year we said would be our last GNR.  It’s getting expensive and to someone who trains in flat York the whole course feels like it’s uphill.  But I might have changed my mind on the finish line…we’ll see!

This year was astonishingly hot for September in the grim North East of England.  I knew as soon as I set off I would struggle with the heat so put any thoughts of a PB out the window and focused on enjoying the run. There are bands every mile, people in costumes and of course Bus Stop Elvis as mile 11 – love him!

Maybe I just wasn’t in a competitive mood but I felt like I’d had a nice day out.  I finished in 2 hours 28 and I’ll take that – anything over 2 hours 30 and I’ve have been gutted.

I wasn’t the millionth finisher (it looks like she was about an hour after me) but congratulations to her – and to GNR for being such an amazing event.

Happy running this week! 🙂

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Attitude, Positivity, Uncategorized, Weather

Some success…at last!

After my visit to the sports therapist I felt a bit more confident knowing I’m not completely and permanently broken.  I’ve got some weird ankle moves to do every day to build up strength and reduce clicking, but I’m free to run.

So, last week I did a steady 3 miles…and it felt good.  And then on Saturday, I managed 9.5 miles! It was a good, steady run with no stopping except to cross roads and it felt so nice.  So nice to run, not to be in too much pain, not to feel like I was melting.  There’s been a change in the weather and I can safely say now that sunshine is my kryptonite.

I’m now about 6 miles behind where I’m supposed to be in my training plan, but I’m not too stressed about that.  I know I can do these distances, and I’m starting to feel more confident that my body remembers how as well.  I’m resisting the temptation to head straight back out and run, instead I’ve got 2 weights sessions and 1 yoga session this week before my next long run on Monday where I’ll try to add another 4-5 miles.

My (revised) training plan is now 1 short run or sprint session and 1 long run per week until the marathon.  Everything else will be weights, spin classes and yoga.

Happy running this week and hope you’ve had some good times too 🙂

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Attitude, Positivity, Training

Week 1 and 2 Training Report – York Marathon 2014

If you read my blog last year you’ll know I followed a six month marathon training plan because I was nervous. It was great because it made me feel like I had forever to prepare.

This year now I’m a super duper experienced marathoner with one under my belt I’ve chosen a four month training plan.  Less time to fall off the rails, but the marathon does feel like it’s coming towards me very quickly!

Here’s how the training has gone so far:

Week 1:

  • Monday – should have run 4 miles, but there was a road closure on my planned route so did 2.5 miles
  • Tuesday – rest – I can these 🙂
  • Wednesday – should have run 4 miles, did a 45 minute spin class and some weights
  • Thursday – rest – getting good at this now
  • Friday – cross train – did some weights
  • Saturday – rest – oh yes
  • Sunday – run 6 miles.  I did it!

Week 2:

  • Monday – rest – my technique is amazing
  • Tuesday – should have been hill training, but I read the wrong week on my plan and did sprints.  Oh well
  • Wednesday – rest
  • Thursday Friday Saturday – go on a training course to London and don’t do anything
  • Sunday – should  have been 7 miles but I managed 4.5

Reading back, it’s not an awesome start 😦   If anything is holding me back I think it’s my attitude (and also my sore knees, ankles etc.)  I need to get back into a routine with this and get serious.  I’m a stone heavier than I was this time last year so upping my training and improving my diet should help me lose weight and therefore run faster.  In theory.

 

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Attitude, Kit, Running, Training

The final furlong

York Marathon are being very good about emailing me EVERY day to remind me how many days there are left to go now…like I can forget!

In 3 days time, I should be coming towards the last few miles of my first ever marathon.  This week has been more tapering and little bits of mental nagging.  I mustn’t forget this…I must be careful to…I should do…

I’ve got my number and my pins ready to go, and I’ve got my outfit prepped as well.  Unless snowpocalypse arrives, I’ll be running in shorts, a compression t-shirt and an asthma UK vest sent by my charity of choice.  Ipod, sunglasses, baseball hat, Spibelt, garmin will then be added on top.  I’ll have some timings written on my arm too so if I fall below my 5 hour goal pace I’ll know and can recover.

The biggest thing I need to do now is sleep!  I need to get lots of rest because I’m pretty sure I won’t be sleeping the night before.  I also need to charge all of my gadgets and gizmos – nothing worse than a flat garmin when you set off on a run.

Have you got any pre-marathon rituals?  Is there anything I should remember or do?

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Attitude, Positivity, Running, Training

Week 23 Training

I’m still not sure I’ve got my head round the whole ‘tapering’ thing, but week 23 was okay.   I’m struggling with tapering because it feels like a chance to relax, when my brain wants to carry on at fever pitch until the big day.

On Sunday night I thought ‘this time next week it will all be over’.  Looks like I’ll need a new goal after that.

Here’s how week 23 looked:

  • Monday: jog 20 – 10 minutes to the gym, 1 hour weights (legs), 10 minutes home
  • Tuesday: run 25 minutes
  • Wednesday: run 55 minutes
  • Thursday: walk 20 minutes, 10 minutes to yoga, 1 hour 45 minutes yoga, 10 minutes home
  • Friday: jog 20 – 10 minutes to the gym, 1 hour weights (shoulders), 10 minutes home
  • Saturday: 10 mile run
  • Sunday: rest

I swapped my rest day to Sunday because I had a lot to do.  The 10 mile run on Saturday went brilliantly and I’m so pleased about that, just what I need to boost my confidence.  I’m having no booze until the marathon is over and I’m eating fairly well, although a few cakes have crept in to my mouth 🙂

This week I’ve got minimal runs to do but I’m keeping my two weights sessions and my one yoga session.  Yoga helps me to stretch out and I’ll train my back on Friday so it won’t affect my running.

I’m very nervous and very excited!  Obsessive checking of long range weather forecasts will start soon…

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Attitude, Running, Training

Tapering

Well, this whole tapering thing is a bit weird isn’t it?  I feel like I’ve stopped training before the event, I’m even one day late with this blog post!

My training schedule for this week and next is very cut down, with fairly short runs.  I’m throwing in some yoga and spin sessions as well to make sure my feet and ankles are rested before the big day.

I’m trying to stay on track with my eating and keep the training mentality going but it’s just…odd.  I feel like I’ve lost my goal and my direction, my focus.  It’s a taste of what’s to come after the marathon too I suppose.

I hope my body is taking advantage of this rest period and will be ready to go, strong, fit and healthy on the big day.

9 days to go!  Have you done a taper before?  How did it make you feel?

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Attitude, Positivity, Running

Uninspired

This week I’ve been completely uninspired – uninspired about running, blogging…doing pretty much anything.  With 2 and a half weeks to go before the marathon, it’s probably not the best state to be in.

I’ve blogged before about  my tendency to self-sabotage, whether it’s going out drinking the night before a long run or eating a massive chilli pizza 2 days before, I don’t seem to be able to help myself.

It occurs to me looking at my life now that I’ve embarked on my biggest self-sabotage exercise yet.  At the same time as training for my first marathon, the husband and I have embarked on a huge extension build that has turned our home into a filthy, undesirable place to be.   Dust and dirt is exacerbating my asthma, and we’ve had no kitchen for 2 weeks so I’m trying to cook healthy meals in a microwave and will be doing so until after the marathon.  What was I thinking!?

I do wonder if the front of my brain (I can do a marathon!) is in complete conflict with the back half of my brain (no I can’t, and I’ll make sure of it too!).

So, where do I go from here?  I’ve taken a little break to nourish myself.  I had a rest day yesterday and I’m going to do yoga today with only a very short run.  Saturday will also be a rest day before I do one last longer run (about 15 miles) on Sunday.

After that, I’ll follow my taper plan for the last 2 weeks and eat completely cleanly.  No booze, no pinching biscuits from the builders…my front and back brain are going to have to get used to the idea.  I CAN DO THIS.

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Attitude, Running, Training

Week 21 Training

This week was a pretty good week for training, everything now is about building my confidence up and feeling strong for the big day – just 20 days to go until the first York Marathon!

When I was doing my long run on Sunday a lady came up behind me and we chatted for a while.  She’s doing the same marathon and has already done 2.  It was nice to spend a little time with her before our ways parted.  Sunday’s long run was early and it seemed like we runners had the whole of York to ourselves.  I exchanged a hello with every other runner, and a few early bird cyclists too.

Here’s how week 21 looked:

  • Monday: jog 20 – 10 minutes to the gym, 1 hour weights (legs), 10 minutes home
  • Tuesday: sprint 75 seconds, jog 3 minutes x 6 – this was tough
  • Wednesday: walked 7 miles on rough terrain at Bolton Abbey
  • Thursday: fartlek 70 minutes
  • Friday: sprint 60 seconds, jog 3 minutes x 6
  • Saturday: rest
  • Sunday: should have been 16 miles, instead did 12.5

Sunday was a lovely run but I lost it a bit on the distance.  This was supposed to be my last, confidence building long run before the marathon so now I’m trying to decide whether to do a long run next weekend instead.  I think getting a steady 15 miles in will really help me, although if it goes wrong I’ll get the proper collywobbles!

I’m still getting the ankle pain I’ve been getting through most of my training, but it only has to last 3 more weeks…come on ankle, then you can rest!

Enjoy your training this week!

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Attitude, Diet, Race Review, Reviews, Running, Weather

Race Review: Great North Run 15.9.13

Sunday 15th September was the Great North Run, the world’s second biggest half marathon.  56,000 people (including Mo Farah!) descend on Newcastle to run through to South Shields.  This year was my seventh Great North.  I ran it for the first time in 2006 and I’ve only missed one since.

The atmosphere is fantastic and even though this year was a bit of a disaster timing wise, it’s still an amazing day.

Getting there

Public transport is the best way for me to approach the GNR – we drove the first year and the traffic was HORRENDOUS.  The 7.10 train from York gets to Newcastle in plenty of time, and is full of people in running gear.  It’s a 10 minute walk from the train station to the start and don’t worry about getting lost, there are always plenty of people to follow.

Facilities

The GNR has to be well organised, it’s too big not to be.  There are lots of loos around the start, expect to queue but not for too long.  Runners put their bags onto numbered buses, and then you go meet your bus at the finish line.  The bag label on your bag and your race number are cross-checked when you collect your gear, so the security is good too.

The start

As with most big races, you’re put in a pen according to your estimated speed.  I was in my pen an hour before the start, but there are big screens with lots of stuff to watch and you can chat to fellow runners so I didn’t get bored.  We watched the elite and wheelchair races go on the big screen, and the Red Arrows did a fly over – brings a tear to my eye every time!

Once the front runners go you’ll be walked forward slowly – it took about half an hour for me to get to the start line but there’s no pushing or shoving.

It’s tradition for the person starting the race to try and high five every runner – I’m very proud to say I touched Christine Ohuruogu!

Top tip: it’s cold stood around, so grab a charity shop fleece to wear while you wait.  These are collected by another charity from the start line where they are all dumped.

The route

GNR isn’t a hilly route, but it’s not flat either.  There are lots of inclines which can creep up on you if you’ve not done any hills in your training (like me!).  There are bands every mile and the locals and supporters are flipping amazing, what other run do you get people handing out biscuits and ice pops on?

Watch out for bus stop Elvis at about 11 miles – he’s a GNR legend.

The last mile of the route is along the sea front at South Shields – it’s tempting to sprint as soon as you see it but it can feel like a very long mile…

The finish

Once you reach the finish, you collect your goodie bag and t-shirt and head off to your baggage bus.  There’s a changing area, and buses or the metro back to Newcastle if you need them.

The goodies

GNR has a great goodie bag – lots of snacks and some energy drink samples, and rather randomly a mini tube of toothpaste.  I do wish they’d include a technical tee rather than a cotton one though, as I don’t really train in cotton

My time

Well this is my tale of woe.  I was running fine until about 7 miles, when I became aware of some…rumblings…from my stomach.  I tried to ignore them, but a loo on the route at 8.5 miles saved my life!  I won’t go into detail but I was in there for some time, feeling so cross with myself.  After that whenever I tried to speed up, I got stomach cramps so the rest of the run was very patchy.

I crossed the line in 2 hours 27 minutes, a far cry from the 2.10 I was hoping for.  It was still a great day out but I was gutted about my time.  I’d had a pizza with lots of chillis 2 days before and that’s all I can think it was – an important lesson for the marathon anyway.  I wouldn’t mind so much if I’d self-sabotaged on a training run, but it’s gutting to do it on a day you only get once a year.

The weather on the route this year was supposed to be horrendous (the first ‘big storm’ of the autumn) but it wasn’t actually too bad – a bit rainy and windy but no worse than a normal September run.  I do wonder if the forecast had got my nerves going a bit too.

So, this week I’ve been focusing on re-building my confidence and getting my diet back on track.  It’s 4 and a half weeks to the marathon now and I don’t want any more disasters.

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Attitude, Diet, Positivity, Running, Training

Week 19 Training

Week 19 included some travel with work so it’s been a bit up and down for training.  I completed most of my planned sessions, finishing with the Great North Run on Sunday which was a disaster…but more of that in my race review in Thursday’s post.

I’ve lost my way a bit with both my training and my diet – I was sticking to a healthy diet and feeling great, but recently I’ve had more cheat meals than not-cheat meals.  These last 5 weeks have got to be focus, focus, focus.

Here’s what week 19 looked like:

  • Monday: rest day after Sunday’s 22 mile monster run
  • Tuesday: 30 minutes on a bike, interval training
  • Wednesday: nothing – I had a killer 5 hour drive and didn’t have time to train
  • Thursday: fartlek 52 minutes
  • Friday: jog 20, 10 minutes to the gym, 1 hour weights (shoulders), 10 minutes home
  • Saturday: rest
  • Sunday: half marathon, 2:27 – not good!

I took the rest of Sunday to sulk after my dismal half marathon time, now I need to process the lessons and move on.  I’m still targeting a sub-5 hour marathon, so the next 5 weeks have to be about mental strength and physical readiness.

Enjoy your training this week!

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