Saturday, 30 May 2015

The best laid plans!

I love my friends at tzruns!  They put on the best races, and I've had lots of fun running at their events at the Cyclopark, I've run races that I've been thrilled with  and races that I've been thrilled that I've managed to finish.  I know that, whatever the outcome, I have never regretted the decision to enter one of these superbly organised events.   Everything from the option to choose your own number to the random fancy dress, showboating competitions and professional photography included in the race entry adds to the fun and enjoyment.  This really is a race organised by runners for runners.

Arriving at the venue, I felt calm and relaxed and enjoyed chatting with friends.  The weather was warmish with a bit of a breeze and I couldn't wait to get going.  I had been feeling pretty ropey all week -  half term will do that to a teacher - and wasn't sure what to expect, but I set off with a friend and we ran at a pace where we were able to chat comfortably.  It was lovely to chat to her as I don't see that much of her as she live in the shadow of the Angel of the North!  We chatted and ran and ran and chatted and it was all going rather well.  We were averaging 8.44min/mile pace, it felt good, it felt easy.  It felt like I could run like this forever.

And then… And then something happened.  I have no idea what.  Was it the sun?  Was it nerves - I used to suffer from awful nerves to the extent that I would throw up before I had to speak to a group of people?  We may never know.  We were at about 11 miles in and I needed to be sick.  So I parted company with my friend and a pretty miserable time ensued!  I was sick a lot.  Even when there was nothing left to throw up my body tried to get rid of my stomach lining!  It seemed that if I tried to do more than take the smallest sips of liquid the result was catastrophic!

I am so grateful for the support of many friends.  I sat and cried with the support team from CPRC  who told me to remember that it was just one race.  I adopted a walk/run strategy, still throwing up with alarming regularity, but on a point of principle I decided that I would run up Tourette's Hill on all 17 laps!  (As an aside, I suggested a group of supporters who were just along from the top of the hill that their support might be more useful on the hill.  They were an amazingly vocal group of supporters and I can't thank them enough!)  I was astounded by the generosity and kindness of my fellow runners and supporters.  I burst into tears when people were nice to me!   I'd love to mention them all, but I'd forget someone!

I did finish the marathon.  4hrs and 32 mins  and some change.  There were some lovely memories: one of the loveliest people on the planet ran her first marathon (I wanted to run the last few laps with her, but really could not manage that), the fastest woman I know lapped me several times in a cow hat and cow print tights didn't get cross with me calling her a 'Fast Cow.'  There were some truly awesome marshals on the course - special mention must go to (in my friend's words) 'the two lovely gentlemen in the far corner!' who were wonderful!

I'm home now.  Via a drive in to London to pick up a stack of books.  I've walked 2 miles to get a curry  and have investigated to contents of my goodie bag - there's beer in there.  Tomorrow morning I may even be able to lift my rather large medal!

So what's next?  Well I have a few things planned, an off road marathon (yes, I am mad!) and a couple of shorter races, but the next big thing I am focussing on is the Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon. I had a cracking race there last year, and have always loved this one!

Monday, 25 May 2015

Not the fastest, but one of the funnest!

(And, yes, I know that 'funnest' isn't a word!)

This is one of the first races I ever entered, way back in May 2010 and I have run it every year since.  It seems to get bigger and busier every year, and Green Park felt much more frantic than it had done for the Mile yesterday, with huge queues everywhere!  I bumped into some fellow FetchEveryone runners and chatted with them before heading off to the start.  From my pen, at the back of the red wave, it took only 4 minutes to get across the start line.

The route has changed this year, due to roadworks on The Embankment.  I missed running along by the river, and this year there was no run through Leadenhall Market - which is one of the most enjoyable bits of the run.  To compensate we did run past my old college, King's, on The Strand, but it is something of a mystery to me as to how the wind can blow into one's face when one runs out along The Strand and on the way back!  We also ran past several places where I used to work.  Chancery Lane is a wee bit narrow for such a huge number of runners, but it was nice to see that one of my least favourite workplaces is no longer a bank, it is now a pub!  The new route had several sections where you could see runners coming in the other direction - I kept an eye out for runners I knew and shouted encouragement at the few I saw.

I had aimed to run a little faster than my ideal marathon pace, as I have a marathon on Saturday, but found that I was running around the 8.15 min/mile mark and I couldn't be bothered to slow down.  At one point an elderly lady appeared in front of me as she stepped out from the crowd with no warning causing me to use some choice language!  I was just shocked that the space that had been empty was suddenly full of a woman in tweed 2' away from me and stepping towards me - evasive action had to be taken!  Later, coming back along The Strand, a man stepped in front of me carrying 2 large cups of coffee - that could have been very nasty!   On the plus side - it was somewhere near here that I saw the UNICEF supporters - what a lovely lot they are - and they cheered me loudly!

When I got to the 8km marker I still felt comfortable, so picked the pace up a bit.  Just after the 9km we reached Birdcage Walk - this last half mile was the same as the last half mile of yesterday's race, so I knew exactly how far I had to go and knew that I could carry on pushing myself.  I achieved a negative split for this race purely on the basis of the last mile and a bit.

Afterwards I met up with friends, one of whom had just run her first ever 10k, so of course a celebration was in order!

I've never run a mile before!

On Saturday I was given the chance to run a mile.  A late entry in the BUPA Westminster mile parkrun wave became available and after sorting out the logistics I decided that it seemed like a pretty good way of spending a Sunday while Husbando was working.   I decided to run the night before the 'big day' and so had done no specific training at all.  I had never run a mile race before and had no idea what to expect.

The atmosphere in Green Park was very relaxed, bands were playing, there were yoga classes and no queues for the loos!  I met up with some parkrun friends, met some parkrun royalty for the first time and we made our way to the start on The Mall.

Just three right turns around St James' Park, down the Mall, along Horse Guards' Parade, up Birdcage Walk and then right again to finish in front of the Palace.  Less than 7 minutes later it was all over.  I think I could have pushed harder.  I don't think I have ever pushed really hard but think that a few more mile races might help me realise what it feels like to push myself really hard.

After we'd collected our bags we came back to the finish line to watch some of the other miles - the ex Olympians wave was amazing, and watching David Weir win the wheelchair mile was fantastic.

This was a great event, lovely to run with my parkrun friends.  Definitely something to do again next year.