Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Battered and Bruised

This very hot humid weather is tough. I managed to fall over whilst out working today, scraping a knee and jarring my shoulder, but nothing serious. Then whilst putting a jumper on and walking along the hall at home, I banged my elbow on a door frame bruising it badly. The elbow is very sore and movement is restricted. I am sure neither of these accidents would have happened had I been less tired.

I am very tired, but then I am doing a lot.

This morning the enormity of the challenge I have set myself really sunk in. This morning wasn't any special occasion, just a busy day at work. I've had to split my planned run between morning and evening to fit it in, and having to do that just made me think "how am I going to manage??" My first real moment of doubt. I am sure there will be plenty more along the way, and I will cope with them and get on with it, but it's a huge challenge, and I do have moments when I wonder if I really am capable of running across an entire country.

This morning I ran or walked from 8.40am until 1pm. This afternoon I will be resting/working for the WRN , and this evening I will be running and walking from 7pm until 8.45pm. A pretty long day.

What makes this week tough is that I have a lot of work to do for the Women's Running Network, and a lot of clubs/clients. I will get it done, but to fit in 58 miles of running this week has had me scratching my head. What it's going to be like when I have to fit in 80 or even 100 running miles in a week goodness only knows. Luckily I am doing my long offroad run with a slower friend this weekend, so I will be able to take it easy and enjoy the views.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Llanelli 10k

What a beautiful day, a nice breeze and loads of sunshine. Pootled round the course with Lynne, who did fantastically well considering this was her first 10k post brain haemorrhage. Surprised at how fine I felt yet again, finished in a very comfortable 63 mins.

Unfortunately found out today that entries for Snowdonia Marathon have closed, so my plan to accompany Lynne on this one have been scuppered. I may yet be able to join her for some of the race, but how much will have to see.

I don't have many big races coming up now until after the summer holidays, just a steady building of mileage. By the end of August the plan is to be comfortable running 40+ miles on consecutive days, and be running 60+ miles per week.

I might be able to slot in the odd 10k or 10 mile race, but life is pretty hectic at the moment, so the emphasis for the next 2 months is to get some heavy miles in the legs and begin some gentle speed work to mix things up a bit. Long runs will be off road every other week. I'm very tired at the moment, more from the rest of my life than from running so it makes sense to take account of the other pressures on my time, and just train well rather than train and race, and then burn out.

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

A Revelation

I am amazed at the capacity of the human body.

I ran 30 miles on Saturday, on Monday I went for a 5 mile run at just over 10 min miles, and I survived! Not just survived I actually feel better for having run.

For the last 4 years I have believed that running during the week after a marathon is not a good idea, running more than 23 miles in training is not a good idea, and that running very heavy mileage is not a good idea. Well, I think I need to forget all that advice!

Seriously though, I am chuffed that my legs are feeling so good after the ultra at the weekend. I think there are various reasons for that. I covered the course at an average of 13.15mm, which in reality means that I was running at anything between 10 to 12.30mm, and walking the rest. There were also large stops during the run for checkpoints and refuelling. I didn't feel like I was running hard, although by 28 miles my legs were stiff and tired and holding good form was a real challenge. I think I also got the fuelling right. Every time I started to feel hungry Lynne was there with a flapjack. Although I need to look into salty snacks, because by 25 miles in that heat I was really starting to crave salt. A friend last night suggested hula hoops, which is definitely worth a try, because I could stick them on my fingers and lick the salt off! I have spent the last 5 years running and walking for up to 5 hours a day, that is what my body is used to. All I need to do now, is persuade it to do it quicker and for slightly longer.

I am ready to throw out the advice I have been running to for the marathons I have completed so far, and listen to my body. Now it's time to push as hard as my body will allow and see what I can do.......... it's so exciting!!

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Gower Gallop 30 - race report

I was especially lucky for this event. My friend Lynne had very kindly offered to be my own personal support crew, and what a support crew she was, fantastic!

Lynne arrived at 6.30am to pick me up and take me to the start line in Pennard. The start line consisted of a small hut in the middle of Pennard park, which for the day had no mains water (nice!), surrounded by a few benches and deck chairs. A 5 min queue to get my little blue card with my number on A13 (my lucky number), and then 30 minutes sitting on the deck chairs at the start line and chatting and watching the walkers drift off. The Gower Gallop is incredibly low key, not a race as such, a challenge walk, which they let runners complete too.

A couple of friends turned up for the later 20 mile event, so I thought I had better go. A quick wave to Lynne, and off I trundled at a very sedate 12 min mile. The first check point was the furthest away at 8 miles. I had opted to head round the top of the river at Parkmill rather than risk the stepping stones, which can be covered by the tide. I made good progress and reached Oxwich Beach quickly, meeting some of the walkers there. The next section took me along the top of the coast along a small road and then onto a track. A lot of swearing ensued on meeting so many stinging nettles, good job there was noone around.

Checkpoint 1 in an average of 12.50 min miles, and I was feeling fresh. A quick flapjack and a drink and I was off again. The next section was along the coastal path and there were some very tough steep ups and downs. I had completed this section for the Gower Trails Marathon in December, and it was looking and feeling very different in the warmth of the sun. The ground was good, not the 3 inch mud of December and I overtook a couple more fast walkers by Checkpoint 2 at Rhossili. It is quite amazing how hard it is to overtake a fast walker. When I was running it was easy, but when I stopped to walk I really couldn't match their speed.

At Checkpoint 2 only 4 people were ahead of me, so another flapjack and I set off to skirt round the bottom of Rhossili Downs. The plan was to overtake the other walkers by Checkpoint 3. Things were now feeling a little tougher. The ball of my left foot had a sore spot on it, which I suspected was a blister, so I retied my shoelaces and tried to ignore it. The path was continually on an angle hugging the side of the Downs and had been along the coast as well, so my knees and feet were beginning to complain. By Llangennith I put my music on, and after nearly 3 hours of silence the sudden burst of noise made me laugh out loud. I had a hairy moment at the bottom of Llanmadoc Hill when the path I was following petered out and I had to scramble up the side of the hill to reach another path above me, but the going down the other side was good, and I took the opportunity to scare the sheep by singing along to my headphones not caring if there was anyone else around.

There was no checkpoint 3. I had beaten the opening time for the checkpoint, so I met Lynne and hung around for 5-10 mins until it opened. Within 5 mins of leaving Checkpoint 3 I promptly ran out of water. Knowing that Lynne would pass me if I stuck to the road I prayed for a fresh supply and kept one eye out for her behind me. Thank goodness for Lynne! With my camelbak filled up I cracked on to Checkpoint 4 and made good time.

At Checkpoint 4 I found there was only 1 person now in front of me. That felt good! Just 1.5 miles cross country to the next checkpoint, and my aim was to beat Lynne there. The going was very tough though, rough moorland, 600 ft of ascent, and bogs. Having managed to sink knee deep in a very smelly boggy patch I was pleased to reach the last Checkpoint.

Checkpoint 5 was heaving. The 12.5 miles walkers had reached it, having started around 9am. 20-30 people all trying to check in at the same time. When I gave my number and said I was on the 30 mile route there was a moment of disbelief from the marshall before they quickly moved on to the next person. With so many walkers there, I just grabbed a biscuit and headed off. Only 4.5 miles to the finish along the top of Cefn Bryn then up and down Pennard valley.

Within 5 minutes I had run out of drinks again. I'd missed Lynne at the checkpoint, she'd got lost on the way and decided to go straight to the finish, so had missed out on her stash of drinks too, and been too overwhelmed by the sudden onslaught of the crowd to really think about drinks. Luckily there was a little shop at a campsite on route. The guy behind the counter clearly thought I was mad, mud to the knees, sweaty and panting, and by 28.5 miles unable to stand still very well. Having fuelled up again, off I went for the last few miles up and down the side of the valley. By this stage I was definitely into "old man shuffle" mode, but still feeling ok. It actually measured 30.62 by the end, but not bad for such a long off road route.

Technically I won the lady's race, beaten only by the very quick male runner in front of me. I would love to say I had beaten other runners, but I didn't. It was a lovely feeling though to lead the field over such a long tough race though, and one I probably won't get again.

Today I feel tired but not sore, just stiff. The blister is tiny and not at all painful, I have some interesting sunburn, and some annoying scratches and stings, but all in all, I'm in pretty good shape. I hope to try a run tomorrow................. now a 40 mile race seems doable!

Monday, 7 June 2010

A new sponsor signs up

Fantastic news, Up and Running in Swansea the specialist running retailer has offered to supply all my nutritional needs for the Run Wales challenge and training. This is an amazing boost. Not only is it wonderful to have the support, it is also hugely encouraging to have the backing of a running specialist.

Knowing there are people out there who believe in me, makes it easier to believe in myself!!

The supporters to date are now:
  • Up and Running, Swansea
  • Do Running - specialist running retailer
  • Women's Running Network
  • Melanie Walters - from Gavin and Stacey

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Less than a week to go

Did my last "long" run before the Gower Gallop this morning. Managed 9.5 miles on part of the Gallop route. I have now run the large majority of the route, so that will make navigation easier I hope.

I have been struggling with tiredness this week though. Mainly due I think to having 2 full time jobs at the moment. I always find having the boys at home and continuing to work a bit of a challenge. After my run today, both the boys were out and I just couldn't stave off the tiredness any more and spent 2 hours fast asleep. I am still feeling a bit dopey now. Last half term I spent the second weekend in bed ill, so just feeling tired is an improvement.

I am feeling nervous about next week's Gallop, 30 miles off road is a long way. Still, I will take it easy, walk the uphills and aim just to finish. I haven't really tapered for the race, just had a slightly easier week this week, running wise, only done 37 miles. I intend to run only 5 days next week and the week after. But I am hoping I won't have to take any time off running after the challenge, unless of course I get blisters.

The weather this morning would have been fantastic for the race, low cloud and damp. Went up onto the top of Cefn Bryn, and although the views were disappointing, I had the chance to run a section of the race route that had been bothering me. I had hoped a few friends would also be doing the 30 mile route, but I think they have opted for the shorter 20 and 12 mile routes (probably very sensible - only me that's mad!)

I also managed to complete my final assignment for my OU course, yippee! I now intend to take a year out and concentrate on running for a bit. It will be a nice not to have to worry about anything hanging over me in my free time.