Saturday, 22 September 2018

Robin Hood 100...

This was my second attempt at this race, and unfortunately it ended the same way as my first attempt with a DNF (did not finish).

It has taken much of this week to process this and get to a place where I felt I could write this blog without being completely negative about the whole experience!

Training had gone well I was happy with my fitness and mentally I was in as good a place as I could be, actually probably better than for a long time. Home life isn't perfect but, mostly, I think I am dealing with the uos and downs more healthy, positive way.

Dan had very kindly agreed to crew for me again  and I had decided against a pacer runner as I think I am happier on my own. Dan's instructions were simple, make sure I keep eating, drinking, put warm clothes on when it gets dark and don't let me quit.

It was good to see some familiar faces at the start and although nervous I was looking forward to getting going. Race brief done, a walk to the start line, start photo taken and we were off.
On the start line

 It's funny how the nerves disappear the second you start moving. The first 6 miles went quickly, it wasn't easy terrain to run on but I was running the pace I wanted, I chatted to a few people, weather conditions were good and I was enjoying myself. The first aid station came round quickly and I didn't hang around, a quick hello to Dan, grabbed some food and kept moving.

The running to aid station 2 was ok and I was on target pace wise in these very early stages. I met Dan again ate some angel delight and kept going. I felt like I had a stone pressing against my big toe so stopped to empty it out at the aid station, it wasn't a stone but a hole in my favourite drymax socks. I messaged Dan to ask for coffee and fresh socks at aid station 3.
I remember finding the canal path between 2 and 3 tough to run on last time, so ran/walked it and was still very much on the pace I wanted at 15 miles. Still very early days!

I was glad to get to the forest loop and some easier terrain to run on. All felt good, I was enjoying myself, and was feeling positive, I still find it hard to eat large amounts at a time but continuous grazing seemed to be working.

At about mile 33 my left foot became sore around my heel and big toe, this wasn't too far before the next aid station and race medics Kinsley and Maxine who are friends were there, so I made the decision to stop and get my feet looked at, I was slightly concerned at the blisters on my heel and big toe and the start of some on my right foot too. Maxine cleaned, drained and taped them up and next time I saw Dan I changed it to my road shoes, the trails were hard and my road shoes are slightly more cushioned so hopefully this would help. I was at 36 miles and getting blisters only a third of the the way in wasn't great but they were bearable and I was still managing 14/15 minute miles which was fine and well within my race plan at this point.

I got to the 51 mile aid station a bit later than planned but still well within the cut off times, it was a great boost to briefly see Andreea, I had some soup and got moving. This is when it got tough, we were well into darkness and the feet were really sore. I tried not to focus on the pain but my pace had dropped significantly and I had a spell of feeling down and slightly queasy. I stopped behind a tree and had a massive poo which helped with the stomach!! Nothing was helping with the feet and my right hip was giving me some pain. I took a couple of paracetamol to try and take the edge of and kept moving. I was met before the next aid station by one of the marshals, Pete, as he was concerned my tracker hadn't updated for half an hour, it was good to see another person as I had been on my own in the dark for some time. I forced more food down, took a cup of coffee with me and kept moving forward. I was starting to worry about my pace, or lack of, and began that stage of trying to do the maths 'if I keep moving at this pace, how long will it take me, how many miles to the next cut off etc.

At 63 miles I was at the next aid station and had the 10 mile loop ahead of me, I knew I was going to be chasing the cut off now but made the decision to get Lindley to take another look at my feet and my hip. The pain as he squeezed the fluid out of my blisters was something else and at one point did think I might throw up! He massaged and stretched my hip and attached a heat pack to hopefully help me keep going and get back to a pace that would mean I could finish. I was cold after stopping so was pleased in a way to get moving again. I met Dan again about a mile on and told him I was done but he listened to my previous instructions and said no I wasn't! There was another point about 4 miles on where he could meet me and I agreed to keep going and reassess then. I put some music on and did everything I could to move at a better pace. I managed 20 minute miles for a short time but couldn't keep it up consistently. I found a random playlist and some of the lyrics made me laugh, such as 'I have wondered through the dark, through the dirt, I was hurt'! Or 'l know every mile will be worth my while'! So although in pain and moving too slowly I was still having an ok time. By the time I eventually met Dan again I knew I had no chance of making the 81 mile cut off, Dan had done the maths too and we knew it was race over.

I am still disappointed that I didn't finish but I have taken a lot of positives from it, lots went really well. I don't normally suffer with blisters and it's a pain I wasn't used to or expecting so had a tough time fighting through it. The nutrition, hydration and keeping warm went so much better than last time and I only had one really down point, I know I still had 30 ish miles to go!

I did announce my retirement from attempting 100 miles as we travelled back, Dan said that was rubbish, or words to that effect! And he was right I will try again, too much went well for me not to try again!

RH100 is a brilliant race and very well organized, thanks Ronnie and all the volonteers who made it a great event. Thanks Lindley and Maxine for patching up my feet.
My biggest thanks goes to Dan for being the best support crew, Andreea you are an amazing friend too, thank you for the support.
And thanks to everyone who supports my crazy running adventures, knowing there were those of you at home taking time to check the tracker and send messages is so uplifting and motivating, I really do have the best friends.

So although disappointed looking back I did thoroughly enjoy my 21 hours out on the trails, it really is my happy place and where I am at peace with myself and the world,

Happy running xxx

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

The goals are back...

I know it wasn't long ago that I was writing about running without goals and not racing, but things change and after my crazy marathon running challenge at Easter I remembered that I like pushing my body to the point of complete exhaustion!

I am taking a different approach though and trying not to put enormous pressure on myself when it comes to racing, have to admit to rocking up to Halstead Marathon without a real plan, legs were still heavy and I decided to just go and have a good day out running. I went out way too fast but it felt ok and did a reasonably quick half (for me) the second half I paid for my speedy start and slowed a fair bit, but I did have a great day and a 4:36 finish was far quicker than I had anticipated.

Halstead Marathon 14 miles (photo by Mike Eldred)

The following week was Braintree 5 which I was running with an ever growing group of friends from school, many had only been running a few months and this was their first race. Again I rocked up without a plan after a five mile warm up run and some digging holes at Great Notley Country Park for parkrun! A migraine also hit and a plea for some paracetamol was answered and I felt ok to run. Some motivation from Claire before the start ignited my competitive spirit and for the second time in a week I went out stupidly quick, doing the first mile in 7:45! I slowed a bit but managed to finish in 41:58 a new five mile PB.
It was a great morning and I was extremely proud of Team Beckers, everybody finishing in under an hour.

Beckers Green Runners at Braintree 5 (photo by Mike Eldred)

Next Sunday I will be at Stour Valley Marathon, a self navigation, trail run which I have completed four times before and is a firm favourite. I will be treating this as a training run for Robin Hood 100 in September, so basically a 27 mile trail run, hopefully in the sunshine!

During June I am taking part and hopefully encouraging other to do 30 minutes of activity for 30 days as part of the 3030Essex campaign. For me I already do at least 30 minutes daily so I am gong to do three 30 mile runs during the month to challenge myself,

So Robin Hood 100 is the big one this year, A 100 mile finish has as yet eluded me, but I have a great support crew and I know what went wrong last time. I believe I am physically fit enough to complete it, for me the issue is being mentally strong enough, not letting the pressure build, keeping it fun, not worrying about a finish time.

I have always loved running but this year it is bringing much happiness to my life, I love seeing friends that have previously said they can't run taking it up and being brilliant at it. parkrun as always is one of the highlights of my week and I was truly honoured to be asked to take on the role of co-event director recently. Before I discovered parkrun, several years back now, I was pretty much a solitary runner. parkrun has made running a much more sociable activity, and as someone lacking somewhat in social skills, it is lovely to spend my Saturday morning with such amazing people who I am privileged to call friends.

RD at Great Notley parkrun

Happy running xxxx

Saturday, 28 April 2018

15 in 17...

What are your plans for the holidays? It was a question I kept getting asked. The thing was I didn’t have any plans. It would be my first longish school holiday on my own since the boys had moved out and to be perfectly honest I was dreading it. My mental health wasn’t at is best with some stress and anxiety persisting even though life was more settled. Work was where I was happiest, my safe place, with people who knew what the last couple of years had been like. The thought of two weeks without the routine of work was not something I was as excited about as everyone else!

Since 1st January I had been following a friend's attempt to run marathon distance every day for 105 days and he was doing brilliantly, and that's how this crazy plan came about. 17 days off, nothing to do, my running was going well...

So next time I was asked what my plans were for the holidays my response was 'I'm going to run 15 marathons!'

As it turned out I ended up running 10 marathons and 5 half marathons but it was still a great adventure, I learnt a lot about how my body reacts to multi-day distance running and apart from day 9 I loved every step!
I'm not going to bore you with telling you about every run in detail because basically I left my house each day and ran about until I completed the distance and got back home!
Finishing marathon 2 at parkrun

There were some memorable bits though like day 5 where I was running with a friend and as I looked across a field thought that bush looks like a wallaby, actually that looks like lots of wallabies, I wasn't seeing things there really was a field of wallabies in the Essex countryside.

Day 7 was the only day I went further afield and we ran an out and back from Walton-on -Naze to St Osyth, that was a tough day but one of the two days that it didn't rain and finishing with a paddle was fun!
Day 9 was horrific, I was so physically drained that every step took all my concentration and willpower to complete, I apologise again to those who gave me some company that day as I was either grumpy or unable to actually speak, I did appreciate you trying though!
Day 2 and 9 were parkrun days and I incorporated parkrun into my marathons, the photos tell the story, day 2 happy and smiling, day 9 looked like death!

Day 2 top and day 9 ha ha!! 

Finishing on the last day with a marathon after the five halfs was great and finishing in 4:54 made it the quickest of the ten marathons. I was also amazed to have raised over £500 for my local branch of Mind,  far more than I expected, thank you everyone who donated.

As always I was amazed and overwhelmed at the support I received as I took on this crazy challenge, it makes so much difference. Those who came and ran with me, sent messages, liked and commented on my endless Facebook posts (even several friends who were sunning themselves in exotic locations!), Brought food to my door, checked to make sure I was ok. It was phenomenal, so thank you all, I really do have the most amazing friends.

An unexpected result of this adventure was how it helped me mentally, I know running 333.8 miles may not be a scientifically proven way of dealing with your mental health but for me it gave me time to think, to process a lot of what I have dealt with over the last couple of years. Although physically exhausted at the end, mentally I was refreshed and able to see that life was in fact ok, living alone is ok and the future could be anything I wanted it to be.

Another thing that has happened is I want to race again, more importantly I want to race ultras so in September I am going back to Robin Hood 100 and I will finish it this time!

Happy running xxx

Friday, 16 February 2018

Running without goals...

My last blog was all about me not giving up on the triathlon dream before it began, hmmm well I have to confess to not going near the pool or bike since. I quite like swimming and would happily put in the effort to get better at it, my stumbling block is the cycling, I just don't enjoy it! Sorry cycling friends but I don't. I haven't made a final decision about the triathlon but I will over the next week or so. The thing is I want the exercise I do to be fun, to look forward to it as it's what I do when I'm not working!

This brings me onto the main point of this blog running without goals...

I have had the happiest week's running for a very long time, obviously it helps that I am a lot less stressed than I have been for a while and my mental health is improving so I feel more like me again, but it's not just that. I haven't raced since September last year when I did the Colne Engaine 5! This is mainly due to not having any money to enter races but it's great.

Running group friends at parkrun (photo by Mike Eldred)

It's half term this week so a week to do as I please and I have had some great runs, some with friends, some on my own, some with my dog,  loving running and supporting my friends at my running groups, today we ran far enough to warrant having coffee and cake at the end! I have started listening to music again on some of my runs. The best bit though has just been waking up and deciding as I put my trainers on where I'm going and how far, sometimes I don't even decide this till I get going.
Yesterday I had the whole day without much planned so I packed my race vest with some drink and a bag of jelly beans and just headed out the door, it was a beautiful morning and I ended up running 16 miles and loving every step.

Race vest and headphones ready for a long one!

I am still run streaking and am at day 412, with my streak now 2083 miles long, I have set myself a little goal of reaching 2500 miles at day 500! (So not running entirely without goals ha ha!)

I'm sure at some stage I will return to racing as there are lots out there I still want to do, and completing 100 miles is still firmly at the top of the worm food list. For now I am going to continue to run 'just for fun' and see what happens. Surprisingly I have found some speed recently (fast for me I hasten to add!) whether that's because I am feeling better or because I have no races to train for or a mixture of both who knows.

Enjoying a 'just for fun' long run

Hope you are all having as much fun with your running as I am, and if you have booked yourself into races enjoy the training and the events themselves.

Happy running xx

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Nearly giving up before really starting...

I had just about convinced myself that a triathlon wasn't for me, especially a crazy ironman distance one. I hadn't done any swimming or cycling in December and the first part of January hadn't been much better with just one trip to the pool. So last weekend I decided just to run. The result of the extra running mileage was that it actually made me feel so much better mentally and physically and a little spark of craziness was reignited!!

I hadn't really realised how poor my own mental health had become until this last week when I have really started to feel much more positive. I have also realised that I am not responsible for making my son better (it's taken a while!) It is his illness and he is responsible for his own recovery, of course I will always be there to support when he needs me to.

So now I am feeling more like me again with a renewed energy and excitement for getting out there and doing stuff I am going to give this triathlon my best shot. With long work hours some days and Bonkers Fitness sessions it's going to be a juggling act to fit the training in but lighter mornings and evenings are on the way.

This weekend I have run 18 miles, cycled 18 miles and managed my longest swim of 1250m. Still much work to do but I have a decent base to work on and I still have 24 weeks!

If anyone reading this wants to sponsor me or donate me a road bike I will be eternally grateful but for now I am still winging it on the second hand one I have, just need to actually get out on it!

So here's to 24 weeks of crazy training and enjoying it... Must remember I am doing this for fun and not let it become something stressful.
Photo by Mike Eldred

Have a happy week running, swimming and cycling xxx

Monday, 1 January 2018

Not about running...

I need to write this, it's nothing to do with running and all about being a Mum to a son with a mental health disorder. It's been in my head to write for a while but I wasn't sure, was it appropriate? Should I just write it in my journal as a private thing? Would it upset anyone? Like all of this I'm not sure but I am going to write it anyway.

Jim's struggles with his mental health began over two years ago, the first I knew was the discovery he was using cannabis and solvents. Help was sought and I thought that was a scary time over. I put it down to a teenager experimenting and was glad he had stopped or so I thought.

Over the next year it became clear that Jim wasn't well, and we began the fight to get referred for help for his mental health, it seemed he needed to be suicidal or psychotic to get help. I am not going to write about every episode in detail as this is more about my feelings, how I deal with it (or not!) but to sum up he has been admitted to psychiatric units three times, attempted suicide twice and had one episode where I had to take several weeks off work to care for him. He has tried countless medication combinations which work while he takes them but the side effects mean he often gives up on them or he begins to feel better so thinks he doesn't need them. Then there is the drug and alcohol abuse... Often people asked me whether the drugs triggered the mental health issues or did he self medicate due to how he felt. The answer to that is we will never know. 

He has just been discharged from hospital again and the drug and alcohol addictions were addressed along with the depression, psychotic and delusional thinking. His diagnosis has been changed from bipolar to schizoaffective disorder manic type but they are just labels the treatment is much the same. Will things be better this time I'm not convinced right now.

As a Mum this latest episode has been the hardest for me, I don't know why but I have come close to breaking point. The constant worry from the last couple of years became too much, I didn't know how to help anymore, I could see him deteriorating, the drug use increasing but he is an adult and assured me he didn't want or need help. 

Work became my escape, I was happier at work than at home and I could mostly switch off for the day and if I couldn't there were people I could talk to, who would give me a hug, listen and understand. There were days I dreaded going home because I didn't know what would be waiting for me, I live with a constant fear that he will die, either accidentally or because the suicidal thoughts become too much. 
It's hard watching someone you love struggle so much, knowing they are making choices and behaving in a way that will make things worse and being powerless to stop it. Long gone are the days where a cuddle and some calpol makes things better!
I don't know where we go from here, I hope that something or someone will have an impact on him, help him to see things could be better. That this illness doesn't have to stop him from leading a happy and fulfilling life, that if he just takes care of himself he can feel well and achieve all the things he dreamt of before he got ill.

As for me I am trying to take better care of myself, not put my life on hold, do the things I want to do. Looking for ways to ease the fear and worry that comes with this. 

So if I am distracted, unsociable or neglecting friends and friendships it's not because I don't care it's because I am struggling, I'm not good at asking for help, too many years of going it alone as a single Mum but I am going to try... I want 2018 to be better for us all, and the only way I think I can do that is by looking after me so I am strong enough to be there and deal with whatever the next months bring.

Love you all xxxx 

Sunday, 8 October 2017

From runner to triathlete...

Before I go any further I am just going to say this is all John Stoneman's fault!!

I have been feeling the need for a new challenge for a while, at parkrun a few weeks a go a triathlon was mentioned, John said if we were going to do one it should be an Ironman. Don't you hate it when an idea gets planted in your mind and you can't get rid of it. Anyway to cut a long story short I sort of signed up for one, not an official Ironman but ironman distance. It looks unlikely John will be joining me but I am committed.

So on July 8th 2018 I will be in Kent for The Bastion, for those that don't know ironman distance is a 2.4 mile swim, 112 mile cycle ride and a marathon! I can run a marathon...

I can't (at the moment) swim 2.4 miles or cycle 112 miles...

I went for a swim last weekend and managed 1km, some was front crawl, lots was breast stroke, it was hard and I have a long way to go, I forgot to mention the swim is an open water swim! The plan is to work on my swimming in the pool over the winter and move to open water in the spring. 

I remembered a work colleague was selling a road bike and on investigation he still had it, it's an old style road bike but in immaculate condition and for now it means I can get some training in. I went for a little test ride this morning, a bit like my swimming it needs some work!!

I have about 9 months to get ready, I have some serious work to do on the swimming and cycling but am looking forward to the challenge. I will be seeking lots of help from all you swimmers and cyclists.

Just to add to my challenge I will be doing all of this on a very limited budget, I entered through Macmillan and have pledged to raise at least £500 for them
I don't currently have money for a flashy bike, swimming lessons or new kit so this will be triathlon on a budget unless anyone out there wishes to sponsor a Bonkers runner tri-ing (sorry!!) something new! 

I am going to blog weekly about my training and swimming and cycling progress (or lack of!) I must remember not to neglect my running. That's it for now, I sort of have a base to work on so time to #TrainHardNoExcuses...
Image result for funny triathlon quotes

Happy running, swimming and cycling!