Monday, 8 June 2015

Long runs and Stour Valley Marathon

The last few weeks haven't been easy, had a small crisis of confidence about my running ability, not going to go on and on about it as it's something to move on from and this weekend has helped me to do that, writing about the negativity I have experienced I don't think will be helpful. I am fortunate to have a very supportive coach and friend in Lindley and lots of running friends who have put up with me recently!

This weekend I had a 20 miles run scheduled for Saturday and Stour Valley Marathon (27 miles) on Sunday. Saturday I decided to get up really early and run 'the long way' to Great Notley parkrun, so planned 17 miles on the Flitch Way ending up at Great Notley Country Park and then run parkrun to make it up to the 20, this would give me the afternoon to do boring household stuff! I guessed a 5am start would get me to parkrun in time to help with set up if needed. My friend Richard said he would come along and even though he moaned a little about the crazily early start we had a great run in the early morning sunshine. 

      Early morning miles with Richard

We arrived at parkrun at 8am having run faster than I had planned, legs felt a little tired but I was looking forward to running with my sister (a fairly new runner) at parkrun. It made my day to help her get around in 30:35 a new PB for her and was a confidence boost for me that as I was helping her and not thinking about my running, I hadn't felt tired at all. So 20 miles was done and the total running time was 3.5 hours. Thank you to Michelle and Richard for a great morning of running. 

Stour Valley Marathon

Sunday looked to be another warm day but I was looking forward to my run, I had run this marathon last year (again after a long run on the Saturday) and knew it was a tough but very scenic route.
I arrived in time to catch up with some friends and have a relaxed, chilled out start, it was just a training run, no pressure, an enjoyable run in beautiful countryside and I'd get a medal at the end. I met up with Katie who was going to run with me, I hadn't run with her before but it worked well, and we were a similar pace.

      Just some of the stunning scenery

I used the route description backed up with GPS to navigate and we didn't get lost at all. Something I had realised the weekend before when running with a friend is I walk all too easily and probably keep my pace inside my comfort zone. So I did my best to ignore my slightly tired legs and run as much as I could. I had forgotten just how hilly the route was but was good to find I can walk uphill really quite fast and the hill training I do has meant I am much more confident on the descents and was able to have some fun running down the hills at a good, fast pace. 
The miles ticked by quickly, it was hot but a breeze at times kept it bearable and my eating/drinking strategy was working well, I was able to keep positive, enjoy the scenery and the company. About half way in, I knew we were on target for about a six hour finish, I was starting to tire, but we agreed to push on as much as we could to try and get that time. 
A real positive boost for me was that we managed to overtake a few people in the last 5 or 6 miles, we weren't  moving fast, but we were steady and always moving, keeping our checkpoint stops brief before carrying on.
As we came back into Nayland we knew we only had a matter of minutes to get six hours so we picked up speed and headed for the finish line. According to my Garmin I finished in exactly 6 hours, I was extremely pleased as it was 20 minutes quicker than last year. It was also good to see Lindley who had come to see people finish. 

      Katie and I at the finish

Thanks to Kevin and all the volunteers who made it a great day. Very well organised and a great medal. Will be back next year, maybe I will even rest beforehand and see if I can run it quicker! 

It really was one of those weekends of running that makes you thankful you are able to get out and do it. Good, positive running, great friends, sunshine and beautiful scenery, and finishing a weekend completely shattered is always a good feeling. 

Thank you to all involved in making it a brilliant weekend. I am feeling much happier, more confident and feel I know what I need to keep doing in order to reach my goals.

Have a great week and happy running xx 

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