Saturday 25 June 2016

I've had a tight hamstring and glute since before the marathon in April.  I thought that after a break and gradually building my running up again it would settle but it doesn't seem to be.  I've been to physio weekly for about 2 months now and not getting anywhere.  I really think I need a new opinion on this!  For now I'm going to spend 4 weeks doing more stretching and back my running off slightly.  Its nice weather out so a good time for cycling! 

Friday 20 May 2016

After the marathon I've had a bit of time off.  Partly due to a few niggles that I wanted to settle and partly just felt drained.  During this time I did several bike rides each week which made a nice change.  I've now gradually been building up my running again and starting to think about racing soon!  

So far my plans are to do some shorter races of 5k and 10k distances during the summer then target some half marathons in the autumn.  I think I'll see if I fancy a marathon either next spring or the following autumn.  

I was also helping out at a local race recently when I was chatting with a fellow club member.  They said they've been with their daughter and seen me out running a few times.  His daughter has recently started running and has been really inspired by me winning the Manchester Marathon.  Its so nice to hear something like that.  

To me races like Manchester Marathon who have a British only prize fund are doing the right thing.  Its not just about winning a nice amount of money (although it does help)! but about British runners finishing 1st and/or top 3.  This is what inspires the young runners to firstly get involved in the sport and then stay in the sport.  When you have agencies that bring in foreign runners it doesn't mean anything down at the local athletics club and they have no local runners to look up to.  

Other races have a halfway house of a separate British only prize fund which is often slightly more than the total.  This is good as at least prize money is helping British runners but still doesn't help with inspiring the up and coming.  We do also need the really big races with big international names as that is great in itself but I think the next tier down races have a responsibility for the future of our sport.

Tuesday 12 April 2016

First Marathon Win!

As I write this I still can't quite believe I won the Manchester Marathon at the weekend!  I had this marathon planned since almost a year ago with my aims being to run a fast time.  I had a great race at the La Rochelle Marathon in November finishing 2nd and just outside of my pb in very windy conditions so this gave me confidence.  I started my Manchester Marathon build after Christmas but for the first time since I've focussed on marathons my build was far from perfect.  

I came down with flu at the end of January whilst in Florida where my plan was to make the most of the warm weather and get some good training in.  This knocked out 2 weeks of training at a crucial time.  I then just felt flat in training all the time.  I probably over did it as I was slightly panicked about getting the miles and sessions in.  So many times I would wake in the morning with a stuffy head and have to force myself out the door to run.  Usually I'd start feeling better after 10 minutes of running but generally my steady run paces were much slower than normal.  I had several weeks of just feeling like I was on the brink of coming down with a cold.  

I chatted with my coach regularly about my options.  I could back off my training but in my mind I might as well not bother with the marathon if I did.  Or I just carry on pushing through and if I get ill then I won't be going anyway but if I don't and come out the other side then I will go.  

About 10 days before I saw the start list for the women and thought there were about 4/5 of us that could finish in the top 3.  Another chat with my coach and I decided that I wasn't in "the shape of my life" and to run the race competitively but smartly and for the first time not worry about my time.  

So race day morning comes around and I'm quite nervous.  Nervous because I'm not sure about my fitness, in the last week of taper my hamstring/glute feels tight and also it being a fairly local race for me I know lots of people who will be there running or supporting and I don't want to look stupid if things go wrong!  

The race gets going and it feels so easy, like I'm jogging.  I time check my first 1km split and its slightly quick so I make myself slow down.  There is a dead turn just after 1km and I realise I'm in 2nd but the 1st girl (Sam) seems to have gone off very quick and I'm hoping its too quick!  As the field thins out a bit I can see a good 100m up the road and I can't see her so I think she has definitely gone off too fast.  I ran with a couple of guys for about another 2km and chat to a few of them.  One is aiming for 2hr 39 another for a sub 2hr 45.  This is about my aim but I think we're still going a bit too quick so I let them go.  The thing that surprised me about this race was that no one seemed to form into groups.  Maybe I've just been a bit lucky when I've done La Rochelle but I've always found myself in group with about 10-20 men until around half way.  

During marathons you always go through good patches and bad patches.  This time it was a mental game from start to finish.  I never went through a bad patch as such with feeling tired as I felt really strong and relaxed the whole time.  I just had to keep telling myself to keep going and stay focussed.  My hamstring started to hurt around 10km which had me worried and it did take a lot of effort to put that to the back of my mind. 

I really badly wanted to win this race and I was a bit worried that although Sam had gone off too fast there was a chance I wouldn't be able to catch her.  I kept telling myself that if I hold 2nd that's still a good result.  I was also quite worried that someone might be chasing me down and I had no idea.

I think it was around 33km I realised that Sam was in my sights.  I was still feeling good in my body (apart from my hamstring) and felt really within myself on my effort.  I caught up to her quicker than I expected and went past her somewhere around 34-35km.  I had a big smile now being in 1st place but that feeling soon turned to worry.  7km is still a long way to go in a marathon and anything could happen.  I tried to push my pace on a bit as I was still worrying about someone coming through stronger than me.  That last 5km was the hardest - I still felt good but my legs were starting to feel it now.  

Around 800m to go and we bear slightly right then its dead straight to the finish.  I can see the finish line now and I can't stop smiling!  There's also a big crowd and its such an amazing feeling.  I was so relieved when I crossed the line.  I can't believe I've done it!  My first marathon win and the best moment of my racing life!!

Tuesday 29 March 2016

Final few weeks

Just under 2 weeks now until Manchester Marathon.  Its been a mixed bag of training this time around.  I missed a chunk of training in January with the flu virus which did set things back slightly.  Ultimately it meant that when I did my half marathon race last weekend I wasn't able to ease down even slightly.  I  normally do a half around 4-5 weeks before a marathon and normally I run well and it gives me confidence.

This time around though I had my longest run and a track session all within 4 days before the race.  Not ideal.  Although I don't normally taper as such before a half in a marathon build I would usually have an easier week than this.  I think in hindsight I would have lowered my expectations on race day but I stupidly thought I'd still be able to run a moderately good time!  

It was evident after a couple of miles into the race that I wasn't going to be particularly fast or in the position I would like to be finishing in.  I didn't quite expect to run quite as slow as I did though.

I've since bounced back in training and its now just down to how I am on the day.

Wednesday 10 February 2016

Miami Half Marathon

To be honest this race was a pain in the arse before I even got there!  Back in October I sent off an entry for an elite or sub elite place.  It was the same form and you put your time down and then they would let you know if you were in.  I knew my time wasn't quite good enough for an elite place but was easily a sub elite.  To cut a long story short after not hearing from them then resending my form, getting confirmation of receipt of form it then gets to January and I still don't know if I'm in the race.  I chase yet again and get told that I'm not in the race as my time isn't quick enough for an elite place.  I was livid as the race was now only 2 weeks away and I'd been chasing for a month to find out.  I had to pass it over to my husband to deal with as I was getting very angry by now.  The response then was that I could have a free entry as a sub elite - why oh why could you not have just said that in the beginning - useless organiser!

On a plus side we were going out there for Dan to run his first ever marathon, business conference and a holiday!  Got to fly upper class with Virgin too which was lovely!  Flew out Thursday and decided to stay on UK time as the race was a 6am start!  Feeling good on Friday then Saturday morning I wake and my whole body is aching and my head is stuffy.  Great.  Went for a jog and felt better for it.  2 hours later and I feel like crap and back to bed.  At this point I really don't know what I'm going to do about the race.

I wake on Sunday morning and feel not much different.  I decide that as Dan's going down to do the marathon anyway that I'll start the half and do as a steady run.  

(As a side note this bad organisation for elites was still in evidence as we were walked from the hotel to a point that was supposed to be near the start.  No toilets for us.  Then when we are walked to the actual start line its mayhem getting there.  Then there is 1 toilet by the start for us - so good that)!

I managed about 6 miles and feeling not great but okay.  More disappointed to be running in a race and only running steady.  I get to around 9 miles and I'm suddenly so cold and dizzy.  I just keep thinking it will be so much easier to just jog to the finish than to drop out and have the hassle of getting back.  Another mile and I really can't carry on.  I pull out and then it is a real hassle to get back especially when feeling so rough.  

To top it off with this bad organisation I get to the elite area by the finish to collect my kit to find that my leggins have been lost.  Basically the woman taking our kit on the line didn't have a bag so it looks like she just dropped them.  

I did manage to get back to my apartment, shower and back to about 400m to go to cheer Dan coming in for his marathon.  He did so well - 3hr 39 for his debut which was considerably faster than either of us were expecting him to do.  Not bad for a swimmer and all down to my excellent coaching!

Its not often I have such bad things to say about a race.  Sometimes there are minor irritations like lack of toilets but when the race is done you've pretty much forgotten about them.  From an elite (or sub elite point of view) this is not a race I would ever do again or recommend.  I think for a normal entry you would be fine though.  It would help really if elite co-ordinators of these races were former athletes of elite/sub elite level to know what an athlete needs.  Most races do get this right!

I then had 3 days of lying in bed in a hotel in Fort Lauderdale with flu.  Luckily Dan had his conference so I wasn't missing any holiday time!  We then went on to have a great holiday travelling Florida - Everglades (alligators), Key West (polydactyl cats and dolphins), Cape Canaveral (rockets)!