Monday, 23 March 2015

Back to The Future (part 2)

Welcome to 2013. . .

This was the year of PB's for me.
Quite a good running year, but at times fraught with worry for my mum who after the yuletide scare had a few more falls and my Dad who had to cope with it. This led eventually to a life changing decision, but more of that later.

Anyway, I left you last time with the promise of my biggest running event to date (at the time; but I think even now it still is the longest race I have done)

One of my friends Nic who i run off road with a lot, sent me a link to this video...or was it the other way round. . I cant remember who's fault it was, but anyway. . . 

Come on, you'd be tempted too, right? Marketing at its best obviously!

This was the Votwo Jurassic Coast Challenge series - the logo says 78.6 miles, 3 days, 2 feet. . .

Of course, we might have been bonkers, but we weren't stupid - we signed up for one day only (quite expensive at £60 but the website seemed to indicate we would be well looked after)
Hey, come on what do you take me for? and it was the most difficult day, day three. The one with the most elevation, but we figured the closest to home, meaning less travelling.
. . . And we'd get to run over the finish line. (stretching the definition of 'run' a bit there)

We signed up late in 2012, and spent the next few months pouring over kit lists, training regimes, the route. . . . .

It all got a bit obsessive but we felt it was required as it looked like being the most difficult event either of us had ever done, and it would be only my second marathon distance and Nic's first!

I had entered no other events through January and February, but upped the mileage slowly, however not far enough probably as the maximum distance I did was 26km/16 miles, and the maximum time was 3 and a half hours. So we were drastically under prepared, although a few of the longer runs were done on part of the course so may have made up for it slightly as we practiced our 'slow but mainly vertical run/walk' as i described it on one of the records!

Also at this point I was starting Hubby on a few short runs as he decided he wanted to take up running again having run quite a lot in his youth.

The one event I did do before the JCC was the New Forest Festival of Running half marathon on 9th March, along with another friend Diane. Now I had done this event the previous year before London and it was not well run, so I dont know why I decided to do it again, but perhaps it was because I could find very few events at that distance at that time, off road.
This time it seemed to go well apart from the weather, which was chucking it down for a lot of the race, character building!

So, undertrained but perhaps overprepared (all that obsessing!) me and Nic got dropped off at the race HQ of Votwo which was in the Ferry Bridge pub car park in Weymouth.
There were a lot of hard core ultra runners, think we were way out of our league. Votwo had a compulsory kit list which we had dutifully assembled, but when we had it checked, they confusingly seemed to think we had too much?

Anyway, we listened to the race briefing, and lined up for the minibus to the race start at Lulworth Cove (the second days running had finished there the day before), but not being ruthless enough we missed two shuttles and had to catch the third, which meant by the time we started it was half 10 in the morning. We found out later we could have bypassed the race briefing and the minibuses and got dropped at Lulworth early which was most annoying.

Crikey it was a difficult run. As can be gathered by our faces below!

miserable faces - and this was not yet halfway!
I say run but I am using it as a vague term, as although our fastest km was 7mins, our slowest was around 16 mins! The lack of training and experience, coupled with bad weather, wind, claggy slippy mud, steep hills and a 1266 total elevation profile meant that our finishing time was around 8.5 hours. We finished in darkness and freezing temperatures and only found the finish line as my husband and a friend had come down to see us in (too early as it transpired!) and were stood on the beach waving a torch while freezing their bums off. (all i can remember about that beach was Nic saying every 5 mins "how long is this f-ing beach anyway?" and "are we there yet" and "are those seals?" when looking at rocks!)

But I'm surprised we finished at all as at one point the organisers were trying to encourage people to drop out before the final 6 miles, because they said, they didn't want us out there in the dark. If that was the case then why did we have to have a torch in our compulsory kit and why did they have a walkers category that some people had entered?
In fact we found out that several walkers had been pulled out for being too slow.
Despite being pretty slow ourselves we weren't actually last across the line, which is always a good thing, and I think 8 people were still out there behind us when we eventually collapsed in the beach car park near the Studland ferry, having done, as it turned out, an unofficial ultra at nearly 29 miles!

I still have the determined thought that one day I'm going to attempt all three days if it kills me (might kill my bank account though) but lets keep that to ourselves for the moment.

So, that was March.

April and May involved mainly running in the park, on the heath, and a couple more visits to my parents as they had both been ill.
Also we had talked a lot and decided between us all that their best option was to sell the house and come and live with us as we had room since the children left. (House prices oop north meant that they couldn't buy anything in Dorset suitable for elderly disabled people)
So their house went up for sale.

during May also i was asked if i wanted to join a relay team for the North Dorset Village Marathon which i did and which was quite good fun, just racing a quarter marathon for a change.

I did some parkrun tourism at Mansfield. Some intervals during training. And the Poole Festival of running 10k again in June which bagged me a 10k PB.

Sometime around this point also, me and Nic, not disheartened by our lengthy off road adventure, signed up for the Giants Head Marathon, which was in its first year in 2013, and run by a then little known running company called White Star Running. The circular route took us through the wilds of Dorset taking in views of the well endowed Cerne Abbas Giant!
Once again we were a tad undertrained given that our longest run was only about 13 miles at the Puddletown Plod 20k in June, but not to be deterred we decided we would just take it easy and plan to finish. The cut off time was a very generous 8 hours so we figured we could manage it. As it turned out, given WSR's unique approach to races including a naked farmer in a bath at mile 3 (which i missed and only heard about later!) and cider at the 20 mile aid station nicknamed 'The Lovestation' because you got free hugs if you wanted them, this was a totally different experience, and bizarrely enjoyable albeit a tad knackering!

skipping along in the sunshine!

The only down side was that the weather was very hot and sunny and i had chosen a water belt instead of a camelbak, a decision i regretted as I ran out of water quite quickly between stations, Luckily one of the other runners had plenty to spare and donated just enough for me to get to a water station to fill up, thanks to Ines (AKA the mad frenchwoman) who I met several times in future races, but thankfully I was better prepared with my hydration from then on.

We finished in just over 7 hours, which given the elevation, and the fact that we were taking it easy, we were quite happy with.
The medals were also very impressive, who wouldn't want one of these?
I really would recommend this race.

featuring the well-endowed Giant!
After recovering from the hills (and the alcohol!) I was back out there in a few days, and putting in a few more miles this time in preparation for the Stur Half at the beginning of August, a local half marathon along winding, undulating country roads.

I went up to 18km in training this time (nearly as much as the race in question this time) and it paid off with a Half Marathon PB. During the rest of August I managed get an all time parkrun PB (which i haven't yet managed to beat!) and also put in some regular long runs although once again, probably not enough for what was coming in September. . . . 

Yes, I don't know if you remember me saying that in 2012 I was determined to run the Purbeck Marathon one day, well I had signed up to it straight after the Giants Head, as that race had given me the confidence to go for it, given that the elevation was not as great on the Purbeck.
The Purbeck Marathon had a cut off time of 7 hours, and my race strategy was to keep under an average of 9mins a km, which would bring me in at approx the same time I finished London in the year before, something i hoped was doable. The race started on a windswept Swanage common, and as we ran up over the first hill, I just tried to concentrate on running my own race and not getting swept along at too fast a pace. The race route followed the coast path for a way before wending inland via Worth Matravers and the deserted village of Tynham, along the Purbeck Ridge and continuing through the picturesque village of Corfe, and then climbing for the last steep hill and finally descending into Swanage.

heading up to the Swyre Head and the aptly named 'Heaven's Gate'

Well as it turned out it was very doable indeed despite the bloomin' hurricane force wind that was blowing that day and the rain that settled in after Corfe - I surpassed all my own expectations and finished in 5 hours and 46 mins, over 30 mins faster than London, and giving me an unexpected marathon PB.

This race was very enjoyable and shall remain one of my favourites to this day. I remember raving  about it on Marathon Talk 'Rate Your Run' at the time
"wind, rain, cows, jam sandwiches, super views, a castle, a steam train, cheery marshalls, ice cream, beer, a hi-viz lime green t-shirt and a marathon PB! what more could you ask?"

I finished in pouring rain on Swanage seafront where my husband had just rocked up 5 mins before, to join a few friends, expecting me to take a lot longer! Cue lots of hugging and celebrations! I felt like I'd certainly earned that beer :-)

Following a 'short jog to see if i can still run' a few days later i concluded September by tail running for the Black Hill 5k and 10k - remember that race?
Well following last years race the organiser Neal had emailed all competitors asking how he could improve it. Seeing as how i was partly involved in marketing at work i put forward a few ideas, including introducing a 10k, and starting up on social media. Well it must have worked as from under 20 runners the year before, 2013's races had around a 100 runners in total. And all profits to the Bere Regis scouts. I was on the team after that!
I also ran the second Cerne Burn, in a quicker time than 2012 so pleased with that. its a shame this race appears to have been discontinued.

Around October my parents sold their house, so we did a bit of up and down the country, helping pack and getting things ready for them to move. But I still found time to enter the Studland Stampede again (has to be a yearly event!) and came out with a 10 min faster time, and the Great South Run which i was doing for the second time along with 'the nifty nannas', an unofficial group of running friends who were either actually nannas or like me old enough to be one. Someone coined the name and it stuck! The first time I had run this was before the London Marathon and I wanted to see if i could better my time. Well I did again by about 10 mins which wasn't bad considering it was very very windy and even the elite runners were dropping their pace drastically in the last seafront stretch. My pace was very consistent at a tad over 10 min miles throughout giving me a 10 mile PB.
Told you 2013 was the year of PB's!

Obviously by now Headtorch heath running had kicked off again and was a regular occurrence, although our numbers had dwindled a lot due to peoples injuries and moving away.

November brought another 10 mile PB in the guise of the Wimborne 10. And a very unusual distraction of getting picked to go to the Runner's World Asics 26.2 Bootcamp. Where if you won, you would get clothing, shoes, coaching and a place in the Paris Marathon.
Bootcamp was at the end of November in Birmingham sports academy, when a shortlisted group (of around 50 i think) was put through various paces and interviews and tests to see if they were suitable for being in the final selection and getting voted for by the public.
I met lots of interesting people that day including Anne-Marie from Massey Ferguson AC who has remained a friend since.
Although the selection process was quite intense it was nothing compared to the voting process. I was lucky enough to be selected into the final group of candidates for the sub 5 hour marathon group (having never done one) and then the voting began. It seemed to be a free for all, and all time was spent getting as many people as possible to vote for you. All my friends and family tried so hard to get me as many votes as possible, bless em. Unfortunately i was neck and neck with another candidate and was pipped at the post at the last minute so didn't win the prize.

Anne Marie told me that a group of runners from Coventry were going to the Paris Marathon anyway and did i want to join them as an honorary member and we would show them!
I decided to take them up on their offer.
Luckily my parents had recieved their house money by then and moved in with us in the middle of December. They offered to pay for my place and travel and accommodation which was very nice of them.

We moved them in on the 14th December 2 days before my mothers birthday, and a week later I ran the Portsmouth Coastal Marathon. Oops, didn't i mention this one?

Well me and Nic had already decided to do this one and see what we could do. It was supposed to be pretty flat but of varying terrain. Unfortunately in a week of epic events, Nic broke her ankle while heath running, the day after we moved my parents, and a week before the Portsmouth Marathon.
I was with her at the time and remember the sound, like a stick breaking.
"was that a stick or your leg?"
"ow ow i think it might be my leg, i hope not"
Then after looking at the offending ankle we realised it was her leg after all.
A visit to A&E later she was trussed up in a cast and peed off that she couldn't go to Pompey.

I was peed off she couldn't run with me. On the day Kevin had to drive me and we got into an argument about parking, so i started the race in a mood too. Cue awful windy wet weather and it was a shit morning.
Must have helped though as I finished in 5:05 and change - a marathon PB! didn't see that one coming. . .
I remember my mother saying when we got home "did you have a nice run?". . .bless x

2013 concluded a week later with a very slow 10k around the local Moors Valley Park with another friend Diane (who's a bit of a super-gran), in aid of Autism Wessex. more of a recovery really. Kevin was kept busy distracting a Friend's older child while she juggled breast feeding twins and waiting for her hubby to run the same race. He was a lot quicker than me. Definitely not a PB run, and so 2013 went out first with a bang and then a whimper.
Although obviously by then my sights were set on Paris. . . . . . 2014 here we come, bringing with it two funerals and a wedding...and a spell on the injury bench. 

see you next time.


  1. You forgot to mention that The Giant's Head was also an unofficial ultra so your time was even better! I'll never forget that day - I think it was when we first chatted on a race. I'm considering doing it again this year - are you?

  2. Ooh thats true! it was wasnt it. Yes it was where i met you i think. You should do it again. I cant do it this year as it clashes with Mont Blanc!