A running questionnaire

In my day-to-day life I love sitting down at the kitchen table and filling out questionnaires with my personal responses to the questions.  I had loads of forms and questionnaires to fill out when we moved house in the Summer but I haven’t filled any online ones out in a long while, so I decided to have a go at filling out the questions I spotted on Laraine’s World the other day.

Would you rather run along a beach path or on a mountain trail?
A couple of the sections of the Gower Marathon course are run along the beach and I found that not only was this incredibly draining on my legs, but it seemed to go on forever!  I really struggled with the lack of changing scenery and the far end of the beach seemed to disappear off into the distance for far too long before we reached it.

Gower marathon sceneryIn comparison, I adore the up and downs of mountain trails.  The not knowing where to put your feet and narrow tracks where you often have to squeeze in to let other people pass on the route.  Lots of twists and turns in the trail keeps things interesting for me.

If you could choose the flavour of Gatorade at your next race’s aid stations, what would it be?
The only time I have ever tried Gatorade was at the Milton Keynes Marathon earlier this year.  It was horrible though – really, really sweet and sickly.  It tends to be Lucozade that we get offered at races in the UK.  Although I used to religiously take a bottle of cherry flavoured Lucozade out with me during training for my first half marathon, I much prefer knocking back a nice cold glass of water now.  Or lemonade nuun…that I could drink all day!

nuun bottles

If I gave you a £100 gift card to a running store, what would be the first thing that you would purchase with it?
Can I be really boring and say trainers?  Trainers are the one item that I find myself constantly needing to replace as I run so many miles.  It just feels like I’m spending stupid amounts of money by upgrading my trainers a couple of times a year though, when I’m still wearing the same pair of work shoes that I have done for years!  I do need new road trainers now, and know that I can’t go too much longer before I run the risk of injury but something in my head shouts out that £120 on a new pair of trainers that I will wear for less than a year isn’t the most economical of purchases.  I will man up and put my hand in my pocket at some point in the near future though.  Potentially after my birthday next week.

Asics Cumulus 16s

Do you prefer to follow a training plan or wake up and decide then how far and how fast you want to run?
My views on this change all the time!  As much as I love just waking up and heading out on a run, or joining in with impromptu planned trail sessions that others put on at the weekends, I know following a plan gives me structure and ensures I tick off the required sessions when I have a goal in mind.  I think following a plan so closely in the build up to Mablethorpe/Chelmsford marathons this year helped me to achieve my goal.  I don’t like to feel restricted for too long when it comes to my running and it helped that this time I was only following a plan for 8 weeks after having run Grim 70m in the Summer.  Any longer and I fear I would have lost my focus a little.

Would you rather start your run with the uphill and end on the downhill or start your run with the downhill and end with the uphill?
I think I would probably prefer starting on the downhill and ending with an uphill as it often takes me a couple of miles to get into a run and begin to push it.  On club nights I usually find myself starting at the back of runs, but as the session continues and my body feels fully warmed up, it is capable of giving a bit more and I find it easier to move past the other runners out there.  Why burn up all your energy at the beginning, when you can enjoy a nice long downhill and ease into the session that way instead?!

Headed up the hill at mile 6 of the Tring 15k Ridgeway Run

When you can’t run, what type of cross-training do you choose to do?
Is sulking a form of cross-training?!  Haha!  I occasionally swim, although the faff of swimming, showering and changing at the pool tends to put me off.  I often use PayAsUGym* to make the most of my local gym and use the bikes or cross-trainer while I’m there.  Earlier this year when I was injured I bought a cross-trainer, and although not in any way as enjoyable as running, staying at home and catching up with episodes of Eastenders whilst on the cross-trainer beats having to travel to the gym for a workout and be around other people when I’m so grumpy!


What is your preference—> Out and back, point to point or loop runs?
I never like out and back courses, and have always prefer loop runs.  They’re just more interesting I find.  Point to point routes are OK, but how do you get there to begin with?!  Last year, there were a couple of times where I travelled part-way with Dan in the car on his way into work in the morning.  I would then get out and run the 20 or so miles back home again with some spare change in my pocket to buy some food on the way!  I suppose with a point to point run, you don’t have the option of giving up or cutting it short.  You have to get there one way or another!

If you could recommend ANY running related item to a new runner, it would be a—>
Other than the essentials of trainers and a running bra, I would recommend a Garmin.  It is so satisfying to look back at your data and see where you have come from and how much you have improved.  I found my Garmin very motivating when I first started running.

Do you ever see any wild animals while out on your runs?
I’ve spotted several deer or muntjacs out on runs and I usually see rabbits.  We get quite a few herons and birds of prey round this way as well.

Ever gotten lost while out on a run?
I have gotten lost a few times when I haven’t planned my route out in advance.  Repeatedly, when I head out for a run on my own I spy a footpath sign and it seems like a good idea to follow it to see where it takes me.  This is never a good idea.  One footpath leads to another, and before you know it you end up miles from home with no choice but to retrace your footsteps all the way back to where you came from.  (See above point about not enjoying out and back runs!)

If you could have one meal waiting and ready for you each time you got home from a run for the next 30 days… what would that meal be?
Does a malteser Krushem count as a meal?  Because I could never get bored of those after a run!  😛  I try to keep them for after Summer long runs as that is when they are most satisfying – nice and cool after a sweaty long run session.  It makes me sad that the season I have set myself for Krushems is over for the year.  If I was to have them all the time though, I don’t think I would appreciate them as much.  So long Krushems for another year!

KFC Malteser Krushem

Capris or shorts… what do you run in most often?
I live in shorts.  Even now, nearly into November!  There aren’t many race photos of me in existence where I’m not wearing one of my favourite pairs of blue Ronhill shorts!  I do have other pairs that I train in, and from time to time I pop on my Nike tights, (mainly if I’m feeling too lazy to shave my legs!) but I get warm rather quickly and appreciate how loose fitting and comfy these shorts are.  I own three pairs!

Mile 40 of Grim Reaper

At what mile (or how many minutes) into your run does your body start to feel like it is warming up and ready to go?
Probably 10-15 minutes into a run is when I feel suitably warmed up and ready to start pushing things a little harder.

What do you do with your key when you run?
I put it in the back pocket of my shorts unless I am running at the club.  On a club night we leave all of our car keys in a box which is locked away during training hours.  Apparently once,-several years ago-a group of club runners had taken off their jackets and left them by a lamppost whilst they completed a series of speed reps on the outskirts of town.  A group of cyclists stopped by and they had a brief chat with the runners, appearing interested in joining future training sessions.  The runners commented that they met each week at the Old Grammarian’s sports field.  The cyclists thanked them and continued on their way.  At the end of the running session, the runners returned to find keys and phones missing from jacket pockets, and cars no longer where they had left them at the sports field!  Lesson learnt, and our keys now get locked away each week!

If you could relive any race that you have done in the past, which one what it be?
I am really struggling to answer this question.  There aren’t very many races that I haven’t enjoyed.  I could answer it one of two ways – which race would I most like to relive because I had a fantastic experience?  Or which race would I like to relive because I would change the way I approached it, or the decisions I made on the day?
I’m not sure I would necessarily like to relive any of my fantastic experiences to be honest.  I blog about my races, and this serves as a reminder to how I felt on race day.  Whenever I re-read old posts I find myself back in my shoes on race day and feeling just as I had on that morning/end of the race.  I felt so elated at the end of the Grim Reaper this Summer, but I’m not sure I would want to live that exact race again.  I’m not sure I am going to race it again at all to be honest.  I did what I set out to achieve and my memories of the day are great ones.
If I was to relive any race to change the way I approached it, it would probably be Silverstone Half Marathon 2012, before I started blogging.  I was in the build up to my first marathon.  Long training runs were being run at 10mm pace and I had recently moved up to Group 4.  I felt invincible!  I wasn’t, however, and still had loads to learn about my body and running.  Setting off at 9mm pace on a day when the sun just did not stop shining was not the best race tactic, and I quickly faded, having to walk during several of the latter sections of the course.  Not my finest moment!

What has been your biggest motivation lately to get out the door to get your run on?
I find that I don’t often need motivation.  Sorry to all those who looked outside at the weather this morning and have already drawn a big thick line through their scheduled run for today.  It’s raining very hard here in Northamptonshire at the moment and I’m still looking forward to my trail run this evening.  The muddier, the more fun it will be!  Just dress appropriately!
I just love running!

A wet run

When you go for a run, do you leave right from your front door or do you drive somewhere to start?
I like to run straight from my front door, although if I am running with friends it usually involves a 10-15 minute car journey to reach them first of all.

When running in daylight—> are sunglasses a must or an annoyance?
I never wear sunglasses when running.  I often wear a cap (mainly to keep my head from getting sunburnt) and this helps with any glare from the sun.

26.2 miles into the Grim Reaper 70m

When you get tired, what keeps you from quitting?
Having a goal in mind.  Although I must have been exhausted by mile 62 of the Grim Reaper in August, I knew I had just overtaken the lady in third place and I couldn’t help but think how great it would be to come home in third position that morning.  My body didn’t even register the tired until after finishing the race!

* Referral link

Your turn: Pick a question above and let me know your answer!

The first XC of the season: Wellingborough

Yesterday morning was the first cross-country race of the Three Counties Cross Country (3CXC) season, of which our club are members.

3CXC mud: Wellingborough

The first race of the season is always held by our club, Wellingborough & District AC and falls the first Sunday of the October half term holidays.  Until this year I’d never had a chance to run it.
In 2011 I was ill, 2012 I helped to marshal, and in 2013 and 2014 it has fallen the same weekend as the Dusk ’til Dawn ultra.  I was excited, and also a little nervous that I would finally get the opportunity to run the home course this year.

The home course is arguably the toughest of the five that make up the cross-country series, as our course is incredibly hilly, and contains four brook crossings!  I had a rough idea of the course from marshaling back in 2012, but wanted to take a look at the brook crossings before the event to decide my best line of attack and to judge just how deep the water was as it had rained pretty solidly the afternoon before!

I walked down to scout things out with another club runner and it seems we weren’t the only ones out walking the course.  Lots of the runners had decided it was a good idea to check out the crossings before tackling them.  The dozens of runners out walking the tricky sections of the course reminded me of when I was younger and would head out to walk an equestrian cross-country course to decide how different jumps should be approached before going round on horseback.

The weather was perfect for cross-country yesterday – just warm enough for shorts and a vest, with no wind, rain or sun in sight.

Each of the five cross-country events that make up the season are approximately 5 miles in length and cover a variety of terrain.  Our home cross-country is a two and a half lap course run on grass, although it crosses over a tarmac path a couple of times and there are two brook crossings on each of the full laps.

Wellingborough XC - brook crossingsCan you guess at which point of the course each of the four crossings took place?!

I set out at just under 9 minute miling and soon found my place within the pack.  There were 316 runners on the course yesterday, and several had set off too fast so I overtook them within the first mile, before settling into the event and running comfortably hard.

The course runs a smallish loop of approximately one mile, before circling infront of the Race HQ and then back out again for two laps of a larger, two mile route around Croyland Park in Wellingborough.

3CXC mud: Wellingborough

My heart leaped a little on the approach to the first brook crossing.  The first crossing is narrow enough that you can jump it, although I knew by the time I got there (especially on the final lap) it would be rather muddy and the approach/getaway would not be very easy.  With a slightly weaker ankle following my recent ankle injury, and the Dusk ’til Dawn ultra booked in for next weekend, I had already decided to play the safer option and jump into the brook, then run out the other side again. Thomas J. Lavin, Esq. was very helpful when my ankle was injured.

3CXC mud: WellingboroughAs I arrived though, there was already a Leighton Fun Runners member balancing on the step down so I couldn’t get the run up to jump in that I wanted and ended up jumping down onto my bum and then sliding into the water before running on out the other side instead.

3CXC mud: Wellingborough

You can tell where the best spot is for spectators on the course!  And cameras…all the cameras seem to be directed at the brook crossings!3CXC mud: Wellingborough

After the first crossing, the course takes you back up a long hill slog, before a nice downhill again the other side, then back up again, then down…repeat…all the way until you get over to the other side of the park, head into the trees and then down a steep hill through a very muddy section into the second brook crossing.  Although it is possible to jump over the first crossing on the course, it is not the second.  Those that I had been out walking the course with earlier on that morning had decided not even the best British long jumpers would have been able to jump the width of the stream here.  This meant that all runners had to jump into the crossing and then scramble up the other side.  The water here was quite shallow but like quick sand on the bottom of the bank, and it was incredibly steep to climb back up the other side again.  There were four members from our club marshaling here – two up on the bank pulling runners up and two in the brook itself – pushing runners up onto the bank the other side.  You can see how muddy it had gotten by this point!

3CXC mud: Wellingborough

As you scramble out of the brook you immediately hit a steep climb to head up out of the other side of the small patch of trees.  All your energy has just been sapped getting through the crossing!  Once at the top of the park again you head along several mini-hill-bumps in the track, running the entire length of the park before zig-zagging across the field, descending sharply, turning sharply and then heading back up parallel to the original track again.  You reach the outside of the field once more and run alongside the edge, being careful not to trip over any tree trunks along the way before sharply descending and heading past the finish for another lap.  The front two runners overtook me here, storming along the course to head in for the finish.

I had gradually overtaken a few runners on this lap, with no-one really passing and then staying past me.  I was close to three Bedford Harriers runners for most of the race that I yo-yod with quite a lot.

The first brook crossing is at the beginning of the second/third laps, so there were quite a crowd of people there by the time I reached it the second time.

3CXC mud: Wellingborough

The approach was now very muddy, as was the bank the other side.  Time for another slip and slide in…

3CXC mud: Wellingborough

Although one of the other nearby runners managed to make it across with a jump, most of those around me were also now sliding in on their bums.

3CXC mud: WellingboroughMy attempt wasn’t so great this time though and I ended up going right in!

3CXC mud: Wellingborough


3CXC mud: WellingboroughGood job it wasn’t too cold out there yesterday!

3CXC mud: Wellingborough

Despite now being absolutely soaked and my hands covered in mud I couldn’t stop laughing!3CXC mud: WellingboroughI gained back a couple of places on the long uphill drag again, down the steep hill, up the steeper hill, and then along the gradual descent across the tarmac path.3CXC mud: WellingboroughI was still feeling super strong – looks like I was really using my arms here as well.  Probably the reason I ended up with chaffing under my left arm from my vest.  :(3CXC mud: WellingboroughWhen I reached the final brook crossing I seemed to arrive as there was a backlog of runners in front of me, still struggling to get out the other side.  There was no-one to help me initially so after jumping in I stuck my knee up onto the bank ready to scramble out before one of the helpers grabbed my arm and pulled, as our club Volunteer Co-ordinator pushed from behind and I slithered out onto the bank the other side, picking myself up and continuing along the way.

I was on the final stretch now, (although still with plenty of sharp up and downhills to go!)  As I made the final turn across the top end of the field I could hear club runners shouting my name despite being so far away and I managed to pick up my pace.  It was all downhill from here and with the three Bedford Harrier runners just in front of me now I stormed past the first lady.  As I came to the bottom of the hill I also glided past the Bedford man just ahead, but there was no time for me to overtake the lady in front of that.  A really strong finish I was proud of though, after a tough cross-country course.

Mile 1: 9:21
Mile 2: 9:23
Mile 3: 10:08
Mile 4: 10:01
Mile 5: 10:31
Nubbin (0.12m): 6:30mm pace << Happy with that! :)
Total time: 50:13

3CXC mud: Wellingborough3CXC mud: WellingboroughThat hand print was the mark of being helped up out of the brook at the final crossing!

Final position: 259/316
Gender position: 78/124

The way that cross-country works is you don’t get given a time at the end of the race, but instead a red or blue token with a number on.  The number corresponds to your gender finishing position and you give this in to your club scorers.  The scores from the top seven men (of which at least two must be aged 40+) from each club count towards your team score, and the top three ladies (of which at least one must be over the age of 35).  Scores are given to each person dependent upon their gender finishing position.  So if you were the first lady to finish, you would receive just one point.  The team with the lowest score wins.  Even if you do not count as a scorer for your team, you could help to give higher scores to runners finishing behind you.  If a club cannot produce a full team for an event, (which is sometimes the case for the later races in the season) the missing runners are automatically given one extra point than the last person in the event, pushing their team standings right down.

I enjoy cross-country running anyway, but I absolutely loved yesterday’s event!

(All pictures taken from the WDAC and Olney Facebook pages.)

Will you be running any cross-country events this season?
Are you a fan of the mud?!

A new Garmin

A little while back, my Garmin Fenix turned itself off…only to never come back on again!

Garmin Fenix not turning onThis happened just before my goal race – Mablethorpe Marathon!

Luckily, I had passed down my old Garmin 405 to Dan when I won the competition for the Garmin Fenix back in 2013, so I tried a couple of little tester runs using Dan’s Garmin before race day, just so I could reacclimatise myself with the controls as he luckily let me borrow it for my marathon.Garmin 405 at Chelmsford MarathonBecause I had gotten on so well with the watch at Mablethorpe, I was in no rush to replace it before my marathon attempt at Chelmsford last weekend, and the watch helped pace me to a PB.

I knew I would need to replace it at some point though.  The 405 seems to have about 7 hours battery life, – less if I run using my heart rate monitor.  Several of the events I enter last longer than that and I am a big data geek – I want to see all of my run splits.  What use is it if your watch dies a few miles before the finish?!  Also, it wouldn’t be fair to use Dan’s Garmin for parkruns that he also wanted to come along to.

I asked around for watch recommendations and the one that seemed to come up trumps most often was the Garmin 310XT.  Despite appearing quite big and bulky I was assured that I wouldn’t notice the size of the watch and that it would be capable of storing data for all of the areas I was interested in and wanted a display of on my arm.

Garmin 310XTDan bought me the Garmin as a birthday present and gave it to me a few days early last night, so that I might test it out during the week, ready for the Dusk ’til Dawn overnight ultra next weekend.

I headed to parkrun this morning with it strapped to my arm and a rough idea of how to start and stop it.

Although having toyed with the idea of heading back to Norfolk this weekend and fitting in some parkrun tourism at either Kings Lynn or one of the Norwich courses I was absolutely exhausted after a gruelling final week before the half term holidays and in need of the extra sleep.  Instead, I woke up naturally a little after 7am and headed over to my ‘local’ Northampton parkrun.

When I arrived I realised just how much I could feel the effects of the 100 squat challenge our coach had pushed us through on Thursday evening!  On Thursday at club we had run 5 miles along the streets of Wellingborough, stopping every half mile to complete a set of 10 squats in a variety of styles.  The running inbetween each set of squats ended up being quite pacey – often only slightly slower than 8mm.  I felt like I was running strong.  By this morning my inner thighs were a little achy from all the squats though!  I had arrived 15 minutes before the start so went on a circular walk to loosen my legs up a little before arriving on the start line ready for briefing.

It’s not often I run parkrun on my own anymore – I usually end up pacing a friend or running and chatting with friends.  I’d like to get back into the habit of using Saturday mornings as a threshold run more often, as I think this played a part in helping my times drop at the start of the year.

I didn’t intend on running ‘all out’ at parkrun this morning as I had just run the marathon last week, although my legs do feel recovered from that already.  I did intend on maintaining a consistent pace though, and having not yet set up my heart rate monitor with my new Garmin I would be running on feel alone, something I haven’t done by choice over shorter distances for quite a while.

I glanced down after about 1/2-3/4 of a mile into the run to see ‘8:31′ clearly displayed on the front of the watch.  I was a little confused how my running had slowed so much that I was only running 3/4 of a mile in 8m 31s, and it wasn’t until the watch beeped to signal one mile complete that I glanced down and realised that it wasn’t displaying overall time, but rather average pace!  That made a difference!  Whoops!  I completed the first mile in 8:31, and the second in 8:35.  My third mile was in 8:47 and then I crossed the line to finish in 27:09 watch time, which was also confirmed by the timekeeper who was shouting out times as runners crossed the line.

Official time: 27:09
Position: 146/310
Gender position: 26/126
Age category position: 5/14

27:09 is my third fastest parkrun time (26:55/26:37 are my fastest two) and I hadn’t intended on running quite so fast today, but I’ll take that, six days post-marathon!

For the first time ever I think, there was no queue to get barcodes scanned, and because it was so cold and wet I decided to head back to the car and stick the heating on full for the drive home.

The trees were so pretty out on the course today and I wished I had taken my camera for some photos.  I shall have to get out this week now that I can see daylight hours again with my week off!

Unfortunately, although I had managed to record my run correctly on the Garmin, I ended up resetting to factory settings whilst trying to upload the run to Garmin Connect, so I lost all my data from this morning.  :(  Will have to take a look at that before my next race!

I’d also like to say a huge thank you for all the lovely well done messages I received on my last post and via Twitter/Instagram.  I’m still on a high from last weekend, and have to keep reminding myself that I finally brought my time down under my target.  :)  I have Dusk ’til Dawn next weekend and the EnduranceLife Gower break/marathon booked in for the coming weeks but other than that I’m looking forward to joining in with the cross-country season and heading out on some fun runs!

If you have a Garmin, which one do you have?
Have you noticed the trees changing colours where you live?

Tenth time lucky – the day I went sub 5

On Sunday I ran my tenth marathon.

Despite telling others that I had booked a tenth marathon there weren’t very many people that knew I was actually running it last weekend.  Dan, My Mum and one friend from running club.  I’d only booked the race eleven days earlier, after finishing at Mablethorpe Marathon a couple of minutes outside of my goal.

After Mablethorpe I immediately began hunting to see if a race fitted in during the four week gap I had before I attempted Dusk ’til Dawn at the end of the month.  I had done a lot of training for Mablethorpe and didn’t want to see it go to waste.  After some extensive searching, I established that Chelmsford marathon fell on the middle weekend between the two pre-planned races and that there were still places available for the day.  I immediately entered, before I could change my mind.  There were a couple of times over the past fortnight when I doubted my impromptu decision and wasn’t sure I really wanted to run another marathon again so soon, but generally I knew that I was capable of the distance and that I would make it round, adding to my number of marathons run whether I PBd on the day or not.  At least this time, nobody had any expectations of me as they didn’t know I was due to run it!

Dan initially wasn’t going to come along, as Wolves (the football team) were playing on TV that day.  He changed his mind though and drove me over on race morning.  I left plenty of time before the race started which was lucky, as the main car park that we had been told to park in was not yet open.  We quickly established where the next nearest car parks were and parked up before navigating our way to the ‘race hub’ (finish line) where there were several stalls being set up and a long row of portaloos.

After a visit to the loo we began the walk to the race start which was about ten minutes away.  We were some of the first people to arrive at the start.  It was rather chilly at 8am and I was glad Dan had travelled up with me so that I could wear my hoodie and t-shirt over my race vest until the very last minute!

Chelmsford marathon 2015

I kept to roughly the same plan as Mablethorpe – try to keep between 10:45-10:52mm pace for the first 10 miles, then 15, then play it by ear from there.  This time also keeping an eye on my heart rate, as I remembered to take my heart rate monitor out of my bag!  We had been told beforehand that the race would be starting in four waves at 9am, of which I would be in wave three.  I see waves as being separate starts, similar to at Milton Keynes Marathon earlier this year, when the gun went every minute, to allow the front runners to get a little space out on the course before the masses followed.  However, this didn’t seem to be the case as we all seemed to start together at Chelmsford.

Chelmsford marathon 2015Not sure what I was doing in the background here, but I seemed to get in quite a few photographs with other runners on the start line!

The first mile obviously flew by.  I find it always does in any distance race!
What I didn’t mention on the blog was that last Sunday at the Tring trail race I had felt like I needed to click my hip at the start of the race.  But then the race started and I couldn’t get in the right position and move forward at the same time, so I just ran anyway, without clicking it.  By the end of the race my left hip/leg felt a little numb and after standing around waiting for the rest of the runners from our club to come in I found it rather uncomfortable (and slow!) to walk back to where the car was parked.  It did loosen up after five minutes or so of walking, but my hip played a part in keeping me away from my trainers on the Monday and Tuesday of last week.  Wednesday came and I laced up my trainers for a 7.8 mile trail run with the club.  My hip felt rather uncomfortable but I was never in any pain, otherwise I would have stopped and reassessed my goals.
I ran just one easy mile on Saturday to loosen my legs up, and my hip was not an issue.
One mile into the race on Sunday though, and I was aware that my hip was going to be an issue!

For a few miles I actually begun to think about the possibility of having to drop out of the race altogether.  Although never painful, the first few miles felt a little uncomfortable and the top area of my leg began to feel numb.  I noticed it most on sharp turns to the left where I felt a little off-balance.  I was undecided as to what I should do.  The first three miles had contained several twists and turns out along a housing estate and then the route turned back into the town centre where I heard Dan shout my name.  I looked up, smiled and waved and knew I would be carrying on.

Chelmsford marathon 2015I decided to ignore the discomfort and hope it went away.  Probably not the best decision in the majority of cases, and I can’t say that the discomfort ever went away, but when I thought less about it, I felt it less and that worked for me!

Chelmsford marathon 2015

Mile 1: 10:38
Mile 2: 
Mile 3: 10:43

After speaking to a friend about nutrition following Mablethorpe I decided that I probably don’t take enough on board fuel-wise during road marathons.  I’ve tweaked my ultra nutrition to perfection over the past couple of years and have no issues gulping back chocolate milk and downing pizza whilst out on an ultra, but when it comes to a road marathon – where the aim is to run the whole way, I’ve been a little less enthusiastic about carrying round my sandwiches and wolfing real food down!  In the past I have tended to take two gels along with me on marathon day, having one about 6-7 miles into the marathon and then carrying the other right through to the finish with me, never taking it.  At Mablethorpe I did use both gels – I had a third of one each at miles 3,6 and 9.  Then a third of the other one at miles 12, 15 and 18.  I established that a third of a gel every three miles was probably not enough though and when I stocked up on sweets at mile 24 they gave me an almost instant boost to make it through to the finish, indicating that my normal intake had not been enough.  At Mablethorpe I also spoke to another runner from the club about gels.  She said that she had used to just take two, but now often she would use 5 or 6 as she felt that she needed more.

Last weekend at the Tring 15k, I had tested out a new-to-me gel.  The salted caramel Gu.  It was amazing.  It was so strong in flavour and actually tasty with it that I bought a box load which arrived during the week.  For the Chelmsford marathon I packed five.  Two in the back pocket of my shorts and I gripped onto another three tightly in my right hand.  Water stations were to be at miles 3,6,9,13,16,19,23 and 26 (not sure why there was a need for a water station at mile 26?!) so I decided to take a gel each at miles 6,9,19 and 23.  I would also split a gel between mile 13 and mile 16.  I managed to keep roughly to this plan, although didn’t take my last gel, but half a peanut bar that was on offer at the checkpoint instead.

Mile 4: 10:41
Mile 5:
Mile 6:

At mile 6 a 100 marathon club runner trotted alongside me and started a conversation.  As I always do when running alongside runners from the 100 marathon club I asked how many marathons he had run (over 400)  He then went on to tell me that his fastest one had been run 11 years ago at the age of 64 and he completed it in a staggering 3h 9m!  Amazing!  As we chatted about his races, the two ladies infront turned around and joined in.  The pace had picked up a little too much for my liking, so I let the three of them continue the conversation as they glided on ahead, although by mile 10 I had overtaken all three and did not see them again.

The course was a lovely one.  It was nice and ‘undulating’ – the definition runners use for a course which is not pancake flat!  I much prefer an undulating course to a flat one as it breaks things up a bit!

Chelmsford Marathon undulationAfter the first three miles of heading out of the town and coming back past the start again we headed along a tarmacked track along fields out into the countryside and then along some quiet country lanes.

The marshals were superb the entire race and so cheery and helpful at every checkpoint.

Mile 7: 10:50
Mile 8: 10:43
Mile 9: 10:47
Mile 10: 10:47
Mile 11: 11:14

I had a slight wobble at mile 11 (only for a few seconds!) when I realised how slow my mile had been compared to all of my others.  This mile had contained the first proper hill that dragged though and I was yet to slow to a walk.  I let it pass, although still had no idea how I was going to feel in the later stages of the race.

Mile 12: 10:57
Mile 13:
Mile 14: 11:00
Mile 15: 11:19
Mile 16: 12:03

Mile 16 contained a proper ‘steep’ climb and I decided to use the climb to have my gel, take on some more fluid and save my energy by walking the short distance, before running again once I reached the top.

Mile 17: 11:07
Mile 18:
Mile 19: 11:27

Chelmsford marathon 2015

Dan had planned on getting out on the course to see me at around mile 19.  I had roughly worked out that he needed to be there by 12:30 to ensure that he had time to park up, get organised and make sure he was out on the course to see me as I came by.  As I approached the mile 19 marker I suddenly realised that there was a good chance I would miss him.  I passed through at 12:25 and hoped that he wouldn’t arrive just after I had, only to stand around worrying that I hadn’t yet come through!  Luckily, he popped out just before me round the next corner and ran alongside me for a few hundred steps whilst I reapplied Vaseline under my arms so that my vest no longer rubbed.  I told him that my hip had gone, but that I was running strong and was well on target for a sub 5 marathon by this point, although didn’t want to jinx things!

Chelmsford marathon 2015I was passing a lot of other runners by this point.  So many of them were walking.  I was terrified of burning out and with a few steady inclines coming up I made the decision to power walk any of the tougher hills to try and prevent this from happening and run the rest of the course.  This was a big decision to make, as I was worried that if I scaled things back a little my hip would go completely and I wouldn’t be able to break back into a run.  I didn’t feel tired, my legs weren’t aching like they had done at Mablethorpe and I wasn’t feeling hungry or weak by this point.  By mile 19-20 though I was so close to a sub 5 marathon, and having already had several failed attempts at achieving my goal, decided I would be happy with coming in at a more conservative, but stronger time, still remaining at a sub 5.

Mile 20: 11:41
Mile 21: 11:59
Mile 22: 11:26
Mile 23: 11:57

There was supposed to be a water station at mile 23 but it never came.  Halfway to mile 24 was a lone marshal, who luckily let me nab one of the water bottles she held as I was feeling rather thirsty by this point again.

Mile 24: 11:57
Mile 25: 12:44

It didn’t feel as though I had slowed down this much, but I obviously had.  I think once you walk one time, you either end up walking loads or can’t judge your pace properly afterwards!

Mile 26: 11:47

As I neared the park containing the finish I looked up to catch sight of the 26 mile marker.  I instantly picked up my pace and automatically beamed, realising that my calculations were in fact correct and that I was going to finally PB at the marathon distance, my mad grin seemed to amuse a couple of people walking past me in the other direction.  As I turned into the finish funnel I picked the pace up, which the supporters either side of the finish seemed to enjoy, as I got a loud cheer for my final 200 metres!

Chelmsford marathon 2015I couldn’t see Dan, although he managed to take several pictures of me here.

Chelmsford marathon 2015


All I could do was grin more than I have ever grinned before!

Chelmsford marathon 2015(First race photo I’ve ever bought!)  The rest of my race photos can be found here.

Nubbin: 10:19mm

Chelmsford marathon finish photoPB achieved.  Sub 5 achieved.  Comfortable race achieved.

Chip time: 4:54:08
Gun time:
Position: 486/592

I know it’s not speedy compared to many people, and I’m sure that I am capable of much faster, but on Sunday I was so happy to cross the line with that time!  :)