A less Grim recovery

Last year when I ran the Grim Reaper 70 mile event it took me a long while to recover.  I had planned to run several easy 5k distances the week following the race.  The reality was rather different though, and I ended up taking a break from running for three weeks; the week following the race and the two weeks of my honeymoon following it as well.  My legs and head were just not ready to return and my body appreciated the extended break.

This year I have felt differently.  I knew that I wanted to attempt a more ‘active’ recovery and had a complete day of rest on the Saturday afternoon once I had awoken from my slumber.
I walked to and from the pub with Dan to watch the football on the Sunday.  (About a 20 minute walk in each direction.)
On Monday I repeated the walk, but this time in to town.  Forty minutes of walking is nothing usually, but I wanted to make sure that I did not overdo things.

On the Friday (first 53 miles or so of the race) I had actually run/walked 109,531 steps according to my Garmin Vivofit.  My highest daily step count yet!

Vivofit - a lot of stepsFor anyone wondering what happens to the display screen on the Garmin when you reach the 99,999-100,000 step point it is a bit of an anti-climax.  The screen display just returned to a zero.  I’m not sure what I was expecting exactly, perhaps a moving image of congratulations or streamers to spring out of my watch would have been nice?!  Haha!

I just realised I never posted a comparison between the two years I ran the Grim Reaper race, so here is a little table to show how my improvement was over each lap…

2014 2015
Miles 0-10 2:14:09 2:02:51
Between laps 1-2 0:03:37 0:02:47
Miles 10-20 2:25:17 2:12:55
Between laps 2-3 0:14:26 0:06:48
Miles 20-30 2:31:57 2:24:28
Between laps 3-4 0:19:41 0:10:31
Miles 30-40 2:45:13 2:34:21
Between laps 4-5 0:26:18 0:17:10
Miles 40-50 3:00:50 2:30:55
Between laps 5-6 0:17:41 0:20:38
Miles 50-60 3:07:24 2:56:16
Between laps 6-7 0:39:14 0:13:40
Miles 60-70 3:50:44 2:55:55
Total time: 21:56:31 18:49:15

Every single lap time and between laps time was quicker this year apart from the stop between laps 5 and 6 which was when I chose to go to the toilet and add some extra layers.  My laps were much more consistent this year as well and it was really only the last two that were noticeably slower.

Tuesday this week and I was off to London for a blogging event where I met up with Anna, Helen and Emma and we were put through a few moves in the gym.  ( Proper post about this event to follow. )  I showed how poorly I could execute these moves as shown in the picture Anna sent over below!…

Me lifting weights

Check out those rounded shoulders and that face that isn’t facing forwards.  Gah!  Oh well, the weights weren’t heavy at all.  Instead we were concentrating on focus and co-ordination here (I am very lacking in the co-ordination department.  Let’s just say my sport of choice is running for a reason! 😛 Although I used to love team games like netball and rounders when I was at school.)

Although the weights weren’t heavy, we did participate in a lot of squats and I thought afterwards that squatting on semi-tired legs probably hadn’t been the best of ideas.  I also upped the walking from 40 minutes the day before to several hours as I negotiated the journey to Cambridge train station then London itself.  Anna and I discovered we weren’t the best at following either map or phone directions to get to the gym and our journey ended up much longer than the estimated 5 minutes to get from station to Fitness First, where the event was held.  My legs were rather achy by the end of Tuesday and I kept my evening very laid back and lazy to compensate.

They felt fresher by Wednesday and I was itching to head out for a chatty run, so joined the trail group for 6 easy miles later that evening.  I made sure to keep things nice and steady and it was good to catch up with others that had also run the event at the weekend and discuss recovery. heart rate and all those other things us runners chat about after a race!

Yesterday involved a mad rush around town trying to pick up a few items for my upcoming anniversary.  (I can’t believe Dan and I will have been married for a year already this coming Sunday!)  As it was the first Thursday of the month, this meant it was also the committee meeting that night at running club, which is held immediately after training.  I sit on the committee as website editor and thought I might as well head out for a little run if I was going to be at the club anyway.

This week is the first week of a half marathon training plan that groups 4,5 and 6 are following at the club.  Running in group 4 last night we were all supposed to be running just 5 miles at 9:15-9:30mm pace.  I thought the short distance and not too speedy pace would be OK for my legs, although the group ended up moving much quicker than it was supposed to be.  So despite my legs feeling quite good I decided to keep pulling myself back to try and remain a little sensible and not get carried away.

I’m switching to a rest day today to compensate, and Dan and I shall be away tomorrow so I won’t be able to run anyway.  I’m feeling much more comfortable than I did last year after the Grim though.  Maybe it is down to spending less time out on the course this year?  Or having a better strategy to keep moving throughout?  Whatever it is, I am very grateful but shall not be taking it for granted.  The slightest twinge and I shall adjust my training to ensure that I do my best to remain injury free.

A couple of links:
Lauren has just written a great post about recovering from the Race to the Stones ultra
Stephen from filmmyrun.com also ran the GR70 at the weekend and made a great film of the race

How do you come back from a big event?

Pilates, Whole Foods, bloggers and Coombe Abbey

This weekend was a busy one. I do love busy weekends but really struggle with getting back into the working week again afterwards when I haven’t made time for the housework, schoolwork and admin stuff I would normally slot in over the weekend.

On Friday evening I headed to Wellingborough Rugby Club where one of my old coaches was holding a charity race night (all races were pre-recorded and shown on the big screen).  Dan and I didn’t have much luck with the actual betting, but we did pick a winner in the raffle!  Dan graciously let me have the free one to one pilates session (I really couldn’t imagine him giving it a go!)Pilates win in the raffle

I’m a little nervous about somebody seeing just how weak and inflexible my body is, but at least in a one-to-one session I won’t be able to compare myself against lots of super supple people.  This week is a little busy with a 10k race on the calendar tomorrow evening, trail run with friends on Wednesday after school and then a parents evening on Thursday but hopefully I shall manage to book my pilates session for the start of the Summer holidays and it will work out as a nice way to wind down at the end of term.

On Saturday morning I headed to London to meet up with several other foodie/fitness/running bloggers and some classes from Vie Fitness & Spa of Ann Arbor. It was something I had both looked forward to and been incredibly nervous about for a long time. Some of the bloggers that I knew were going I regularly communicate with over blog comments/Twitter/Instagram but there were a few bloggers that I hadn’t heard of before, so most likely would not know who I was either. My biggest worry was that when we met up (outside Whole Foods at 1pm) that I would be stood right next to other bloggers without noticing and then there would be that awkward realisation a little while later, followed by an awkward silence coming from the embarrassment of not realising…  Awkward!

In the end I decided to give parkrun a miss in the morning rather than rushing back home following the run, showering and changing super quick, leaping in the car and storming off to London probably leaving my directions on the kitchen counter and forgetting my purse – which would without a doubt have stressed me out.
Instead, I decided to give myself a lot of extra time, enjoyed a little lay in and went through my directions in great detail with Dan. I decided it was probably easiest to drive down to Camden and so Dan found me directions to a parking lot not far from the station and I ended up arriving with plenty of time to kill at a little before 11am, long before our meeting.

Whole Foods was easy to find and after some brief stressful moments pushing through the crowds in the city I decided it would be best to find a pub with WiFi and perch up with my iPad until a little nearer the time. I am really not a London fan and much prefer to live life as a country bumpkin!

I hate London screenshot(As you can tell from my phone screenshot I’m rubbish at responding to social media alerts!)

Just before 1pm I headed back over to Whole Foods. There was someone outside.  Should I recognise them? (I didn’t!) I panicked, rang Dan and continued to walk round the corner on the phone. Turns out I shouldn’t have recognised them (unless they repeated the same ridiculous panic procedure as me but then instead of returning, left completely!) and as I turned back onto the street a few minutes later I spotted Anna. I recognised Anna from having read her blog for the past few years and so immediately felt a bit more relaxed.  As I got closer I could see that she was stood with Pip and Cat and not long after Ceri joined us as well.  I felt very silly for having a moment and being shy. I’d been looking forward to meeting up with the other bloggers for ages.

Our first task was to grab some lunch from Whole Foods to take to the park. This should be easy right? Apparently not! It did make me smile that all five of us spent a long time deliberating over what to choose. There was certainly much more choice than when I pop to Tesco on a Saturday lunchtime! I walked by as Pip was ordering a burrito box without the burrito and decided to follow suit. I am all about the variety when it comes to meals and so I got the guy behind the counter to throw everything in that box; rice, black beans, guacamole, lettuce, tomatoes, sweetcorn, red onion, sour cream… My box was overflowing with delicious food and I made a mental note to recreate this box for some of my lunches this week. I also picked up a pot of mixed fruit salad.

Whole foods burrito counter

Claire joined us before we headed to the park and the six of us found a nice half-shady-half-sunny spot out on the grass.  It was so hot out there on Saturday, the shade was a welcome break.  The chat was nice and relaxed over lunch. Mainly food natter with a bit of running thrown in. Anna had brought along her Cakeathon medal and my jealousy grew for how beautiful and HUGE and heavy it was in real life!

Anna and I blindly followed the London-based folk back out of the park and to inSpiral, a nearby vegan cafe, to meet up with a couple of other bloggers a little later.  I was glad it wasn’t just me that was a bit overwhelmed with navigating the streets of London!  I was amazed at how many runners were out on the streets in the middle of the afternoon.  It was so hot outside and the streets were so crowded I couldn’t imagine that getting a very consistent run in would have been particularly easy.  I’m glad I live where I do.

Once in inSpiral we met Laureen and Lily for drinks and cake.

Blogger meetup in inSpiral

Despite the eight of us having all blogged regularly for a while now we only managed to take one photo between us which included actual people.  (Picture above stolen from Cat!) But, we did all manage to take photos of our meals from the day.  But of course(!)

It was a great debate over what to drink.  In the end I settled on an inSpiral shake – ‘Made from a tub of our raw vegan cashew-based ice cream and blended with your choice of milk and a dash of agave nectar.’  I went for mint choc chip with almond milk and it was lovely and refreshing.  I do much prefer almond milk to cows milk since I have begun drinking it.  If only more places offered a choice like this!

My cake of choice was a Raw Hazelnut Tart – ‘creamy hazelnut and vanilla filling on an activated buckwheat, cacoe and hazelnut crust topped with a raw chocolate ganache.’

inSpiral Raw Hazlenut Tart

…I made the right choice!

I had a great day and chatted to so many lovely people.  I can’t believe how nervous I had been at the start of the morning now and wished I had chatted more.  With so much in common with everybody I’m not sure how I expected us to have nothing to talk about, because there was not a moment of silence once we had all met.  It was just a shame that the day seemed to go by so quickly.  I shall definitely be putting my name down for another meet up! :)

The drive home was a little eventful, as the fuel gauge display in my car would not display anything and I had no idea how much petrol was remaining in my car, or at what speed I was driving!  Once out of London I managed to pull over and turn off my car.  When I started it back up again the display seemed to work so I asked no more questions!

The following morning I was up bright and early to marshal at the Coombe Abbey running festival for Go Beyond.  The day was completely different to the Saturday and this time I had awoken to grey skies and constant drizzle.  The A14 being closed off and adding an extra 35minutes to my journey didn’t brighten my mood at all. Coombe Abbey running festival start line Go BeyondI was managing the registration tent on Sunday; directing runners to the right queues and running over to the chip guys with details of runners entering on the day.  The weather did pick up a lot later on in the day and I’m pretty sure my face got a little burnt in the afternoon.  I did get a few odd questions whilst chatting to runners before they collected their entry packs.  One runner had forgotten his money and wondered if he could pay in euros?!  (The answer, for anyone thinking of doing the same in future, was ‘no’ I’m afraid.)  Apparently the day before someone had asked the question ‘If it doesn’t rain this evening, will the course be dry?’  ?!

After seeing the last runner off over the finish line (10 minutes after the marathon had begun, as he had misjudged how long it would take him to get to the event!) I broke down the registration desk and moved over to the finish line where my next station point was at.  I do enjoy being on the finish line – giving out medals and seeing people achieve what they set out to do.

Go Beyond Coombe Abbey running festival medals

One runner really stood out on race day.  Rosanna Andrews from Northampton Road Runners was running the half marathon and won it.  Outright.  First lady, but also the first person to cross the finish line for the half marathon distance!  Her Mum was also the third lady over the marathon finish line. I’ve never watched a race before where a woman has come first!  There was actually less than two minutes between the first guy and the first lady for the marathon as well.  With the course set on loops (12 loops for the marathon distance) it was really exciting to monitor the current placings as runners started each new lap and to keep track of who was in the lead.

I was absolutely knackered by the end of the day though and enjoyed a little nap back at home before tea!

How do you prefer your weekends?  Busy or relaxed?
Have you ever met people through their blog before?
Favourite random question you have been asked as a marshal?!
Have you ever witnessed a woman beating all of the men in a race?


Tonight I hosted the #UKRunChat hour along with Howard50at50.  It . Was . Mental!  Incredibly difficult to keep up but a proper challenge and great to just chat running and find out lots about the #ukrunchat community.

After a manic hour I opened up my tablet to see this…!

#ukrunchatHoward was a great co-host.  He’s writing a book this year in his 50th year about running with 50 women each with their own individual stories in the hope that it will inspire more women to take up running in their lives.

I was rather stressed before school this morning so didn’t get out for my morning run.  This sign cheered me up as I walked through the school entrance though.

Give someone a smile

…it always does!

Because I’d missed my run in the morning I raced back after the staff meeting finished so that I could fit in an easy three mile trail run.  It started off slow, very slow – my legs were feeling it rather than my breathing or chest, but as I felt good generally everywhere else I picked the speed up and finished the last mile at an 8:30mm pace.  My legs DO still move apparently despite trying to convince me otherwise just lately!

Before the Twitter chat started this evening I threw together a nice easy tea of a salad sandwich.  Just trying to get more of that massive loaf eaten up!

Salad sandwichI chopped up half a yellow pepper, half a large beef tomato, a spring onion and threw a handful of leaves onto the slice.  A big dollop of guacamole on the other slice finished the sandwich off perfectly!  A side of wedges making the perfect addition to my dinner.  :)

Salad sandwich and wedgesI do love good, fresh salad as part of a meal!  And the colours always make it look so appealing.  Very excited that I still have lots of fresh salad items for lunches and dinners the rest of this week.  :)

Does anyone follow any twitter chats?
Favourite salad items?
 – I could literally throw every possible salad item in a bowl, give it a good stir and live on that for the rest of forever!




A Thames Trot 50 marshal

Yesterday I marshaled at checkpoint two for one of the Go Beyond ultra races-the Thames Trot 50.


The Go Beyond races are designed by Steve Adams, a Wellingborough & District AC runner, with two other runners from our club also employed to help run the events. The only Go Beyond event I’d run before was the Shires and Spires 35m last year, which I shall be having another go at in June. After yesterday though, I’d also like to try the Thames Trot!
I was down to marshal at checkpoint two with two other runners from our club so we left at 8:30am to travel the two hours down before setting up. Set up was relatively easy, plonk a table in place, get the water caps undone and get the record sheets out ready to write. We were told to set up by eleven, but it’s a good job we got there early as the first runner came through at 10:43, running a sub 6mm pace!


We had quite a cheer squad of supporters at the end of our road.


As runners came through Paul would ensure they tagged their chip against the electronic device and then shout out their numbers to me. I would shout the numbers back and write down their time next to their number on the record sheet incase the electronic system failed. Sally would then direct the runners on the next bit of their journey and help fill up water bottles, undo gel wrappers, and anything else people needed help with after running sixteen miles.

Thames Trot records

Most runners moved through quickly, although some stopped to change socks or shoes. Everyone was covered in mud already and they still had more than a marathon to run!
The team had forgotten to drop off food at our checkpoint so about an hour after the front runner had come through the van returned with fruit cake, packets and packets of jelly babies, a variety of gels and some salt tablets. These were much appreciated by everyone still to come through!
It wasn’t long before I spotted Anne Marie, one of the other Operation Ultra winners from Women’s Running last year. She’d told me on Twitter that she had gotten a place so I’d been looking out for her to come through. She was doing really well and I managed to grab a quick chat with her between frantically popping the tops off of water bottles. (My thumb has never been so sore as it is today!… Thankfully I don’t need my thumb to run so shall be racing later this morning!)
Next through was Sarah, who I’ve been talking to on Twitter for ages now, and reading her blog since she was chosen as the Runner’s World ASICS Target 26.2 runners. But we’ve never met. Obviously we used the brief opportunity to get a photo for Twitter/blogs!

Sarah and Me - Thames Trot(Sarah’s pic)
I felt like I knew all the ‘celebrities’! 😛

A group of four came through at 1:17. We were supposed to shutdown the station at 1:00 initially, but the race had started fifteen minutes late due to all of the course changes they’d had to implement as parts of the route were completely flooded. We called through to find out if there were anymore runners left to come through and were told there were still two more out there on the course. Howard arrived with the Go Beyond van and we loaded everything inside. I took my phone and walked ten minutes in the reverse direction along the course to see if I could spot them, but no luck. We left Howard to try and call them to find out where they were on the course or if they’d dropped out and Paul, Sally and I headed to the finish, along with one of the two guys who had retired at our checkpoint who we were giving a ride to.
Just past our checkpoint was a sign saying 13 miles to Henley. Must have been so depressing for runners to read, knowing they actually still had 34 miles to go!
We got a little lost getting to the finish line ourselves and eventually spotted the second place runner coming through the town who we then followed through to the finish line. He came in eighteen minutes behind the winner, who took just 5h 23m 16s to complete the fifty miles! I recognised the guy in second place as Ed Catmur – the guy that had won Milton Keynes Marathon last year.

The field behind the finish line was so boggy and flooded and the river was moving so quickly. The water had actually risen and come out past the bandstand by the time we left.  Apparently it was pretty flooded throughout.  As people had gotten to us at Checkpoint two (mile 16) the majority of them were caked in mud well past their knees!)  I’m not sure what mile this was at, but check out Sarah’s picture mid-route that she posted to Twitter earlier today…!

I was given the task of hanging medals around runners necks as they crossed the finish line, which I loved. I loved seeing their faces as they completed the race and hearing tales of their adventure.

We had lots of banter happening and a pretty nifty chain going on. Runners would have their photo snapped, then I would swoop in and place a medal around their neck, congratulating them on their race whilst one of the two guys in the timing tent would take off their chip and return with a printout of their time. I would then point them in the direction of baggage and hot drinks. Most of them walked off in that general direction but some of them were hobbling and looked to be in excruciating pain. I offered my chair up on more than one occasion. When we headed back later I realised I hadn’t actually sat down all day other than the brief car journey from checkpoint two to the finish line. I was so caught up in everything that was going on!

One runner hugged the photographer, then me when I placed the medal around his neck and I thought he was going to knock me over when he put his whole body weight on top of me!  There’s going to be some fab photos sent out soon.  Check out these, that @Bubblegraphy posted from the finish line… Pic #1 | Pic #2

It was very frustrating how many runners would finish and then go and stand in the finishing chute! They had just come through, they should know other people needed to do the same!!! At one point a lady parked her rather large pram directly in the middle of the finish line! Do people just not think?! We also had several cars appear to try and take runners out as they gave their finishing sprints for the line.
We had to be on our toes as many of the runners were getting lost towards the end of the race and at least four or five came through the finish line the wrong way! We then sent them back through for their finish photo as all runners that completed the event were sent a free race photo.
I was so disappointed to be taken off the finish line at 6:15. None of our Welly runners had come through yet and I’d hoped to put at least one medal around a WDAC neck! As I was sharing a lift back though there wasn’t a lot I could do and as I got in the car I realised just how hungry I was and tucked into the mix of items I’d picked up from the deli in Tesco that morning.  I did get to see Anne-Marie finish though, and placed a medal round Sarah’s neck just before the clock turned over to 9 hours.
I loved my marshaling experience and chatted to so many people throughout the day. So many people thanked me on the course, after they had finished and later that night via Twitter. The running community really is a great one to be part of!

A MASSIVE WELL DONE to everyone that attempted a very tough course in very tough conditions yesterday!  I’m looking forward to reading some recaps of the race.  :)