A week of good intentions

I had such a great week of running the week before last, and then this last week all my running plans went to pot!

After the trail race on Sunday I was straight back out again with strong legs for 6.5 road miles on Monday night.  A good start to the week at least!

Tuesday was always going to be a rest day.

Wednesday was supposed to be the club trail run, but Oscar hadn’t settled at all during the entire day and I had gotten nothing done.  I really just needed to hand him over to Dan as soon as Dan walked through the door home from work so that I could catch up on life admin and cleaning, so that is what I did.  I must admit, the driving rain and wind screaming outside our porch door really didn’t make me regret my choice that evening!

Thursday was Storm Doris day.  Dan had to work late and I really didn’t fancy tackling Storm Doris in the pitch black hours after Oscar had gone to bed.  Oscar also finally spent his first night in his own bedroom, so I kind of needed to be at hand in case he didn’t agree with us that he was ready!

Friday – Dan and I were taking Oscar to meet up with some of Dan’s work colleagues at Nandos in Cambridge.Top Gun Top Son - Dan with OscarI did melt a little taking this photo on the night.  A few people pointed out that I should have a ‘Top Wife’ t-shirt to go along with the theme, but I think there’s probably a fine line between ‘cute’ and ‘loser!  Haha!
The plan was for me to run on our return from Nandos, whilst Dan watched Oscar along with the football on TV.  An accident on the A14 meant miles of tailbacks and not returning home until gone 9pm with a then-grumpy husband though as he had missed most of the football!  By the time Oscar was fed and changed I was too exhausted to even consider going out, especially knowing that I had to get up early to make parkrun the following day.  An early night for me!

Saturday – I finally managed to get a run in!  I was Oscar-free for parkrun this week so got up a little earlier and arrived at the Racecourse in Northampton with plenty of time to park (or to manage to grab the last parking space at 8:10am!) so that I could fit a few warm-up miles in to start with.  I ended up just short of 3 miles run at sub 10mm pace in the end.
I decided not to run around the park for my warm-up miles as I’ve run around the park so many times for parkrun before.  Instead, I headed off out of the far end of the park and planned to just keep turning left until I ended up back where I started.  After twenty minutes though and with me still unable to recognise any of the streets I was running down, I started to get a bit of a panic on!  As I was sporting my bright red ’50 parkruns’ t-shirt it was clear that I was out to run parkrun that morning – so if I was heading in completely the opposite direction I would have looked a bit of a wally!  Luckily I finally stumbled upon The Good Loaf and found my way back from there.  Sometimes it pays to know all the bakeries in town! 😉
There were several branches and large twigs strewn across the paths of the parkrun in places and one (fairly) large tree lay completely across the path at one point early on in the run.  I had been aware of this before rocking up to parkrun that morning as Dan had spotted it on his Facebook feed the previous evening.  The tree was runnable round, but it didn’t make for a fast course on Saturday.  This was partly what made my mind up to get some extra miles in beforehand and then take the parkrun itself fairly steadily.
So I ran round and chatted with Laura for a fairly easy 32 minutes and 7 seconds instead.

Northampton parkrun tree(Picture from the Northampton parkrun Facebook page)

Garmin time: 32:07
Official time: 
32:07
Position: 
391/549
Gender position: 
115/222
Age category position: 
26/38

Laura and I both commented on how busy the course had felt the whole way round and we only just managed to cross the finish line before the end of the funnel queue spilled out past the line.  It was another new attendance record at Northampton this week with 549 runners!
That was parkrun number 73 for me.  No bakery afterwards this week as Laura and I were meeting our friend Steph at Beckworth Emporium for cake later on after showers instead.

Berry pavlova from Beckworth Emporium

And what a cake it was!  Berry pavlova?…Yum!

Sunday – I felt rather guilty asking Dan if I could head out for an organised long run two Sundays in a row, but he did say I could!  Running from home never takes so long or is as faffy so I don’t feel quite as guilty on those days, but I much prefer running with others at the weekend.  Organised runs or races mean I end up being away for a lot longer and I need to be a little more choosy about which events/social occasions I attend now that we have Oscar to look after.
On Sunday our club trail run was headed round the course route from the half marathon we had run the previous week.  The dozen or so of us ran the two loops of the course in the opposite order though – running the 8 mile loop first, followed by the shorter 6 mile loop.  The idea was to double check that no rubbish had been left behind from the race and also clarify the route where several of us had gone wrong the week before.
I had intended on running wearing my running bag the week before (The Ultimate Direction PB vest) so that I could get used to running with it ready for my upcoming ultra and also check that it still fit over my boobs since having a baby!  Annoyingly, having not needed to wear it for the best part of a year I couldn’t put my hands on it come race morning, so had to go without.  I did manage to find it for my long run on Sunday though.


I replaced the water in the bottles and discovered two naked bars, a running cap and an emergency £5 in various pockets of the vest!  Gotta love finding emergency cash in places you’d forgotten you ever stored it!
I found running with the bag so much tougher than I remembered.  Obviously it should be tougher carrying extra weight and it was a fairly warm day on Sunday too.  I could still easily run the 14.8 miles we covered, but it wasn’t at the pace I would have run at usually.
We did manage to establish that we had gone wrong on the course the previous week though – not that someone had moved the tape as previously reported.

Where we went wrong on the Welly trail half marathon courseIt’s kind of hard to describe but using the map above to help I’ll give it a go!  Last week we came in from the right hand side of that map (the red line).  We headed right, along the outside of one of the field boundaries and all the way back up the hill towards the way we had come in.  Here (marked by a blue star above) there were a couple of pieces of red and white tape marking the course on our right so we were convinced that we were following the correct path.  We went up and back down that hill two more times before heading back out of the field to the bottom left on the map above following somebody’s instructions over the phone.  What we actually should have done on the day is followed the dark green line along the left hand side of the field, heading down the hill, with the tape on our left hand side guiding us out the other way!  Great way of adding extra race miles in though!  Whoops!

Were any of your running routes affected by Storm Doris/Ewan?

The Magic Mile

This week has been super busy.  My maternity leave is flying by and I feel like I’m hardly getting anything done that I wanted!  But, I am getting to see Oscar grow up, and it’s lovely to be able to watch all the little changes in him as the days and weeks go by.  This week he’s learnt to stick his tongue out and it’s all he wants to do.  If you stick your tongue back out at him he smiles, chuckles, kicks his legs and will love you forever!

Last weekend I headed over to Northampton parkrun again with Laura and Oscar.  I still haven’t been able to properly ‘run’ a parkrun post pregnancy, but I’m sure that time will come soon.  Dan had been out at his work do the night before so had stayed over in Cambridge, meaning that Oscar had been with me all night and would be all day Saturday as well as Dan planned on going straight to football in the afternoon on his way home.  I didn’t intend on missing parkrun, so Oscar made it over for his second event.

I arrived super early so that I could get a parking space, planning to feed Oscar once I arrived.  This sounded good in theory, but the cramped space in the car meant that we were both in an incredibly uncomfortable position in the front seat and when I sat him up afterwards he immediately threw up all over himself and me.  Fab start to the day!  Quick change of clothes for him (none for me – perhaps I should also start keeping a spare change of clothes in the car?!) and then I passed him over to Laura so that I could attempt to lug the pram out of the boot.

The plan was for Laura to run as fast as she was able around the two lap course, hopefully finishing as I started my second lap so that she was able to grab Oscar from me, meaning that I would be able to run the second lap.  We estimated that I would take about 30 minutes to finish the first lap, but I have no idea how we worked out that estimate, as Oscar and I actually power-walked round lap number one in just under 24 minutes.  Laura was nowhere in sight!

Just before finishing the first lap, our club Membership Secretary, Alan, jogged back from his place in the run and asked if he could power walk with us, having already completed a faster first mile and not being fussed about his time for the day.

Laura ended up not catching us until less than half a mile before the finish, having run round the course for quite a way looking for us(!)  When she arrived I handed her Oscar so that Alan and I may run on to the finish.  It felt really weird switching from a power walk to a faster pace with my legs!  Kind of like when you spend ages cycling and then try and walk again afterwards.  They did manage to kick in a little though towards the end, but I’m so conscious that my form is awful at the moment.  I feel all lumbery with my style since having a baby.  Really need to work on that this Winter.

We managed to overtake a few people but to be honest, unlike the first time I had walked round with Oscar at parkrun, we hadn’t been at the back anyway.

Garmin time: 41:57
Official time: 
41:53
Position: 
358/371
Gender position: 
134/145
Age category position: 
22/23

By the time we were scanned and sorted it was almost 10am and the Magic Mile was being announced.  Laura had mentioned it to me during the week but I hadn’t really heard much about the Magic Mile before that.  Once a month the Magic Mile is held at the Racecourse and is simply just a mile round part of the parkrun route.  Results are then posted up on their Facebook page and on the website.

Having never ‘raced’ a mile distance before I was interested to see what I could achieve and when Laura offered to have Oscar for ten minutes whilst I practised picking up my leg turnover around the course, I agreed to give it a go.  It would have been interesting to have had a go at this pre-pregnancy to see what pace I had been capable of then too.

A couple of the guys explained the course to me on the walk down to the start line, not that I had any concerns about leading the way(!) and then the organiser took a group shot of us all before explaining some guidelines and detailing how the Magic Mile worked.  I wasn’t the only one who hadn’t run it before.

Northampton Magic Mile December 2016I had no idea what I would be able to run the mile in, although hoped I could still run one in under 10 minutes!  My aim was to run fairly hard, but not to push things as it was still only nine and a half weeks since I had been in surgery having Oscar and I had purposefully been keeping things fairly easy up until this point.

My watch started off showing numbers in the 7:xxs and I knew I was going too fast.  For some reason, despite usually feeling super nervous before short distance timed events, I didn’t this time.  Perhaps because I’d never run the mile before, so knew there would be no pressure.  I had already begun to pull things back by the time I passed Laura and Oscar who had parked themselves by the finish line about a quarter of a mile into the course.

It’s odd because although I feel like I’m doing everything again for the first time, my breathing is fine and I don’t appear to suffer from stitches or lack of breath.  My legs are the ones which struggle – they just don’t move as quickly as they used to!  I can also feel my stomach muscles kick in past a certain point which I guess is due to the surgery.  It’s not painful, it just makes me remember they haven’t been worked in a while!

I managed a rough sprint at the finish and had recovered and was breathing normally again within seconds.  Oscar was having a grumble over on the sidelines so I was anxious about hurrying to note down my time.  Slightly different to parkrun, you are given a finishing token which displays your position.  You then find the corresponding number in a notebook and write down your age, name and club details so that the results can be posted later on in the day.

Garmin time: 8:57.6 (I have no idea how I managed to get it exact, even down to the decimal place!)
Official time: 
8:57.6
Position: 
20/22
Gender position: 
8/10
Age category position: 
1/2

Magic Mile December 2016As we had Oscar with us, Laura and I headed over to The Good Loaf for hot chocolate and a chocolate orange tart this week.  I posted the above picture of my Garmin with my purchases in the background of the shot onto my Facebook page which ended up sparking a whole debate over ‘treating’ yourself with someone who clearly isn’t a runner, although that’s a story for another day!

Facebook post comments

I am planning on making as many of the Magic Mile events as possible as I think once a month pushing over a mile distance will be a great way to track progress over 2017.  I’ve got my starting point – 8:57.  I know I used to be much quicker pre-baby.  My parkrun PB over 3.1 miles was run at a 8:37mm pace last year.  Now the aim is to get back there and pick up where I left off!

I’m planning on digging out my heart rate monitor this week to start wearing again on runs as that will help me see how I’m improving and help me to judge how hard to push once I start racing again next year.  I’m super excited to start picking things up properly again in the New Year!  Can’t wait!

Does your parkrun run the Magic Mile event?
Have you tried it before?

Oscar’s first parkrun

It had been five weeks since my previous parkrun.
Oscar was now four weeks and four days old.
I felt so much stronger than I had done the rest of the week.
Two friends offered to meet up and help me buggy push then head for cake.
Therefore, – it only made sense that I took Oscar for his first parkrun outing at the weekend!

I knew exactly which outfit Oscar was going to wear for his first trip to Northampton parkrun.  The  week that we came out of hospital, one of the guys who regularly heads out with the trail group I run with had popped round with a few items for O, including a vest which he had had made up in club colours and with our club name emblazoned across the front.  I didn’t need to think twice about what to dress him in for his first parkrun visit, even if he wasn’t yet running!

Oscar in his WDAC running club vest

I also knew exactly which top I was going to be wearing as well.  Having received my red parkrun top back in the Summer for having run 50 parkruns.  I was heavily pregnant when it arrived so I was yet to be able to wear it.  Fits like a charm now though and was super comfy on Saturday!  Annoyingly though, it was a little chilly on Saturday morning, so I ended up having to wear my black WDAC hoodie over the top.  At least I matched Oscar in club kit I guess!  😉

My 50th parkrun top

At only four and a half weeks since my operation I was under strict instructions that I was not yet to run.  Women are advised to not exercise (more than a walk) for the six weeks following a natural birth, and anything up to three months before they can start exercising strenuously following a caesarean.  (My fingers are crossed super tight that it’s closer to six weeks than three months though if I continue to build up my strength and play it sensible for the next fortnight.)

All week I had been reminding Dan that I really wanted to head to parkrun at the weekend.  Ages ago Dan and I had a conversation about the things we would have to give up or change in our lives if we were to become parents.  Obviously as the female in our relationship I was aware that I would have to give up quite a lot.  Especially as my life often revolves around my miles of running each week.  Luckily, I was able to run right up until the very end of my pregnancy (running a parkrun in 33 minutes just three days before Oscar arrived!)  Good job too, as I’m pretty sure I would have been hell to live with if I’d had to give up running completely during those final few months.
I was prepared to give up running (for a short time!), my job and my sleep, but I really struggled with also having to give up my driving, ability to walk and complete independence following the operation.  It was literally like I just became a slave to the baby for those first few weeks and I lost all identity of Mary.  Whenever most people called or spoke to me, they asked about Oscar…’Was he sleeping OK?’, ‘When can I meet him?’, ‘Have you decorated the nursery yet?’.  There were a handful of people who also asked about me, or continued to talk to me about running, or work or regular adult things.  I completely understand that everyone wants to meet Oscar, and that I am his Mum, but I am also Mary, and that hasn’t changed.  It didn’t help that Dan was still going to football training on Thursday nights, having a kick around with his workmates on Friday evenings before heading home, and then playing football matches on a Saturday afternoon.  None of which I wanted to ask him to give up, but times which I was left at home alone with Oscar, thinking about how I couldn’t enjoy my hobby anymore or even get out of the house without support.
The travel system that we have is rather heavy, and with the way our porch bends round from the lounge to the front door there isn’t really the option to leave the buggy put together, – it needs to be carried from the lounge through to outside before being put up and that’s something I’m not yet strong enough to do.  By the time Dan gets home from work in the evenings it’s dark, I’m exhausted, Oscar is due a feed and I need to feed both Dan and myself before passing over responsibility for an hour or two whilst I sneak a quick nap in before Dan heads to bed and I’m on night duty.
I felt rather sorry for myself for those first couple of weeks.

Hence why I was so looking forward to making it to parkrun last Saturday!

Oscar at his first Northampton parkrun

Knowing the parking situation at Northampton and how much faff it is to travel with a baby, Dan and I made sure to leave home by 8am.  Despite this we still ended up having to park on a side street and wheel Oscar through the park over to the start line.  He then cried for a feed within minutes of leaving the car.  Luckily, I’d come prepared and had pre-pumped a bottle for when he woke up which he quickly guzzled down.  (Good job too, as we only just made it to the start in time!)

Dan left me with Laura and Steph who agreed a plan of 1 mile each with the pushchair, with Steph taking on mile number one.  I prewarned them about the pushchair steering which takes a little getting used to.  As a travel system, the pushchair converts into a pram for newborns by pulling the handlebars over the top.  This means that the large steering wheels are then to the front of the system, so it can be a little heavy on tight turns.

Oscar at his first Northampton parkrunI couldn’t believe how Autumnal it was out there.  The trees were so pretty, and so many leaves are already down on the ground.  I feel like I missed all of October, having not been discharged from hospital until the beginning of the month, and then not well enough or unable to get outside for much of the past few weeks.  I was limited really to evenings Dan made it back from work before it got too cold or dark.
How are we in November already?!

Oscar at his first Northampton parkrunOur little crew of three (four!) were right at the back of the running pack, along with Emma, the tailrunner (also from our club).  The back is where we stayed, although there was a small group of ladies with their dogs not far in front of us.  (Every person you can see in the photos behind us is a runner that is already on their second lap, now going to overtake us!)

We set out at a much faster walking pace than I had anticipated, although I quickly found myself in a rhythm and forgot about the speed as we begun to catch up.

Until Oscar is able to hold his head up (around 6 months) I will be unable to run with him in a buggy.  I haven’t decided yet whether or not I intend on running with him after he hits that milestone, or leaving running as my ‘me’-time and having Oscar stay with Dan whilst I get my running fix in.

Laura ended up pushing for both miles two and three and then I got the victory nubbin – through the funnel at the end.

Oscar at his first Northampton parkrun

It sounds daft, but I felt so much stronger for having got out and covered the 5k distance.  I was buzzing the rest of the day and had a lot more energy for having been to parkrun that morning.

As I was overdue a catchup with Laura and Steph, and they were both happy to help me push the buggy so that I didn’t get too tired, Dan ran his first parkrun for a long while.  As he sped past, lapping us before we turned off for our second loop I knew he would be on for a good time and he was dead chuffed to see a PB of 27:29.  10 seconds faster than his previous PB, set back in 2014.

Dan on his way to a PB at Northampton parkrun

(Above four pictures taken from Mick Turner’s facebook, via the Northampton parkrun page.)

Garmin time: 50:15
Official time: 
50:15
Position: 
245/331
Gender position: 
407/409
Age category position: 
19/20

Following the parkrun, Laura suggested that we checked out The Good Loaf in town, as Magee’s, our usual post-parkrun haunt, is very tight for space and definitely not buggy friendly.  Despite Dan having to lug the pushchair up two flights of stairs to get there, The Good Loaf was incredibly spacious once we arrived and we lounged out with lots of space to spare on a set of sofas in the corner of the bakery to enjoy our post-parkrun cake and drinks.

I went for the Chocolate orange brownie cake to accompany my hot chocolate.  It tasted much more orangey than expected, but was delicious and super fudgey.

Chocolate orange brownie from The Good Loaf Bakery, NorthamptonLaura went for the same as me and Dan went for a coffee and walnut sponge.

Several parkrunners head to Magees on a Saturday morning, but it seems that several also make their way to The Good Loaf too.
Laura first discovered The Good Loaf following a fair bit of media coverage when they first opened.  They aim to ‘provide real employment opportunities to vulnerable local women so that we can break the cycle of poverty, unemployment and offending.  By working through our structured work placements female offenders will gain practical skills and experience in a real work environment.’  I think it’s a great idea to provide paid opportunities to those who might not have the chance to learn skills and gain experience within a business setting.

We enjoyed the cake and comfy seats, and Oscar got cooed over by the staff.  Big thumbs up from us!  The plan is to head to The Good Loaf for any days that I have Oscar on board so become unable to fit in to Magee’s.

More than 10,000 steps on the VivofitFirst time in a long while my Vivofit saw above 10,000 steps!

What makes a good post-parkrun pitstop in your opinion?
What are the slowest times at your parkrun?  Do others attend with prams/pushchairs?
Did/would you run with a buggy when your children are old enough?

Cakeathon!

There are plenty of things that you can try your best to prepare for on race day.  Is it going to be sunny? – Do you need to take suncream?  Have you packed enough fuel for the race?  Do you need to take a drinks bottle or will there be drinks stations along the way?  How do you intend to pace the course?  Do you have to navigate the route?…
All of those things are relatively straight forward when it comes to preparing for a race but just how do plan to adjust pacing when you get Braxton Hicks contractions during mile two of the event?!

The Cakeathon is an event which has been penned into my calendar for months now.  I booked my place on it last August, twelve whole months ago, and long before I got my positive pregnancy test.

I’d already tried and failed to enter two other Cakeathon events, after lusting over Anna’s Cakeathon medal last year.  The guys at Saxons, Vikings and Normans put on another event though and I managed to get signed up before all the places went on that one!  When I got my positive pregnancy test back in January, I knew that unless something happened I still intended on getting to the start line of Cakeathon.  Even if I only ended up walking one or two laps in the time limit, I wanted that medal!  Look at it…!

Medal at the Cakeathon race

In my eagerness to get signed up for the event, I didn’t really look at how far away it was…Down in Kent, so nearly a three hour drive on Bank Holiday Monday!  I figured it would be alright on the day though, and when I posted about it on Facebook, another lady from my running club – Jenny – decided to also come along for the event.  (Annoyingly, in the past month, SVN has now also put on a Cakeathon event in Northampton for next April!  A half hour journey from me!)

So, at 35 weeks pregnant, I picked Jenny up at 6am and we made the (relatively stress-free) journey down to Betteshanger Park in Kent, arriving just before 9am.

I’ve never crossed the Dartford Bridge before and had no idea how it worked.  Luckily Jenny said she’d sort payment for that, as I only caught a glimpse of one sign which said ‘Look for us online.  Pay within 24 hours.’  That was it!  No web address, no details of fees…nothing!  I guess it’s more straight forward if you are aware of the charge or regularly travel down that way, but had Jenny and Dan not mentioned anything to me I would have been completely oblivious to having to make any kind of charge!

I love that we passed a place named ‘Ham’ on the drive down, and a few minutes later, passed a place called ‘Sandwich’!  We were on the lookout then for ‘Tuna’ and ‘Cheese’!

Ham Sandwich

Race briefing was due to start at 9:20, with the actual start of the race at 9:30am.  Just time to plait my hair up out of my face, nip to the loo and grab my race number from race registration.

The event lasts for six hours, and you can complete as many laps as you wish during that time.  Each lap consists of 4.4 miles.  If you just wanted to run one lap, then stop and claim your medal, that would be fine.  Whereas, some runners completed eight laps on the day.  As long as you had begun your last lap before the six hours were up, you would be allowed to finish it, so some finishing times would be more than 6 hours.  (Follow all that?!)
As you’d expect at an event like this, there were a lot of runners from the 100 Marathon Club, and quite a few people hoping to achieve marathon distance, as there is no pressure of a DNF (Did Not Finish) at an event like this.  You could stop after just one lap, and still be classed as a finisher with a recorded time and distance.

It was a really hot day.  I’d managed to prepare for the event pretty well, remembering a towel, change of clothes, hoodie, Garmin, cap…but forgotten any form of suncream for the day.  I should have known the day would be hot.  That’s how all the races I enter seem to be!

Race number at the Cakeathon race(Number looking daft perched on the front of my bump!)

There were just over 100 runners on the start line when we set off for our first lap of the park.  We headed round in a clockwise direction and the route set off along a narrow man-made dirt track along some water. and over a couple of little flat bridges.  I did think the race organisers were rather trusting of runners on the course, as we ran out for about a mile and a half before taking a large loop and then coming back along the same mile and a bit to the checkpoint again.  There wasn’t anywhere to dip in or be checked off for having reached the far end of the park and it would have been fairly easy for runners not to complete the full lap.

Cakeathon course

Some of the runners had made a real effort in their outfits.  There were a couple wearing cartoon-cake-adorned vest tops or tights, and one woman even came dressed as the Marshmallow Man!  Although it must have been boiling in that suit.  I didn’t see her again after the first lap so I’m not sure how many laps she completed in the end.

Marshmallow lady at the Cakeathon race

My game plan for the day was to start off by running as much as I was able to – knowing that the day would only get hotter and I would only become more tired as the race went on.  I’ve not run more than 20 miles during my pregnancy (and this was quite early on).  I ran a half marathon in May, but other than that the majority of my runs have been parkrun (5k distance) or 6-10 miles.  I have been walking for a couple of hours each day though, so feel I’ve still retained a large amount of fitness and willpower to continue.  My legs feel even stronger than when I was purely running all the time.  (Something which I hope will remain with me when I return to running ultras in 2017 and have a need to walk during periods of an event.)

I ran the entire first mile at an easy pace.  There was a steep but short hill at the start of mile two, so I power walked up this and wasn’t the only one.  There were three hills in total, with the first one possibly being the steepest, although nothing overly challenging.

Hill at the Cakeathon raceThere was a distinct lack of shade out on the course though.  Possibly two, maybe three shady areas.  And by a shady area, I purely only mean that there were two or three large bushes clumped together, casting a shadow on the track.  I thought that there would have been a little more shade out on the course as it was run through such a large park, and I associate parks with trees and woodland, but all greenery was quite low to the ground and not offering very much shelter!  There was a nice breeze out there though, which prevented us from getting over hot.

About half way through my second mile I started getting Braxton Hicks contractions.  They weren’t painful so I knew they weren’t the real deal(!) but made it uncomfortable to run at any pace, so I let them dictate my run-walk sections for the rest of the event.  As I’ve mentioned previously, you’re supposed to be more likely to experience them if you are mildly dehydrated, and with the heat of the day and the fact that I hadn’t grabbed a drink in between the drive over and starting the race that was possibly the reason why they started up for me.  After about four miles I gave Dan a call just to check he was OK with me continuing.  He was happy for me to do so as long as I was sensible and listened to my body, which I continued to do throughout.

At the start of lap two I managed to take the wrong path.  (Only me!)  I had my head down and hadn’t really been concentrating so just followed the track, whereas we’d turned off the main path when we’d run the first loop.  I doubted myself when the track bent round to the right, heading up a hill I didn’t recognise and paused, only to hear a child from a fair distance behind shout that I was going the wrong way!  I shot him a thumbs up and clambered over the mound in between the two paths and carried on my way.  Luckily, no-one else saw my rookie error(!)

Jenny passed me just before the end of lap two and we set out on the third lap together.  Although I have a very quick walking pace, when she did break into a run for longer periods of time, I was unable to keep up with her if I was having another BHC.

I do still feel very fit, and even if I walked until the end, I knew I would be able to complete six hours at this point.

At the end of her third lap, Jenny walked back to find me and say that she was going to stop at the half marathon distance, so I gave her my car keys so that she could get her things from my car.  I asked if she minded if I continued, and she didn’t.  So, after a bite of brownie (my cake of choice from the checkpoint each lap!) and a swig of water I headed back out again for lap number four.

I was still feeling strong.  The BHC had eased somewhat, but my stomach was feeling rather tight from having had so many over the previous couple of hours, so I stuck mainly to a power walk for this lap.  The guy currently in fourth place walked with me for a while and we chatted races and training, as is so easy to do with other runners, even if they are strangers!  He left me after a couple of miles and wished me well for my next couple of weeks which was nice.  Everybody was so super friendly out on the course.  Even though we were running laps, (and laps which came back on themselves as well) almost every time you passed someone they would say ‘Well done’, or ‘Good work’ or something similar.  Some of the other runners and I must have crossed paths ten or eleven times, yet still every time we each called out words of encouragement to each other.

After the runner I had been with ran on I did a few calculations and realised that I would actually be able to tick off a marathon within the time limit if I continued at the pace I had been moving at.  Because I’m a fairly quick walker, even when I had been walking for long stints, my walking pace was falling under 15 minutes per mile.  I rang Dan again to get his opinion on whether or not he thought I should continue to marathon distance if I continued to feel good.  It would obviously be my slowest marathon, but would still count towards the 100 marathons I eventually want to tick off.  Again, he had no problems with it as long as I listened to my body.

Once I got off the phone to Dan though, I needed the toilet.  The toilets were positioned on the course in such a way that you either had to scramble down a sharp incline to reach them from about mile 2.5 on the course (a point I had already passed), or head past the checkpoint for a way to reach them in between laps.
I felt a little guilty for leaving Jenny potentially sat out for a further three hours and also, I didn’t want anyone to think I was taking excess risks by striving to complete marathon distance.  In the end, I decided I didn’t have anything to prove.  I should easily be able to tick off a few more marathons in 2017 and that I would call it a day at the end of lap 4, so just collect my medal, goodie bag and wander over to the toilets without the need to rush back out on the course again.

Each of the times you pass through the checkpoint you get a card punched to say how many laps you have completed.  When you decide to finish completely, you get to ring a bell to signify that it is the end of your race.  The lady on timing then logs your race number, number of laps and time taken to complete.  I was logged as completing 4 laps in 4h 31m 51s.  60th place out of 129 runners.

As the lady jotted down my time she casually asked how many weeks pregnant I was.  When I responded with ’35’ she told me that in which case I was the most pregnant runner they had ever had at one of their events before.

Me at the Cakeathon race

What I presume to be the Race Director also came over to have a chat, and asked if I would like a ‘half marathon’ badge pinned to my medal as I had completed over half marathon distance.  He then also pinned a ‘PB Today!’ badge on, as I was the Pregnant Best!  Haha!Medal at the Cakeathon race

They told me that one of the ladies helping out on the cake stand was also pregnant and a few weeks behind me, but she had stopped running several weeks ago now.  So I went over to go and have a chat with her about running through pregnancy and races in general.  It’s nice to be in an environment where people think I’m totally crazy for wanting to run through my pregnancy.  I would have gone totally crazy if I had been unable to run though!Medal at the Cakeathon race

Love this medal!  Check out the size of it.  It is literally as big as my face!

I love the detail on it is well.  There are loads of different varieties of cake written in small letters inside the word ‘Cakeathon’ at the bottom.
Medal at the Cakeathon raceThe goodie bag was obviously also top notch and contained two bags of crisps, two large sharing bars of chocolate and two individual sized ones, along with a can of cider.  The lady that gave me my goodie bag at the finish asked if I wanted to swap my cider for coke after seeing my bump, but it was just as the Race Director came over to talk to me, so I never got a chance to respond.  Clearly she thought I needed the cider more in the end!  It’s going to have to sit in my fridge for another few weeks yet though!Goodie bag at the Cakeathon race

I’ve just been lusting over some of the other awesome themed events on the SVN website that they put on over the year – Beerathon, Chocathon and the Marathon Day Marathon (run on the 26th of February!)

Cakeathon – have you run it before?  Or is it now on your bucket list of races?!