My aims for 2017

Dan has been away since Friday and should hopefully return tomorrow.  Our lives seem to be chok-a-block right now and the things I could do with a long weekend…!  Not, it seems, when you have sole responsibility for an eight-month-old baby though.
The first day was fun.  We had lots of playtime, a couple of naps, some messy food, a fun bath and bedtime cuddles.  Day two and things were pretty similar.  Day three, and the company was still silent (From words anyway.  There was plenty of screeching going on!)  I love that I am able to spend all day, every day with Oscar, but I also love having an adult to spend time with in the evenings when Oscar is in bed too!

I admit I was going a little insane by lunchtime today, so treated myself to a falafel and halloumi salad at Castello Lounge in Wellingborough in order to get out of the house and have interaction with other adults.  I probably looked a little insane, sat in the corner of the lounge with just a baby who insisted on ‘chatting’ to me the whole way through the meal!

Halloumi and falafel salad from Castello Lounge, Wellingborough

I was allowed to treat myself anyway, after saving our household from the beast of a spider that turned up on the dining room floor, just hours after Dan had left for his friend’s stag do.

Spider hoover stays outside!

I did manage to get a couple of runs in over the weekend too, although it appears I didn’t plan them out very well.  One of them ended up with me holding Oscar up in the air, whilst two strangers passed the buggy over a locked gate.  Oscar and I also stood and waited patiently for a three-way temporary set of traffic lights to turn green at one point, and annoyingly, there were several tracks which had been runnable, no longer so due to the mixture of sunshine and rain we’ve had just lately.

Overgrown paths

(This was when the path finally widened out again!)

It gave me a chance to think about my Autumn goals whilst I was out anyway.

Stanwick Lakes through the trees

It seems a bit of a funny time to be setting aims and goals for the year – almost at the end of the 5th month!  However, my main goal for 2017 was to return to running successfully following the birth of Oscar and to complete the South Downs Way 50 in April, which I managed to do.  I always planned to reassess further goals for the year following completion of the ultra, once I had a better idea of my post-baby speeds and commitments.

The two running goals I have settled on for the remainder of 2017 are as follows:

1) To complete a marathon in under 4 hours and 30 minutes.
2) To complete a half marathon in under 2 hours.

Both would be fairly big stretch-achievements for me.  My current marathon PB stands at 4:54:08, when I ran Chelmsford marathon at the end of 2015.  My current half PB is 2:09:16, from Bedford half marathon back in 2012, before I even started blogging!  (Although, the half marathons I’ve run since have mainly been on trail and have never been a PB attempt.  My half marathon PB pace doesn’t fall in line with my PB pace over other distances.)  I would prefer to aim high though and hopefully have a better chance of PBing to some extent, rather than aim to only just PB and run to the wire on the day.

The first goal was always going to feature at some point, although it took me ten attempts to break five hours for the marathon.  Fingers crossed that it doesn’t take a further ten to break 4.5!

The second goal came about when I won a competition on Marcus’ Instagram to win a place at Ealing half marathon in September.  Entrants must either be running their first half marathon at Ealing, or be aiming for their first sub 2 hour half.  I couldn’t enter as my first half marathon, but I could enter for my first crack at a sub 2 hour time, so I did…and I won, making the final decision on that second goal for me.

When I started running five years ago I had all of these ‘ideal’ times for distances fixed in my head…30 minutes for a 5k, an hour for a 10k, two hours for a half and four and a half for a marathon.  The first two were quickly ticked off, but those last two are a work in progress.  Obviously these times are not magic numbers at all, and at the end of the day 26.2 miles is still 26.2 miles, no matter how quickly or slowly it has been run.  However, I would like to be able to get these two milestones off my back.  I’m hoping that training hard for the marathon will see my half time naturally drop.

Hansons Marathon Method book

After hearing nothing but good things, I purchased the Hanson’s Marathon Method* book a little while back and have been dipping in and out of the pages ever since.  This method of marathon training calls for six days of running a week, but runs in length of no more than 16 miles.  High mileage across a number of days throughout the week is something that has always worked best for me and, with a new baby at home I have struggled to get out for the long training runs this season.  I am hoping that the shorter ‘long runs’ that are called for will also work in my favour.  The idea is to complete lots of slow running on tired legs, building cumulative fatigue to mimic race day conditions.  A big fan of the method is Sara of ‘Running Wife’, whose blog is where I first read about the concept.  She went from a 4:40 marathon time, to a BQ (Boston Qualifying) time within one training cycle!

I am under no illusions that training will be easy, or that I will magically cut hours from my time, but after having read several success stories from other Hanson’s Marathon Method runners I feel on board with the structure of the training as well as understand the reasons behind it.  I like working with structure when it comes to training plans, and I followed a specific marathon plan in the build up to my PB at Chelmsford at the end of 2015, which seemed to work for me.  The main reason I struggle to commit to plans usually is that I like my chatty, ad-hoc long weekend trail runs, organised sometimes only the night before.  They don’t fit neatly into training plans, but they are a lot of fun!  Whilst Oscar is still so small though, I cannot justify leaving for 7-8 hours at a weekend to go running and for the cake and hot chocolates which undoubtedly follow.  Now is the time to follow a training plan and stick to a structured system.  The only ‘must have’ run I’ve kept in my plan is the weekly club trail run on a Wednesday evening, so I don’t lose touch with my trail mates completely!  Wednesdays are actually the rest day on the training plan, so I’ve switched the schedule around slightly in order to suit me a little better.

I’ve also kept the remainder of the East Midlands Grand Prix races in the calendar, which I intend to run hard (2x 5 miles, 2x 10ks) and *ahem* will also be running the Shires and Spires ultra this coming Sunday.  But technically, that is actually the day before the ‘plan’ begins, so 35 miles this week should be just fine, right?!  😉

I’ve drawn up a spreadsheet with my runs and times, as well as added them to the calendar which is displayed in our dining room downstairs.  The marathon plan starts as I return to work for seven weeks.  I’m hoping (in a bizarre kind of way) that this will actually help me stick to the plan, as it will be a whole new routine for me to take on board from next week anyway.  As Dan will be dropping Oscar off at nursery on his way to work each morning the car seat will still be in his car when I go to collect O again in the evening as I return home from work.  Our plan at the moment is for me to either baby-wear Oscar the two miles home again (if the weather is nice) or run back with the buggy.  Then, I will have to head back out again later to collect my car for the following day anyway.  Might as well run rather than walk, and as I’ll already be in my kit anyway, I might as well continue on to run the mileage on my plan for that day anyway, right?

This week in prep for starting the plan is as follows:
Monday: rest day
Tuesday: easy 6
Wednesday: trail run (6-7m)
Thursday: easy 6
Friday: rest day
Saturday: easy parkrun (3.1m)
Sunday: Shires and Spires 35m

We’ll see how things go.  I’m prepared to be flexible, especially during these first few weeks until things have settled down with my return to work and Oscar’s start at nursery.  If I need to readjust targets or alter paces in the plan, I will do so.  But I’m looking forward to having a running goal to work towards again.

Do you stick to a training plan for races?
What are your target races for the rest of the year?

Do you ever eat out alone?

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The East Midlands Grand Prix

The East Midlands Grand Prix is a running series over here in the Midlands consisting of eight short-distance races over the course of nine weeks (there’s a break during the May half term week).  Races are all 10k distance or less (3x 10km, 1x 6mile and 4x 5mile events) and take place on weeknights (usually a Tuesday or Wednesday evening).

Having not really focused on any kind of speedwork since Oscar, and the only tempo-based sessions I’d attempted being the Magic Mile events on the first Saturday of each month, I decided to enter the EMGP series this year to force my legs into remembering how to turn over a little quicker again.

The whole series costs just £53, and I’ve entered twice before; back in 2014 and in 2012.  The fact that the races fall mid-week is great, as it means you can still feel part of the racing game, without having to dedicate a whole day at the weekend to each event.  Races start at 7:45pm, and in the past the mid-week dates have clashed with year 8 parents’ evening.  Also, the first race (Silverstone 10k) has always fallen either just one or two days after I’ve run a marathon, so I’ve given it a miss in the past.  This year, it turns out that as I hadn’t run a particularly strenuous marathon on the last Saturday in April, I didn’t worry too much about trotting round the racetrack at Silverstone for a 10k a couple of days later on the Tuesday evening.

Race #1: Silverstone 10k

For some reason, Silverstone starts 15 minutes earlier than the other seven events, at 7:30pm.  Because it was the first event in the series, it also meant that I needed to arrive in plenty of time, allowing myself to find where I needed to be and to collect my race number for the rest of the series.  I just need to rock up with time to queue for the loo at the rest of the events now!

Although I hadn’t run the Silverstone 10k before, I had run the half marathon there back in 2012.  I hadn’t been running for too long at the time, and I turned up cocky and sure of myself that I was going to run a fast race.  It ended up a ridiculously hot day, I ran the first mile in about 9 minutes.  It felt easy, – I had burnt out and was run-walking by mile 5.  Lesson learnt!  Luckily the race photos from that event have long since come down from the photographer’s website, because there were some particularly rough shots of me sweating my way round the course that year.  I’ve run hilly trail half marathons as fast as I ran the flat Silverstone track in 2012!

My main memories of the half were that it was incredibly dull for somebody not at all interested in cars, and just how long I queued to get out of the car park at the end.  (It took me more than 90 minutes to get out!)  But, with a shorter race distance and much less people running, I assumed that neither would be an issue this time round.

I was a little nervous before the race began.  I wasn’t sure where I should place myself.  I’ve been a year out of the local race scene, so although there were several faces I recognised on the start line, there were also plenty I did not, and I wasn’t sure of my own abilities now having not run a 10k distance hard in a long while.

I settled myself somewhere near to the back, although still far enough forward to soak in a bit of the atmosphere.  There were more than 1000 people at this 10k, – making it the largest in our local area for sure.

Not knowing my current race pace, the plan was to run to heart rate.  Between 165-170bpm – and then to pick things up for the end if I still felt comfortable.  I quickly settled into a pace which displayed in the region of 165-170bpm on my Garmin.  It felt comfortable but at the same time I felt like I was working to be where I was.

Silverstone 10k

I overtook a fair number of people but remained consistent in my pace.  A few people had mentioned to me that I would be able to run with Oscar in the buggy at Silverstone.  Although I was initially tempted, it would have made for a very late bedtime for him, and I kind of wanted to give myself a starting point to progress from at the 10k distance for this year.  The race welcomes buggies and wheelchair competitors, as well as able-bodied runners.  I do feel that the wheelchair competitors should either have a different start time, or a lane solely for their use.  The event is two laps around the famous track to make up the 10k, and as wheelchairs were coming through past other runners they would shout out (for example) “Keep left!” or “On your left!”  It made it very stressful as a runner to know which side they wanted you to be, especially if you had just caught the word ‘left’, as I did a couple of times.  At mile 4, one of the women running just in front of me was knocked into from behind and then struck to the ground as she struggled to move out of the way of a wheelchair in time.  I questioned that she was alright, along with a couple of other people, but she was up and running again within a matter of seconds, despite looking a little shaken.

Silverstone 10k

Ugh.  My form in these pictures is terrible.  Really high shoulders and feet slumping into the ground.  But, I do look happy in these shots at least.  I seem to have learnt that there’s no harm in smiling for the camera!

I kept checking my watch to ensure that I was still within the correct heart rate zone, and had a feeling that my pace would see me achieve a new PB if my watch data matched the distance of the course.

The course measured slightly over distance, at 6.33 miles, (probably due to the wide tarmac surface and repeated turns).  Had I stopped my watch at 6.2 miles exactly, it would have been at 57minutes and 47seconds after the start, which would have been a new PB.

Silverstone 10k

As it was though, I was still more than happy with my time, having not run a 10k for so long.  It will be a great starting point to measure my progress across the series.

Silverstone 10k medal

Official (chip) time: 58:44
Garmin time: 58:56
Position: 955/1219
Gender position: 273/455
Category position: 91/162

I waited until the last of our club runners were over the finish line before turning and heading back to my car for home.  Frustratingly, I then queued for nearly 45 minutes before I was even able to get out of the car park and back onto the road!

Silverstone 10k queuing in the car park

All race photos from Mick Hall.

Race #2: Blisworth 5m

Although I am still on maternity leave (only until Friday! :( ) I agreed to mark six classes of year 11 coursework from home during my leave for some extra pennies.  The deadline for entering marks was last Monday and so the previous week had been spent with very little sleep.  Oscar goes down to bed at 8pm, which would then serve as my start time for marking.  I tried to get 7-8 hours of marking in every night before Oscar woke again at 6am the following morning.
I was not fun to be around that week!

Hence, when Friday night rolled around and I felt completely exhausted and fed up I decided that it would probably be best to give Blisworth a miss, even though the race is one of my favourites.  I undoubtedly would have had a rubbish race, which would have left me in a miserable mood.  So I passed that day, and ticked off some more marking that night instead.
Blisworth 2015 recap

Race #3: Rugby 6m

6 miles is a really random race distance, one I’ve only ever seen as part of the East Midlands Grand Prix series.  I’ve run the Rugby 6 race twice before, and also Bedford 6, another 6 mile race which used to be part of the series a few years ago.

Going by my time for the Silverstone 10k a few weeks earlier, I knew that I should be in with a good chance of beating my 6 mile PB (58m 31s from 2012) last Wednesday evening.  The Rugby 6 is set on a hilly course though.  It starts off on a long, rolling downhill, before several short, sharp uphills appear, the worst of which is a long hill only a mile before the finish.

Once again, I aimed to keep my heartrate at around 170bpm throughout the race, including during the hills.  I’ve fallen into the habit of counting to 100 over and over again during races to keep my mind focused, and it seems to be working and helps to keep the turnover of my feet consistent.

I did find it hard to keep myself from running off at a tougher-than-170bpm pace.  Whenever I try to bring my effort levels back down I always find my form suffers.  I end up putting more emphasis on landing on my feet and my hips then twist out to the side.

Previously there hasn’t really been anyone at the same level as me during targeted club races, – other runners have either been much faster or much slower.  However this year it seems I am the same speed as a couple of the others, and three of us finished the 2017 Rugby race within 18 seconds of each other.

Official time: 56:27
Garmin time: 56:25
Position: 301/319
Gender position: 90/102
Category position: 19/21

A new PB of more than 2 minutes.  I was very chuffed with that!

Rugby 6 2015 recap

This week is the Corby 5 mile race.  I haven’t run this event since 2012, and all I can remember from it is the fact that it finishes on a very steep hill!  Why do race organisers do that?!

Have you taken part in any races where wheelchairs also compete?
What random race distances have you raced?
Any tips on putting in less effort but retaining form?

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Easter fun

I have six boxes of year 11 coursework to finish marking by Friday, a house to tidy, emails to respond to, blogs to catch up on, posts of my own to write (I’ve run a marathon, Magic Mile, two parkruns AND a 10k race I’m yet to blog about) but the end is finally in sight!  My coursework deadline is this coming Friday and then my evenings and mornings will be mine once again!

For now, here is a long overdue post about our first holiday as a family of three (eight!)…

Dan and I somehow managed to squeeze in a four day holiday to Shropshire with friends over the Easter weekend.  I say ‘somehow’ but the fixture was firmly in the calendar minutes after it had been suggested and was talked about for months leading up to our stay away.

Dan, I, Oscar, two other couples from our friendship group and a dog all made our way over to a beautiful quirky little cottage in the middle of nowhere on Good Friday afternoon.

Holiday house in Shropshire

The plan was to fill our days with long walks, good food, pubs, late night drinking and board games.  The weekend did not disappoint.

The weekend away was Oscar’s first holiday and I filled the boot of Dan’s car with toys, spare baby bedding and clothes, the running buggy and somewhere I managed to fit in a bag full of clothes for Dan and me as well!

Oscar playing with stacking cups

One of our friends suggested some parkrun tourism at Ludlow parkrun on the Saturday and both Dan and I jumped at the chance to join in.

On the drive over, we appeared to be driving more and more into the depths of a valley.  I think all four of us questioned our eagerness to be up and out for a parkrun at this point!

The course appeared to be a giant figure of eight loop which we ran twice.

Ludlow parkrunIt was rather hilly.

Ludlow parkrun

We were warned about the hills as part of the briefing, but it wasn’t until we were about 3k into the event that all four of us realised just how much the hills were taking effect!

Ludlow parkrun

It was a really nice event though, and seemed to have a proper community feel to it.Ludlow parkrun with Dan, John and LynnGarmin time: 30:33
Official time: 30:34
Position: 72/129
Gender position: 17/53
Age category position: 4/7

There seemed to be quite a lot of tourists at Ludlow for the Easter weekend, and I even bumped into another runner wearing a St Neots half marathon t-shirt, which is a race local to us.

As we were staying away for three nights, each couple cooked dinner for one night and breakfast on one morning which was a lovely way of splitting up the responsibility of the meals.

Although I cook every night of the week for Dan and I back at home, my meals are nothing fancy, so I decided to let him take on the task of cooking the meal for the Saturday night.  He went for marinated chicken with tomatoes on the vine and sweet potato wedges.

Chicken with tomato on the vine

I followed up on Sunday morning with my signature dish – American pancakes with blueberries.

American pancakes with blueberriesAs my turn fell on Easter morning, I also added little chocolate Lindt bunnies to all the placemats for breakfast too.  We were all pretty full that morning!

Each of the days we all headed out on a long walk with the dog, whilst I wore Oscar out in the baby carrier.

Oscar, Dan and I in ShropshireFYI Shropshire: those walks are not buggy friendly!

Walking in Shropshire

(This was a stile, about 400m into our ‘buggy friendly’ walk on the Saturday afternoon!)

Castle in Shropshire

There was lots to see on our walks; a castle, bluebells, and we even saw a couple of deer out on our Sunday afternoon walk.

Bluebells in Shropshire

Oscar behaved perfectly and pretty much stuck to his down-to-bed-by-8pm-and-up-again-at-7am routine, with just a slight blip on the last night when we woke him at 2am by banging around too loudly in the kitchen.  Dan got the brunt of it, staying up with him until after 4am so that I could sleep ready for the early morning feed.  Not cool Oscar.  Not cool!

Hanging out on holiday in Shropshire

We all decided that the Easter weekend getaway should be pencilled in to our calendars for the rest of forever, with all future children and pets to join us!

Walking in Shropshire

(A couple of the above pictures were stolen from John and Lynn, and the Ludlow parkrun pictures were taken from their Facebook page.)
Did you go away over the Easter weekend?  (Feels like forever ago now!)
What have been your favourite holidays away with friends?

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SDW part 2

This is part 2 of my South Downs Way 50 recap.  You can read the first half of my recap here.

My aim in any ultra is always to keep moving.  It’s one of my strengths.  When others stop to eat or adjust their kit I glide by.  It’s a classic case of the hare and the tortoise.  I may not be quick, but I am fairly consistent, and the key to ultras is consistency and being strategic with your pacing; which hills to walk and at which points to eat, etc.

However, because I have always kept moving throughout races, it came as a real shock to my legs when I asked them to get moving again after my 25 minute long pumping stint at mile 27 of the race!

By mile 29 my right leg had begun to cramp up – something I’d never experienced actually during a run before.  I put it down to a lack of salt intake and having stopped for so long without stretching out.  I immediately moved over to the fence along the side of the track I was running along and stretched out, whilst reaching for some salty pretzels in my bag and vowing to try some Tailwind alongside water at the next checkpoint.  Luckily, this was the only bout of cramp I had and ten minutes later I was back running strongly again.  I actually remember thinking at this point “I’ve only got 21 miles left until the finish now so it’s not too much further.  It’s only a little bit of cramp.  I’ll be fine!”  Good old ultrarunner mentality hey?!

The next few miles were spent constantly overtaking other runners.  I’m guessing I was passing all those people who had overtaken me whilst I was back lying behind a combine harvester! 😀  I chatted to a few runners along the way, and spent a fair amount of time just soaking up the scenery.

The next checkpoint was at 34 miles.  You had to climb a large number of steps up and over the train tracks before climbing back down again on the other side.  Race numbers were noted on the approach, and I can remember being really frustrated that the tables of food and fluid stretched past the turning on the other side of the tracks, so I had to move an extra few hundred metres to top up my bottles with Tailwind and water and collect a scotch egg for munching before heading back on track for the next section of the course.

When I had set off hours earlier I begun by drinking sips evenly from each bottle, to keep my load fairly even on my back.  As the race went on though, I worked out that it made more sense to drink fully from one bottle before moving onto the second, so that if I did not need to top up two bottles, I could just hand over one to be refilled at checkpoints and move on again quickly.

Checkpoint five (41.6 miles) was at Alfriston and in a chapel just off of a tiny side street.  It would have been very easy to miss had it not been for the marshal stood outside directing runners in.  My legs were starting to feel a little weary now and I really didn’t want to stick around for too long, yet at the same time I wanted to hang out for long enough to take plenty of fuel on board.  As I arrived a fabulous marshal brought out a fresh plate of watermelon and when I commented on how delicious and appealing it looked, she piled a plate high for me, bringing it over to the pew I had perched myself on.  Had the pew been slightly wider, I would definitely have laid out at this point for a full stretch.  I really didn’t fancy my chances of getting up off the floor again though, so my stretch had to wait another few hours.

On arriving at the checkpoint I frantically asked the question “How far am I ahead of the cut-off?” to be told that I was a good hour in front of cut-off at this point and had nothing to worry about, which was great to hear!

I was walking the uphills, run/walking the flats and running the downhills where possible (a few were too technical to run).  I know that I can run 50 miles.  I’ve covered that distance before.  It no longer sounds like a long way and I know which strategies work for me over that type of distance (although I have never completed an actual 50 miler before, but I have run further).  My concern was that I would end up timed out due to the amount of time I would need to stop to express on the course so hearing that I was so far ahead of the cut-offs was such a relief.

On the climb out after this checkpoint I started chatting with a guy, Chris, and we ran together for several miles.  I lost him after a while as he was much faster than me along the flat, but I could make up some distance on the downhills and caught him again as we ran back through a wooded area.

I really dislike planning to run ultra or trail events with others, but I do enjoy chatting to people who I find end up running at a similar pace and who I often then end up leap-frogging a large majority of the race with.  Ultra runners are so very friendly, and it’s a great way to learn about other events which you might not have heard about otherwise.  There is no pressure to stick around or keep up if you haven’t agreed to run with these people, so I find the whole experience much more relaxing and enjoyable than when you feel pressured to run at somebody else’s pace because you made an agreement to do so weeks ago.

I rang Dan when I had about 7 miles to go, just to check that he had been getting on OK for his first full day with Oscar and to see if he had been tracking me online.  Things were fine obviously, but it was nice to have a bit of mental time out from the race for a few minutes.

There were some amazing views out on the South Downs, and as the sun started to set the views only got more stunning.  I really wish I could take better landscape photos on my phone, because the photos I did take really did no justice to the scenery we were privileged to see that day.

I was running with Chris again as we headed towards the final checkpoint.  The last checkpoint is less than five miles from the finish and requires you to climb some steep steps up to claim food and drink.  There was somebody out on the road taking our numbers and guiding us in though.  Neither of us needed to top up on anything for the final few miles, so agreed to carry on running along the section of road and give the steps and food station a miss, walking briefly to strap headtorches onto our foreheads as the light had started to fade by this point.  Another chap joined us as we finished our climb up the side of a steep hill that looked as though it would be more at home in Australia than the South of England.  On chatting to him we discovered that he had been the sweeper of the final section the year before so knew where we needed to turn down off for the climb back down into Eastbourne for the final few miles.  Luckily it was well lit anyway and there was somebody up on the ridge directing runners towards the narrow track that led back into the town.  Chris picked up some speed here and the other guy who had joined us held back to chat to the marshal so I was on my own again from then until the finish.

The track was through thick trees and was really very narrow, – to the extent that at some points I questioned whether it was actually a track at all, and considered that I may be better off just heading straight down the side of the hill and picking out my own path rather than struggling to squeeze through bushes and along paths my feet barely fit on.  I knew the last few miles of the race ended in a downhill, and had saved plenty of energy to run these, but they really weren’t very runnable miles at all and I ended up walking/stumbling for the best part of a mile here!

Once I reached the road I switched my headtorch off as I no longer needed it with the streetlights now shining the way for me.  I picked up the pace a little, whilst still keeping things fairly calm as I had no idea just how much further it would be to the finish.  In a short distance race you’ve probably got a fair idea of how much further you need to run judging by your Garmin, but over 50 miles, a few odd steps here and there really mount up and even if your Garmin reads 50 miles, you could still have several miles to go!

SDW50 route

Every time I turned a corner in the road, or crossed at a crossing I thought the finish gantry would be popping up at any minute, but it actually ended up still being a couple of miles away!  Eventually though, I turned into the Sports Park.  I knew that the final 400 metres were run around the track, but I wasn’t sure how to get there and ended up actually asking a marshal as I ran past!  Even then, as I headed towards where I could now see the red track, I was convinced I had to pass through a small turnstile to get there.  It wasn’t until I was almost upon it, that I discovered the side of the track was in fact open.

Immediately upon my feet touching the surface of the track I heard the other three runners from my club cheering me in.  Two of them; Mike and Guy ran across the middle of the track to pace me round to the finish line.  I still had a fair amount of energy in reserve so managed to pick up the pace here to 8mm and Mike exclaimed that he was struggling to keep up with me!  (He must have stiffened up, as he had come in hours earlier in 8h 46m!)

On crossing to a loud cheer I was given my medal and a t-shirt and asked to pose for some photos.

South Downs Way 50 finishers pic12 hours, 06 minutes and 50 seconds, six months after having a baby.  I’m very happy with that!South Downs Way 50 finishers pic

I didn’t realise quite how dirty my arm had been from getting down on the floor of the barn until I saw this photo afterwards!South Downs Way 50 medal

342/364 finishers.
30 runners dropped at checkpoints on the day, and there had been 640 runners initially signed up for the event.

I headed to the changing rooms to swap into some fresh clothes, but stiffened up fairly quickly.  In fact, the guys sent Kev’s sister in to check on me after I still had not emerged 20 minutes later.  Everything was taking so long to do!  I was muddy and grubby and really in need of more than a baby wipe wash!

It was such a satisfying feeling though, and that 100 miler I was talking about before I fell pregnant last year?  It’s definitely back on the cards again now! 😉

Have you run a point-to-point event before?  How did you handle the logistics of it?
Do you stiffen up quickly after a race?