Friday, 27 December 2013

Ho Ho Ho - Running Christmas

This week coincided very nicely with my 16 week marathon training officially kicking off on Christmas Eve. Merry Christmas to me! When talking about this I was often met with baffled looks and questions asking why not just delay it a week / day / forever, but no no no. This won't do. This is not the marathon way! I knew if I began my training already sacking off runs, this would set the negative tone for the weeks to come. So I dutifully pulled on my trainers and out I went. That's not to say however that my first training run was an almighty success which saw me bounding through the streets of Cardiff in glee. Hmm not quite.
Captured - the first step in my marathon training

Tis the season to be jolly and with jolliness comes hangovers. That's rights, I kicked off my training with an almighty hangover. It was hard, it was touch and go whether I would be going to pukesville half way through and it was dehydrating. But I did it - and it reminded me that training on a hangover is not wise. But hey, its Christmas so I'll give myself a little break and a pat on the back for getting out there. Go me.

Training also saw me undertake my first time ever Christmas Day run. My training plan said 2.5 miles at race pace, so after opening my stocking and pre turkey eating, out I went. It was lovely! Seeing all the kids in the park with their new toys and bikes, the little old man I passed walking his dog dressed as Santa, yelling 'Merry Christmas' to the other runner I saw across the road, and people weaving in and out of driveways ready to spread merriment was all Christmassy fun. And it took 19 mins out of my day so why not. I might even make it my own little tradition.

And then on to Boxing Day where I again laced up and headed out on a little sunny run - fuelled entirely by turkey, roasties, gravy and more red wine. It was lush, which only leads me to believe that maybe I should spend the next 16 weeks on this diet.... 

The joy was also helped by my lovely new Christmas running gear - a run down of which is below. Seriously, anyone would think I had two marathons to train for...

1. 'Life Without Limits' by Chrissie Wellington
Ironman champion, world champion, smiling champion and all round lovely lady - I thought this autobiography might be just the ticket to help with some inspiration when training gets tough. I had a quick peak on Christmas day and accidentally carried on, its good! I can already tell this will help me. One of my lovely sisters kindly gave me this even though she wouldn't want to borrow it. That's sisterly love for you - Cheers Vic.

2. Nike Headband
To keep me warm in my winter training, my lovely sister Katie and brother in law Gav kitted me out with this fleecy headband so my ears wont get cold. These things are a god send as they keep you so toasty without letting you overheat. 
Bonus points to my sis who made the shop assistant go and find a raspberry one as black was way too boring to train in. Hear hear.

3. Nike Thermal Running gloves
Warm? Check
Animal Print? Check
These need no other words other than they came from my Mum's husband who is an ex-runner. Thanks Bas.

4. Entry into the Berlin Marathon 2014
Courtesy of my Dad, entry fee paid. Woo hoo! Vielen Dank Poppa Crandon.

5. 'Born to Run' by Chris McDougall
Given to me by the lovely Tom in Secret Santa, this follows McDougall as he goes to visit and learn all about the mysterious, and baffling Mexican long distance running tribe, the Taharhumara. I;'m again hoping this will offer some motivation, I do not however envisage signing up for any ultra-marathons anytime soon (read: ever).

6. Yoga Vouchers
Again from Katie and my Auntie Helen. I think I have become addicted to The Yoga Lounge. Gift vouchers available (hint hint). Seriously if you live in Manchester go go go - blog review coming soon. And this will keep me going when legs are tight and as my favourite cross training session in the lead up to the marathon.

7. Sweaty Betty Vouchers
Courtesy of my lovely boyfriend so I can continue my obsession with snazzy lycra and weird print leggings!

What a very lucky runner I am! A Christmas full of lovely food, fab friends and brilliant family - and now also featuring a spot of running. 

Hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and have a very happy New Years -  full of drink, merriment, food and fun.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Marathon Planning

This week I've finally stopped hiding from the inevitable, pulled my head out of the sand and started what I like to call 'Crandon's London Marathon training planning'.

Putting it all down on paper and in my calendar is both scary and exciting all at once. I'm actually looking forward to that satisfying achy feel whilst basking in a glow of achievement after running 14, 16, 18 miles. I'm looking forward to the new gear I just *have* to purchase (my boyfriend has pointed out that I already buy more lycra than normal clothing) and after heading out on a few dark and chilly early morning and evening runs this week, I'm even looking forward to the winter training. But my word, putting it on a calendar makes it seem not to far away that I will be running those long old distances.

I'm attempting to learn from my last marathon prep and have made a few goals for my training. Not only for the marathon, for the training too. Drum-roll please:

  1. I will try and eat properly. Just because I've run 20 gazillion miles in a week does not mean that cake, cake and more cake is an appropriate fuel for running. Protein post run and good-for-me healthy tasty snacks will be my friend. Repeat after me, "food is fuel, food is fuel..."
  2. This time I will try and be a good marathon runner in training, and fight the voices that tell me I DEFINITELY should go out to celebrate running 20 miles non-stop - you've earned it!
    Yes, a post run beer or two is good and well deserved. Partying until 4 in the morning and drinking all the booze is not a good, or hydrating, recovery plan.
  3. I will cross train. I will build my core strength. I will do more than just bloody run all the sodding time. Last time I did barely any cross training and at about 16 weeks into the plan began to resent running and hit a plateau. Yoga, swimming and cycling (hello new bike - more on that soon) will add to my running and strength I hope.
  4. I will remind myself that running further and further and increasing the strain on my body should be rewarded with more sleep to recover. Hurrah!  

So these are my pre training vows which I hope to keep up. Now that I've written them down and shared them with you, I better bloody try and stick to them! I'm hoping that in doing it properly, I will finish the race injury free, stronger and achieve my ultimate marathon goal of runner faster than my last time of 03:59:40.

So Merry Christmas to me - my 16 week plan begins on the 23rd Dec. Ding dong.

Big goals in sight

Monday, 18 November 2013

MoRunning in Manchester

With November now comes one thing - MOUSTACHES. The month where whenever you meet a young man with a bit of bum fluff on his upper lip you inwardly decide whether he is either a full time Shoreditch twat or a participant of Movember. Mostly its the latter.

Along with Movember, the last few years have also seen the rise of MoRunning - a series of 5K and 10K events around the country where men and women don a 'tache with pride and run around their local park all in the name of raising awareness and money for men's health issues, specifically Prostate Cancer and Movember. 

Whilst the previous day had seen weather of biblical proportions raining down on Manchester, last Sunday the morning was clear, crisp and sunny. Armed with my ritual race nails (see below) and some eyeliner (more on that later) we headed to Heaton Park. But my god it was cold!
Moustache Race Nails

On arrival we collected our race numbers, donned the provided Mo Running headbands, cracked open the eyeliner and drew on our mustaches. We were ready to rock this!

Fighting faces

I was so thankful for that headband, it certainly helped in keeping us warm! 

The best thing about the MoRun is the atmosphere, there is always an overwhelming sense of FUN. There are no starting corrals and although there were more runners than last year, its still a small race and I think the race benefits from this and it adds to the atmosphere. The anxiety found at the start line of other races is replaced by a party, and I didn't feel any pressure like I occasionally do at other races. Granted this is mostly self inflicted, but for some reason I always let myself off for this run and only want to enjoy it. And I certainly did! 

The 5k runners start first, then us 10k-ers are released to run two laps of the 5k route around the park. Now, Manchester is a pretty flat place, but not Heaton Park. There are hills here! The start of the race is a little congested on the narrow park pathways but a little into the run people find their own pace and seem to spread out, particularly by the second lap. The main problem today though was the ice on the paths the sun hadn't yet reached, which meant you couldn't run full pelt and were forced to run with caution at times. That said, I didn't see anyone stack it and everyone was really helping each other and warning of slippery patches, adding to the camaraderie. What with it being a small race there was little crowd support on the route, apart from the amazingly cheerful race volunteers, Sunday morning park goers, and of course the crowds at the start/finish line where the party seemed to continue whilst we ran.

After my first 5K lap I was feeling good and enjoying the run. I always thought I'd hate doing a two lap route but I find I actually quite like knowing I've already done it once and knowing what's coming up. Although I might not feel the same for a longer distance race.

At about 8K I noticed that I had plenty of space to run on the course and realised I was running with mostly men, and had been for a while. Part of the course loops back on itself and I noticed two women up ahead, and realised I'd not actually seen any other women for ages. Last year I surprised myself by coming fifth out of the women in the Manchester Mo Run and for some reason I thought if I overtook these ladies then maybe, just maybe I might do as well this year. Well Competitive Crand joined the race there and then, and off I went. I picked up my pace with the aim of overtaking my way past these two women. For some reason these were now my sole competitors. On and on I ran and I soon overtook the first girl....then powering through I continued past the ducks and geese, past the dog walkers and hurrah, past the next woman I could see. And there it was, the end was in sight. I continued with my faster pace and ran through the barriers lined with people cheering, and bounded over the finish line. Hurrah! I looked at my watch - 49.28 and the first time I'd NOT achieved a PB in any race I'd ever run. Ever. 

But was I sad with this? HELL NO. 

It turns out I came third out of all the women. THIRD! Bronze! I would be the one with the hairy chest! Me! Hurrah! I'd never placed in a race or been anywhere near the metaphorical podium before! 

I grabbed a water, picked my way around the muddy barrier and stood at the finish line, cheering on the steady stream of runners now coming through and waiting to cheer on Ellie as she dashed over the finish line herself.

So there we have it, no PB but a third place for Crand. But the best thing about the race? The atmosphere.
It was a great route, a lovely stunning sunny day and I was just having a day where I was happy to run for the FUN of just running and with no self imposed pressure. And I enjoyed it. ALOT. 
We would love to chat, but we really MOUSTACHE

GUEST POST: Snowdonia Marathon 2014 by Gavin Chappelle

Sure you’ve thought about running a marathon. But have you thought about running one in Snowdonia? Well a couple of weeks ago Gavin did just that, and is here to give us the lowdown.
Last month I ran the Snowdonia Marathon. Not my first marathon, but the first time I’ve ever taken part in this particular one. And with a number of mountains, more than 1000 ft, teamed with the unrepentant north Wales weather, it was sure to be a challenge.
Sarah’s asked me to write a guest blog about the race. Here goes!
So, after thinking about it for a while, Saturday October 26th came a bit too soon for my liking! Due to work commitments, my training prep didn’t go according to plan, I had slight cold kicking in, and a minor hamstring issue and I was about to run Snowdonia marathon for the first time in my life!
Out of the other three marathons I have done over the last eight years, this is the one I felt most nervous and not ready for leading up to the day.  I had major doubts if I was ready for Snowdonia. Two weeks before I had an issue with my hamstring and on the 16th mile of my longest training run, I was ready to pack up and call it a day.  That was until a huge amount of sponsorship came in from my friends and colleagues over the last week leading up to the run.  My chosen charity was The Noah’s Ark Appeal (Children’s Hospital of Wales) and I was closing in on a total of £550!  And with a personal best at the Cardiff Half Marathon a few weeks before (1hr 35min 18 sec) I manned up and got on with it!  
So lunchtime on the Friday, ‘Team Lightning McQueen’ (see T-shirt) - my wife Katie and son Jonah and I - headed north from Cardiff to Caernarfon.

The day before the race was the standard ‘sign in and get your number at the Marathon Expo’…. But it wasn’t the expo I have been used to in past marathons.  Both New York and London hire out a huge arena space for you to sign in and get as many goodies as possible.  Not that I was expecting this with Snowdonia but heading to the local village hall in Llanberis had a slightly different feel.  The look of the hall was similar to a local election voting room, a long row of tables with half a dozen people behind them.  I got handed my shirt number, pins, t-shirt, Hi-5 energy bar and an information booklet (mainly advertisements) and sent on my way!  Outside the cold, wet mountains of Llanberis made me even more nervous especially as I could see the mountain I would need to climb for the last 4 miles!! ….. Nothing to do now but sleep on it and worry about it tomorrow.
So like it or not it was race day,
Race Organisation
My race didn’t get off to the best start. Team McQueen and I arrived at Llanberis with plenty of time to go before the race start, but there was no sign of the start line.  The information booklet I was given the night before stated that the start was a ten minute walk from the visitors centre, without even saying which direction to walk in!   So we asked a few other runners who said to head towards Llanberis Pass and keep walking, you’ll see it!  40 minutes of walking later….. and still no start.  Not even any sort of marker.  We passed two road signs when coming out of the village saying, ‘start line this way’, but then nothing else. Time went on as we wandered around the lake, looking for the line, with other runners trailing behind, also wondering where the start was. Suddenly a gang of runners walking in front stopped and turned to walk back the way we came.  As they went passed they said, “Yeah we have gone past it, its back up there!”  So back we walked for another 15 minutes or so!

As we rounded the corner of the lake we could see slightly more action and a start line being set up, less than 30 minutes before the race was due to start. I understand that the race started at 10:30am and the roads weren’t closed off until 10am so they couldn’t get anything in place for the start, but surely a sign on the lamppost at least saying “Marathon Start HERE!”  Would have been useful? There was also ample opportunity to explain the start location in the info booklet, but instead they used 2-3 pages describing the life of a mountain ranger (!). Anyway we had found it, so after calming down, having a quick wee in the bush and drinking my Gatorade I was ready.  Finally!

Starting Location
Smack bang in the centre of the Snowdonia mountains, on a narrow mountain road next to Lyn Padarn lake.  And it didn’t look as pretty as Google maps make out on a cold October morning.  I could have done with toilet facilities but as the roads are so narrow I’m guessing there was a lack of space.  Maybe moving the start back into Llanberis village would have been better?

The race started at 10.30am. The route follows the A4086 and climbs to the top of the Llanberis Pass (Pen y Pass 1,100ft).  The top of Pen Y Pass came at 5 miles, it was the toughest first 5 miles to a race I have ever done, which just kept on climbing and climbing along winding roads.  I was thinking to myself, “I can’t keep up this pace on these hills for 26 miles!” Once we reached the top of Pen Y Pass the drop kicked in at the Pen Y Gwyryd junction, the race then followed the old road along to the campsite until it joins the A498. The next 2K were a mixture of off-track (going off-road is something I have never done before), downhill, then the surface returned to tarmac. The route then continued to Beddgelert (200ft) and then continued along to Waunfawr.  We were well into the second half of the race now and an up and down terrain until you get to the mammoth task of the climb of 1,200ft at Bwlch y Groes Mountain, which just kept going on and on.  And when you feel like you’re at the top…..  You’re not and you have another hill to go.  But once you finally get there it’s a mental downhill of grass, puddles, mud and slate until you reach Llanberis and the finish.
To be honest wasn’t expecting many people to be lining the hills and mountain roads, but how wrong I was, the support was amazing.  There were of course quiet pockets along the way but people hung out of their windows and stood on top of the highest mountain just to cheer on strangers or family members.  The biggest crowds - apart from the finish - were in the tourist destination of Beddgelert, which was around the half way mark.  The other thing that I haven’t experienced before was the fact that the roads weren’t closed for pretty much the second half of the course, so people were driving past shouting, clapping and pumping out music.  A traffic jam on both sides of the road at mile 20 needed a few side steps in and out of the cars!
On Route Drinks and Snacks
There were plenty of water stations, and plenty of High 5 gels given out at each stop.  The only thing I didn’t like was that the water came in little plastic cups with a foil lid, which made it difficult to drink on the move.  And as usual there were plenty of people handing out jelly babies and oranges along the route.
Official T Shirt
A nice, bright blue t-shirt, with a cool image on the back of the map of the hills along the run.

Something a little different, not a medal as such, but a Snowdonia slate coaster!  Easy to say I won’t be resting my coffee cup on it though, it’s going pride of place in the medal cabinet!

Marks out of 10: 7.5/10
After all the issues with the start and my moans and groans overall the race is an amazing experience  You can’t expect these small mountain roads to totally shut down for the day as bigger marathons do, but it doesn’t matter, it all adds to the race.   There was an amazing atmosphere, especially getting back into Llanberis.  I managed a time of 4hrs 10 minutes which I was very happy with, especially as the last four miles up-hill was spent walking! I don’t think I’ll return to Snowdonia and I’m planning to have a rest from marathons for a while. But if there’s a half marathon I haven’t done before, that might be my next challenge for 2014. But no more hills!

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Winning the (running) lottery

On my way home from work on Thursday, I quickly checked my emails on the tram whilst on the way to meet my top notch running buddy Ellie. If you read this blog, you should probably get to know Ellie, we tend to run together (and of course celebrate said running in the pub together), a LOT.

Among the usual daily emails was one from SCC Events. Having run the Berlin marathon last year, I didn't think much of this as I often get generic updates from them...until I noticed the heading 'Herzlichen Gluckwunsch! - Congratulations!' Then I remembered - I'd entered the ballot earlier this month to run Berlin Marathon 2014.

I tentatively opened it to find:

The running lottery ticket
YEAH!! Having missed out on the Virgin London Marathon ballot for 2014 I was over the moon. With these two major world marathons proving to me in the space of just a few weeks that in this running world, you do in fact win some, lose some.

Like many lottery winners, (well I imagine, I've clearly never won the actual lottery) excitement soon turned to disbelief followed by panic. Sure I didn't have a ballot place for London in April 2014, but I am still running it for charity. So that's two marathons next year in the space of 6 months?! Wow, that's a whole lot of running all year....

Is that something I really wanted to do?!

But then, how often do you ever get a ballot place in life? Not often that's for sure. And yes it will be loads (and loads and then loads more) running next year, but hell I love a challenge. And its certainly not as crazy as other people who run two marathons in two weeks, or twelve marathons in twelve months. I can do this. I can sleep some other time....AND on the plus side I get to eat like I'm in training for almost a whole year! Because I will be. YES, I can eat ALL the food in 2014! Hurrah!

I didn't really ever think I wouldn't take up this opportunity, I just had the fear! It IS an undertaking and I'm sure the fear will be back many times before I actually do it, but that's fine!

So as of today I'm all paid up and raring to go.....I've just got to get London out of the way first I guess.

Watch out Berlin, we're coming back for you.

We're coming BACK.

Thursday, 31 October 2013

My Morning Run

The folk over at Women's Running HQ have restarted 'my morning run', where you can email, Facebook or Tweet them your morning run pictures and they choose their favourite each day.

There is nothing quite like seeing the waves breaking on the beach in Cornwall, or someone experiencing a lovely sunrise on their run, to inspire you to drag yourself out of bed, pull on your trainers and get yourself out there.

That is, until you step outside and remember that you actually live in the city centre and the majority of the sights you seen on your run are abandoned shoes/umbrellas/booze (delete as appropriate) or if you're really lucky, someones sick from the night before. Mmmm what a treat.

However, undeterred by these beautiful memories I set off with #mymorningrun in mind and was pleased that Manchester managed to throw up some autumnal goodies this morning.
The canal

Autumnal river

And if that wasn't enough, it appears that Nike+ reward you with a little pumpkin trophy if you run on Halloween...

Happy snapping!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Race Report - Cardiff Half Marathon 2013

A few weeks ago I ran the Cardiff Half Marathon. Although not my first half marathon, it was a first for me in many ways. It was the first time I'd run in my hometown, first time I'd run the same race as my super speedy Brother in law, and it was the first time my mum, sister, boyfriend and nephews had been to watch me race. And it was amazing, the sun was shining, the route was great and the organisation was fab too. I even went as far as to say this was my favourite that race I'd ever run. And the medal from my hometown wasn't too shabby either.

So without further ado, I introduce you to my Cardiff Half 2013 Race Report:

Race Organisation
Good! I had heard reports that in previous years it hadn't been that great, but the organisers had clearly listened to their feedback. The communication via email leading up to the day was full of useful information and Race numbers and chips were posted out to runners so there was no need to collect these on the day, which I much prefer.

The start was well organised and it was clear where each colour wave should go. Lots of volunteers were able to help if you had any questions, and most crucially there were plenty of loos near the start which didn't have massive queues! The only problem was finding somewhere to park, but apart from that it was all pretty straight forward and hassle free.

Starting Location
You can't really get a more iconic location in Cardiff that the Castle. The early morning sun was shining and the start line was buzzing, even if I did feel like the only lady surrounded by big burly men! 
In previous years, the race has started in the bay and again the organisers had listed to problems runners had had with this, and moved the location. I thought it was a great place to start, in the centre of town outside the Castle entrance, and this set the tone for the rest of the race.

It begins...
Maybe it's because I know the city so well that I enjoyed it so much, or maybe I'm just biased, but either way I loved the route! I love running Cardiff when I'm home visiting my Mum and this race really did our city proud. The route takes in all the sights, from the castle, out to the lovely Penarth Marina, over the barrage and into Cardiff Bay, past the Norwegian Church and the Millennium Centre before heading through studentsville and over to Roath Park and then back to the Civic Centre finishing not far from the National Museum of Wales.

Despite billing itself as the second largest half marathon in the UK, it's worth a note that there was little congestion on the course. Sure, it was busier in some parts than others, but there was plenty of room for everyone. The best part of the course was through the bay and Roath Park, where the support was best and the atmosphere was great. I also love running near water and greenery (it's rare up in Manchester!) The most challenging part of the course was between miles 11 and 12. You were almost at the end and then you turn a corner, just to see the mile 12 marker. Good right? WRONG. That marker is sat at the top of a short, but very steep incline. I looked at the guy next to me, we both swore a little, laughed and got on with it. The little old lady cheering me up that hill was the best!

I have never ending respect and appreciation for people who get up on a weekend and give up their time to cheer on strangers when they run. From the students stood on the street in their pjs in Roath, to the little old lady cheering me up that hill, and of course my own special cheer team, Mum, Katie, Jamie, Dafydd and Jonah - the support was brilliant. This was especially true of the bay and through Roath but the whole route was well supported, particularly the crowds at the end. Great stuff.

Some of my Cheer Crew

On Route Drinks and Snacks
There were plenty of water stations, and again lots of volunteers were on hand to give out bottles to us thirsty runner. They also handed out gels, which I didn't use, and there were lots of people handing out jelly babies which are always well received!

Official T Shirt
As always, this was a little on the large side despite me getting an XS size. I mean, these are being given out to people who run - its safe to say we are not all gargantuan, yet race Ts are always huge! But its a good technical Brooks shirt, nice colour and I'm sure I'll wear it when I'm layering up on my runs in the winter.

A round, gold coloured medal depicting the mighty Cardiff, with a red ribbon. Some lovely race bling.

Marks out of 10: 9/10
A great race, amazing atmosphere and lots of support AND I got an unexpected PB of  01:46:08 - what more could you ask for?! Im already planning on signing up for 2014. You should too,

Sunday, 20 October 2013

The Shoe Review: Nike Zoom Structure + 16

Goodbye old friends. We've had some good times, we've had some bad. You've seen me, quite literally, through blood, sweat and tears. You've been there for me at the best of times, carried me across finish lines and kept me moving when I thought I could go no more.

But these times are over. I just don't feel supported by you any more like I once did.  Its not me, its you. You've passed your prime and there is someone new in my life. I've traded you for a new model...

Enter the Nike Zoom Structure + 16

Swit swoo!
OK these may not be the newest Nike structure model on the market, (there is now a + 17 model), but they are new to me this week so I thought I'd review.

Having had my old faithful Nike Zoom + 14 for over a year, and covered some pretty decent mileage in them, I knew it was time for some new kicks. My old shin niggle started flaring up again and I realised I've probably had the best out of my old runners.

I took a bit of a gamble on this new pair. I'd not even tried them on before I ordered them online from the Nike sale. However having been to a physio and had my gate analysed at the brilliant Sweatshop online (if you're new to running and never had this done, go and visit them and get kitted out properly. Its a brilliant, free service - seriously go. Now! It will change your running life), I'd been told many a time that I was flat footed and weak ankled. Well fine, I guess we all have our crosses to bear...

So, I knew I needed a structured pair of running shoes, and I wasn't unhappy with my old zooms, they had just been run in too many times.

As much as I wanted to succumb to the marketing ploys and get involved with the Nike Free, Adidas Boost or Nike Flyknits, I was a good running girl, stuck with what I knew and ordered the newer model of what I already had from the Nike website sale.

And Im glad I did. Not only are they super comfortable but they feel supportive and structured. The most noticeable difference from their trusty forerunner however is the weight. My god they're soooo light. This was my first thought as I sunk my feet in to them, 'the lightness, oh my the lightness'.

So after a couple of short runs and a long run today, I can confirm that these are a good running shoe if, like me, you're in the 'need for structure' gang.

They also look pretty good too and incidentally happen to go pretty well with my favourite running shorts.
Matchy matchy

So lesson learnt: stick with what you know, and an older (read: less extortionate) model  is no bad thing.

All in all I'm a happy runner in my new shoe relationship.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

Welcome to the blog!

About two years ago I started running.

My brilliant Mum had found out she had breast cancer so I thought I really ought to raise some money for Cancer Research and tentatively entered a 5k 'Race for Life' in Hampstead Heath.
It was hard, I'd never done anything like this. I was in the 'oh yeah, I'd love to run a marathon one day' camp, rather than the person who actually gets up and willingly spends their spare time exercising.
That 5k felt like forever but people were so supportive and it was, shock horror – fun! AND I managed to raise loads of money for a cause which really meant something to me. FAB.

As I huffed and puffed my way around the heath I decided there and then that I really needed a bigger race, with lots of people supporting and cheering me on. As I happened to be making a big life move from old London to rainy Manchester, I thought what better way to mark the occasion than running a northern based race. The day after that first 5k I somewhat apprehensively entered the Great North Run. A whole half marathon.

I diligently followed a training plan. I dutifully went out in the pouring rain and explored my new city on foot, pounding out the pavements. Fast forward 11 weeks and lots of blood, sweat and tears later, I ended up finishing the race in 2 hours and 43 seconds.

And there it was. I was hooked.

Turns out I'm pretty competitive. Those 43 seconds bothered me. I knew I could run faster and I had never experienced the joy of wearing a well earned medal until that day. I bloody LOVE a medal!

Since then I've run the Berlin Marathon, a number of 10ks and a few half marathons. Running has changed my life - people think of me as a runner, (which still surprises me) and its now what I do on a day off, BEFORE work, or even on holiday. How the hell did that happen?!

So with a place in the 2014 London Marathon I thought I would start a blog and let you lovely people read about my running rambles. And this way I might relieve the boredom of my nearest and dearest who have to constantly endure my geeky running chat.

So here I am. This is my blog - about me, training and more than likely eating. So join me as I hit the streets and run my way through life, training and other adventures.