Tuesday, 30 December 2014

New Year's Runolutions

That's a word right? Runolutions? Well there it is...used.

Lots of people scoff at New Year's resolutions and think that if you want to make a change, you shouldn't wait until January and burden yourself with unattainable goals during an already depressing month.

(These people may also be the types who bemoan 'January Gym-goers' who are really people actively doing something healthy to their lives which is nothing to belittle. Stop the hating people! Remember you were once new to all this too.)

Anyway I digress. I see their point - January can be a little bleak after all the fun of Christmas and I whole-heartedly agree that a date in the calendar shouldn't be the only reason to make a change. If anything it puts it off, delays it for a few months. 

But I like to see a New Year as a good time to stop and take stock of what's what. I also like to use it as a good kick up the bum to make me focus on the things I keep meaning to do but haven't got around to yet what with all that life getting in the way.

So here are my new year Runolutions for 2015

1) Join a Running club
Since completing two marathons in 2014, I have started to get a little more social in my running - whether it's with friends in work, free runs like Sweatshop Running Community or a rare run with my sister - there is no doubt that running with other people motivates me more and pushes me further and I don't think the enjoyment I've found since doing this is a coincidence. It's a lot more fun and finding new routes and places to run which you may not have known about it an added bonus. I have been  wanting to join a running club for a while now and have tried a couple in my area to see how they compare, so the new year coming seems like a good point to sign up.

2) Go to ParkRun and make it a routine.
The fact that I have not ever been to parkrun makes me wonder what the hell I'm doing. Free weekly timed 5k events, all over the country, hell all over the world and I've never been to one? Get a grip Crandon and go and do one! NOW! 

3) Try out Cross Country
Post marathons my running seems to have unexpectedly taken me to the trails, whether it be running through a forest in the dark, running through fields in Wales or finding new routes myself, I just can't seem to stay away and am particularly enjoying all the mud. This has made me want to get more involved and try out X Country - this will hopefully come with joining a running club.

4) Properly train for my half marathons and really try to break 1.45
Sure I've got my PB's in half marathons, but I can't honestly say hand on heart that I have really really pushed myself. I forget the length and challenge of a half until, it seems, I'm mid way through the event and the distance actually becomes real! So with no marathons this year and four halves in the diary, its time I stepped up and properly pushed myself. I am 45 seconds away from breaking 1:45 so lets really try and break this.

5) Have a clear out and lend a hand
Last but by no means least, I am using January as a kick start to donate some running kit to the brilliant A Mile in Her Shoes. They help disadvantaged women find their feet through running and rely on donations. I've had a pair of trainers that I've kept to send them for ages along with a whole host of other running gear which I haven't got round to sending. Terrible and no excuse. Now I'm making myself accountable right here. 
If you have any items of kit or running accessories, especially winter kit, which someone else would find more useful than you, send it on to these lovelies.

And that's it. Five things I WANT out of my running, and have been thinking about for a while with a New Year to kick start and motivate me to get going on them.

2015 - it's time to do this.

What are your Runolutions for this year? Let me know in the comments below!

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Friday, 26 December 2014

Crandon Runs Friday Photo #13 - CHRISTMAS EDITION

A round up of Crandon Runs in one* weekly photo

Happy Boxing Day! 

This week's snap comes courtesy of 'Christmas Cottage Run Club'. Eight friends, one turkey, fifty eggs (don't ask) and one joint run. I say run, but we decided mid-route that this was more adventure trail slash tough mudder madness. 

Clambering over stiles, rolling under barbed wire (not recommended), trampling through streams, sliding through muddy sheep fields (I literally needed my hand holding through this one) and meeting horses, were just a few of the adventures we encountered. The hills were steep, and the wind was strong but it was all good pre-pretend-Christmas-dinner fun and the view sure beat city centre running.

Christmas Run Club

*I've been liberal with the 'one' photo thing this week but 'Tis Christmas after all. 

Happy Christmas!

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Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Crandon Runs needs YOU!

Crandon Runs has been nominated in the Virtual Running UK Blog Awards and needs your help!

If you like what you see, follow the link (above or top right) and make your vote count! Voting ends the end of the month so get going!

Thanks - and Merry Christmas Runners!

Friday, 19 December 2014

Crandon Runs Friday Photo #12

A round up of Crandon Runs in one weekly photo

One pair of very muddy trainers, one head torch, one medal and one Crand all make this week's Friday photo. 

Taken from my 10K in Delamere Forest, this run has been my little running adventure of the week.

Night running

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Sunday, 14 December 2014

In the Forest Dark and Deep - Night running in Delamere Forest

Walking into a forest, alone in the dark (and I mean DARK) is probably not the wisest way to spend your Saturday evening, but last night I found myself doing just that. My running buddy was struck down by the lurgy so it was left for me to run the 10k in the dark for us both, armed with only my head torch and some (not so) speedy legs.
A solitary beam to light my way

When I got to race HQ though I realised I needn't have worried. The choir were singing, stalls were set out and volunteers and runners were lit up like Christmas trees. Literally, lots were wearing Christmas lights while running to light the way. But it was still very dark.

So how was it? 

We've all been out running at night time. If you run, you have inevitably run around your home town after 3pm in the winter, but this is not urban night running. There are no lights nearby and running with only your head torch to light the way is really disorientating. It's a totally different run to that in the daytime. Everything feels closed in, almost claustrophobic, yet freeing at the same time.
Even getting to the start was disorienting as without the ability to see the whole of your surroundings, navigating your way is difficult. You rely much more on your other senses. I noticed mid run that I was gauging the footings ahead from the sound of the feet from the runners in front. Splash splosh - a puddle was coming up. Thud thud - we were on a trail. Squelch....squelch....well, we were stuck in the mud. At some point you learn to just go with it and it's almost as if you're running in a bubble, putting your trust in only your body and trusting your feet to carry you over the unknown. It's liberating.

The first half was brilliant. Steady solid trails galore and lots of people to help light the way. I felt steady and adventurous. Somewhere after halfway there came a big hill, which was difficult and really spread the runners out. There were times now where it was only my light ahead of me. The second half is where it got REALLY muddy too, like a bog. I almost lost a shoe to the course on more than one occasion. What I also learnt it that mud is very slippery - think Bambi on the ice, but in more lycra and less graceful. I was, however, the idiot wearing road shoes and I suspect this is where trail shoes come in handy. Silly urban road runner. I consider remaining upright on this course and not getting to the finish with my arse caked in mud one of my greatest achievements.  


This slip sliding all over the show knocked my confidence a bit. I started to doubt my footing and became really cautious, which I was glad of in a way. Especially on the descent of the biggest hill. I'm not sure what was worse, the almighty steepness going up, or going down at speed with gay abandon unable to see how far your feet would land. Some of the runners were reckless, bounding around really tight corners in the mud and tripping over huge branches. I was glad to be going a bit slower! But people were also friendly. The darkness made everyone huddle together a bit more and people looked out for each other on the course, while the start line was one if the chattiest I'd been at. There was a sense of camaraderie as we embarked on what one girl at the start described as 'the stupidest thing we've ever done.'

There is something really quite magical about running in the cold dark night, seeing the forest trees silhouetted against the star strewn sky, knowing that this is a unique experience. It was a complete adventure, mystifying, scary, magical and liberating. I can highly recommend it and am already thinking about another - but with trail shoes.

Oh, and I also recommend running events in December - mince pies at the finish line seem to be almost mandatory which I believe to be an added bonus.

I'll leave you with the words of Robert Frost, which sum up the race quite perfectly:

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

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Friday, 12 December 2014

Crandon Runs Friday Photo #11

A round up of Crandon Runs in one weekly photo

With Christmas dos galore this week I decided to kick start my weekend with a little candlelight yoga at The Yoga Lounge to unwind. As you know runners LOVE yoga. If you run and don't do yoga, you are mad. It's good for stretching you out in all the right places but this class is not for the faint-hearted. And although candlelight makes it look pretty, it is not as gentle as it sounds. It's pretty hardcore - although I did literally almost faint in today's class. 

Turns out hot yoga fueled by last night's wine fumes, does not produce your best practice.  

A very zen beginning to the weekend.

Happy running and happy yoga. Namaste.

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Sunday, 7 December 2014

Running in the Family

Freezing morning Advent run
It was my big sister who really got me into running. Back when I was a chubby student, surviving on a cliched diet of chips cheese and mayonnaise washed down by cheap booze and cheaper fags, she would drag a reluctant Crand out on a little run when I was home from uni. I knew it was her way of saying I could do with dropping a few pounds and living healthier, but really I was mostly worried that I wouldn't be able to keep up.

We used to go out for about 20 minutes, sometimes with my mum and I was surprised that I could in fact keep up with them, and that I actually quite enjoyed it. I remember coming home from the gym and telling her I'd run a whole 5 minutes without stopping. I was so chuffed!

Since then Katie has run a half marathon, and sobbed over the finish line which sounds vaguely familiar, along with lots of 5 and 10ks and still goes running regularly.
In the years since I've clocked up three marathons and lots of half marathons, 10ks etc, many of which cheered on by Katie and my nephew. But we haven't run together in years.

So I was excited when she told me she'd signed up for Advent Running online and would need to sneak in a run or two when they came to visit me in Manchester this weekend. She warned me she wasn't fast and we wouldn't be going far, but I didn't care. I was excited to go out running with my big sister again, something we never get to the chance to do any more.

We went out twice together over the weekend and Katie said that Sunday, her seventh day running in a row was the hardest yet. BUT we still ran faster than the day before and still got our bums out the door and pounding the pavements in the icy rain. And now she can say she has run every day for a week, a claim I have never, and probably will never, be able to make.

Sometimes it doesn't matter how far you go or how fast you run, sometimes it's just about having fun and running with your sister because you can.

If you live in Cardiff you might want to follow Katie's blog for what's happening in the 'diff (I am biased but it is good)

Saturday, 6 December 2014

CrandonRuns Friday Photo #10

A round-up of CrandonRuns in one weekly photo

With the beginning of December this week, comes festive runs galore! Here is my advent running getting off to a good start at the Christmas Pudding 5 mile dash!

See here for full race report and here for more festive runs you can get involved with. Don't wait til January - Christmas running is way more fun!

Ho ho ho have a good running week folks!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

The Rundown - December Festive edition

Live near Manchester and want to get your sweat on? Then look no further - here's a suitably festive Rundown of what's going on in December.

BTR Santa Dash
7th December, Liverpool
Christmas time sees loads of festive runs taking place, from Yule Yomps to Reindeer Runs including this Santa Dash in Liverpool. Celebrating it's 10th anniversary, this run is guaranteed to get you in the spirit - entry price includes a Santa suit and race medal. What more could you want?

13th December, Delamere Forest
The second in the series, this is a 10k trail run. At night. Through a forest. In the dark dark DARK. Expect fairy lights, carols and crackers for each finisher and Santa himself may even make an appearance. Don't expect it to be easy though, it is a trail run and did I mention it was in the dark? Don your head torch and come and join me and countless others for some festive running fun! 

Running Streaks
Throughout December, online
Running streaks are quite the thing during December. Advent Running encourages you to run once a day for 30 mins for 25 days, while Runners World Winter Streak is a mile a day for 36 days, from Thanksgiving to New Year. The beauty is you can do it when it fits in to your day and gives you the a focus and a kick up the bum to continue running amid all the Christmas parties and turkey overload.

Zero Advent Calender
Throughout December, online
Like the running streaks, this is a free online advent calender to help you keep up your fitness throughout the month. Open the door each day to discover a free workout, recipes, giveaways and deals. It also supports the brilliant charity A Mile in Her Shoes, which helps women affected by homelessness find their feet through running. A healthy month for you and an opportunity to help others. Brilliant.

Christmas Day Park Run
Nationwide, 25th December
The brilliant folk at park run not only put on free 5ks throughout the country every single week, but some are also holding an event on Christmas day. I went for my first Christmas day run last year and cannot recommend it enough. I ran alone and loved it so I am looking forward to my first EVER parkrun being on Christmas day this year in Cardiff. I think it's going to be quite special. Runs are also taking place at some park runs on New Years Day, check the link above to see if yours is included.

Know of another event that's not listed? Then drop me a line at to be added.

Have a brilliant month of festive running. Eat well, run well - and don't do *too* many runs on a hangover.

Sunday, 30 November 2014

Christmas Pudding 5 mile Dash

No, absolutely not. In no way did I enter this race because you get a Christmas pudding at the end. NO WAY!

Christmas 'tis the season to don a Santa outfit / elf hat / Christmas pudding baubles and get your run on. There are a plethora of festive runs out there, Santa Dash, Reindeer Run, Yule Yomp - you name it, people love to run in the name of Christmas.

Today was my turn and I came in second lady in the 5 mile Christmas Pudding Dash! In addition to the medal and post run pudding I also bagged a podium place and a bottle of wine. Perfect post race refuel and re-hydration...

Take a look to see how I got on.

Friday, 28 November 2014

CrandonRuns Friday Photo #9

A round-up of Crandon Runs in one weekly photo

This week among many other runs including through a pitch black park (more on that this week), I am mostly looking forward to my first festive run with the Manchester Christmas Pudding 5 mile dash this weekend. Not my first Christmas run this year, no, my first ever! Now where did I leave my santa hat...?

How kind that they also allocated me my age as my race number...(ahem)

Friday, 21 November 2014

CrandonRuns Friday Photo #8

A round up of CrandonRuns in one weekly photo

There was a time when Friday nights were solely reserved for partying. 

Well the times they have changed. Tonight saw me and runner babe Sheila, bring our own disco lights to our rain soaked night time ninja run. Our inaugural head torch run was a party in its own right....but with much less booze and a lot more sweat. 

Friday, 14 November 2014

Crandon Runs Friday Photo #7

A round up of Crandon Runs in one weekly photo

This week has seen me enter the world of hill sprints. 

For my first ever session I tentatively joined the Manchester YMCA Harriers to repeatedly sprint up and down a hill. 

It was an 'incline' they said. LIES! It did not feel like it by the 8th time! (or the second for that matter.)

But who knew running hills could be so much FUN?


Happy running folks!

*not actual hill we ran - obviously. I would be dead.

Friday, 7 November 2014

Crandonruns Friday Photo #6

A round up of CrandonRuns on one weekly photo

This week I've been celebrating all things Autumn - and here's another! It's the season when every runner's favourite fuel really comes into it's own. With milk, honey, cinnamon, banana, berries, the opportunities are endless. Pre-run? Post-run? Who cares?! Autumn is all about the porridge.

Mmmm.....hug in a bowl.

Enjoy your Autumn running folks.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Winter vs Summer Running

Well it's here. Time to face facts and pull out your running thermals, folks. Autumn is upon us.

And I for one am so bloody pleased! The joy of running in the cold way out-weighs the fun of running in the Summer months. Sure, the days are shorter; the cold early mornings mean morning runs are harder to crawl out of your nice warm bed for; and the rain, hail, wind and snow are an added, uh feature to contend with. 

But don't these just add to the fun of it all?

Choosing to run Berlin as my first marathon was largely based on the fact I wanted to train through the Summer months instead of training all winter. Oh, how young and foolish I was! The heat of the summer, trudging through what felt like the air from a hairdryer, with the sun in your eyes and the sunburn from a 3 hour training run were not what I had factored in. Compare that to the feeling of getting yourself warm through running in the cold, as your breath glows in front of you while the lights from the city make you feel like you're flying - there really is no contest for me.

Having now experienced marathon training in both Summer and Winter, I am glad that I decided to undertake the challenge of the London marathon and not let the thoughts of winter training ruin it for me. I am now an older and wiser runner and am happy to say I much prefer the winter runs.

That's not to say that it doesn't come without its own challenges. The snow is a big frustration, when you really want to be out pounding the pavement only to wake up to a blizzard, while the threat of injury inducing running on ice is both a danger and a nightmare. But the rain is never as bad as it seems once you're out there and the muddy soaked-through tired exhaustion at the end of it makes your training feel twice as earned. 

And hey, when you are treated to beautiful days, with the sun low in the sky, and you're bundled up all warm in your headband, gloves, long sleeves, etc there is no feeling like it.

So don't moan about the weather, embrace it, go forth and run it. 


Saturday, 1 November 2014

The Rundown - November

Live near Manchester and want to get your sweat on? Then look no further - here's the Rundown for November.

European Outdoor Film Tour
6th Nov, Manchester
The European Outdoor Film tour comes to Manchester this month, showcasing the best of adventure films, from kayaking in remotest Mongolia to free climbing cranes and holding on with only one hand - these films are not made by the faint-hearted. Luckily you can enjoy them from the comfort of your cinema seat.

MoRun Series
9th Nov, Heaton Park
The MoRun series is back this year, with new runs in Liverpool and Newcastle. I've done this one in Heaton Park for the past two years (did I mention I came third lady last year??!) and I can't recommend it enough. Great atmosphere and all for a great cause. Get yourself down there.

Up and Running Night Run Series
12 Nov, Leeds / 19 Nov, Manchester
Up and Running are offering a series of night time runs from all of their stores throughout Winter, to help us navigate the dark nights. And they are FREE. This month in Manchester it's the 19th. Just sign up via the website for your chosen run.

'Hamstring for Dummies' Yoga Workshop
23rd Nov, Manchester
All that running tightened your muscles? Then head over to The Yoga Lounge for a workshop dedicated solely to releasing and stretching your hamstrings. Open to all, don't let the mention of a Powerpoint put you off.

National Trust Nostrell Priory Night Run
29th Nov, Near Wakefield,  Yorkshire
Ever wanted to don a head torch, and run around a National Trust property in the dark? Of course you have. Part of the National Trust's Night Run series, the Nostrell Priory offers 2km and 6 km options. Lots of other runs available around the country throughout Winter, including nearer to Manchester.

Manchester Christmas Pudding 5 mile Dash
30th Nov, Manchester
A 5 mile dash around Wythenshawe Park. A medal AND a mince pie await you at the finish line and the 11am start means you get an extra hour in bed. I'm all signed up - see you there!

Know of any events not listed here? Then drop me a line at and I'll add it to the Rundown.

Friday, 31 October 2014

CrandonRuns Friday Photo #5

A round-up of CrandonRuns in one weekly photo

It's that time of year - the clocks have gone back and the nights are drawing in. Light up your run and be seen in the dark!

Do you think they saw me on my run this week?

Happy running and be safe!

Friday, 24 October 2014

CrandonRuns Friday Photo #4

A roundup of CrandonRuns in one weekly photo

This week - Love vs Need

Oh how fickle the seasons are! Last week I was all about the short shorts, and now a mere week later here I am wearing a headband and gloves when out running. But a drop in temperature means only one thing - NEW KIT! (I'm not sure of my excuse any other time of year, but we'll gloss over that) 

I have been eyeing these Adidas Studio Power Lace tights up for ages and now the colder weather surely means I NEED more lycra in my cupboards....yes?? 

Keep warm and happy running folks!

Monday, 20 October 2014

Post race blues? Not here...!

It is now a little over 3 weeks since I ran the Berlin Marathon, and running since then has been nothing but....unexpected. pure. bliss!

I promised myself a week off post marathon, but on the sixth day I found myself pulling on my old trusty trainers and heading out for a good, solid 5 miler. A couple of days later I was back enjoying a pre-work morning run in the rain, and after that, having a very unexpectedly fast 6 miler with the Sweatshop Running Club. This post marathon fun running has been really rather surprising, particularly when I thought I would be lying on the sofa until at least January or mourning the loss of any goals to aim towards. 

But then thinking about it, is it really any wonder? Now that the seemingly never-ending marathon training is over, I can do what I want, when I want! I can go out in the morning or the night time; today, the next day or the day after that if I feel like. I can go running for 10 miles or 3. I can even, much like I did this weekend, not go at all and drink coffee on the sofa while reading the papers.

Without the looming pressure of finish lines and finish times, I can get back to the enjoyment of running for pure unadulterated FUN (yes non-running readers, it sounds bonkers but this is actually a 'thing'). 

Don't get me wrong, I love having a goal race to aim towards. I love the challenge of bettering myself over absurdly long distances and I love the kick up the bum that a race gives you to get out there and push yourself to go even further than you could ever possibly conceive. And I have still spent a worrying amount of time in the last three weeks researching new races to do (including marathons, but don't tell anyone that bit). 

But after completing two marathons in two seasons, I feel like I've been training all year - probably because I have. This continuous running along with all the injuries during the summer meant I felt really disheartened towards the end of my Berlin training, and if I'm honest I'd lost sight of 'why' I was running anymore. I remember thinking as I plodded around the streets in Berlin for the second time, 'haven't I proved my point yet?'

So I'm glad to find I seem to be falling back in love with running, just for the sake of pounding the streets, getting out in the fresh air, clearing my head and basically feeling like I'm flying.

If you've just finished training for a goal and feel a little bit lost post race, I can thoroughly recommend going on a tiny little race hiatus.

I like it. A LOT. 

Friday, 17 October 2014

CrandonRuns Friday Photo #3

A round up of CrandonRuns in one weekly photo.

This week it's legs out in short shorts

Yes, the seasons are changing.
Yes, it's getting colder, and darker.
But, I'm pleased to tell you it is STILL shorts running weather people.

This week I've been out both day and night in my favourite Adidas leopard print shorts, and I've still been toasty! Wahoo -  not time to give up those short shorts just yet! Kapow!

Have a good week! 

Friday, 10 October 2014

CrandonRuns Friday Photo #2

A round up of CrandonRuns in one weekly photo.

This week, my annual post from Virgin London Marathon. 

After two marathons already this year, I'm a little relieved...

Did you get a ballot place? If not are you seeking a charity place? Are you doing another marathon instead? Share your VLM marathon woes and wins below!

Friday, 3 October 2014

Crandon Runs Friday Photo #1

A round up of Crandon Runs, in one weekly Friday Photo

This week - Bandages, Beer and Bling post Berlin Marathon!

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Berlin Marathon 2014 - Race Report

This time last week I wasn't sure I would even get to the start line of the Berlin Marathon. On Sunday, with little dose of determination I managed to do not only that, but also made it to the finish line in 3:55:06.

Sure it wasn't my fastest time, but it was a course record for CrandonRuns and after 2 months of training plagued by injuries, I was MORE happy with that!


But my goodness, what a blub-fest! This time around I was seriously overwhelmed by the emotions of running the marathon. You name it, I probably cried there on Sunday. The platform at the train station on the way to the race? Check. The start line? Check. Baggage check? Check. On a rock after collecting my bag at the end? Check (fist bump to the girl from Nottingham who talked to me here whilst I was having a little cry-fest - thanks lady for taking my mind off it!) The finish? Check....check...CHECK.

At about mile 17 I could feel a sob bubbling up in my chest so badly that it was affecting my breathing, and all I could do was walk and sob to get it done with. I wasn't sad, I wasn't in pain, I was just extremely overwhelmed by it all. I was also trying to show that I was actually happy, so I was trying to smile whilst sobbing. Word to the wise - do NOT try this - I can only imagine what this looked like to the crowd as I passed.

Sob done - it was time to get back to it! I was glad I got that out of the way and felt much better afterwards. Thanks to the German lady here who called out 'Go Sarah, you are a Superstar!' which made me pick up my tired little legs and start running again. And this is what I love about the marathon, the support from absolute strangers cheering you all on together as you all run to reach your own individual goals; other runners helping each other out and supporting them when the going gets tough; the lift you feel as other runners see their own supporters on the course; not to mention the many emails and good luck messages I had from friends and family. I kept thinking of all of these messages as I ran, and they definitely kept me going when it got tough, as did focusing on getting to the next check point.
35k mark

I had tried to break the run into four 10k sections (and worry about the extra 2k at the end!) with my champion supporter Jamie planted at three other designated places. This was fine until my brain went all strange about 34k. I was on my way to seeing Jamie at his last point and all I could think by this time was that I needed to know the remaining distance in mileage - but my exhausted brain wasn't playing ball and was unable to do the most basic of maths. I was thinking I would just have to run to Jamie and ask him what 7 x 6 was....thankfully I refrained from sounding like a total loon, pulled myself together and got over it! At 35k I just managed to keep the tears at bay as Jamie gave me a little pep talk and told me it was less than 7k to go. I said I'd see him at the end and soldiered on for the remaining 4.35 miles (in case you're wondering).

Throughout the run I kept thinking that this was my last marathon, so I had to make it count. Then the next minute thinking, 'If I carry on like this I might just qualify for London Good for Age Time' then back to, 'Never again!' Who knows?!

The brilliant Chrissie Wellington said on twitter before the London Marathon, 'There's no pressure, no expectation other than to do the very best with the body and mind you have on the day. That's success and perfection'

After all the weeks of training and the injuries, on Sunday during my third marathon, I feel like I achieved just that.

Thank you to all of you who sent kind and supportive messages both before and after the run. The amount that this support carries you through the race is immeasurable and I am truly very grateful.
Champion supporter

Saturday, 20 September 2014

New injuries - new goals

Another week, another injury in my marathon training.

After weeks of taping and a week of swimming, cycling, yoga and absolutely NO RUNNING, my Achilles problem finally seems to be on the mend and I managed a pain free 10 miles last weekend. 'Brilliant' I thought, 'I can do my final taper runs and get back on track with the training.' Wahoo! Mojo back, leg back, BERLIN HERE I COME.

My body, however has other ideas. With a little over 7 days until the Berlin Marathon my knee seems to be having some sort of paddy. I am now spending my final week resting like this...

It is torture. Tapering is always an odd part of marathon training - the part where you feel like all your hard work thus far has instantly evaporated because you're only doing shorter runs to conserve your energy. It plays tricks with your mind. But with this knee injury and not seeing my Physio until Tues, I have new bigger, and much more realistic worries.

Earlier in my training my goal in Berlin, as always, was to get a PB. Best scenario, I was hoping for 3:45. More realistic scenario I was hoping to break 3:50 and take just a minute 50 seconds off my PB from London earlier this year. 

Well with 6 weeks of injury under my belt, and this new knee issue, my goals have changed significantly. My new goal is to get to the actual start line, something I won't know if I can do until Tuesday....

Next goal is to get to the finish line. Whilst I will still want the PB, and definitely will give it my all on the day, I stubbornly realise that with the real possibility of not being able to take part at all, just getting through next Sunday will be the ultimate goal. And really, who cares if it's not my fastest time? No one. I figure as long as I give it all I can on the day, then that medal will be well earned and well deserved regardless of some silly numbers.  

Tape, tape and more tape
My last, but certainly not least goal is to enjoy it. In all the stress of injury, training, resting, not being able to run, worrying about running, let alone all the other maranoia that comes with the Marathon, its hard to forget that this is meant to be FUN. I need to make sure I look around, enjoy the sights, enjoy the cheering, the crazy outfits, the cowbells, the atmosphere and have a bloody good time. Because otherwise, really, what's the point?!

I just need to get to the start line first.

Think good, leg healing thoughts people.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

MISSING - If found please return.

I am done, spent, exhausted.

Currently training for my third marathon in Berlin, plagued by fatigue and injury over the past few weeks, my running mojo seems to have up and left. I've been deserted. This is not good with only 25 days to go until I run the marathon.

With the London Marathon also earlier this year, I feel like I've been running since December. I'M TIRED. And with only a couple of weeks break after London before embarking on Berlin training, I just feel so over it. This coupled with a hectic (but I must say absolutely bloody brilliant) year of 30th birthday celebrations, weddings and hen dos, not to mention a very busy work life this year, it's been difficult to fit it all in. And my heart just hasn't been in my training this time. 

Twitter, usually a source of encouragement and motivation, makes me think I'm not like these people I follow who are clearly brilliant superheroes, able to bash out 200 mile runs for breakfast, followed by a marathon for lunch and an Ironman for dinner.

And this Sunday just gone, I totally sacked off my long run altogether in favour of staying in having a nap and a curry. I have never contemplated not doing a long run during any training before,  but I just couldn't face it. 

So if you find it - pleeeeaaase send me back my running mojo. Preferably within the next 3 weeks.

Until then I'll be over here, pretending that I still have it. I'll continue on my training plan, run my crucial 20 miler, get myself to yoga, treat myself to some snazzy kit, eat right and perhaps the most crucial of all, get some shut eye. 

Maybe this is where it's hiding all along?

Friday, 29 August 2014

Severn Bridge Half Marathon - Race Report

Ever fancied running from Wales to England and back again? Well this weekend I did just that with my super speedy brother in law, Gavin. Want to know how we did? Us too! But we can’t tell you because each time we look at the results, they are different!
Read on for the Severn Bridge Half Marathon race report.

Early Morning Bridge start line
Race Organisation
This was the first ever Severn Bridge Half marathon, and this tied with the fairly lax information given out pre-race (weird attempts at humour and no postcode for start point), we weren't holding out a lot of hope. But I must say I was pleasantly surprised! Race HQ was clearly signed from the motorway, and the event village was really good for spectators. As always, more toilets might have been helpful!

Starting Location

The race started smack bang in the middle of the old Severn Bridge. Pretty cool, and a nice early morning view. However, I think it could have benefited from starting BEFORE the bridge so you got to run over it fully twice. But as far as races starts go, this was a goodie!

Ready to Rock at the start line

The draw of this race is that the route incorporates the Severn Bridge. And this is great. But the bridge part is in fact fairly short! After the first crossing you then go into pretty much 9 miles of small but very scenic countryside lanes, flanked by cows, poo and some rather lovely houses – which is all very nice, apart from the hills which were unexpected. Oh the HILLS.

The website states: ‘The course is best described as 'undulating with one hill’ 
Crandon states: ‘The course is best described as really effing hilly with several hills leading up to one GIGANTIC VERY STEEP AND VERY LONG HILL’

Seriously, there were about 6 hills before we got to what I'm going to refer to as ‘The Beast’ just after the 5/6 mile mark (I think).

This isn't to say I didn't like the route, I just felt unprepared. I like running in countryside but the continual up-hill-down-hill made it difficult to get a proper pace going.

Due to the countryside and bridge route, there were very few spectators. But I must say the marshals were all really encouraging and there were little pockets of supporters along the way which was really nice. Some homeowners had set up camp with seats and a cuppa outside their house, and I was most jealous of them! Running back to the finish line was nice as this is where the majority of spectators were. I say nice, I mean painful and the crowds were needed to get up the final hill. I don’t mind saying that the small crowds at the end, coupled with the pain from an injury, made me well up and feel pretty emotional. But I held back the tears. Just.

Our Champion supporters

On Route Drinks and Snacks
No snacks or gels that I remember, but there were plenty of water stations and each also had a portaloo. I think there were about 3 or 4 in total spread out over pretty equal distance which was good. And again marshalled by very encouraging and lovely people!

Official T Shirt
I might go as far to say this is the BEST official race T-shirt I have ever received. Good design, and they are actually true to size! Hallelujah!
Top marks for medal and T-shirt
A good design featuring the Severn Bridge. Its nice! But light! As my Mum noted, ‘it’s not as heavy or as good quality as the London Marathon Medal is it’. I love you Mum

Mark out of 10

Considering this was the inaugural race, I think the organisers did a really good job. The atmosphere was good, lovely lovely marshalls and I love a local race. They also get top marks for the medal and t-shirt. 
I would have given them a 7 out of ten BUT WHAT THE HELL IS UP WITH THE TIMING RESULTS?!

Since Sunday I have received 3 different timings on the website of my gun time. All of which are way out of my watch time (but admittedly this did stop for a second or two…oops!). I do not have a chip time, and neither does Gavin, and a fair few others it would seem according to the
 forums. They have emailed all participants and do seem to be trying to sort it out but still no results for us! The website states, ‘As keen runners ourselves we know how important accurate and efficient race timing is.’ Sadly they seem to have fallen at the final hurdle.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

My new er...toy

In training for my third marathon, I finally bit the bullet last night and invested in a new gadget...of sorts. If I'm honest I've been putting off making this purchase but after my legs decided they hated me this week following an 18 mile run on Saturday, I knew it was time...

Enter the foam roller.
Ta Daaa!
Now its not been a long relationship, granted, but after 24 hours here are a few things I have learnt about this weird and wonderful bit of training equipment.

1) It hurts like a bitch
It's true. It hurts. Pressing and rolling and doing all sorts of odd things to aching muscles is not going to be a walk in the park. It's a nice (ish) pain though, like when you get a really good sports massage. But not as good. Obviously.

2) It looks weird.
Try rolling around on a bit of bright orange foam and not feeling like a doofus. Worse still, you look like you are actively trying to have sex with this orange bit of foam. Throw in the noises escaping from the pain and it might be best to alert your loved ones/ flat mates/ neighbours/ cat (delete as appropriate) before they raise eyebrows, and let them know that you are not in fact attempting relations with this new random object you sneaked upstairs after your run...

3) It's a workout in itself
Now I know I don't have the most amazing upper body strength, but this foam rollering lark is hard work! Phew wee! I was TIRED after a mini session last night. My arms, my legs...

4) It (seems) to work!
Now again, its only been a day - but I totally knackered my calf last night on a 5 mile fast run. It HURT. With 6 and a half weeks to go to Berlin Marathon I do NOT want to be getting an injury. I dutifully foam rollered last night, and while I'm not miraculously cured, I can actually walk rather than hobble today.

So there we go - I probably should've got one a long time ago - even if to just give my boyfriend a laugh at me rolling around like a running loon.

Monday, 11 August 2014

We Love Manchester 10K - Race Report

I’ve recently decided to try and do more local races, and with this in mind I entered the ‘We Love Manchester 10k’ and ran it back in July. With a 12 mile run showing on my marathon training plan that week however, I was unsure how to incorporate the race into my weekly schedule. Should I just run the 10k as an extra run? Or sack off my 12 mile run altogether? Neither of these seemed like a viable option so I decided to incorporate the race into my 12 miler. Yes, like a running loon.
Luckily the race start was 3 miles from my house, so I ran to the race HQ, did the 10k (6.4 miles) and then ran the 3 miles home – therefore getting both the race and the training distance under my belt! Phew!
No PB was expected by doing this as I was keen to ensure the 12 mile marathon training was the priority rather than the race, however I did secretly wonder if I’d improved on speed since my last 10K in November…turns out running to a race is a good warm up and I managed a PB by 3 minutes of 45:54. I am also enjoying the symmetry of this number. Wahoo!
So how was the race itself? Read on for my race report:
WE LOVE MANCHESTER 10K - 13th July 2014

Race Organisation
This was OK. It was organised through Sports Tours International, and I was expecting a little more from them I think. There wasn't a lot of information sent out, and I found the website difficult to navigate and find certain info. I had to trawl through it to find even the important info like a course map. But the start details and race numbers were all sent out OK.
Starting Location
This was by far the highlight of the race and I suspect the reason people keep coming back to do this 10K, as it starts and finishes in the Regional Athletics track - making you to feel like a real rockstar runner with support from the stadium seats. However, there wasn't a whole lot of organising. The DJ and warm up were pretty dire and there weren't any starting pens depending on speed. The start was therefore a little bottle-necked, but OK. 
Stadium Start
If I was a visitor to Manchester and ran this course, I would not think ANYONE Loved Manchester. Miserable, industrial and boring is how I would describe the route. Apart from starting and finishing in the stadium, there isn't really anything else going for this course. There was not one landmark I could tell you, but there was an awful lot of tarmac. The route also tricks you into thinking you're almost at the end when you start heading back into to stadium, only to realise that you're actually going out again and back on to the boring old main road. It had more hills than I was anticipating too. Hearing them calling your name over the PA system as you entered the stadium and ran down the track to the finish line was pretty damn cool though. 


The atmosphere within the stadium was pretty good with lots of support, and at the beginning as you ran out into the main route. From there it was pretty sparse though, due to the out of town course route I suspect. 
On Route Drinks and Snacks
I think there was one well placed water station at a decent mile point, but I didn't use it. There weren't any snacks/gels that I remember but in a 10K I think this is OK.
Enormous T

Official T Shirt
The T shirt shows the We Love MCR Charity logo which I like - despite the T-Shirt being GINORMOUS even though it was supposedly a small. Its literally like a nightie! But its a good strong design (although apparently runs in the wash!)


Small but again shows the We Love MCR logo - I like it! 

Marks out of 10
6/10 - an uninspiring route but I managed a PB and the bit in the actual stadium is good. I would do it again but purely due to it being close to home, and a much better price than say the Great Manchester 10K which is extortionate! I wouldn't recommend you make a journey for it if you live outside Manchester though. Although as its for the We Love MCR charity it gets a couple of bonus points.