Bournemouth Marathon Festival

This was a busy weekend.i was signed up for the Supersonic 10k and my husband for his first marathon. We used this as an excuse for a weekend away together which is pretty much unheard of for us. We really don’t have anyone willing to stay with them so the opportunity arising was grabbed.

We arrived in Bournemouth near lunchtime and went straight to our hotel (Marriott) right on the cliff. The most amazing part was that they had our room ready for us (except their utter inability to understand no feather pillows due to severe allergy) rather than making us wait until 3pm. Tiniest room on the third floor but it did just about have a view of the ocean. After checking in we headed into town and had lunch, bought a winter coat and checked out the festival hub. The weather was freezing and wet but after I finally got a decent coat I was cozy and happy.

We went back to the room and I got ready for my run. The 10k had a 4pm start which suits me well. I am NOT a morning person. Around 3pm we wondered down to the starting area and looked around to figure out where my pen was….the blue group was the last one which was located down the straightaway and around the corner from the start line which was no even visible for us. About 3:45 we started lining up and chatting. I met a lady that was a Ravenclaw Hogwarts Running Club member which was exciting as I am a Ravenclaw as well. I also met a group of ladies that looked to be of Indonesian decent as well as a lady from the Redway Runners in Milton Keynes. These ladies chatted with me and calmed me down a great deal. The crowd was big but my little group around me felt like a padding from the world.

It took several minutes to get the the start line. Based on the gun vs chip time it was about 4 minutes. We ran down the promenade for a while with the water to our right. The evening was cold and very windy, I found the running to be so very hard. When the front runners turned back to run past us before we even got to 2 miles I was disheartened. When we had to jump a huge puddle while getting up and down a curb I got a bit wet and just wanted to quit but I pushed on. We came back around and just after 3 miles we had a water stop before heading down the piers.

At the first pier there was an extremely loud band of drums. The sound and the pounding sensation of the drums made me feel very panicked causing me to struggle to control my breathing. I had to cover my ears and run past as quick as I could going on and getting off the pier. The wooden surface of the pier was great to run on though and the feeling of running out to sea was very calming. I kept running and at the second pier I saw my husband going on and coming back off again.

The final section was running down the promenade with the sea on our left for a while before turning around and heading for the finish. It was not that far down the seafront but the cold had seeped in so much that I was hurting. At the best of times it takes a long time for me to warm up but it sucks when my temperature drops before I even finish the run. I got down to the finish and I ran as hard as I could and I don’t think anyone could tell I had sped up. They called out my name and I ran through the finish. My goal was under 1:15. My pb was 1:13:40 (I think). My Bournemouth time was 1:11:11. New personal best.

After the run was not as organised as beforehand. Their funnelling was not horrible but could have been better. The problem was the collection for the goody bag. They hadn’t packed them with the promised goodies. They gave out a bag with a t-shirt in it and then expected the runners to collect the other bits but without telling us we had to do this. They also only provided those goodies in the small to medium shirt sections so being a large there was nothing for me to collect. Disappointing!

After the run we went out to Nando’s for dinner. While my husband ordered the food I packed away my stuff and was playing on my phone. I knew I had a pb because of my garmin but noticed my number was very bent up and the organisers stressed not bending the chip which was bent. I started worrying that I might not get an official time. I worried but continued to play on my phone. I got a text quite soon after the run with my official time which chuffed me and I showed my husband when he came back. The funny thing is that I continued to worry about my time not being official. I am sure that was done to exhaustion. We ate dinner and were walking back through the event area on the way back to the hotel about an our after reading the text with my time before I suddenly realised the text was the proof that my time was official. Silly but funny.

The Sunday was the marathon and it was so cold. He usually is hot natured but even he couldn’t help but shiver s the wind just cut straight through. I left before he started so I could get to a point to meet up with him. At 6 miles I was able to cheer him on near the aid station. From there I met him again at miles 11, 13, 15, and 18. 18 happened near our hotel so I walked up the hill with him and cheered him on while I took stuff back to the room. After having a drink and snack I headed back down to the seafront and planned to wait around the finish to cheer him through before realising that there was one more point I could meet him at more than once but only if I hurried. Running with a heavy backpack is not easy at best of time but by that afternoon it was also warm and sunny and all I had to wear was a jumper. I didn’t make it to 20 miles in time but I was patient there and cheered people along at the 25.5 mile point. When hubby came through I did my best to run along with him toward the finish but I couldn’t keep up (his marathon pace was too fast for this turtle). He finished in just under 5 hrs and I met back up with him in the event hub area.

We celebrated at Five Guys and had drinks that night. We were both worn out. He had run a marathon and I had run/walked 8 miles that day supporting him. We were asleep by 8:30pm I think. The next day I had vertigo and was stumbling around just trying to get breakfast and check out. We headed home and begged out for the rest of Monday.

I do recommend the Bournemouth Marathon Festival. The 10k was mostly flat and fast. The 5K was at night and all lit up with lights and glow sticks. The half I didn’t see but the marathon was good. The atmosphere was good even if the goody bags were a disappointment. Good weekend of running though a bit too tiring to have been romantic. Will have to figure out a way to have a weekend away again one of these days.

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50 mile challenge

For the month of September, I decided to sign up for a virtual running challenge where I pay a fee and send in evidence of my running to earn a medal (and this time a shirt). So for the whole month of September I have been working on running 50 miles (80.5km). The half marathon alone got me a quarter of the way so I figured 50 miles was a a good mileage choice. I am now down to my last week and have to do 20km of running this week. This seems daunting to me. I know I will reach my goal as I am very determined (barring injury). There are many virtual running challenge companies to choose from and I think it could make for a good focus to keep training going especially over the winter. Next month I am going to again do a 50 mile challenge I think but this time with a company that lets me mix it us with walking, running, cycling and swimming so that it isn’t as daunting but gets me more focused on training for the Isle of Wight challenge in the spring.

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Swindon Half Marathon

I did it. I ran my half marathon yesterday. I didn’t run every single step but I ran well. There were only just under 2000 of us running which means about 300 people signed up and paid but didn’t show up on the day. I guess that still means I beat them too though. I finished about 1750 ish. I did see the exact place but it was pretty irrelevant to me as I always knew I would be at the back of the pack but not the slowest.

The day started at 6am when I husband woke me up and turned on the lights (as I think we know that waking up at 6am on a Sunday will not happen without blinding light). I had my clothes laid out so got dressed quickly so I could get downstairs for my tea and flapjack breakfast. We had gone out special the day before to buy the flapjack only for my stomach to tell me it had no interest in it on the day. By 6:45am we were out the door to walk down to the start.

The starting line is only a couple miles away and not strenuous in any way so the walk was our warm up. This was good as we might have walked a bit leisurely and found ourselves running a bit later than we expected. We got to the start and toilet lines for 7:39am which was just quick enough to use the facilities and find a quieter spot to hide in. In emails I had been assured that loud music was banned from the start of the race because we were close to residential areas but the music was blasting nonetheless which set off the panic in me even all the way back in the 3hr runner area. Luckily though, I wasn’t there that long before the start and they got us going promptly at 8am.

The race started rather ridiculously early because the Swindon Outlet Centre are assholes that forced the organisers to start it too early or not get permission to start it at all. In fact, the likelihood of there being another Swindon Half Marathon is in jeopardy quite possibly because of the council forcing it into the same day as bigger runs (like the Great North Run) and several other regionally local half marathons and the McArthur Glen Outlet Centre forcing it to be so early that they put off runners.

So we set off through the edge of the Magic Roundabout and onto Queens Drive for a long slight incline. I was prepared for this as I have walked, run and cycled this route and knew that Queens Drive is slightly uphill. No big deal. Down to the Marlborough Roundabout and left onto Dorcan Way. Not bad for the first bit but then Dorcan Way goes a bit more uphill (which I was well aware of already) and back down again to Morrison’s. This was about the 5K (3 mile) mark. Onward from there still on Dorcan we had a reasonably flat like bit of road and our first aid station. I had my Clif Blok and some water (500ml bottles that no one was drinking more than a couple hundred millilitres so a bit too big for needs) and disposed of the litter in the bins provided. I can’t really run and eat/drink so had to stop for a few moments by the bin.

From the end of Dorcan we headed over the roundabout by Greenbridge Shopping Centre and up our first real hill on Swindon Road (I might not have the right name there but it at least leads to it) and at the top left down into the road by the Dockle Farmhouse pub (want to say Gypsy lane but that might be wrong as well). Around this point I really started to notice an older man in a flannel shirt and trousers running ahead of me but stopping regularly to recite poetry and engage with the crowds. He needs to share some of that energy.

Up past Wicks and left onto Great Western Way. Now this bit I was sure I remembered being pretty quickly downhill and a good downhill as that but we got there and damned if it wasn’t uphill first and not slightly. You don’t notice in a car but on foot it is so obvious! This became a theme for the rest of the race. We did get our downhill bit to the roundabout heading over toward Tesco. We went straight over there and the next to run along next to Swindon College and get to our halfway point at the Oasis leisure centre. I had my second Clif Blok and a bit more water and back out again. See I had this goal of running at least half without walking which I did and ran out of there to see how far I actually could get.

I didn’t fully chew the Blok before heading out on the next bit of run and quickly realised before getting to the bins that I couldn’t breath and chew at the same time and my heart rate was spiking because of it so I did walk while chewing and ran again as soon as I could swallow. It was only a minute tops but technically this was walking. I don’t fully count it as walking but if you want to be pedantic I walked for the first time around 10.5 km. I did immediately get myself back up to pace through Hawkworth Industrial Estate, left under the Bruce Street Bridges and onto the road toward the outlet centre. Again this road is flat in a car but it is definitely an incline when on foot. Up the long straight bit to a right at the roundabout and a left to take us down past the Steam Museum and behind the Outlet Centre (you know so that there was no impact on them anyway regardless of the time of day) over a bridge and into the residential area on the other side.

At 7 Miles I was waiting a bit but I just kept finding a point in the distance to push on to and when I got there chose the next until a felt a bit of a confidence again. Past the Weighbridge Pub through another industrial estate and down to Wooten Bassett Road. We crossed over the road and headed up into Wichelstowe. Along this bit (that was very narrow considering the situation) a first responder came blaring past followed shortly by an ambulance. Luckily by the time the ambulance was making its way past I could get on the footpath but for the first responder all I could do was run right up against the curb as there were spectators on the footpath. It turned out to be for a lady that had hurt her foot or ankle but nothing serious. This bit of road is also a smidge uphill and shortly before 9miles (14km) I walked for a minute or two. I was really happy to have pushed on this long and got myself going again to the aid station and my third Blok and water.

At this aid station I stopped completely to eat the Blok and have a bit of water as I knew it would work against me to try chewing and running again. It was only a minute or two tops but it was the right choice. I headed back out and ran to just after the 10 mile sign and this is when the walking/running really started not far from the Bayberry pub. At this point I knew it was 5km to the finish and I was 2:04 into my run so I would manage under 3hr. I also knew I had to will myself even more though as walking seemed like an option for the duration. I was stronger than my inclination though. Uphill to the crossing and onto the hardest part of the race….Pipers Way.

I have run Pipers Way before. The first time was 11 years ago in a fun run for the old Swindon half marathon. Since than I have done it twice in practice. I knew on race day I was walking Pipers and I did for most of it. At Nationwide we had to run into the campus a bit so I ran that bit to the water station but walked up until I reached Intel. From there I ran so slowly it was pathetic but I did it. I didn’t last long before the last bit of hill into Old Town reared it’s ugly head and I walked up that.

At Wood Street I plucked up my courage with the cheering crowds and ran again. At the end of Wood St there was a lady with a sign that said “down hill bit” which gave me a spark of self-confidence to push on down Victoria Hill. I say a friend just before the bottom that spurred me on again. Down around Regent Circus and just the slightest hill like incline for a short distance. Walked that 50m and at the right turn could see the finish. I got the guy beside me who was clearly wiped out too going again and we ran in to finish.

My husband was on the right side of the road cheering me and my kids a bit farther down. I tried so hard to push a sprint out of me but just could not speed up beyond my average pace. I ran in through the finish line and stopped my watch.

I didn’t look immediately at the time nor saw the clock. I knew it was under 3hr which was the best I was truly expecting. I had three time goals: satisfied was just finishing in 4hrs and getting my medal; happy was under 3hrs; over the moon elated was 2:45. I finished in 2:45:11.9. I am so happy with that and happy it is over.

I beat my goal of running half. I ran for nearly 9 Miles. I pushed through the burning legs and didn’t walk even when I knew I could reach my happy goal and walk the rest of the race. I will excuse that last 11.9 seconds and say I reached to over the moon elated goal. I am sore as hell the next morning and I have no intention of doing any more runs of this length. Races can be 10k from now on. Now on to my next challenge….the Isle of Wight Challenge (walking) in May.

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Half training

The scene is a cold, wet morning at about 8am in a large English town. The roads are quiet and only a few people are out for walks in full trousers and coats. Then two bedraggled “runners” in the shorts and t-shirts come lumbering along the footpaths in training for the half-marathon that sounded like a good idea back in February. Let’s say this was the high point of the run.

I thought through my clothes and what I would bring with me in prep for my last long run before my half in 2 weeks time. Being a late summer run I had my shorts with a pocket big enough for my phone, debit card and clif blocks and my bright orange but so lightweight you could miss it top. I knew it was be chilly to start but last I saw it would be dry until 11am so I was ok. It was not dry until 11am!

The rain started around the 7 km mark. The run had been good and steady without walking breaks (one stop to buy water) and I was feeling confident. I was being as careful as I could to keep my speed slow at about 7:30-8 minute kilometres so I could run for as long as possible. But just as my husband postulated the idea of extending out run to the full 13 Miles the rain began to spit and splatter. I tolerated this but my hands had chilly right back down within a kilometre. We pushed on.

Around about the 10-11 km mark the toilet was my complete focus. Luckily for me the outlet mall as open at least enough to use the toilet. This was unexpected. Just moments before we noticed people going in we had our second clif blocks after struggling to get mine out of my pocket. Between the rain, wind and general chilliness I could not use my hand properly. My fingers just didn’t work. But the mall was open so I relieved myself of about two litres of pee and washed my seized up hands in the hot water. With a wipe down of my glasses we were off again.

I thought peeing would help relax me enough for the running to be a bit less hard….it was not. My average speed dropped a bit at this point and I never got it back. I was frozen through and soaked so badly I couldn’t see anything due to wet glasses and rain in my eyes as well. The rest of the run was like running in a shower….everything was blurry and distorted. I did keep to a slow run though until the point we decided to cut things short (which was still about the same mileage we guesstimated we were doing on the long route). I am not sure what mileage point this detour happened at as my watch decided to stop showing me my distance and pace but perhaps near the 12-13km mark.

The detour was slightly uphill all the way for about 2 Miles so this is where walking started to happen. I am very happy with how long I lasted. We still ran up more than half of this path playing a bit of tag with an older gentleman who was about 70+ and clearly in better fitness than me. The rain continued all the way home (and hasn’t stopped yet an hour and a half on) and I think the temperature might have dipped farther.

When we got to the point that it was pretty much downhill all the way home I got us running again. There were still a couple of short walks but only about 3 minutes in about a 2 mile distance. At the last underpass before home the rain/sweat was burning my eye so badly I had to stop and dry my face out a bit. While there we directed a lost mum and small boy to the nearest bus stop into town and once across the road ran the last 3/4 kilometre home. By the time I was on my own road I was running down the centre ready to fight any car that messed with me.

Total distance was 17.72 km which I have figured in my head is about 11 Miles. If we had done the longer route I suspect we would have added at least another mile. My time for this was 2:32 with a toilet break and a shop break along with some walking in the last few miles. I think this is a very good sign especially considering I ran Parkrun and walked another 6 Miles yesterday so was not completely fresh. I am praying for a dry run for the half-marathon. I would not have seized up so badly from cold had I not been soaked through. I goal is to complete my 13.1 Miles in 3 hours which I believe is very much doable. Happy thoughts.

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Hot, overtrained and a challenge for the future

I don’t know if it has been due to the heat or maybe overtraining a bit but I have hit a wall. I have no energy and my chest and side have been extra achy for a couple weeks. It has definitely interfered with my half-marathon training and even my day to day life. Usually I can ignore the ache in my chest and move on but not lately.

My last race was in June and this summer was just meant to be focused on my half marathon training. The plan was Parkrun on Saturdays, long walk on Sundays, gym for body balance on Mondays, Tuesdays off, Wednesdays was long run ranging from about 12-20k, Thursdays gym for weights and Friday off. The long run day was always actually a walk/run situation as I just can’t run that far but I think I have been pushing it too hard. The thing is that I am running with other people and they are all faster than me by far and I am the only one that can’t run at least 15k continuously. I don’t want to hold them back so try to give my everything. Thing is I think they got everything and now I am paying the price.

In addition to pushing too hard it has been HOT out there, in here and everywhere. Even now when it has cooled down it is still hot for anything active. I swear I felt like I would drown in my own sweat over the weekend in Bristol. Being at home is of course no relief as there is no air conditioning. Even the local hospital (where I had an appointment for tests that didn’t happen) there is no air conditioning. No relief much of anywhere. The gym has a/c but then they expect you to workout and build up a sweat which is still not relieving the heat issue.

In the last couple weeks I have done almost no running. I used the treadmill at the gym for a couple of Mondays in a row but due to circumstances beyond my control parkrun has not been a option, and long run on Wednesday last week didn’t happen because my husband needed to watch the England game (I was happy to have the day off). The gym has mostly been a bit hit or miss as well.

This week marks getting the running going again though. Long run is happening on Wednesday this week and it is the 20k route that is planned. Parkrun is back in play for me on Saturdays again for the foreseeable future as well. The heat issue has calmed but it is still troublingly hot for running. I will try to use my gym time for some treadmill work. As I mentioned in a previous post, I have had trouble pacing myself to keep going lately so my treadmill time will be to work on finding my pace.

How much you want to bet I will continue overdoing it and be worn out again. I would think it a safe bet with a poor payout personally. I just have to be as prepared as I can be for the half marathon in September. I really can’t see me doing anything longer than a half and really don’t feel a need to attempt any more half marathons after Swindon so this shall be a one off. After this half I shall focus on a new challenge for building up to walk the Isle of Wight Challenge next year.

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Run/walking

For about the last 3 weeks or so I have not been able to maintain my pace at all. I run for a while, wear myself out and walk over and over again. I am running at a faster pace (and just can’t seem to slow it down consistently) which I cannot maintain. That last race, Lethbridge, that was mostly downhill for the first half seems to have triggered a speed up in me but my lungs can’t keep up with my legs.

I don’t know how to deal with this pacing issue. My best strategy has been to let it be and just keep running as much as I can keep running in hopes that I will eventually get to a continuous run again as I did before. Will it work? Parkrun have been a struggle and long runs just about a joke because of this. I know the whole time on feet thing and just keep moving but ugh!

I wondered if doing some speed intervals might help so had a go on the treadmill on Monday before Body Balance. I warmed up with a 10 min walk than did intervals for 20 min, walk for 5min and another run for 5 min. I think I underestimated the “jog” speed by using a decent walk instead of a slow jog. I also underestimated my “run” to 9kph. In the last 2 min of my intervals I actually sped up the run to 9.5kph and was good for 2 min straight so not sure I used enough speed to help anything in the end. On a side note though the body balance went well but had enough squatting in it that my thighs are still groaning.

Long run is tonight and I am running with my husband who is a normal fast, my friend who is a slower fast and her son who is like lightning. It is also a heatwave at the moment….that is a relative term but it is quite warm and looking a bit drought like these days. I have a feeling it will be four frustrated runners out this evening wishing they had all stayed on the sofa and binge watched Netflix instead.

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Snail pace runners

I was just reading Women’s Running magazine and it hit me that I haven’t seen a regular piece written by a back of the pack runner in ages and I don’t think ever in Women’s Running. This is a shame as many of us who run in the snail pace section at the back might be put off by the untouchable abilities of those that regularly contribute to the magazine. I read articles about runs where the person goes on about being slow but still finishes a 10k in under an hour. I run races myself where people declare they are tortoises and then streak off in front of me. I am working on my speed and endurance but the fact of the matter is I am not fast and it would be really motivating to hear from someone at the back.

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Lethbridge 10k

Mid week 10k run. The weather was a bit chilly for mid-June. The day had been nice enough but the evening run was a bit of a chilly start. Starting from a local sports centre, we lined up in the sports field with a bit of a shiver waiting for the warm up flail about to finish so the run could start and really get warm. I found my way to the back of the pack where I belong and chatted with a couple of other ladies who felt equally slow before we set out.

The first bit was running around the field before heading up the road. I quite immediately found myself the last runner before even exiting the field. Up out of the field, up out of the car park and up the road. Lots of up. Around under a bridge and around a corner and up a hill heading for the cycle path (45). Thankfully that was the last of the up for the first half at least. By this time I had passed a couple people that had set off too fast.

Along the cycle path we found ourselves running pretty much downhill (though not steeply and at times hardly noticeable) for about 3.5 km. I found myself running too fast but struggling to slow myself down even though I had known exactly what to expect. I found myself forcing myself not to pass the ladies in front of me to avoid burning myself out completely. Down off the cycle path and down a little barely used road until we turn around and head back and across to a closed off road. At about 4.5 km I had to walk and get my breath back on the flat area. By 5k I was already back to running until I got to the water station for a drink shortly on. I can’t drink and run at the same time for some odd reason.

I started right back to running after the drink and headed down the road, back under the cycle path and down to the BMW dealership to rejoin the footpath. On the footpath we followed around the dealership with the rail tracks on our right and back up to the cycle path. Now remember the cycle path was downhill all the way down so of course it is uphill all the way up. I had a little walk just up the first bit of steeper hill before running and from the top. This was not to last.

Run, walk, run, walk…..that was the rest of my run. I just tried to keep the ladies behind me there and focused on trying to catch up to the lady ahead of me also doing the run/walk thing. I never did catch up to her but the ladies behind did stay behind. I ran as best as I could but the hill continuous for such a distance rally did kick my butt. Run, walk, run, walk but I pushed on. About the 9k mark I passed a man….yup that was a first. The declared he was injured and couldn’t run another step…he ran past me by the 9.5k mark. I did walk the first minute of 9k but then I got running again and I made myself keep going and ran the rest of the race. Down out of the cycle path and across a bit of industrial estate with a right turn through a bit of housing before the end.

Down a footpath in front of houses and another right turn down a little path. A right turn into the funnel and I could see the finish line. I sped up as best as I could manage. I always like to sprint finish. I really didn’t have any sprint in me but I managed as much run as I had left in my lungs. I crossed the finish line just behind the lady I was trying to catch and clicked my watch to stop. That was the moment that I knew I had a new personal best. Not a little pb either but a big one. I had taken 4 minutes and 42 seconds off my pervious time. My new pb is 1:13:38. I was gob-smacked.

Even better than getting a new personal best was what happened a couple minutes later. I had gotten my t-shirt and medal and was about to turn and head to my car when some ladies stopped me. These were the ladies behind me wanting to thank me for helping them run back to finish. I was desperate to be sure I wasn’t last but they were pacing off of me it turned out. I was a “pacer” which made me feel so very useful. I feel great pride in knowing I was actually able to help people.

Lethbridge 10k is my husband’s favourite race so I have heard nothing but it’s praises for months. I can’t say I deem it my favourite or that I even have one but it was a good race. I likely will do it again next year. If you are up to a couple miles of constant uphill in the second half then it is definitely a personal best course as it is impossible not to run quickly in the first half.

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Isle of Wight 10K

What do you do on vacation? Relax or maybe read a book? That sounds so much more sensible then what I did. Isle of Wight Festival of Running was the first weekend of June. They had a 5K, 10K, half marathon and a full marathon. Now while on holiday I could have chosen to keep it a bit lighter at least but no….I did the 10K.

We left for the Isle of Wight on the Wednesday before so as to relax a bit and not be traveling hours on the day. The travel started with a 2 hour car ride with my husband and 4 teenagers (the eldest brought her boyfriend along) in a smaller people carrier with luggage for 6 days and bedding for the sofa bed at the house we rented. Let’s just say that youngest was buried alive in the back most seat. After the drive we had to board a ferry and travel another hour to get to the island. Just as we were setting off we noticed to the side of us was the Queen Mary 2 so had to get pictures of that. I desperately want to go on a transatlantic cruise. Upon arrival it was another 30 minute drive to the town in which we had an Air BnB house rented. So you can see why travel on the day of the run was not a good idea.

We stayed in Sandown in a particularly run down but well located holiday park. The clubhouse was derelict but the little bitty 2 bedroom houses were efficient and cosy. The coastal path was a two minute walk from the house as it bordered on the park. From there we have a nice cliff and beach side walk into Sandown. I didn’t find Sandown the most interesting place to be honest. It had that neglected, old fashioned holiday destination feel to it but it also had everything we needed from beachside bar to a big Morrison’s and it had a lovely sandy beach.

On the first day I managed 13K steps despite most of the day traveling and the rest of the holiday followed suit. On the Thursday we attended the Queen Victoria’s birthday garden party in the rain. Osborne House was a nice tour and the little shows in the garden were nice. They had a lovely lady playing the part of Queen Victoria telling the kids about life in Victorian times. Another stall had a man explaining the role of the various household servants. As he would tell us about each of the more lowly jobs he would get a kid doing some part of it. The girl charged with carrying a heavy bucket of coal around needs credit for keeping a smile on her face. By the end of that talk we discovered the wages a modern day butler makes and I was thinking of putting my son into service. The food was good and I was able to get a lovely veggie lentil burger with grilled onions. I snared an umbrella at another stall along with a bit of fudge and a bottle of mead. There was also a horse show….dressage I think it was called, a man preforming with fire and several other bits. Had it been nicer weather we likely would have wondered the grounds but after lunch we just wanted to head back. That afternoon we walked up to a cliff side pub (Culver Haven Inn I think) for drinks with my husband’s cousin who lives on the island and a walk back. Managed about 15K steps that day.

Friday was the day before a 10K race so what did we do? Went on a 10 mile walk after eating a lovely cooked breakfast at a cafe. I must say that I found the island restaurants very good at catering for a vegetarian diet however no one seemed to have heard of supplying non-dairy milks. After the breakfast we headed in the direction of Shanklin along the beachside path that go all the way from Sandown to the Shanklin Chine. From the Chine we headed up into the old village area for a cup of tea at a Tavern come tea room. The weather was improving so sitting outside was a joy. We meandered down into the shopping area and I got a text that the youngest had an eye issue so we cut the walk short of an all day affair and headed back to Sandown. After much confusion we managed to get the girl to a pharmacy to have them look at her eye and give advice only to be told to try a warm compress. At least we didn’t need to try and see a doctor. Before heading back to the house we had dinner at Driftwood Beachside bar and grill. The food a excellent and the view of the Solent wonderful. Managed about 26K steps over the course of the day.

Saturday was race day. We got up and dressed then walked down to have another cooked breakfast. I was sensible and had a simple veggie breakfast while my husband went for the mega breakfast that had 4 of everything from sausages and bacon to eggs and hash browns with lots of sides as well. When we left there my husband needed rolling back to the house. What went through his mind to order that on race day. He really did eat it all and finished the leftovers of my breakfast.

At about noon we set out with the car full of people again. Luckily this was just a 30 minute drive to the Freshwater area. We had the youngest not running as she complains so much about running that the idea of running away without her is golden. The eldest and boyfriend were originally signed up for a 5K but had managed to peer pressure each other enough that they switched to the 10K. Please note that they did absolutely NO training. Husband, son and I were all prepared for our 10K run.

At 3pm we headed out on the trail run from the leisure centre, across the field, down and across a street and turned into a trail. The beginning was reasonably open then into a very narrow path that meant single file running. This also tended to mean that it was a bit stop start like so didn’t push me too hard. The eldest and boyfriend were within sight in front of me getting on with it. Once we finally came out of the narrow wooded section the eldest and boyfriend stopped to sort out he shoes and I passed them up. I didn’t see them again until they finished.

After the wooded section it was running through a corn field. I seem to remember some uphill at this point. I think I may be blocking out the harder parts but I know there were two hills that I walked up. For the most part I tried to run as long as it wasn’t too steep but both hills kicked my butt. After the corn field there was a bit of road with the second hill then back into another corn field . We crossed a street into more field I think. I was pretty wiped out from the hills and bright, direct sun. It was hot. I recall a bit of a golf course and running downhill through stinging nettle, a bit of a country road, across a busier road then into another wooded bit.

The wooded bits would have been almost blissful had I not been so completely exhausted. I ran , I walked, I chatted a bit too. I just kept pushing myself on. We got to a road again crossing over and finding ourselves back on the last bit of road, then field to the finish line. I knew it was almost over but I just couldn’t keep up runnning for this last half a kilometre. I just kept on walking and running in turns. I was coming out of the field and could see the finish and clock ahead and started running and pushing myself as hard as I could.

When I caught sight of the clock in front of me I realised I was actually going to get a personal best if I just kept running. Oh my God was I hot and tired but I couldn’t not put everything I had left in me to work. I sped up when all I wanted to do was slow down. By the time I reached the funnel I was running as fast s I possibly could and finished in 1:18:20. I am still not sure how I pulled off a PB as I walked so much during this race. I had totally expected to have my worst time ever but it was my best.

Husband had his worse 10K time ever as you had probably guessed. My son managed a respectable 1:03 which wasn’t a pb but as we struggles with pacing himself and gets frustrated I think it was a great time. The eldest and the boyfriend ran through the finish line holding hands…..how sickeningly sweet. With no training they managed their first 10K in 1:23. Oh to be young. Honestly, my girl could be an amazing runner if she would just do it but was put off running by a PE instructor that gave her earned competition spot to the girl that finished 11th instead with no explanation which she is still bitter about 4 years on.

Now you would think that having walked miles everyday of the holiday, run a 10K and the temperatures rising throughout the week that on our last full day we would have hung out on the beach for a ell earned rest…nope. On the Sunday, my husband and I went for a walk to the next town over in the opposite direction of the previous walk. We aimed at Bembridge. When we got there we had a bit of breakfast but it seemed too soon to head back so we kept walking. Eventually we found ourselves having a drink at a beach bar and husband’s leg was starting to have some niggles. We looked at the map and realised that walking on the Ryde was a shorter walk then turning back home so we pushed on in hopes of getting a bus back to Sandown. We got lost a bit but made our way back to the coastal path and on into Ryde. We found a pub for a drink (they had limited food options) and headed back to the esplanade to find food. Before finding anywhere we wanted to eat we found the bus so headed back to Sandown. Husband stopped his watch which was recording the walk at 21.57 KM. That is about a half marathon. We still had to walk back to the house after eating a late lunch and by the time we went to bed I was on 37k steps for the day.

So relaxing on holiday didn’t really work for us. Instead we completely exhausted ourselves. The teens did play at the beach a bit though. I was more relaxed though. Walking does that for me. Running is hell but walking is heaven. Had it not been for the knowledge that we were getting back to the grind and a long car ride with too many people I might have even held onto that relaxation but it was not meant to be. By the time we got home on Monday I was ripping everyone’s heads off. Ah…..the life of a mother. Oh and for anyone thinking that all the activity might mean weight loss…..ha ha ha! I gained 3 lbs in a week.

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Neolithic 10k

Enjoyed this run….well as far as I am able to enjoy running. Running and I are frenemies at best. Weather was bipolar, the boy was challenging and my husband’s half marathon started in a different location so needed a bus but the organisation was excellent and I have to give credit to them for providing a great event.

The Neolithic Marathon which has races for half, 10k, 5k, canicross and cycling of various distances is a charity event for Wiltshire Wildlife Trust. The various events within the overall event started from three different locations with coaches provided to get everyone where they needed to go provided by Barnes Coaches. All the events traverse the Salisbury Plain (normally used by the UK army for tank practice) so the Army had to make the area ready (safe) for our races. All the unexplored ordinance was cleared out and we luckily did not have to deal with dodging tanks along the way.

We arrived at the Old Carter Barracks carpark outside of Tidworth at about 8am as my husband needed to get the 8:30am coach to the half marathon location. He was meant to do the marathon but due to injury so lack of training it was a half instead. Now the weather was grey and raining (in fact at one point pouring down) so we mostly hid out in the car until my husband left. There was not a huge number of people taking part in each race so the handful of portaloos were somehow sufficient and not once did I need to wait in line which with three trips before the 10am start time was greatly appreciated.

My son (16.5yo) and I were running the 10k though she is a spring chicken and I am a knarled old hen he should have been well in front of me. In fact in the past he has run 10k in 58minutes so I expected to be on my own the whole way. I was wrong!

The run started out on a primitive paved road material which surprised me very much. I guess my imagination of a tank practice site didn’t involve paved roads. The first mile was all up hill. I don’t know where they found this hill to bring to the Plains special for this run that I expected to be quite flat but nevertheless it was right there in the first mile. Now I failed to mention that the day before this race I unexpectedly did a personal best at parkrun of 35:40 and failed to sleep for more than an hour and a half the night before so I was exhausted and this was a fucking HILL! I was really questioning my ability to finish without walking most all of this. It was near the top of this hill that I caught up with my son who was walking.

The walking boy was annoyed because he found the signs confusing as they didn’t state 10K or 5K on them. In fact they actually did have colour coding but he didn’t know what colour we were and didn’t understand that half of our race was the same route as the 5K. I explained and after some complaint of being unable to pace himself he sprinted off. I kept my snail pace of about 7:20 min/kilometre going which I knew was a bit fast but I also am not good at pacing. We are still following along the paved road at around about 3k when we get to the point that the 5K turned right and we turned left. The boy is with me again because of course sprinting off is not good pacing and we have a cup of water at the water station and move on. It is shortly after this that the frustrated, hungry (he neglected to eat breakfast that morning) boy excised to walk after begging me to let him do 5k instead (I am mean and made him do 10). I jogged on and left him behind. Somewhere near to 5K we came to a left turn into a mucky, unsaved tank track for our off road piece.

Over the last couple weeks we have had reasonably dry weather so the conditions were not too bad but the last couple days it had been raining so the well packed tracks were sticky muddy. I don’t have trail shoes so the mud just caked on the bottom until I felt like I was running in snow shoes and would find grass to scuff the mud off and repeat. I managed to keep running to almost the 6k mark when I came to a smaller muddy hill. The mud wasn’t bad but I was so tired and decided to walk up the hill. The boy caught back up to me again around this time and wee walked up together.

The boy….ugh. While walking he decided to have a Clif Block (energy thing) which forced him to breath through his nose which he discovered worked well for him. He had stated running and caught up to me which at one point was quite a distance. Of course he ran a bit too fast and needed to walk so joined me for the walk up the hill. This was the end of my running on my own. We didn’t so much run together as we regularly passed each other.

From the top of the hill I ran on for a bit and again walked slightly before we reached back to the paved road. By this time my pace was slowed to around an 8 min/kilometre and the sun had come out. In fact the cool grey skies were now a blazing sun and I was drowning in sweat. The road was totally open to the direct sun and was slightly uphill which I think I noticed on the way along the first time but wasn’t as tired then. It was only a short bit of repeated road and a straight line. I was so hot and tired that much of that short piece involved he running with my eyes closed as they refused to be open in the bright light. We got to the crossroads and collected another cup of water before continuing to the finish…..uphill!

Why is it that downhill seems flat but uphill is always a steep ass mountain?!? I walked up this hill that was at the 8K mark while the boy sprinted up it like an idiot. At the top of the hill I went back to my jog and caught up to the boy quickly as he was walking downhill. I was determined to only run for the last 2k and I did succeed at this however the boy still walked more than he sprinted. Each time I caught up to him he sprinted off again so that he would finish before me. I can’t tell you how annoying I found this. I deserved to have been the turtle beating the hare but he would not allow that.

The last mile of the race and I was so wet with sweat that my shirt that normally weighs about 10g at best felt like it weighed a kilogram. The sun was beating me viciously about the head and shoulders and there was a slight incline that looked like Everest to me but I was not going to walk. After this point in was all downhill. In fact it was sufficiently downhill that I had my fasted kilometre of the race at 7:01 minutes. There was a photographer at this point documenting our certain deaths from heat exhaustion and a lovely lady telling us it was almost over.

As is so very common the 10K event did not end at the 10K mark though. I have done enough of these now to expect a sneaky bit of extra at the end. We turned left down into some trees coming back into where we started. I was almost back up to the boy who was walking again. I told him to run into the finish which he complied with to beat me. I got up my last bit of push going and stretched out my legs for a good, quick finish. This was not a sprint as I didn’t have that much left but it was a respectable speed. I saw the timer saying 1:19:49 and I just wanted to finish under 1:20 as that was my time at the Milton Keynes Festival of Running. I ran with all I had and crossed the chip timer at 1:19:50 for a new personal best. The boy beat me by 9 seconds with his grumpy mostly walking with a bit of sprinting strategy. The tortoise lost to the hare but this tortoise was very happy with her performance.

After the race we were given a medal, lunchbox and two bottles of water. The lunchbox options were ham, cheese, or egg (no vegan options). I got the egg option which had a lovely apple and an apricot flapjack inside. The boy and I sat down on a bale of hay and had a bit of our lunches before he retired to the car to read and I waited on my husband to finish.

The half marathon was meant to have one start time at 11am however the weather at the stat location was bad so they started them off in two batches in the end. Hubby started at 9:30am in what was almost a blinding downpour. I can’t comment on most of this as I wasn’t there but apparently the mud for them was less sticky and more slippery so he found it tough going. His first half was going very well but the second was in that scorching sun and it took its toll on him. He finished in 2:21 according to his watch which is very slow for him but due to the injury and training issues he was still happy. Now I mentioned that he had been signed up for marathon but changed it to a half in the last week. They happily did this and he got his race number fine but something went wrong with timing so he does not have an official time listed on the website. He will be contacting the organisers about this but it is not the end of the world. We collected up his medal and food and headed back to the car.

The events were amazingly well organised especially considering the large number of different races within the overall event. Who I run this again? Yes, I most definitely would do this again. The boy has already asked that next year he be signed up to do a cycling event there and hubby wants to do this again as well. Next year will be another day of everyone going off in different directions but I do look forward to it.

Thank you Wiltshire Wildlife Trust for a great day out. Thank you Barnes Coaches for transporting my husband and so many others to their starting points. Thank you marshals for your support. And thank you British Army for clearing allowing us to run and not blowing anyone up.

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