So Long, Farewell…. For now.

Well folks, after three years of sharing my running and whatever random thoughts are in my head, I’m going to call it a day… For now. I took the site down for a week but have put it back up for sentimental reasons… and just in case. You never know when the muse may strike ūüėČ

 

I have loved sharing my experiences with you, and being fortunate enough to receive your interest, your support and your advice. Soon I’m going back to work (ughhhhhh) and to be perfectly frank, it’s hard enough to find time to balance everything as it is without adding work into the mix. Sadly running will have to take a step back in my priority list, which means blogging will be even lower.

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Trail Running in the Lake District

I am still crazy-competitive, and have certain goals that I want to smash. Such as….. running London again, doing a sub-3:30 marathon (not at London, maybe Edinburgh again!), and beating my 1:41 half time. But¬†none of these will happen in enough time to make for an interesting blog! Here is what a post would be like:

 

Hi everyone! This week I did a 5k run with the running buggy on Saturday. It wasn’t park run, we can’t get organised enough to go to park run. I also aimed to go to the gym but did laundry instead. Then on Tuesday I ran the 1.6k to nursery with the baby, and worked in sweaty clothes all day, before¬†running to collect her. Yay!¬†

 

So you can see why I’m stopping now.

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Nothing is more fun than running in Paris

This blog has pushed me to keep up my training, forced me to stay honest and actually adhere to training plans, and has helped me hit huge running goals and allowed me to be self-indulgent and celebrate. I remember the day Gilly P and I were chatting online and decided we should actually do it Рshe is always be a huge inspiration to me, and the person who encouraged me the most in getting my 3:43 at Edinburgh, which honestly is one of my proudest moments. FYI, she smashed a half iron man recently as you do, and was cool as a cucumber about it. #lifegoals

My best bud

My best bud

Thank you all for reading – to our regulars, and to anyone who just stopped by. It’s been so much fun, and I’m grateful to have all this documented so I can bore Baby B when she’s older about my running achievements. Lucky her.

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Londonnnnn!! My newest achievement

I’m not quite sure how to end this last post, so I’ll just share some random finishing thoughts:

 

  • Lemonade by Beyonce is the best album to be released since she released ‘Beyonce’ in 2013. Fact*.
  • Doing the plank with the hanging straps on the TRX machine makes it way more fun, and way more effective
  • It’s two years since I ran my Edinburgh marathon (which is very important to me still, not sure if you guessed?)
  • Women¬†in my old running group have assured me that eventually, mothers often come back stronger and faster so I’m looking forward to that. I’m sure it will take some work!
  • Make sure you go out and run today. It’s always nice weather for running*. That’s another fact for you.
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Ready for ya Edinburgh!

Thanks again everyone, I have LOVED it!!

 

Ellie B

 

*This post contains large amounts of sentimentality and any facts stated may not actually be true. But they probably are, so you should just agree.

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London (Marathon) Baby!

I did it!! London Marathon – check! Blisters as big as my little toe – check! Inability to walk up/down stairs for three days – check! In short, it was a roaring success.

 

Not that it was easy. Oh no. It was one of the toughest runs I’ve done. But let’s start at the beginning. I was in the green starting section, which was for Good for Age entries (like me) and celebrities (unlike me). I only learned about the celebrities after the fact – which may be a good thing, or all my marathon energy would have gone on hunting down anyone remotely famous.

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The first mile took us out of Greenwich, and before it was up I had the first of many ‘moments’. We ran past an old stone church that had pink blossom growing in it’s yard, and I had the ‘a-ha!’ moment that I was actually running the London marathon! We had started, it had begun!

 

It was really hard to keep to my pace, and the first three miles were a minute faster than I wanted. At the time it felt fine, but I wondered if it would come back and bite me in the ass (spoiler alert: I think it did!). But the excitement and the pace and the crowds make you feel like you’re flying, and my ideal pace of 10:20 minute miles felt very slow in such an atmosphere.

Horseguard's Parade at the finish line

Horseguard’s Parade at the finish line

Miles 1-6 were very smooth, and at mile 7 I had a fabulous surprise: SB, Baby B, my brother-and-sister in law were there to cheer me on, complete with banner. In my excitement I screamed, and made Baby B cry. A lot. So…. great parenting there, scaring your child and running away.

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Ah mile 7 … when all was bright still!

The best bit for me was running over Tower Bridge. I was trudging through some nameless street, and all of a sudden we turned a corner and there it was, in all its bridgy glory. The sun chose to come out then to, a d I had the second moment of the marathon. Running over the bridge I was comparing the two marathons I have done: Edinburgh was fast and powerful, but lonely, and this one was slower but with my family there to cheer me on, along with what felt like the rest of London! It was gorgeous.

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My legs started to hurt at mile 12. Initially it was my right IT band, then it was my left, then it was my knee, then it was my adductors, and finally by the end my right IT band was very tight and sore. Most of the second half was spent trying to focus and keep my pace up, and ignoring the pain. It was a blur to be honest. I felt reasonably comfortable, but it was an effort to try and keep the pace right. I had the 4:30 pacer in my sights for 8 miles, which was encouraging, but then at mile 22 the wheels began to fall off.

 

Even though I had less than an hour to go, I decided to go to the loo which slowed me down for 3 minutes. Then, instead of being able to run more freely, I got the biggest stitch. The kind that won’t go¬†away when you push it, and that makes you grunt like a pig. So I had to walk. And so I lost the 4:30 pacer.

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Then followed a really frustrating two miles of walking and running. At this point¬†we were in central London, and the crowds were overwhelming in their support. They were all shouting ‘go on Ellie! Not much further, you’re doing so well!’ and while it was awesome, it was hard to focus. My lovely family were there at 23 miles again, and this time I was much quieter for Baby B.

 

I felt like a zombie for the last three miles,¬†my feet felt heavy and all I could do was focus on the path ahead. And take photos thanks to the slow pace! I felt it was a shame that the most picturesque part of the route was at the very end when you’re just trying to get through, but there is nothing like running past the Thames, Big Ben, Buckingham Palace before turning down the Mall filled with Union Jacks to finish. Although I couldn’t enjoy it at the time, the memories are there and they are amazing.

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Buckingham Palace – I’m sure Queenie was cheering me on

I finished in 4:40, and my stubborn side is gutted that I didn’t make 4:30. But there’s another side which is just proud that I’ve finished it, even if it is 53 minutes slower than my last. I spent most of this race trying to ward off the pain, trying to keep up the pace, and telling myself that this is the last time I’ll run a marathon. Then I woke up on Monday and thought ‘yeah…. but¬†I’ll do another one’.

 

I think I could have finished in 4:30 if I hadn’t started out so quickly, and if I hadn’t munched on mini Cheddars on my way round. Without the luxury of a few long runs in training, I hadn’t worked out a proper game plan. I’m annoyed that I had to use the loo, and hat I had to stop for a stitch, because I’ve never had to do that before. But the point of this event was to complete it, not to get any sort of time goal, so I need to remind myself of this!

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Gaaaah! Just before Buckingham Palace, not long to go!

I can’t believe I’ve actually done another marathon. This time the effort was different, my body wasn’t used to the distance but because of the slower pace, and because I’ve run Edinburgh, I knew I could at least do it. Edinburgh was scary as I’d not done one before, and I had an ambitious time goal. This one was scary because I felt very light on training, and because it’s not long after Baby B arrived. But it was worth all the anxiety, the¬†cold weather running and the obsessing about postpartum training. I would love to run it again.

 

Ellie B

Marathon Training: Then and Now

In a week’s time hopefully I’ll be feeling human again, and will be able to walk down the stairs without grimacing. Or maybe that’s wishful thinking!

 

Now that my training is over, all I can do is wait…. and obsess! With every twinge in my foot I’m plunged into a world¬†where plantar faciitis strikes me down like the plague and I’m hobbling along the route for 24.2 miles. So that’s fun.

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This training period has been 100% different to my last marathon. Last time I was training as an individual for her first marathon and was at the height of my fitness. Now I’m climbing back after having a bubba, who is my perpetual sidekick. ¬†So now, as I’m waiting impatiently for another starting line, here is a comparison on how it’s all gone (and please be aware… there is a blister pic there):

 

The hardest bit

Training for Edinburgh: pushing through those crazy training sessions. I can’t believe how many hill sessions and fast mile intervals I was doing.

Training for London: trying to fit in training while looking after Baby B. And shutting down the voice in my head that either told me I should be doing more, or that I should be doing less and just spending time with the baby.

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The best bit

Edinburgh: doing long runs with nobody but Beyonce in my ears. It was the first time I realised I could actually manage a marathon.

London: going to the gym and working on my running, core, and overall fitness. That’s where I started to feel like I was getting fitter.

 

Training in….

Durham: loads of hills to help overall fitness, and very pretty running routes. Plus the satisfaction of running from one town to the next – it does wonders for your ego!

Nottingham: very flat, which is great for the buggy. Running around the river and canal was nice, but kind of repetitive, and there’s no lovely cathedral to look at.

Aw man, remember this?

Aw man, remember this?

 

Biggest challenge

Edinburgh: continuing my training once those awful blisters set in

London: trying to fit in my long runs. I haven’t done as many as I would have liked, in fact I’ve only managed three runs over 13.1 miles.

Sorry guys. Thank god these bad boys haven't returned. Again... sorry.

Sorry guys. Thank god these bad boys haven’t returned. Again… sorry.

Keeping to the schedule….

Edinburgh: it was relatively simple. Do what it tells you when it tells you and don’t back out unless you’re feeling too tired. It was nice to follow a plan and take the thinking out of it. A lot of mental effort was needed during those training sessions, but following the schedule was fine.

London: went out the window. I used a plan for a rough idea of what I should be aiming for, but I had to work out in my mind when I was going to fit it all in and how I was going to up the mileage. This one took more mental effort in between training sessions (to try and stop panicking!), but was easier during the training itself.

 

Proudest moment during training

Edinburgh: realising I could run 20 miles in 3 hours and not need to spend the rest of the day in bed

London: running 12 miles with Baby B in the buggy. And also doing my final 20 mile run, which is when I realised that completing this marathon is a distinct possibility!

 

 

Coming back after having the baby has been strange. Running felt like an old friend who you’ve not seen for a while, and who has changed but you can’t put your finger on how exactly. My technique was still there but my speed wasn’t. The motivation was there but my energy wasn’t. Basically I had to take it easy, and I found that my fitness returned pretty quickly as long as I was patient and didn’t push myself too hard.

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Now I’m at a place where I can run comfortably and reasonably quickly, but trying to get back to where I was before is just too hard! I don’t have enough time, and I don’t really want to either. Which is a very new feeling for me cos I’m usually so stupidly competitive with myself.

 

 

Overall I’m very grateful to have had this goal to work for. It’s been fun, tough, boring, exhilarating, guilt-inducing, cathartic and endorphined. Sure, that’s not a word, but it should be.

 

So now we wait for Sunday. In my other pair of trainers to support my high arches. In case plantar fasciitis comes a-knocking.

 

Ellie B

London: Final Training

T minus 11 days til I’m lurking around the starting pens in Greenwich, trying to eat a banana and convince myself that I don’t need to pee again. Yesterday was my last long run before the event, so I am officially on The Taper!!!

 

Two weeks ago I managed my first proper long run, which was 17 miles. I set out at my ideal marathon pace, and my head was in the right space. Except …. not much else was. I was using a different energy shot because I couldn’t find my usual gels, and despite trying to eat properly before hand, I started to get hungry at around mile 7.

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During the run itself I felt ok, except I was hungry! But afterwards, I crashed. I felt so ill, and had no energy. I drank my chocolate milk, but waited far too long before eating so that by the end of the evening I was feeling sorry for myself on the couch and nibbling on biscuits.

 

Cue 12 days of feeling nervous, apprehensive and scared! Did I even want to run a marathon? Why didn’t I opt to spend the time with Baby B instead of running? How are we even going to get to London on the train, with all my gear and everything the bubba needs? What the hell was I thinking?

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And yet. And yet, there’s always a little voice in my head that says ‘yeah, but you wait til you’re on the starting line. You wait till you’re pushing through mile 18, you wait til you’re running down the mall and you wait til you’re holding Baby B after having run the London marathon’. The experience itself will be amazing, and the training will be harder than the event.

 

Yesterday I did 20 miles in 3.5 hours. This time I had my usual gels, and I also had some additional food for during the run. My head was in the right space too: keep it cool, and take it steady. Mentally I approached it like four 5-mile runs, which was a lot better (but not at 13.1 when I realised I was only half way through!). As soon as I finished I was eating, and continued to eat and drink in small amounts until I went to sleep.

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So here I find myself in the shortest taper ever, wondering how to approach it. I’ve followed a plan, but only roughly because flexibility is the name of the game when training with a baby. I think I’ll have two days off, and then start gentle gym sessions until the big day. And by gentle, I mean with lots of jacuzzi time factored in.

 

The countdown is on. And I feel…. good scared terrified ecstatic realistic. And also excited.

 

Postpartum Running: It’s not as easy as I thought.

Hi everyone – Happy New Year! I’m sorry for such a long break – I don’t know where the last 8 weeks went. Though they did include Christmas and a whirlwind trip to Sydney, so maybe it’s not surprising after all.

 

Before the ¬†unplanned break, I had all kinds of topics in my mind to write about. The longer the break went on, and the more I thought ‘I really want to get back to the blog soon’, the more I realised¬†I just wanted to write about how I’m finding my training. I hope I’m not the kind of blog that paints rainbows when the reality is more cloudy, but I would like to be completely honest about how things are going.

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In November, I wrote that I wanted to run 10k regularly by Christmas. And…… that hasn’t happened! I came close – I could do 8k, but the reality is that training with a baby is much harder than I had anticipated. Before I could run whenever I had a spare hour, but that’s not possible now for a number of reasons, including feeding times, weather, nap times, whether it’s dark/light, and what else needs to be done for life in general. Where as previously running could be my only priority, suddenly it has to be 5th or 6th on the list.

 

At the end of last year, I was running a 6min kilometre with the running buggy, and a 5:20 kilometre at the gym. I aimed to get to the gym twice a week, and where I’d run¬†6k as well as doing light weights if I had time. I was pretty pleased with how this was going.

 

However, then the baby was sick, and things went off the rails. Then it was Christmas, then it was Sydney, where¬†it poured with rain for a whole week. My Sydney running plans went out the window! The one run I did manage was at a pace of 6mins/km, which included some serious hills and humidity, so again I wasn’t discouraged.

Hills never look as steep in photos!

Hills never look as steep in photos!

SB and I went on a run with Baby B once we returned from Sydney, and our pace with the buggy was 7min/km. So… Christmas had been good! ūüėČ However, that was when I started to feel a little down about it all. I worked so hard to maintain throughout my pregnancy, and started off strong once I could postpartum. But now its 3 degrees outside, it gets dark at 4pm and light at 8am, and it’s not fair to take the baby out unless circumstances are just right. I’ve only done 2 runs in 2016 so far, and my gym membership is still on hold until the end of January from being in Sydney.

 

I know I should be patient, and I know that I’m still doing ok in the wider scheme of it all. But London is approaching quickly – there are 13 weeks to go – and my marathon training hasn’t even begun yet. I so desperately want to run it,¬†but finding a chunk where I could run for 20 miles seems ridiculous now. Anyway, can I even run 20 miles anymore?!

 

I guess what I’m drawing from all of this is that I need to be a lot more patient than I’d thought, and to keep my head up when it feels like I’m going nowhere.¬†The steps forward may be smaller, and slower, but I hope I’m still moving forwards.

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And so. That’s where we are today. Next post will have more sunshine in it, but today I wanted to strip back all the gloss. Tomorrow I’m hoping to start my marathon training – cutting straight to week 4 of a beginners program (just to be sure I can do it!), and hopefully I can report back with new stats that are more on track with the end of last year.

 

Ellie B