No half measures

I am beginning to think half marathon distance is not my thing.

A year after my first half (and a few in between) I had decided that I would take part in the Pleshy half marathon. I was told it was a nice course and it was not a million miles away from home. So I signed up.

In the weeks leading up to the half I had run but it was not proper training (in my view) for a half. It was sporadic to say the least and the training had no real substance to it. Other things had got in the way of running since going back to work after the summer and a few parkruns and bits here and there was not going to cut it.

This and a knee niggle was enough to go into the half marathon weekend with doubts, I almost bailed but on the morning I put my kit on and left to go.

Weather was mild to start with and was warming up quickly for the race start.

Although I had decided to now take part I also decided I wasn’t going to beat myself up over times or finish places, my role today was to just get round and finish it. I did not want a DNS or a DNF against my name.

There was many from my second club in attendance and after the team photos we made our way to the start. Many around me were nervous, for them it was their first half or they were still new to the distance, I felt nervous and very much under prepared.

At the off I knew I would get round but at this point no clue of time, I decided to walk run. The first mile I had gone out (yet again) too fast and this was rather annoying.

Myself and a mate from the club fell into step side by side and this great company made up for the fact that music i.e. headphones was not allowed at this event. My headphones are bone conduction, I can hear everything around me and allowed by EA so this rule is an annoyance to say the least but I also understand the safety aspect. Maybe clubs need to be more up to date with their regulations but a side issue. We spent the time encouraging each other, admiring the Essex countryside and taking comfort that we were out there doing it.

The morning was becoming very warm and my fingers had really swollen up, this is worrying as it happens a fair bit and can hurt. I find I have issues gripping and this was the case when trying to hold onto a water bottle. Cross with myself as I had not taken my salt tablets or managed my water intake batter, another thing to rectify along with my training plans.

We both completed the 13.1 in the 3 hours something, not the best time in the world but we did it and was in one piece unlike a poor team mate who had hurtled towards the finish line and collapsed. Our job was done, t-shirt and medal collected.

I would do this half again, if I am motivated to train for the distance. Lovely event in a lovely part of the county and super supportive volunteers.

Before I contemplate this distance again I need to look at my training and decide if I should be doing these miles or go for something shorter and then train accordingly. I also then need to look at nutrition and feul for the actual event itself.

I am not down about this half but it has made me take stock of my running life and how I need to be more serious about some of the events I take part in and how to best train.

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Jersey Shore

It was decided a while ago that this parkrun tourism business was a good lark and we started to look at other parkrun events we could get to easily when in full time work.

Jersey came up, flights were cheap, near to airport and could be done in a day.

An early alarm call found us making our way to Southend airport and meeting with the rest of the gang.

The quickest (and cheapest) flight ever got us to Jersey with at least 45 minutes to make our way to the park.

Finding the start was easy, saying hello to the volunteer team easy, listening to the briefings easy but, for me, the 5k today was hard.

The route was lovely, a loop and half on tarmac then off a disused and filled in railway line, so trails mainly. The marshals were fab and welcoming.

After the run we made our way to a beach and spent the day there, brunching, and enjoying the rather warm September sunshine, listening to the waves and having great chats.

It was all rather blissful and for me it was just so wonderful being by the sea, with the sun on my face having just completed a 5k and chilling with no TV, no crowds, no paperwork with good friends.

I would totally recommend Jersey, the parkrun is great but it is a lovely island (banking has changed it somewhat from my childhood) with many castles, beaches and a nice chilled laid back vibe.

Parkrun family

You know I love parkrun right? I love the ethos, the atmosphere at many of the events and the fact it gets me off my backside on a Saturday morning!

One Saturday morning my running family came together to celebrate two fab men with their milestones. Sam was at 250 parkruns that day and his son 200 parkruns.

Valentines was the venue and this would be my third appearance there. I love the atmosphere here, everyone is so encouraging regardless of whether someone is fast and comes in first, jogging or walking the route. That’s the beauty of parkrun run/jog/walk.

I had decided I was going to run by feel, I had been ill in the week leading up to this and I just wanted to do the men justice and spend time with my running family. It wasn’t a PB but it was not my slowest time either.

Spending time after with these lovely people is the best reward after a 5k.

I will be returning to Valentines, more often as it feels so homely.

If you have not yet tried a parkrun I urge you to, everyone is made so welcome.

Autumn challenge

It was time for a return visit to Ranscombe for the Autumn challenge. Boy oh boy these seasons pass very quickly and I could not believe that after this event there was one more and that was it!

The weather matched the season with a damp misty start, the heat felt at the last Ranscombe event long gone.

Although the mist cleared quickly it took a while longer for the sun to heat the air.

I had decided through lack of training, an illness in the week and direction that I was not going to push my luck, I would be happy in just completing one lap of 3.75 miles this time.

As I set off my legs felt heavy and my left knee was really uncomfortable. The hills made my legs work all the move and my knee was proving to be the difficult child in this relationship today. Some great company on this lap made things bearable but I had resigned myself to the fact it was not going to be a big day for me.

As I came into the end of the loop and the aid station I took a break. Deciding to go out for a second lap I set off and almost regretted it but I pressed on.

The hills forced me to a snails pace and I knew as I finished the big hill that I would not be seeing it again for a few months.

I ended my second lap and ran the bell, slightly disheartening but I managed something.

The bling and my outfit made me feel better, thanks to Liz for my Arsenal inspired running dress.

Amsterdam

This is a rare non running post.

For a few days at the end of August I had the opportunity to travel to a city I had heard plenty about but never been.

I hardly travel on my own, I feel if anxiety takes a hold I may not be able to deal with it. However, I was invited to meet up with a group of people all I had to do was get myself out there. No big deal for some but a massive deal for me.

The week or two leading up to my flight out I was really suffering, thoughts were shattered and I felt hot and bothered for large portions of that time.

I was dropped off at the airport by mum and dad. As they drove off the feeling of aloneness and anxiety swept over me.

Dragging my case through the check in area I knew I had to get a grip otherwise I would fall apart very publicly.

I had checked in online so all I had to do was get through security and into the departure area.

The queue through security was incredibly long and the area was hot. My case got pulled and questions asked about my liquids, mainly make up and shower gel (I must reduce this next time I travel). Once through I decided to get a coffee and a bite to eat.

Soon I was called to the gate, having booked priority seating I didn’t have to endure the bun fight others did. Seated and settled the flight was about to start. Since watching mum drive off and me having a talk to myself I was ok but the noise of the engines started me off again. Flying is not my favourite pastime.

However no sooner we had taken off the plane was getting ready to land. Soon after that I was stepping on Netherland soil. I was picked up at the airport and I got my first feeling of excitement I had done it!

Amsterdam was for me a place of contrasts. Beautiful buildings, a laid back vibe but with a vibrant nightlife.


The weather threw a spanner in the works on day one so plans needed to be changed. Frustrating but it was inevitable and ok once I got my head round it.

The time I had there went quickly and trying to cram as much in as possible meant I was tired and I still didn’t get to see everything.

Things I regret/now know

1-I didn’t take my running stuff, a run there would have been fantastic.

2-An extra night/day would have been useful to do the stuff that could not have been done due to the weather on the first day.

3-Being hesitant about travelling on my own, it was actually ok and less stressful than with others.

4-I like travel, I missed home but I think I found a lost piece of me during the days away thanks to the new experience.

5-I need to travel more.

One day I would like to go back and see the city again. In the meantime I will see if the travel bug remains and what could be the next port of call.

London tourist

Living in London and once upon a time working in London I have never really appreciated the fine city.

One hot Friday that changed.

Myself, hubby and our friends decided we were  going to see London from a height.

First up was the sky train cable car. Soaring over the Thames I was thrilled to see this part of London from this height and it was high!

Next was the O2 climb, something I had been terrified about but keen to do nevertheless.

The climb up was hard on the legs and at one point we were asked to wait on the slope as a member of the climbing party was having difficulty. After standing there for about 10 minutes I started to have a panic attack.  The picture shows me going through the attack and how I looked at the end.  The smiles at the top were true feels of enjoyment and relief.

Jumping onto the tube, next stop was the London Eye.

The weather had been kind on the climb and we hoped it would remain for the views over west London.

The views were amazing. There are 32 pods on the Eye but as there is no number 13 pods are numbered up to 33.

Next stop Oxford Street. More to the point Selfridges for their rooftop cream tea.

Newly opened that week we made our way up in the express lift to the roof. Oxford Street below you could hear the rumble of the traffic but distant.


We were given a huge spread and nice pots of tea. I wasn’t expecting to feel full up but I felt I had to waddle out of there.

It was an enjoyable day. My personal highlight was going through with the O2 climb and overcoming a fear.

I would recommend the Selfridges rooftop restaurant.

London is one of the best cities in the world, a huge fan and I will want to do a tourist trail again one day.

Essex Girl at the Essex Way Relay

On Sunday 3 September 70 teams took part in the Essex Way Relay. This race covers the 82 miles of the Essex way from Epping Station to Harwich Old Lighthouse in 10 stages. The route is mostly cross country and can be difficult through crops and across ploughed fields.Although I had been going to the gym a lot more over the summer break, my running schedule had not really been followed. Although I had out my name down to run leg two with a running buddy I wanted to bail. I was convinced not to bail and to just get on with it.

So early Sunday morning my running buddy and I stood in an Ongar road ready for the off. The atmosphere was buzzing and we checked in along with everyone else.

Very quickly we were off, all we had was a set of navigational instructions and a map. As a result we legged it up the road along with al the others in fear of getting lost. Glad that we did as a sharp turn off the high street and into a church yard and then into a field threw us.

Keeping the back running in view we made our way over ploughed fields and green footpaths. Sometimes the paths were so overgrown there was no choice but to slow to a walk avoiding nettles and brambles.

This event was well marshalled and everyone incredibly friendly, the instructions were excellent and as a result we did not get lost unlike others. I was not the fastest and I was ashamed to hold my running buddy back but he was not fussed really and we used the 9 ½ miles to catch up and put the world to rights.

Really enjoyed this event and glad I did not bail.

Essex Way