My volunteer role at the running club as you may have read is Race Secretary.
This involves arranging a Grand Prix competition for club members and an annual ELVIS race that is open to all the clubs in the area not just in house.
The GP was underway with the first race at Hatfield.
The thing that was taking up time and energy was organising the race. Until doing this role I never knew what went into organising a race. This race although low key and off the streets involves just over 6 months of planning, course measurements, licences, council conversations and paperwork, looking at first aid, setting up an on line booking system, costings etc.
It is key that everything is in place before the event, nothing goes wrong on the actual day and the tie up after the race is cleared up with queries resolved, results processed and verified.
Although stressful, because of my organisation skills, OCD and eye for detail I cover every eventuality. I also looked at other races to see what worked well and what could be better and learn from previous mistakes.
This year I knew that I had to control everything, too many cooks would mean lots of last minute adjustments or people assuming someone else was completing a task. Unacceptable.
Every detail within my control was looked at. Placing strong marshals at key points, writing out my timetable of events and keeping notes about where I was on this project.
Tuesday dawned, the weather was not in my control and it was pouring down. I was at work worrying about conditions.
By the time I got to the park the rain had almosted ceased but the wind was making for blustery conditions.
Most of my marshals arrived on time and I was blessed that have so many offers of help which meant I had people who knew what it was like to run, marshal this event for runners. I had given each volunteer a pack with what the race entailed, where they were meant to be and clear instructions on what they had to do. They were my trusted high viz crew!
I had arranged for fruit and water at the end of the race and the chip timing company had offered to print individual results as they crossed the finish line so runners could eat healthy and review their times.
First aid was an ambulance staffed with 4 volunteers, you hope they will never be used but unfortunately this year as in previous years they were. One of my good running friends collapsed on the course, thank goodness for first aid!
Team photos taken by all the clubs. The weather broke and sun was out.
I had my briefing and all too soon it was time for me to stand in from of 300 people, introduce myself and explain details of the race, nerve wracking to say the least.
A 3,2,1 and they were off, the front runners super fast and on schedule to finish around the 30 minute mark with the slower runners finishing up to half an hour after them. I had the chance I cheer some of my pals on.
A quick look around, people seemed to be ok. My pal had been sent to the ambulance and I was very concerned about her but she was in great hands.
Runners were coming in at the finish, the fruit was popular as was the timing tickets.
The final runner came through with one of my besties sweeping as his role as tail runner.
It was time for prize giving, once again my strong Essex tones swept across the park as I read out names.
Soon everything was packed up and I could finally relax. Everything seemed to go well, I was waiting for feedback and I still had to process the results but people seemed happy.
A trip to the pub for a celebration drink then home to bed to make up for the lack of sleep from the previous few nights.
Checking results and getting them verified took longer but the feedback was positive.
Although I had to do most of the work the race could not go ahead on the night without the fabulous volunteers that gave up their time to help myself and the club to hold such an event.
You may have read previously that I do suffer from panic attacks and other mental wobbles. I have been going through a phrase, running although helpful wasn’t getting to the bottom of the recent issue.
I feel like there are two of me, the face I put outwards, most times thats the pretend confident me, the one that supports others, cheers those other people on championing them, the smiles. Then there is the hidden face, the one that is full of self confidence issues, judging myself, poor self talk.
The hidden me has been really busy recently, permeating my waking moments whether I am being active, whether I am at work or in my down time. Work is ok, I am probably my most confident there anyway, I know what I am doing and how to do it so the doubt and fear get squashed back down. Its the other times that it really pops up, like when at a meeting, at a race, in a gym class, out of my comfort zone, when I feel I am being attacked.
I recognised what was happening when I started to withdraw, I still want to withdraw as I do need time for myself and reflect but in doing so I feel that I could offend my friends, how can I explain to them what is happening to me? I have been stung before when I tried to explain the situation to who I thought was a close friend only for them to twist it and it bit me firmly on the bum, after this I learned not to discuss how I felt with anyone, so how can I explain to my friends what I am feeling and what I need without offending?
I am trying to be mentally strong and carry on, exercise helps, good weather helps, having my family helps. Recognising who is good and true is important, I cannot cope with a person who says the right thing but behind the scenes does something else, so knowing who to trust is essential.
I am trying to practice mindfulness to help, I certainly do not what to go back onto medication or those dark dark days. I don’t want to to be all about me either, this pity party needs to end.
If anyone has any advice on what worked for them I would be grateful.
There were quite a few members of the club running the Virgin London Marathon 2017 and as always many club members who were not running were up at mile 19 1/2 supporting not only our club members but many other runners.
Since joining the club I have always enjoyed VLM support, the atmosphere is amazing and I find the whole day stressful, exciting, invigorating, inspiring and emotional on many many different levels.
The day dawned and after sending out best wishes on the club Facebook page to those running, hubby and I met our pals and travelled up to London.
I had some dear friends taking part and I was determined to cheer them all through.
At mile 19 1/2 we set up our base. Some club members were preparing oranges to give out, some were cheering the elites though whilst others were unpacking jelly babies ready to put into pots for those who needed a sugar hit. Our first running buddy zooming past in super quick time (he finished in 2:53), we cheered on all as soon running buddy after running buddy arrived at this check point. Some stopped to take refreshment or pats on the back, some waved as the went past not wanting to slow down their pace. The sun was out it was getting warm.
Our best friend was due in next and his wife was with us (also one of our best friends), already worried as he had set off too quick (by the tracking app) we were concerned on how he would be by the time he got to us, soon he arrived, relief flooded through me, he looked ok and he gave his missus a hug she too looked relieved. A quick pep talk and he was on his way, he looked tired but still strong.
A few more friends came through, one really lapping up the attention and stopped, selfies were taken and cheers all round. An amazing moment in a day of amazing moments.
We were waiting for our final running buddy, one of my good mates and I had been training with. It was getting late and we were worried. The tracking app showed she was nearby so myself and 2 friends walked up the course, there were few runners now so we knew she needed a boost. In the distance we saw her just as she saw us, tears from her and I felt glad we had made the effort to meet her. We grabbed her and hugged her, then taking her hands we walked her first to the water station grabbing a drink then down to the support group. I felt so proud, I always believe nobody gets left behind and today of all days I wanted to prove that to all. I gave the painkillers over as requested, and she was on her way.
Running isn’t always about pounding the streets, counting the miles or PBs sometimes its about pure raw support and being there for others, cheering people on, basking in their glory and celebrating their achievements. If you have never been to London to see the marathon I would recommend it, its one of the few times you get to see people in the capital cheering others on, people talk on public transport and the atmosphere is just brilliant.
It is time to get into the tardis and play catch up with some of the events I took part in during my sabbatical aka time away from blogging.
The London Winter Run is something I always look forward to on my running calendar. Having completed it in 2016 and bagged myself a PB before then incurring a few injuries (lets just gloss over that for now) I wanted to return in 2017.
A big group from the club met up and travelled up to Trafalgar Square ready for the off. The faster runners in the group set off to start and us steadier runners made our way shortly after.
The weather wasn’t too bad, not really freezing but there was a chill in the air, well it was February after all and there were polar bears about! We set off and steady we went the kilometres passed fairly quickly and I felt strong. Suddenly at the 4k marker someone cut in from of my friends and I and although I didn’t stop I pulled up a bit a slowed, a tiny panic attack threw me, I could have been injured I thought. Friends rallied and then I rallied. Excellent support from my friends and the crowd I made my way to the finish where the faster friends were waiting. I crossed the finish line tearful, I did not dare look but my pacing mate told me it was a PB, I looked down and she was right, 8 minutes quicker than last year.
We made our way to the docklands and had a hearty pub lunch, the mood was fabulous.
Things I like about this event:
The route, looking at the buildings and seeing London from a different perspective.
It reminds me of the time I saw the fireworks by the Thames on NYE with my family and having to walk back through the celebratory streets of London, happy times.
It raises money and awareness of a good cause.
It is flat and doable.
Easy bag drop.
The polar bear hugs
What I don’t like about this event:
It gets very busy at the start in the pen.
People are often starting at the wrong time and are either a) cutting in your way, tripping you up or b)slower and in your way. Why people cannot keep to the left I never know.
The bag you are given for the bag drop is a bit small, just about big enough for a jumper.
Can be regarded as expensive.
This event would be a great 10k for those new to the distance or those who like something with a lovely atmosphere. If this sounds like something you want to take part in, you can sign up by clicking the link here.
A few days after the Beachy Head marathon I was sitting thinking about my next running goals and realised that I didn’t really have any in mind, nor the motivation.
I think the marathon took its toll on me in more ways than I care to think of. I think on reflection I understood how isolating it can be completing that type of distance in those conditions and coming in much later than others from the club. Previously if I was not running at races I was always on hand to cheer the last club member in over the finish line regardless, I was not sure if I was expecting the same in return but I also now understand that after a gruelling race how nice it is to be cheered over that line, so thank you to the few that stayed.
It made me re-evaluate my running since the end of the marathon . I had always put others in the club before myself, I was not competitive enough to push myself forward I allowed others to overtake me. If I was not running I wanted to cheer on the fastest runners and those who came through at the end, this often meant being out for a lot longer than I should be. I thought those who were coming in at the end deserved the biggest cheers and I know how it feels if nobody is there doing that, it stings.
I need to turn over a new leaf, be a bit more selfish as I am obviously not doing the right thing by me right now.
I think next year will be my final year as race secretary, if I can get out of the role before then I will do. It has affected my training and I have had to put a heck of a lot of people in front of me as priority, if I need to improve I have to come first, project me needs to continue.
Club nights are great but I am finding them more and more difficult, my training needs are now not often aligned with those I had been running with and as a result I run on my own, well I can do that from home and get it over and done with, without the pressure or the politics that come with being part of a club.
So what do I do? Do I become yet another selfish runner just looking after myself or give myself up to meet the needs of others and resign myself to the fact I am just not going to meet any future goals even if I set them? Am I just disillusioned because I felt so isolated at the end of the marathon? Is this normal? Answers on a postcard please.
IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;
If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two impostors just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
‘ Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,
if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!
If by Kipling is one of my most favoured poems that I always think of when times are tough and I feel that I cannot continue. It was the poem that came to mind as I was out completing the Beachy Head marathon last weekend.
Beachy Head has a reputation of being one of the hardest marathons you could ever complete. It is 26.2 miles that is a gruelling off road marathon with a total ascent of 3500ft. The race starts on Dukes Drive and climbs 300ft straight up the first hill and includes the Seven Sisters on the return trip back to Eastbourne.
This event was something us as a club decided would be a good challenge and challenge is the right way to describe this.
The marathon set off at 9am it was a dry mild Saturday and the first part was a steep ascent up that only the hardened could run.
I was at the back of the crowd with some of the group but most peeled off from myself and my friend as we made our way up the incline, trying to find our feet with rabbit holes, stones and other peoples feet as hazards. The Beachy Head, start was hard but, gets harder, then becomes very hard, before becoming extremely hard indeed almost unbearable.
The steep slope at the start takes you out of Eastbourne and into the South Downs Way and climbs and climbs and climbs almost continuously to the summit of Willingdon Hill. We had made good progress through the first few miles, I had enjoyed the lone piper and thought of my Scottish ancestors but, my trail shoes started to give me cause for concern, I was feeling them rub my feet a bit too much and I worried about how this could end up. The shoes then were not my only concern as the uneven inclines and descents meant I was worried about going over. One of the worse parts was a chalk flinty path going down steeply. The flint made it slippery and although the descent would have made the running part easier and faster the rocks and how slippery it was made it almost impossible to get any running speed up through fear of turning an ankle. So we cautiously descended and did not take notice of the view around us.
As we were at the back, it was tough. At times there were no runners to follow, signage was sparse and at one point a marshal had left his post (after the checkpoint at mile 16.6) and as a result we had travelled half a mile in the wrong direction only to be told by a driver we were going the wrong way and rather crossly we made our way back to where we turned off only to have the marshal arrive back to his post and dismiss our concerns. At this point my lenses had come out and my foot had been strapped up at the checkpoint and it was fingers crossed it was going to hold out and I was still able to see. The checkpoints we had come across had run out of food with the exception of the first checkpoint by now we were tired.
Up a number of steps and then up some more we could see the sweepers not far behind. We stopped for a photo with the white horse in the background before continuing.
Getting slightly lost due to the lack of signage we asked walkers and cyclists on route making sure we were still going the right way. We were!
We approached a decent where a sparkling river was in the valley below, a silver strip in an emerald green field, it was so pretty and the flat path running alongside looked inviting, we thought we were heading that way until to our left we saw a sign showing us a path that went upwards again. This was the start of the Seven Sisters otherwise knows as the” Seven Gates of Hell”.
The Sisters were short but steep, so steep, in fact on the first one I became very scared and decided after screaming into the wind “I can’t do this” I would crawl up using hands and feet clinging to grass, my friend with her longer legs just in front. We reached the top and we both looked at each other and cried, for a moment before looking at the descent and then getting down it hand in hand, I became very tired, survival mode set in. I gritted my teeth and dug in. By this point we were at mile 20 and giving up was not on the agenda. We overtook some people and left the sweepers further behind.
Some girl scouts helped us onto the right path, in fact one helped me get from a ledge onto the path, my legs were sore.
The Seven Sisters continued, maybe not as horrific as the first one, maybe at this point we knew what to expect, as I approached the top of each one I looked for the lighthouse, hoping I could see it nearer each time.
My friends husband came to meet us at what I think was shortly after Birling Gap and the last official check point, we did not stop at this check point, there was little point, there would be no food or hot drinks. I walked ahead of the couple, giving them time together, I thought they needed it. I pressed on with them a few meters behind I was struggling and the ground was uneven, I could not see rabbit holes because of no lenses and dusk was approaching. I turned my ankle and swore, still not giving up I continued. I was exhausted, lack of food, and water due to the check points running out, my concentration was all over the place.
I quickly asked my mates husband if everyone got back ok, if my husband was ok. I was concerned about hubby being injured more so than me getting injured. I was told of one club member with a head injury and I and my friend cried again, running should not be like this, it should be fun! I reminded my mate not to waste energy crying and remember the list we had made earlier of the things we loved. Cats, bird song, holidays, laughter were on the list and we drew on that now.
I made my way up Beachy Head, feet on fire, I could feel the blisters in my shoes, my knee was painful I was worried I had damaged it. All I could see was grass around me. Until a clearing and the pier and the lights of Eastbourne in the distance.
The steep ascent at the start of the race was all that was between us and the finish line, easy huh? NO! Gravity is a wonderful thing but not if you cannot see your footing, when you are in tears because the end is in sight, when you are embarrassed because your wonderful husband and friends are at the bottom screaming their heads off. Clinging onto my friends husbands hand with my left hand and a marshal with my right we tentatively got down, sobbing now. I had never done something so crazy and difficult in my life. Very tired, happy it was over we crossed the finish line and sat down for the timing chip to be cut off our shoes. The marshal there informed us there were no medals, they had run out. We bawled our eyes out again, I said I hoped he was joking, he said he was not!
The walk back to the hotel was the slowest and longest 2 miles of my life.
1-That the marshals at the finish line were giving out medals to dogs hence why they had run out so early.
2-We also were not last and that was something to be grateful for.
3-We had also completed a marathon on a tough course.
4-My husband said he was proud of me for completing a “brutal course”.
5-That fish and chips plus a southern comfort and a good chat with mates was the perfect antidote to a marathon.
The day after update:
1-The coach ride back was a quiet affair most were very happy with their achievement, one dropped out and one injury but fortunately all was ok.
2-My knee was still very sore and swollen.
1-Calves hurt but knee has calmed down.
2-A sense of achievement finally kicked in.
3-The results are out and confirmation that I was not last.
4-An email sent to claim my medal.
5-I will never do it again!
Two years ago I was not even thinking about running, 2016 is the year I got out there completed both things on my ‘running to do list’ a half and Beachy Head.
When it comes to working in education and running you always find that you are thinking ahead, planning for the future.
At work I am often planning and thinking about the next half term, especially if I am up to date and the current halt term is working out as it should. Sometimes I have to be 6 months or more ahead of where I am today to ensure that the students I work with have the tools in place for their exams or for when they are ready to leave school.
For running it is a case of looking at training plans and booking races that sometimes could be 9 months or a year ahead. Races get booked up quickly these days and there are some key races that we would like to take part in during 2017. I have just booked Spitfire again for July 2017, crazy eh?
It isn’t a case of wishing my life away it is a case of making sure I have all my ducks in a row and I am as prepared as I can be for the events that are upcoming plus not missing out on key events. Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.
This is where my organisation comes in, both paper planning with electric enhancements. Races have been booked already for 2017 and I need to make sure they do not clash with anything else going on in my life or with other races. Plus I have to look at the races I set up for the club as part of my race secretary role.
I use a personal Heritage Filofax for my day to day organisation. This is the Mother Ship in here I have my to do list, my diary and various other notes of various importance plus a place for what I call brain bump. Brain dump gets used if I have a thought, seen something I need to purchase or need to remember something that does not necessarily have a date to it, I write it in there and then can access it as and when. I love the Heritage as there is no clasp and looks like a note book, easy to open and look at what I need to do quickly and has no bells and whistles to get in the way, although the colour is a tad boring!
For work I currently use a moleskine book as a bullet journal, each page has the date at the top and is driven by my work to do list, my to do list in my Filofax feeds into this and I carry this with me during the day. This format is useful to look back and see what I completed on a certain date, important for feeding back during appraisal time or if a parent asked about a certain event.
On my desk at home I have an A5 Union Jack Filofax and this is a copy of my personal. It is left there for hubby to check what is coming up that week or for me to use when I am working at the computer.
All events that have been booked by hubby or myself get put into the electronic calendar on our iPhones and this also gets fed into my Filofax, essential as we start to book events for 2017 as we do not want any clashes.
This system works really well and I have not had any issues with it. It takes about 2 minutes of my day to keep it updated and I feel writing things down or ticking things off my to do list really beneficial, the work one especially as it has been really busy recently.
The only system I may tweak will be the work journal. I will be changing my role in a months time and as a result I think I will need a different system, the bullet journal works but I feel I may need to dig a bit deeper as I will need to juggle a few things at the same time. Once this book is used up I may move into another Filofax as this is a flexible way of recording and keeping on top of things.
I intend to look at how others organise their working diaries to see if there are any tips I can use for me.