Goodwood Festival of Running

The Goodwood Festival of Running was brilliant! The weather was terrible. Mid-week I’d checked the weather forecast and it said sunny for the weekend. Great. As the week progressed, the forecast for Sunday worsened.

I travelled to Chichester in Saturday and spent the night in a very comfortable AirBnB. I woke to the sound of heavy rain. I debate 1) dropping from half marathon to 10k or 2) getting up and going home. I decided not to do either of these so got up, got dressed, had coffee and breakfast and headed off in a taxi to Goodwood Motor Circuit.

I managed to have a quick chat with the lovely chaps from @runr. We had met before at the National Running Show in January but had said hello properly.

It was great to meet up with Jonathan, Becs and Jemma straight away. A few others were already there, then Carmen arrived, then Kyla. The family mile was underway and Ben was doing his thing with the camera so I caught up with him later.

The poor 10k racers got caught in a heavy hail-y downpour. Then it was our turn to walk out onto the famous race track.

Round to the start line and off we went.

Five and a half laps. Five and a half laps! I wasn’t sure how I’d cope with laps. My parkrun is three laps but I’ve never done more.

The top section was incredibly windy with the wind blowing in your face. When you got round to the second half of the loop, you didn’t really feel the benefit of the tailwind because it was more sheltered. I started off wondering if I’d be able to keep with the 2:30 pacer but soon managed to get ahead.

The slightly OCD side of my personality actually rather liked the laps and being able to count them off. However I got to two and a half laps round and lost the plot a bit. Lost the ability to count. So I was glad I had my Garmin ticking the miles down for me. I got totally disorientated as well. I have photos and no idea at what part of the race they were taken. No landmarks makes it tricky.

I kept glancing round over my shoulder to try to see whether I was managing to stay comfortably ahead of the 2:30 pacer. There was no way dropping back to him once I was past half way.

Despite the weather , I loved this race. It was great to see friends, and it was a flat course so, despite the windy weather, I was delighted and surprised to get a PB. 

The marshals deserve a special shout out for being out on their feet for hours in bad weather.

📷 @bensnapsstuff

I think this photo says it all. I spent a lot of his race with my head down, telling myself to just put one foot in front of the other and repeat. I don’t usually like looking at photos of myself but the more I look at it the more I like it. This is me, the runner. I guess I’m stronger than I think I am, both physically and mentally.

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Robin Hood half marathon

I entered the Robin Hood half marathon this year as a fairly late entry. I’ve run the race once before in 2015, I’d been injured that summer so had missed out a chunk of my training plan. It was therefore a slow and steady race with quite a lot of walking. I was still a fairly new runner in those days.

I decided to enter this year because some friends were running and at that point I didn’t have anything in the diary in the autumn. My only hope for the race this year was that I would be faster than the first time I’ve had run it. I hoped that will be possible simply because I think I’m a lot fitter now, three years on, then I was then.

I joined the #ukrunchat group for dinner on Saturday night. It was nice to see people who I hadn’t seen for a while and to look forward to the next day’s race.

After the usual poor sleep the night before a race, I was up early on Sunday for the usual pre-race Rituals. Coffee. Try to eat breakfast. Toilet. Get dressed. Toilet. Et cetera.

Dad dropped me off at the tram stop in Hucknall, where I met a lady who was going to be marshalling about the finish line. I’d never met her before but we had a good chat of the tram. I changed trams at Nottingham station, and as I boarded my second tram I saw that Ian was on board so we had a chat on the way to the Race village.

Slowly the others are began arrive. It was a really Chilly morning and we were huddling in our hoodies Praying that the Sun would come put and warm things up a bit. This was not to be.

After some pre-race photos and some more toilet stops, we had a bag drop And into our respective pens. I was starting with Rich, Ian, Annie (who was running her first half marathon) and Brett, who was doing his first half since a leg injury.

It took nearly 20 minutes to get over the start line where there was a bit of a bottleneck. I had some problems with my hydration vest, but luckily managed to sort it out while we were running and not too far into the race. The first few miles of this route is pretty hilly and I managed to keep up with Ian and Brett for the first few miles. They kept waiting for me along the route but eventually they ended up too far ahead so I ran the last half on my own.

Running through Wollaton Hall brought back some strange memories. Dad and I had done a lot of walking there when my arm was broken earlier this year and I couldn’t run. I hadn’t been back since so it was a little odd to be back. Jason was marshalling on one of the water stations there so I managed A quick hello and hi 10 before running on. They’ve thrown in a big hill in the park which wasn’t there last time I ran this race So that was a bit of a surprise.

Once I got past 6 miles I decided I wasn’t going to stop running for love nor money. This was a bit of a mental battle. I haven’t run and in tire half marathon since before I broke my arm and I wasn’t sure whether I was back to that fitness, especially on a route that started off so hilly. However, the more miles that ticked by, the more I was determined that I wasn’t going to walk. The only (incredibly short) stop that I had was a quick loo stop at mile nine!

Amy was standing on Castle Boulevard, and as soon as I saw her the burst into tears. I’m not really sure why, I think things were just hurting by then and I knew it was “just a parkrun to go”. I gave Amy a slightly teary hug, she asked if I was okay, I said I was and on I went.

At mile 11, There was a big group from Notts Women Runners, And I saw Sarah who I had been at school. I gave her a wave and trotted on.

Miles 11 to 13 seemed endless and my legs were screaming at me by this point, but there was no way I was stopping now. I turned into the finish funnel And saw Charlotte who I had also been at school with and she gave me a lovely cheer And then I was finished. I looked at my watch and saw that I had achieved my aim of running faster than I had in 2015 – nearly 20 minutes faster!

I was handed my medal and goody bag, such as it was.

Then I saw Ian and got a big hug. We had managed to get into the corporate tent so had a lovely postrace massage in there. We said our goodbyes to various people and I went with Ali, Tom and Brett For a lovely Greek feast.

There had been some hiccups What race numbers, but that’s not my story to tell. The goody bag is pretty poor to be honest, but I do like this race and, what with the discount code we were sent from running this year, it would’ve been rude not to enter next year’s race. Hopefully I’ll see some of you there.

Gateshead Trail 10k

I entered this race some time ago.  It seems a slightly odd one for me to enter given its location, but my sister and her family live in Newcastle so it’s an easy win.  Stay with them (no accommodation costs!), free lift to the race, and the niece and nephew as support crew.

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It turns out that this was a much bigger race than I’d anticipated but it was really well organised.  It has a very good event village based at a rugby club (proper toilets – what a pre-race treat!). Number pick up was quick and easy and it was a great atmosphere.

I managed to find Keely and Claire from #ukrunchat easily and then we found Marie so it was time for a quick pre-race #visorclub photograph.

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Soon it was time for the off so we stood in our pens for a fairly short time and over the start line we went.

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The race had a fun atmosphere but is tricky to describe.  It’s billed as a trail race but it isn’t really because a lot of it is on paved paths.  However, it’s certainly not a road race.  So we need a new category for races like this one.  I’ve heard somebody describe it as a “glorified parkrun”.  I guess it depends where you parkrun, because it’s nothing like mine but I can kind of see what they mean as it isn’t a true trail race.  Anyway, regardless of all of that, it was very well organised and well marshalled (I heard somebody at the end saying they went wrong but I really can’t see how that can have happened.  The only place it could have happened is very clearly signposted).  There isn’t really any support on the route apart from a few folk who I think were friends/relatives of runners who had found a spot to sit in.  Luckily it was a really nice day weather-wise so it was good for those hanging around waiting for us to finish.

The finish had a great atmosphere, and lots of people stuck around as it was a nice day and the race village had food on offer.  I think the rugby club bar was also open.  It was lovely to have my niece and nephew there who enjoyed cheering in the final runners.

Luckily Keely managed to get a shot of me coming in to finish as there aren’t any official photos of me at the time of writing this.

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All in all this was a great race with a brilliant atmosphere, and I may well be back to do it again.  The medal is great, the goody bag decidedly average, but that doesn’t really matter to me.  It’s a little disappointing that there aren’t any photos of me thus far, but for the cost of the race I guess I can’t complain too much.

The End of the Fracture Road

This blog is mainly addressed to the lovely folk in my Facebook humerus fracture support group. But even if you’re not a member of that (it’s a bit niche, to be fair), please read on. The last paragraph may be applicable to you.

My darling Humerus Fracture Warriors (HFWs):

I don’t think anybody who hasn’t been through this horrible injury can ever truly understand how bad it can be. Even loved ones who have lived through this with us and have seen us go through the pain and the frustration don’t know firsthand. How utterly debilitating and painful, frustrating and totally ridiculous this injury can be at times.

There will be times when you think you can’t do it anymore. There will be times when you feel incredibly low. There will be tears of pain and anger. There will be times when you think it will never end and you can’t see how you will ever have any form of a normal life again. This may sound dramatic, but it’s true.

Your fellow HFWs are here. They are your support. You can cry and you can rant, you can laugh at sheer craziness of some of this (did you ever think that putting your bra or going to the toilet on your own on would be such an amazing achievement to be celebrated!)

Slowly – slowly but surely – you will find a new normal. Your bone will heal, your scars will fade, your strength will return. Our old normal may never be again. But perhaps the new normal will bring good things. We may not know what they are now but hopefully they will become apparent in the future.

What I do know is that you can do this. It may not feel like it sometimes, but I promise you can. Dig deep and you will find the strength within you. With the support of your fellow humerus fracture warriors, you can come through to the end of this smiling.

As for me, nearly 8 months down the line, I am now discharged from both the fracture clinic and physiotherapy. I have learned a lot about myself. I have learned just how much I love being active and how hard it is now to be inactive. I always knew that I had a brilliantly supportive family, colleagues, and friends, and they have proved themselves to be so, time and time again.

But what I have learned most in this process is just how strong I am. Before this, I would never have described myself as a strong woman for many reasons. But despite the pain and the fear at times, I knew that I just had to dig in and get through this, by hook or by crook, and I have. And for this, I admit that I’m pretty proud of myself. I’m beginning to rather like this new normal because it has taught me a lot about myself and most of it is good stuff.

So I thank the HFWs. As well as them, I thank those of you who let me cry, kept me company, gave me lifts to events, cut up my food, helped me fasten my trousers on a night out, acted as my bodyguard, held my hand, and put up with many many sad and whining texts. I can never put into words just how grateful I am. Thank you. Very very much.

Anyone for a one-armed group hug?

(📷s by @bensnapsstuff)

Maverick X Series Peak District

I ran the Maverick X Series race in the Peak District yesterday. I use the word “ran” very loosely – it was hard, it was hot, it was slow, it’s was great!

I won a free entry to a Maverick race back in November 2017 and decided to do the Peak District race as it’s fairly near where my parents live so is easy/cheap for transport and accommodation.

I talked Rich into entering the same distance (middle), and a few weeks before we decided we’d run together.

We arrived at the race nice and early, parking was easy, as was registration. We had a chat with Ben and Jason. Pre-race briefing – in short, follow the blue signs, tape and flags and make sure you drink enough – and off we went.

I’d looked at the elevation chart for the race before, however I admit that they don’t really mean much to me, other than I knew this was going to be hilly. And it was. The first hill was tough. Up to Win Hill, it was steep with lots of stone steps. But the views were spectacular!

Lots of down and then we were running beside Ladybower Reservoir, which was gorgeous. Then up again, through a lovely forest, bits of which wouldn’t have been out of place in Narnia or Lord of the Rings.

Then the course split, and we went a little bit wrong, having missed a blue tape. Luckily we weren’t too far when we realised and retraced our steps.

Next was Kinder Scout. I struggled with climbing Win Hill so was worried about Kinder but actually found it much easier. Coming down was tricky, with lots of loose rocks so I had to take it very steadily.

Down into Edale (I think), turned a corner and saw the guys manning the aid station. Never was a hydration post more welcome! Some watermelon and fizzy cola bottles, and lots of water and electrolytes, refill our bottles and hydration packs, and off we go again. This time up Mam Tor. Up and up some more. Down again and up and up and up onto Lose Hill.

At this point some of the marathon distance runners had started overtaking us – utterly amazing.

Down and through some fields and we were finished!

It was one of the toughest races I’ve done and I couldn’t have kept going without Rich’s company. Definitely a race I’d recommend!

Round Sheffield Run

The Round Sheffield Run was one of the two races I entered whilst I was injured. Possibly not the best idea but hey ho, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

The bonus of this one was that I could stay with my parents in the Midlands so wouldn’t need a hotel stay, So on the Friday before the race I travelled north to Nottinghamshire, to the parental home. I had no idea how I was going to get to the race but knew it would be an early start. Bless his heart, Dad agreed to drive me and drop me off as he would then go walking for a few hours.

We couldn’t park so he dropped me by the park and I found my way to the race village. I’d barely been there two minutes when Ben (@bensnapsstuff), who was taking official photos at the race, appeared in front of me and gave me a hug. The nerves were really kicking in so it was great to see a friend so soon after I arrived. Ben reassured me that I’d love the race (you’ll find out in a bit whether he was right), and off he went to get to his first shooting spot and I joined the loo queue. I then saw Claire (@rainbowchaser79), Paul (@succisavirescit) and Matt (@bigguy_running). Claire and I decided we’d see how running together (with her husband too) would work out but we weren’t sure how we’d do pace-wise. I then had a lovely hug and photo with Michelle (@mileswithmichelle).

I went to collect my “dibber” from the guys with laptops. This race is a staged event where you dib out and in to the 11 stages. Between stages you are told how long you have got to get to the beginning of the next stage. This often includes crossing roads so it’s a great idea. You get a time for each stage, an overall time and a time excluding the bits between stages.

Soon enough it was time to head to the start line. Off we went, dibbing out to set off on stage 1. Off we went through a park and then some woodland, which was beautiful. I spotted Ben and got a high five, and on we went.

📷 Ben Lumley

Soon enough the terrain changed and became more trail and started to go up. And up. And more up.

See, it’s quite hilly!

As usual, I’m not going to give a blow by blow account of the race but I’ll summarise it my saying it was hot, it was hilly, it was brilliant. Yes, Ben was absolutely right that I loved this race.

The format was really interesting, the marshals were fabulous and I loved being with Claire and Martin. We walked the ups and ran the downs and it was really great fun. It turned out we were perfectly paced to run the whole thing together which made it great fun.

📷 Ben again

Claire was especially useful because she knew of a strategically-placed Morrison’s which had loos! We had lots of comments about our colourful socks/leggings and had lots of fun.

I couldn’t hang around at the end but there was a great party atmosphere.

If you don’t mind a lot of up and down, this is a race you should run. Well organised and brilliant fun, what more could you ask?

Me and Claire – running dream team

Shrewsbury Half Marathon

I haven’t blogged in a while but thought I’d do a an update by way of a review of Shrewsbury half marathon yesterday.

It turns out that Shrewsbury is a lovely hilly cobbly hilly town with lots of hills. But somehow I still loved this race.

I travelled to Shrewsbury by train on Saturday and checked in to my hotel, quickly realising that it was in fact a very noisy bar with rooms above. Hmmmm. This did not bode well for an early night.

I met up with Alison and Tom, Lee, Kyla, Sherie and Luke for a lovely Zizzi dinner.

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I do love a pre race catch up with this lot. Then back to the noisy place where I eventually fell asleep to the strains of classical music on my iPod to drown out the awful racket going on beneath me.

Up bright and early as usual on race day – I know the routine well by now. Get up, get dressed, try to force myself to eat something, feeling more sick by the minute. It was raining quite heavily but luckily it eased up just as I was setting off. I knew roughly where I was going and soon ended up following someone else in running gear who I prayed was going to the race. She was – phew.

As soon as I walked into Race HQ the first person I saw was Ben. Lovely to see a friendly face and get a lovely hug straight away. More lovely hugs from Phil and Janet, Joe, Paul, Ash, Ian and a few others.

Off to the start line with Ian and off we went.

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My last half marathon was in March in Limassol and I only managed just under 3 hours for that. So I had thought that I probably wouldn’t be able to keep up with the 2:40 pacer in Shrewsbury. However a few miles in I felt comfortable overtaking him, hoping that I hadn’t peaked too soon and fully expecting him to overtake me back later on.

I won’t do a blow by blow account of the course, mainly because I don’t remember much. In short – It was hilly. It was beautiful. There were cows. The marshal and local support was fantastic.

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There was a happy moment when a bloke around mile 7 told me I was looking relaxed and strong. I’m pretty sure I wasn’t but he was very cute so I smiled.

Through the town and out into the countryside, I pottered along, enjoying the views and my music. I’ve come to know that I always struggle around miles 7-8. Just past half way but not far enough in to be “nearly there” or seriously counting down. Things are beginning to hurt so I have a little sing to myself. And to anyone else around me (lucky them).

A marshal tells me it’s all downhill from here and promises he isn’t lying and he isn’t! Down hill, across a field and I’m finished.

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Such a lovely hug from Sherie, and Ian, and a double hug from Kyla and Carmen at the end.

This is why I love racing. This is why I love the half marathon distance. This is why I needed to start to run again as soon as I could after my injury. This, this feeling of excitement and nerves and friendship and support and achievement.

That’s what it’s all about. But mainly the friendship. So I want to thank the guys who hung out with me this weekend. I appreciate your friendship and support.

See you there for some glamping in 2019!

 

St Illtyds Ultra (or What Goes Up Must Come Down…. Eventually)

I entered St Illtyds 50k trail race in September last year, long before the saga of the arm. I had thought this would be one of the races I wouldn’t make it to. I certainly wouldn’t make it if I didn’t finish Manchester Marathon (I had decided that St Illtyds would be DNS if I didn’t finish Manchester). But I finished Manchester. So Sunday 6 May came around, and there I was, collecting my race number from two very nice ladies in Burry Port yacht club on a very misty May morning. It was chilly but that would soon prove to be deceptive for how hot a day it would become.

A race briefing from Nathan and Tori and off we went. But not before Adam came out with the best line ever – “There are so many happy people here but this just isn’t a happy occasion”. Henceforth to be used on all start lines the country over.

The first four or so miles were fairly flat. Another deception. Then we started to climb, up through a beautiful bluebell wood.


At this point I slipped on a step and landed on my bum, on the wooden edge of the step. An instinct for self-preservation clearly kicked in as my left arm flew up in the air to protect itself. I suspect I have a big bruise on my right bottom (I haven’t checked).

My first experiences of an ultra checkpoint was good, where I discovered a hankering for cheese and Pom Bears. I also discovered that they gave me good energy and didn’t upset my stomach, so them (and chipstick crisps) were my go-to at the aid stations. I really fancied some of the sweets but decided to limit those in case the sugar had an adverse effect. Saying that, a few fizzy sweets were consumed because they’re my favourite thing.


Onwards and up and down, and up and down. When you thought it could continue going up, it did. And the downs were no help because it’s an out and back course so we knew we’d have to climb up them on the return leg.

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See, told you there were hills!


Checkpoint two done and then there were tears. You didn’t really expect there to be no tears, did you? Don’t you know me at all? We had been warned about a field of cows that we should have run through, but the better option was to run through the next door field as the cows had been attacking people. However there was no stile into the second field and we had to climb over a fence, which meant putting your weight in your left arm on a fence pole. Which I can’t currently do. So I dealt with it in my finest way by crying and saying “I can’t do that”. With a bit of encouragement, I managed to get to the top of the fence then the only way down was for Brian to lift me off. Poor Bri. Thanks, Bri.

I’m not going to go over the race itself in too much detail. It was over 30 miles and that would be really boring and I think I might have also blocked a lot of it out because there’s a lot I don’t remember. The summary, however, is:

  • Hilly
  • Very hot (luckily the checkpoints had sun cream!)
  • Lots of animals – alpacas, sheep, cows and horses
  • Stunning scenery
  • Checkpoints with fabulous fabulous volunteers
  • Hilly

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I’m now a big fan of checkpoints. Well stocked, with very friendly volunteers helping to refill water bottles and feed us. Crisps, sweets, bread, sausage rolls, fruit, and best of all, Coke! Big fan of checkpoints (did I already say that?) Also a big fan of the volunteers. It only strikes me now how brilliant they were. I mean, I knew they were great. But they clearly recognised when you were getting to the point where you just needed help. They simply took my bottles from me, sorted them out and gave them back to me, no fuss, no drama, but just lots and lots of help.

The utterly fabulous Kat from Racecheck popped up in a couple of places for what I’m sure were incredibly sweaty hugs. So lovely to see a friendly face on the way! I hope she realises how much of a boost it was seeing her there.
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Where there were houses a few residents were in garden cheering us on, and one lady asked if we wanted to come in and have a glass of squash. She said if she’d known about the run she’d have set a table out for everyone. She would have had a lot of visitors. Staying hydrated was tough in that weather. I had a 1 litre bladder of water and two 350ml bottles of Tailwind which all needed refilling at most of the checkpoints. I also made sure I had a good drink of water and Coke at all of the stations. The difficulty with the bladder was because it was on my (hot) back, it wasn’t long before the water went warm and was really disgusting to drink.

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The Reservoir at the half way turnaround point

I met up with Rach and Graham somewhere along the way back and walked pretty much the whole of the last 10 miles with them. Tiny bits of jogging but not much by then. I was struggling with my feet but otherwise felt OK. We got lost, going up a huge (unnecessary) hill then having to go back down it. We also got lost and took a detour on the last mile or so back into Burry Port. I don’t know whether we missed the marker tape or if it had been taken down. Having to walk past our hotel and carry on to the finish was tough.

Luckily the original 10 hour cut off wasn’t in place any longer because of the weather. I say luckily because it took nearly an hour longer than that for me to finish.

10 hours 54 minutes, 70,725 steps, 4,314 calories, 32.75 miles, two “detours”, two lots of crying, rather a lot of swearing and I was finished. It still hasn’t sunk in yet. An utterly brutal course (Nathan said at the briefing that if you can do St Illtyds you can do any 50k and we all laughed nervously – I suspect he’s right), amazing scenery, and great company.
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However, my advice for you from the race is this – put your fruit pastilles where you can easily reach them then you won’t have a big tantrum two miles from the finish because you can’t reach them. You’re welcome.

Thank you, St Illtyd, whoever you are. Your race is a stonker. As is this medal.
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Manchester Marathon – the race I thought I wouldn’t make

I entered Manchester Marathon 2018 in June 2017. It was to be my first marathon and definitely my 2018 A race. Then, as many of you will know by now, I broke my arm on 10 December, so I assume that Manchester was therefore not going to be an option. I never imagined that 17 weeks later I’d be standing on that start line ready to go. Or as ready as I’d ever be, anyway. I’d been “back” from the broken arm for about five weeks at this point. I’d done lots of gym work, two parkruns and Limassol half marathon, but other than that I’d had 14 weeks off running with just walks and the chair bike to keep my legs ticking over.

I travelled to Manchester on the Saturday and stayed in the Premier Inn which is right beside the start line. Colin and Keith Johnstone were also staying there, so Colin and I met up on Saturday night to walk over to Salford Quays to meet some of the others for pre-race pizza/pasta. I managed a fairly early night and slept until 4am, at which point I woke needing the loo and then didn’t get back to sleep properly again.

6am alarm call and I was up and getting ready. I decided I’d run in my arm brace – I probably don’t need it by now but it was a psychological/comfort thing. I also thought that testing whether I did need it was probably best done on a slightly shorter run.

I met up with some of the @ukrunchat gang at bag drop, then we all walked to Hotel Football for the #visorclub meet up and photo.

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We walked to the start line and hung around for a bit with Phil Jefferies and his pacing group. He was pacing 5:30 and had gathered quite a crowd around him. I was going to run with Ants and Dave, and our aims were 1) to finish and 2) to not get swept by the sweeper bus. We met Abby Hussain by the start line, so a quick chat with him, a photo, and we were off.

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We managed to keep up with Phil for a little while but couldn’t keep that pace up for very long. One of the odd things about this marathon is that I suddenly realised today that I hadn’t been aware of my watch buzzing the miles at me. It must have been, maybe I was aware of so many other things that I just didn’t notice that.

We trotted along for a few miles and eventually started walking a bit in between runs. Eventually the walks would be longer and the runs (which became known as Shuffles!) shorter.

I’d got a message from my 4 year old niece of what she’d say to me if she saw me running, so I’d written this in Sharpie on my arm. I did look at it a lot and it made me smile.

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The support along the course was fantastic, and whilst it would be a lie to say that the miles flew by, it certainly helped. We saw Carl, and Rach and Helen although I didn’t realise it was them until we’d passed them.

Mile 13 is as good a place as any for a photo of the three musketeers! It was definitely becoming uncomfortable at this point but I wasn’t stopping for love nor money. I sent a whats app message to a friend, who told me he was proud of me, and this really spurred me on.

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We trotted on a while longer then the lovely local folk were offering out bags of jelly babies (which I can’t stand so gave a miss)…….

 

…. Wispas and hot dogs. I must remember chocolate for future races, just the taste of something lovely really helped.

I found miles 13-16 really hard, because I was then into my longest ever run, as I’d only ever done half marathon distance before. Once we were at this distance, I didn’t know that I could do this. The walking was becoming more and the shuffle was becoming more. And harder to start off the shuffle each time. I had pains in my feet, my hips, my calves, my thighs. The only bit which didn’t hurt was my right hamstring which my sports therapist had taped up for me. I decided that for future races I’d get her to wrap the whole of me in tape like a mummy. The pains surprised me because they kept moving around. It wasn’t everything all at once. My left foot hurt, then my right hip, then my right foot, then my left hamstring, etc etc. I’d expected everything to hurt at once so was intrigued by the moving pain! I messaged my friend again “Mile 18 and everything hurts”. He said “Keep moving forward. Little bits at a time”. Wise advice.

The question of “Shall we shuffle?” was becoming less enthusiastically received and it was harder and harder to start shuffling instead of walking. I’d promised myself that I wouldn’t whine but I did a bit.

We got to 24 miles and I cried. To be honest I’d expected tears, and long before 24 miles but it didn’t happen. But we got to the 24 mile marker and I suddenly realised that (barring disaster) we only had two and a bit miles to go. And that I could do two and a bit miles. I’d done 24, after all. It hit me at that point that, within the next hour, I’d complete a marathon.

Another photo at the 40km point, and on we trotted…..

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Incidentally, we had seen a number of ambulances, blue lights flashing, heading down the course at this point. Dave, one of my partners in crime, had collapsed at a race last year and had been resuscitated then had heart surgery. This was his first race back. I’d had more than enough of hospitals. I think every time we saw one of those ambulances we were thinking back to our own experiences of needing the medics at a race, and thinking of the people who were needing them at that point.  I’m grateful that there are people who give up their weekends to be medics and volunteers at races.

The last stretch was tough. Over a big road bridge, a right turn, and then the mirage that is the finish line. It’s a long straight home run and you never seem to get there. We saw Carl and Martin as we ran down. I couldn’t go and give them a hug, I need to keep going, keep shuffling, keep trotting, or I’d never get there.

And then – we finished. I’d run a marathon. What do you mean, did I cry? Don’t you know me at all? Of course I cried!

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Fracture Clinic

I’m in the fracture clinic waiting area. It’s six weeks since I was here and yet it’s oh so familiar.

Lots of broken people sitting around waiting for their name to be called. If you’re unlucky, your name is called only for you to be told that you have to go to X-ray first.

We wait. We read three year old magazines. And we wait.

People go in and out of the plaster room. Some come out having acquired new casts, others appear having had casts removed. They hold limbs gingerly, as if they’ll fall off. I know this feeling.

“Katherine Richards”

Here I go.