Edinburgh Marathon

 

ImageYou’ve got to do your local marathon, and with the start line literally outside my door, there was no excuse really.  I’d signed up late last year not really sure of what my plan would be, and with my first 100 mile race planned only 4 weeks after this, it had to be a training run rather than a race for me this year.  To stop myself racing I offered to pace my friend who was running this as her 2nd marathon to completion (having pulled out of her last one with injury) and with her wanting a sub 4 hour finish.

The Edinburgh Marathon Festival wasn’t just about the marathon but a whole load of different races.  On the Saturday there is the 5km & 10km run for the adults and a series of races for the kids, with a 1.5km & 3km to be run.  The atmosphere was fantastic and really gets you in the mood.  Not having kids myself I never would have gone along to watch the kids races but with a friend’s daughter running the 1.5km we went down to watch, and I was so inspired!  Amazing to watch the little ones sprinting their little hearts out and what a fantastic way to showcase the city as well.

 

I had a load of fitness pals up for the various races over the weekend from Bioticfit in Manchester, so had arranged a pre race “Pasta Party” at Crowne Plaza Edinburgh – Royal Terrace, along with a bit of a #tweetmeet with a few other runners I had never met in person but had been tweeting within the lead up to the race.  It was great to catch up with everyone over some tasty food.

 

Sunday – Race day!  We awake to torrential rain, not exactly the perfect running weather.  Thankfully the marathon didn’t start until 10am so we had plenty of time to get sorted, especially as it was a 2 minute walk to the start line for us.  My friend and I ventured out and saw the half marathon start in the torrential rain before breakfast. 

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Half marathon start in the rain

Due to the poor weather and because I knew I wasn’t going to be running at speed I opted for some comfort food and ditched the porridge idea and munched on a Bacon & Egg  ciabatta instead, delicious!  Of course  I made sure my friend had the porridge though to fuel up for the big event.  I’ve run many a long run on bacon & eggs with no adverse affects and I think the experience of ultra running and multi stage events has made me realise that all the talk of overloading on carbs is a bit of a myth.  The body can only store a limited amount of carbs in any case and I certainly don’t get the chance on multi day events such as Marathon Des Sables to over carb load, and manage to run in extreme conditions and extreme distances without what most would consider enough calories. 

Edinburgh Marathon runners

Gillian and I before the start.

 

At 9:30 the weather finally clears up and fair weather runner hubby decides very last minute that he might as well run it too.  It is a great atmosphere on the streets and with 8,624 marathon runners there are 2 starting areas on London and Regent Roads. We are on the Regent Road start, with a nice downhill to get us started.  My friend wants to start at roughly 9min/mile pace and carry this through.  Secretly I am concerned as I am used to starting off quick and then slowing down, so a bit worried about maintaining that pace for 26.2 miles.  We start off well and manage to maintain at about 8:40m/m for the first couple of miles in the excitement of it all, as we go past Arthur’s Seat and around Meadowbank Stadium we slow it down to just under 9m/m.  By mile 5 my friends pace is slowing to about 9:20m/m and I gently tell her we need to pick it up a bit, already concerned about the sub 4 goal so early on.  I can tell she is struggling to get to the 9m/m pace we had agreed and by mile 10 I tell her that unless she has some secret speed energy stashed away, the sub 4 is out the window.  She tells me she doesn’t mind, that she just wants to finish so I resort to just getting her to the finish. 

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Gillian along the coastal section

 

The weather is holding out nicely and the sun even makes an appearance.  I am running in my North Face kit that I received just a few days prior, breaking all the marathon rules of not trying anything new on race day, wearing a new shirt, new bra, new ¾ tights and wearing a bag that I had never run in before as well as trying out gels that I have never tried out before either!  I take my first gel at the 30 minute mark, a delicious Torq Raspberry gel.  It tastes as good as a gel can, and I take the next 30 minutes later, followed by a Torq bar another 30 minutes later.  This is the first time I have been so consistent with energy and I can feel the difference.  I am absolutely buzzing!  I think the energy mixed with the slower speed and I feel invincible like I can run forever.  My friend on the other hand is relying on Rowntree’s fruit pastilles, and is seriously struggling.  I can see it in her face, in her body language and hear it in her breathing.   She is feeling too warm and at the next water station I get her to tip some water on the back of her neck which helps cool her down a bit.  I had asked her about energy before race day, but this is what she had trained with, she wasn’t keen to try gels on a race, but had said she will try this moving forward.  Just after mile 16 there is the first ‘energy station’ stocked with High 5 gels, I encourage her to try one to see how it goes as she needs something.  I take as many gels as I can to stock up and try my first High 5, pleasantly surprised, it tastes pretty good too.  My friend ‘enjoys’ hers as well and you can visibly see it has lifted her somewhat, not enough to crack on at any more pace, but she keeps going which is the main thing.  I make sure that she takes a few more along the way and restocks at the next energy station at mile 22 & 24.  I don’t understand why in races, the organisers don’t have the gels available from the start as you need to be taking them from the very beginning, by mile 16 it is too late!   At various points on the race you see the faster runners having reached the turnaround point coming back past you, and at about mile 16 I manage to catch hubby running past at what must be between 19 & 20 miles on the other side.  I cheer wildly and get his attention, just!  I work it out in my head that he is on for a quick time which is fantastic!

Edinburgh Marathon mile 18

Me at mile 18 in the sun!

 

The crowds are amazing along the way, particularly the MacMillan supporters who are everywhere cheering loudly.  Loads of locals are out in their front gardens cheering all the runners on, handing out sweets, setting up their own water stations with plastic cups.  It really is great to see and I participate fully high fiving along the way and dancing with the cheerleaders and the Brazilian dancers en route.  I am far too cheerful and excited to be in this time bracket for a marathon so I hope I didn’t annoy anyone too much with my exuberance!  As we come into Musselburgh for the finish the crowds get thicker and towards the finish line it is like something out of Tour de France with the crowds closing in to almost a single track finish. 

 

We finish!  It’s been a hard slog for my friend, but I made sure she didn’t walk at all, so she ran a whole marathon, well done!  I feel great, and feel I could run another one (sorry but it’s true, and I feel so proud to say it too) but she is struggling now to walk anywhere very quickly.  I have no idea where hubby could be so we head over to the VIP tent which is the only area we had mentioned about meeting.  No sign of him in the tent, but we do find a couple of our other pals who we manage to get into the VIP tent with us, and we get my friend in to sit down and quickly get her some water and make up a For Goodness Shakes recovery shake, she is looking white with blue lips.  We get her some food quick smart as well, and slowly but surely the colour starts to come back.  I get hold of Dion and hear that he smashed it with a 3:10 finish!  How awesome!  He had waited for us but got too cold so he ran the 5 miles home, yes ran!  The beauty of being an ultra runner. 

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Our medal haul, Gillian, Dion & I!

 

I really enjoyed my day, it was great to run a marathon without racing it and I had loads of fun.  It has filled me with confidence for the upcoming 100 miles as I can clearly see that if I just keep my pace right and my fuelling right it should all be just fine.  My friend on the other hand has a marathon finish which is great, but really needs to go back and look at how she is training and how she is fuelling her body.  As she explained to me, she ran to lose weight so the thought of eating and taking on so much during a race is foreign and almost wrong.  But as I explained to her as I have done the same thing and it is really hard to change your mindset, you are no longer running to lose weight as you’ve lost it you are now running to get fitter and stronger so your body is a machine and needs to be fuelled as such. 

 

I normally like to go for a recovery run/jog the next day but unfortunately miss this due to timing, however we do get out and walk for about 4 miles over the morning which is a good flush out as well.  I follow this up with a 7 mile run on the Tuesday morning at a gentle 9m/m pace on fairly flat ground followed up by a great sports massage by Nicola at Fasic in Edinburgh.  It does the trick and by Wednesday I am back to normal. So now 3 weeks to be ready for the Mohican 100 mile race over in Ohio on June 21st & 22nd.  Wish me luck!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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From Fan Dancing on Pen Y Fan to running in all colours of the rainbow

It was a tough week to get the miles in, some long days at work meant for a real push to get out at all. So I was pleased to have a tough event scheduled for Saturday to push my limits. Hubby and I had entered The Fan Dance, run by Avalanche Events, a 25km mountainous run in Brecon Beacons taking in the summit of Pen Y Fan (3000ft ascent) twice. This course is designed and used by the SAS as their training and testing ground, so we knew it was going to be tough. BBC news story – http://t.co/hBIGcGVYjT Didn’t think we’d make it to the start line after our supposed 3hr journey turned into 5, if sat nav told us our route had been recalculated due to traffic one more time I think we might have turned around and gone home! Pleased to say we didn’t and we arrived at the Premier Inn Merthyr Tydfil just in time for a steak & chips dinner. As we had to be up and gone before breakfast was served we tried out some our rehydrated meals. I had Bla Band potato with beef and bearnaise sauce, and Dion had the Extreme Adventure Food Mexican Chilli con carne. We needed to try these put to see how they sit in our stomachs. They both tasted great, with no ill effects. Read my review on Bla Band here and Extreme Adventure food here.  After filling our camelbaks with Nuun cola flavour and another couple of bottles of water (we had to carry 3L & have and additional 2L to hand in for the mid way checkpoint), we headed off to the start. From the start it was a direct steep incline that nobody ran, we all walked and believe me this was tough going enough! The route was immense, steep, rocky climbs followed by steep descents absolutely caned the calves on the way up and the quads on the way back down. Once over the summit of Pen Y Fan for the first summit, we went the wrong way slightly (taking in an extra big hill-just what we needed), still ended up on Roman Road where we had to be but had lost a good 10mins and quite a few places. Luckily Roman road was a rocky downhill stretch so we hot footed it along here at a blistering pace, leaping and bounding over rocks and holes, somehow managing to stay upright! This brought us to the 7.5 mile checkpoint and turnaround point. We’d seen as people were doubling back past us that I was in 4th female position with 3rd not too far ahead, so that pushed us on to run hard back up Roman Road, which was more uphill than it had felt coming down. It was pretty energy sapping on the legs and hubby pushed ahead of me at this point, leaving me to try and catch third female. I was pulling her in as she was slowing up Roman Road, but kept looking back and seeing I was catching was making her push harder. By the time we got to Jacobs Ladder for the last serious assault of ascent, I was only 100 yards behind her, I kept this distance going up this gruelling incline but once I got to the top it was shrouded in cloud and I again went the wrong way and descended the alternate path to the finish line, losing any chance of catching her up! I was pleased to hear I wasn’t the only one who’d taken this route. What a run! 3hr 11mins of hardcore mountains, definitely be back to tackle this one again. Finished off with a tasty hog roast and a special edition Fan Dance beer before a much quicker 3hr drive home!  Lesson learnt – drink! I had only drank about 200ml of my camelbak, and drank 3L of water on the drive home without needing to go to the toilet, dehydrated perhaps? Not wise, must learn to drink more, I’m normally actually quite good at doing that, not sure what made me not drink.

At the start

At the start

On route, massive ascents

On route, massive ascents

Dion on Pen Y Fan

Dion on Pen Y Fan

Finished!

Finished!

Pretty knackered all in all, but hubby got us out first thing for a 6 mile recovery run before breakfast which was painful as the quads in particular were pretty tight. Tried to ease this with the foam roller, but that was killing! I had a little 5km event planned that afternoon, so I ran another (slow) 6 miles to Etihad stadium from Didsbury, and then joined my fellow Bioticfitters for The Color Run. What an awesome way to finish a tough weekend, a fun 5km running around Etihad stadium, wearing white and being powder paint bombed every kilometre! Dubbed as ‘The Happiest 5k on the planet’ I’d have to agree! No garmin watches or chip timing here, just pure running for fun. Surprisingly the paint powder washed off easily which was a relief. I did get some strange looks wandering into Tesco being all colours of the rainbow and then some!

Me and some of the Bioticfit gang at the finish

Me and some of the Bioticfit gang at the finish

All colours of the rainbow

All colours of the rainbow

55mile week. Happy with that after a weak start. Legs have been well and truly caned, need to keep stretching them out this week ready tackle Adidas Thunder Run next weekend.

Fell running on the Trans Pennine Trail

I wanted more out of this week than ‘just’ running, and I made this happen.  Monday was my easy day, a bit of a cycle commute to and from work, but with a twist….I went to the pool and swam a kilometre before getting a relieving sports massage for 40 minutes that I’d managed to get for a steal on Groupon with KTJ.  I did my usual cycle and run commutes (well only 2 run commutes) and managed to get to Bioticfit on Tuesday and Wednesday nights.  Tuesday was supposed to be get started fit, which I thought would be perfect after my mileage on the weekend, but it certainly didn’t feel like getting started, got walloped as usual! And I went back for more on Wednesday night, this time trying out one of the newer venues at Crossford Bridge Park in Sale.  Lucky for Gillian Haworth that I turned up as it was just the two of us, so PT Kev put us through some serious paces, including bear crawls, scorpion walks, sprint drills and planks galore to name a few.  I was seriously shattered at the end of that!

My hubby and I had a great visit to Race kit, an ultra running gear shop in Matlock on Thursday, spending as mall fortune but all necessary for the Kalahari.  Andy was so informative and an absolute wealth of knowledge with great advice and recommendations.  we walked away with some great kit, Raidlight backpacks, X-Bionic tops (& shorts for hubby), head torches, sleeping bag liners, water bottles and sleeping mats.

The plan was then for us to run with our new running packs to Kidsgrove, stay the night & run back…..but the weather was shocking, chucking it down, and we backed out at the last minute.  Didn’t want to ruin our bags after all! Ended up with a bit of a naughty night at home, enjoying a few beverages too many.

This change of plan then meant I was in charge of a route on Saturday, so I had been wanting to test out the Trans Pennine Trail to Edale, so what better time than now.  Leaving Didsbury we headed off to Reddish Vale and joined the TPT from there, taking us up to Broadbottom and Charlesworth before cutting through the Peak District up on Kinder, down via Jacobs Ladder into Edale.  633m climb along the way amongst others, along with varied terrain of sand, rocks, slate rocks, mud, boulders and grass made for a tough yet rewarding run.  The views were spectacular and we had an awesome day out.  We made it to Edale 2mins before the next train to Manchester so that was perfect timing.  We made the mileage up to 34 by running the last 5 miles home, as it was only 29 to Edale.  That was tough to get running again after 40 mins on the train, but all good training in the bank of pain!  A tasty treat of fish & chips finished off a great day out.

18 miles in with Manchester city in the background

18 miles in with Manchester city in the background

Is it a bird, a plane.....no it's me taking off at Kinder.

Is it a bird, a plane…..no it’s me taking off at Kinder.

Dion heading down Jacob's Ladder, absolute murder on the knees

Dion heading down Jacob’s Ladder, absolute murder on the knees

Taking a load off in the Giants chair just before Edale.

Taking a load off in the Giants chair just before Edale.

A ‘recovery’ ride on Sunday of 55 miles out to Warrington finished off a massive week of training, resulting in Sunday evening sat with my feet up on the couch in my compression gear!

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Compressport sorting out my tired muscles

36 miles in 24 hours & I become ‘Bug of the Month’

The plans were set, so even without ideal preparations (a weekend of bad food, booze & late nights), the plan was executed; mostly.

The hubster and I parked up at New Mills and joined the Macclesfield Canal and ran 26 miles to Kidsgrove on Monday.  It was a good run, the sun was out, it was pretty warm (by our standards) and it was great to get this training run ticked off & test out this route.  The canal path itself was harder than we both expected, very hard rocky surface which caused the knees to suffer along the way but we persevered.  Again I suffered with the inability to eat after 15 miles.  I was doing quite well up to 15, I ate salted peanuts at Mile 5, had a salami stick at mile 10 and then had half a chocloate Clif Builders bar at mile 15, but by 20 I had my usual nauseous feeling and didn’t take any more food on; much to my detriment.  Maybe it was my hydration……I normally drink Nuun http://www.nuun.co.uk/ along the way which has always worked for me but thought I would try Elete water http://new.eletewater.com/ on this run as I had been hearing a bit about it, but it just didn’t taste as good or feel that it was giving me the same hydration kick as Nuun.  So my apologies to Nuun for even considering another product, I’m back with a vengeance, my bulk order has been placed!  Image

We arrrived at Kidsgrove and it was still 3 miles to Alsager where we had a room booked for the night at the Best Western, absolutely knackered we jumped on the train for the last 3 miles with a Mars milk in hand.  Great recovery drink!  Even when I’m feeling nauseous this manages to settle my stomach and refuel me wonderfully.  The hotel was great, always a bit hit & miss with Best Westerns, but this one is great, odd location as there isn’t much out there, but we were only there to be fed & sleep.  Food in the Stables Bar was perfect, we both had the steak, egg & chips and the meal was so substantial there was no need at all for dessert.  We will definitely  be using this route again with this hotel, the good thing is there is a pool & sauna there too which could be quite handy.

The original plan was to run the 26 miles back, but considering we both needed to be at work this was not really practical, so we caught the early train back to Macclesfield and ran the 10 miles back to New Mills, got home, showered and worked a full day.  So not a bad effort at all.  Legs felt surprisingly good after sleeping in compression kit and we managed 9:30min/miles for the 10 miles.

No rest for the wicked though.  Back on the bike on Wednesday for the cycle commute to and from work and even got to Bioticfit for a tough session of Military fit that evening.  Still feeling my abs on Sunday after monstrous V-sits!  A short 7 mile run on Thursday, followed by a day of rest on Friday left me feeling fresh for a ride on Saturday.  Took the mountain bike out and explored the Trans Pennine Trail from Reddish Vale to Longdendale.  I would have liked to go further but was running out of time, so it was a nice 32 mile loop along some lovely tracks & found a new route to get home when I am doing my long run home from work as well, so that was a bonus.  Always nice to get out on the bike to take the weight off the legs a bit too.  It was quite a warm day so I kept hydrated with my camelbak filled with Nuun & a tasty flapjack on route to keep fuelled.Image

Finished off the week with a double run commute, so a tidy 14 miles, to take my weekly running mileage to 57.  Pretty pleased with that!  I stopped via Asda on my way to work and found that they stock Milo, as my husband would say ‘Oh Yes Please’, I bought a tin of that, perfect recovery drink for me, just need to stay out of the tin for extra helpings of course!

You are probably wondering what ‘bug of the month’ is…… There’s a great website, called Running Bug where there are loads of tips, competitions, log your miles & forums for runners from all walks of life.  Take a look at the link and get involved.  It was great to be selected as bug of the month & I really enjoyed chatting to James at The Running Bug to tell my story. http://therunningbug.co.uk/rbblogs/follow-the-running-bug/b/weblog/archive/2013/06/14/bug-of-the-month-lucja-leonard.aspx

 

 

 

From the hills of Shropshire to the Peaks

Started off the week with a lovely 9 mile hike from Carding Mill Valley up over part of the Long Mynd with a dear friend (& fellow blogger smirnieoutdoors.blogspot.co.uk). Considering the weather throughout the UK we were treated to a dry day with patches of sunshine!  It was lovely to natter away and soak up the lovely sights and sounds of a beautiful spot.  Nina, prepared as always, had her mini stove at hand to boil us up some water and make a brew, along with a taste test of Noodle, Chicken & Black Bean from Mountain House (http://www.mountainhouse.eu/) which went down a treat.

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Monday to Friday saw the usual runs and cycles to and from work to keep things ticking along.  I did make it back to Bioticfit at long last for Thursday night circuits & yoga which was great.  A monster session of circuits followed by a relaxing outdoor yoga session listening to the birds tweeting and the thunder rolling.  It did stay dry however.

I attended an event through http://www.eightpointtwo.co.uk on Saturday morning in Hathersage in the Peak District, which was the Dig Deep Ultra Talks, so got to listen to Marcus Scotney talk about his experience of ultra running and some tips on training, nutrition and gear.  This was really beneficial for me and I got to meet some great fellow runners as well. I missed out on going for a run with them all as I had to go to work 😦 Still managed to fit in a quick 8 mile run after work, went up from Didsbury through Stockport and back through Abney Hall Park. I love the fact I now bound up the steps to the overpass instead of gasping for breath!
Sunday saw me head out for a 10 mile run, with hill reps x 6 and some good ole hills along the river path just for ‘fun’. Hill reps are not my favourite by a long shot but I know I need to get these in for Kalahari, really good at pushing the heart rate up (as you can tell by my photo!). So a total of 40 miles running, 35 miles cycling and a 9 mile hike for good measure.

Hill reps

Hill reps

Week of Wins!

I never win anything…..until now!  I started off my week with a call from Rosso Restaurant in Manchester, I had one dinner for two with a bottle of wine after putting my business card in the draw over a Christmas Networking event held there.  How exciting!  I immediately got hubster and I booked in for the 15th Feb, the night before we go away on holidays for 3 weeks in India, just perfect!

Then a fellow twitterer, @chrishorricks31 , tweeted me to tell me that my Letter to the Editor had been published in the latest issue of Runners World, which means I have won a pair of Saucony running shoes!
runners world

Now I’m thinking I should buy a lottery ticket as these things always happen in 3’s.  Though I don’t want to give my 3rd away, I am secretly (or not so secretly) hoping that I will win with Ashmei http://www.ashmei.com to be selected as one of their ‘Face of Ashmei 2013’ places.  That would just top it all off.  Apparently I won’t find out if I have been successful until around mid February so fingers crossed until then.

I finally took 2 rest days after the excesses of Janathon, had Sunday and Monday (3rd & 4th off) after a massive bike ride on Saturday.  I went out with hubby and 2 other mates for a 75 mile (yes 75, not 7.5) ride from Didsbury, up Wizards Hill, up past the Cat n Fiddle outside Macclesfield (stopping at the Peak Tea Rooms for a bacon sandwich & coffee), through Buxton and up to Castleton (stopping again this time for a seriously tasty hot choc with the works and a massive piece of choc fudge cake to boot), taking a peak at Winnats pass (which we will be attempting in the Summer I’m promised) and back through Stockport to home.  Absolutely shattered after that.

Been testing out my Brooks Project shoes, a pair of Pure Grit trail shoes.  Getting to trial them out for free from Up and Running in Deansgate.  Even had a bout of snow on Tuesday to really put them to the test this week.

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Unfortunately I have got a months break from Bioticfit classes as we are off on holiday, so thought I would try out Crossfit (got a deal through livingsocial) and headed there last night, but couldn’t find it!!!!  Need to do a foundation course to learn before you can attend, so looks like that will have to wait until Tuesday next week.

Thursday morning meant the day of my long run, I was on a late shift at work, so perfect to knock out 18 miles. I thought I would combine my run with getting to work, so did 11 miles around Didsbury to Salford Quays and back, grabbed my backpack and ran the last 7 to work. Only had a glass of water at home at 11 miles, silly move not grabbing some energy, so the last 3 miles were pretty nasty, but 18miles completed so feeling pretty pleased with myself! Was absolutely starving when I got to work so Chef cooked me a BLT bap and a cup of tea and I am back on form! Bring on the 20miles as part of the training plan next week. Getting ready for Manchester Marathon in April, it is only supposed to be a 8 mile run next week, but then I am on holiday for 3 weeks in India and fitting the 20 miles in there might prove difficult so I thought I’ll get that out of the way and do the 8 miles (and then some) in India!

Runfit sprints Day 28 Janathon

My goal for today was to make it to Bioticfit Runfit in the evening, so not to overdo it during the day, I cycled to and from work, so 17 miles altogether and made it to the class.

I need to make sure I get to the Runfit class once a week as I am useless at sprints, I can run for hours, but don’t ask me to sprint! A good session in the dark, it was so dark last night with PT Kev, who pushed us hard!