Monday, September 7, 2015

Long run in the meadow 24 hour solo run 2015

I have no idea why I decided to enter a 24 hour solo run especially running around a loop that was only 1.66 miles long.  I had taken part in a team 24 hour race and had no sleep there and how knew it could affect you mentally and  I had also seen how much the solo runners had suffered.  I like challenges and this was certainly a challenge that I had never done.  

I turned up at the race location and was physically shaking as I got out the car. I had packed enough food to last a week and about 5 changes of clothes with 3 pairs of trainers and plenty of socks and Vaseline.  I had a plan run 2 laps and walk 1 lap and come in after 3 hours to change and take refreshment.  I had got 11 hours sleep before this race so felt refreshed and ready to rock n roll.

My plan went totally out of the window as I ran the first 10 laps with a remarkable woman  called Marie who had fought breast cancer.  She told me all about her journey and all the ultras she had done  and I was  amazed by her courage and determination. I love the people I meet at endurance events everyone has a story to tell. After my 10 laps I decided just to walk one just to loosen off the legs and this is  where I met up with Ben Smith who is doing 401 marathons in 401 days for anti bullying campaign. What a great guy.  I then went on to run few more laps before the first support crew arrived. Charlotte arrived at 5pm with warm chips which went downs well.  Char, Leigh and I then ran a few more laps before the next support crew turned up.  By this time I had started to feel really sick so Louise walked around with us whilst we played silly alphabet games.  We got a few extra laps in before  Nick turned up with pizza... Great shout.  We then  walked a few more to digest the pizza. During the night  we had heard a voice from the hedge saying "is that Michelle?" and as I wasn't expecting it it did freak me out a little and replied "whose asking?" Before my brother jumped out of the bushes!!!! By this time I had stupid amount of layers on and I was really feeling the cold.

I still wasn't feeling right and really just wanted to puke up and get rid of the horrid sickness feeling that I had felt for the last few hours and it got slowly worse.  Tom and Vicky turned up for the night shift at 11 and we walked a couple of laps together. I felt really bad as they had given up their time to come and help me and all I wanted to do was to lie down and die.  Tom and vicky went early as I slithered to my car for some down time.  I couldn't pull myself together to do anything.... It took an eternity to try and plug in my phone to charge and I kept setting off my car alarm.  I lay there shivering in all my sweaty clothes wrapped up in a kingsize quilt where EVERYTHING was just throbbing.  I couldn't sleep , I couldn't get comfortable... I was a MESS.  I just lay there for about two hours trying to relax and let my body recover. I couldn't sleep I was in too much pain. 

I set my alarm just in case I slept for 2.15 and once the alarm went off I was back on it. I went back down to HQ wolfed down a pot noodle and beast mode was well and truly switched on.  I plugged in my music and went on to run 5 really fast laps singing my heart away in the misty cold air.  I am not sure where this energy came from but it was pot noodle magic.  Something very euphoric about running at this time of night singing my little heart away. 

After this Teresa and Duncan had arrived so we went off and ran a few more laps together and then fatigue started to set in again or pot noodle had worn off.  By the time 5.30 am arrived I was well and truly done.  I said goodbye to Teresa and Duncan and on verge of emotional breakdown I headed for the comfort of my quilt.  I knew my fried breakfast was coming at 6 so I just wanted to lie down for 30 mins and try and get warm again.  When Dave turned up with my sauages and scrambled egg he found me in my car hidden away. Seriously this was my lowest point... I sobbed like a baby.  I couldn't even eat the food he brought because it made me feel sick.  

Sunrise had started so I walked three laps with Dave eating babybels and Pringles.  Watching the sun come up gives you a mental boost and although I was still cold I did start to feel better.  It was going to be a gorgeous day.  Melissa was taking over at 8 and I managed to run walk a few laps with her.  Every time I ran my pulse rate shot high sky so I decided walking was the safest bet. Chrissie turned up for her shift and it was nice to see my mum turn up on the course so we all walked together in the sun.  

There was only few hours to go and my ankles were swollen and my knees ached, in fact there wasn't one part of my body that didn't ache. The laps started to get very slow and I almost felt like I was shuffling along.  I entered HQ at about 11am and decided that that was enough.  I wanted to cry, I did cry and my whole body was on fire.  First aid guys had ice on my feet and on my knees and I sat in a whole world of pain watching all the people coming through to the finish line and then realised I hadn't had a finishers pic.  Chrissie was brilliant at this point and gave me the much needed determination to do one more lap so I could get that finishers pic.  That last loop after a pot noodle and armed with a big bag of M and M's we went to complete one more lap.  

The finish line loomed and I managed to run the last 100 metres across that line.  Oh my god the relief that I felt. 46 laps and 76.36 miles.  I was third lady in and 8th overall.  This was a low key event and I thought the laps would drive me insane but actually it didn't.  That is without doubt the hardest challenge I have done and the lack of sleep puts a whole different challenge on it altogether. 

Nick had cycled into Taunton to drive my car back and we had stopped at tesco as I needed a bottle of something.  I literally crawled on my hands and knees  with no shoes on through the shop to buy some sparkling wine.  I was a total mess.  The car journey seemed like an eternity and I was gripping my IT band to stop it aching.  

I would like to thank each and every single person who gave up their time to help me along this journey.  At times I wanted to give up and the thought of those friends putting themselves on the line for me gave me the determination to carry on. The support of those people were the only thing that kept me going and I owe my success to them. The support received from everyone in any shape or form was most appreciated. 

I have learnt a few things from this exeperience
1) I have the bestest friends EVER.
2) never underestimate the power of a pot noodle.
3) lack of sleep makes you really emotional and I am glad that I did the team event earlier in the year as that did help to prepare me mentally.
4) did I mention I have the best friends ever. 

That big question would I do it again

Yes I think I would. I gained valuable experience doing this endurance event and here's to a 100 miles 

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Cotswolds 24 hr team race 2015

We entered the Cotswolds 24 hr race as a team of 4.  The plan was to run in relay for 24 hours.  We arrived sat morning and set up camp.  This was the first time this event had been held and none of our team had ever done this kind of event before.  Each lap was 5.5 miles of mixed terrain on private property of Bathhurst estate at Circenster Polo park.  

Leigh started us off and I was second runner.  We had to swap a wrap around band in transition area after each lap.  First two laps went really well and we were placed second in our cat for most of the night. We had agreed as a team that we would run two single loops each and each do two doubles giving other team members a longer sleep.  Leigh did his first double and hated it and oh boy when I did mine the first one was good but the second was horrific.   I don't know why it hurt so much but I remember coming into transition bursting into tears and saying that there is no way on earth I was repeating that. I hid myself in a sleeping bag for 10 mins and shut my tired self away.  Rob and Nick had no problem with theirs so we thought it must have been the rest time in between that affected these laps. 

As the hours ticked exhaustion started to kick in.  I did try to sleep but the campsite was so noisy that I found it impossible.  I was feeling quite grumpy  and remember having a complete break down about 4am.  I lost it and shouted quite loudly in the tent for people to be quiet although it wasn't that polite. I do remember having at least one hour and then be rudely awakened by my alarm to get back up for my next stint.  This was so disorientating I literally would come in from a run straight into sleeping bag trying to get some rest but never got any.  There is definitely a danger time which I would say is 1 to 430 am.  

It was quite a spectacular sight waiting in the dark seeing all the head torches coming towards you in the night and people blinding you as they came into transition.  The night lap was scary not because I was scared of animals or the dark because I felt really safe it was scary making sure that you didn't fall in any holes as the terrain was quite mixed and there were wooded areas with very uneven paths.  
I visited a very dark place for a while but after my lap at 4.30am  and watching the sun come up it gave me a lift.  I knew Nick was suffering from lack of sleep so I woke him up with pot noodle and black coffee before his next stint.  I had gone past the point of exhaustion  and was just waiting for the time to go down.. We had lost our 2nd place lead and was close to go down to 4th as the team had gained on us.  Somehow we pulled back a lead of 18 mins in 3 laps, I guess everyone was feeling fatigued. 

At 8 am the rain started not just rain but complete downfalls and I remember sitting in Nick's van and not wanting to go out on my 7th lap. As I started my last lap the rain inspired me somehow it was quite exhilarating and I was bringing my times back down and actually the last lap was just awesome. Whether I was spurned on because I knew it was my last.  We all managed 7 laps in the time but Leigh had time to go back for his 8th. We ran 38.5 miles each with Leigh adding on that extra 5.5 miles. 

We secured 3rd place in our cat which was pretty remarkable as all the teams in our category had 5 members so we really did hold our own.  We were 14th team out of 119.  I think that is a great achievement. 
Many highs and lows during that race and mixture of emotions and great team work.  There is a danger spot that needs to be respected and after going through it I know how to deal with it.  

So the question is how do I feel about my 24 hour solo stint? A lot of the solos walked a great deal, many of them struggled and I think if I do it regular breaks are essential. After coming out the other side of literally staying up 24 hours I think it's possible.  

Well done to team mendip maulers.  We really did this race justice and it was an real  experience. Thank you for your support and well done for keeping going when times were tough. I would high recommend this race to everyone. 

Before picture
After pic. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Yeovil 1st marathon June 14th 2015

  Maybe entering Yeovil marathon 3 weeks after Ironman Lanzarote was a little keen but hey it was a local race, it would be terribly rude not to.  There was some many local runners it was like a family day out with my extended running family.

The route was a two loop starting at Fleet museum.  The weather was forecast to be overcast.  There was just under 300 runners and I was really looking forward to the race.  I started the race with Marie and was aiming for a sub 4 finish.  

The first loop was pleasant, nice scenic route on mostly quiet roads and well marshalled.  There were a few gradual inclines but a fast course.  The miles went by quite quickly and I had to hold Marie back a little and we stuck to average of 9.15 min miles.  

The one thing that I just love about running long distance is the chance to met people.  So me being my normal crazy self was asking everyone's names and trying to remember them so every time our little group passed or picked up another runner I would introduce everyone.  Some of our group dropped us and we dropped a few, that's the way it goes.  

I guess the wheels started falling of the bus around 18 miles.  It had got EXTREMELY hot and our little group were starting to feel the strain. The miles turned into 10 min miles and  I have to say I was in bits it was getting harder so Marie and I started to walk just little bits. In our group we had Liz and Neil so I ended up taking control.  When I said run we ran and when I said walk we walked.  For about 1 mile we walked quite a lot alternating between each lamppost.  Knowing the others were in just as much pain as me we came up with plan. We would run 1 mile exactly and then walk few minutes before running again.  This worked really well from mile 21 to the end.  You can take the run out of a personal trainer but you can't take the personal trainer out of the run.  Taking charge helped me cope because I had to worry about my group instead of my self.  

I had been promising Marie a PB and our little group focused on that.  Finally we got to 25 miles time for a little walk, that is until  Marie decided that she was getting this PB and we were off.  The last mile we were egging each other on, we had it in the bag.  We entered the grounds and had to run part of the track.  We crossed the line holding hands

I have to say that without these two women I would have found that race too much.  Marie  and Liz both showed inspirational amount of strength and I have such respect for both of them.  Together we united and pulled it all together.  Liz completed her 27th marathon and Marie got a 5 minute PB.  Long gone are the days where I am bothered about times, in this instance it was about sheer survival. I love the fact that friendships are forged through running.  We see people for what they really are which is extremely remarkable strong stubborn people.  Marie and I both suffered from runners turrets from mile 16 to 19 and the memory of that will always make me smile but the memory of that group hug  at the finish will stay for me forever.  
In conclusion, a hot and hard marathon which I was expecting to be easy. The course wasn't challenging but a lot of people did find it tough out there in the heat.  I can safely say I hurt a whole lot more that day than I did when I finished Ironman.  
Great goodie bag, well organised and for their first marathon I think they put on a great race. 
As always I meet so many people on their journey to get into the 100 marathon club.. You know what I really really want one of these t shirts..... Watch this space

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Lanzarote Ironman 2015 - take 2

We all have our doubts about training and I certainly had mine. First part of the year taken  up with ultra training. All I managed was 3 open water swims. Pre race training was mostly 5k swim event followed by London marathon and then a challenging 100 mile sportive.  

We arrived on Tuesday and the wind was just harsh and no signs of it letting up at all.  We took a trip up to Mirado and I could hardly stand up.  I was praying the wind would let up. 

So race day arrived, I was so nervous, so much more than last year which really surprised me.  I left Nick in the middle of the sea pack and went right to the back of the swim start.  Last years swim start had really freaked me out so different plan this year.  Over and over I kept repeating to myself, "I will have a good swim, I will have good swim".  I felt very emotional and I think it showed because some random stranger just came over and gave me big hug which made me  more emotional. 
It took me nearly 3 mins to get into the water as I was at the back.  I had a plan, swim 30 strokes, rest, 40 strokes, rest, 50 strokes, rest etc. In training at home I had made my self do 300 strokes before I could rest.  This plan would ease any panic or anxiety induced asthma attacks.  
So in I went and what did I do? I got in and I swam, no panic attacks, no stopping,just gliding and counting.  I even smelt diesel and didn't react... Go me.  My swim was amazing, just pure swimming, no stopping and I had cracked it.  I did however get swim over by the pros but I took it in my stride and let them past me. It's good to meet the pros but this was a close encounter wasn't expecting.  As I got out my time 50 mins,that was surprising seeing hadn't stopped at all.  I got back in and the sea had already turned and was lot more choppy.  (Looking at results , everyone's second lap was longer).  So swim was done 1.44 4 mins more than last year.  This positive experience will help me in other races. 

As soon as you got out the bike the wind hit you.  On the road out it was so strong I don't think I got over 8mph.  As you go round a sharp right hand bend suddenly you zoom from 8mph to 28.... BOOM.  Sadly this doesn't last long.  I remember a tail wind twice but the rest of the time it side swipes you.  I don't know what else to report apart from the hills were endless, they felt doubled in distance because of the constant wind.  The roads in Lanzarote are just roads, no verges just road and then sheer drops.  One gush of side wind and you could be gone into rocky volcanic landscape.  The descents were just as bad, especially the hairpins and at one point I was freezing.  Freezing in Lanzarote huh? Compared to last year the wind was twice as bad.  I thought it was bad last year but oh boy this was something else.  Winds up to 40 mph.  It was a challenge to stay on the bike.  There was only one point where the wind dropped and then the temperature rose and I just started sweating like I was in a sauna. I couldn't wait to get off the bike. The bottom of my feet were so sore from constantly putting so much pressure on the pedals.  When I entered transition I took my shoes off, bad move, I could hardly walk and I limped all the way down to the far side of transition area.  I was so glad I made the cut off, it was a toughest ride I had ever done.  At times I couldn't even appreciate the landscape because loss of focus would have seen me in a ditch.  

I didn't know how I would run a marathon, I had been taking Ronnie deflatine and I had no stomach distension at all and  I had spent the whole bike course farting!!!! I decided to follow the marathon plan I had done at Challenge Roth because it had worked so I needed to get to 7 miles non stop then I knew I was in the run zone.  I did walk the feed stations but the first 22km I ran the whole way.  The run course was slightly different this year 11km out and back and then 2  x 10 km loops. Each loop ends at the finish line and you could see the people just taking it home.    There were a few ladies who had been in front of me in the bike but they had nothing left for the run.  This is where I excel because I have one speed and that's steady.  I took so many people on the run.  I thank my experience at ultra running helped me mentally here a lot.   I know I can run fatigued and I can hold a constant pace. Finally I was on the last lap, I had starting running 500 steps and walking 100 but as I entered the town so many people were shouting go hardcore blackmore that even though I had nothing left to give I felt obliged to run to the finish, the support was unbelievable. I looked at my watch and had given up in beating my time. I entered the red carpet zone I could hear them calling my name and shouting "you are an ironman" and when I looked I had just pipped in with 15.44.23.  Nick was there waiting at the finish line and I was overcome with exhaustion and overwhelmed by the achievement. It was nice to see Claire in the later stage of the run that gave me a bit of a boost so thank you Claire. Finish time 15:44:24

I was beat, I'm not going to lie, I only got through the run with sheer mental determination.  I was sat in the food tent with a plate full of rice and canarian potatoes.  I thought I was going to puke.  It was a hard day at the office but despite this the more challenging events give you more sense of pride.  I didn't just complete an Ironman I completed an Ironman in  heat and extreme windy conditions.  7% of the competitors were women and the respect you get from the locals and other competitors is just awesome.  

My love for ironman has returned. The way complete strangers bond together and help each other.  The physical and mental courage it takes to finish such an event.  My nutrition had been spot on, beetroot elite flapjacks had been great but I did panic slightly when I had red pee then I remembered I had beetroot. Thank god!!!! 
Lanzarote has a grip on you that you find hard to shake off. 
Last year I had bad swim and bad run, this year I had good swim and good run but 
 a hard bike.   This island takes no prisoners, nothing is predictable.  You are a slave to the weather and you have to tackle it all in your stride.  

 I wanted to take hour of my time and actually considering the wind I was pleased I only gained 10 minutes.  If there had been same wind as last year I am positive I would have cut that time a lot.  

 It was another great experience and to watch Nick complete his first Ironman.  If you want to challenge yourself this is the race for you.  

Triathlon is a way of life. 
If you have any questions about triathlon or ironman training then please contact me through

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Media fondo 93.7 hilly miles

Now I am a coach and a personal trainer and I feel that I have knowledge about endurance training BUT  If I were my own coach I would slap my arse!!!!

Entering a challenging so called 95 hilly sportitive the weekend after London marathon was probably not one of my best ideas BUT in my defence I didn't race London.  After training for an ultra as part of my ironman training was probably just as bad idea BUT I am crazy and I know I can handle it.  After a stupid amount of running up to March it was time to get on the bike and in the pool.  

I entered the sportitive as a training ride and my last big ride before I taper for Lanza. It was more for my mental health towards the looming ironman.  

It was 2 years since I did this last and in that 2 year gap they added on another 20 miles and changed the route.  This is how it went......

I arrived nice and early and started off about 7.15.  The route takes you about 100 yards before it takes you up, what I call, heart attack hill.  No time for a warm up straight into the thick of it.  The higher I went the foggier it got.  

To be honest the weather was pretty bad but I didn't actually care.  The wind lashing in my face and the rain refreshing my hill climbing face was just something else to bitch about in my head instead of the hills.  
 I became a bit of a bike slag today.  As I entered on my own I decided to hook up where I could with people.. I either grabbed some free air then got dumped or ended up dumping them.  At one point I tagged behind a group of four and then another solo rider tagged on too.  It was at this point I got a puncture.  The solo rider who joined up stopped to offer his help although I didn't need it but this meant I wasn't riding alone.  When we reached the first feed station the same group we lost had had an almighty crashing lots cuts and bruises and broken bikes.  Maybe it was fate but I am so glad I missed out on that.  

I lost my new cycling friend and was out back on the course alone but not for long, everyone was so friendly and in good spirits considering the weather.  

Draycott  hill was a bitch, it was here I first used my I ran London marathon excuse.... 

Enmore  hill was good  although the head wind and the downpours just seemed to enhance the experience and soon the miles and the hills were passing by.  Crowcombe beat me again and I was totally amazed at the guy who was at least 75 years old overtake me.  Watching all the riders zig zag up the hill was amazing and watching people crash into the hedge because they just couldn't cope with the incline.  I thought that all the 20% hills had gone but they chucked in a third one just before the third feed station stop.  That hill had a few choice swear words thrown its way.  

Now I seem to perform better the longer I go.... And instead of feeling weaker I felt stronger.  The last time I had done 100 miles on a easier course it almost killed me.  Once we hit the 75 mile mark it was along the levels with the wind behind us.  I never at any point felt fatigue.. The hills were hard but it manageable although I  grinded up them nice and slow.  

In a nut shell, there was some extreme hills with scary descents on narrow lanes and gravel bombs that had to avoided at all costs.  The feed stations were great but the main thing was proving to myself that only a week after the marathon I was strong and able to handle this ride. 

At times I have doubted my triathlon fitness but today has been so beneficial... Lanza better watch out because I am out there to prove a point... #bringiton

Sunday, April 26, 2015

London marathon 2015- 35th anniversary

Wow London marathon.... Second time around for me but actually under my own name this time as I won ticket through Wells City Harriers. My 10th marathon.  

I won't waste too much time on describing the whole faulty towers situation at the hotel or the fact that my pre marathon prep consisted of me sleeping on floor due to lumpy mattress and being kept up all night by noise and lights beaming into my room, which was probably the smallest room in the whole world.  Regardless of this situation I was raring to go Sunday morning.  

It was great to meet up fellow poppyfielders again and the expo was just totally manic!!!!

With Ironman Lanzarote looming in 3 weeks I was always dubious about running London but it's such a great experience that I just had to do it.  Plan was to run easy, enjoy and film the whole experience.  I got to the start line with minute to spare, as I had spent far too much time In the ladies urinals before the race!!!!!!!!

I just love the atmosphere of London, the drums, the music and the crowd.  I wanted to film every mile and ask someone a question but it just didn't happen. The crowd were just amazing and oh boy did I play them in the last few miles, I got some AWESUME footage, I hope it all comes out. 

Miles 1 to 10 went by pretty well.... I felt little weird from mile 10 to 14 but then mile 14 to 20 went  by super fast.  I bumped into few runners I knew and it was great to get some footage of us together.  
I worked the crowd in the last 6 miles..... I hope that the footage come out as well as I hope because it will really show how supportive the crowds are.  At one point after I had run through some AWESUME drumming I was buzzing and just thought how much I loved the atmosphere.  I did say this out loud to surrounding runners but they didn't seem interested.  

IT was over far too quick.... And as I crossed the finish line, I was trying to grab strangers hands because of #handinhand.  

4 hours and 20 seconds, I am happy with that seeing as I wasn't pushing it today, secretly I'm little annoyed about the 20 seconds but you know what the vibe from the race and the crowd make up for that.  Today has given me  more confidence for Lanza and I am desperately blanking out that this time next week hopefully I would have finished a very gruelling 95 mile sportive with 8 MASHOOSIVE hills In it.    
If you get the chance to do London you must, it is a race like no other.  Set yourself a challenge and rise to it and you won't regret it.