Who are you? Where have you been?

Blimey! It’s been just over a month since updating my thoughts and feelings on the web. Did anyone notice? What with Paris Marathon, THE MARATHON, Centurion Thames Path 100 and all those other spring events going on through April I would be surprised if anyone did notice haha!!

So what have I been up to?

Are you sitting comfortably? Go grab that cup of tea/coffee/protein shake, maybe a biscuit or two.

Lets see…. New Garmin watch, Centurion South Downs Way 50 volunteering, Paris Marathon, painful shin, lots of training, Centurion Thames Path 100 and then…………

New Garmin Watch – I am LOVING my new Fenix3. So far I’ve run with it. I’ve cycled with it – indoor training and outdoor training. I’ve also gone pool swimming with it! In the swimming pool!! Makes me want to sign up to a triathlon to justify wearing this gismo but not yet. Not yet!!!! I’m still getting used to the amount of data that’s available. The battery life is awesome – I’ve not tested it to its limits yet but I have tested on the go charging and it’s comfortable to wear whilst charging. Nice one! I’ve not used the compass, route or pretty much all the other snazzy functions it has on offer but I’m sure I will at some point.

Centurion South Downs Way 50 volunteering – My first volunteering duty at Centurion Running. They are a well-oiled machine of running supporters that was so efficient it was intimidating!! I was on number duty on the first checkpoint and witnessing these runners flying through the first checkpoint/aid station was educational. The lead runners looked fresh as though they had started a mile down the path. The back of the pack runners were a determined bunch filled with heart-warming smiles and overflowing with gratitude for the support. 4 hours wizzed by and before I knew it the checkpoint was packed up and ready to collect the equipment from the next checkpoint! Well-oiled, efficient machine!!

Paris Marathon – Had a fabulously easy trip via Eurotunnel to Paris. Found my hotel with surprising ease – I still have a suspicion I was in the wrong hotel. The room was huge and very quiet!! – and found running friends just as easily. Thankfully I’d packed enough breakfast snacks to get me through the weekend. My previous experiences at travel have resulted in me not eating much throughout the whole time away. As I was running a marathon I needed to keep myself fed and breakfast being an important start to the day I made sure I had food I knew and trusted. Yup! Fussy eater survival guide – always take food you know and trust!

The weather was perfect. The citizens of Paris were polite. The monuments and facilities were very tourist friendly. The Paris Marathon Breakfast run the day before the marathon was great fun. 5k from the arch to finish in front of the Eiffel Tower – Genius!! Virgin London Marathon – here’s an idea you could use!! The marathon itself was a tour of Paris that started in the brisk cool air of a blue sky morning and ended in the burning heat of the sun. I enjoyed the company throughout the marathon as I was running injured – Huge thank you’s for the Carolyn/Vicki running support team. It made running around Paris, getting sweaty and sunburnt fun!!

Painful shin and lots of training – Well. That’s it really. Lots of training, lots of pain due to the calf muscle tear causing havoc on other tendons. Because I just wouldn’t rest things got worse. I’m still dealing with a painful shin that good some days and worse on others. Speed training has been completely wrecked and its really messed with my mood! I’m not going to give in though. I’m a stubborn git! Even if being a stubborn git has got me into this mess in the first place!!

Centurioin Thames Path 100 – Marking 13 miles of the course, helping at 44 mile checkpoint at Durley and then running the final 22 miles with Kate Jayden. WHAT A WEEKEND!! This was always going to be a long weekend. I’m not even sure WHY I volunteered to mark the course as well as help out at an aid station and then agree to run 22 miles with Kate!! WHAT the HELL was I thinking at the time? My concept of “easy” really does need an adult on hand to keep me from saying “yeah, that sounds like fun!” when I really should be saying “Sounds like fun…..just need to check a few things first and I’ll get back to you….”

Sigh!!

Marking the 13 miles was fun – I was thankfully over prepared with a running pack JUST big enough to carry all the marking equipment required. I was told to keep the marking obvious but not over the top. Every 0.3 miles or so was enough and more if needed around junctions, turning points, bridges and multiple path options. The day started cold but I knew the forecast was for a hot day ahead.

Marking finished I got myself changed, fed and ready to help out at the 44 mile checkpoint. Getting all the food out and ready, working out how to get the gas canister fitted in the travel stove and cheese slicing to begin with. Getting a phone call from Kim – Kates first pacer – saying “I’ve hit my head and fallen in the river, I’m completely soaked and I’ve lost my glasses. Can you get to Goring………….” That was it! The line went dead. I panicked and tried to find out where Goring was – an hour away!! Argh! – then I tried Facebook. Then I tried calling the number and a different voice answered the phone. The woman who answered told me Kim was heading into the town centre. A little dazed, totally soaked but looking okay. I decided to wait and hear from Kim again before I drop everything and run.

It was a while before we saw our first runner and they looked fresh. As the day wore on we saw each following runner look like they had started further and further away. The first runner looked like he’d run 3 miles – the last runner I saw before leaving looked like he’d already run 100 miles!! This checkpoint was scary for me! I needed to get my head around 100 miles for St Oswalds Ultra and this wasn’t helping!! It was a huge amount of fun though.

Kim called again telling me the most bizarre story of how he managed to “ride” into the river Thames and the kindness of strangers had helped him to the checkpoint that he was to meet Kate at. Phew! Amazing and phew!

I left the checkpoint just after 8:30pm and got myself to Wallingford. Grabbed something to eat, got myself changed, got my kit ready for a wet night, said hi to the checkpoint crew – and fed them with my pizza remains! – then settled in the car for a quick nap. I couldn’t sleep well and I kept checking the centurion website for updates. I managed an hours sleep and was ready to go by 1:30am. I was surprised how lively I was after such a short sleep. Kate arrived around 3:30am and we set off into the dark. Having never paced someone at this distance before I didn’t know what to expect. Mostly walking or mostly running or a mixture of both. It was mostly running with the occasional walk, lots of laughing, lots of stats, lots of jokes and me trying my best to keep Kate eating. Having read lots of other blogs on how all those other ultra bunnies manage to run massive distances the biggest factor near the end of a long run was nutrition. The fact that an ultra was a good or a bad run was rarely down to equipment. Running out of fuel was the most important factor. So I brought along some salted macadamia nuts, salted peanuts and a selection of babyfoods. The sugar train would have ended by 77 miles and my job was electrolytes and fats from this point on! I saw Kate go from okay to a very low mood a couple times following her having shot blocs. That was a no no then. No more shot blocs. After that it was maintaining the pace and trying my best to keep up with her!!! There was no way I was going to have Kate say she slowed down for me!! The horror!!

Kate did an amazing job to get under 24 hours for her first 100 miles. If I’m ever to help out again I need this speed training to work hahaha!! Even after 77 miles Kate is still a fast runner and after the busy day I had I really struggled to keep up with her. So pleased for her.

And then…………

My wheels fell off!!

I went into melt down about how the hell I was going to manage 100 miles! I’m so tempted to just give it a miss and say it’s all a pipe dream and way out of my ability. Who am I to think I can run/walk/run 100 miles? I’ve not even seen any of the route yet and all my speed training is going backwards……. PANIC!!!!!!!!

Step back. This is depression talking. I’m not worth anything. No one should listen to me. The world can carry on without me. Yep – depression. I need to step away and just concentrate on the here and now. Things are okay. My kids are awesome. My husband is my best friend. I have an awesome best mate. My life is okay, everything else can just WAIT!!!!! It can just WAIT!

I’m taking care of the dark monster that follows me around. I’ve neglected it for a while and it’s upset. It needs some loving comfort and calm. Over planning and stressful thoughts can take a hike for a while. I’m going to take a few things at my own pace and the dark monster and I are going to sort things out so I can achieve what I want.

I don’t know if I’m going to get to the St Oswalds Ultra start line. If I do then I will do my best to finish being the stubborn git that I am. If not then there’s always next year. Calm………

Happy running

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