Equinox24 2017- my 140km race highlights :-)

So my race story starts 5 days before, when I woke up with a tickle in my throat. I had three days of feeling rough as. I think the combination of stress with the logistics (taking my mum and kids) combined with the psychological pressure of a new distance (which I never seem to cope well with) just got to me. That and in all honesty having just not been going to bed early enough and resting efficiently enough recently.

So I took three days before the race off work, rested, then felt slightly better so decided to race. I threw a random bunch of stuff together (which I thought was “adequately labelled” ;) ). Looking at a big pile of stuff in the hallway the night before the race- stuff every where, I looked at my mum and said- this is not how Kilian Jornet prepares for a race. Mum said “And does he have children? No.” (more…)

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Grim Reaper experience (the clue is in the name) 70 miles

Curiously, immediately after the race I was feeling unsure about the upcoming race in Sept which this one was part of training for…

However, by the time I got into my bed two hours later, I could not wait to do it all again. I reckon all the springboards, ahem I mean, people I spoke with along the way, have probably also signed up for their next one by now or are thinking about which one to do.

I messaged my friend when I got into bed and said- “why is it that you brain goes arrghhh that hurt like hell! Let’s do another one?” and he replied- “endorphins”.

lake (more…)

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Feel better, look taller & slimmer in 1 second…

As you are reading this note, where is you head in relation to your spine? Is your electronic device held in front of your face, or is your head forward of your spine?

The head comprises 8% of total body mass.  It weighs  10 to 11 pounds with no hair (4.5 to 5 kg), yet every inch your head goes forward is an extra 10 lbs (4.5kgs) of weight on your neck.

No matter how well you eat, if you train, if you keep your stress levels in check, this is something we all tend to do more often than not. Everyone.

Look sideways at yourself in a mirror, if your ear is not in line with your shoulder and your hip, then as this article discusses, this can be a sign of forward head posture (FHP). (more…)

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Malta’s toughest race: Gozo Hellfire 55k.

Creaming up, for the third time
Pre-race. Creaming up, for the third time

“I don’t know if I can finish. But that’s the point. I don’t want to enter a race I know I can finish. I want a challenge and to see how I measure up. To try something I don’t know I can finish: that excites me.”

me race start carmel
Probo one of only times you’ll see me next to Carlos (white t-shirt) in a race scenario ;) He won, I did not

me finish
Happiest I’ve ever been (when not on morphine)

 

I wrote this the a few days after: “I have a feeling now like being in love, or having had a baby, without that anxiety and trepidation that I’m somehow going to mess it all up. No matter what happens now, I’ve completed an ultra and nothing can take that away.”

 

(more…)

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The course of true love never did run smooth: Minimalism to Maximalism: pt1

Sorry guys, a new post has been long overdue! I have had a wicked summer so far! Mainly packed with entertaining the little ones.  However, now I sit in France alone in a beautiful huge Chalet, I have three days to catch up on some writing before I head to Chamonix for the UTMB festivities, so here goes.

On to the title of this post; I love running.  I know many don’t, and I felt that way for 19 years.  I would miss a bus rather than run for one, honestly.  Then something clicked after that first half-marathon I hadn’t trained for.  Ali and Hannah, the unlikely athletesI knew I could push beyond discomfort, and actually find pleasure in doing so, and this forever changed me.  The comfort zone is a trap, and true happiness lies beyond this.  This is a valuable lesson which changes the way one lives, a lesson I hope my kids will grow to understand.

 

I never intended to be a minimalist purist in terms of running shoe.  I hadn’t read Born to Run (the book that started the minimalist trend) when I started running in sandals.  

 This is a story about how I ran in sandals for 3 and a bit years, how I found it and where my thoughts lie now.  (I hope this story is useful).

PS- those nike cortez ‘fashion’ trainers stood me well for running for years until someone told me I needed a ‘proper’ running shoe ->

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The course of love never did run smooth: Minimalism to Maximalism: pt2.

I waited patiently in Sportlink in Norwich, whilst a slurry of beat-up bodies sought out new shoes to fix their running woes.  Is running this bad? This addictive? I thought, as a man spoke of his recent back operation, a woman of her chronic knee pain, and veteran athlete Neil Featherby said if he had stopped running when a doctor had told him to… Well, Neil just laughed. Are we really that worse off than the general population, I wondered?  I see many broken down, beaten-up bodies in my Yoga classes, and rarely are these due to sporting injuries. Most often the body is rebelling in later life against a sedentary/ indoor lifestyle.

I don’t run to look better, I don’t run to make my body feel better.  I run, like with Yoga, primarily for my mind.  However, my body needs to be kept in tune to allow me to continue experiencing the benefits. There is no benefit in ignoring niggles that persist beyond a few months.  This is why I was here, hoping a change in footwear may help my back and prevent me further damaging my knee.  Maybe my back problems were exacerbated by running, maybe barefoot running caused my knee injury, maybe it was under-training, maybe barefoot running affected these injuries for the better, or for the worse.  Maybe it was pregnancy that damaged my back and the problem would have arisen anyway (as the back specialists said), maybe running presented the problem earlier than I would have otherwise become aware.  Maybe the accident was a coincidence and the problem was underlying.  This is all speculation, but I knew I needed some changes, regardless of the cause.

(more…)

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13 differences between the Good Friday Night 30k Run 2014/15

pic30 k in less than 3 hours.  I was happy, as it took 1 hr 17 to do the first 10k.  I was seriously deflated, why had it taken me so long?  I did my calculations and thought there was no chance of finishing sub-3hrs as I had planned.  Here I will sum up the main differenced between my ‘performance’ this and last year.

1) I had less sleep than before last year’s, I got about an hour, the night of it, but less sleep in the previous week’s also.

2) Definitely felt a lot stronger than last year, especially on the hills , got a faster time. Probably the compression socks’ psychosomatic effect :)

3) Didn’t feel sore during or afterwards. Possible the compression socks’ psychosomatic effect ;)

4) Lunas were more comfy with socks for the night run, as was only about 17/18oC.  Will still wear them without for summer running.

5) I left Mellieha Church at 130am, so arrived about 420am in Senglea.  Then waited until 6am for a bus :’( I was wearing shorts and ran in a vest.  I had a long sleeved top and a foil blanket with me, but had to borrow a bin bag and push some arm and head holes in it.

6) NO TEA!!! NO TEA at the end!!! I drank a bit of hot water and squeezed a bit of orange in it (contemplated dropping a salted caramel gel in and giving it a stir, thought that might taste tea-like, then I thought better of it).  Then I burnt my tongue.  Disaster.  A very many people offered to bring me a coffee as I crouched by the church shivering, looking like a bedraggled Euroland Christmas fairy (white bin-bag dress and shimmery foil DHL blanket-skirt), wearing a hydration pack on top, and of course, long socks and sandals.  Nice.  I was just starring at everyone speaking in Maltese as I tried to work out whether I was even in the right place for buses.

Knowing that if I had had a coffee, rather than going to sleep I’d get home and write about a million far-too-intricate for a 4-yr old egg-hunt clues, I declined.

7) Just a bit not so greatly organised.  Did I mention no tea, and no buses? Here’s last year’s report (more…)

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Non-Yoga for back pain

Yoga for bad backWhen someone knows you have a legal qualification, conversations with friends and acquaintances sometimes start a bit like this, “So I have this parking ticket from Birmingham…” or “can I ask you about the Law as regards my neighbour’s cats…” 

As a Yoga teacher, conversations go, more often, exactly like this like this, “I have this pain in my back, can you recommend some stretches to help me?”.

And I love to help, but it is tricky to give what they are asking for. I’ve done short sequences for everyone from my boyfriend, to my brother, to my friends.

Ones they can roll out of bed and do, ones they can do at the desk at work, single-pose sequences…  But I’m pretty sure none of them really do them… And I understand completely why.  They are busy.  Everyone’s busy.  That is why their backs hurt. And truth be told,  5 mins of Yoga a day will help, but there’s some other stuff I believe will help more.  Such as: (more…)

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Funny goings on I could not help but notice…

I’m not saying this stuff didn’t exist in my early running days, but when I returned to my life after 4 years of having my head down in Peppa-Pig land and being a place for my children to stick the stickers off their bananas, I re-surfaced and noticed a few weird things about running.

 

  1. Everyone’s wearing compression everything? Calf-sleeves, arm-sleeves, I’ve got some but not even entirely sure I completely know why?

    Seriously under-geared for the 2014 Hellfire half-marathon. I even argued as I didn’t have anywhere to carry my brick of a mobile phone :/
  2. Food? When I trained for New York marathon, I never ate anything.  I took a gel during the event at mile 19 and regretted it immediately. Why am I seeing people taking gels, jelly beans, chocolate-covered-coffee-beans on less than 20k runs?  Should I be doing this too?  Is it necessary, or just a nifty excuse to snack? Also valid ;)
  3. The range of SHOES!  Barefoot, to all different kinda drops, to hokas… Back then I swear it was just, er, trainers?  Even I’m running in sandals mostly, what’s that all about?
  4. Buffs and head-gear stuff.  Now, buffs are awesome.  But they are leaving me with the naggin’ wonder of how I ever lived without them?
  5. Hydration gear!  Back in the early 00’s I was stashing plastic bottles in strategic places and looping back on runs to try and find the correct bush.  I didn’t even know there were other options!
  6. Garmins.  I was very reluctant to buy any gear  (especially after I asked a friend his running plans for the week and he told me he didn’t know, as the Garmin site was down). I wanted to be a low-tech runner, but last week I got me a Garmin, succumbing after the millionth person recommended one to me.  After an embarrassing couple of days where I couldn’t even work out how to plug the thing in to charge, I decided that, charged, the thing is more demanding than a child.  It bleeps at me all hours of the day and night and is constantly asking me questions I don’t know how to answer.  I also have literally no idea how to even get to the stage that the manual starts instructions from.  I am going to wear it tonight anyway, as everyone else has got one :)

    more gear more fear
    More gear more fear

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My first half-marathon ten years ago & Tom Farmer

I was that girl in P.E. who always forgot her kit.  On purpose.  I detested physical exercise.  It was so boring and regimented, and getting undressed showered and dressed again for about 20-60 mins of doing something boring in the rain, whilst being dictated to by some barking little jumpy woman was just plain ridiculous in my book.

The minute I left school for 6th form and P.E was no longer compulsory, I started swimming a mile a day before school.  I started to love exercise.  But running was not and had ever been my thing.  Especially long distance.

 

I was 20 and in my second year of a law degree.  My house-mate Ali was probably the most persuasive girl I’ve ever met.   She suggested we train for and run Sheffield half-marathon.  So we did.  To my surprise we would do 5 miles out to the peak district and back to our house. Once I did this twice in one day.  It was fun.  Fun-ish.  After the run we’d do some sit-ups and some other crazy stuff (I swear that Ali invented) at home.   Then, we fell off the wagon.

I was turning 21 and had two birthday parties, one at home with family and friends and one at uni.  Tom Farmer came up from home with another school friend to stay for my Uni 21st.  I loved Tom.  Something about the fact that he was born with Cystic Fibrosis, seemed to influence his character.  In that, he was the most fun-loving, easy going, relaxed and happiest of all of us.  I never saw him hung-up about any of the things that stressed the rest of us from time to time.  He was an awesome and infectiously positive guy to be around.  And very funny.

Tom knew I’d ‘started’ running and at that party he suggested we run the New York marathon together the following year to raise money for CF (Cystic Fibrosis) Trust.  I agreed that we could and should do that.

However, when the morning of the Sheffield half-marathon rolled around, I hadn’t ran for more than a month.  In that month I had been on holiday to Cyprus, had two 21st birthday parties and spent the day before the race lounging in the park with chips and beers, laughing with friends about how we weren’t doing the race in the morning.

Ali tells me we made an arrangement to meet under the action-man clock in our living room with a tin of baked beans and a spoon (my favourite student fuel) at 7am.  This obviously slipped my mind… (more…)

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