the 2016 round up

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For various reasons and to varying degrees, 2016 was a tough year. Adjustment to different working patterns and rhythms, trying to juggle family with friends and running as well as a four hour commute twice a week and learning two new jobs simultaneously is hard work.

 

Running just didn’t seem to be working for me either, especially in the last six months. Paris training with P&D (Advanced Marathoning) seemed to be working, and I managed a near PB in Cambridge without toooo much effort. I was basically hitting my paces in training and although I was pretty knackered from 50 mile weeks and 15 hour days, it was all worth it to get the sub 4. Except I didn’t. Didn’t even come close. The day of the race dawned bright and clear and, well, hot. I didn’t even write a race report as I was so heartsore about how it went. I stumbled through the first ten miles, worrying about the heat and not being on pace. My mind and soul were fighting the entire way and eventually I gave in about mile 16, and ran/walked the rest to come in about 4.30. I was angry and ashamed – I spent so long running and training and for what? To limp home in the slowest time I’ve had since my third marathon?

I had time to reflect and even had fun in Tromso, despite doing no long runs I actually had a great race and flew for the first ten miles.

After that, I had a couple of short races that should have been completely doable, but in fact I had a panic attack in and had to walk. I went to the GP to see about my asthma, as I couldn’t breathe for many of my runs in July and August. She told me that running was bad for my knees and then put me on symbicort – a heavy duty powder inhaler that seems to be doing the trick, although it’s not treating the cause.

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With the help of the wonderful Mr Charming and our brilliant friends, I’ve started to get my confidence back with running in the last couple of months. I took October off. No runs during the week, and parkrun at the weekend. I didn’t even take my kit to work with me during the week. It felt good. I was beginning to hate running, and I don’t hate running. Friends, I highly recommend a good chunk of time off after a  long training cycle. I haven’t done that since my first marathon, and I felt like each cycle was slower than the last.

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All time! 7773 miles!

Using smashrun, that actually turned out to be true. Smashrun, by the way, is a great site which brings together all of  your data from the disparate sources into one page. I started running with Nike+ and went to Garmin after my first marathon, and I was looking for a way to see it all on one page. Now my running record gores back to 2009.
Not only that, but it’s really easy to cut your data different ways. Average pace? Compare months year on year? Day by day? It’ll do PR/PB, races, run streaks etc. It’ll also tell you how many calories you’ve burned off in neat portions i.e. my run on the 28th December burned off  stick of butter (about half a pack in UK Terms). It’s definitely much more indepth than Strava or garmin  and a lot quicker.

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my first six months

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2013 – 1209 miles, nearly 4 times a week and 9.20min/mil average

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2016 – 1393 so more miles, but 24 seconds slower on average. 3.6 runs a week too so I go out less but run for longer.

I will do a separate post about my goals for 2017 – coming up in the New Year.

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Clockwise from the yellow and green people, links to 2017 race entry included where available:

My biggest lesson from 2016 is: listen to your body. Don’t blindly trust the training and don’t be afraid to re-assess if anything needs mixing up.

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Portsmouth Coastal Waterside Marathon December 18th 2016

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Useful links:

Steve’s 20 in 12 months Virgin Money website:  http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/20Marathons2016

Marathon website: http://www.fitprorob.biz/portsmouth-coastal-waterside-marathon-2015/

 

Medal: Yes. Huge.

T-shirt: Yes. Sizes are large

Goody bag: pretty good, a wide range of drinks and snacks

  • Strawberry, banana and chocolate milkshake
  • Cold pressed coffee
  • Beer – in pints and take away boxes
  • Water
  • Clif bars, nuts, rainbow drops, cough sweets, granola bar

Aid stations

Water, shot blox, nuts, mince pies, mulled wine, jaffa cakes, chocolate…

  • Each mile marker commemorated a person who has died this year. From Caroline Aherne to David Bowie.

pompey-route

Route: an out and back along the Portsmouth Waterside. The turnaround point is almost exactly half way.  There is a 3 hour cut off for the first half to avoid high tide. We were well within that but didn’t hear of the people behind us being stopped. We definitely were re-routed slightly on the way back to avoid the now underwater beach.

This was a special race. My friend Steve has spent this year running marathons in memory of his wife, Sharon, after her death from cancer last year. He ran 20 marathons to raise money for three charities which supported him throughout – The Loss Charity, Cancer Charity and Firefighter’s Charity, as he is a firefighter.

 

Portsmouth is the last of the challenge and is extra special because it’s a home town race. We are fortunate enough to belong to the BCRC – a tightknit, wonderful group of people who have been brought together through a love of running, and cemented long lasting friendships as well. We in the BCRC hatched a plan earlier this year to make sure that Steve had as many of us at the last one as possible (as well as joining him for the others too, of course). This plan involved many white lies and secrets, including some of our members travelling from America and Holland, as well as those ‘just around the corner’ having to pretend they weren’t available that weekend. That was the hard part. Telling our friend that we couldn’t make it, ignoring the invite, talking about it like we would be there in spirit but, hey, sorry but we’re all just too darn busy with our families.

It made it all the sweeter to see his expression when he walked into the pasta restaurant on Saturday night to be met with 45 smiling faces, rather than the five he had expected.

After a happy meal (and, uncharacteristically for me, a couple of beers before the race) we all said our goodnights and walked back to the hotel. We stayed at the Premier Inn in Southsea. Within walking distance of the start line and the shopping centre of Portsmouth, the staff were very friendly. The hotel itself was a bit rundown but there was a covered car park which is free for guests, and the beds were comfy too.

A sea of green for Steve at the start line. Photo credit to the brill Karen Sweeting

The morning started with the usual pre race ritual of porridge as well as a kit check. I know plenty of people wore trail shoes for this race as it’s mostly off road. I chose to wear my old road shoes and they were fine – we didn’t break any land speed records so comfier was higher on my agenda than grip at high speeds! We gathered at the start line – The Pyramid Centre – from about 8.20am, with the race start at 9. Toilets were fine although the queues were long, as always. The atmosphere was relaxed though, and I had a nice chat with a lady about the races we’re doing next year.

 

We were called out just before the start time of 9am, and walked along to the start line. Before we knew it, the gun went off, the piper piped and we were running!

My plan was to take it steady and enjoy as much as I could. Training in the second half of this year has been really hard – my heart and mind weren’t in it and I had a couple of races that I had panic attacks in the middle of. I hyperventilated and had to stop before slowly carrying on and finishing. I took October off and have been gently easing back in, but that meant that I hadn’t run longer than 16M since September.  I managed 100miles in November which was surprisingly difficult given that I usually run 30-40 miles a week, but that shows how important it was for me to rest.

I recommend a good rest after a three-four month block of marathon training. I know people who can bounce back and run after three or four days following a marathon, but I felt that my recovery just isn’t up to that, and I was getting slower and more demotivated after each race.  I will write about my goals for 2016 in another post – more later!

Turnaround point! Photo credit to the lovely Abi @ARBettle

Turnaround point! Photo credit to the lovely Abi @ARBettle

So the Portsmouth marathon. I started out at a good pace, around 10min/mil. I’m pleased that I managed to maintain around that pace until well over halfway – probably about mile 15. We walked/ran from there and although the walk breaks got longer and the running pace went down, I still had fun and enjoyed spending time with friends I normally only speak to online. We eventually crossed the line in 5hr 13 – the last mile felt absolutely neverending! It’s a long stretch back along the sea front and it’s down a little dip, so you can’t see the gantry until you’re nearly there. Our garmins were slightly long (26.6miles) as we were re-routed around the tides.

Kisses for the finish line – photo credit to the wonderful Susannah MacNeill

I recommend the race  – the aid stations were well manned and stocked, the goody bags were delightfully stocked and that medal. Well, you could do some serious damage with that!

TRIBE Freedom Run – Norwich

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TRIBE Freedom Run – Norwich

Saturday December 10th 2016

 

The Freedom Run weekend was an initiative begun by TRIBE to support the Unseen charity in the last quarter of the year.  Unseen do an amazing amount of important work to give a lifeline to people enslaved – in jobs they don’t get paid for as sex workers or manual labourers, often trapped in places they don’t want to be. Unseen provide a telephone line and source safe houses for as many people as can contact them. Have a read of their website – there are some amazing, moving stories on there.

 

http://www.unseenuk.org/

 

The day dawned with a hint of rain in the air but unseasonably warm temperatures – a far cry from the expected minus degrees we would normally have mid December!

The Norwich TRIBE runners

Oh yes, that’s me with my eyes closed

Preparation for the weekend has been immensely complicated – luckily all I had to do was take care of the Norwich chapter of the Freedom runs, which wasn’t without it’s challenges. We had a last minute panic when the box of TRIBE bars and t-shirts hadn’t been received at home but was tracked to a mystery person having signed for them, with no notification from Parcelforce. Thankfully, on Thursday evening, the kindly soul who took them in gave up waiting for us to come and collect, and did the postie’s job for him!

 

The support from Catton parkrun was brilliant. Not only did they respond without hesitation to my request that we hold the run in conjunction with the parkrun on that day, they offered help, introduced me to the park warden (who made sure the building was open for us, just in case we needed it a bit longer) and one of  the team even did the run with us! We had an announcement at the beginning from the RD, Paul Evans – a legend in his own right and the nicest marathon winner I’ve ever met!

mid parkrun - thumbs up!

mid parkrun – thumbs up!

The parkun itself was great, and we had set up our TRIBE runners with easy to spot t-shirts to gather everyone after the run, to do the next part. After a short pause to gather everyone up, we were off again as a group. The route was pretty easy to follow – out of the park to the airport then back to the park. Some parkrunners joined us on a whim, which was fantastic. Unfortunately we didn’t get a group shot of everyone but the total was probably about 15 people, which is great. We talked to many more that, raising awareness for Unseen through the leaflets that TRIBE provided, and cash donations on the day totaled over £40, with promises of online donations too.

 

Our Total is currently £360 with the cash donations – my Christmas wish is to push that over the goal of £500.

Being a part of something bigger than you, is what running is about for me. Meeting people, talking about the change we can exert on the world to make it a better place – that’s the impact we can have. If we can do that while jogging along talking to friends and would-be friends, even better. The photos and updates on social media from the #Fuelledbytribe and #TRIBEFreedomRuns were brilliant, as the runs set out across the UK.

most of the runners

most of the runners

Thank you so much to all who have supported so far – TRIBE,  the other ambassadors, my husband, my TRIBE Runner friends (including one who got up at the crack of doom on a Saturday to man the change bucket while we were out running) and all of the participants and donors. What a difference we can make.

 

Here’s that link – please, give what you can. https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Suzanne-Sharman1