Portsmouth Coastal Waterside Marathon December 18th 2016


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.


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


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.




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

Number 12 – Tromso’s Midnight Sun Marathon


Midnight Sun Marathon, Tromso, Norway – Saturday June 17th 2016


This year has gone so fast that it felt like I barely ramped up again after marathon de Paris in April, before I was jetting off to Norway. We set off on Friday morning (01.00hours) on a National Express coach. I was a bit puzzled as to how our arrival time at Gatwick was 7am. Until I realised that we were visiting all of the London airports before getting to Gatwick, through Thetford and Cambridge.   We trundled around the M25, visiting Stansted and all of Heathrow’s terminals before finally pulling into Gatwick at 7.30am. Bleary eyed and a bit stiff, we headed in to get breakfast.


We had a flight at 9:20 to Oslo, for a connecting flight to Tromso. The flight from Gatwick was delayed by half an hour, and then by another half an hour. We were inching ever closer to missing our connecting flight in Oslo, which made it a bit more stressful than I would have liked! We finally took off just before 11am, and as Olso is an hour ahead, this meant our window was very small indeed. So small that there was an announcement for the passengers with connecting flights – the Tromso flight would be held for us. For fifteen minutes. We were also unsure on whether our bags would make it on to the flight. Here’s an important lesson for you all, if you don’t know it already: if you are racing abroad and are out of sight of your luggage, PACK YOUR KIT in your hand luggage. Or wear it. Whatever makes you happy. I had helpfully packed all of my kit neatly into my suitcase. After a nailbiting couple of hours, we landed in Oslo and had 15 minutes to get through security (again) and try to locate our suitcase (maybe, the announcements were a bit confused). After five minutes at the carousel, we asked a couple of bored looking airport employees if our bags would come out or go straight to the next flight, and they shrugged a bit and told us they would go straight on the flight – the opposite of what we’d been told. We legged it to security and stood in the queue, panicking gently, which is always what you want when you go through airport security. Thankfully we made it though relatively unscathed, although I lost the bottle of water I had yet to open, that I bought in Gatwick. Boo. We ran to the gate and hopped on the flight with moments to spare, before realising that it was only half full and everyone we’d sped past, was trickling on. Clearly, they had decided to wait for everyone else. This turned out to be excellent news as a bringer of excellent news popped his head round the plane door to announce that all bags had been retrieved and were om the same plane. Hoo-ray.


The rest of the two hour ish flight passed in a blur of reading and napping, until suddenly we were passing over beautiful snow covered mountains. I got a bit confused on the way back, and thought we were flying over Scotland on that fight!

snowy mountains

Photo credit: Steve Holder

Tromso is one of the most northerly cities in the world, and is actually inside the Arctic Cirlce. At this time of year, as you may have guessed from the title of the race, it never gets dark. The weather wasn’t great and the temperature hovered around 6 degrees C, and it was a bit overcast. I’m not sure it would have been blazing sunshine if it had been a bit less rainy though – the light seemed to be perpetual twilight.

room view

Photo: me. The view from my hotel room

The other thing about Scandinavia is it’s expensive. Boy, is it expensive. If Sweden can be likened to petrol garage prices, then Norway is the equivalent of a West End cinema concessions stand. Phew. Beer can be touching £10 for two thirds, and a pizza cost me nearly £20. Both were delicious, of course.

We ate at Casa Inferno, a steampunk themed pizza and beer place.

I had absolutely no problem with this perpetual twilight, and I was out like a light as soon as my head touched the pillow in the Scandi hotel. Breakfast was included in the price of the hotel room, and was a glorious buffet. I ate far too much on Saturday, but I couldn’t resist. Hot food, home made baked beans, cheese and bread, smoothies, pancakes and DIY waffels. Delicious.


Photo credit: Me. Nutella, Strawberry Jam and honey…

Our group then headed out to pick up race numbers and do some shopping at the expo.

Tromso is small. You can walk pretty much everywhere and the airport is a couple of miles away and is walkable too, if you feel so inclined. It’s not exactly pretty though.

We found the expo after getting mixed up between City Hall and County Hall (something common in Norwich too). There wasn’t much expo – a couple of racks of running clothes and a table or two of mugs, bottles, beanies etc, all branded with the Midnight Sun Marathon logo. I couldn’t resist the gilet and a snazzy water bottle, and I was relieved to find that the t-shirt fitted as that was pre-order and there were no size guides available. I sized up based on the fact that they would probably be quite fitted – Amsterdam, Paris and Stockholm race shirts are.


Race packet pick up was smooth and they even checked your chip, courtesy of a very polite, very enthusiastic small boy and a scanner hooked up to a PC. The goody bag had a buff in it, sponsored by a Norwegian drinks company.


After that we had a small wander, then sat down for lunch at 1pm. Lunch was pasta, as per usual for a carb load. I was still pretty full from breakfast but decided that I should eat as I wouldn’t have anything else before the race. The pasta was nice, the restaurant was spacious and the staff friendly. Following lunch, our team headed back to the hotel for a rest before reconvening at 8pm, for the race start at 8.30pm. Honestly, nothing is far away in Tromso!

We ate at Egon, found here.

I actually managed to sleep properly for an hour or so, which was very refreshing.

All set in my capris and a vest, I went to the hotel reception. There were a lot of runners there as it’s a running weekend – as well as the full, there’re also half, 10k and fun run for the family. Alongside that, the Royal vessel had moored right beside the hotel, so we got to see the King and Queen of Norway alight a couple of times over the course of the weekend!


Photo from the wonderful Susannah

The field for the marathon is relatively small, about 1000 people. The half marathon is about 4000, and set off two hours later. The route is interesting in that the second half is the half marathon route, so just as I was flagging a bit, suddenly all of these fresh runners were around me, which was great. I enjoyed running past people doing the half marathon – it’s a great confidence boost!


The gun was fired and we were off. In terms of training, I felt that I had forgotten to ramp up after Paris marathon in April, although I have stuck to my usual 30-35miles a week and had some good races and long runs in there. My longest run had been 21miles, but as this race only had one goal ‘Enjoy Yourself’, I was interested to see how it would feel.

For the first ten miles, the only mile where I was slower than 9min/mil, was the one where we went over the bridge. I felt so confident and effortless, I kept checking my watch to make sure it was right! After that, a bathroom pitstop was in order and when I started again, I realised my rhythm had been disrupted and to return to that pace would mean too much push and not enough enjoyment. I loved this race. Every mile was great and while it wasn’t easy at all, I felt so in control – it was the opposite to Paris, where I had this big Sub 4 goal looming over me and a sudden 25 degree heatwave.

Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 15.50.13Screen Shot 2016-07-04 at 15.50.29

I talked to the people around me, waved to the spectators (who were really kind and vocal, especially when they saw my marathon bib) and tried to take in as much of the race as I could. The terrain is quite bleak – it’s starkly beautiful anf the church on the other side of the bridge is breathtaking, and could easily be featured in the next Scandi-Noir drama.


Thanks to my lovely friend Steve for this photo. He’s raising money for a wonderful clutch of charities by running 20 marathons this year. http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/20Marathons2016

All too soon and the finish line was coming up fast, through Tromso’s high street. I found an extra bit and sprinted to the finish line, where I was given a beautiful medal and two people tried to give me a space blanket at once. I then proceeded to hyperventilate at the relief of finishing, the satisfaction of finishing the race, and just being overwhelmed with the people around me. After a few seconds I was fine, and passed the athlete’s drinks table and the big screen, on the way back to the hotel. I walked along past the finish line, and was so pleased to see the finishers inches away from their medal and space blanket too.


Photo credit: facebook page for MSM

It was a once in a lifetime experience – finishing at about 12:45 was really strange. Mingling with drunk people having hobbled to your hotel, is really weird. It was great though. My one regret is not buying food to eat afterwards – we had a packet of biscuits and a bag of crisps along with a couple of cans of beer. I chose sleep over food as the rest of the gang went out in search of Burger King – this was a bad move as I woke up feeling really hungover! Luckily, the breakfast sorted me out, swiftly followed by a local delicacy – cinnamon bun.


Marathon website: http://www.msm.no/midnight-sun-marathon.242498.en.html

My friend Steve’s amazing challenge for this year – all donations welcome: http://www.virginmoneygiving.com/20Marathons2016



Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here – Anna Breslaw


Scarlett Epstein


I read the first few chapters of Scarlett Epstein Hates it Here by Anna Breslaw, through the book review website netgalley. As an aside, I’m quite new to the site but it looks great – you apply or request advance or proof copies of books and then, if you’re approved, they get sent to an electronic device for you to read and review.

Scarlett Epstein is a fanfic writer who loves a show about monsters (which is Buffy The Vampire Slayer, basically) and is devastated when it’s cancelled. Her best friend IRL doesn’t understand the obsession but that gap is fulfilled by a number of online fellow fan friends, some of whom are adults who have real life jobs. Scarlett’s an only child in a single parent family and feels inferior to her peers and classmates, who have whole, rich family lives (in monetary terms if not emotionally).

Her crush and love of her life, Gideon, has been stolen by her nemesis and arch enemy, who just happens to be her best friend’s sister.

The story is good and I have to say, I wanted to read more and I was a bit upset when the sneak peek ran out. My favourite character was her rebellious, weed smoking octogenarian neighbour. It reminded me a bit, bizarrely, of Anastasia Krupnik’s friendship with Mrs Stein.

I would also say that there’s more than a passing resemblance to Rainbow Rowell’s fangirl, and another parallel to be drawn with Patrick Roth’s pithy script for high schoolers. Just because it’s not entirely original does not make it a bad novel, of course.

I am looking forward to reading the rest when it comes out on April 19th – Amazon link here.

Marathon de Paris T minus 5


Paris. My eleventh marathon and my third go at Paris. I’ve had two PBs which include my current PB of 4:12. I love the route – the city is wonderful and the parks at either end are beautiful. I even love the people who wheel their bikes/scooters/prams out into the raceway (although maybe not so much at the time).

paris route

Five months since my last running post.  That was a bit of a deliberate space, to be honest. Amsterdam was so pressured and there was so much else going on, that I couldn’t blog alongside Paris as I started a new job which takes me away from home four days a week. It felt like another Thing To Do, a chore to be put on the list, and that’s not what I want running to be about. Or blogging, for that matter.


As you’ve probably seen from Instagram, I’m still running and baking! We also got a new addition to the house – Peggy the ragdoll kitten. I’m in love, dear readers. She is so adorable. Even when she’s purring into your face at 6am while standing on your neck. At the moment, she’s asleep on my legs as she’s a massive heat whore and it’s a bit chilly today. She is really beautiful too, she looks like Daryl Hannah’s character, Pris,  from Bladerunner.

1171138_980151002038354_980222186_n Pris










We went to Edinburgh for Hogmanay which was lovely until I got sick and spent ALL day in bed on January 1st. Not a great way to start the year, to be honest.


In running terms, I did Adnams 10k with some friends in a lovely leisurely 1 hour 15, I think. I was grateful because I thought the storm would cancel it, so I had a few too many pints the night before. We did drink some of the Adnams beer given out on the way round!


Going back a bit further, I had a panic attack in the middle of St Neots half marathon and had to stop to hyperventilate a bit. I’m being flippant about it now, but I worried about the worry. I think that episode was to do with stopping my anxiety medication and from starting a new job within a fortnight. I do not recommend anyone to do that, by the way. I am now on a pretty even keel and it’s all fine, although I’m still taking asthma medication. The first couple of months were horrible though, and I ended up having another panic attack during a run on Christmas Eve, where I burst into tears on Mr Charming’s shoulder. I am so thankful I have amazing friends – my running bud Hayley Hamster is awesome, and she took care of me. She didn’t let me give up.  On the upside, I did Christmas Day parkrun with friends and had a lovely time.


I’ve followed the up to 55mile week P&D Training plan. It’s been tough – getting up at 5am four days (or five) a week to get in 10-12miles before work, chasing the lampposts. Sitting in a hotel bedroom eating porridge at 5.15 to run around a city that you don’t know. Getting up at 5am on a Saturday to run 17miles before parkrun.  Clocking up 40-50 miles a week over five days where the rest days are the ones where you’re driving 200miles – 4hours+. Through all of this though, I’ve been getting stronger. I’ve done a 10mile race and just about equalled my half PB at Cambridge.  

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 13.04.43

Cambridge half marathon splits

Cambridge half marathon splits

Three runs left. 6miles tomorrow. 7miles dress rehearsal on Wednesday with 5miles at MP – 9minutes per mile. Paris parkrun on Saturday at a very leisurely pace.

Then race day. I would absolutely love to do a sub 4. I know that, in my heart of hearts, when (and it is when, I know I am capable) I get it, I’ll almost immediately want faster.

Screen Shot 2016-03-28 at 12.27.13

I want my race on Sunday to be the best race I can be. Controlled, fun, enjoyable. Perhaps not entirely comfortable – I don’t want to finish like Amsterdam, as if I hadn’t done anything. I want the last three months, the last 484.2 miles to be worth it. If that means a PB, brilliant. A sub 4 – even better. 30 seconds off per mile is a big ask and I know it needs to have everything to come together to work. Each mile at a time.


Well wishes and luck, please!


The Life and Death of Sophie Stark – Anna North

I imagined Sophie to have brown eyes tbh

I imagined Sophie to have brown eyes tbh

The Life and Death of Sophie Stark by Anna North was chosen by my IRL book club (as opposed to my online book club, obvs). One of the things I love about book clubs is that it introduces me to books I wouldn’t have read otherwise, perhaps because I don’t get to go to bookshops or libraries that much at the moment, or because, in all honesty, it would have gotten lost amongst the other samey covers/titles on the tables in Waterstones. I’m glad it didn’t get lost.


There will be spoilers in this review, so please don’t carry on if you don’t want it spoiled.

The format is interesting in that it’s told from the perspectives of a few different people, who quickly are identified as important people in the titular Sophie’s life (and death). A brother, a lover, an agent. A first crush and husband. Sophie’s voice is absent, of course, but comes through as a layering of the recounting of her career as a promising film director.


As we hear from more people and follow her journey from weird girl at school to, well, weird woman with a budget to make films, the picture becomes clearer. Sophie Stark isn’t even Sophie Stark as she changed her name before university. The first film she makes, about the all star basketball player whose girlfriend shaves Sophie’s head in an attempt to make her stop stalking him, is an underground success.

From there, all of her films are successful at the expense of someone else. She makes a film about her husband’s dying mother’s suicide without his permission, and uses a personal and intimate secret about her girlfriend’s past in a film that her girlfriend is playing the lead in.


There is a wider question about  Sophie’s moral compass, the outcome of which depends on your own standpoint, of course. I didn’t like her as she seems to be able to pick and choose when she feels emotion, and uses those closest to her in the name of Art. That might be because I just don’t understand that level of creativity. I’ve never been driven by that need to Make Things and to express emotion so vividly and powerfully that nothing can stand in my way. I mean, apart from my teenage diaries, of course.


She lives, she dies and inbetween she makes beautiful films. The trouble with the medium of film in a book is, of course, that we take their word for it that it’s beautiful, through the description and reaction of the people around them and the audience.

Although it wasn’t an amazing story, I still enjoyed the descriptions and I was still taken aback at her death. She isn’t a sympathetic main character, but I didn’t hate her enough to enjoy her death.


I probably won’t read this again, but I did like reading it and it was reasonably quick to read too. A good beach novel, for when the summer finally arrives.

Amsterdam Race Report – Number Ten


I can’t believe it came around so fast. I think it’s probably because a lot has been going on since I started the four month training plan – I’ve changed jobs, celebrated birthdays and anniversaries and even got another job on a temporary basis. I’ve booked holidays to Edinburgh and York, visited and had visitors.  I’ve also eaten the world’s best lasagne and drunk some delicious beer.


I’ve gotten up at ridiculous o’clock to run stupid miles before parkrun. I’ve had good runs and bad runs (some bad runs in the ‘other’ sense, that’s for sure). I’ve managed a parkrun PB and I’ve done a 10k race as part of the training. I’ve weathered a three week cold which left me grumpy and nervous that I was too far behind to catch up. I’ve registered for Paris and managed to get Mr Charming signed up too.  I have been so lucky. I am supported by such an amazing bunch of people, from the running buddies who kept me company and made me routes to family and friends who listen while I explain that I can’t go out and get drunk because I had x miles to do the next day. Most of all, thank you to Mr Charming. Not content with supporting in the cold and wet for the last four years while I flit around the world doing races, he is now pushing himself and joining in. I don’t mean to brag, but he got a sub 2 for his second half marathon.  That is pretty amazing indeed.


After countless races, I don’t get nervous before them anymore. Well, not really. I get excited and anticipatory, but I don’t tend to worry that I’m not going to sleep or eat well or anything.


So, we had a massive flight from Norwich to Amsterdam – a whole 30 minutes! It was luxurious to be able to get a taxi the short distance and then hop on the plane. I almost grumbled that I didn’t have time to read my book properly. Okay, might have done a small grumble.

We landed in Schipol and then set off towards our airbnb’d apartment that we were sharing with friends for the weekend.

We found it without wandering around too much of the Vondelpark, hoorah.  The apartment was beautiful, although there were too many stairs for us marathoners! I love airbnbing in a different country because you generally get a better feel for what’s a typical house in that locality.


We went to the Van Gogh museum on Friday after landing about lunchtime. We were in the museumplein district so it was within easy walking distance.  It was great – I would recommend booking in advance as the queues were pretty long and it was drizzling a bit too. Thank you to the lovely person who advised me to book!


Best. Slippers. Ever.

On Saturday we went to the expo to pick up our numbers and buy some ridiculously brilliant orange slipper clogs from the race sponsor, Mizuno. They sold a lot of clogs that day, that’s for sure. I also got suckered into buying a super expensive but lovely and cosy Mizuno hoodie. Woops.


After a bit of wandering and a bit of sitting, we went to Mazzo for pizza and pasta. If you’re going to Amsterdam, I’d recommend it. It’s beautiful and the food was pretty good too.


We got a reasonably early night after deciding that we’d try and get a tram to the start. Amsterdam transport shuts down for race day so be warned, you’ll need to make sure you know how you’re getting there in advance.


I woke up at about 6am and had breakfast of porridge and a couple of slices of toast with butter and jam, with a coffee. I’d had a protein shake the night before.  We got ready and left about 7.30, to get to the start for 8.15. It always takes longer than you think to do stuff on race day,  so plan for getting into the baggage queue, toilet queue etc. It’s a good idea to get to a race an hour before the start, especially if it’s a big city race.

Just before I left I realised that Mother Nature/Sod’s Law/Scientific cycles* had conspired against me for this marathon, and I was going to have to run it with a uniquely female er, visitor. I hope that’s not too obtuse, without spelling it out!

pre start

Some of the BCRC crew before the start! If you saw any of our stool flags, let me know

We got to the start, which was heaving with people. Bag drop is not in numbers, you just walk up to a queue and they’ll give you a corresponding sticker and put it on your bib.  It’s a good idea but it seemed like unnecessary organisation to me. What happened if the sticker fell off? I can’t remember my name at the end of any race, let alone an arbitrary number on a sticker I’d seen five hours before. My sticker did not fall off, thankfully.


There was a bottleneck to get into the stadium and we didn’t get in until about 9:20 after queueing from around 9am, so it’s worth getting in earlier than planned if you want time in the pens to warm up and go for a last minute wee.  It started to rain very gently – enough to get the pavement wet and definitely nowhere near Stockholm’s downpour!


It’s worth saying at this point that in terms of running, I was feeling more confident than I’ve ever been. I got a parkrun PB on Saturday, completely unexpectedly. I did a 6.66 mile run on Wednesday that called for 2 miles at MP (around 9:30min/mil), and I struggled to keep slower than 9:15. One of the miles was 8:42min/mil!

suze run

Thanks to E for the race photo. I’m wearing my go faster sleeves and co-ordinating like a boss, completely by accident

We were soon off, with the requisite fanfare of Black Eyed Peas’ “Tonight’s going to be a good night” (I have no idea why they always play that at races. It’s a good beat but it is slightly annoying). There was a bit of a bottleneck at the start as we went out of the stadium and turned left.

The miles ticked by and I knew it was a good run because I kept miscalculating the km markers – I thought we had more miles to go than we did!

A race of two halves

Can you tell where I plunged off the chart?!

The aid stations were regular and well signposted, offering water, AA Lemon drink, bananas and sponges at them all. Some of them had AA gels as well.

miles 1-17

A slow first mile due to the bottlenecks but quickly made up

As you can see, the first 16 miles ticked along nicely. My heartrate was floating above 150, even dropping down to about 130 as I relaxed and enjoyed the run. There were plenty of fellow BCRCers on the course supporting and running, so it was lovely to spot people along the way.


When it got to around mile 15, there’s a bit of a gap where I had the first wave of cramps which stopped me dead. I felt nauseated and could only double over in an effort to relieve them. From then, I was able to run for a couple of minutes at a time before stopping again to breathe through them. I begged some paracetamol from the paramedics and talked to as many people around me as I could. Even at mile 20 I was entirely fine, and hadn’t even got out of breath yet. The problem was, as soon as I started to run, my inner organs mounted their own fearsome protest against dealing with outside force as well as internal. You can see in the second half where I picked up a friend, around 4 miles from the finish. She was struggling with hip pain and together we pulled each other round. I remember looking at my watch as 3:59 ticked on by to 4:00, and being rueful and disappointed and frustrated.

kms 18-27

Despite all of this, before I knew it we were going through the Vondelpark on the way to the stadium. I loved the finish – going in on the right hand side and passing the finishers coming out the other way on the left, resplendent in their medals and majestic in their plastic sheets. Watching from the stands was even better, like some unfathomable cycle of life.


I finished in 4:38. My tenth marathon. I have such mixed feelings about it – I almost want to forget it as it was so terrible. I felt so frustrated and annoyed at such a betrayal by my own body. On the other hand, it shows how far I’ve come as it’s still better than my first marathon and I felt so amazing afterwards, I was able to bounce up and down the stairs (much to the non amusement of my roommates) and I thoroughly enjoyed the race itself despite the rain and the bottlenecks. It was a great weekend with excellent people. I’m also pleased that the P&D seems to be working for me. High mileage looks like a good idea – so long as I rest properly on rest days and make sure I keep up with my vitamin C.

Roll on Paris 2016! In the meantime, I have St Neot’s half marathon and Adnams Southwold 10k. Hopefully I’m going to have Cambridge half in February as part of the Spring Campaign – if I get in!


A decent medal but not my favourite one







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