Entering the second week of training and I am already starting to feel some small improvements in my running. It may only be week two of training but I have also logged 39 miles of running, which is quite a step up. I feel good for it though and have even manged to balance some non-running life 'stuff' within the week. I am proud of this too - in the past I would sometimes let marathon training dominate my entire life, but as I become more experienced as runner, I am also learning to find that balance.
MONDAY: a return to Body Pump after a few weeks break. This week my coughing has virtually gone (thank goodness!) and whilst some soreness remained in my side at the start of the week, I felt able to return to doing some strength work.
TUESDAY: a return to strength training felt good, however inevitably I also felt the effect of it today. DOMs hit almost instantly - forget any delay! I had 5 tempo miles on the plan, but found it tough to hit my desired half marathon pace for the middle three miles. I did scrape under the 8 min/mile marker at least, and I was no too hard on myself due to the soreness I was feeling in my legs.
WEDNESDAY: 6 easy miles, which felt needed for my legs and I easily kept the pace toward the 8:40 min/mile region.
THURSDAY: with my muscles feeling less sore I attempted a double run day, with my own interval run planned for the morning and a Run Club session in the evening. Despite messing up using my watch on the intervals (it has been that long since I last did any I was out of practice!) I was really pleased with how I ran. I ran 6 miles with 4 x 1 mile reps; I focused on effort rather than pace for the reps and logged some respectable splits of 7.33, 7.15, 7.18 and 7.39 min/mile repeated along a circular loop which did include a slight hill! Later at Run Club I added 5 more miles during an 'out and back' route battling some interesting headwind!
FRIDAY: Rest Day
SATURDAY: this week Saturday became long run day as I had a friends birthday Saturday evening with the promise of homemade cocktails. I wanted to celebrate my friends birthday, I wanted to drink cocktails, I wanted to have some fun and I simply did not want marathon training to stop this. Amongst my own demands I also did not want to miss parkrun! The solution was to incorporate parkrun into my long run - something I have never actually tried before. I ran 4 miles down to Lincoln parkrun, completed parkrun, and then 7 miles home after. It certainly made 14 mils go by very quickly, and was a bit of a new challenge. I tried to keep the 4 mils down to parkrun steady, and the fact it was a very icy day helped me keep my parkrun pace in check a little (I am not very confident running on ice at the best of times!) The post parkrun miles were not as comfortable and I could feel that fact I had some extra pace exertion in my legs. I dug in though, embracing what was turning into a lovely day, and finished with an overall average pace of under 8:20 min/mile. With my long run banked, I was then able to enjoy my evening (which did include a lot of cocktails!)
SUNDAY: after a lovely Saturday night it felt good to 'only' have 3 miles to run today. I enjoyed these later on, when I felt a bit more myself, keeping it easy paced and shaking the legs out a little.
As you will see in the photo included, this week I have also been looking after my friend's kitten at my house. Through my cat sitting, I have learnt that if you want some procrastination for getting out the door and running a kitten playing with your shoelaces is certainly a good one!
2019 – the end of a year and the end of a decade. In the past ten years so much has changed for me, but the biggest impact on my life has been running. In 2009 I had never ran a race before and only took part in running as part of playing and training for football; now ten years on and I have 70 race medals hung from my medal board in my home, have travelled the world to complete marathons, and cannot imagine a weekend passing without attending parkrun. I am a runner; it defines me and has enhanced my confidence in myself, my body and opened my life to a whole community of people and friends. I cannot imagine life without running now.
2019 itself had a lot to live up to running wise after 2018 was a year in which I set PBs at every distance and achieved more than I ever could imagine. However, if I am honest 2018 was tough personally; it tested me, knocked me down a few times and for periods left my feeling quite sad and lost. Running was a times intertwined with this, simply because my personal life and running life cross over quite closely. I knew this year I had to be ready to make some changes and also accept change – which I am not always keen to do! By far the biggest change I made was to take the step and join a running club – Lincs S&C Run Club. I never thought I wanted to be part of a running club, however I was wrong. This group has given me a network buddies to run with during the week, friends to attend races with, people to be inspired by and push myself alongside, and being a run leader has ignited my coaching passion again. I want to thank my Sports Therapist for encouraging me to get involved with this group; through our chats over the massage bed I think she knew what I was missing from my running, and suggested I get involved with her and others in setting up this new club. My Sports Therapist also encouraged me to meet up with another one of her coaches for some runs, and this year Tom has become my Wednesday morning 6am run buddy and given me a mid-week training boost many a time.
It has not always been easy though; by June/July personally I truly felt like I had everything falling into place again, only for my happiness to be rocked slightly. I wobbled in the lead up to my Chicago Marathon in October, things changed in my life again which made me doubt myself, and this also transferred into my running a little. I lost confidence in myself and personally I had to come to terms with the fact I had also lost people I cared very much about from my life. The last few months though I have been rebuilding myself again; its not easy to admit that you have become detached from people you once felt so close to, but sometimes you have to accept it in order to restore your peace. Sounds deep - but it is true.
Back to the running, and whilst the PBs have not been as extensive as in 2018, its been another memorable year running wise as I have revisited favourite races and experienced new challenges.
Leicestershire Half Marathon - 1:35:23
I started the year on a high with an unexpected PB at Leicestershire Half Marathon. It was one of those days when my body and mind were all in sync, and despite pushing hard, running seemed effortless. I can still recall feeling such a surge of power in my body as I ran a 7 min/mile split to finish 13.1 miles – I think this amazed me just as much as the PB!
Cambridge Half Marathon - 1:37:49
On a miserable, grey race day, I battled hard at Cambridge Half Marathon for another sub 1:40 time. In the midst of marathon training I was tired heading into this event and I definitely did not feel that effortless running that I experienced in Leicester! I was spurred on by my parents’ support though and it is always great to share my running with them.
Ashby 20 - 2:43:22
This was an event I had heard much about but had never taken part in, so I was really pleased to get a chance to run it this year. I loved it and ran so strongly; it has to be one of my best performances of the year. I averaged 8:10 min/mile across a hilly course and it gave me such confidence in my marathon training.
Lincoln 10k - 55:01
With my hometown event falling a week before the marathon I had been training so hard for, I knew I did not want to race the 10k, however I also did not want to miss it either. I was therefore so pleased to be able to pace my friend on the day to a new PB; it saved my legs but also allowed me to embrace the event in a different light. I ran with such a smile and still remember the joyful hug we shared at the end and being able to share my friend’s moment of triumph.
Brighton Marathon - 3:43:38
I gave everything across these 26.2 miles – I had trained so well and knew I had to be willing to take a risk to get the ultimate reward I wanted. I ran bravely, and whilst the course was tougher than I anticipated, it was the brutal headwind in the final few miles along the seafront which saw my PB dream slip from my grasp. I was not disappointed however, just very drained!
North Lincolnshire Half Marathon -1:41:02
My efforts at Brighton Marathon hit my body hard and this race was very much an event for the mind rather than for any specific finish time. I ran consistently and happily though and this helped to restore faith in my body as well as being able to enjoy a race day experience with friends.
Woodhall Spa 10k - 45:11
I enjoyed this event, which is very popular in the local running scene, just not really for running reasons! It’s a lovely social race, but this year it was just too warm and my body too sore to actually be able to enjoy racing it properly. I struggled running and I could not wait for it to be over from early on – but these experiences make you stronger eventually.
Round Sheffield Run - 1:43:50
I love this race, although I feel I need to stop shouting about it as it is becoming so popular now! It is my annual venture into trial running, and the multi staged aspect of the event presents such a unique and different challenge. I always run Round Sheffield Run with my friend as a pair, and this year it was one of the rare times we ran together in any form; this fact makes me sad, but also means this was an extra special year to remember.
Sleaford 10k - 44:22
A Friday night spent running with friends and finishing with a banquet of cake – why had I never taken part in Sleaford 10k before?! This 10k is another popular local event and now I know why. In very windy conditions I ran strongly and thoroughly enjoyed the course, even managing to grab myself a little trophy for finishing second female overall.
Newark Half Marathon - 1:38:52
Held just two days after Sleaford 10k and with a mixed bag of weather to contend with, I was exceptionally happy to log another solid half marathon time again in Newark and go sub 1:40. With marathon training well underway again it was a good marker of my fitness.
Newton's Fraction Half Marathon - 1:43:36
This race formed part of my marathon training, and although I had never taken part in it before, I had heard much about the big hills which formed part of the course. The hills were indeed testing, but my legs felt strong to their challenge, even if I lacked a bit of speed, and I felt my time was a fair reflection of the event.
Chicago Marathon - 3:49:50
I find it hard to pick a favourite race from this year as all have been special for very different reasons, however travelling to Chicago on my own to complete my 10th marathon is probably the feat I am most proud of. It scared me, but I did it; and as a few people have pointed out to me since, it actually took great courage to undertake this particular running adventure. A personal and highly memorable marathon.
Doncaster 10k - 42:42
This year saw me complete a hat trick of 10k PBs at this event. I did not feel in shape for a PB at all, with my post marathon running mainly consisting of steady and easy runs. However, on the day the strength in my body amazed me, and the support I got from sharing the event with many friends from my Run Club and beyond was fantastic and really spurred me on.
Santa Fun Run, Lincoln
Signing off the racing year by successfully defending my Lincoln Santa Run title – I mean what more could I want..!
My parkrun running tally continues to rise as I attend my beloved home Lincoln parkrun event each week, along with new tourism visits notched up at Scunthorpe, Croxteth Hall and York, and other parkrun events revisited at Clumber Park, Normanby Hall, Ipswich and Bury St Edmunds. Perhaps most significantly I proudly completed my 25th volunteering milestone this year, and sign off 2019 on 31 volunteer stints and 157 parkruns. It is safe to say both these tallies will only rise next year and in the decade ahead.
Alice's Adventures In Running Land
Read about my adventures in running land...