Well, where do I really start with this week?! It is hard to even comprehend how things are right now. There are moments when life almost feels normal, and for me, these have stemmed from when I have been able to get out and run and that feeling of escapism across the miles. Then I return home and the reality hits that things are definitely not normal!
It has been a week of adaption for me personally, as my work switched to being home based from Monday. Working from home and the impacts this has on my day-today job function I think was also the main trigger for me to realise how serious this situation is becoming. Since Monday I have only been going outside to run or go to the shop for food – it is not easy trust me, but it has to be done.
Monday was a tough start; I didn’t leave the house all day and spoke to no one – I felt like I was self-isolated! How was I going to cope with this? I have though, and as the days have progressed, I have found ways to cope more effectively. In a work capacity we have got better at having work video calls, and it has been good to share a few words with colleagues and check in with them. I also made the conscious decision (prior to the government making it compulsory) to stop going to the gym – it did not feel right to gather in a large group in that way, and have therefore begun to open my mind to home exercise options.
Running wise more cancellations inevitably came this week; races are virtually non-existent now until June (can we even guarantee this?!), England Athletics called a halt to all running groups which meant my Run Club had to stop, and then parkrun was cancelled. It may appear difficult to find some positivity amongst this, especially as these aspects form such a large part of my life. However, I do not feel too bad; yes I have moments when I lie in bed and think what the hell is happening and what does the future look like! But I think if we are honest, we all feel like this at times right now. However, across this week I have truly realised what a wonderful life I do have in Lincoln, the friendship networks I have, the communities I belong to, particularly in a running sense, and how much I genuinely love my job. My positivity comes from the joy I have about eventually being able to get back to all this and how much more I know I am going to appreciate my life.
Amongst the madness and uncertainty, I have managed to log 46 miles of running this week – which is almost akin to what I would have been doing as part of my marathon training! It was not intentional, but I have just relished any opportunity to be outside, and its all mounted up. I have not pushed myself though, I had already decided at the start of the week this would just be a finding my feet week, and I had no plan or structure to follow. I want to say a huge thank you to my friends from Lincs S&C Run Club who have joined me for some runs this week – some people may disapprove of me buddying up with people to run, and I admit it’s probably not perfect – however on all occasions we have kept well distanced and stuck to non-busy, mainly rural routes. I also think I would have lost my mind if I had gone without any form of personal contact these last few days, especially as I have been adapting to this new way of life. Guidance may change soon, people’s circumstances may change, and I may be required to run solo or not run at all, so I appreciate the time we have shared.
All my days appear to blur into one at the moment, so I am pleased I can recall my running at least!
MONDAY: a bit of a rest day and slight try at setting up a home exercise area – which basically meant dusting off my gym mat and playing around with some resistance bands I have!
TUESDAY: after nearly two days of being indoors and on my own, tonight was a much needed run with a couple of Run Club friends; I logged 7.5 miles in total but to be honest could have kept running all night as it just felt freeing.
WEDNESDAY: I went out running early today, not my usual pre work 5:30am early, but I logged my miles before settling down for a day in the home office (aka my kitchen table). It was a good head clearing session; 6 miles with a few hills, just to set me up for the day.
THURSDAY: 6 more miles sharing a few with Run Club friends.
FRIDAY: Friday is usually my rest day, but I was not going to turn down the offer a run with another friend from Run Club. We headed out mid-afternoon in some lovely sunshine; it was great to get out of the house in daylight and is one perk of home working! We initially planned 10k but when my friend suggested we could go further I was more than happy to stay out longer. I logged 11.5 miles in total, a bonus long run, and all whilst keeping well spaced along the cycle path.
SATURDAY: today became a double run day; I woke up first thing and headed out for my own solo version of parkrun with my Lincoln parkrun vest proudly adorned. This was the only time I really tried to push the pace this week, it was tough with some headwind and also without the parkrun support, and I was way off usual 5k time, but it still felt good to stretch my legs out a bit. Sat at home, another Run Club friend messaged me asking if I wanted a run (I truly am thankful for all these offers) I admitted I had already ran, but again was keen not to turn down the chance of chat and fresh air. We ran a 10k together, and although fearful I would be a little weary, I could have kept running all day again.
SUNDAY: my legs were tired today, I think the week and my mileage hit me, so I was never going to run long despite it being traditionally Sunday long run day. I headed out for another 6 miles, out and back along the river, literally just enjoying being out and not pushing my legs. I could feel I was tired and the last thing anyone needs to do now is open themselves up to any form of illness.
I have no idea what the next 7 days will hold – does anyone? But again I really want to thank people within my network for their support this week, whether its been sharing some socially distanced running or messaging me, its all helped. We are in this together – its cheesy but we are – and I too have tried to reach out to as many people as possible across the past few days. If I can help anyone I will try.
Keep safe, keep positive, keep running.
This should have been a summary of week ten of my journey to the London Marathon, but instead I find myself reflecting on what is a very strange and uncertain time for the world. No one's lives are being unaffected by the spread of the Coronavirus, and as this week progressed, I knew the chances of the London Marathon happening were fading by the second. To be honest I am glad it has now been postponed; and postponed is the key word for me. A cancellation would have been devastating for myself and others, especially those who have longed to complete the London Marathon for many years. It was also starting to become a very anxious time waiting for announcements on the race, and every time someone mentioned the virus I felt my own anxiety levels rise, waiting to hear what the latest development had been and how it would affect me. Lastly, it was also the right decision to postpone the race for the well being of all; I would have not wanted to take part under such uncertainty and under the fear of putting others at risk; it would have tainted the experience.
Friday 13th March was a tough day for the news to hit as many Spring marathons were also postponed on this day. In fact marathons seem to fall like dominoes and I found myself messaging a lot of my friends throughout the afternoon as each of our respective races announced their postponement. I had not even had the chance to see the decision had been made on the London Marathon myself, as friends and family messaged me the news. Although not the best news to be passing on to me, I was touched at people's care that they knew this would mean something to me, and that they also had a desire to check I was ok.
So am I ok? The truthful answer is yes; in marathon terms I am totally fine with the news. To be honest, how well I am coping with the fact my main focus in life has suddenly removed is a really big thing for me; had this happened maybe last year I think I would have slipped into a very sad place very quickly. It is a testament to how I have progressed personally these past months. I am sad of course about a few things, mainly being unable to share what would have been the next six weeks of training with my Run Club friends. I have honestly loved my last ten weeks of training, my own solo training runs and my recent running adventures with friends, and I do not feel my efforts have been wasted at all - I am developing as a runner but also have made a lot of happy memories along the way. I am also sad I will not be able to cheer my friends on at their own Spring marathons, and in particular we had planned to go on mass to spectate at Manchester where a large number of Run Club members were due to be running. Hopefully we may still be able to in Autumn. I am also sad for my friends, especially those who had their first ever marathon lined up - none of them are disputing the decisions which have been made, but there are still emotions they are feeling which they are entitled to have. I have tried to be there for people and offer as much positivity and words of encouragement and support. I would have needed those a while back.
So where does this leave me? I will be taking up my place for the rearranged London Marathon date in October, and I am very pleased my fellow Run Cub friend who was also due to run London can also make the new date. I was looking forward to a race weekend together, and now it has just been shifted back a few months. In terms of training, I feel like at the moment until things become clearer in the world, there will be no races and I will not seek anything either. My next booked event is a local half marathon at the start of May, followed by a 20 mile trail event which we have entered as a group from Run Club later in the month. Therefore I have a need to keep some distance within my training, but I will undoubtedly scale back a little, especially without the drive of my big goal race.
Personally, the uncertainty in the world across the next few weeks does scare me a little. Forget marathon training, but I do need to be able to run for my personal well being, and the thought of any form of 'lockdown' and being house bound is something I fear. Since Friday, I have also been instructed by my work that I must work from home for the next three weeks, and have to cancel virtually all face to face meetings and events I had planned. It was tough walking home on Friday having lost my marathon and what felt like losing my job; I love running and I love my job, so it was a double whammy almost. I also live by myself and it feels quite lonely to think of being at home for that length of time. I am being honest about how I feel with people though, and have already had offers from friends to join them for runs in the week so I can at least see and talk to some people! Its a very weird time, and I completely appreciate the need to try and protect vulnerable people in particular, but I do also want to try safeguard my own health and happiness as much as possible, especially after working so hard to feel good again.
Anyway, enough 'virus talk' - I feel I need to sign off London Marathon training (part 1!) with a bit of what I achieved this week, as I most certainly did not give up!
MONDAY: Body Pump class
TUESDAY: a tough session of 7 miles with 3 x 1.5 mile reps - a mile and a half is a long way to push the pace and it certainly asked a lot of me!
WEDNESDAY: after a very long day at work on Tuesday and a tough run, I was grateful of 'just' 5 steady miles today, although was shocked to see these averaged 8.15 min/mile and still felt comfortable.
THURSDAY: a double run day with 8 morning miles at easy pace, followed by a precise 3.6 miles later during a continuous hill based session I led at Run Club.
FRIDAY: Rest Day
SATURDAY: a very pleasing morning at Lincoln parkrun, as not only did I get to share my happy place with some of my colleagues and friends from work, but I also ran a sub 21 minute time (20:53!) and finished as first female, feeling strong and possibly running off Friday 13th's frustrations.
SUNDAY: I was due to be running Ashby 20 today with a few friends from Run Club, however it was cancelled, and I instead I found myself heading out for a solo 20 miles of my own. The organisers of Ashby 20 had set up a virtual Facebook group encouraging people to log their own 20 miles, and to be honest that was enough of a challenge and incentive for me. I could not quite motivate myself enough to push the pace like a race, but I was pleased to see that I held 8:30 min/miles quite consistently throughout. There were a few slower miles in there, which directly correlated with when my motivation started to waiver, meaning my end average pace did end up at 8:40 min/mile, but it was my commitment that impress me the most.
What a week... and I do not fully know what the future weeks will hold. I do know I am going to try and keep as positive as possible, and reach out to others if I feel I am struggling. The offer of my time and support will also be there to anyone out there too. Keep safe and keep running x
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...