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The Challenge Is On!

It’s on like donkey Kong. Well, actually it has been since the 9th October. It’s just that life has got in the way a little. So, a new blog. to document my journey over 12 months of trying to achieve what many would see as an impossible task.

To qualify for good for age for London Marathon. Sub 3:45. Now for the speedsters, the natural runners amongst us, this is more than achievable. For me, it means taking a wholesome 1 hour 25 minutes off my current marathon PB. Admittedly Berlin Marathon, my second of 2017 did not go to plan. That’s a story for another time. But there it is, it’s still personal best. It does mean however, planning the next year around clever training, juggling work, children, the ups and downs (literally) of type 1 diabetes and life in general.

Why would you do this? I hear you cry. Another rejection in the London Marathon ballot. The odds are very rarely in your favour due to the popularity of it. It doesn’t stop there. If you want to run the Abbot World Marathon majors (which I do – two down), well you’ve more chance to do so, being good for age. Ballots do not like me, and no amount of positive or wishful thinking have ever given me a chance in them. But also, stubbornness. Pride. An opportunity to prove the doubters wrong and show that if you want it bad enough, you can achieve it. Or at least get close enough to say you’ve given it everything.

Doubt and restrictions set by others kills more dreams than failure from trying ever would.

Official training for Paris begins the beginning of December. It will be very different to my previous two marathon training cycles, and I shall of course be sharing as much as possible. Right now, its crack on with trying to be in the best place possible to begin a high mileage training cycle.

So there it is. This is what it is. Hopefully an honest and upfront account of my journey to Good for Age. The ins and outs of training, and results. It’s going to be a roller coaster, no doubt about it.

 

 

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Week Three. Who dares, wins.

Week Three of Paris Marathon training has been such a fantastic one, following on from a great week 2, I’m almost too scared to start week 4. It’s been a week of fun, with two very different races completed, and still running every day for the Run Every Day Challenge for the charity Mind.

It’s been a lower mileage week (40 miles) than last week (47 Miles) as technically, following the ‘Advanced Marathoning’ plan it should be a recovery week. Now, I am a little behind on the 16 week plan. More like I just missed the first couple of weeks. December and Christmas lead up happened. We all know what that is like. But since kicking back in to it, I’ve decided to follow with the recovery week as scheduled, so as not to mess with the remaining plan anymore.

This week has consisted of

Monday – 1 Mile warm up (to continue run streak) followed by 40 minutes of HIIT

Tuesday – 8 Miles (general aerobic with 10 x 100m strides

Wednesday – 5 miles (easy)

Thursday – 5.3 miles trail night race

Friday – 5 miles (recovery)

Saturday – 3.1 miles (easy, grass running)

Sunday – 13.1 miles half marathon race (completed at a steady effort)

Sprinkled with core work, strengthening and stretching (a lot of stretching)

The races (side note…. absolutely loved my bib numbers this week. Containing my lucky number 8… winner, winner!)

Race one. Rogue Runs, Beechenhurst night race.

Based in my home stomp of the Forest Of Dean, 5.3 miles of wonderful woodland paths, tracks and bridleways, hills, ankle deep mud and all in the dark of the night? Glorious. Such a fun, wonderfully organised event. When the race director advises at the start line to run is at your own risk, promptly followed by holding up a local newspaper showing a man with the tip of his finger bitten of by our mean looking wild boar residents, you know it’s going to be a good one! There’s something very primal about adventuring in the woods in the black of the night. For someone who has the elegance of a baby elephant wearing roller skates, it was as much as I could do to stay upright during some of the more difficult mountain bike trails. Which seemed to slope off in every angle all at once, covered in tree roots, rocks and mandatory mud. That’s mandatory mud before the actual ‘mud bath’ now that woke me up!

But it was so much fun. It did cross my mind at various points how sensible I wasn’t being considering one wrong step could of resulted in no more spring marathon, but I felt alive. It was fun. And sometimes, that is just what is needed to keep the mind fresh and focused on the relentless marathon training.

Race number two. Gloucester Half Marathon.

Again, another well organised event, with the most friendliest of marshalls! By no means flat. But lovely country lanes for the most part, with some ‘inclines’ I wasn’t expecting much from this one, other than to use it as a training run. Having so far remained unscathed from winter bugs, a lovely breathing restricting but snot flowing cold had come and taken its hold. I tried to keep it easy and relaxed, although I was aware at quite a few points I was working far too hard for that, and had to have a few walk breaks to try and regain some control of my breathing as my chest tightened!

Absolutely over the moon to have walked away an official PB by 12 minutes! This excites me more than I can describe, because it shows me that the hard work is paying off. I’ve taken a gamble doing a high mileage training plan, and so far it’s working wonders. I’ve been questioning all the easy paces, it’s hard not to, but if it’s working….. I need to trust in it a little bit more!

A good week for the dreams

So last week two huge nuggets of wonderful news happened. Firstly, my awful history of zero ballot luck changed and it was a yes for Chicago Marathon 2018. It’s booked. It’s on. You see, my whole ‘good for age within a year’ kind of hinged on finally getting some ballot luck (there’s some irony there somewhere) due to my last day of the challenge being 7th October 2018. Chicago will be my final chance, on the very last day to obtain GFA. It’s set up perfectly. It would be perfect wouldn’t it, to swan in at the last minute and smash my goal at such an iconic marathon.

However I also don’t have much luck when it comes to something having the capacity of being perfect, and it coming to fruition. Just seems to work out that way. However, just as my ballot luck had to change at some point so does this.

Second bit of news, was a surprise gift from my husband of race entry to Race to The Stones. 100km non stop. All being well, I can also add ultra marathoner to my accomplishments. This makes my belly do all sorts of funny dances, both a mixture of excitement and fear. But I can’t wait for another challenge. It’s food for my soul! In all honesty, one I may not have had the balls to go ahead with, so the much needed gentle push has been very welcome. It’s all or nothing!

So there it is. Next year is firmed up and ready to be tackled head on.

First up though, Paris marathon training is in progress. I have decided to follow an 18 week plan from a wonderful read ‘Advanced Marathoning’ there are so many different plans and training ideas when it comes to marathons. One size does not fit all, and your choice of plan to follow or create is ultimately a very personal choice, a balance between what works for you with life commitments, fitness levels and what your body favours. Some may go for plans based on time, mileage or even just plucking one out of thin air. Having been through two marathon training cycles and trying two different plans, I’m hoping that I’ve learnt enough to be able to say this will work best for me. I shall be doing a separate blog post for this, along with documenting my weekly training. It’s just a little hectic right now, and I’m trying to make it through the festive period without turning into a self combusting turkey. Can’t imagine that would be pretty.

The November run streak. Two thirds done.

So what’s a girl to do when you’re at a bit of a loose end prior to marathon training schedule starting? I decided run streak! That is running a number of days in a row. Everyday. Minimum 1 Mile. Not naked running. Although this may have been an option to get some speed in the legs for fear of being seen!

There’s a couple of reasons why I am running every day throughout November. I am not very good when there is no structure to my running. I need routine, a plan, a challenge. Something to stop myself from taking the easy option of sofa and a small giants portion of cake. So the small giants portion of cake hasn’t gone, but happily sticking to my run goals for November is there at least.

I also wanted to build up a good aerobic base prior to marathon specific training. To be quite frank, just any base is more than welcome after my complete slow down, almost complete halt following Berlin Marathon.

Finally I wanted to do something for Diabetes Awareness Month that I wouldn’t normally do. It can be hard running with Type 1 Diabetes. It can throw a million and one challenges at you. So what better way to flip the proverbial bird than to run every day! No rest for the wicked!

20 days in, 100 Miles covered. What have I discovered during my short time of running every day? Quite a bit.

I have learnt to go slow in order to run more. Almost every run has been a relaxed easy pace. This has worked wonders for me. October was spent entertaining an array of niggles. Since running more, at a slower pace the niggles have subsided and I feel so much stronger. This hasn’t all been down to easy miles. I have been very conscious of spending time daily stretching and incorporating strengthening routines, all of which have been beneficial!

There have been a few rest days. For these a mile plodding along with the dog has been a welcome break.

There have been times where I thought I didn’t have time or felt too tired to run. Fitting it in around work, family, kids, general everyday madness has been a challenge some days! It’s amazing how you suddenly find ways of fitting in a run….. and how much better you feel for getting it done.

I’ve also become very reliant on dry shampoo. It’s been my saviour, many a day! 😂

10 more days to go, until I finish my November challenge. Hopefully I will still be as chirpy at the end of it. Hopefully I will have hit my goal of 150 Miles. Hopefully, I can then save money on coffee and dry shampoo!