Gideons London Marathon 2017 race recap!

Sooooo I can officially say I am a MARATHONER!!! It definitely didn’t go the way that I wanted (as you will find out) but I did it!

After months of training in every weather condition you could think of, enduring runs ranging from early early morning to late at night the big day finally arrived. I left Amy’s aunties house around 7am to make the journey to the start line in Greenwich, and during the whole journey my stomach was full of butterflies and I couldn’t stop thinking what if I don’t make it.

We arrived at Greenwich park at about 8.30am and I said my goodbyes to Amy and her mum and headed into the red start area. It was just absolutely mind-blowing and amazing to see the pure amount of people around you, all wearing their individual charity bibs and costumes (who can say they ran a marathon alongside amongst others; a Rhino, Mr Bump and Robocop).

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I dropped my bag off at the Arctic lorry with my race number allocated and slowly headed to my pen, it was at this point around 9.45 reality was starting to kick in. The pen started to get really really full and finally it was here I was about to start.  Over the tanoy at 9.59 you had the 1 minute countdown and the finally 5,4,3,2,1…….starter goes and I did not move a muscle it took a further 33 minutes to actually cross the start line.

Once I started immediately just from the crowds at the half mile point I knew this was going to be a race to remember, the first 5 miles were just pure bliss I managed after mile 3 to get into a really good rhythm, my body was feeling good passed mile 6 but then at 7 disaster struck, I got what I think was shin splints in my right leg ouuuuchhhh! It was a pain I had never experienced before, but I was determined that I could “run” it off.

I managed to get to Tower bridge (just before the half way mark) and the crowds were just amazing at helping to keep my mind off the pain, I also knew that Amy was going to be quite close to mile 14 and that it would help seeing her and some other family/friends. I finally got passed where Amy was (she was on the other side of the road). Seeing her and the rest of the cheer squad was just what I needed. I powered on up-to mile 16 when the pain was just all-consuming, I pulled up and really had to think hard could I do this? My dream of a 5.15-5.30 race was over but I knew I just had to finish.

The next 6 miles were probably the hardest I have ever run since I started, I was in agony, determined not to pull out but I also wanted to do well, the crowds were the only thing that go me through these, they were just amazing, pure strangers feeling like family and also the amazing support of my chosen charity Children with Cancer at their cheer stations. those guys were just so encouraging!  At mile 22 I managed saw Amy and the family again and got a hug and the encouragement that I needed to finish. I carried on and at around mile 24 I saw a guy really struggling so I went over to run with him, his name was Paul and it was great just to encourage each other to get ourselves to the finish.

Then it came, 600 meters to go…. 325 meters to go… turning that corner down the mall and the finish was finally there! I looked at Paul and he looked at me and we both said ‘sprint finish’? and we ran (to others it would have looked like a power walk) ourselves to the finish line. I couldn’t believe it! I actually completed 26.2 miles – me – little old me!

A lovely lady called Beth was stood in-front of me with that all important medal, she put it around my neck and I just had the biggest smile on my face. I went and got my kit bag and headed to find Amy at the Children with Cancer meet point. As I entered the meeting zone there was a group of volunteers from the charity ready to congratulate me and point me in the right direction. When I got there Amy was there waiting with a huge smile on her face, she came over and congratulated me and the guys from the charity got me a chair and some food and drink to have.

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Not only did I manage to run my the bucket list marathon and complete it but I also managed to raise a lot of money for an Children with Cancer UK, so thank you so much if you sponsored me and for all the kind words of encouragement. You guys kept me going when times got tough.

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Will I do another marathon?? I think I’ll let my legs recover a bit before I make that decision. Despite it not going to plan, it was a great day, with an amazing atmosphere and I’m so glad I got to experience that!

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2016 Goal Review and 2017 Goals

I’ve read many a blog post in the last week detailing Peoples goals for the year, which promptly made me remember that back at the beginning of 2016 I set myself some goals, which by December 2016, I’d forgotten about, oops!

Did I meet my 2016 goals? I had to go back and look them up to find out!

Goal 1 – Complete a half marathon:

Yes! In 2016, I completed not one half marathon but two! Goal achieved… twice! That’ll make up for not achieving the rest right….RIGHT????

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Goal 2 – Run a sub-30 5k and a sub 1:05 10k:

Yeah… I did not do this. If anything, my 10k time got slower this year. I lost the mojo a bit after the 2nd half marathon, which ironically would have been a perfect time to work on achieving these goals.

Goal 3 – Just keep running!

I did this one! Admittedly the frequency slipped a bit in the last quarter of the year, but I continued my running adventures through 2016. Who would have thought my running ‘fad’ that started in 2015 would have made it through two whole years and be bouncing into a 3rd. Running is part of my life now and I have confidence that it will remain that way!

So 2 out of 3 isn’t so bad!

But what about 2017 I hear you ask??? Well, I do like to have goals to work towards, it helps to motivate me for a little while at least, even if I don’t achieve them (or remember what they were in 12 months time).

Goal 1 – Run that sub-30 5k!

Despite failing this in 2016, I still think that sub-30 5k is achievable for me if I actually put in a solid effort. The sub 1:05 10k? maybe not so much, not right now anyway. I think to get my speed up over the 10k distance may take a little while longer than it will for the 5k distance. I think if I’m having a really good day I could probably hammer out that sub-30 5k. I guess 2017 will tell!

Goal 2 – Diversify!

As I said earlier, I love running. It’s become a part of my life, but I also now have a gym membership, which means I have a myriad of fitness options open to me besides running. So this year, I’d like to try to diversify a bit, whilst still keeping up with my running (obviously). I’d like to get back into swimming, and try out some classes. There is talk of a Zumba class after work, so perhaps that. I’ve done Zumba before briefly and I enjoyed it, so why not? or a HIIT class, or Kettlebell, or maybe even… dare I say it… A SPIN CLASS!

Goal 3 – Eat well!

I want to eat well in 2017. I don’t want to cut out all my favourite treats completely, but I want to enjoy them in moderation. 2016 (especially the last quarter) was just a total snack fest. During my training for my first half marathon attempt I was eating well, I’d cut out a lot of the evening snacking and was trying to make more healthy choices, and I felt better for it! Not only does eating right improve my running (the run’s don’t feel so blugh when you have fuelled correctly and not eaten an entire packet of biscuits), but it makes me feel more healthy generally (and less lethargic). I’m going to try to keep the evening snacking to a minimum in 2017, save sweet treats for weekends and make healthy packed lunches for work rather than eating the same sad-looking ham sandwich day after day after day.

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I’ve broken the bento-lunchbox out of storage for 2017!!

So there we are. There are my goals for 2017. In a year, I shall come back to this post and see if I managed to achieve them, but to be honest as long as I can put my hand on my heart and say I tried my best to stay active and look after my health I’ll be happy. Everything in moderation. 

 

What’s next for BritsRunDisney?

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So the running has been fairly non-existent since we returned from Florida. This has been due to a combination of things which has meant its had to take a backseat – rather than just plain laziness. We feel like it would be good to get back into some sort of running routine now… perhaps not with distances and timings and proper training just yet, but just committing to getting out there 2 or 3 times a week to get back into a running routine. This weather is certainly not helping though! It has literally been raining since we got back from Florida! I know I COULD go out and run in the rain – it’s just water at the end of the day, but it severely limits my desire to want to go running! I’d much rather sit in my pyjamas (sorry mum!) and consume several bags of chocolate/ tubs of twiglets that they only ever sell around Christmas!

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So in an attempt to get back into the routine of running i’ve decided to lay out some ‘what’s next’ for us in terms of running and blogging and exercise in general!

Training for the World half marathon, Cardiff 2016:

So this is the big one really. We signed up for this race in the summer, and it takes place on 26th March 2016, which really isn’t that far away actually! So we better at least get running regularly again so that we might stand some chance of completing it. I think 2-3 run’s a week with a slightly longer weekend run (but under 10k) should suffice up until Christmas and then we can start ramping up the weekend mileage after that so that we are ready come Easter!

This pretty much means we are going to HAVE to go run in the rain and cold. Theres a 0% chance it’s going to be miraculously dry from now until Easter 2016 – I mean we live in Wales for crying out loud! It’s a miracle we got away with not running much in the rain whilst training for Wine and Dine, and as this is going to be winter training I don’t think there’s much chance of avoiding it! I’m just going to have to suck it up and get used to being freezing cold and wet and probably tripping over things in the dark!

Swansea Parkrun:

At some point we aim to try out the Swansea Parkrun – it’s only been around for a couple of months, but we haven’t made it along yet. One aim i’m thinking of for 2016 would be to achieve an under 30 minute 5k -this would be a great way to work towards that goal as i’d know I was running an accurate and timed 5k course!

Swimming:

We have been thinking about potentially doing some swimming over the winter, as it’s indoors and there is a leisure centre fairly close to our house. It would make a good cross training exercise and hopefully help us to shift a bit of the winter fat we have been putting on!

(and yes – I do find it slightly ironic that I hate the idea of running in the rain but seem to be fine with the idea of going swimming!)

Find some new races:

I’d like to sign up for a few more races in 2016 – probably 10k’s, but possibly the Swansea half depending on how training for the Cardiff one goes. It would be good to have a few more things lined up to train for in order to stop myself from going back into couch potato/twiglet eating mode. It might also be nice to have a little race-cation at some point if we can find something affordable. We will have to do a bit more research on that front, but you never know!

More Disney:

Finally, we wouldn’t be BritsRunDisney without the ‘Disney’ element, so you can continue to expect some Disney & Rundisney posts in the future. We aren’t planning another Disney trip until 2017, but we’ll still keep you updated on any Disney/Rundisney news that we hear, and continue to review all our favourite things to do at Walt Disney World!

 

So that’s whats next for BritsRunDisney! We hope you will continue to follow along with us as we keep putting one foot in front of the other!

 

 

Levels.

All week i’ve had the ridiculous Nick Jonas song – levels in my head! It was finally just about gone when I read a blog post from Kellie at Will Run For Ears where she details her goals for the upcoming marine corps marathon she’s running on Sunday. Kellie set them out as levels; level A, level B, level C etc and then BAM just like that Nick Jonas is back in my head!

In all seriousness though – I really like the level’s idea for setting goals. So i’ve come up with a few of my own goals for the Wine and Dine half marathon. If you want to read Will Run For Ear’s (much better) description of the levels you can do so here – but basically your level A goal is a ‘probably-slightly-more-unrealistic-would-be-a-miracle-if-this-happened’ type goal. Your level B goal is a ‘more-realistic-but-still-something-to-be-incredibly-proud-of-goal’ and then your level C goal is your ‘fallback-goal-which-should-be-achievable-but-you-still-never-know-in-a-race-goal’.

So without further ado… here are my level goals for the Wine and Dine half marathon:-

Level C – Finish the race!

So this is my fallback goal, which barring some massive disaster should be achievable (but as I said earlier you never know what will happen on race day so i’ll still consider it a WIN if it happens). I’d like to not get swept off the course.. or get injured.. or have to pull out for any reason. I’d like to cross that finish line, give Mickey Mouse a big high 5 and generally feel awesome (whilst probably also feeling like i’m going to die) about the fact that I just ran 13.1 miles!

Level B – Finish the race in under 3 hours!

This has always been my goal – and i’m fairly confident we should be able to do it as our training pace would bring us in under 3 hours – but as it’s a different country, with a different climate and I might be jet lagged etc, then i’ll consider this my level B goal.

Level A – Finish in less than 2 and a half hours.

This is my unrealistic goal… it would be pretty incredible if this happened, but you never know what the adrenaline will bring! In reality i’m expecting us to finish in around 2 hours 45 minutes so this would be quite a bit faster than that, but a girl can dream… and we will be in Disney where magic happens! (Ha.. so cheesy!!!)

So those are my levels! Only another 16 days to wait till we try and hit them!

It’s not supposed to be easy.

I always get a bit discouraged when I have a particularly hard time during a training run. Not every run is going to feel good and I know that, but when you have experienced that ‘runners high’ and that feeling that nothing is going to stop you it get’s a bit frustrating when you want to keep feeling like that but all you feel like is a big ball of blubber shuffling along trying to continue breathing.

This evenings run felt hard. A part of me knew it would be, even though all day i’ve been fine with the idea of running (where as I sometimes spend all day dreading it). Within the first two minutes my calves were aching, it was warm out, it was hilly, and I could still feel all my dinner jumping around inside my belly even though I left ample time for it to go down. It was just one of those runs, but it had to be done, and I did get it done.

During the last 10 minutes whilst wondering what dismal pace I was running at (it was actually no worse than normal but for some reason I felt about 20x slower) I realised that running (and exercise in general actually) probably isn’t supposed to be easy. The hard breathing, the aching legs – it meant I was working hard – it meant I had pushed myself and was working towards achieving something, whether it be a little weight loss, a little more muscle, feeling a little bit fitter, or in my case just a sense of satisfaction for having completed it!

Exercise isn’t supposed to be easy, it’s supposed to be challenging, it’s supposed to improve you – to help you on your way to being healthier and happier. Like studying for a exam – it’s hard at first, but you keep revising and revising and things become a little easier until you take your test and get the grade. Exercise should be hard, and you should work on it and work on it until you meet the goal you have set yourself -whether thats running a marathon or just being fit enough to run up the stairs at work!

I’m still working towards my goal and there are going to be hard moments, but that’s ok because it’s supposed to be a challenge and an easy challenge wouldn’t really be a challenge at all.

MILESTONE ALERT!!

Today we ran 1 mile without any walking breaks! It may not seem that far or that fast, but for beginners like us, running 1 mile without stopping is something to celebrate!!

Running our first full mile without walking on a rainy day in Wales!
Running our first full mile without walking on a rainy day in Wales!

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RunDisney Wine and Dine Half Marathon here we come!!!!

Nike + App Community.

As someone who had never ran prior to 2015, I really had no idea what kind of mobile phone apps were out there to aid runners in their training. A friend recommended we try out the nike+ app, and we haven’t been disappointed with it.

The app is great for beginners like me, who really just want to measure their distance and work out their pace. When you begin your workout, the GPS will track how far you are running, and calculate your average pace per mile, so you can keep track of whether you are improving after each workout.

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Nike + screen shot

The app will also tell you approximately how many calories you should have burned and it also gives you the option to share your progress via social media sites like twitter, instragram and facebook.

The sharing function is my favourite function, when you share your workout on instagram with the hashtag #nikeplus you suddenly become part of a worldwide running community, who all offer encouragement to one another by liking and commenting on everyones photos.

For me, I really appreciate the virtual support from other runners, as it motivates me to continue training. Its so nice to know that you are not alone in training for your goals, and that their are hundreds of thousands of other runners – whether beginner, intermediate or experienced – who are training for things just like you are!

Maybe I just like the attention, but when people ‘like’ my running activity, I feel enormously encouraged, no matter what the distance is that i’ve covered, or whether I found it easy or difficult. Through the nike+ running community (and the running community as a whole) I know that there are people cheering me on, and willing me to succeed in whatever goal I have chosen to set myself! I feel as if this type of thing is social media as its best!

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My very first run with nike+ and my very first share! It felt incredibly encouraging to see all the likes from people in the running community, even though I hadn’t gone that far or that fast! Thanks Running community!!

Do you use social media to motivate you and encourage you in your training, and are there any running apps you would recommend?? We would love to hear your thoughts in the comments!