Week 13 of 48 : Broken hearts are good for character strength??

I made a promise way back when I first started this blog that I wouldn’t let too much personal stuff encroach. This was going to be for running only. Sometimes though it’s impossible. After all every part of our lives are intertwined. I spent many years keeping everything in my life compartmentalised into little boxes. I would take these boxes down one at a time but never would I let the boxes touch. After a particularly bad time in my life I started working on this. It’s not healthy to keep it all separate. I still struggle with it though and it causes me problems. It’s so hard for me and I don’t expect anyone to understand. I simply struggle to let things merge as it means if things go wrong in one area then it ‘infects’ other areas. I started to let some boxes touch. Three of them in fact. It backfired. My recent singledom has totally messed with me. I know that’s probably quite normal but I don’t like it. It’s made me distracted, sad, angry, relieved, sad, determined but yes mostly just incredibly sad. I don’t want the relationship back as that would be destructive but I do want my focus back. I also realise I went into the relationship for wrong reasons. I know she tried to support me and I really thought that it was genuine but bottom line is she felt that because of the running stuff she wasn’t a priority and I think the minimal communication during the Spine pushed her over the edge. I’m not making excuses for her and the way things ended hurt but with hindsight I can see how it got there. So it’s made me a bit sluggish this week. Last week training didn’t happen but this week when I should be chomping at the bit to get out there I have really struggled. Each plodding step and lungful of cold air has reminded me I’m alone in this. I’ll still do it and cross that 100 mile finish but I guess it’ll be a lonely reception. Don’t get all indignant and tell me I have lots of friends because I’m more than aware of that. This is a different emptiness. One I didn’t know was there when I was happily single. It’s made me stupidly melancholy for poor past choices and wrong paths followed. It’s made me question some decisions I made last year. It’s made me long for certain persons. I will stay single now though and keep the boxes separate as really it’s all I know how to do right. So yeah, I said all that to say this ….. I’m sad and running isn’t curing that right now so please bear with me while I find my smile.

Eddie was so lovely through this. No massive pressure on the plan. Literally Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were about getting back on my feet. No worries, no stress. 20 mins, 30 mins and 45 mins respectively. The Thursday session ended up happening on the Friday and only ended up being 25 minutes but again flexible does it. Nothing adventurous to write about the sessions but I did note that my legs didn’t hurt but my lungs stung. It’s bloody cold outside eh?

This weeks trip to the Lakes was for the official Lakeland recce of the Ambleside to Conniston leg. Saturday daytime was talks with the run starting later in the day. The talks were fun but informative. Marc Laithwaite is a good speaker without being patronising. Although I did start to get bored through the headtorch bit (sorry). They mentioned that last year the last person back on this recce came in at 12:01am ….. I was determined to not be that person. We set off at just after 4pm and I purposely put myself near the back as I knew I would be walking up that first hill. The air was super cold on my lungs and at the top I started coughing and genuinely thought I was going to be sick. If you’ll remember same thing happened with the cold air when I went for a jog with Debs (Martin-Consani) a few weeks back. Really need to get my lungs trained to cold air running. Anyway, I spent much of the first half by myself, which suits me and then towards the end seemed to naturally partner up with a couple of runners. Which was actually perfect as it meant I didn’t have to do the scary bit alone and also having others to try and keep in my sights meant I didn’t let tired legs slow me down. The bit about this recce is that I didn’t have to get my map out at all so it proved to me that lots of recce’s help. The two previous daytime jogs on this section really helped. So already making my plans for the next few months to cover the other section prior to race day. I did this section in a significantly quicker time than the previous runs and this was mainly due to it being night so not being distracted by the fabulous views. It also gave me lots of thinking time. I am aware though on race day I will have 34 tired miles in my legs by the time I hit Ambleside to start this bit so odds are I’ll be at a walk for most of it.

I was meant to get up and do a 40 minute jog before leaving the lakes and I’m ashamed to say this hasn’t happened. As I sit here in Booths coffee shop awaiting my train I’m trying to convince myself I’ll do it when I get home. We’ll see.

See you next week and hopefully I’ll be feeling a tad happier with life then.

Nici x

Edited to add : I was in the pub by 9pm :)

Week 11 & 12 of 48 : Insert witty title as I’m knackered.

This is going to be very short and is only being written so that when I look back I don’t think I forgot to write week 11 & 12 up.

Summary is :

Mileage total 13 (yes, I know!!!)

Runs total 3.

Spine support week successfully completed. I bloody love my Spine family.

Relationship status changed (that was quick eh?) but no sympathy please. I’ll live. Tip though : don’t announce a relationship in FB. It jinxes it. Or is that just me? ;)

See you next week?

Nici x

Week 10 of 48 : Training on Tour … still :)

Monday is without a doubt my favourite day this week. Plan said ‘Easy 30 minutes’ and as I was up in Scotland the lovely, talented Debs Martin-Consani said she’d come for a jog with me. Now for those of you who know our Debs will no doubt be aware of her running CV. Impressive is one word to describe it. So to have this team GB runner offer to come jog with plodding old me was a bit daunting. We chose to meet at 9am at a country park that was about mid way between us both. Funniest is it took longer to drive than what we actually planned to run. Something I had not accounted for was how hard the early morning cold air is on your lungs. Literally within 5 minutes of taking off I was struggling to breathe and at one point even thought I was going to need to throw up. We were going so slow I’m sure Deb was jogging on the spot to stay warm. It was icy so a bit of careful footing was needed and of course I had to make my routine dash behind a tree. FFS. Quite gutted we didn’t meet up on the Saturday last week when I had my nice 10 mile run as my lungs had nicely warmed up just as it was time for us to stop. I feel really bad for Debs but totally grinning big that she took time for me.

Tuesday was interval day. 1 mile warm up and then 10 x 30 sec speed sections with 2 min recovery and 1 mile cool down. Anne Marie took me to a local park in Greenock for this and dear lord every child and dog in town was there. How many of you got your kids a new bike or a remote control car for Christmas???? I swear I got some good core work done in this session too with all the quick side to side and mini jumps I had to do. Session went well and dare I say that I even enjoyed it a little. Ended up with 4 miles with an average pace of 10:02 min mile. :02!!! My speed sections were at an approximate pace of 6:30 min mile. Watch out Mo … I’m coming for you!!

Wednesday. Last run of 2014. I thought about running naked to mark the occasion but don’t have enough money for the bail and the therapy sessions folks would need after seeing such a sight. Instead Eddie had me warm up for 10 minutes then 20 mins and 14 seconds at 10 minute mile and then cool down for 10 minutes. To be honest pace went out the window and there was a tiny walk break due to stomach at about 2 miles. I ended up with 3.9 miles at 10:15 min mile average. Still, I’m happy with that considering I started the year out in abysmal style and certainly had no idea how to pace or train. Best move I made this year was starting back from scratch and taking on Eddie as my coach. She is awesome and together we are going to bag that 100 miler in style.

I’m also so totally blessed this year to have met and fallen in love with a crazy little Scottish woman who tolerates my hobby and is so incredibly supportive when it all goes wrong. It’s easy to support when things are going great but to pick up the pieces when you’ve had a shitty session (literally) is not so easy and totally deserves a medal. I do wish I’d taken note of her living at the top of a bloody hill though before falling for her. Rapunzel in her ivory tower is no joke I’m telling you!! Seriously though, every time I come to stay I get a tad jealous of the stunning setting in which she lives. It also needs to be noted that she’s already formed a crew for me should I ever feel brave enough to take on the West Highland Way Race. Kate and Christine … take note!! Bless them … I may not be able to walk ever again after September 2015.

Thursday and Friday had the rare distinction of being back to back rest days. Bloody good job really as I stayed in bed pretty much all day on New Years Day and then had to schlep down to Milton Keynes on the Friday.

So Saturday was marathon day. There’s no point dragging this out … I didn’t hit my 5:15 goal. I’m ok with that though. My stomach gave me desperate dashes to the pub toilets twice (despite having popped Imodium) , it rained the entire time and this made me cold and then to top it off my hip/lower back started giving me it’s old issues at about mile 13 and I forgot to take any pain pills out with me. Oh, and yet again I did the whole thing on 1 Mars Bar (out of fear of my guts). Lets look on the good side though … I had more good miles than bad miles, I made it to the toilet in time when needed, I kept moving forward (except for pub breaks obviously) and I didn’t fall over. My finish time was 5:37 (moving time of 5:23). Seriously though, no pity needed or wanted as I am more than happy with that given the factors mentioned. I am going to start keeping a food diary from Monday and look into a nutritionist as this is beyond out of control now.

Sunday was a sort of freebie day. I’d originally signed up for the double (marathon Saturday and Sunday) but then when I joined forces with Eddie she said ‘No’ to the Sunday. I decided I would jog a couple of the loops though and she was ok with that. Woke up this morning to a Hitchcock scene outside the hotel. Thick must, eerie silence and a bitter cold air. Race Directors delayed start by an hour and then offered deferral to anyone who didn’t feel it in their best interests to attempt. Based upon that myself and a few others decided to walk a lap. It was a nice 3.5 mile walk and we got to cheer the hardy souls who chose to run.

So, that’s week 10 done. I’m feeling more confident about this coming year and the challenges I’ve taken on. Biggest challenge though is convincing Eddie to let me attempt Quadzilla.

Same time next week.

Nici x

Week 9 of 48 : Training on Tour pt 1

Monday brought with it the revelation that along with wheat I may have to ditch oranges. Yes, fekking oranges. More specifically satsumas. More loops of the flat with a dash inside at 1 mile. Don’t ask how I know it’s the oranges. 5 miles total with an average pace of 9:56, which I’ll take. As silly as it may sound it gives me hope that once I’ve sorted the issue I may actually have a decent little runner in me. I’ve no plan or desire to go for podium dreams I’m just looking forward to finishing marathons and having enjoyed it rather than feeling it was a painful slog every time.

Tuesday was a rest day but I feel like I had a workout trying to pack my case for my wee holibobs. Picture if you will the days of old where you would sit on the case and get into the shape of a pretzel to get the zipper round. I huffed, and I puffed and I got that zipper round. To then have to open it two more times to get stuff out. I now see why hobos just had a handkerchief on the end of a stick. Simplicity.

Wednesday was a nice simple interval session of 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 at 9mm. Wind and hail made for fun and closed public toilets made for even more fun. Let’s just leave it that 2 & 1 didn’t happen. 2.6 miles and be done with it yes.

Christmas Day was a rest day (see, Eddie DOES have a heart) and what a lovely day it was. I know this is my training blog and I keep personal stuff quite limited but I just want to quickly say that I am a very lucky girl and am quite bloody loved up. Scotland and her people are amazing. I’m in awe every time I come up here. I’ve never been so welcomed before.

Best of all was Skyping with my beautiful little family and hearing my grandson saying “I love you Nana” loud and clear.

Friday had a nice 45 minutes on the plan but it ended up being 42 minutes with hills. 4 miles at 10:30 pace with no accidents. A good jog I’d say.

Saturday is long run day this week. It’s quite difficult planning a long run when you’re unfamiliar with the area. Plan said 9 miles at 11 minute pace. I ended up with 10 miles at 10:30 minute pace. I was meant to do 2 hours but poor planning and lack of area knowledge put me at 1:45 due to no headtorch. Still I went further and faster than anticipated. Much like my teenage sex life.

Tomorrow is a rest day so I’m off out for some walking in these amazing hills.

See you all next week where hopefully I’ll be bouncing with joy at hitting 5:15 at Milton Keynes. Fingers crossed, talisman kissed, rabbits foot rubbed and lucky clover sourced.

First I need to survive my first ever Hogmanay.


Week 8 of 48 : Only a full term pregnancy to go …..

No, before anyone gets confused I am NOT pregnant.  Just pointing out that I could grow a child in the time I have left now before the 100 miler.  So, it’d be kind of cool if one of you would get pregnant so you can deliver at the finish line.  No?

I see now why a few people told me that it’s all very well enjoying this training properly malarky at the beginning and getting excited seeing results but that there would come a point where it gets a little harder to stick with it.  Well, this week if I were my old self I would have found reasons aplenty to quit.  Serious lack of physical energy coupled with a gut that wants to say ‘hello’ every run has not made for a great week.  This is why dear readers I have a coach, why I post this blog each week, why I put my sessions on Strava and why half the world knows I have two big races next year.  I have to have people to stay accountable to or I will find excuses.  I know me.  Thank you.

Monday was a blessed rest day.  My neck, shoulders and arms were feeling quite stiff.  Apparently my strength work is all going towards helping with this.  Also the fact is was bloody freezing for 26 miles may have made me a bit more tense which is weird as I was never cold at any point.  I’m quite lucky that I don’t suffer with the cold like some.

Eddie has given me my training plan for the next couple of weeks so I can be sure it works with my plans over the holidays.  I totally love that she ‘gets’ making training not take over my life (or I’ll end up single again) but instead making sure I get quality sessions in.  I’m quite excited by some of the sessions and hating the sound of others.  However, I’ll get it done as the next marathon is Jan 3rd and I’m aiming for 5:15.  There, I said it.  Next goal declared (otherwise known as ‘Words of a Fool’).

Tuesday.  Plan was noted as ‘Easy recovery 3 – 4 miles … super, super easy followed by strength’.  Problem here is she didn’t set me a pace to aim for and stay at.  I set off at what felt like a nice easy jog and it wasn’t until I checked the watch at just under 3 miles when I saw I have been doing around 10:15 so even though I now felt like I wanted to slow down my brain wouldn’t let me.  Only had a mile to go might as well work for it.  I popped a note in plan to ask Eddie to set pace guide for me for a while as it seems I go too fast otherwise.  Now I know some of you are thinking that maybe that IS my easy pace and I should just settle in with it but I am struggling to accept that right now.

I spotted a problem on Wednesday.  Plan noted ‘Steady 4-5 miles, a little bit quicker than yesterday around 10:30 mm pace’.  Do you see the problem?  Exactly.  If I have to go quicker than Tuesday night then 10:30mm is not going to cut it.  Wish I bloody paid better attention and gone slower now.  So it was a painful, hard 5 miles with an average 9:57 pace.  Everything ached.  Even my eyelashes.  Seriously though, dramatics aside, this was hard.  I’m hoping the aching is just Saturday catching up with me.  In fact, there’s no point even dwelling on it … of course that’s what it is.  What I’m not going to do is mention it to anyone who is less than supportive as then I get the whole “ …. oh running is not good for you” etc.  When these are the very same people who were not concerned about my health when I was smoking 40 a day and shovelling Maccy D’s in my face.  Anyone else get this?  I can’t be alone in my frustration here.

Thursday was a disaster.  Was really looking forward to it as it was the ‘session of the week’.  I think Eddie has caught on that I really like the ones where I have to do different things (intervals, progression, hills etc).  Anyway, I was 1 1/2 miles in when I was sidelined with stomach cramps.  Looking at my diet the common factor seems to be bread so I’m going totally bread free for a few weeks and see what happens.  Bit annoying with Christmas (aka food heaven) coming up.

Fridays rest day became ‘Thursday Do-Over Day’.  2nd attempt at previous session failed !!  Made it 0.6 miles before the stomach took over.  Back home to regroup (so to speak) and out for 3rd attempt and all I can say is “Thank God for public toilets”.  If those buggers were open at night I’d be sorted.  Anyway it was a really hard session.  I just have no energy (this may or may not be related to no food staying in me) and I barely managed to do the required 1 mile warm up, 4 min at 9mm with 2 min recovery (x4) and 1 mile cool down.  Mileage for session came out to 4 miles so that makes 6.1 with my cumulative efforts on 1 bloody session!!

Saturday was this weeks day for my long run and given my current ‘issues’ I was really not looking forward to it.  It’s actually quite a horrible feeling knowing something you are starting to enjoy again is getting ruined by your own body.  I really wanted to head out west along the canal but was too scared to as there are no public toilets (or discreet bushes).  So I decided to be sensible and stay close to home.  I did two small loops near the flat and popped inside at just under 3 miles, used the toilet and then I headed right back out for another hour.  I got brave and did one big massive loop with a little stretch of canal included.  It worked.  No public poo panics.  Nutrition still up in the air though and I didn’t take any food just sports drink.  I’m going to have to sort that out as I started feel hungry again right before 7 miles and next weekend I have a 2 hour long run to deal with.  Total distance for run 8.3 miles and kept a nice steady slow pace of just under 11mm.  Not a perfect long run as was looking forward a mostly soft ground under my feet but still it’s all headed in the right direction.

Sunday I had plans to go out and see my folks as I am heading to Scotland for Christmas and New Year.  Eddie was lovely and gave me a kind of fun session.  Basically run out for 15 minutes and try and get back in 12 mins.  I got back in 13 but my overall pace was 9:20mm so happy with that.  My lungs not so much.  Had a nice quiet day with folks and then was planning on going for a little jog along the high street to look at Christmas decorations but got home and decided it’s not on the plan so nope.  I know it seems silly that I’m not being flexible but in fairness to Eddie she is really flexible in what she plans as long as I tell her what I have going on so adding my own stuff again defeats the purpose of having her on board with this goal.

I am sure that I will overindulge in the next week but I will stay on top of things training wise as we have that 5:15 goal on the 3rd of Jan.  Have a fabulous Christmas (insert your name of choice for the upcoming festivities), eat loads, laugh loudly and hug someone special.

I’ll see you all next week.

Nici x

Week 7 of 48 : Racing with Eddie in my head ….

So last week was a bit of a mess really. Blankie bound with a snotty head put me at only 14 miles for the week when the plan had me at 28 It didn’t really fill me with confidence for this week as I was pretty convinced I’d be back at square one. What does that actually mean? I never started in a square with a number on it. Do you think it’s related to hopscotch or something. One day I’m going to be in a pub quiz and that is soooo going to be a question.

Anyway, I digress. As normal Monday was a rest day (with strength *sigh*).

Then we get to Tuesday and the curveball called a ‘progression run’. Basically I had to start at a 11.30 minute mile pace, hold it for half a mile and then pick up the pace by 30 seconds for the next 1/2 mile and so on until I was at 9 minute mile. Equates to a 3 mile run and then a mile cool down jog. Now I know to most this sounds piss easy but those of you who don’t fall asleep when reading this will already know that I’ve been struggling to understand what different paces feel like and struggling to have any real consistency. Well, I’m telling you right now 1/2 mile progressions are the way to go. Each segment was long enough for me to concentrate on it. Felt what my breathing was like, how my legs felt etc. It was a bit tricky at first as I had to keep looking at the Garmin but once I’d get to the pace I’d then chant to the count of 8 in time with my pace over and over in my head. It might have actually been out loud a couple of times but this is London. Craziness blends. So result is I really bloody enjoyed this session. Genuinely. It made me stop thinking about how fast could I do 3 miles, made me not worry about what it would look like on Strava and made me start thinking about Saturdays marathon. I was feeling so good that as soon as I got home I messaged Eddie to tell her my secret wish for my time for Saturday. I’m a slowpoke. My fastest marathon is 5:44 and I confessed to Eddie I wanted a sub 5:30 (remember that) so not too incredibly ambitious but probably still a stupid move to voice a goal. Bloody jinxed myself for sure and I couldn’t get it out of my head.

Eddie brought me back to reality the next day and sent me an email with some suggested tactics to get through the marathon while still enjoying it. Main tactic is using it as a nutrition training run. I get to basically practice eating for 26 miles. Love this running malarky.

Putting the above wishful thinking aside it was suddenly Wednesday and a 5 mile easy run at 10:30 pace. Funny how I’m ok with that being called easy when 2 months ago I would have viewed that as a Mo Farrah sprint. Now bearing in mind my previous posts comments about major traffic lights causing a fair bit of delay (and welcome sneaky stop breaks) I have decided to do this session in loops in close vicinity to home as that way I can avoid most major intersections and work on consistent pace. Almost sounds like I’ve got a clue doesn’t it. Anyway, the 5 miles went nicely. Kept my pace between 10:15 and 10:30 but the best part is that this is the first time in over a year I’ve run 5 miles without a walk or stop break! I know I’ve got a long way (pun intended) to go but I really do think it’s starting to make sense. What doesn’t make sense is the guy at the bus stop shouting at the tree. London innit.

Thursday should have been a rest day with a 3 mile ‘easy easy run’ on Friday. I had forgotten to tell Eddie I’d be heading up to Milton Keynes on the Friday after work as recently Fridays have been rest days. So I did the run on Thursday instead. I’m really loving that I’m starting to feel out my pace. A nice run at 10:24 average pace. Again, main thing is that I stayed consistent. However once I got home I started panicking. What if Eddie had a reason for me doing 3 miles instead of a rest day the day before a marathon. Crap. What if I’ve messed up. After all, look how far she’s already got me. 18 marathons or longer under my belt but not a clue how to train until Eddie.

Saturday. Marathon day. 7 and a bit laps around Caldecotte Lake up in Milton Keynes. Cold. Icy. Cold. I won’t give a lap by lap breakdown. I’ll sum it up with steady pacing, ice, 2 diversions into the pub to use the toilet (shouldn’t have had onion rings the night before), ice, ran totally by myself yet never got lonely, ice, lots of time to think and smile about life, ice, lots of geese shit and then at mile 17 thanks to a patch of ice I went face first. It hurt. My boobs saved my face. I didn’t get to practice nutrition and the whole race was fuelled by one Mars Bar as I was too scared to eat due to nothing staying in me. I did drink though and I didn’t actually feel hunger pangs until the last lap and by then I was on a mission. Eddie and her advice was with me the whole way. I even had a conversation with her at one point. She never answered me. How very rude!

My time. *drum roll*


One happy Nici right now.

Sunday was all about my mate Vicky. She has done 56 marathons this year for charity and her body is tired. More importantly her mind is tired. She had helped me when I wanted to quit at one back in the summer so today was my turn to give a little something back. The plan was to do couple of laps of the lake with her but she woke up and calmly said she wasn’t running as her heart wasn’t in it and she didn’t want to get so close to the end of her challenge and hate it. So she’s going to rest up for a week and enjoy Portsmouth next week. One truly class act.

My learning points for this week? Don’t steal onion rings. Karma bites.


Week 6 of 48 : The week that almost wasn’t …..

Dear faithful readers (both of you) you may recall my dramatics of last week whereby I declared I was dying. Obviously I wasn’t and didn’t but the head cold won and on instructions from Eddie I took a few days off. I was quite worried about it affecting the good work we’d started but her words are wise.

“JUST REST. There is no point flogging yourself we have weeks of training ahead and for a few days rest you will be back running again by the weekend and we can alter your plan then. Just let body get better. Listen to what it is saying and don’t punish it, its doing jolly well so far!”

Monday was a rest day anyway but upon the above advice I also spent the rest of the week wrapped up warm on the sofa.  Normally this would be good face stuffing time but as everything tastes like cardboard it wasn’t worth it.

Saturday morning I had already made plans to go down to the South Downs with my running buddy, Jacqui.  I still felt a bit crap but didn’t want to let her down so off we went with maps, compass and an evil grin. Hers.

I haven’t touched a compass in over 20 years and I really want to understand how to get myself back on track if things go wrong.  All the gps devices are great and I Iove mine but after a scary few moments up on Fairfield Horseshoe in thick clag I decided I needed some old school skills.  I was handed instructions which included grid refs and pictures of places I needed to find. It was a fab if slow day.  I was only off course once.  Just under 12 miles.  Lungs hurt from the cold air or maybe a bit of the cold left over.  Either way, a good day.  Bonus was at the end putting my feet up in the pub next to train station drinking cider.  All training sessions should end in such a way.

Sunday I procrastinated all day and finally got out of the door at 5:30pm.  I have no idea why.  I wasn’t dreading the session.  I got caught up on the sofa watching stuff on Netflix and that is my only excuse.  Anyway, out the door for a 3 mile easy jog.  First two miles felt really comfy at just under 10 minute miles and then the bloody stomach cramps showed up.  I honestly only have myself to blame this time because I fell face first into pizza on Saturday night.  So mile 3 was over 12 minutes due to lots of enforced walking.  Made it home with 3.3 miles and when going in to update plan saw with horror I was meant to do 4 miles!! FFS. Double strength session as a penance it is then.

Learning for this week is that you need to listen to your body and your coach.  They both know best.  You also need to stay away from pizza.  Fact.

I’ve had a peek at next weeks plan and as I have a marathon on Saturday I assumed the week would be easy.  There’s something called a ‘progression run’ on tuesday.  Erm ok.  Also the Sgt has taken the Sunday marathon off the plan (yes, I had originally planned on a double next weekend).  At first I though I would still go ahead and do both as she’ll never know right.  Then I sat and verbally berated myself.  What’s the point in paying good money for a coach if you’re just going to ignore the advice, experience and instructions.  So Sunday I will be supporting my good mate Vicky.  I may even dress as a cheerleader.  Watch this space.

Nici x