Thursday, 15 May 2014

Should I?

On Sunday I successfully ran my first half marathon.
13.1 miles.
It was a hilly course and I have been assured by various people that it is known to be a toughy due to the nature of the first 7 miles being mainly uphill.

I had trained for it. Well, not *that* half marathon specifically.
What I have trained for is a half marathon after a 56 mile bike ride, which I will do after a 1.2 mile swim.

Or at least..... I thought I had.
Currently I don't think I've trained anywhere near enough.

My performance on the day led me to be flooded with all sort of feelings.
Disappointment, anger and failure were the main culprits.
There was certainly no pride or sense of achievement. All the happy good stuff was drowned out by gloom.

I was annoyed with myself that I had gone out too hard.
Yeah, yeah, everyone does it, lessons learned n all that jazz.

I know, I know.

I knew I was going out too hard.  I was behind the 2 hour 10 pacer and went past her.
Even though I'd decided this was the pace I was going for, I went sailing past.
I had the conversation with myself that I was going out too fast and *should* drop back.

But I felt good.  I felt happy.  I wasn't going *too* much faster.... just a bit.
That was ok.

Turns out, it wasn't ok.
It wasn't ok at all.

The wheels fell off in spectacular fashion and I started to get a very bubbly churny feeling in my stomach.
I had a gel at the 1hr 30 mark n felt a little bit queasy.

Then for the laugh, I drank, what turns out was probably too much water.
And carried on running. Cos I'm clever like that. And that's what you do in a half marathon.  You carry on running.

Needless to say, after going to hard, too fast, up hill, the contents of my stomach and I parted ways after as much hanging on as we could muster.

Once I'd been sick, my body gave in.
Moving hurt, let alone running. But I kept moving. Verrrrrrrrrry slowly. But moving none the less.  I didn't want it to take me more than 2 hours 30.
Somehow I was now over the 2 hours and had what seemed like forever left.
The sooner I got to the line, the sooner it would be over.

Why are the last 2 miles twice as long as all the other miles? How does that work?

Anyway, I finished. I finished in 2.29.
Under 2.30.

But I wasn't satisfied.
Not cos I think a half marathon is easy. I know its not.
I had trained. Hard enough? Probably not.

The real issue, and the reason I am blogging, is because I allowed other people to give me their *should*
And like a muppet I absorbed them.

I *should* be able to run it in 2 hours.
Yeah.  I probably should.  A lot of people did.
I only started running in December.

I *should* have stuck with the pacer.
Yeah.  I probably should.
I didn't. I went with how I felt on the day and learned a lot more this way.

I *should* have worked harder at my fueling and liquid intake.
Yeah. I probably should.  It was warmer than I like and I know for next time I probably don't need as much liquid as I think I do.

I *should* have trained harder.
Yeah. I probably should have. But I've been busy ya know, training for other stuff like the bike bit (which won't be good enough on race day I'm guessing), doing other important stuff like working.
And I hate running.

And I would've probably still got it wrong.

In 15 days time, I will complete my next half marathon.
Before I complete it.... no, before I even *START* it, I will have traveled 57.2 miles under my own steam.
And no matter how well I do (just finishing will do me thanks), it will not be good enough for some people.

For a while, its likely I will include myself in the *should* category.... but actually, I don't need anyone's approval.
I don't need anyone to tell me what I *should* and shouldn't be able to achieve.

Sadly, sport can be measured.
There are times and comparisons that can be made.

Whether you do well or not is not measured on where we begin. It is measured on where we finish.

It is often measured on other peoples expectations... and whether they want us to succeed or fail.
Their own motivation and drive plays a part, as does their own achievements. Their relationship with us is influential, along with their role in our journey.

I don't need to be carrying *shoulds* on race day.
Mine or anyone else's.
I have enough to be thinking about ta.

You are welcome to think whatever you wish about how I *should* perform, or how hard I *should* have trained, or what time I *should* be able to finish in based on previous facts and figures.

I'm certain, there will be some people (who are big enough to know better) who will pass judgement on whether *it* is 'good enough', on whether *I* am good enough.

There are people who know will know the lengths it has taken, and those who will never push themselves to find out.

Either way, nobody else can travel my journey.
So, you can *should* all you want.
I'm not interested.

Ta for the thoughts though x

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Blue Bell 10 Trail

I have always loved bluebells.  They are one of my favourite flowers.
For me they signify the end of the winter SADness and gloom and the hope of extended sunshine and happy.

David had tried to get me to enter the Blue Bell Trail last year, but there was no way on earth I could have run 10 meters last spring, let alone 10km and certainly not 10 miles.
10.3 miles actually.

This year, it was mentioned again and happened to fall the weekend before Leeds half marathon. I had been training, I knew I could do the distance.
I figured, if I could bimble my way round the woods and fields and up the ghastly hills I had heard about, it would make Leeds seem quite nice in comparison. It wouldn't be as pretty, but it would be a different kind of brutal.  An excellent training run if nothing else.

I didn't have a time in mind as I didn't know what to expect.
As this was my first race, so long as I finished I was guaranteed a PB too.

Normally, when I go for a run, I dawdle before I set off.
I dawdle A LOT.

I will delay as much as humanly possible. I don't like running. It hurts in a way I can't describe very well. Sometimes my glutes scream, other times my calves chunter and complain. Occasionally my knees and hips are grumbling.
Sometimes its whole body hurting.
Its not always a physical pain though - sometimes I just want to stop. I want the unpleasantness I am experiencing to stop. It isn't pain as such. Its just running.
Lets face it - its not normal and its not nice.

So.... getting up and having to be ready to run at a certain time proved interesting. I couldn't dawdle and delay.
I found myself somehow shovelling breakfast and coffee down my neck.

Gels. Check
Pre race poo. Check
Post code for venue. Check
Warm clothing for after. Check

Ok lets do this.

I thought I would be nervous when I lined up with a few hundred other runners. I had seen a few faces I recognised, said a few hellos, but surprisingly, I felt nothing.
No nerves, no giddy, no apprehension, no pressure.
No nothing. I liked this. This was a good thing.

I guess I had no expectations.
The plan was to stick to a pace I knew I could manage on the flat bits, push the uphills where I could n keep going as much as possible.

And finish.
Finishing was part of the plan.
I secretly didn't want to be last either.
Or poo myself (but figured the woods were a safe location should nature call)

It was an achievable set of goals.

The first 3 miles were without incident, few small chats with some other lovely runners, usual questions which were a bit like a Peter Kay sketch... do you run much? have you done this before? what other events are you doing?
I imagine its like Running Tourettes. You know you shouldn't but cant quite help yourself.
By this point, I didn't realise I would have a little episode of proper Tourettes going up Trooper Lane.
Maybe thats how it got its name.... cos you swear like one while climbing it?

We ran a bit through the woods, a bit along the canal, up a small quick hill, on the road a bit.... this is ok. My pace is ok,
I'm liking this.

I knew that Trooper Lane was at about 3.5 miles ish.
How bad could it be? Really?
Ok it could be steep, but it wouldn't be that long. Would it?

Maybe it could be that steep and that long.

My face must've said it all.  I was already a red sweaty stinky mess.
I think my face screamed dejection as a woman cheering at the bottom of the hill, thrust a bottle of water into my hand assuring me that there was a water station at the top.

I turned and started climbing and realised the road swept left round a corner, I figured it would keep going a bit but..... really?
I was already walking by this point.... as was everyone else. We had all hit the brakes at the bottom of the hill. We had been warned.

Some had obviously 'run' it before..... The race... not the hill.
Definitely not run the hill.
I'd like to meet someone who *HAS* run it.

Anyway..... we climbed and went round a corner..... and climbed and went round another corner..... by the time I looked up and saw the little dots above me, I realised it went on forEVER.

When I reached where the dots had been, I looked down

By this point I was more than a little bit sweary. And we were only about half way.
I was VERY sweary.


We turned again and carried on climbing and climbing and turned and climbed some more.... then we saw the top. Huzzah!!!!

Halifax sprawled in all its Yorkhire-ness and glory beneath us.

My legs didn't work very well by this point and my ass was more than a little bit screamy about how unhappy it was. Mutters of cracking nuts were made and we carried on.
Why did I change my shift to do this? I could be having a nice time elsewhere thank you very much.  I had gone to great lengths to 'run' this race.

But of course, what goes up.... must go down.....

The downhill was glorious.
Muddy, gentle, lined with fields and woods... but most importantly, it was DOWNHILL.

I need to take a moment to say a big fat thank you to all the marshals (especially the little people who were distributing Jelly Babies and generally being gorgeous)  They all did an amazing job - they all clapped and cheered and smiled and encouraged.*BUT* MOST OF THEM LIED!!!
It wasn't all 'down hill from here'. Not by any stretch of anybodies imagination.

Somehow, we ended up going BACK uphill. How was that even possible? How would we end up back at the start of we went up any more?

Walking and chatting had kicked in by this point. We were a crowd of 4 talking about the benefits of training in a club, what each local club offered and whether 'tarting' on different nights of the week was acceptable practice.
We were sore and had about 3 miles left to go.

But of course... we had to go back down again (wahoo!) and started the long descent into the woods.


Before I knew it, we were deep in the woods and immersed in Bluebells.
They were everywhere and the smell was overwhelming.
They were properly everywhere.
A few people had said that there were no Bluebells last year due to the winter and the weather.
I would've been devastated.  They were all I went for.

They were worth Trooper Lane.
Twice..... Maybe.

At this point euphoria kicked in.
Proper euphoria.
The best to describe it was as though my soul had spontaneously combusted and burst into flames.
I was full of unadulterated joy and grinning like a Cheshire Cat.

I had air in my lungs, the smell of perfection flooded my nostrils, my eyes were over loaded with natural beauty, I could hear an array of woodland wildlife going about its business, a group of runners had been taking pics all the way round, were running and giggling in a group and radiated the same joy as I was feeling.

There was nowhere in the world I would have rather been in that instant. It no longer hurt to run. In fact it was easy.

We passed the lion in the woods which made me giggle too much. Obviously I had to stop and have a picture taken with him.

The last mile seemed easy, my pace was even and was the same as I'd started the run.
I would even go so far as to say that I think I was a little bit sad when I saw the 10 mile marker.
It meant that soon I would be turning from the canal path, 'running' through the river, somehow clambering out the other side and then I would be finished.

My first race would be over.
I had done it.
I had LOVED every second of it.  There were 2 hours and 13 minutes worth of seconds....7980 of them to be exact.
Each one of them was perfect.

Thanks to everyone at Stainland Lions.
Special thanks to David.
I never thought I would be so pleased to see him standing in the middle of a river, but if he hadn't nudged (bullied) me, I wouldn't have done it.

So..... ta x

.....n I'll see you next year.