Tag Archives: marathon

Thames Meander 2017: Period Chat

If you aren’t interested in all things periods, I suggest you probably skip this post, but I think it’s something we need to talk about, and the issues it brings up need to be discussed. I’ve talked about my period issues previously on the blog, and I just think it’s important to discuss how much of an impact it can have on peoples lives, and obviously for this post, their running.

On Friday afternoon the day before the marathon I was totally laid out with period cramps, nausea and close to vomiting a few times, it’s safe to say my preparation wasn’t ideal. Annoyingly my period had come two days late, meaning the marathon would be the second day of my period-when my flow tends to be heaviest. It’s rare but not unusual for me to get cramps on more than the first day of my period, so I just thought I would see how I felt on the morning of the race.

I wasn’t actually feeling too bad in the morning despite a restless night of sleep, and headed over to Kingston to start the race. At 10am, we were under way, on a short out and back past the start and heading up the river from Kingston to Barnes.

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I ran my marathon PB at this race in 2015, so I was familiar with the course, conditions were a lot different this time around though. In 2015 it was freezing cold, but on Saturday summer had suddenly arrived, it was muggy, and hot, not the easiest of conditions for long distance running. I always tend to overheat during my period too, so I was feeling very sweaty and hot early on in the run.

I felt really comfortable and the first 6 miles ticked by in no time, I was enjoying the run, scenery and chatting to other people in the race. It’s a smallish race, but I was never completely alone at any point in the race, so it still has a nice friendly atmosphere. After going through 10k in under 55 minutes, I felt like I should probably slow down a bit even though I was still feeling comfortable, this was after all a training run, and I was a bit concerned about the heat.

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Credit to Rhianon

The race features a half marathon distance too, and they turn back at Kew, which left us marathon runners to continue on to Barnes. At Kew the lovely Rhianon came to join me for a few miles, greeting me with a big cheer and Welsh flag. We chatted for a few more miles before she left me to go on my way. At this point, I could feel the first inclination that something wasn’t quite right, and you can see from my slowing mile splits, where I started to feel quite unwell. The period cramps and pain and nausea started to come on from around mile 11, and got worse by the mile.

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At the half way turn around point, I was as far as possible from the start, and without any money/bank card on me (stupid), I realised the only way for me to get back was to run it or walk it. At that point the pain was coming in waves and still somewhat bearable, but by 15 miles, I had to keep stopping hunched over at the side of the road, the pain was so bad I was nearly sick and I was wobbling all over the path at this point. I called the OH in tears about how unfair it was that I have to suffer with this. I tried to carry on to the next aid station, but the pain kept coming in waves, so anytime I jogged for a bit, it would exacerbate the pain and I would feel so much worse even when walking, or just stopping.

I tried to get some painkillers at the aid station-which I know is totally not recommended during endurance stuff but I was desperate-but they didn’t have any and I stopped in a pub on the route to use the toilet, I then had to make a decision on what to do. Lots of runners were passing me and giving encouragement and a kind few checked if I was OK, I just wanted to have a massive sign that said: “PERIOD CRAMPS!!”.

I couldn’t walk at this point as I was doubled over in pain, and I realised after 17 miles and with 9 miles to go, that it wasn’t physically going to be possible for me to finish the race. If I continued further I was getting further away from any road or place I could try and get back from, and I just didn’t think it was worth the risk to continue. I had to make a decision to leave the course, and I got an Uber back to the start to get my stuff- Thank god for Uber, the only thing I could do after not having cash/card on me.

After getting some painkillers at the HQ and sitting down on the train home, I felt so much better, and kind of annoyed that maybe if I had continued it would have passed and I would have been OK, but honestly I couldn’t take that risk. I know in my heart I made the correct decision at that time, and though it would have been nice to finish and get the medal, it  just wasn’t meant to be on that day. On the bright side had the race been a day earlier I wouldn’t have even made it to the start line, so at least I got 17 miles in the bag, and 8 of which I was extremely happy with. Running a 2.02 half during a marathon was not to shabby for me at all, and I think on a better day health wise I would have destroyed my PB. It’s all useful training, but I am never running another race within the first few days of my period.

I previously would have felt really down and upset about this race, and the DNF, but I think dealing with this every month puts things into perspective. I’m not able to nail my training every single week of every month, and I think managing to run 55 miles that week while suffering from extreme pain was pretty decent. For me, my period does effect my running massively- even the next day I still had minor cramps and GI upset that cut my run short. The advice to exercising when you have cramping drives me nuts, if you can exercise with menstrual cramps, then they probably aren’t that bad. I have an extremely high pain threshold, and on no occasion has exercising ever improved my pain, and it’s actually made it a lot worse.

This isn’t much of a review of the race, so in brief, the course was a little muddy initially, but mostly pretty hard packed in general. It was well organised as always, and it was good that they’ve taken out the really busy section in Barnes past the rowing club as that was like an obstacle course past all the boats and rowers last time. If you want a scenic, quiet-ish, trail marathon that’s flat as a pancake, I would fully recommend it. They run the race three times a year also so plenty of opportunities to do it.

Thames Meander Marathon

Indifferent. That is how I felt about this race. I couldn’t say I was particularly looking forward to it, excited or even scared, perhaps marathon fatigued after three last year. I don’t know if this was because I was busy working the days before rather than resting up-perks of a race being on a Saturday…not. For a while, I had just wanted to get this race out of the way, so I could take some time off running, burnt out, run down, string of injuries and high stress with studying and working meant I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this race as much as I did. I had a deep tissue massage mid week to try and alleviate the stiffness and soreness in my legs, but if anything it made me more sore, and made my leg look like this:

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The race was a combined marathon and a half, with us marathoners setting off 30 minutes before the half, but going on a slightly different initial loop and then going back past the start. I thought I had never run in this part of the world before, but once we got going I realised I had run this route on my London 2 Brighton ultra last year!

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It’s a lovely route along the Thames path, a mix of trail and road, and thankfully as the weather had been good it was pretty hard packed. When I did the ultra last year it was completely flooded and very muddy. It was a small field of under 300 runners for both races, which was a nice change from big city races, I always enjoy the atmosphere and the chat with other runners in smaller races.

After a few miles the fastest half marathoners started to overtake us, the path was fairly busy with other runners, cyclists, walkers and later on near the rowing clubs absolutely heaving with people and rowing boats- it was actually like an obstacle course in places. It was well sign posted though so easy to stay on track, although I saw quite a few half runners go way past the half turning point and have to turn around. After about 8 miles the half runners turned back and we were off on our own, I always had at least one person in sight in-front and behind me, we were like a steady stream of individual runners, exhanging a nod or quick hello.

I felt absolutely shit for the first 9 miles, my legs were heavy and sluggish, I was trying to figure out and understand what was going on with them, I’m hoping some blood work later in the month will help me discover that, as they just don’t feel right. I was really concerned that it was going to be a long, tough slog, although they started to improve from mile 9 onwards. I didn’t listen to music or anything at all for the entire race, preferring the peaceful sound of the river beside me.

After massively overdressing for the Brighton half and the mild temperatures lately I went for minimialism, but I was absolutely freezing, I didn’t wear gloves, and I was absolutely numb. There was a horribly bitter headwind, and I had to audibly say I was freezing to myself so many times.
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I had my Garmin, but I ran the whole race on feel, not trying to hit any splits or anything like that, just pushing harder when I felt decent, and easing back when I didn’t, looking at my pace post race, it was incredibly consistent. I felt solid the entire way through the race, I never felt like I was pushing the pace at all, in fact I felt like I ran the whole race in a very controlled way, I hesitate to say I ran it well within myself, but on reflection (as usual) I felt like I could have given it a lot more, but I wanted to enjoy it, and that is what I did.

At one point around 18-19 miles, a lady came past me who I remembered from the Rail to Trail Essex, it was nice to catch up with her and have a good chat for a bit, and it gave me a bit of a boost. She was actually the only person who passed me from about the 8-9 mile point until the finish, I passed a lot of people in the second half though, which gave me a boost.

My legs were gone from about mile 21, they were getting even heavier, but I was determined to not stop at all through this race, not even for a second, and I didn’t want to blow up in the final quarter like all my other marathons. I did slow in the last 6 miles, but not considerably, in fact my only miles that weren’t under 10 mins were the last 2. The last 6 miles were tough, I had to break it down into how many parkruns or part of a parkruns left.

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I finished in 4.15.26, I didn’t realise I was so close to sub 4.15 or I might have found a little extra in the legs for the last 2 miles! I was more than glad to be done though, crossing the line to a beautifully chunky medal. My brother turned up on his bike to watch about 3 mins after I finished- I should have run a bit slower haha.

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I loved the race, although I hesitate to call it that, it was more like a glorified training run, with a bit more chat and banter. I enjoy running alone and running in beautiful places, so I enjoyed the route, but it was a big change from the big city races if that is your thing. I like that it was less crowded, flat as a pancake, had amazingly well stocked aid stations along the route-including loads of fruit/cakes etc at the finish-and very well organised. I would definitely recommend it, and they run it three times throughout the year I think, although maybe not as your first marathon.

I’m not sure I will run another marathon this year, I had all these grand plans to do an ultra, but honestly I enjoyed my running so much more when I was just doing the run streak and not training for anything. I’ve had more injuries during this training, a load of health issues which I’m trying to get to the bottom of, and I just think my body is telling me to take a break for a while- I can almost guarantee I will be doing the opposite of this in two weeks time, but I need to be sensible and just go with how the body feels, time to rest up for a little bit!

2014: A Running Review

Well I guess the only word to describe 2014 from a running perspective would be: EPIC. There have been up’s and down’s, but ending the year having completed 3 marathons and an ultra I have to say it was all worth it.

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January: The year started out kind of slowly from a running perspective, I had already started base building for the ultra in May, so started my official training plan.

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February: I did my first ever trail race the Longman 18 miler in Brighton and it was quite an introduction. Savage elevation, loads of mud, and a navigation error that saw pretty much everyone doing way more miles than the race distance. It was a tough race, but it had me hooked on trail running! Unfortunately either the race itself or my poor recovery afterwards caused me to suffer from a pretty bad sciatic nerve injury which meant I was barely able to walk at all for a few weeks, and put paid to any more training in Feb.

March: I saw the excellent Jonathan at Six Physio who identified my injury problem and set me on the road to recovery. Foam rolling, stretching and strength work became constants in my daily routine. I also used the reverse taper to get some sort of mileage in my legs before Manchester marathon.

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April: I fell apart at mile 15 of the Manchester marathon, having not run over 13 miles in the 2 months prior to the race, I had nothing in my legs and I had to dig pretty deep to get round! I also went to cheer on my first London marathon and had a great time, I hope someday to be on the course running it!

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May: Probably the top month of the year for my running. I signed up for the Milton Keynes marathon last minute in a bid to boost my running confidence after the Manchester marathon, and unintentionally broke my PB on a tough course and a hot day. Less than 5 days later I smashed my 10k PB at the Nike we own the night event. I finished the month by completing my first ultra, the London to Brighton 56k. I thoroughly enjoyed it despite the atrocious conditions and state of the course! Hopefully there may be another ultra  in 2015!

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Credit to Sharon

June: In a bid to mix up my routine I started going spinning. I failed to take enough rest post ultra, which saw the start of months of ITB problems. Despite this I did manage to get round the Hackney 5k , and the first ever Hackney half, which was a fab event and I can’t wait to run it next year.

Credit to Jen for this

Credit to Jen for this

July: Again this month was pretty much a write off thanks to my ITBS. I did get round the Badger half, which was a bloody lovely event, although the trails made my ITBS flare up even worse and put me completely out of action.

August: Frustrating month, which saw virtually no running at all, and any I did was filled with pain! I took a few weeks completely off exercise in a bid to heal my pesky ITBS.

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September: I nearly deferred the Berlin marathon, as I was unable to run more than a mile pain free just 3 weeks before the race. Due to some sort of miracle, and the combination of Kinetic Revolution 30 day program, physio, foam rolling and stretching/strengthening the pain seemed to lift, and I managed to make it to the start line. Having done little to no training, time was obviously out the window, which left me a chance to soak up and really enjoy the Berlin marathon. My ITBS flared up at 18 miles, but I dragged myself round, and savoured every moment of finishing this fantastic race, and one I never could have envisioned I would have started just a few weeks prior. I was incredibly proud to get round having not run over 13 miles since the ultra in May, here’s hoping one day I can train for a marathon and not get injured and miss most of the training!

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October: Saw me take part in yet another trail race, the Trailscape Essex, which was a half marathon in trail miles (16 of them!). I loved the race, and am looking forward to doing some others in the series next year.

November: No racing this month, but a very enjoyable Like the Wind street art run around East London.

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December: Ended on a high, with the Greenwich Christmas 10k. I also completed both the Advent Running, and Marcothon challenges of running at least 5k a day every day in December, totally 143 miles for the month, and leaving my legs absolutely battered! I had some beautiful runs around the hilly Devon countryside over Christmas time, and I’m finishing 2014 on a stronger note that I felt for most of the year.

I’ve learnt a lot this year during my 1,150 miles, about myself, my limits and what my body is capable of. I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but ultimately it is making them where I have learnt the most about myself as a runner. 2014 has taught me how much I love running, and how big a part of my life it is, it has taken me to so many amazing places this year, I’ve met new running friends, and completed some amazing challenges. I can’t wait to see what 2015 holds!

Ultra Training Week 18

Less than 2 weeks to go now until Ultra D-day! This week has been a massive confidence boost training wise and I’m now ready to taper and head into the big day feeling fresh!

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Mon: Milton Keynes Marathon + 3 mile Walk
Tues: Upper Body Weights + 1.5 mile Walk
Weds: 4 mile Run + 4 mile Walk
Thurs: Total Body Blast Circuits + 3.6 mile Walk
Fri: 6 mile Run + 3.6 mile Walk
Sat: 3.5 mile Run + We own the Night 10k + 6 mile Walk
Sun: 8 mile Run + Lower Body Weights

Just writing that out, I realised I didn’t actually take a rest day last week, oops! The body has been feeling pretty good, especially after the marathon, I feel like I am recovering really quickly right now, highlighted by the fact that I didn’t even realise I hadn’t taken a rest day.

This week at 54 miles stands at my highest mileage week during the training cycle, I would have liked a few more weeks around that, but the injury put me way behind schedule.

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This week saw me racing twice, and somewhat unexpectedly setting two new PB’s at MK Marathon and We Own the Night. After that I’m in a sort of triumphant, nothing can stop me, happy running zone- I just need to ride that wave all the way to the ultra now. After all the injury problems in Feb/March I’m so glad to be back feeling strong.

Credit to Mary

Credit to Mary

This week was my final week of Phase 1 of the Fat Burn Revolution, I’ve really enjoyed this phase, although after 4 weeks I’m looking forward to some new workouts. I get bored very easily, so like to change things up quite frequently. I’ve noticed a big difference strength wise over the course of the month, and I’m sure that’s helped massively with my running too, I’ll have a more in depth post on it up soon.

Outside of racing, I’ve got in some shake out/recovery jogs, and have just been taking it pretty easy during these runs. The weather has been shocking this week, so I’ve got drenched a few times, as well as felt like I was moving sideways rather than going forwards due to the wind during a few runs. My hay-fever has also been atrocious again, making me feel completely exhausted on some days this week, such a horrible feeling.

The 8 miler I did yesterday was barely 12 hours after the 10 miler on Saturday evening, I felt pretty good and I went fasted on a longer run for the first time, so I was starving when I finished. I think the hardest part about the fasted runs is just getting myself out the door. I’m so used to eating something pre workout it’s a hard habit to break, especially as I don’t eat late at night so usually wake up reasonably hungry. I’m sure it will just take time to get used to.

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I’ve continued with my physio exercises and stretches daily- it’s just become part of my routine now, as has legs up the wall! I’ve also been walking loads this week which has helped with recovery. My new job is just under 2 miles walk from my house so I’ve been walking there and back most days. We also did a lot of walking in Greenwich on Saturday as we were viewing a load of houses. We’ve made an offer for one, so fingers crossed!!

This week my plan has dropped the runs from 5 to 3 which will be a bit of a weird shock to the system. Let the taper begin!

We Own the Night 10k

After a morning of house viewing where I was struggling to walk round Greenwich due to hayfever related fatigue (again), I was not really looking forward to this race. Combined with the weather forecast which was atrocious, and my hatred of running later in the day and I was really struggling to motivate myself to go at all!

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After a long stretch and legs up the wall session I managed to drag myself out the door in the brightest outfit I could possibly find, just to counteract the awful weather. I decided as my training plan was for 10 miles for the day to run the 3.5 miles to the start of the race. I ran there pretty comfortably, got drenched during the first mile, and was surprised to see I was comfortably putting in 9 minute miles, cue lightbulb appearing in my head saying just go for it in the race.

After hanging around the race village for a bit in the cold, we were funnelled into our start zones. I had optimistically picked the sub 55 min group a few weeks back, probably before I realised the race was only 5 days after the Milton Keynes marathon! After a countdown we were all off and on our way, I decided to keep the sub 55 minute pacer in my sight but not get too carried away with obsessing over it.

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It was pretty congested at the start and throughout the whole race, particularly the second lap which included a whole lot of weaving and overtaking. I felt pretty good for the first few km’s which were highlighted with massive lit up km markers. I loved the support en route and the disco tunnels! I decided to try and run each mile slightly faster than the last just picking it up as I went along. (I think km’s 6 and 7 were slightly wrong as they were so different to the other splits.)

The 55 minute pacer was in my eyesight but a way off after the first mile or so but I started to reel them in and around the 3-4 mile point I went past them. I actually couldn’t believe how good I was feeling and really felt like I wanted to keep pushing on. It was awesome to be running in such a big crowd of super awesome women, with great support on the course, the weather holding out and running my favourite local running route.

The course was 2 laps of Victoria park and the last couple of miles were tough as there was a lot of weaving to get past people who were walking on their first lap, I was just focused on not tripping over and ruining my chance of what was a potential PB.

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I held my pace well throughout, and ruined my negative split royal flush (8.59, 8.40, 8.30, 8.27, 8.19, 8.25, 7.53 for the 0.3) on the final mile :( . My legs had had it by the time the last mile came around but I managed a speedy last 0.3 to finish in 53.29 taking 2 minutes off my previous PB. I actually felt pretty good at the end- little more in the tank maybe?!

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I have no idea how I managed to run a PB, and feel so comfortable despite all the factors previously mentioned. Sometimes running is strange, and surprises you when you least expect it. It was an awesome race amongst inspiring runners, well organised, a great goody bag (I may have taken more than 1 vita coco at the finish!)- I love the finishers necklace. I’m definitely thinking that sub 25 minute 5k needs to come soon and who knows maybe sub 50 10k too, although maybe on fresh legs next time!

Night well and truly owned.