Sunday, 30 December 2012

Fundraising Update - December

Somehow I've made it up to 14%! Actually I know exactly how it happened, thanks to some very lovely friends and colleagues and a couple of bakes sales. It's creeping up slowly but surely without too much badgering and I'm so grateful to everyone. So very grateful.

It's lovely to know that people have faith in me and feel moved to donate or sponsor me. It's helping me to step out of the door on days when I don't really feel like it, make me realise that I can already run 8 miles which is almost a third of a marathon and remind me that this isn't just a personal challenge.

In the new year I shall be buying a new pair of trainers with my Christmas money, getting my bike serviced and setting about the job of raising money a little more seriously. What with Christmas preparations I've not ha as much time as I would have liked, nor felt right about asking for money. I appreciate that some people are in a more generous spirit this time of year and that January blues (and reds) will be their own challenge but no matter. People have been keen to part with a pound for a home made mince pie.

This month I would like to give special thanks to Nana and Fran, both of whom have shown a huge amount of belief and support. Thank you.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Like Ice in the Sun

I've not been terribly good at writing on my blog of late. I blame Christmas preparations which I've dived into wholeheartedly. I am now at the end of the third week of my training plan and so far it's going ok.

So what have I been up to? Well December has been both bitter and mild in turn, prompting me to break out the merino and thermal leggings, my new rain jacket and the sunglasses. Kit is definitely not a barrier to my getting out of the door to go for a run, I'm set for all weathers and seasons. It was pretty during the heavy frost last week, seeing the spider webs on the street lamps. Things like that reawaken my enjoyment of running. I was knocked out by a cold this week for a grand total of 2 days but thankfully my immune system was quick to work and a 6 mile run sweated the last of it out.

I'm running three times a week and starting to introduce "Tuff" training, as I'm calling it, which is strength training in any guise I can manage. So far that's in the form of one of Davina's DVDs, doing the boot camp, arms and core sections. It feels good to feel that ache in my muscles again and I'm sure I can already see a difference in my arms.

My three runs consist of an interval, a tempo and a long run. The intervals are kinda fun, but I think I need to push just a teeny bit harder and jog all of the recovery sections rather than walk some of them. The tempo runs are pretty standard. It seems, according to the pacing, that these are my usual, comfortable sorts of runs. That's not to say they're easy but just the sort I was doing most often prior to this plan. The long runs are a challenge though. I know I'm capable of the 8 or 9 miles that's been asked of me so far but I'm finding them so awfully BORING! I finished one a whole mile short the other day just because I was so bored of it. I had a new soundtrack to listen to but I was fed up of running the same roads. I can run these longer runs at the weekend during the day in the few light hours we get at the moment so I need to plan a bit more and take advantage of being able to go offroad. The shorter runs I have to do at night, mostly, so need to stick to the roads and therefore end up on the SAME roads time after time. It's taken me a while to realise that I need to go back to the running club and start running with people again. My fear of having to run faster than I am comfortably capable of and needing a break from the routine has prevented me so far but the new year will see me going back to being sociable with my running and being brave.

So, to date, my training has looked like this:
Week 1: 17.5 miles
Week 2: 18.5 miles plus 1 x Tuff
Week 3: 13.5 miles plus 3 x Tuff (and my 50th parkrun!)

Weeks 3 and 4 are a bit easier due to Christmas, with one week's worth stretched out over 2. I do have the ten mile cross country Gut Buster race to look forward to on December 30th though! That should get rid of the festive excesses...

Monday, 3 December 2012

Grimmed and Dared It!

On Sunday the 2nd December 2012 at 10:30am about 2,000 people, in various degrees of coldness, stepped over the start line of the Grim Challenge. This year was the 10th anniversary of the original Grim, an 8-mile race over Army Training grounds in Aldershot typically involving a large number of icy, muddy "puddles", a few nasty hills and a couple of cargo nets. 

I was meant to take part in this in 2010 but due to snow blocking the access roads it got postponed and I couldn't make the new date. I transferred to sister event Beast In The East but had unfinished business here. 

The race organisation was very good. My pack was sent out a good two weeks in advance, I got extra travel instructions in the week before and the event was very well sign posted. There was a key/baggage drop, changing tents for men and women, a good number of porta-loos which meant queuing was minimal, and a few reasonable catering stands. The course was enthusiastically marshalled and the only complaint I've got is that the 7 mile marker was quite clearly NOT at 7 miles. That was the longest mile of my life. There was some music piped out at a couple of points around the course which I rather enjoyed. The atmosphere was fantastic though, as I'm beginning to find with this kind of event, loads of spectators, lots of banter, some cool costumes and generally a lot of fun. The goody bag had a couple of snacks, some shampoo and conditioner and a pain-eze gel. The race t-shirt was cool but would have been even better made from a technical fabric.

It was a dry, bright day but very cold. The event is run on both the Saturday and the Sunday so although the ice had been broken on the water the day before, there was a good fresh batch on the Sunday too. The Brutal 10 I completed two weeks previously had stood me in good stead for this one. The course was far easier in many respects, despite being two miles longer. I am a little out of shape when it comes to distance running and I'd expected more mud to slow me down so the amount of the course that was "run-able" came as a bit of a shock. The lack of thick mud made this far less draining on the legs, but I was still knackered on the last mile. Going into the ponds wasn't so bad but coming out hurt like anything as the cold air evaporated the water and everything was slippery. 

The guys in this video (watch the left hand side right the way through) certainly threw themselves into it though!

I didn't get nearly as muddy as at Brutal though, which may have been a blessing. 

My friend Anita ran this with me and, bless her, we stuck together the whole way round, hanging on to each other through every pond and mud patch. She pretty much had to drag me through the last pond when she could have easily taken ten minutes off of her time instead. It made such a difference having someone to go round with. This was her first cross country event and I'm glad to say she loved it! So much so she's signing up to tackle Tough Mudder with me!

The winner came in at around 50 minutes so all credit to him. Anita and I finished in 01:37:22, much faster than I completed Brutal in, and a couple of my friends came in around ten minutes faster than us, despite injuries, which was great. All in all, a great event. Now I'm just looking forward to seeing the official photos.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Fundraising Update - November

In the past month I've managed to get to 11% of my target! I've not been harassing people very much via email, but I've raise a fair bit through cake sales at work and at the events my OH has been to with his coffee business. I've had one extremely generous donation, plus several other generous ones from colleagues at work.

I don't expect I'll be hounding people for money this side of Christmas but I will continue with the bake sales and any other little initiatives like that I can come up with. I'm still waiting on the collecting tins from the charity unfortunately :(

I'm confident there's a few more people who I've already contacted who will donate without any further prompting because I've had so many positive comments on my challenge. The combination of the five events is really making people sit up and take notice. The words "mad" and "crazy" are being used rather a lot but I was expecting that. I rather like surprising people.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The Running Show 2012

This weekend just past, 24-25th November, Sandown Park racecourse played host to The Running Show 2012. This was a free event (if you registered in advance) featuring a race, stands for top brands and retailers, workshops and seminars. I went along with my mum on the Sunday and had an excellent day.

The first 1500 people through the door each day got a goody bag and the chance to win some cool prizes if your bag contained a "golden envelope". As well as the usual leaflets each bag contained some gels, drinks tabs and a clif bar. The venue never felt overly busy, possibly owing to the race and running workshop during the day which occupied quite a number of people. I didn't take part in these but might consider it on another occasion.

There were two seminar areas with a full programme of talks throughout the day ranging from advice on training and injury prevention to barefoot running and kit choices. I attended one on marathon training and another on nutrition. The latter was given by Joel Enoch, who was on the Clif Bar stand most of the day, and was by far the most interesting talk on nutrition I've ever heard. I'm suffering from information overload on that subject at the moment as I'm researching aspects of my training but this was really clear, practical and compelling. He invited people to chat to him afterwards, something I took advantage of as I wanted a little more guidance on nutrition for vegetarians in training. He covered an A5 page with notes, gave me some clif builders bars and I came away with a much clearer understanding of how to structure and time my meals in relation to my training. The most important things I learnt:
- to use fruit and veg as the base of all meals, adding carbs and protein as appropriate
- to have basic building blocks you can swap out depending on your needs at that time e.g. your breakfast might be fruit, granola and yogurt. If you need more protein, swap out 20g granola for 20g nuts
- rice and beans together provide a complete protein for vegetarians
- you can download the "clifcast" podcasts from iTunes for more nutrition info

I sampled a great number of bars and gels throughout the day although hardly any were giving away complete sample bars, but it was an excellent way to see which textures you liked best. There were also lots of stands selling kit and providing gait analysis in conjunction with selling trainers. I bought a water resistant running jacket from Crew Room, which means I now have no excuses for not going out when it's raining, and my mum bought a very stylish long sleeved running top from Newline. Neither of these brands I'd heard of before but both were very appealing. Newline in particular offered a great line of stylish gear to rival (in my opinion) Sweaty Betty but at more affordable prices. Plenty of offers were available, from 10-50% off or 3 for 2 on a lot of clothing, and all stall holders seemed very relaxed about you taking things to the loos to try them on, or going off for a run around the venue for testing purposes.

I expected to spend 2-3 hours there but ended up spending almost 6 hours browsing, tasting, listening, wandering and generally enjoying. I thought it was a great event for all runners, whether ultra runners or new starters.

I'm now looking forward to putting some of my nutrition learnings into practice and putting my jacket to the test. I might do a post on that.

Sunday, 25 November 2012

Three is the magic number

This week I've been keeping things fairly light with just three 3 mile runs. The first was Monday before work. These are always the hardest for me because I don't eat beforehand and so suffer from heavy legs and lack of energy. Going out in the frosty dawn and seeing the sunrise was worth it though.

Tuesday evening I'd planned to try a free circuits class run by a girl at work. I need to build he strength training habit still and his seemed a good place to start. My friend Anita was game too but we couldn't find the location despite directions. So we gave up and went home. A run helped to ease my frustration and there's always next week. Lastly was my 48th parkrun in the drizzle at Bexley. Apart from my 50 t-shirt being within reach it was nothing much to write home about really.

It's getting hard to motivate myself to run in the early mornings, on dark nights and in the cold, wet, windy weather. A couple of leisure centres in the area are offering free or cheap 7-12 day passes which I'm thinking of taking advantage of in December to build on my strength with body pump classes and so on. I'm reluctant to sign up to one long term but variety is always good. I've not been gong to running club recently but with my training officially starting next week I might start again, especially as I'm a bit clueless when it comes to longer routes in the area.

In contrast to my running schedule, my OH has been running almost everyday for two weeks. I'm really impressed with his dedication and hope to learn a thing or two. Normally I would start getting guilty and worrying that I wasn't doing enough (always one to want to keep up) but I can still outrun him on distance and my training will be under way soon enough.

What has encouraged and inspired me this week was the 2012 Running Show, which I shall write a separate post on in the next day or so. A really excellent event.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Brutal 10k Race Report

On Saturday I took part in my very first Brutal race. Brutal is an ongoing series of cross-country 10k races renowned for being especially muddy and nasty. I lost two nights sleep over the most recent one in Bordon, worrying about everything and nothing. What should I wear? Would I hate it? Would I come last? Would my car key survive the mud?

My overall impression was that it was a very well organised race. The event was well signposted from the road with plenty of car parking, an adequate number of loos and and good tea/coffee/bacon sarnie stall. There was the opportunity to buy technical souvenir t-shirts for £9 and buffs for £5. There was key storage and a decent race brief and warm up which everyone took part in for a change (usually it's just the girls). I met a couple of friends there and was cajoled into wearing camo paint which put me in the mood.

There were around a dozen entrants with dogs who were set off a good 10 minutes ahead of the rest of us and only around 260 entrants overall. A fairly detailed description of the race had been sent out in advance but nothing really prepared me for what lay ahead. It was (unusually, I'm told) a two lap course which was especially depressing as I realised that whatever horrors lay ahead I'd have to do twice. It was the most exhausting and mentally tough event I've ever taken part in. There was sand, pools, bogs, swamps, streams and terrifyingly steep descents with matching ascents. It was less of a run, more of a wade and scramble. The wading tired out my legs so much that when I had the opportunity to run I very nearly couldn't. There were plenty of marshalls, all in excellent humour, a water station at 5k and squash, bananas and chocs and the finish. No goody bag but a free branded buff for all finishers. For £16 entry in advance I thought it was pretty good value, all things considered. I got round in 1:36 while the winner finished in 46 minutes. How he managed it I have no idea whatsoever. Being at the back of the pack was no bad thing for a novice though as there was plenty of banter and everyone looked out for each other.

Despite all of that I can honestly say I enjoyed it. I think is mostly because I managed to change my attitude towards the event. It wasn't a race, it was a challenge. Once I got up to my calves in mud it was a case of "in for a penny, in for a pound" and by the end I was caked almost up to my waist, my shoes and socks were full of silt and grot. There was a fantastic camaraderie and atmosphere. It was great to do something different and for once I don't care about my time, I was just glad I took part.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Back after the break

Sorry for the lengthy time between posts. I took a week off work to go and stomp around in some woods which I thoroughly enjoyed. Although I was staying in a hostel with wi-fi I didn't take my computer as I rather enjoy being off-grid now and again and I didn't plan ahead to schedule any posts, so there you have it.

Having had a week off from running after the Great South Run I was about ready to get back into it and took my running kit with me with the intention of going for a run in the morning but the location didn't really allow. I wasn't familiar with the area, the country roads were twisty and narrow and the woods not quite large enough to hold my attention. I did get a large amount of truly excellent sleep and eat some superb food though!

So my first run since the GSR was Frimley parkrun on Saturday just gone. It was cold, boggy, slippy and wet. I ran two minutes slower than last time I ran but I ran and I was pleased. I took it easy on a three-miler around town yesterday which I enjoyed and will do the same tomorrow. I'm running the Brutal 10k in Bordon on Saturday which I just intend to survive (it's not the sort of course I'm ever going to get a PB on) and that should get me right back into the swing of things. I'm running the Grim on December 2nd which also happens to mark the start on my Charity Challenge training plan.

I don't think it will be too hard to get back into the swing of things but I think my challenges will be eating sensibly and making strength training a new habit. There's already been times this week when I could have been doing some press ups or bicep curls or something whilst watching TV. I've found out this week that there's a girl at work running free boot camp sessions twice a week after hours so I think I'll give that a go, for some variety and motivation if nothing else.

In fundraising news, I've found out how to set up text donations for my page so if this is something you'd prefer to do, rather than via a website you can text VRSS55 £5 to 70070 to make a £5 donation or VRSS55 £10 to the same number to make a £10 donation (you get the idea). I'm 6% of the way there and it would be awesome to get to 10% by the end of the month!

Friday, 2 November 2012

Fundraising Update - October

One month into my fundraising and I'm well on the way. I got my very first donation, a generous £20,plus several more and have raised £180 in total! I'm both touched and rather relieved. I know I haven't really shouted about it yet but I was beginning to wonder if I'd get any donations at all. I've only just started to talk about it on twitter and although I've sent an email out to friends, family and colleagues I know it's very early to be drumming up sponsorship. But I was advised to start as soon as possible, especially with such a big target. My worry is that I'll end up bugging people. 

What has been lovely is that loads of people have said it's a great cause and a brilliant challenge. It's been a real conversation starter and I've have several offers of cakes to sell and running buddies.

I'm still waiting on the charity to send me collecting tins and other fundraising materials but I did submit a press release to the local community magazine and have a mention in there this month so I may get some more support there. The charity have put my story on their website and I also hijacked my OH's coffee business to sell cakes as a fundraiser at an event he attended. I've also sold some cakes at work to raise a few more pounds, which seemed to go down very well.

So all good so far! I think next steps are making a bit more of a fuss on facebook and setting up a text giving code. When I get the materials through from the charity I'll be able to do even more!

Monday, 29 October 2012

Great South Run Race Report

The weekend just gone might well have been the busiest in the race season for runners. I know of at least 5 races that went on over the weekend including the Fleet 10k, the Guildford Night Fright, Run To The Beat Half Marathon in London and the Great South Run down in Portsmouth which I took part in. 

For those not in the know, GSR is a ten mile race around Portsmouth and is just about the flattest race I've ever run. It's affordable, well attended and a real highlight in the calendar. Even though I've run several half marathons in my time it was the first time I'd run the event, and that particular distance. I chose it because I didn't feel up to running a whole half marathon this year but still wanted something bigger than a 10k. So this was my "big race" of the year, my highlight, the one I put in all the training for.

I only live about 45 minutes drive from Portsmouth and thanks to the clocks going back it meant I didn't have to be up quite as early as I'd feared. In fact if it wasn't for wanting to get parked I could have left later than 7:30am as I wasn't due to cross the start line until 10:48 in the white (middle) wave. My parents and OH came along to cheer and support me, which given the bitter conditions that morning I'm even more grateful for! My OH knows Portsmouth really well so managed to find us free parking and get us out of the city fairly quickly afterwards. Given about 25,000 people took part I was incredibly impressed by how easy it was to get in and out of the city and with the organisation in general, especially at the finish when there's a tendency to get bunched up and lost at big races.

The course was really well marked with loads of marshals, plenty of cheering stations and spectators along almost every inch of the sidelines. The water stations were long and well managed (with bottles! so much easier than cups) and the Bupa Boost station at mile nine was a nice touch with jelly babies and vaseline for those who wanted them. I went with Nectarfuel gels (one summer fruits, one blackcurrant) which certainly didn't do me any harm, although I'm still to determine how much they help. It felt good to take something on anyway.

The staggered start made a huge difference and I didn't suffer from having to dodge people too much at the outset. I made the decision to run with music (just one ear), even though there were bands on the course, really to help me pace myself more than anything. I used Audiofuel's Feelin' Free DJ mix on loop which got me round in my  target time. I got a bit of a twinge in my right knee half way round which didn't get any worse but didn't go away either, so I'm wearing a support for a day or two, and my posture was awful at the end so more core work is in order! There was a fantastic atmosphere all the way around the course; I had one girl clap me on the shoulder as she passed around mile 8 and say "well done Farnham" (I was wearing my club vest). My supporters took up residence around the 6.5 mile mark and on the final 100m stretch. I only just heard them shouting at me above everyone else and found enough energy to pump a fist in the air as I ran a bit faster towards the finish line (I couldn't call it a sprint finish). In the past dad's commented that although I *say* I enjoy running I never look as though I do but this time he said I looked pretty relaxed and strong even at the end.

And my finish time was... 1:40:00... I was thrilled, absolutely thrilled. I ran the whole thing without stopping, all be it with positive splits. It made all the training feel worthwhile and gave me a huge confidence boost. We got funneled very effectively through the finish area to collect our goody bags containing a medal, t-shirt, foil blanket, and an assortment of edibles. I'm now going to take a week off to let my knee recover, then get a couple more runs in before the Brutal 10k in November. No more serious training until December though, just enough to keep on ticking over.

On a side note, Powerade were one of the sponsors and had a stand where you could get your sweat loss measured. They weighed you before and after the race, took into account how much you drank and how many loo trips you made and then tell you how much you sweat and how much liquid you should take on as a result (about 1.6 times the amount you lose within 4 hours). I always thought I lost a lot through sweat but apparently I had one of the lowest sweat rates the guy had seen that day. Very interesting!

Friday, 26 October 2012

Tough Mudder Update

This week I received an email from the Tough Mudder team with the announcement that the location for next year's event, that I'm taking part in, has been decided.

It's about 120 miles and 2.5 hours drive away from me so I'm glad I decided to start in a later wave, to give myself time to get there. That said the course will be seriously churned up by that point too! You can check out the course details here.

I've made the mistake of reading up on the obstacles I can expect to encounter. Sure it means I should be able to target my training a little better but it's terrifying. It's resulted in me thinking that I'll be spending a lot of my time in muddy pits or cold water as I fall off of monkey bars and balance beams or fail to make the jumps. Oh and I'm not fantastic with heights so any walking the plank is going to freak me out big time. I think this challenge is even more scary than the marathon!!

If anyone wants to come along and give me some moral support you have no idea how much I'd appreciate it. That is if you can recognise me under the coating of mud I'll no doubt have acquired. You can register to spectate here.

And just in case you haven't seen it yet... this is what I'm letting myself in for...

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Paris Je T'aime... peut-être

Yesterday I secured my place in the Paris Half Marathon! I was quite nervous about whether or not I’d get a spot, not knowing how popular the race is or how quickly places sell out. I was also nervous that I'd mis-interpret something incorrectly, miss out an important part of the process or do something to get disqualified before I even got to the start line, mostly because of the language barrier; despite the website offering an English translation my experience is that these are sometimes muddled.

I realise that announcing my challenge before having all the events booked was slightly risky but I was too excited to hold back once I had my London Marathon place confirmed.

So at 9am I loaded the Paris Half website, saw it wasn't open for registration until 11am so went off and made some tea (and did some work). I got the time differences wrong and got a bit panicked thinking I'd miss out but aside from probably spending 5 euros on insurance I wasn't sure I needed everything else seems to have gone smoothly. I already know my bib number and have printed off the medical certificate template for my doctor to sign. That's the major difference I've found so far with races outside of the UK, you need a medical certificate. 

Anyway, t'is done! In my usual impatient fashion I've downloaded the route and start maps and a bit nearer the time I'll have to arrange travel, accommodation and book the time off work. My godmother and her husband live in France, in the Loire Valley, and have already said that they'll come and spend the time in Paris with us (me, OH, mum and dad) which will make the whole thing even more of an event and mean I have loads of support on the day. I really can't wait.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Wanted: a training plan!

In my last post I wrote in a bit more detail about the events I’ll be doing and why. Now my immediate concern, aside from how to raise my target of £3000, is how to train for them.

I’m not very good with training plans. I get a bit daunted by them, question my ability to improve at the rate they prescribe and generally get all of a fluster. I am just coming to the end of a training plan that I decided to try and follow for the Great South Run which I’m running on the 28th and actually it’s been ok. I’ve skipped a few runs and run slower than prescribed in some cases but I’ve stuck to it for the most part and to the frustration of my boyfriend (who doesn’t understand how a run can take priority over anything else).

I’ve rooted around in my “Training” file on my laptop and found a sprint distance triathlon training plan from Sportsister and Tough Mudder have their own suggested plan so that’s helpful. I figure the triathlon training will get me most of the way towards the mile distance for the Great London Swim so that just leaves the running. There are any number of marathon training plans out there for all sorts of abilities and desired finishing times but the thing that I was struggling with was the amount of time these require from you. Because of the proximity of my events to each other I will have to start training for the Tri, swim and Tough Mudder before I finish training for the marathon and I just couldn’t see a way of fitting that around 5 runs a week with a regular training plan. I put out a bit of a call on twitter a while ago, asking if anyone could help me draw up a plan and MorningOfMagicians pointed me to the Finish With FIRST training plan which trains you for a marathon on 3 quality sessions a week. This is perfect as it leaves me time to fit in other disciplines.

So I’ve been proactive and amalgamated these three plans into one. The plan covers 24 weeks starting in December. It’s a little daunting when I look at it all in one go so I’m trying not to. I’m easing in with just one “Tuff” circuit a week (as I’ve dubbed them) for the first 10 weeks then introducing swimming and cycling about a month before the marathon (by which point I should be well into my stride).  The upside is that I’ll be doing a lot of brick sessions (two disciplines back to back) so transitions should be second nature by the time I get to triathlon day.

From December at the end of each week I’ll be posting what I should have done and what I actually did in terms of training.

Do you think I’m taking the right approach? How would you tackle this training challenge? Got any tips to see me through the winter months?

Saturday, 13 October 2012

What Would You Do If Money Were No Object?

This is a question I often ask people in the early stages of conversation. I find it's a great talking point and gives you a very good sense of what that person is all about. It's a question I ask myself quite frequently too.

It maybe a feature of my generation that we are encouraged to be discontent with what is seen as the routine, that we are encouraged to break the mould. I'm not sure if this is a good or sensible thing but I know that I for one am inclined to optimism and big thinking.

And as such, this video appeals to me.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

The Events: more details

Why, you may ask, have I chosen to do many events rather than just one? Well, in part, it’s an excuse to do several things that had been on my “one day” list for a while. I also reason that any of these on their own would be worthy of a strong fundraising target and so by doing them all I hope to raise more than by doing one alone, not least because they cover a range of aspects of fitness, meaning I’ll stretch not only my running abilities but also my currently almost non-existent cycling, swimming and strength abilities.
More specifically my reasons for choosing these events are as follows:
1.       Paris Half Marathon (March 3rd) – Although I’ve completed several half marathons in my time I’ve never competed abroad and would like to break my PB of 2:10.
2.       London Marathon (April 21st) – I’ve never completed a marathon and would love to complete at least one in my life time. This feels like the right time.
3.       Tough Mudder (May 4th) - This will be horrible. I signed up for Tough Guy once and pulled out. These events look amazing and testing in a whole new way to the normal races I do but they do scare me. I’ve been coerced into this by a colleague and a few of us will be taking part and once again, this feels like a good event to add to the challenge.
4.       Eton Sprint Triathlon (May 19th) - I’ve wanted to do a triathlon for about three years. Again, this feels like the right time. 
5.       Great London Swim (May TBC) - The only event I’ve completed before. I took part this year but I would like to be able to complete this using front crawl rather than breaststroke or to at least improve my time.

So there you have it. I think it’s a good variety of challenges but I’d be interested to hear your thoughts. What do you think about the timings? Should I have been more ambitious? What sort of thing would you choose if you were going to raise money for charity?

Sunday, 30 September 2012

Scleroderma and the Scleroderma Society

I ummed and erred for a while about whether I’d made the right choice in terms of charity. My last fundraiser was for a much bigger charity which I think a lot more people could identify with but I sometimes think that these bigger charities, while they do a huge amount of worthwhile and important work, steal the limelight from other, smaller, charities who struggle to do equally important work. It was partly this that made me decide to support the Scleroderma Society .

The fact that few people will have heard of the disease, let alone the charity, make my fundraising target extremely ambitious but I’m keen to do everything I can to meet the target, starting with explaining a little more about the condition and the work that the charity does.
What is Scleroderma?
Scleroderma (which comes from the Greek meaning ‘hard skin’) is a connective tissue disease that affects the skin and other major internal organs. Excess collagen is laid down in these organs which in turn results in scarring and reduced normal function of the affected organs. There are two main groups of scleroderma, and within each group there are further subsets.

1. Systemic sclerosis - the systemic form of scleroderma, which affects the internal organs as well as the skin.
2. Localised scleroderma - a type of scleroderma that affects specific areas of skin and underlying tissues, but does not involve the internal organs.
What do the Scleroderma Society do?
The Scleroderma Society was founded to help support people who have been diagnosed with scleroderma. They support thousands of people through their helpline, forums and publications as well as helping to fund vital research into the condition.

Their freephone helpline is run entirely by volunteers, the majority of whom have scleroderma themselves. They can't offer medical advice but can point you in the right direction for further information. They can also offer a place where you can talk to someone who really understands scleroderma and how it can impact on you, family members and friends.

How will my donation help the Scleroderma Society?
  • £10 will support the helpline for a day
  • £20 will supply a hospital with scleroderma information for a year
  • £50 will help support a local group
  • £100 will enable them to contact all MP's interested in health to update them on scleroderma
For more information about scleroderma or the work of the society I encourage you to visit their website. You will find a link on the right hand side of the website.

Introducing Vikki’s Charity Challenge 2013!

Hello blog, how are you? Long time no see. Sorry about that. Anyway welcome (back) one and all. For any new readers or for those who forgot, this blog was started back in 2009 to document my training and progress towards a charity challenge I carried out in 2010 of climbing Mount Kilimanjaro. That particular event feels like a lifetime ago now! The title of this post suggests something new is planned but before I get into details let me set out a few background details.
·        After Kilimanjaro my posts petered out and I took a break from running almost completely for six months to concentrate on completing an OU qualification and now despite having joined a running club , been running, climbing and taking part in races for the better part of a year I don’t feel I ever quite regained that level of fitness.
·         I’d like that level of fitness again.
·         Despite having entered many races that I could have fundraised for I’m very aware that there’s such a thing as fundraising fatigue and I am just not comfortable asking people for money continually, especially for small targets. I prefer to do things BIG.
This brings me on nicely to the main subject of this post. I feel enough time has passed that I can embark on a new charity challenge which will test (and hopefully improve) my fitness whilst raising awareness and funds for a cause I am particularly keen to support.
In 2013 I want to raise £3,000 for the Scleroderma Society by completing a series of events.
Scleroderma is a group of rare, chronic and progressive autoimmune diseases.  It causes inflammation and scarring, which eventually leaves skin thickened, muscles weakened and organs damaged. It can be difficult to diagnose and there’s no cure as yet. My aunt has been diagnosed with Scleroderma and I was ashamed to not have heard of it before so as well as raising funds for the charity I also want to raise awareness.

The events I have chosen to complete as part of this fundraising challenge will be
  1. Paris Half Marathon (TBC)
  2. London Marathon
  3. Tough Mudder
  4. Eton Sprint Triathlon
  5. Great London Swim (TBC)
It may seem like a bit of a mash of things but I’ve chosen these particular events in part because they’re difficult (for me at least) in their own right and also because I’ve been toying with completing most of them for some time. Doing them for charity provides me with the “now or never” push I need.
So between now and June 2013 I will be posting more information about the disease and the charity, details of my training and how it’s going, updates on my fundraising  and ways for you to get involved as well as more details about each event; my reasons for choosing them and reviews of how they went.
I’m incredibly excited about this challenge and more than a little bit scared but I look forward to sharing my journey with you.
I have a Just Giving page to allow everyone and anyone who is inspired by what I am doing to donate any money they can to The Scleroderma Society. 

Saturday, 30 June 2012

Juneathon. Done!

Today was nice and easy in as much as its what I'd do on Saturday anyway and that was parkrun. A new PB for this year again with 29:05 thanks to my OH who finished in 23 something and came back to push me on. I'd probably not have made it otherwise.

So that's it. Done. But I won't be stopping. I could had done a bit more. I had some difficult days due to prior commitments but I'm happy and now I know what I want to focus on next.

Happy running.

Friday, 29 June 2012

Juneathon Days 28 & 29

So close! Yesterday I ran a lovely steady 4.25 miles. I had intended 4.5 but missed a turning. All the way round felt manageable and enjoyable so I was really pleased. I almost ran today but I didn't want tired legs for parkrun tomorrow so it was 200 crunches and a 45 second plank.

I'll be a bit sad when this is over. I think I'll try and keep it up. I would like toned arms. The beginners group at club are planning a 10 mile training plan which I'm excited about hoping the weathers not good for gliding on Sunday so I can go to club rather the watch OH on his lesson.

Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Juneathon days 26 & 27

Tired. Last nights Frankie Valli concert was amazing. The best concert of my life and I've been to hundreds. Dancing must surely count for Juneathon but I managed 40 crunches before collapsing into bed last night.

Today I'm up in London for work so I've got the walk to and from the station and then the walk to and from the venue later for Alanis Morrisette. It's going to be a stupid late night but I've already logged because I know how far I'll be walking.

And sleep.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Juneathon Day 25

I was looking forward to a 4.5 mile run with some of the club members last night, trialling a race that's happening in a week and a half. Really psyched up. I want to increase my distances, both on single runs and week totals. Then OH suggests a date night at the local for pie.

I like pie. I also like running. It was a really tough decision. I couldn't do both as I had to visit my allotment that evening and I got a bit upset when he said he'd run before we went. In the end he didn't (it's going to be hard enough to forgive him for going to MY club for speed work tonight) and we had a lovely evening. Walked into town and back which was totally negated by pie consumption but does still count as exercise.

No time to run now until Thursday and I miss both speed work and the club championship race and BBQ this week (sulk) however there will be abs work and also Frankie Valli and Alanis Morrisette respectively so I really shouldn't moan.

Got too much energy though!

Sunday, 24 June 2012

Juneathon Day 24

Today I managed to get to Sweatshop in Woking with the intention of buying some new running socks. Approximately 40% of my sport socks are those cheap terry lined ones that have become stiff and thin over time (in fact I actually put a hole in a pair today) so I could do with a couple more pairs. I really like the Sweatshop own brand ones plus I had two £5 vouchers so they'd only have been £1 each! T'wasn't to be though, they were all out of my size in both colours so I forces OH to look at the men's gear as I'd given him £20 of vouchers for Christmas and he hadn't spent them yet while I rummaged in the women's section. I tried on a pair of moving comfort momentum shorts I'd been lusting after for months before remembering I already have a pair of shorts I don't wear very often so I tried on some vests instead.

I got a racer back, black and red top in the sale and then used the voucher I got at the Yateley 10k earlier in the month to make it even cheaper! The staff at the Woking branch are lovely; really friendly and knowledgable, unlike those in Bluewater, and they even asked how I'd enjoyed the 10k (there was a code that identified how I came by the voucher)! OH got a pair of shorts so he doesn't have to run in his swim shorts when his proper ones are in the wash and a white t-shirt so he doesn't bake in the sun.

Of course I had to test run my new top so I went out for a 4 miler which I really enjoyed. 10 minute miles :) I think that makes up somewhat for scoffing the last Easter egg in one go last night.

Saturday, 23 June 2012

Juneathon Day 23

The end is in sight! Parkrun this morning after a night of Batman films, popcorn and cake. Stomach did not feel good! Also only 6 hours sleep is not advisable for me. Incredibly I shaved 6 seconds off my PB for the year with three pauses with a time of 29:18!!!! Go me!

Friday, 22 June 2012

Juneathon 21 & 22

Yesterday was full! Didn't manage to wake up early so it was straight to Hampton Court for a Caro Emerald concert after work preceded by a picnic dinner. It was windy and cold so it wasn't very pleasant. We sheltered under a tree for our picnic and I seriously considered taking off my heels and jogging a circuit of the garden to warm up! It started raining for the concert so that was fun. I got home about 11:30pm so 40 crunches it was.

Today I had intended to run before work but I was far too tired and that was my only opportunity today as we're entertaining tonight so I did my 200 reps abs work out.

Parkrun tomorrow though. I'm looking forward to having more time to run but I've got some really cool stuff happening next week :)

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Forest Five

Last night I ran the Forest Five miler in Swinley Forest. It was the perfect evening for it and I am a fan of the course. The start and finish were a little chaotic. I think there was a briefing but no one could hear it. There are no timing chips for this race so it relies on people writing down your number. I don't think it works too well as the results aren't out yet and I got shouted at for walking through the finish area too quickly. I walked all the hills so I probably didn't get a very good time. I spent some time thinking "why am I doing this?" and some more time thinking that I really need to run further if these distances are ever going to feel comfortable. I'm intimidated by people talking about their 8 milers and up even though I've done it in the past.

Buck up Roberts!

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Juneathon Day 19

The balloon flight actually happened last night! So my lunchtime walk yesterday was my sole effort for Juneathon. A lovely 15 mins covering about a mile. Tonight I'll be running 5 trail miles. I'll leave you with this photo from last night.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Pathetic Excuse for Juneathon Day 18

Yesterday was a full day at work with my lunchbreak short and containing a nap because I'm so damn tired at the moment. I was meeting my folks in town (London town) to see Tom Petty at the RAH so had to drive there straight from work. It was a great gig but I didn't get home until 11:50 so I barely remembered to do some sits ups for Juneathon. There was no way I was going to be fitting a run in. Pathetic contribution I know but I don't want to give up.

Tonight is usually speed work with the running club but mum and I might finally be getting to go up in a hot air balloon (only 18 months of cancellations behind us) and that's in Kent so a good chunk of evening will be spent driving if it happens with no chance of a run. In order to be a bit better than yesterday I will go for a walk at lunch, just in case.

So tired. Wish I could do more runs but this weeks schedule is impossible. Next "athon" will be better. Or maybe I just keep this going into July.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Juneathon Day 17 - In Desperation

So. Tired. Can't think of any good reason I should be feeling like this.

I was at mum and dad's on Sunday for Fathers Day. I took dad for a visit to Chartwell followed by lunch and a mooch around Greenwich market. I then drove back home for a dance show (spectator, not participator) which I ended up being seriously late for. I helped tidy up after and was therefore late home. I just fell into bed and slept the sleep of not quite enough. Therefore in a desperate claim to stay in juneathon I submit my walking around Chartwell and Greenwich as my effort for day 17. It's probably about 2 miles or so but I wasn't really keeping track.

I can't pretend that day 18 is likely to be any better :(

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Juneathon Days 15 & 16

Just a short post today as I'm at my parent's and shouldn't be unsociable for too long. Yesterday I didn't manage to get out for a run as I was catering for the men folk watching football and was too much of a wuss to run in the rain so I did an abs set of 40 reverse curls, 40 bicycles, 40 crunches, 40 russian twists and 40 side crunches followed by a minute plank.

I was also saving my legs for parkrun today where the Farnham Runners beginners group were running to celebrate the end of their course and becomming fully fledged members of the club. I got a PB for the year so far of 29:27 despite a 10 year old boy sticking to me like glue for the second lap so much so that I almost tripped over him several times. It was great to see so many people from the club there and I was just sorry I didn't get to hang around and chat afterwards.

Hope everyone's doing ok still with this Juneathon lark!

Thursday, 14 June 2012

Juneathon Days 13 & 14

So yesterday was the running club's pub run. I thought I was going to miss it because I'd gone round to Anita's to play with her new kitten but in the event a couple of other people were late too and the beginners group I decided to join waited for them. The idea is that you order your food in the pub, go for a run and then have a meal with everyone when you get back. There were a couple of groups that did 7 and 5 miles but I opted for the 2.5 mile because I awsn't sure about the area or how my legs were going to be after speed traning the night before. I'm glad I didn't do the 5 because it was very hilly and very sandy but I enjoyed it and am starting to be able to tell the differene between a hard run and an easy run which is great. I don't know exactly how long it took because no one was timing us but I reckon it was about half an hour.

It was great to socialise with everyone afterwards and I'm definitely starting to make friends there rather than just standing awkwardly on the edge of things. I spent ages talking to Mary and Russell who I met at speed work on Tuesday. I think we may have all talked ourselves into doing a triathlon this year... It's funny how people's perceptions of what's impressive differs. Russell was all about the ultra running and Marathon Des Sables which I think is awesome but he thought my swim in the Thames was something special. I came home full of bounce and happiness which was deflated about half an hour later when I was told that I talk too much about running and that it's boring. The hurt of that comment has only just faded. It hurt because it came from one of the people I like to talk to most about stuff that goes on in my life and running is a big part of that right now. I guess I thought they were more interested in running than they actually are. I've probably taken it too much to heart but there's ways of saying things like that and it was pretty blunt.

I had thought I'd go for a run if I woke up early this morning. I did wake up early but I still felt pretty deflated and I clearly hadn't slept well so instead I walked into town and back at lunch time to visit the library which was almost 2 miles. Broke up the day nicely and I got 3 books so all round win in the absence of time to run later.

I've been chatting to @wannabe_runner on twitter over the past day and I think we're both going to do the Samaritans 10k in Crowthorne on July 1st. She has sort of talked me into it because I'm such a push over! It would be really cool to meet someone I've only ever spoken to on twitter. I've never done that before...

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Juenathon Day 12

I'm so tired/cold even my fingers are shaky so please excuse any spelling mistakes that slip through the net! Just got home from an awesome speedwork session with the running club. The rain held off and I got chatting to some really great people. One of the girls works with my OH's friend. As it happened OH and friend went out for a run tonight and both theis girl and I had tried to persuade them to come to speedwork. Sdaly it was not to be. I reckon they'd have enjoyed it. As it was they ran a 4 miles in the same pace I averaged my half mile repeats so boo sucks.

Tonight I ran 5 x 800m with three mins rest between at an average of 8:15 per mile. I'm really chuffed with that as my fastest pace over anything 3 miles and up is around 9:30 per mile. I was still the slowest but strangely, this time, I don't care! There's hope for me yet!

Tomorrow is pub run which I'm looking forward to.

Monday, 11 June 2012

Juneathon Day 11

Really poor effort today. I'd planned to run this evening, the weather report saying that the rain would have mostly cleared by then but a miserable day at work followed by returning home to find the lounge occupied by football-watching people and the fact it was still cold, wet and windy just drained me out. I got as far as planning what I would wear to run in but I couldn't make it happen, particularly in the knowledge that I will be running in weather like this the next two nights anyway with running club. That's the marvellous thing about the club, I'll go even when the weather is rotten because I like to see people and I feel really bad if I don't go. I wouldn't say I have made any firm friends there yet, no one who'd gee me up to go, but I enjoy being part of it.

So in lieu of a run I did some core work instead. That consisted of 200 exercises, 40 each of regular crunches, reverse crunches, bicycles, lateral crunches and russian twists. I feel pretty rubbish but seeking solace in the knowledge I've not had any alcohol for over a week and that I've been eating well lately. Well done to everyone who has actually gone out and run this evening. Actually one of the things that really puts me off running is having to wash my hair every single time because I get so hot. Dry shampoo just won't cut it so if I run in the evening I end up having two showers a day and that just seems such a pfaff. Lame huh?

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Juenaton Day 10

... where I attend but do not take part in a triathlon.

Yesterday I blogged on the hop about being in need of an early night. You see although I'm a morning person in the sense that I'm quite productive in the morning and can't seem to sleep or lie in for very long, I do struggle with being awake much before 7 and today I had to be at a triathlon at 6:50am that was half an hours drive away. Today was the day of the Crowthorne triathlon and I was marshalling part of the run route. It's an event I've been keeping an eye on for several years with the aim of marshalling then taking part in it. One down...! Next year happens to be their 10th anniversary so that'd be a great one to get involved in.

The route went through a lot of woodland, some of it quite overgrown and boggy with one nasty hill you practically had to scramble up! That put me off the idea of taking part a bit but I reckon I still will. I was sat on a junction with the main dog-walking path so although I was on my own and the runners came through in dribs and drabs, I still had quite a few people to chat to. As it was I really should have brought some music or a book. I checked off all the runners against a list as they came through and cheered them on by name when I could. One guy went round FOUR times!

I was there until 1pm, wearing four layers but still very cold, and got a goody bag and a t-shirt for my trouble.

Exercise-wise today I walked a mile and a half to my Marshal Point, then half a mile back. I followed this up with an hour's digging on the allotment and had intended to go for a run but really felt too achey by the time I got home so I did a "fat burner" class from my work out dvd instead which left me pretty knackered. I may not be jogging every day but I'm definitely going to be exercising everyday.

Saturday, 9 June 2012

Juneathon Day 9

Today was parkrun day which made things nice and easy. There was a fundraising event going on which meant far more children than normal and far more congestion on the tow path than normal. I didn't get to run as fast as I wanted to at the start but I was pleased with my pace otherwise and ran in 30:30.

Would write a longer post but doing it on the phone and overdue for an early night. Will explain what that's in aid of tomorrow.

Night all!

Friday, 8 June 2012

Juneathon Day 8

I thought I'd get my exercise out of the way early today... HA! I don't think I've been sleeping very well lately. On at least one occasion I know I've dreamed about running, which wasn't exactly restful. Anyway, lacked any energy this morning so as I was working from home I used my lunch break to do another round of the fitness DVD I did yesterday. Same routine although this time I was using much heavier weights; 2.5 kilos each side. As a result I struggled with that section but it's something to build on next time. I did seriously consider going out for a run but even though it was dry it's so windy I feared I'd not make it round. I'll save myself for parkrun tomorrow.

in other news I got my race pack for the Bracknell Forest Five in the post this morning. Looking forward to that whatever the weather.

Thursday, 7 June 2012

Juneathon Day 7

Wow, where's that week gone? Well done to everyone for muddling through the bank holiday weekend. I'm enjoying all the blogs I'm reading.

A friend of mine found a groupon today for entry to the UK Warrior Dash in a fortnight's time. I'm hoping it's all legit because it UK one isn't listed on their site. Anyway three of us girlies have entered so far and we're trying to rope in a couple of lads too. It's a little more manageable than Tough Guy which I almost did once and I'm looking forward to donning some sort of silly outfit.

As for today, well given I need to train a bit for this new race in terms of strength more than running and it's not stopped raining all day, I did some fitness DVD at home, namely Davina - warm up, summer shoulders (twice because the first time my weights were too light so 2x1.25 & 2x2.5), bikini bum, abs. This month is full of races now. No excuse not to improve my times!

Juenathon Day 6

I'm pretty glad I didn't go to speed training on Tuesday. I spent most of the day feeling as though I had a head full of cotton wool and pretty low on energy levels. Not good when you know you've got a 6 mile run later in the day that you're not sure you're prepared enough for. I found myself eating liquorice at 9:30 in the morning in an attempt to perk my self up.
I was meant to be running with a friend from work, Anita. We ran together at the Frimley 10k back in May and ever since she's been suffering from shin pain. She reckons it's shin splints but given she stopped running and it seems to be most of the time I reckon she should get scanned for stress fractures. She went from not running to doing 4/4.5 miles four or five times a week at least in preparation for her wedding. I had shin splints once and they were nowhere near as bad as she is describing. So unfortunately she didn't run with me tonight.
This is the first of 3 runs at Yateley, held every summer on the first Wednesday of June, July and August. I did the August one two years ago and won a spot prize (probably for looking so knackered) and I'm really looking forward to doing all three this year. Anita signed up for runs 1 and 3 so I really hope she's better for the third one. I'm starting to really enjoy running with other people.
There were big black clouds in the sky all day but the weather held and we even got some sun in the evening. I met up with some of the Farnham Runners and decided I'd try and pace one of them who was aiming for a sub hour which would have been brilliant for me but I lost her around 3k when I started to feel really sick and had to stop for a moment. The rest of the course consisted of running to a km marker, having a short walk break then running to the next one. As I rounded the corner back into the school I heard someone yell out "Go on Vikki, you can do it!" and Ian, the FR who has been coaching the beginners and always shouts encouragement at parkrun, was there. Bless him, that moment meant so much to me. I knew I was the last FR to cross the line and I feel pretty bad about that, I know I can do so much better. I've got times to beat and the opportunity to train better.
I finished in 1:06:43, got my medal and a mini milkyway and popped over to Anita's for a cuppa.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Juneathon Day 5

Made it to parkrun this morning to a super big turn out and with the OH and his mate in tow. There were plenty of Farnham Runners there which I always love because I get cheered on from the sidelines and push for a sprint finish. There was a lovely jubilee atmosphere and tea and cake afterwards which we stuck around a bit for.

The course was dry and although I felt a bit tired I somehow got a PB for the year with 29:47. I'm very pleased with that. The OH ran in something like 23:40 and his mate was a little way behind.

I don't think I'll be doing speed work tonight, not least because it is raining and actually it's probably not wise given I'm running the Yateley 10k tomorrow. I had hoped I'd have felt a bit more springy but alas, not. Besides... OH's mate has brought Game Of Thrones over so it's another marathon session!

Monday, 4 June 2012

Juneathon Day 4

Today I did another abs session. I actually get pretty warm doing these. If I feel up to it later, or if OH's friend doesn't come over with Game Of Thrones episodes then I *may* do a run as well but frankly I think that's unlikely. I'm feeling sluggish after too much party/BBQ food this weekend and my middle is a bit wobblier than usual so the abs exercises are definitely a good thing.

What is more likely is that tomorrow I will do a double whammy of running. Frimley parkrun has been moved to Tuesday which I'm going to do because I want to get to 40 of them before my birthday in August (I'm up to 32 I think and the summer is busy), and then in the evening it's speedwork with the running club. Double running probably isn't wise because I've got a race on Wednesday evening but it's Juneathon so these things have to be done.

Last time I did an "athon" I got all wound up because I knew I wasn't going to win any prizes but I'm just glad I have an excuse and another motivation to do something everyday, even if that is core work, fitness DVD or running. I get guilt and beat myself up if I don't meet the goals I set myself you see. I will get fitter this summer or suffer so much guilt I stop eating. Either or ;)

Found a Groupon today for wakeboarding... now THAT sounds fun and must surely count as exercise right?

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Juneathon Day 3

Recovering from last nights jubilee/birthday party has meant today was the day of 200 crunches 10 press ups and a glute bridge held for five minutes. It'll get logged tomorrow (within the 24hr window) and better exercise will happen from now on. Obviously I won't be getting anywhere near the chap who has already run 22 miles!

Juneathon Day 2

Ran the Egg and Spoon race and the Balloon-between-the-knees race at the Jubilee street patry in my road yesterday. I won the egg and spoon and got a curly-wurly :)


Friday, 1 June 2012

Juneathon Day 1

So here we go, Juneathon is here and I can see a dozen things this month that will keep me from completing it. Not least this weekend (I mean really, couldn't we have delayed it a few days?). Today is done and dusted already thank goodness. Oh how I loathe running before 9am. It was so HOT! I was slow. But I ran. My thighs are still achey from double speedwork with running club earlier in the week.

I did just under 2 miles in just under 20 minutes. I recorded it on RunKeeper and on RunningFree so you can check I'm not telling porkies.

Tomorrow I'm going orbing then we have two parties so I guess I'll have to slip out for a run at lunchtime or do some Davina DVD. What am I DOING?! Stupid Juneathon.

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Great London Swim

Hi reader! I'm bringing this blog back from the dead for at least a short while as I'm going to be trying to take part in Juneathon 2012 (see the badge over there?). But I've got quite a lot of other active news to share as well so I'll be posting about a few things I *have* done to get back into the rhythm of things.

First up is the Great London Swim. I am not a swimmer. I like swimming. I just don't do it very much. I'm pretty hopeless at front crawl, I've never done open water swimming (I don't count bobbing about in the sea when bodyboarding) and I hate the post-swim pfaffing. I'm not *entirely* sure why I entered this event but I really really enjoyed it. The event is a one mile swim in the Thames in Royal Victoria Docks. I don't think I've ever swum a mile before but I felt confident when I worked out that it was about 64 lengths of my local pool. So I printed out a training plan, followed three sessions, swam a mile in the pool, and sort of stopped training.

Turns out that was enough. I don't advocate the method but I didn't drown and I on the day I swam faster than I had in the pool so WIN!
Looking sexy... no?
I though the event itself was exceptionally well organised. I was in the third wave at 10am. There were waves of about 250 people every half hour from 9am to 3:30pm. Each wave had a different colour cap and an allocated time to check in and go through acclimatisation and warm up. I'm used to things being a little laid back at running races so I almost missed check in. That said all other aspects were very relaxed. There were people with goals and people who were happy to get round with a friend whilst having a bit of a natter en route. It didn't feel crowded, I didn't get kicked in the face or swum over at the start as I could hang back a little and there were loads of kayakers acting as marshalls all the way round who were very friendly and up for a chat.

I finished in 51:36, which I was VERY happy with. My mum and dad came to support me so I got some cool photos. It took me a while to get my land legs back!
The goody bag was pretty good too and the chappy in charge of giving them out was doing a great job of "selling" them. A t-shirt, flip-flops *and* a medal as well as snacks and drinks. My favourite item were the pistachios...

I really couldn't get over how friendly and lovely everyone was. I had a fantastic morning and I reckon I'll be doing it again next year, if not another open water event.