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.