Sunday, September 30, 2018

The Cotswold Way 102 Mile Race!

John takes on his biggest challenge yet while Kelly puts in the last couple of weeks of training for Chester 

Both of us - Blue 
John - Orange 
Kelly - Purple 

Due to a very busy week, we've written a double blog this week - two weeks of running excitement! The most exciting of which is the culmination of months of training for the Ginger-Bearded-Running-Man; the Cotswold Way 102 mile race!
A successful race for John! on for his race report...

Monday 17th September 2018

I started this week with my last PT session before the Chester Marathon. Jules has been great at helping me to get fitter and stronger ready for that sub 3 attempt! 

In the evening, I did a spot of yoga - John was planning on coming too but the traffic meant he couldn't make it in time. 

Tuesday 18th September 2018

This morning we did a little 5k recovery run together around the Harbourside. We haven't managed to run together much for a while as we've been training for very different things. It was lovely to run our 'usual' route together again. 

At lunchtime, I went running with a group of staff from school. It was the first one of the new academic year so just 1 mile nice a slowly to encourage new members of staff to join us! 

I had a sports massage in the evening to get me ready for the first Weston Prom race of the season which is on Thursday. 

Wednesday 19th September 2018

With Weston Prom tomorrow, I decided to just do a gentle recovery run. I ran up to club (2 miles) and then did another 3 miles with the Cotswold 100 crew. 

Thursday 20th September 2018

I've been looking forward to this all week. The first Weston Prom 5 mile race of the series. I love these races because they are flat and fast and a great way to improve speed. Also, because it's a team event and GWR tend to do really well. This year, the girls especially have a great chance of winning the team prize so I wanted to have a really strong first race to put our team in the best position. 

Having packed my bag, with all my kit in, at 6am when I woke up, I was able to pick John up and then drive straight from work to the race. I arrived at the race, went to the toilet to get changed, put on my running kit, went to put on my shoes and ...

Yep. Two left feet. Oh man! Normally, I wouldn't buy two pairs the same colour...but Brooks have discontinued my shoes! My favourite shoes that I have been buying and wearing for 4 years! I'm gutted. So I have been bulk buying all the size 5.5 Brooks Pure Cadence that I can get my hands on. 

What options do I have? in two left shoes...I tried, it's really uncomfortable and only 2 weeks out from Chester, probably a really bad idea. Run in bare feet? Again, with the marathon so close I really didn't want to do that. Not run...and let my team down? No way - so that left me with the only option. To walk around the room and ask every woman I could find if she had sized 5 or 6 feet and a spare pair of shoes...what are the chances...

Incredibly, there was a wonderful woman from NBRG who said 'oh yes I have a spare pair of shoes!' Amazing! I tried them on, they were a little bit big to be honest but they were better than nothing. Hooray! I could race! 

The race began and I felt pretty good. My legs felt fresh and I was just really happy to be running. The weather was horrendous. Very windy (in one direction) and rainy. The main aim was to find a group with lots of tall people in for me to hide behind. Success. I slotted comfortably into a group with fellow club mate Chloe. We were in join first position and both looking in pretty good shape. We ran together for the first 3 miles (6:15, 6:20, 6:39) at which point, I started to feel a bit fatigued, started thinking about my shoes, lost concentration and dropped off the pack of the pack. I didn't drop much at first but suddenly, running by myself meant I was getting battered by the wind. Focus, I told myself and pick up the pace and get back to the group. Annoyingly, by this point I wasn't able to close the gap because of the strength of the wind. A small lapse in concentration had a massive consequence. John, who wasn't running today in preparation for the weekend, was there to cheer me on. Hearing his voice gave me a real boost. By this point, I was quite close to the turn (where the wind would be behind me) wait until the turn, I told myself and then I'd pick it up. 

At the turn, I did manage to increase my pace (6:27) but couldn't catch up with Chloe and the group in front. I finished as 2nd lady with a time of 32 minutes which isn't too bad given the pre-race stress and very challenging racing conditions. 

Friday 21st September 2018

No running for me today. Rest day before my long run tomorrow. 

John has been doing his 5k every day still. 

Saturday and Sunday 22nd and 23rd September 2018 - The big day has arrived!

I was up and out of the house early today. 6am I started my run to ensure that I'd be back in time for John to get to the start of the Cotswold Way! 

As I raced Prom just a few days ago, I knew I'd be feeling a bit achy but still wanted to get a good 20 mile run banked. My aim to was to keep a solid pace of around 7:30 - 8mm for each mile depending on the gradient. The route was relatively undulating but I just took it steadier on the uphills and tried to pick up the pace on the downhills. All the time, I was thinking about the challenge that was facing John, Marcus and Gary so the run went pretty quickly. 

20 miles done in 7:40 average pace - 2 hours 33 mins of running. 

The Cotswold Way Century

Race day is here and thus follows and inevitably nervous and frantic start to the day. We spent Friday evening at the theatre watching Touching the Void. An awesome show in itself in that it provided some much needed endurance based inspiration and it gave us a good distraction as being out the night before kept my mind off the race and allowed me to chill out. I’d spent the week abstaining from alcohol and managed to resist the beers on offer at the Bristol Old Vic, opting for water.

KD was up early and banking an epic long run. I faffed about with my race kit again and pottered about. I washed and changed into race gear and then tried to chill out with some breakfast and a cuppa tea. Two poached eggs on toast with a couple more pieces with peanut butter on.

KD got home from her long run, washed and changed and we were out the door on our way to pick up the Maestro. The weather was as expected - horrendous. It had been raining since we woke up and it wasn’t about to stop any time soon. With Marcus onboard it seemed he was equally as nervous as I was, which was actually quite reassuring. With an hour-or-sos worth of driving (100 miles to the start line is a long way don’t-you-know) the normal running banter kept us distracted.

We parked up and made our way into the sports hall. We were greeted by a row of tables with marshalls checking bags for mandatory kit. I got everything out of my perfectly prepared bag begrudgingly upsetting the tidy setup and we ticked of what was there: 2ltrs of water, paper map, waterproof jacket, emergency nutrition (Kendle mint cake), hat with a peak, mobile phone, foil blanket, whistle, head torch, first aid kit and a long sleeved top.

(Although I never used it, the map I used was the Cotswold Way XT40 - Harveys. This was an awesome bit of kit as the map was printed on a very thin sheet of polythene. Meaning it folded well and it wasn’t affected by bad weather. Small and light as well.)

All of my kit together, including 2litres of water came to about 3kgs. It all fitted nicely into my Salomon ADV Skin 12 Set running backpack and felt cosy on my back. We spotted clubmate and fellow RoF finisher Gary and his wife Ali in the corner and went and sat with them with a cuppa tea and about an hour to go until the start at midday.

On the start line in the middle of the high street in Chipping Campden, feeling colder and wetter than I’d planned or wanted, we were set off in a slightly anticlimactic unceremonious way. A hug from support crew extraordinaire (also 2nd lady at the previously mentioned Ring of Fire a few weeks back) Cat and a kiss and a cuddle from KD we were off and raring to go!

The Maestro and I took it very steady in the early stages, not wanting to get caught up in the chaos of the race start. We plodded the relatively flat first mile-or-so with Gary before he set off at a slightly quicker pace up the first hill. This would be the last time I would see the back of his head for a long time… (I still haven’t as he hasn’t been to club yet as he’s probably still bathing in cider and being spoon fed chinese food).
(To make the blog slightly more relatable to local club runners, I will describe the rest of the run referring to the “stages” of the Cotswold Way Relay. This won’t make any difference and shouldn’t confuse anyone who doesn’t know anything about the anual club raced relay where the Cotswold Way is split into 10 stages)

Leg 1 - Chipping Campden to Stanway House (Miles 0-11) is a relatively easy introduction to the race. 400mtrs of ascent but with most of it is out the way during the first couple of miles. Stunning views surround you whilst the easy terrain doesn’t demand very much skill or attention. We kept to a very steady pace of 5MPH/12MM whilst I made sure I was regularly taking sips of water and I started eating early, having a breakfast bar after the first hour was done. I started the race with my coat on as it was raining but I warmed up quickly and wanted to feel the benefit of the waterproof in the night so I de-coated and showed of my club tee with pride.

We stopped briefly at Stanway House to say hello to Cat and KD. It was nice to see them and good that at this point of the race they that little to do for us other than cheer. We were really gonna test them through the rest of the day…

Leg 2 - Stanway House to Cleeve Common (Milles 11 - 22) is a different leg… it is horrible! 500mtrs of ascent, very technical and slippery downhill stretches with less picturesque views. Having recced the leg (we recced all of them in the build up) we knew what to expect and even though we’d taken it really steady through the first couple of hours, we backed off even more, making sure to walk all of the up hills and even the down hills. At this point in the race, we were still bunched up with lots of other runners. Even after only 12-or-so miles runners were starting to struggle. Complaining about the weather, the terrain and struggling already with nutrition. The Maestro and I took this as a massive boost. We felt strong, we were walking past runners with gusto whilst eating and drinking regularly and sensibly. At this point in the race we were loving it.

Leg 3 - Cleeve Common to Seven Springs (Miles 22 - 30) we got to our first proper check point at Aggs Hill through 27 miles in 5hrs44mins - 1hr15mins under the cut off. No parking for supporters here so no sign of Cat & KD. We stocked up on some pork pies and sausages and made sure to refill the water stores. I was carrying 2 x 500ml worth of water and used my third bottle for Coke… so 500ml of coke… a little early to start taking on the sugary good stuff but I wanted it just incase. Not long spent in this checkpoint as we’d not long seen our support crew and being so early in the race, we were feeling OK. We made our way to Seven Springs. 30 miles in 6hrs45mins we were losing the light and the coat was back on at this point.

Leg 4 - Seven Springs to Cranham Corner (Miles 30 - 42) it was during this leg that we bumped into Dan and Sarah. Club mates who were in the area. I don’t remember at what time or mile we saw them exactly but it was great to see them supporting us. We stopped for a couple of minutes to have a chat and show appreciate. The break and seeing them gave us a good boost! Similarly to all the other even numbered legs, this was another bumpy one with well over 400+mtrs of elevation. At this point, legs are starting to get a bit fed up of all the up and down but mentally all was OK as I knew there was still so much more to go. Walking the ups and the steep downs we got the the next major checkpoint at 39 miles in 8hrs26mins - comfortably under the 10 hours cut off. A proper stop here and catch u with Cat and KD. It wasn’t long until we’d be eating a proper meal and have a warm place to sit down and have a change of socks and tshirt so we stocked up on water, coke and pork pies. By this point it was proper dark but the head torch was doing a good job (it did a great job through the whole night - my Petzl head torch is one of the best bits of kit I’ve ever bought!)

After the girls had dinner in pub, we bought a little treat for the boys ...1/4 of a pint of beer!

Leg 5 - Cranham Corner to Ebley Mill (Miles 42 - 54) One of my fave stretches of the Cotswold Way. Couple of tough climbs in the first half of the leg but  from half way onwards, all downhill in sheltered woodland. Starting the leg it is proper dark now and to add to this it is extremely foggy making it very difficult to run over anything slightly technical, through fear of falling into a black hole or over the edge of a cliff… We found this leg reasonably straightforward, as it is a lot easier than the previous 10-or-so miles, regardless of the conditions and we were coming up to half way and the first major checkpoint which is indoors and serving hot food. We tick off the miles and getting toward the end of the leg is on road and running through a highstreet, towards Painswick RFC, our support crew and hot food. Not quite half way, at 48 miles we sit down and we rest and get looked after for 15-20 minutes. Cat is on technical support, she re-fills out bottles and food supplies whilst Kelly and Nat are on emotional/dressing duties. We change our socks and shirts. Instant relief to be wearing some dry and warm clothes. We down a bowl of veggie chilli and agree that things are going well. We find ourselves getting a little bit too comfy and the race organiser reminds us we’re in a race and we should really get going. We lace up and thank our support crew for ignoring the need to sleep and continuing to look after us - exceptionally well. We leave the rugby club and make our way back onto the trail to start what are the most difficult stretches of countryside in the UK… (this might be an exaggeration).

Leg 6 - Ebley Mill - Dursley (Miles 55-64) We set out and reassured ourselves that so far things were going well. We were making good time as we’d gone through half way and a bit by mid night. We got on with things and attacked the hills with some strong fast walking, revitalised with proper food and new clean clothes. Then is hit us… What I can sports hall syndrome… our bodies are used to be tucked up in bed at this time (it’s gone midnight) and we’d just spent 20-minutes-or so sat in a warm cosy sports hall… Personally, I really wanted to be sat down, eating or in bed… it was difficult ignoring this want but ignore it I did and we got on with it. Leg 6 is hard - I think it’s the hardest leg on the Cotswold Way… Leg 2 has slightly more elevation but the hills on this leg are relentless; they go on and on and on… Having 50+miles in legs is always gonna make it feel worse than it is but this really is a tough section. Having recced it a few weeks back, we did know what to expect and in my mind. I knew once we were over this stage all we had to contest with was the tough start of leg 8 and then it almost would be, downhill from there… We spent alot if not all of this stage walking- partly through being tired but mainly because we could not see a thing. The weather could not be much worse, 12+ hours of drizzle and fog which meant you couldn’t see even a metre ahead of you. In a way, the walking did us good; it stopped us doing anything stupid or getting injured falling over, allowed us to digest our proper meal and held back some energy for the future legs. There was a pit stop at 59 miles, were we saw the girls again, explaining them the trials and tribulations of sports hall syndrome whilst they listened attentively pretending not be to be VERY tired (it’s about 2AM at this point) another refill of water and coke and we plod on through the end of the leg and the next checkpoint…
Leg 7 - Dursley - Wotton-Under-Edge (Miles 65-72) Leg 7 is ok. It starts with a ridiculously steep and technical climb from the town up to the golf course where you’re rewarded with the fantastic climate of strong winds, rain and fog atop the exposed open fields but otherwise it’s relatively flat. The fog didn’t do us any favours as instead of taking the nicely tight cut bouncy fairways we trudged through the sodden wet rough and made sure that we’d definitely need a fresh pair of socks come the next checkpoint.  It’s at the point that I reflect on the Maestro being little quiet… this isn’t unusual in these kinda events, the reason our racing partnership has worked so well in the past (GMU 16’, GBU 17’ and Butcombe 18’) is because we are very comfortable in eachothers silences… he’ll love me comparing us to that old couple you see in a restaurant not talking to each other for hours, just the odd glance over a newspaper to check the other one is still alive… We were doing a lot of walking still and there wasn’t much encouragement to run… it’s at this point the Maestro confesses he’s not in a great place: he’s had a fantastic run and a great adventure so far but he was just completely fed up with the conditions… it was getting wetter and colder by the minute and at this stage didn’t like the thought of enduring another 9+ hours of walking in the dark… A bit of a shock but completely understandable. At this point we had about 4-miles-or-so until the next major checkpoint which was indoors with hot food. I told him to have a think and see what the girls thought when we checked in… The Maestro doesn’t decide things lightly… We get to the checkpoint and break the news, Cat, KD and especially Nat are taken aback… “you’ve come so far” “are you sure?”... he’d had enough and made the tough but sensible decision to call it a day. It was an absolute pleasure as always to take on another first adventure with the Maestro and there’s no way I could have got through the dark without him, let’s face it, we all know I’d of got to mile 70 with 80 miles on my watch…

I wasn’t looking forward to carrying on my own but this is what I needed to do. A change of socks, t-shirt and importantly shoes. I went for a grippier pair of shoes as, running on my own, I wanted there to be less chance of me falling over and my quads were starting to really struggle with the downhills. I inhaled a bowl of spaghetti hoops and felt determined to get leg 8 done and dusted...

Leg 8 - W-U-E - Old Sodbury (Miles 73-85) The longest leg on the Cotswold Way Relay and another stretch with 1200+feet of climb. This leg is probably the third toughest behind 6 and 2… Inevitably it starts with a massive climb… I took it steady and plodded on up, reflecting on losing my ultra bro, digesting my food and enjoying the time. It was gone 6am and the sun was starting to come up! Even through the rain and fog, this was a massively uplifting experience. It meant I could see, which meant I could run! After hours of walking and shuffling, I was actually well up for getting a stomp on… so much so that I somehow banked a 30-minute 5K and was eating up leg 8 like it was a track interval. I was desperate to get this leg done, every mile after it is relatively straight forward, not only that the next major checkpoint had bacon and it would also be the first time I’d see my parents as well as Cat and KD. I got on with it and found myself overtaking loads of runners which was a huge confidence boost and also gave me people to talk to. I made it to the next checkpoint.. I hugged KD, Cat and then my parents before sitting myself down; “bap please, red sauce” One of the best bacon sandwiches I’d ever had in my life… Everyone reassured me that I was doing really well, this was done with lines like “you don’t look anyway near as bad as everyone else” I took this as a compliment and wanted to get going…

Leg 9 - Old Sodbury to Cold Ashton (Miles 86-94) This leg is boring and easy. Much needed after the tough hills and terrain of the previous 10+miles. In upping my pace and determination, I’d also eaten into a big chunk of my energy reserve. I was having to walk quite a lot now, even on the flats, determined for my bacon sarnie to digest and energise me. At this point, I’d probably consumed 5+ litres of coke and wasn’t really feeling the benefit anymore of the sugary elixr… I reflected on the fact that I’d suffered so much and come so far and there really was not much further to go… I was going to make it… surely? I made it to Cold Ashton in a bit of a state. After the positivity of bacon and family, I think my brain was starting to punish me for thinking about the end… I was VERY cold. I put on all of my available dry clothes and was still cold, so Cat went to her car to see what she could find, she came back with a Helly Hansen long sleeved top and a clean buff - hero - I was warm again.  At this point there’s less than 10 miles to go… I’m going to make it. If I wave to crawl on my hands and knees I’m going to make it…

Leg 10 - Cold Ashton Bath (Miles 95-102) Leg 10 is unnecessarily hard, really there is no need. The first couple of miles are down hill, which is great… if your quads haven’t imploded… every step I take is twisting a knife one more time just above my knee… ouchie… I do however get a bit of good patch… I’m running… There’s lots of uphill again now to make up for all the painful downhill but I’m running it. I’m very much of the mindset for wanting to get it done. The miles tick over and I’m still going past people, massive confidence boost. At this point in reflect on coming closer and closer to Bath. As soon as you hit the city, the race organisers allow you the run the last couple of miles with someone. Of course I nominated KD and couldn’t wait to share the experience with her. It was when I thought about this that my body decided to well and truly f*** me over… 98 miles on the clock and my legs decide they have had enough… I could barely move. I was hobbling and having to stop every 100mrs-or-so… I couldn’t believe it… Whatever distance you run, you always feel the same at the end, it was exactly the same feeling you get when you cross 22 miles in a marathon… I took stock of what was going on and had a word with myself… My body had taken me this far, it was my brain wanting to stop me now, so I ignored it! I sung stupid songs to distract myself and focused on getting to Kelly…. The next 2 miles took an age, but as I came off the trail and made my way on the streets of Bath I could hear Cat and KD waiting for me.  This was VERY emotional… The occasion itself almost brought tears to my eyes but this wasn’t helped by the fact that Cat and Kelly are both extremely emo as well! I held back the tears, pulled myself together and said I wanted to get on with it. Cat made her way to the finish whilst telling me I had half hour to cover 2 miles and beat her time.. Definitely the right thing to say… but I just wanted to finish, I wanted to sit down and search the internet for new quads ASAP!

Kelly and I started our adventure on the last 2 miles of the Cotswold Way… as usual this started with a massive hill… completely fed up by now I just got on with it. Kelly was constantly encouraging me and reflecting on what I’d achieved and what I was about to finish. There’s no way I’d have done the first 100 miles without her and definitely no way I’d have done the last 2. We made our way through all the hundreds of tourists who by now had got used to getting out of the way of zombie like numbered “runners” without much persuasion. With 100mtrs to go we took stock of what was about to happen… we held hands and posed for the cameras… or at least that’s what I thought I was doing (see photo below)... I’d done it… I’d finished 100 miles.

30TH - 26:42:31

What an adventure. By far one of my greatest sporting accomplishments. This year has been about finding my grit and finishing things and I FINISHED A 100 MILE RACE. The weather was rubbish, the course was tough and I probably did a lot more wrong than I did right but I made it. Hats off to the Maestro for making it to 72 miles and making the sensible decision to save himself for another day, there’s no way I’d have made it through the night without you and when you finish your first 100, it will be on your terms - you are the Maestro! Thank you to Nat who, as always when supporting, offered genuine care and affection, concerned as always. The biggest thanks has to go to Cat and Kelly… Cat was the technical ultra support wizard - she knew exactly what I needed and just sorted it. She new when I needed to sit down a minute longer and when I needed to just get on with it. Her clothes, although being too tight for me, stopped me from going hyperthermic. Kelly as always was and is my rock. Never ever has there been any hesitation in supporting me in anything I do. ALWAYS there when I need her, offering support and encouragement regardless of anything else that’s going on - thank you and I love you :-)

A massive well done to fellow clubmate Gary, who finished the race hours before I did in 10th place… I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night ever since… “HOW DID GARY DO THAT IN 23 HOURS?!?!?”

Amazing. Really amazing. I can't quite believe that after months and months of taking about it, planning it and training for it, he's done it! A really incredible achievement. I really enjoyed supporting John and Marcus (and Gary for a bit before he got too far ahead!). Yes it was wet but Cat and I did lots of dancing (in our wellies and dry robes) to keep our spirits up. We were tired but we had a couple of naps while waiting for the boys to come to our checkpoints. It really all went rather smoothly. He didn't get lost, didn't appear to have as many low points as in previous races and he finished without any major dramas! Hooray! Mission accomplished! 
Staying dry!
Cat entertained us with her Poy!

We made a friend!

I chose to park in this spot on the golf course!

The sun came out!

The supporting crew with hot chocolate in the dark!

Monday 24th September 2018

As John is running every day this year (challenge 365), just a matter of hours after running 102 miles, he was up again and running around the Harbourside! 

Well I say running...we did 3 miles at an average pace of 11:49. Box ticked!

Tuesday 25th September 2018

Suddenly, it's become cold. I ran with John again today but did a few strides to keep warm. 

We were quicker today - 10:35mm ...progress!

I did yoga today in the evening. I've missed not doing it everyday like in the summer. Trying to get back into a routine is hard! 

Wednesday 26th September 2018

Off to club today for our run. John was feeling loads better so did the winter 8 mile route. I opted for the 10 mile route. As soon as I started running today, something just clicked. It was like my body suddenly was ready for running a marathon. My legs felt light and fast and efficient. I was running along and chatting merrily, then looked down at my watch and I was running 7:05s...woa...slow down! I didn't want to push it too much as I had a long run planned for the weekend. I spent the rest of the run trying to slow down but really enjoying the sensation of it feeling super easy. With just over a week to go until Chester, could this be perfect timing? 

Thursday 27th  September 2018

A rest day for me today. John did he 5k as usual. 

Friday 28th  September 2018

Today was the first running club of the new academic year. I open my lunchtime running club to children in Years 3 - 6. This means, that at the start of a new year, I have a huge bunch of new, young and enthusiastic 8 year olds who have just joined year 3 and are keen to try running club for the first time! 

I had 42 children, 3 teachers and 1 parent join me a rather impressive turn out I think! I wanted to start off slowly and not scare too many off too soon so we just did a 1km run up and down the cycle path. Most children were smiling so hopefully they enjoyed it and will come back again next week! 

Saturday 29th  September 2018

The time had come for my last long run before Chester. 18 miles with some miles at marathon pace. I was rather apprehensive about this run.  What if marathon pace feels too hard? What if I don't recover in time for next weeks race? For this whole campaign, I have been following John's (aka Coach Cox's) tailor made marathon plan. 10 weeks of effort with a focus on speed work and marathon paced sessions. So far, I feel like it's all gone to plan but it's been a bit hard, at times, putting complete trust and my marathon success or failure in someone else's hands! Today's run would really be the test of Coach Cox's plan and my training. 

The plan was to do blocks of marathon paced efforts John suggested 3 blocks of 3 miles each but I thought I'd see how the first block felt. Despite having ran 102 miles last weekend, John agreed to come with me on his bike so we decided to use the Bristol to Bath cycle path as our route for today. 

The first two miles warm up to the cycle path went by really quickly. I was feeling pretty good. My calves and achilles were feeling a little tight (I have a sports massage booked in to sort that out!) but nothing too major. I then did another two miles steady on the uphill sections of the cycle path. At mile 4, I was ready to attempt marathon pace. Nervously, I accelerated and got into a rhythm which I thought felt about right. I looked at my watch; it read 6:50 mm pace - YES! I focused on keeping that pace and keeping that rhythm. I felt comfortable. 

After three miles of marathon pace (6:53, 6:48, 6:41), I was feeling rather excited. Rewind to a few weeks ago, I was on the Portway desperately working my hardest to do 4 miles at marathon pace, failing and then practically crashing out on the floor and having to rest for a while before walking home. Now I'm comfortably holding 6:41 pace and feeling great. I decided to extend the first block of MP from 3 to 4 miles. After 4 miles, I slowed but carried on running. John gave me some water and I did 1 mile at 7:27 pace.  

After 9 miles, I had reached half way so turned around. It was time for marathon pace block 2. Feeling confident this time, I steadily increased my pace and found the rhythm without needing much help from my watch. Again, the 3 miles felt easy, controlled and comfortable. I felt like I could run at this pace all day - hooray! The 3 miles sped by (6:48, 6:50, 6:44) and I didn't even let a couple of little hills effect my pace. 

I had another mile at 7:36 and then I was ready for my last set. I couldn't believe it. 10 weeks of training and now I'd nearly finished my final long run. I was feeling invincible. I was really starting to believe that sub 3 could be possible. I increased the pace again for the next 3 miles and, due to the downhill nature of the route, found myself having to slow myself down to stick to the required pace! Mission accomplished (6:45, 6:45, 6:44).

I couldn't feel happier. That was by far my best EVER training session. 18 miles with 10 miles at Marathon Pace. Boom! I am ready. Bring on Chester and bring on Sub 3! 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Tapering for the CW100 and ramping it up for Chester

4 Weeks Until Chester Marathon and 

2 Weeks Until Cotswold 100!

Blue - Both of us 
John - Orange  
Kelly -Purple 

Another busy week in the world of Jelly making it difficult to focus 100% on training. Even so, Dickserooney still smashes out two sessions whilst the Wizard of Navigation mainly puts his feet up and starts to carbo load very early.

Monday 10th September 2018

My contribution to the blog is going to be a little repetitive... Soz. Its the big race next week so I promise extensive getting lost in the woods stories very soon. Monday was a 5K plod around the block. After smashing up my feet, knees and back running the Ring of Fire wearing minimalist trail shoes (X-Talons = AWESOME in the right conditions - 5-10 miles along technical terrain) I have since invested in some new daps. Hoka One One Clifton 4s... on the advice of some close friends who are a lot more experienced than I am on the trail/ultra scene - I took the plunge and invested in a very new and different shoe. I wore these shoes recce-ing a leg of the Cotswolds last weekend end and started this week plodding around in them. VERY comfy. Considerably more cushioning than my usual ride of Hyperspeed 6s or Brooks Purecadence. Like running on clouds! I hope to feel like this throughout the 100+ miles next weekend - whatever happens I'm not gonna do anymore damage than I did wearing trail flats! Will give a better product review post race...

Rest day for me today but I still went to see Jules for my personal training session. Just a 30 min blast this week (lonely without John :( he's still recovering...). A great session low on weights, as it's getting close to race day, but with high intensity to get the heart-rate up. 

Tuesday 11th September 2018

Tuesday - another 5K plod round the block, 8ish-MM pace. Legs are feeling good and I'm just running for enjoyment, staying healthy and continuing my streak - 254 days of running 5K+ every day! In the evening, I had the pleasure of cycling alongside KD whilst she smashed out her speed work :-)

For once, I have a positive story to tell about my speed work session! 2 mile warm up followed by
 5x 0.6 mile at 6:45mm pace (marathon pace) and alternating 5x 0.6 at 7:30mm pace. There's something about intervals that I find so much easier than large blocks of marathon pace efforts. From the first step, I felt great. The pace felt easy - so much easier than the Chippenham half on Sunday! 

All of my efforts were pretty much spot on. It was amazing to have John on the bike as he was able to tell me when to speed up or slow down without me having to look at my watch a million times! My heart-rate was about 170 on the MP efforts and 150 on the slower efforts...I think that's about right. 

Wednesday 12th September 2018

Wednesday - went to running club and ran with a big group doing one of the summer routes, probably for the last time as the nights draw in. A steady 6 miles chatting about RoF being done and prep talk for the CW100. Continued carb loading with a massive portion of chicken and chips with healthy beer as a side.

I ran the four miles to club with the aim of doing about 14 miles tonight. However, the half marathon on Sunday followed by speed work yesterday had clearly taken its toll on my legs and I wasn't feeling too springy. I joined John for a steady 6 miles with the GWR crew to make the total to 10 for the day. Definitely need to rest up for a few days now and recover. 

Thursday 13th September 2018

Thursday morning was ANOTHER 5K plod - early doors before work as we had plans for the evening - Arctic Monkeys in London!! After an interesting endurance on the Mega Bus, we hooked up with our mates Max (who I've mentioned before and whom maybe got me into running as an adult when we both ran the Bristol 10K in 2010 = ) and his girlfriend Frankie, who is lovely but does support Hull... It's the third time I've seen the monkeys and this was probably the best time yet. Although we were sat near the back of the O2, the gig had plenty of atmosphere for everyone. Lots of singing and dancing - a great time had by all. A VERY late night though as we rolled into bed some time after 2am...

No running today...dancing was my cross training! 

Friday 14th September 2018

Friday... Tired... Shoulda ran in the morning really as I hate the idea of running on a Friday night. Ah well. Got home and got the run done as fast as I could as we had steak and chips for tea! (Sorry - lots of food talk when there's not much running going on!)

After not much sleep and with a full on run planned for tomorrow, I had another rest day today. 

Saturday 15th September 2018

It was time for the big one today. 22 miles with a parkrun in the middle. Mission...plan the run so that I arrive on time for The Maestro's 250th parkrun. John had recommended that I use the Portway and run out for an hour and then back to parkrun for an hour...which should mean I arrive on time. I also wanted to get as many of the miles done before parkrun as possible so I didn't have to run too many miles afterwards with a belly full of cake! 

I always say that I can tell within the first few miles if the run is going to be a good one. I took the first mile steady (8:17) and then tried to pick it up a bit (7:43). Despite the half marathon last weekend and the speedwork the other day, I felt pretty good so kept increasing the speed (7:16). I got into a bit of a rhythm. It was a beautiful sunny morning and I was feeling good. 

7 and a half miles later, just under an hour had passed and I'd ran out of Portway so I turned around and headed back towards parkrun. I arrived in Ashton Court after 15 miles. I still had about 15mins until the start so I squeezed in another cheeky mile.

As soon as I'd stopped, I felt pretty tired. I decided to take parkrun fairly steady on the uphill and then pick it up a bit on the downhill. On the way up the hill, about 4 or 5 girls passed me...I wasn't too worried as today was about the long run rather than the parkrun win (...I's not a race...;). At the turn, I decided to pick up the pace and thought I might as well chase down some girls at the same time! Moving into 2nd place, I was pretty happy to just hold it there and get to the end. Then, however, Maggie (who was marshaling) yelled out a little 'Go on Kelly, you can catch her!' Well, I couldn't resist the challenge! Kicking up the pace, I stormed around the bend and down the hill. I was getting closer and closer and eventually I managed to get right up in line with her. I'd have liked to have been stealthy and sneaked up but I am rather a loud runner...she heard me, turned and saw me and boom - she was off and across the line. Must work on my finish...after the marathon maybe! 

When I'd finished parkrun, I had only 3 miles left. After eating copious amounts of John's amazing gluten free marble cake, running wasn't easy but I got it done. 22 miles at 7:31mm average pace. Really pleased with that. 

Saturday - parkrun day! A massive milestone for the Maestro! 250 parkruns! A massive achievement of commitment to running and staying fit and healthy. parkrun is amazing. A fantastic community of like minded people getting together, doing what we love - for free! Mum came a long for her first parkrun in a while and we ran together - just under 40 minutes followed by about 5 pieces of cake... A lush morning!

Sunday 16th September 2018

Sunday - one final Cotswold Way recce. KD was away for the weekend so it was lads on tour... in Bath! Maestro, Gary (awesome RoF performance in last weeks blog) met early doors and ran steady throughout a relatively boring, ugly and straightforward stretch along the Cotswolds. Great chat about running in general and comparing kitlists ready for next week.

I was in London for a family reunion so just a gentle 6 mile run for me around Nonsuch Park. A bit lonely! 

This week is gonna be damage limitation. 5K every day, very slow. Trying to eat as healthy as possible whilst ignoring every phantom ache and pain. Cotswolds 100 - bring it on!!

GFRG Total Miles for the week -  47 

Sunday, September 9, 2018

And it burns burns burns...

Chester Marathon Training -4 weeks to go

Cotswold 100 Training - 2 weeks to go

Key - 
Both of us - Blue 
Kelly - Purple 
John - Orange 

A 2 week enforced break from blogging after getting home late last Sunday after driving home from (very) north Wales where the GBRM finished the 135 mile run around the island of Anglesey!

Bank holiday Monday (remember it?) was a day of rest. After the Successes of Severn Bridge half marathon we spend much of the day sleeping and eating. 

Tuesday was the start of our holiday! We were up early so KD could bank some speed work before we picked up Cat and set off on our journey to Anglesey. 5 hours and one cheeseburger later we were in our beautifully quaint accommodation for the week. Full of excitement but releasing there were another 2 days until the race started on Friday.  We spent those 2 days mostly relaxing and eating. 

Wednesday 29th August 2018

While John and Cat did a recovery run, I thought I'd do a spot of segment chasing! A steady 5 miles with a few burst of speed to earn myself two crowns. 

Thursday 30th August 2018

Today I'd planned to do my long run for the week- 20 miles was the aim. After a really successful Severn Bridge Half just 4 days ago, I wasn't sure how I'd feel. 

John joined me for my first 3 mile lap and then Cat joined me for my second. It was really nice to have some company. With 6 miles done, I ran further afield with the aim of doing a 7 mile loop. Unfortunately, my route reached a really busy road so I took the decision to do an out and back. 

Despite the Severn Bridge Half, my legs felt really good. I decided to ramp up the pace and see how it felt. The last 10 miles were all sub 7:30 pace with a few at around 7mm. I finished feeling tired but really pleased with how it went. Another good confidence boost for Chester. 

Friday 31st August 2018

I knew this would be the last run of the week for me as I was going into full 'Crew' mode for the weekend. 
Just a 3.1 mile recovery run...with a little bit of segment hunting...just to complete my collection of all segments within the local area! 

And so it begins... 1pm on Friday, after a morning of packing and repacking, eating and re eating, club mates Cat, Gary and I were on the start line in Holyhead Anglesey about to start our journey circumnavigating THE WHOLE ISLAND. 

Day 1 was Holyhead to Amlwch (how do you say it let alone get there?!?) 

35 miles of relatively steady up and down. The first 15 miles or so were easy. Unfairly and misleadingly so! Very flat along mostly road and hard trodden trail. I got to the first checkpoint totally unfazed and having a great time and made it to the second checkpoint feeling almost the same. Seeing head supporter KD was a huge boost and relief and confirmation of certain miles being done. At the checkpoint I loaded up on water and pork pies and made sure to re-energise whilst walking up our first major hill... definitely not the last. It was at this point that the race took a turn and really did turn into a coastal affair. Miles and miles and miles and miles and miles of up and down in and out of various un-pronounceable bays. After pretty much running the whole way up till now the body went into ultra mode - walking the up hills and running the flats and comfortable downhills. Ticking along but starting to feel tired now the third checkpoint was a lovely power station... It was at this point that I was truly knackered and switched from savory resource to ultimate sugar surge. Mars attack!! (Or 2 Mars bars...) Although absolutely knackered, the brain and body to some extent don't really mind. I think this is because both entities are very aware at this point that there are still some 100+ miles to go... Leaving the power station there were 10 miles left for today. Sticking with tricky and hilly coast path this bit wasn't too bad, the sugar had kicked in and the views out to sea were lovely. I got on with it and managed to finish the first day in good spirits and without trashing my body too much!

Day 1 was very enjoyable for me too. I spent the day driving to various beautiful bays, got out my chair and read my appropriately titled book (Running for their lives) while waiting for the 3 ultrateers to reach my different spots. All three looked happy and perky for the whole 35 miles - maybe this ultra lark isn't so hard after all...maybe I'll give it a go someday...

Day 1 - 35.42 miles in 7:08:46 - 16th - (4minutes behind Gary in 13th and Cat was 35minutes behind me in 22nd... Gar would very much stay ahead of me for the next couple of days and so to would Cat!)

Day 2 - Amlwch to Aberffraw - 65+ miles! 

The furthest I've ever ran before had been 53 miles and that wasn't the day after 35+ hilly coastal miles... whatever was about to happen was gonna be challenging... and I definitely made it so! We started at 6AM - the atmosphere was a little less bubbly than the previous days afternoon start. The gun was fired and we all went into hobble mode. The first couple of miles or so are on road before you get back onto the coastal path. Amazingly, once warmed up, I actually felt ok. I was ticking along nicely and enjoying myself. The sun was rising and the first 5+miles or so were absolutely stunning! Cat and Gary had stormed ahead, they were in great shape - I wouldn't see them until the following morning... long story, here it comes... I got to the first checkpoint and refilled my water, I was hungry and really pleased to see a table full of bacon and sausage sandwiches... However... I wasn't in the mood to eat as I needed the toilet! I stashed some sandwiches in a bag and told myself I'd save them for when I was feeling more comfortable, there's bound to be a toilet in a couple of miles? MILES passed and this was getting desperate... There was no toilet in sight and I could see was 90+ miles of coastline... I was gonna have go to rural! My first off road p**... I had joined the ultra club! A mile or so further along I found KD and explained my ordeal. She reassured me that what I'd done was normal and she could relate... 

The miles were passing nicely. I went through stages of feeling absolutely awesome and absolutely terrible. I'd usually get an hour or so of each. I found myself half way through the day and race in Beaumaris, it had taken me just over 8 hours to get here - great I thought, let's do that again and I'll be in bed, fed, by midnight... It was at this point where I bumped into Cat - I'd caught up with her! It was great to go into the next stage with someone, without her it would have been incredibly dull and soul destroying as the next 10 miles or so are almost all on road and very much inland. It's broken up half way (through the stage) with one of the pinnacle sights of the race being the Minai Bridge but it really isn't enough to help you forget the fact that you've spent the last couple of hours crushing your knees and taking years off your back and quads. I love bridges, but it aint no Clifton Suspension bridge! Cat and I made it to the next checkpoint at St Mary's Church where we were greeted by Cat's parents. Great to see friendly faces and stuff our faces with water and sugary treats. We had a quick breather and then decided to plod on... it's at this point I had a bad patch... We'd spent the last few hours cursing the invention of pavement and concrete and now I was nearly in tears at the sight of miles and miles and miles of sandy or stony beach... Cat is A LOT more mobile than me over this sort of terrain so I shouted ahead for her to crack on, I'd catch her up... 

Miles and miles and miles later, I didn't catch her up but I did see KD and Gary's wife Ali. I was somewhat in bits at this point... but being an ultra and knowing how up and down my moods and feelings had been over the last couple of days I knew I was due a good bit. I took a long site down, changed my shoes, socks and t-shirt and genuinely felt revitalized. 

The mood swings...oh man the mood swings. Crewing for ultra's, I have learnt, is an emotional roller coaster. You'd see them and they'd be grinning like Cheshire Cats "I love running" they'd yell...4 miles down the road and they would be hanging their heads and almost in tears "This sucks!" became the cry...the best thing to do appears to be give them flat coke and fresh socks! 

The next section was nice, a few miles of traily off road forest paths. Nice and spongy and I was starting to enjoy myself again. The miles were ticking along nicely and I felt as though I could feel myself coming to the end - just another 20+ miles to go... It was at this point that the sun was going down... I was very much on my own and found myself and tough navigational point on the beach... I had no maps as I couldn't get to grips with my watch before the race and until now I'd found navigation and following the signs pretty straight forward... 

I'd seen John lots of times during the day and I could tell he was starting to struggle a bit. He had reached new territory in terms of distance. John had told me that he'd had the map on his watch so I figured that, even in the dark, he couldn't go too wrong because he could just follow his watch...I was rather surprised therefore when, while watching the tracker, I saw him running massively off course and onto a different island! It was getting dark now and I was waiting in some very spooky woodland. I thought I'd better give him a again...nothing...

I decided it was time to love things up a bit and when in Rome one may as well freak out his girlfriend and close friends and family following me on the tracker. In the pitch black, I managed to follow a trail taking me off the island I was supposed to be running around and onto another one... I had no idea I was in the wrong as water was very much on my left and I'd had no phone calls to suggest anything was up... Something just didn't feel right... I hadn't seen any runners for a while and it was very dark... I'll check in with Kelly.... "STOP! TURN AROUND! YOU'RE GOING THE WRONG WAY!"... Ah....
It seems I'd taken a pretty unhelpful detour and added at least 3 miles to my days running... balls...

It was getting darker and darker and I was getting more and more anxious. Runners were coming passed me in the woods saying how disorientating it was in there. John's tracker dot was going all over the place and I was starting to panic.

I turned around and retraced my steps. I stopped messing around and followed the very persistent instructions from KD to join a group. I saw some head torches in the distance so I made my way towards the light... pointless, they were fishing. More lights... yay - runners! I introduced myself and explained my stupidity and latched myself onto a group of guys who had several maps on their wrists and within their phones - happy days, I'm back on track.

After working myself into a tired, panicked hysteria, I drove out of the spooky woods and into the checkpoint. After making a rather dramatic entrance to the checkpoint by almost crashing John's car (bloody automatic handbrakes!) and crying manically I found a random man to hug. Luckily, it was Cat's Dad! He explained that the organisers had also been tracking John's crazed journey and were just about to go and rescue him! Due to lack of signal in the woods, it took an age for John's tracker to refresh so I waited for, what seemed like, hours in the dark for him to appear. 

The next few hours are pretty boring. My new found allies and I run-walked the next 13-or-so steady and flatish miles to the finish. We bumped into a stressed out Kelly on the way who apparently didn't think my diversion was funny? Considering I'd run near enough 60 miles, I actually felt ok. 61, 62 and so on miles ticked over. There was some chit chat but mainly silence as we all wished we were anywhere else but Anglesey.

Finally at 1am, the following day... I made my way across the finish line for day 2 - SO SO SO glad it was over... Completely ignoring the fact that I needed to up and ready to run again in 5 hours... This wasn't easy to do as I was a broken man... I was hot, cold, tired, frantic - pretty messed up! KD did a fantastic job of carrying me in and out of the car, in and out of the shower and into bed... ZzZzzzZzz...

Day 2 - 69 miles (Should have been 65...) in 18:55:36!!!!!! - 32nd... MILES behind Cat and Gary who were tucked up in bed hours a go...

I have never felt so relieved as when John crossed that finish line. Thank goodness we could go home and relax and sleep all day tomorrow...oh...wait a minute ....

Day 3 - Aberffraw to Holyhead - 35-ish miles.... urghhhh...

We're in the sports hall some minutes before the start and there's not much talking. More than half of the runners who started on day one have pulled out. I am absolutely knackered but there's no way I am not finishing this race! KD spots a physio that the organisers have provided - struggling to move I hobbled over and led on the bed. "OUCH!!!" - that wasn't me - the physio had spotted something bloody and disgusting... It was my hamstring - apparently it was pulled and in a rather bad way. I hadn't really noticed it as I'd been shuffling the previous 100 miles and I suppose I hadn't done anything like a proper stride... anyway... the physio spent a good 20+ mins working on my legs and doing everything she could to try and fix me. I bounced up - this woman had healing powers! I felt like I could run walk again!

The gun went off and I went into shuffle mode. I was at the back of the pack and could see everyone getting further and further away from me. I wasn't phased by this. I had 2 hours to get myself 7 miles to the fist checkpoint - I was gonna be fine...

Man I was tired! We'd had about 2 hours sleep and I was totally running on adrenaline. All I wanted in the world was for John to finish. He had started slowly and I was obsessively checking the cut off times for the first checkpoint... 

1 hour and 50 minutes later after a "BLOODY HURRY UP!" call from KD - I checked into checkpoint 1 - a cafe on the seafront and I was given the best ever bacon sandwich with 4 rashers of bacon and a cuppa tea - lush!

I now had 3 hours to make it 7 miles to the next check point - no probs! Lots of walking now as the next few miles were on sand dunes - not ideal. It was at this point I saw someone in the distance - I was catching up, over taking, I could still win?!? (I'm 10 hours behind the leader at this point...)
I introduced myself to my new Swiss friend Danielle and we agreed to run/walk/hobble together. Luckily were were of a similar speed/broken condition so neither of us were holding each other back. After a couple of miles of sand dunes, the terrain became very fair - soft and squidgy grassy trail which felt like it was lay down hill all the way. After the bacon sarnie earlier we were racing along at what must have been 15 minute miles - smashing it. Lovely views throughout and we made it to the next check point. 

Throughout the race there were strategically placed honesty books... these were points in the race where you had to tear a page from the book to prove you had been past it. We were motoring along towards (we thought) the honesty book before we bumped into someone... we asked them where it was... "Miles away... BACK THERE..."... bugger... at this point we were comfortably under the cut off time but having to double back was soul destroying and would eat into our time. We raced back along the coast bumping into several confused racers having to explain to each one what we done... we made it to the book, tore a page and turned around...

Once we got back to the point where we'd earlier had to turn around, I started to feel  bit pants again. I think it was mainly the mental pain of having to run ANOTHER extra couple of miles on this already ridiculously long race. I shouted ahead to Danielle to run on and I'd try and catch up... Lots of walking to come...

I made my way into the the next and last checkpoint... broken... Kelly was there, ready to look after me with the camping chair ready and a new pair of socks and t-shirt. The marshals at the checkpoint were awesome, although I was last and almost holding them up, they were positive and nothing but helpful. I was offered tomato soup which had the same effect the first cold beer on a Friday evening does - awesome. Feeling properly revitalized now and with only 10 miles to go - I had 4 hours 0 I was gonna do this!

The next few miles were lovely undulating coastline. I was running well and the scenery was taking my mind off of the pain. 3 miles to go... Holyhead mountain... REALLY!?!?! Urghhh....

I plodded my way up the mountain, cursing every one of the several thousand (yep - thousand) steps... I was at the top and there were several paths the other side to get back down... today has been relatively straight forward, lets mix things up a bit... Let's go right at the cross ways... The phone rings... it's the Maestro! He must be calling to say well done or almost there... "GO LEFT, LEFT!!!!!".... Ahhh... Absolute legend and life saver. It was at this point that I reflected on All of Kelly's EPIC and heroic help throughout the weekend and on top of this lots of friends and family tracking me and caring enough to steer me on track that I almost had a cry - almost. 

I got myself back on course, I am genuinely in sight of the finish. To make sure I don't mess it up, I latch on to a walker. I explain what I'm doing and it seems that we're trying to end up in the same place. He was a local so this was great. I was running and struggling to keep up with this pensioner with a zimmerframe hobbling along the mountain... it came to a point where he needed to go a different way... I had half a mile to go... I pleased with him not to leave me but then I realised this was a little insane so shock his hand and got on with it. 

Da da da dada da da da... I could here it! Johnny Cash Ring of Fire in the distance... the water was on my left, there was one path... I could see the finish.... I'd done it!!!

There can be no better feeling than seeing a little orange dot very far in the distance, realising that it is in fact your little orange dot and he's going to finish this horrific race! Phew!

Day 3 - 35 miles - 10 hours!

Overall... 135 miles... 28th... 36hours 3minutes 4 seconds...

A truly life changing experience! I did it! I ran around the whole island of Anglesey in 3 days - woooooooo!

A massive congrats to Cat who was 2nd lady and Gary who was 13th overall in under 30 hours - epic from both of you!

2 weeks to taper now for the Cotswold 100...

What an amazing achievement. I am so proud of all 3 of them. There is no way I am every doing a race like that! 

We then drove back to Bristol. Arriving at midnight we rolled straight into bed and I fell instantly asleep. I've never been so tired! 

On Monday I had an INSET day and then on Tuesday I was off to camp with 29  10 year olds! Still sleep deprived, I was slightly worried about how I'd cope being in charge of all these people for 4 days and 3 nights! 

Luckily, they slept pretty well so I had about 7 hours each night. The days were pretty full on though with activities like climbing, abseiling, canoeing, raft building and zip wire. Good fun but not ideal cross training! 

The centre does have a gym which I made use of each day doing a quick 5k while the kids were watching a film in the evenings. 

All in all, the last two weeks haven't been the best preparation for the Chippenham Half Marathon...

Sunday 9th September 2018 

Despite having slept all day Saturday, I woke up still feeling rather tired. I wasn't sure how I'd fare today but I wanted to be positive so I gave myself a target of around 1:25. Having done the Severn Bridge half (a hilly course) in 1:28, I figured this (supposedly flatter course) would be easier!

John wasn't running today so he packed his bike in the car; it was his turn to be the crew! 

While waiting at the start, we bumped into Joe Spraggins and Katie. It was a little bit like meeting celebrities as both John and I have been following their training and reading their blogs for a while now. It turns out that Katie was running today and Joe supporting. After warming up together, Katie and I made our way to the start line. 

I can tell pretty quickly in races if it is going to be a good day or mile 2, I was pretty sure it wasn't going to be a good day...clearly, sleep is important! 

I struggled pretty much from mile 4. Katie stormed on ahead (and ended up getting a PB of 1:27 and finishing as 4th lady!) and I changed my race goal from 1:25 to finish with a strong training run. 

Joe and John were both on their bikes and it was great to have their support as I gradually got slower and slower. I thought about stopping and giving up but John was there singing away and he gave me the strength to go on. 

I finished in a time of 1:34 way off where I wanted to be but, considering the last couple of weeks, I wasn't too disappointed. I won't book races in for the weekend after camp again! You learn something from every race. 

4 weeks until the Chester Marathon! Really close now. I need to fully recover from the last couple of weeks and then get a couple more marathon training sessions in. Hopefully sub 3 is still on the cards!