Whoop…! It’s finally here

ridiculous

Miles ran since last blog: 43

Total miles ran since blog started: 110.8

Positivity Score: 10

So it’s the last few days until ‘Week 1, day 1’ and me not skipping a run for 16 weeks. No more ‘I will get up early in the morning’ (It never happens). No more ‘I will do double tomorrow’ (Sometimes happens). No more ‘Ah I will catch up next week’ (This kinda happens) and this also means its 110 days till Gay Paris! Plenty of time, what’s the problem after all its only 26.2 miles!

All I can say is thank goodness it is here as during my slight resting period I managed to put on half a stone! I now realise the downside to losing weight is it goes back on, quickly. No surprise really, I am addicted to Bailey’s and the amount of sweets, cakes, chocolates people are bringing into the office is verging on abuse. For me resting clearly equals eating…….a lot! Another couple of weeks and I dread to think what would have become of me. Possibly the same thing that used to happen to Ricky Hatton before he starts training for his next fight!

Since booking my Marathon on Tuesday the 8th September at 09.10am, 5 days before my 40th (midlife jumps out doesn’t it), I have not only been counting down the days until the BIG event but also until my ‘official’ training starts.  I worked out early on when I could have my last proper drinky poo’s without guilt and apologised profusely in advance to my friends and husband who were sharing my table at the Charity ball on the 5th December (I actually was very well behaved, you know the saying what you can’t remember didn’t happen, well like I say I was very well behaved) Luckily for me my work’s Christmas party was booked for the week after –Yippeeee! I have another chance to act outrageously and really make any apology worthwhile. Well, it will be 4 months before I can put the world to rights, dance like no one’s watching and sing like no one can hear, so I think I deserve to do all these things and I also think I can quite possibly get away with it. I have definitely earned a pass in my eyes. Oh how I am going to enjoy this weekend….!

As you may know, I have ran 4 Half Marathons (in 8 weeks) since the 8th September 2015, with mixed reviews and clocked up a few miles in between. I tried to rest as much as possible but in the last couple of weeks I have just wanted to run again (not just because of the weight gain issue. No, really) and I am definitely starting to itch for more races.  It really is like a bug and I have it. I haven’t felt this positive in a long time and I really can’t wait to get going and get the job in hand on foot, done.

Unfortunately I have no races to report on, so I have no gasping for breath, joys of PB’s or knee pain so bad that my daughter still talks about the ‘embarrassment I caused her whilst walking around London’ stories. On the plus side there are also no new monster photos of me all over the World Wide Web. Wonderful! So what has been happening? Well, let me just write it down and see where it ends up. I think I might disappoint a few of you, expectations for this diary are far too high and need to be lowered, very quickly, in fact lower them right now! Are they lowered? Good, OK.  Carry on.

On the 22nd November I attended a Blind and Partially Sighted workshop, organised by Colin from the Runnymede Runners in Egham .  WOW is all I can say. WOW, WOW, WOW pretty much sums up those few hours.  We met at 11am on a cold Sunday morning, I knew 20 of us had planned to attend but I wasn’t sure what to expect at all.  We started off with a nice cup of coffee and a biscuit, which is always a good way to start.

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The Group

Over the couple of hours that we were there we learnt so much, not only on how to guide and what to expect, but about the different visual impairments.  The trainer, Christine Benning from the England Athletics, had around 10 sets of glasses that were simulated for different visual impairments. They ranged from just under the required sight for driving, right through to complete blindness. It was both practical and thought provoking on how many people view the world and how much we take for granted.

After watching an educational video, we went outside in pairs to put into practice what we had learnt.  We took it in turns to be either the sight impaired, or the guide. Michelle (my partner) and I had ‘OK’ glasses, we could make out shapes and possible hazards, but it was a great practice run for when we then moved on to the complete blackout eye patches.  I did feel a little self-conscious about what I was saying and whether I was giving too much detail or not enough, but I guess if this was the real deal, you would communicate with each other on what was needed, expected and what worked for you both.  It would be a learning curve for each person you supported as no one is the same after all.

I took the first turn in wearing the blackout eye patch, it was so scary! As I said earlier, we had previously learnt to talk through the surroundings with our partner, i.e. when you were moving onto grass from tarmac, if there were dogs or pedestrians in close proximity, when we were passing things, like a bin for example. When my sight was totally compromised, it was apparent how you really needed this detail. As a sighted person you just move from one gradient to the next with ease, but for a non-sighted person this has a massive effect on you and therefore your running. For instance, it was actually a shock to feel grass after tarmac.  It also became very clear that if you can see, you can’t really feel slight undulating ground, yet when your sight is impaired a slight change in terrain feels like a hill.  For you to be able to guide your runner, you both hold onto a ‘lead’ (I am sure there is a correct term for this, but I can’t remember what it is and Google is not helping, it either recites verses from the bible or thinks I want a guide dog lead, this is not what it was at all).

Running

Michelle was much more confident.

Anyway, as it happened the ‘lead’ was not really required for me as I felt so disoriented I had clasped myself tightly onto my partners arm, of course it was impossible to run like this, unless of course you were in a three legged race, but seeing as I was only going a little quicker than walking, it was fine!  It is TOTALLY amazing that sight impaired runners go as quick as 8 minute miles. I mean, to run this fast anyway is FANTASTIC, but to run this when you can’t see clearly or indeed at all, is doubly, no, trebly impressive! The trust required to be able to go this fast, is totally inspiring and I am in awe of them.

It really was a great course and I highly recommend anyone to attend one

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Proud!

if you get the chance.  I am now registered with British Blind Sport and www.guiderunning.uk, so as soon as someone near me would like a guide and our paces match, I will be scared paired.  I am not going to lie I will be slightly nervous and I think it would take a couple of meet ups and few trial fast walks for us to build up trust and to understand the level of communication needed, but I also feel once these things were ironed out it would be one of the most rewarding things I would ever be part of.  It really was eye opening and that saying is truly meant for this experience!

On the 25th November, my husband and I were very fortunate to be invited to the Samaritans Marathon launch in London. Here we met the other marathon runners, mainly for London, but there were also runners for Berlin, Brighton and 2 for Paris, YES!!! It was a really lovely evening, drinking prosecco and eating nibble’s and chatting away, about…. running, of course.  We did also talk about the good work that the Samaritans do.  It would have been rude not to after all.

We were split into smaller groups to have a tour of the working call centre (we had to sign confidentiality agreements for anything we heard or saw). The call centre was smaller than I had expected but it was so busy, we didn’t realise that they also offered a face to face service, where people in distress could come and talk to someone. Sadly I heard the doorbell buzz 3 times whilst we were there, but on a positive how great is it, that these people could go somewhere where they could talk to someone.

There were 5 volunteers on the phones and one manning the texts. All the face to face meeting rooms bar one were engaged with volunteers, this was at 8pm on a Wednesday night.  There are 201 offices in the UK and Ireland and 16 of these are in London altogether they have received 68 million contacts, in the form of phone calls, texts and face to face contact.  Such a massive number and so many lives helped and quite possibly saved.  There were also rooms for the volunteers to sleep, this is to ensure their safety between shifts and so they wouldn’t be travelling to and from home/work in the middle of the night, there were hairdryers, straighteners anything you needed as many of the night-shift workers would go straight to their ‘paid’ jobs that morning.  There was a real friendly atmosphere at the centre and hats off to the wonderful people who volunteer to help, you do an amazing job! The visit was so motivational and really made you want to help as much as possible, so much so, my husband is considering running for them (Venice here we come!) I mentioned to Ross in ‘Yo Sushi!’ (I cannot believe I talked him into going there later on in the evening – great day all round), that all the charities should invite you to a launch party to meet people and to see where your efforts would be put towards. Not only did it make you feel appreciated and motivated, it really spurred me on to do better than I already wanted to anyway. I suppose he was right though in his response, that really the other charities I am running for couldn’t invite you to a science lab or hospital where adults or babies were ill and being treated. Fair dink-um.

Since last writing, I also started running with another local club the Shepperton Running Group and I very nearly ran with another one called The Staines Strollers, I say ‘nearly’, as I was there and they were there, we just weren’t there together.  I thought we were meeting outside Staines Police Station, but they actually meet outside the Staines Law courts, easy mistake to make brain, kind of. I am sure they are a lovely bunch and will hopefully meet them soon.

I had my first long run with the SRG on Sunday 29th November, they meet at Walton bridge at 9am, I don’t know Walton at all, but I am desperate to run different routes, sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference. I didn’t really know what to expect as I couldn’t really grasp how this works with so many people at different paces, would I just be running on my own? Would I get lost and just hope that I find my way back? It was a cold windy day when we met and I was just in leggings and a short sleeved t shirt, people commented on how cold it was and how freezing I must be, but I looked at their wrapped up selves and thought ‘how on earth do you run with sleeves?’ I got flustered just seeing them. I explained that I get so hot that I start feeling ill, its either that or strip. I am not sure if that was the point they wanted to run a longer distance, thus not going the same way as me, possibly, but luckily for me I didn’t scare Hanna and so we decided to run together. She is training for a half so we wanted to try and do 9 – 10 miles, Steve showed us the route and off we went, gosh I didn’t realise how hilly Walton was! Thanks to my running buddy we managed to get over them, she definitely got me up them and she definitely got us back to the car park, as I didn’t have a clue on where we were. In fact she was brilliant to run with AND I didn’t have my headphones (I am getting so good at this). I can even now talk and run, well a bit, well not consistently, but I am much better than a few months ago, she definitely heard me say I can’t do this, whilst showing me a great way to run up hills.   It was the first time I have done a long run with someone other than my husband and luckily she didn’t bat an eyelid when I said I have to take my top off (maybe I am not that clear still) it’s not a pretty sight, but I get an overwhelming faint feeling occasionally and its strip or stop.  I can’t stop so unfortunately it has to be a strip. We completed just over 8 miles, in a good time.  We said our goodbyes and I went to save the run on my watch, you do realise if it doesn’t load on Strava it didn’t happen.  This should have been the end of this, Ross was waiting in the car for us to go Christmas tree shopping, but no, it said 8.3 miles.  My watch said 8.3 miles, I couldn’t leave it at 8.3 miles, I had to carry on till 9 miles, so I mouthed to Ross ‘one minute’ I meant nearly 10 and off I went in a straight line. I am not sure why my sense of direction is so bad, but it’s actually a real hindrance in running, I am sure I am missing out on some great runs, as I really do only go straight and then turn at the halfway mark. The most annoying bit to this story is that after all that, it only went and recorded 8.9 miles on Strava, arrghhhhh.  Why?! The rest of the runners finished at the same time as my last mile, but they had completed 11 miles, how quick are they!  All in all it was a great.  It was really good to run somewhere different and to meet more new people. I since found out we went a different way to what we were supposed to (This doesn’t surprise me at all) but we got back OK so we wasn’t lost so that’s all good! Hanna clearly has a better sense of direction than me. Another plus I had lots of calories for lunch with my best buds!

The following week I did a long run with Chris from Runnymede Runners at Virginia Water. It was also a great run, it’s beautiful there! Chris was great company, we set out to do 10 miles, but he had a race the following day so we ran 7 miles together and then I carried on to get my 10. Chris gave me clear instructions on where to go for a perfect 3 mile run but of course I didn’t follow them> I think I got the totem pole and the flag pole mixed up, so I did what I always do and went straight for 1.5 miles and turned around, this is where I bumped into Ross and Amy. Ross was doing 6 miles and Amy cycling around, what a perfect start to the day.  I looked at my watch when I reached the car park and as it was on 10.13 miles (do you see the problem here?) I just ran around the car park with Amy for a bit to get to 10.50.  Can you believe 10 miles is now my favourite distance, it wasn’t that long ago that 6 miles was, unbelievable.  Who would have thought it, definitely not me!   I wonder what my next favourite will be, time will tell! This was my longest run without headphones (I have ditched them on recommendation from other runners and so far so good, something that I never thought I could ever do. I really recommend it though, the earphones were actually stopping me from doing what I wanted to do and just ‘zone out’. I have said to myself that when I get to 20 miles I will listen to my top 5 motivation tunes as this is the toughest part of a Marathon, (so they say) I will let you know WHEN I get there, not IF.

It really is handy to know of other groups, as you and I know, sometimes life takes over and things get in the way.  The SRG train on a Monday’s and Thursday’s, RR’s train on a Tuesday and Thursday and the SS’s train on a Wednesday (they don’t meet at the Police Station), so between them all it works really well, even the long runs.  The Runnymede Runners go on a Saturday and the Shepperton Running Group on a Sunday.  It’s perfect and they are all so welcoming! It’s a real team spirit and luckily for me many of them are in training for Spring Marathons, so the support will be hopefully be fantastic!

The groups are also very social, with Christmas do’s and trips to the pub so it’s not all about running, you will be pleased to hear.

Talking of support I feel I should mention a Facebook group that I am a member of, it’s a closed group so you can talk about all aspects of running safe in the knowledge that your friends are not yawning at their news-feed… I mean don’t get me wrong I still post A LOT of running stuff on my profile, lots of distance pictures and sport shorts, but I think people would really de-friend me if they had to witness conversations on watches, trainers, training plans, knee pain, shin pain and basic running pain (and joy, it isn’t all pain). The group is called Running the distance, and they are amazing!  Please join if you too like getting support at a drop of a hat, there is always someone on line to help, BUT of course this works both ways and you must support as well, it’s not all take, take, take with our group, oh no… give and take is a requirement, as well as always showing off your bling (medals), your legs and your awful toenails. You wouldn’t believe how much medal envy I get and how many races I will enter just to get one of the ones I have seen (Loch Ness being top of that list).

It feels like a lot of my life is taken up with running, thinking about running, and talking about running since September and I really can’t wait to run the Paris Marathon. As much as this is now very much a personal goal for me, I do hope to raise as much money as I can in the process too, even hoping there will be more marathons after (seriously, have you seen the Loch Ness marathon medal?!). This opinion may change on April 4th 2016, the day after I (hopefully) complete it. A lady giving a speech at the Samaritans, said she did SO well in her first marathon, she really didn’t need to do one again, EVER.  This might be the case for me, once may be really enough.

paris_marathon_2014_map_detailed

Not far really is it… Gulp!

You will be pleased to know though that any future marathons I decide to do, if I do, will not mean me rattling a tin around, you will just have to suffer the Facebook posts.  This isn’t because I don’t want to help charities it’s because I am not finding the ‘money’ part of it very easy and although I don’t HAVE to raise this money, I think this will be my one and only time of actively partaking in charity work of this scale, so I would like it to be as successful as it possibly can be.   So many people ask for sponsorship for so many worthwhile causes I do think ‘why should people part with their cash for mine?’. These are causes close to my heart but quite possibly not to others so with this in mind, I am organising a couple of events to help. This way it’s not just a case of sponsor me, sponsor me, it’s a more of us working together and hopefully having a bit of fun as well.  Win Win.

One is a virtual run in January and the other a local quiz night in March.

Virtual run

All the details for this can be found here on my Facebook page www.facebook.com/lauradoesparis for those not on Facebook you can go straight to www.runavirtualrace.com. This is the first time I have ever organised something like this. After it taking me 4 hours to actually understand a Paypal button (to try and add it to anything was actually one of the most frustrating nights of my life) luckily for me my husband knows his way around a website.  This wouldn’t have happened without him. Period.  I have also been very lucky that a local business has donated medals meaning more for charity!

I am hoping that many of you sign up as it will be a great way to start the year and I hope you all have a bit of fun with it.  We now have a definite race with 18 places gone which means nearly £200 for charity! Thank you to all thouse that have signed up, you lovely running the distance lot, who I really do think of as good friends! I have signed up for all 3 distances and I promise I wont cheat and make myself top of the leader board for all of them. I really can run a Half Marathon in 1:30!

When I have more confirmed details on the Quiz night I will share this with you. I have to be honest here, I have organised a quiz night before, it was great fun but the website I got my questions from may have been a bit questionable….  There was a huge debate on whether Hong Kong was really the nosiest city in the world. It isn’t. It is in fact Mubai. In addition to Mumbai-gate, picnic was apparently the most ridiculous answer for ‘What is a meal in the open air called?’ Once everyone had stopped arguing it really was a great night, please do not let this stop you entering when the time comes!

So that’s it really from me, this seems to be more informative than a running diary so why not add a few additional points that I think I would have liked to have known early on:

  • If you are hurting change your trainers, my knee is GREAT and I wish I had done it sooner.
  • Meet up with running groups in your area – everyone is so friendly and there is no need to feel self-conscious or nervous. Everyone has the same goal as you, to train, to run, to learn and to meet like-minded people.
  • Find Facebook groups, running forums, look on pintrest, so much support is available and people really do want to help you achieve your goals.
  • Buy books, read about running, nutrition, training plans for what you want to succeed in e.g. a better time, a longer distance, barefoot running.  It’s all so accessible and the ‘Running the Distance’ group have recommended some great ones to me.
  • Remember everyone has been where you are (if you are starting like me) and can guide you through all the things you are unsure of and people really want to share their experiences.
  • Cut your toenails regularly.  They might not look like they need cutting but trust me these babies grow overnight and can cut your toe just like that, I had never realised that toenails can actually ache and I also didn’t realise they don’t just drop off, they go black, they then go a bit claw like and they hold on for dear life for months, catching on everything in sight. Geross but true!
  • Try and get people to cheer you on when racing, it really does help when you reach your struggling point (12 miles for me at this point!)
  • Vaseline.  Ladies, vaseline is your best friend (I am sure for gents to, but I don’t have knowledge of this)
  • Bowel movements (sorry). Go before you go shall we say.
  • Bladder control – it’s normal. No more needs to be said.
  • Sports clothes, this is all you will look at. No more pretty dresses and definitely no more open toed shoes.  Take a look at www.tikiboo.co.uk, it won’t disappoint.
  • Sports shoes – See above
  • Races, everyone will tell you about races they see and hear about, this is actually great but can work out pricey (thanks Kym)
  • Wherever you go you will be introduced to someone that enjoys running, I am not sure if this is for your benefit or the hosts (to stop you boring everyone else)
  • Squinting, don’t do it, I have definitely aged this year around the eyes, I am putting this done to running and not growing older.
  • Running in the rain is great – just hum eye of the tiger and imagine you are in a Rocky movie.

The best bit is along the way you will make lots of new friends, OK, some you might never meet in person but a friendship is a friendship and I think it makes everything a lot more fun!

So that’s this month’s update, not much to report running wise and I certainly didn’t expect it to be so long. Well done for getting to the end!  I want to thank all of you for your lovely comments, I am sure you are all very biased but it is lovely to hear. I really was in two minds on whether to post it but you talked me round!

Let’s see what happens next…. Hopefully a lot of miles, some understanding of speed-work and no injuries!

Lots of love,

Laura xx

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