My First Marathon: Stockholm Marathon 1989

I did my first marathon in 1989. I did run at school and stopped like a lot of people, then in my mid 20’s I started running again. I had been living in London for about 3 years and had always kept fit by cycling around London, oblivious to the traffic. I would be petrified to cycle around London now. After a few months of running I decided to do a half marathon. I looked in the Runners World magazine and decided to enter the Watford Half-Marathon. I sent off for the application form, filled it in and sent it back with a cheque and stamped SAE so I could receive the results. Remember this was the ‘back in day’ where online entry didn’t exist (not for me anyway). I did the half-marathon without any problems. Then of course the obvious next thing is to do was a marathon.

I entered the Stockholm Marathon via the same method as before. I must of only done about half a dozen runs until I did my longest which I think could of been as much as 15 miles!! The next day I had a sore knee which lasted about 6-7 weeks, more or less right up until the marathon. As the event came closer, I thought, I can’t chicken out now, I’ve told everyone I’m doing it, accommodation is booked and my cousin had decided to do it as well. For some reason I decided to work in London even the night before. I flew out on the first flight out of Heathrow to Stockholm. I arrive, took a taxi to the park, where my cousin was waiting for me. He had flew from Monte Carlo for the marathon. I think the marathon started at 1pm in the afternoon. I would never do something so daft nowadays, what if the plane was late?

Anyway, the Stockholm Marathon started. It was amazing Bands, Massages, Drinks, Food all as you ran and a fantastic crowd. I can remember crossing lots of bridges and it seemed to be drizzling with rain for a lot of it. By 18 miles I was knackered and my knee was sore, so there was some walking.

Finally, I got to the Stadium at the end before the 5 hour cut off point. My cousin greeted me with “I thought you were never going to get here, I’ve been waiting for ages.”We walked back to where we were staying. Our accommodation was a boat on the river. I was so, so, so tired. My cousin had to push me out to get something for dinner. We had a McDonalds. The next day we flew home. I was shattered and I thought “never again”. I was not fit and it’s not the way to run a marathon. Did I do another marathon?

Book Recommendation: Running Science (Editor, John Brewer)

If I was going to buy someone a running book this Christmas, I would buy this. An increasing number of people are buying E-books rather than hardback books, myself included. However, this is one of the few books I will have on my shelf at home. I enjoy reading it and find it so informative. It explains the Science of Running in a way that anyone can understand. It has large pages, large pictures and large print. It’s also not full of stuff that is not relevant or too academic. My attention span is very short so this is perfect for me. The content is excellent. The format is brilliant. Each page begin with a question and then it is explained. E.g.,

What affects recovery rate after exercise? Can I become a better runner by changing my style? Will supplements improve my running? Will a cup of coffee help me run better? Are Sports Drinks good for me? Can I run through pain? What should I think about when I’m running? How can I keep my mind positive? How much should I increase my Training? What is HIIT and should I be doing it? Is more mileage in training always better? How quickly do I lose fitness if I stop running? Can a heart rate monitor improve performance? Will core strength and stability training keep me injury free? Can sports massage help with injuries or performance? Is running bad for my knees? Will a foam roller make me a better runner?

Authors: John Brewer, Iain Fletcher, Laura Charalambous, Bob Murray, Daniel Craighead, Andy Lane, Charles Pedlar, James Earle, Paul Larkins, Anna Barnsley,

Book Available from Amazon Amazon link for Running Science Book

Book Review: Get Fit, Not Fat, Author: Greg Whyte

This book has been out for a few years. I’ve had mine for a few years. I’ve just noticed the price on Amazon is £7.99, a bargain, it certainly was not that cheap when I got mine. The book explains why we should should exercise but the best thing I find about this book is the large coloured pages with large photo’s of exercises. Probably, about half the content of the book is photo’s of different exercises, i.e., strength exercises, flexibility exercises and balance exercises. It’s ideal for me because I can’t remember what exercises to do and how to do them properly. I pick about 5 exercises for a 15 minutes session. I normally do the exercises ar the gym but it would be perfect for someone who doesn’t belong to a gym. I have thought about buying another to give to my elderly mum and dad and my lazy sister (she hates exercise but 15 minutes is doable) as it has each exercise in three levels, easy, medium and hard.

The book is available on Amazon Link to Get Fit Not Fat

Running and physical activity participation in female youths.

I write this from a parent’s perspective, outlining my daughter’s experience of  her physical activity and running as she grew in England. It was very different from my own experience as I was growing up in N.Z., where sport seemed to surround me at home and at school. I don’t know if this due to a cultural difference or it was just what it was like in the 1970’s & 1980’s. My feeling are that things have changed as, at the moment N.Z., like England have high levels of childhood obesity which has been partially attributed to a lack of physical activity.

My daughters Sports day at Primary School was the only opportunity I had of seeing my daughter in a school setting. I expected to see, egg and spoon races, sack races, three legged races, dressing up races, relay’s, and maybe mother and daughter running races. Instead I saw her do a variety of activities with no aim to the activities and no one came first or last.

When my daughter was small I used to ask her what she did in P.E, and the lessons sounded great, a really good variety and the teachers were lovely, I also asked “does your teacher put trainers and trousers on when she teaches P.E?” Her response was “No, Miss puts on her furry coat and stays in her high heels and tell us what to do”. I couldn’t help but laugh, but I do think P.E., teacher’s need to be a role model by taking a little bit of an active part. One thing that surprised me was how little swimming she did. She did 12 swimming lessons in the total time at Primary School. If we hadn’t taken her swimming in her spare time she would have never learned to swim.

At Secondary School, my daughter did a variety of Sports, even Lacrosse. She was quite good at running despite doing no training for it, other than parkrun.

My daughter really enjoyed parkrun. She learned to love running from parkrun. There was no pressure to run as fast as you could, unless you felt like it. She knew she would never come last and she was so pleased when she got her white 10 parkrun top. She also liked the cake at the end.

At school, when there were competitions with other schools in running, she did well. One day she bought home a letter and it said she had been picked to run for her County in the Cross Country Championships and if she wanted to go, ring up this person on his number. The same thing happened again when she ran for her County at the Athletic Championship. On the day of the event we had to drive over an hour to the venue then find the man who gave her a vest. Only one other boy was there from her school and she felt quite lonely and stressed. The School took no part in it at all. No teacher came at all. If we weren’t supportive parents she would never of gone. In my Secondary School a teacher/s would always come and all the pupils would come together however far it was to go. No pupil needed parent support. At my school every teacher had to be responsible for one club, whether that be the Christian Club, Netball, Mini Trampoline etc. It was not just the job of the P.E., teacher.to be responsible for a Sports Club. If the French teacher liked Tennis, she would choose to run that club. It was an opportunity for everyone to be active and take part in something, teacher and pupil alike.

My daughter seemed to get a bit put off running after running for her County where others were better than her. It was too competitive for her. She gave up running at about 16 years old like so many girls. Thankfully, when she was 19 years old she started jogging to keep trim and feel better. When she started to run again her sessions were “walk-run-walk”, and not worrying about speed. Now she runs about 4-5 days a week and enjoys it. I attribute her enjoyment of running to parkrun experiences, not her school experiences of running. I feel if anything School put her off running.

Photo below is my daughter Zara.

The Brooks Snowdonia Marathon Elyri: Saturday 28th October 2017

It was the 35th time this famous marathon has been run. It’s been voted the best marathon in the U.K., for more than a few times. Although I didn’t run this year, when I did it, it was the most interesting, wild, beautiful and challenging Marathon I have ever done. To most runners it’s not one for worrying about going fast or getting a P.B., it’s about a great experience.

This year Bath AC runner Daniel Jones returned to Llanberis to take the men’s title in 2.36.54 whilst Northampton athlete Hayley Munn produced a stunning performance in the women’s race in 2.57.34, taking over six minutes off the course record.

The Marathon basically has three big hills: Hill 1 – long and steep for miles to Pen y Pass which you can chug up, you can see that hill in the photo above. You then turn off onto a trail road/track and it’s a steep downhill for miles. Hill 2 – is a steady climb, on the road for miles then it’s the last hill, Hill 3 – at around mile 21. It does’nt last long but it’s so, so steep everyone around me was walking. Finally, the hill ends but it is very, very, muddy, and steep downhill which also frustratingly prevents you running in some places. You then turn of the track and come into the town into the finish line to the rapturous applause of the huge crowd on the Llanberis high street. We got a Snowdonia Marathon Slate Coaster and a Cotton T shirt at the end.

Men’s top 5

1 Daniel Jones 2:36:54 Team Bath AC

2 Matt Hobbs 2:42:34 Pudsey and Bramley AC

3 Paul Jones 2:43:45 Shrewsbury AC

4 Gareth Petts 2:45:30 Whitney RR

5 Will Russell 2:46:24 Hercules Wimbledon

Women’s top 5

1 Hayley Munn 2:57:25 Northampton RR

2 Andrea Rowlands 3:01:38 Eryri Harriers

3 Sarah Cumber 3:13:43 Halifax Harriers AC

4 Jessica Parry-Williams 3:15:51 Les Croupiers RC

5 Emma Wookey 3:15:57 Lliswerry Runners

Full results via the TDL Event Services website here 

Entries to the 2018 Snowdonia Marathon Eryri are live on the 1st of December 2017, with the 2018 race date Saturday 27th of October

Further info via the Brooks Snowdonia Marathon Eryri website www.snowdoniamarathon.co.uk, on Facebook and Twitter @marathoneryri

Wiggle Forest Ranger Cycling Sportive Staffordshire : Sunday October 2017

…………….I only fell off once.

This Sunday was cycling again and my husband Andy said he would cycle with me today. Andy woke me at 7.45 saying “everything’s in the car, tea’s downstairs, you just have to get dressed.” He had a new cycle, but a very cheap one since making the decision after getting home from last week’s Sportive mechanical and crash problems that it was time for a new cycle. The cheap cycle would do until his new good one arrived. I think we were last off the start at 9.30am but as we were only doing the Short Route of 44 miles so it didn’t matter. It was windy and what I call hilly, but I think cyclists would call it bumpy. Food stop was lovely, there were cakes, salty crackers, sweets but lovely hot tea, coffee and chocolate. We set off again with only my bum hurting as always so all was good, until we needed to stop at an intersection and all the cyclists stopped except one that falls flat sideways on the road, ouch, it does hurt. I will have to have more practice with the cleats. Once I rested for a bit Andy explained you get out of the cleat before the intersection and then if you need to stop you put your foot down. He taught me as we went on. Finally we finished and got socks, a buff and a medal at the finish. We took almost 4 hours!! On the way home Andy said our friend Dan Robinson could run it quicker than that, and he can too.

Sunday 15 October: Evan’s Cannock Sportive

Great Event. I was so pleased with finishing this Sportive. Cycling is fairly new to me. Well I say new, but I did do triathlons over 20 years ago and I was very slow anyway. Since taking up cycling again I’ve done three training rides and two Cycling Sportives. I got lost and fell off my cycle in both of them. Anyway, we woke up at 7am, late because our 2 Ragdoll Cat alarm clocks slept in. We arrive at Cannock Forest collected our numbers and had Cycled off by 8.30am. Parking was good, there were plenty of Portaloo’s and the organisers were very efficient. The course was great and best of all they has loads and loads of pink signs so no one could get lost. There was a lovely variety of cakes, nuts, drinks etc., at the feed station. It was great. I then went through the finish line and did fall over because I couldn’t get my foot out of the cleat in time. Meanwhile as I was drinking my Cappuccino and eating my toasted sandwich, I get a phone call from my husband who was doing the 82 mile course. He had crash and the cycle was unridable, grumpily he said he would be hour but the maintenance van picked him up quite quickly and he was back about half an hour later. A fantastic event. Highly Recommended.