Old Kea Church, Truro

Old Kea church is mysterious, an intangible, hidden place of ruin and decay.

I have been there once as a very small child, and retain the impressions generated at that time.

The area to the west of Truro river is great for quiet running along lanes, with Trelissick estate a pretty change to easy trail, lovely river views and some quad busting hills (looking at you – up to Porth Kea from Cowlands and Calenick to Porth Kea on the other side!), real stinkers and I am struggling to love them as I should.

With only the length of time it takes to train a dragon for the second time available to me, I headed out; planning only to drop down the back of county hall to the old railway and run along to Calenick, doing 45 minutes out, turn and allow 1hr 15 to get home. I’d left the car for the returning cinema goers. No plans, just see where I got to before turning around.

With 4 minutes left on my 45 out I found myself at the signpost for Old Kea or Coombe, either direction led down (meaning either way I’d be running up on my return…). I took the Old Kea road thinking I’d do the 4 minutes, then head up without seeing the actual village, but it’s deceptive how far you travel even at my pace in 4 minutes – and spoiler – no village.

I was musing on mysteries as I ran and found myself looking across the valley and slowly picking out the tower, overgrown in the trees. It sort of materialised out of the woods and took shape as I looked, which is exactly how it should have behaved, in its role as a keeper of childhood romance. Only moonlight and mist would’ve been better.

By the time I had one minute left to run before turning back it was within 1/4 mile and clearly I had to go and have a look.

Only the 13th century tower still stands of the original church. I have memories of family discussions about the need for lightning conductors, and had formed the impression as a child that it was ruined because of the lightning strike, although the parish history seems to suggest that problems with the integrity of the nave was the reason for eventually demolishing it and the tower could conceivably have been struck later, as it is missing one of the corner statues.

There is a small church built in the grounds, and an ancient stone, referred to in the parish history above.

Lovely to find this while out running – some might point out that’s hardly a discovery and the place was never lost, but there you go. I’m exploring places I would never come across otherwise, and find it nurturing for the soul. So.

Finished up only 10 minutes after the film party got home and with 10 miles tucked under my soles for the day, heard a little about some other dragons who have perhaps been enlightening the England squad on aspects of dragon lore. Some great memes going around on that too 😁

Cabin fever ….

I have been putting this off. For a month. Actually, more than a month. It’s silly and embarrassing and I feel ashamed for having been stupid but there you go.

So marathon training was going well; March mileage really on track, building on all the slow but good work since December- mostly sticking to the plan etc etc.

Until I screwed it up by going out for a 16 mile run and finishing it early, at 10 miles.

I didn’t feel great and really my heart wasn’t in it. Eating a pasty before a long run is not a good plan for me either, as it turns out! The plan does involve tolerating meals and then running directly after, but pasties are now off the list.

The pasty wasn’t the problem. The run that day wasn’t even the problem. The problem came when I decided that since I’d flunked the 16 miler I would go and do it properly the next day- or something like that (yes it was a punishment for being weak – idiot).

I started to develop a pain on the outside of my knee at about 6/7 miles, and struggled to run on the downhills in particular. Walk-run followed as it alternately eased and got worse again and by the time I’d hobbled all the way home – literally, for the last 2 miles; it was agony. I knew I’d not twisted it or torn anything but it was likely to be an overuse injury of the ITB, and not a knee injury in the standard sense, needing total rest for a couple of weeks. I found that out after having two days off and heading out for 6 ‘gentle’ miles, then crippling pain returned and I hobbled home again.

Once it was made clear to me that it wasn’t going to improve if I carried on training, I did decide to have a gap.

Resting has been tricky because we were lambing, requiring lots of steep walking to check sheep and bottle feed orphans at all hours of the day and night, together with the knee and back destroying game called ‘get the sheep and her new lambs in’. This game, if you don’t know it, usually gets played in the dead of night, and starts in the corner of the field the furthest away from the barn. Having gone up to check if anyone has lambed and marvelled at how the rain is driving upwards into your hood before running down your neck, and the droplets lit up in your head torch beam (if you re read this post, try a mk1 version of this game with a large heavy handheld torch, one of those million candle jobs). Head torch beam sweeps through the rain and picks up a set of eyes reflecting back from a long way off. Yellow ones. A sheep. The rest of the flock have already rushed off in a panic because it’s not like they don’t get checked four times a day when it’s lambing time! Fifty sets of yellow eyes could be a bit freaky if you didn’t know what they were (badgers and foxes’ eyes tend to red).

Armed with antiseptic spray and old towels, your job (once she’s done her job and lambed them ok) is simply to catch the new lamb, take it, any siblings it might have and their mum into the shelter of a pen. Easy.

Except they are slimy with mucus and can be heavy, and you have to keep them close to the ground so their mum can see them and follow the lambs into the barn. With a first time lambing mum this is a particularly frustrating exercise involving some steps with the struggling, slippery lambs, her panicking and running off to where she had them, having to put the lambs down and step away to let her find them again, picking them up and going another few steps backwards, hunched over to dangle them just above the ground, where sheep generally expect to see their lambs, not unreasonably. Repeat. Repeat. Singles are a pain but easier than twins. Triplets involves a special relay version of dropping two off partway and going back for the third.

Anyway, it doesn’t come under the category of complete rest for the ITB. Far from it.

I was surprised at how much I missed training too – losing my ability to train at that point showed me what benefits I get from running, which seem to include processing difficult issues, getting perspective and generally feeling more resilient and confident. Not training felt like being trapped. It felt torturous. It has clearly become very important to my wellbeing and self worth. Not the best time for life to turn upside down either, which it then did.

It took more than three weeks for the pain to settle, and I’ve had to re-evaluate my plans.

Firstly, the Scouts 30 – 35 mile walk had to be done, as they were relying on me to lead a group. On that walk I discovered Zapain at max dose, walking poles; great when you get the hang of them, and keeping the injury warm so I didn’t tear cold muscles on the coast path in the windiest Scouts C2C to date (it was painful, but two days after the walk I felt a great improvement in the knee pain).

Next, there was no way I could do the marathon as I couldn’t hope to get the mileage back in time to save my cardiovascular fitness, given that I couldn’t run, bike or even row due to the knee pain. Also, the marathon was prep for the ultra, and that is my goal event.

The ultra is sponsored so I have an obligation to those who have sponsored me and to the charity. If I am stuck I can walk it, although I will be running as much as I can, because I have more time to rescue the training and the fitness.

I won’t be as fit, I won’t have as many hours on my feet banked, I won’t feel as confident but I will finish it.

Having been so stupid as to get into this situation I hope that being sensible and dialling it back will be a smarter move in the longer term.

A lesson I won’t soon forget.

PS. I can’t open Strava yet. I can’t bear it.

Race to the Stones 2019

This was my first Threshold event, and first ultra, so this is written very much from the rookie standpoint.

It’s worth noting how accessible this event is for a first timer.

It was all very obvious. The start, the information, the route, no real scope to get things drastically wrong, which is helpful if, like me, this is your first event of this kind.

It was also much slower paced, and certainly did not feel like a race.

The field of dreams is after the first checkpoint, at around 12km in.

Definitely a photo opportunity!


Our hot June and July meant it was pretty dusty, loads of people wore gaiters. Hard baked chalk and flint made cushioning a real must, as I found to my agonising cost. I started in hybrid Altras, but my Hoka Arahi would have been a far better early choice. I chose the Altras for grip and room for swelling in the toe box, and good grief did my feet swell!

I wear my trainers a half size up from my normal shoe size anyway, but for long hot events I’ll definitely be heading up another half size again.

Having got swollen and very bruised feet from the extremely hard surface and every step feeling like I don’t know what, I changed to Saucony Peregrine 7s at 73km, with fresh socks, which helped but of course the bruising and swelling was already there, so I had a little more protection but still very much regretted the poor early choice.

The other poor early choice worth mentioning is socks. I’ve been getting on well with CEP socks, and had been wearing a size lll, but wore in a pair of size ll before the event. Not even thinking about the sizing because they are all the same colours, I’d headed out in the size lls and found that they started to chafe my toes from about 20km in, making them pretty sensitive and me very jumpy as the pain from normal blisters is far easier to bear than from toe blisters, and I spent time at each checkpoint pulling the socks free of my toes to give more room.

My parents weren’t due to catch me up until 50km, and they had all my kit in a box in the car, so I didn’t have spare socks on me. In the event I saw them for an unscheduled hug at Goring, but totally forgot to sort the socks or the shoes at that point. Even though I thought I was feeling ok I think it illustrates how judgement can be affected.

I finally changed socks at 40km when I saw them again, but for some reason I stuck with the Altras at that point, I think my rationale was that the Altras were 0mm and both the trail and road shoes are 4mm drop, and I felt I should stick with what had worked so far. I did get a hot spot on the right heel at around 35km, but a patch on that at 40km lasted me through to the finish with no actual blistering.

I gave my feet a wet wipe down, air dry and fresh socks at 40km, which made a huge difference, I think, to keeping the skin intact, as well as further airings, change of shoes and socks on at least one occasion after that. I finished with a hotspot on the other heel but had decided not to stop after 90km for anything – I’d really had it by then!

Speaking of swelling, I was surprised to find my hands swelled too, from being held low in the heat, I tried to keep them up but you do look like a right ****, so I tried to do it surreptitiously….

I’d decided not to use the hydration pack because you can’t see how much you are drinking, and it is crucial to stay on top of hydration in an event like this. Instead I got two soft bottles (don’t like the sloshing you get with half empty bottles) and filled one with electrolyte and one with water. I tried to drink both between every checkpoint, although I moved to half an electrolyte tab a per 10km as they made me feel sick. I made sure to visit the porta loo every stop too and checked that I wasn’t dehydrated. As the heat went out of the day I cut back to just over half of my daytime water intake.


I headed off from my last scheduled meet with family at 40km, having let them find me using the open tracker. They were great for moral support and for telling me I’m awesome – I didn’t believe them of course but it is nice to hear.

Tracking was easier for all of us despite costing Β£30, as it meant they could track me online in real time and meet at a road crossing. Crucially for me, it meant that I didn’t need to know where I was because for most of it the last thing I needed was to be trying to direct a car into a road crossing ahead of me! Later I met a chap who had been trying to arrange a rendezvous with his wife by text, she had missed him and he’d pressed on; possibly not great for marital harmony…..

It wasn’t my finest hour when I left checkpoint 4 having forgotten to pack the head torch. I had hat, gloves, long top and waterproof but no lights!

To their credit, none of my fellows pointed out I was heading the wrong way to catch the car before they left, and it was only an extra 1km but still.

The halfway camp at 50km, and CP5. Omg the noise. I couldn’t wait to get out of there. I could hear it for miles and hours afterwards. I guess if it’s your thing then great but I wasnt in that zone at all. Between the DJ for the finishers and the loud motivational rock music – some people appeared to be gearing up for a party! Thinking back I should’ve got a pint and taken it with me, because the unofficial rave checkpoint was next and I could have done with the salts.

Here at the checkpoint after Waylands Smithy, possibly 6, as it starts to get pretty dark and much colder around 10.30. Met up with and said goodbye to my little sis and it was head torch from here until around 04.30 after checkpoint 9.

By the next checkpoint I had a jacket, buffs and gloves on too. I’d overestimated the amount of heat I’d produce, as had others judging by the silver blankets wrapped around many people!

I thought I would be running much more than I did. By 70km I’d added two buffs around the neck and made sure I kept eating and taking a hot drink at each stop. I tried to ensure I wrapped up before I started to feel cold. Once you’re cooling it’s very hard to catch up.

My phone had run out of battery, and my feet were crippling me at 73km, where we crossed the M4. Somehow my lovely crew got the telepathy and caught me up so I could change shoes, put leggings on and chug a coffee which made a massive difference to morale. They headed off to grab some kip at the finish and I plugged on up to the ridge. There are few places accessible to cars on that bit. There’s a stinker of a downhill at 78km btw, really tricky little track at a crazy angle down off the uplands to Ogbourne St George where the roman road, now the A4, crosses the ridgeway path.

Next time (!) for similar weather I’d have another long sleeved technical layer on as well. The trouble is that your back sweats against the pack when your front and arms need to warm. A balancing act as a wet sweaty top will chill you quickly.

On the subject of clothing, ladies, skorts are definitely where it’s at. Handy to pin your number on, and some lovely designs out there. I put up with the appalling quality shorts on mine (they ride up) because it has great pockets which none of the others seem to have.


My worst time was dawn. I was bright and perky until I’d passed CP 90km, and it was the boredom of heading along the last 8km that really got me. Everything hurt, noone was around, I’d spent time chatting with various folks along the way but I really prefer my own company and very quickly run out of chat, and most people don’t seem to do companionable silence, but that bit was lonely. I couldn’t see Avebury and hadn’t reached the vile ruts in the track I’d been warned about. I had a bit of a low at that point. Slogging on was the game though and having a marker every km made such a difference. The signs say “xxkm. More is in you’. At each one I’d taken to saying ‘yep, more is in me, xxkm more’ (probably a good thing I was on my own!); knowing its 90% mental certainly helps.

Coming into the finish I was met by my son, who did his best and failed to make me run in, but awarded me with my medal and presented me with the hoodie I’d bought, saying loudly ‘at least you don’t have to write DNF on it do you?’ (I had resigned myself to doing that, and it also kept me going – whatever works eh?)

Absolutely shattered!


I headed up the night before with my my parents and my youngest, to camp at a lovely forestry site, Postern Hill, near Marlborough – be warned there were no showers so wet wipes were a must. This was about 8 miles from the finish at Avebury.

The original plan and logistics were blown out of the water by life events. This event is incredibly well managed and supported, although I found the website areas a bit frustrating on mobile, and you can rack up the additional costs pretty quickly too.

The alternative, doing it on my own, would definitely involve parking at the finish, getting the bus to the start and a good few hours kip in the car before heading home after finishing.

I got 2hours sleep when I got back to the campsite before having to pack the tent and head off, and fell asleep at least 10 times in the car while supposedly being in charge of the map reading, and zonked on arrival home.

I did this to raise money for charity, as a way of dealing with an expected loss. It helped to remember why I’d decided to do this when things felt tough at 92km.

The event registration fee is less when you go straight through rather than stopping to camp, although my reason to go straight through was the certainty that I wouldn’t want to start a second 50km when stiff from the first, as well as feeling I should do a harder challenge to raise money for Marie Cuire. My new reason is to avoid the base camp, but next time I’ll remember to pick up a beer on the way through!

My folks dropped me at the finish as parking there had sold out by the time my life had stabilised enough to make arrangements for RTTS, I caught the shuttle bus to the start in Lewknor (Β£25). I do consider that a reasonable cost – it gave time to rest, digest breakfast, apply suncream and not stress about the horrendous queues all the way from the motorway to the start field. We were late due to the traffic and I missed my wave but since it was out of my control I joined the next one with a clear conscience. Getting the bus from the finish to the start meant no worrying about getting the bus from the finish to the start at the end of the event when exhausted.

I would recommend this event as an entry to the world of ultras. It’s hard enough going such a distance without having to worry about food drink and nav as well. I didn’t need medics and perhaps that’s a fair bit of luck as well as preparation and awareness.

By the Weds I was recovered from the initial DOMS and a week later I’m thinking about the RTTK for next year. I won’t be back running for another week at least as my body adjusts, or at least until the swollen feet (check them out) go down πŸ˜†

Bump 2019

Always on time, me! πŸ˜‚

Thought I’d be making my first post of the year a bit earlier though….truth is, I’ve been dead busy (haven’t we all?) and I’ve been working through a minor crisis of confidence too.

So the pic was taken at Eden park run, on the last Saturday before my little sis returned to South America with her family, and 3 of us siblings did the Parkrun with my own smallest, who hared off with his uncle in tow somewhere on lap 2, and they were both finished, rested and ready to take this lovely pic (airing it- πŸ‘€ – like, proper job!) – note to self – buy some different coloured running tops πŸ˜‰.

I read a post recently, and if I could find it again I’d ping the blogger, but, you know.

Anyway, they pointed out that the time involved in training for a marathon is like having a part time job. That resonated; I’d not thought about it like that at all….

I already have a full time job actually, so marathon training 6 days in 7 on top of that, family, other stuff and completing my MA this year starts to stack up a bit!

It’s going OK too – the park run times are down (but I wouldn’t beat the small fella yet!), and hills are easier since I changed style and better again when I also added an hour class of static cycle training into my week recently.

It is a lot to fit in, and getting enough rest (for rest, read sleep) is just not happening at the moment, but hopefully that will improve.

I am blown away by finding out how widespread running is, its easy to find stuff online of course but it turns out that loads of people I know also run, they just don’t make a big song and dance about it πŸ˜„.

It’s incredible how much people fit into already busy lives.

Always space for another inspiration though, whether it’s picking up old hobbies or starting new ones – these lighter evenings are a good time to begin, now the false hope of new years resolutions have faded.

I didn’t make any, never really managed to stick to them in the past and I’m finding that getting started is one thing, but that when changes are incorporated into my lifestyle that I’m more likely to stick with it. When I’ve formed a habit though and get fairly rigid about it, the success rate goes up.

I don’t know about you, but the reasons for continuing to do something, whatever they were at the beginning, often change as I go on, and the reasons I continue may be very different.

I’ve just rediscovered the joy of painting (having thought that kids sucked the creativity out of me long ago); turns out it is the time to think that is key rather than time to paint, and I credit the time spent running for that.

The crisis of confidence passed when I remembered that if you’re reading this, it’s because you’ve chosen to – so I’m not foisting my ramblings on the unsuspecting – I’d been having a bit of a self indulgent ‘why would I presume to write stuff and bung it on the internet’ thing going on – also, revisiting the original purpose of this blog helped too.

It is intended to motivate me and be a point of reference for anyone wanting to keep up to date with my running stuff.

It’s just not as simple as 1st Jan = new best me.

Now that’s sorted I think I shall post a little more often from now πŸ˜ƒπŸ“š

Getting Social with Lonely Goat RC

Thanks to LG Andy for permission to use this image

Recently I bumped into someone I was friends with in school.

We were both very good at school athletics back in the day, and found we had something in common still, having both returned to running as adults following an extended break, and in going on to running a half marathon.

My friend had joined (and left) a local running club.

I’ve not managed to join a club although I considered it for a while – I don’t like talking while running, or making small talk at the best of times. I don’t want to be under pressure to compete and for my efforts to affect club ranking either β€΅πŸ˜† oh, and my commitments don’t fit with their timetable.

You’re going to get all kinds of folks in any club – I tend to think that they’re a bit elitist, but not having been in one its clearly my own prejudice!

I do like to read loads of running, fitness, nutritional and kit related stuff online though – and sure enough the net was watching me!

I have no doubt that the slew of ads on FB that relate to my interest is no coincidence.

So up pops an Ad for an online running club FB page called Lonely Goat.

The power of advertising!

Reader, I clicked.

Now, I vaguely remember seeing a fella at the Eden Half 2018 with a Lonely Goat top – can’t remember the colour I think maybe green or yellow – shout out if it was you 🐐!

Needless to say he was overtaking me.

I had a peek at the website and requested to join the FB chat out of interest.

Anyway – I’ve joined the Lonely Goats, which judging from the numbers of new folk posting for the first time, appears to be going somewhat viral!

The values and ethos of the club are great, and translate into a caring and supportive atmos if you can have such a thing in cyberspace. People post their good times, crappy runs, c25k woes and wonders, as well as hosting marathoners and beyond. They receive validation and the occasional virtual kick up the butt to get laced up, get out there and get going

Fave LG attributes

  • Supportive and motivating
  • Online
  • No need for chit chat if I see anyone out in their shirt cos I’m in stealth mode, but I can say hi if I want
  • Keep running on my own



I may even succumb to the temptation to show I belong and to buy more lovely kit I don’t need!

Who’s up for an Ultra?

An ultra marathon is any distance longer than the 26.2 mile marathon.

So why would anyone decide to sign up for an ultra?

This time last year I didn’t know what that even was. My firm view on finding out was that those people who do them are really not right.

So something definitely changed.

Part of the reason for me is to push myself to go longer, and stay healthy, fit and strong.

I also love the idea that an ultra is an eating event with some very slow running thrown in. You can see why I was sold on it now, right?

You’ll have seen from this post that part of my training incorporates a trail marathon in Cornwall too, another first for me, in May 2019.

The two distances are, it has to be said, very different animals.

I had intended that the ultra would be 50km, which is 8km longer than the marathon at 42.1km.

The race I’ve actually signed up for though, is 100km. That’s 62.1 miles. Although it’s possible to break up the distance by camping overnight on the Saturday; I’ll be completing the 100km non stop.

I decided to do the extra distance to raise funds for Marie Curie, who support people living with terminal illness. I’d already intended to do 50km before thinking about fundraising, so it seemed only fair to up the challenge by a fair bit (or double it, whichever you prefer).

Which brings me to the other part of the reason for signing up – terminal illness is something which I’ve not had to confront in my personal life previously, and to have its spectre arrive in the family was, and is still, a huge shock.

It’s been a few months since we found out and although news was initially closest family only; as the news has been shared with wider families and friends it’s developed a momentum of its own.

By agreement, I won’t identify the owner of the illness in this or any updates.

Planning and practicalities are a part of the processes and arrangements which suddenly, unexpectedly intrude into life. Keeping busy helps to distract us all from having to think about our impending loss, as does humour, but increasingly, that early grief requires attention, too.

None of us can ever know how long we have to spend together, and the news is simply a reminder of that in many ways. The time we do have also needs to include a celebration of that time too.

My plan though, is to fundraise in some part, to feel like I’m doing something constructive in the face of the immenseness of it all, to help those countless others who will come after, and to try and put some time into coming to terms with all that’s going on.

I’ve started a Just Giving page for anyone who would like to donate to Marie Curie and sponsor me to complete the 100km Race to the Stones 2019.

It’s along the ancient Ridgeway path, one of the national trails.

The bumps along the bottom of the image show the hill profile along the whole of the route.

The route starts from Lewknor and finishes at Avebury stone circle, passing numerous bronze and Iron age sites, including the Uffington White Horse, although by my very rough calculation it may be getting a bit dark by the time I get there!

I’d really like to raise Β£500 for Marie Curie – of course I’d love to raise far more than this, and all donations will be very much appreciated.

For anyone who would like to donate but doesn’t want to use electronic means, please let me know and we’ll sort it so you can still make a donation in a way that feels comfortable to you.

Please do also share away and encourage others to donate.

I’m planning a training updates series of blog posts to the Imerys trail marathon and beyond to the Race to the Stones.

You can follow me and get updates direct to your inbox below.

Further or faster?

It was an experience – achieving my first massive fitness related goal.

For the first two days I was so proud of myself, shattered, stiff and proud of myself, in that order πŸ˜€

Then, in the tiredness, it happened.

The post race blues – time when your body is putting all efforts into repair and recover from the pounding!

While still too exhausted to run anywhere I spent some time wondering if I’d go out running again, ever.

It was such a long way from the determination, energy and effort sustained for eight months of training. I felt outside of it all, trying to look in and wondering why anyone would do this to themselves.

Not being able to walk downstairs comfortably for three days would not be helping either!

At the same time, getting restless, wanting to find the energy, determination and the sense of achievement again but not feeling motivated to start.

This is probably a good thing – I think I underestimated the time needed to recover and my body and mind took on the job of not letting me back too early!

A nasty creepy cold has also snuck in, but apparently that’s normal too.

Time for a new goal to get motivated and start over – I don’t want to lose the fitness I’ve worked so hard for by leaving it too long.

The question was then ‘further, or faster?’

Marathon time!

Trail marathon, to be more exact- I’m hoping it will be more interesting, and varied with better views. After all, Cornwall has fabulous trails and footways so getting out to enjoy them has to be top of the list!

Also, I’m keeping it local; some races open up usually private land so a long nosy run is on the cards around the China Clay pits at the Imerys Trail Marathon.

For this I must go shopping for essential things which I’ve not thought of yet but am very much looking forward to buying!

I had so much fun sorting a training plan too – a perfect occupation for a tired evening – colour coded and everything. My plan is a combination of two free ones I found online that together would get me there.

Runners World has a fab tool to use in working out training paces. I’m going to stick to these paces which seems counterintuitive at first, is explained here. Going all out to beat that last segment might not be what’s needed longer term.

I might draw my plan up properly at some point and make it a thing of beauty.

The first part of my integrated plan is focused on building a strong mileage base, before moving on to the trail marathon part.

The eagle eyed will spot the change to miles. I was working my way into the start crowd at Eden and asked a runner what her pace was, to get a feel for where I needed to be. 9 min/miles – had to ask her what that was in km 😳 = went further back in the queue. I hope to feel more grown up, working in miles and the numbers are lower. It all helps (well hopefully!). The bummer is having to convert back to m/km or km/hr for treadmill so the plan has evolved several stages along the way.

Hot tip – Save pace charts for the different run types in both km and mile formats and screenshot them so they’re always ready.

You’ll maybe notice that the plan goes on beyond the trail marathon, and you’d be right that there’s something more. Stay tuned, however you tune πŸ˜ƒ

I’m going to try to do a series of posts but there’re some family discussions needed first.

Eden Project 2018 (first) Half Marathon Race

So after 20+ weeks of training, having come from pretty much nothing; today I completed my first Half.

It has proved to me that working slowly towards a big goal makes something which initially seemed unachievable, perfectly possible.

Don’t get me wrong; it’s not been straightforward getting to this point, and my posts so far on this blog spend time reflecting on some of the challenges along the way.

The shoe saga, for example, eventually culminated in these beauties, after I found a local running shop that does gait analysis and got my shit sorted – like running on cushions, lovely!

I’ve nothing to compare it with, but today seemed really well organised. The instructions and rules were clear, registration packs and comms went out pre-race. The course was well signed and marshalled by St Austell Running Club and the water and aid stations well placed. It was lovely to be encouraged along by smiley faces and the station with the Croc and the mannikin definitely won the character award!

It was strange to run with other people – all my training has been alone – and with that number of people running I shouldn’t have been surprised that bottlenecks occurred on the trail sections, slowing us all to a frustrated walk as we ducked a tree across the path, or negotiated a narrow muddy corner!

In addition to ducking trees, storm Callum had left us another particularly lovely present – two sections of totally flooded road. I’d got somewhat muddy on the trail but was smugly thinking that I’d at least kept my feet dry. Not to be!

I did end up walking some hills which I had planned to avoid doing, but it seemed to make sense as power walking up the hill wasn’t really much slower than my keep running pace, and it certainly used less energy.

At mile 12 I was confident it was downhill all the way, and started to accelerate, finding to my dismay, that there were still uppy sections left to run! Once they were conquered we joined the downhill zigzag to the finish and I hammered in to find a line time of 2hr 25.05, a fantastic experience to cross the finish line with people cheering!

I earned that medal I reckon – and managed to drop my new white t-shirt on the floor within 5 minutes – but all’s well when a pasty and a pint of Tribune are waiting at the end.

We heard at the awards that an operational hitch (ahem) had affected the leaders and caused some head scratching for the organisers but it was sorted by the time us slower folk arrived……

It’s time to think about the next one – I’ve worked too hard and learned too much about myself to want to let it all go now.

The question now is – longer or faster?

Truro Running

21k / Half Marathon Routes this is a darn good route if you want quiet shady lanes and uppy downy bits near Truro. This is not the official Truro Half route, which goes out south of Truro.

St Clement hill is a nasty final kick though. The link to Strava for more map detail is below.

Alternatively you could head straight over at the crossroads at around 11/12km, near Tregear. I turned right there to head alongside Tregasso woods, but if you carry on over the top signed Probus (road across arable land with no fence or hedges – bit strange in Cornwall) and hang a right for Tresillian later at the bridge, there’s a lovely long gentle climb and the routes rejoin at the junction. That detour gives the extra distance so you can stay on through Tresillian and turn off (after my route leaves the main road) onto either the Devil’s Arch road from Tresillian past Penair school and then pick up Penair lane on the right to return to start, or head up the main road, which has a pavement all the way to the park and ride, and cut through the P+R to start.

Check out my run on Strava: https://www.strava.com/activities/1861281991/shareable_images/map_based?hl=en-US&v=1537736085&utm_source=org.wordpress.android&utm_medium=referral

Going the whole Half Marathon Distance

I went the distance! I know I can do it!

Three weeks to go until the 2018 Eden Half. This will be my first half marathon, since getting the running bug earlier this year.

It’s amazing to have come this far, but having had a few conversations with various people recently I’ve been doing a little reading, and a lot of thinking too.

I do think the real achievement is in getting from 0 – 5k. I’m not trying to minimise my current (amazing) achievement and I will get to that….but getting over that first 5k hurdle was such a toughie. It’s easy to see why people get put off, and never get to the fabled runner’s high.

  • At the 0 – 5k point it was hard going, and without the sound knowledge you can run, there is no confidence you can fall back on, no actual evidence that it is possible.
  • At that time perhaps you also have no favoured pace you know you can hold while recovering from a hill/getting breathing rate or heart rate back under control, to fall back on.
  • I read that our optimum muscle temperature for running is a degree higher than the 37Β° of normal body temperature. It takes a while to get up to 38Β° and be properly ready to maintain a work rate and perhaps that’s a factor too, particularly in light of the two previous points.
  • There’s also the breathlessness. It passes (it really does). The beginning of a run is the worst bit for breathlessness. I think that the reason for this is the body needing to catch up and realise that you are working hard running and need more oxygen. By 4-6km the oxygen debt is repaid so it feels easier.

Getting to 5km really is a huge deal, particularly if you’re not aware of the above.

So racking up the extra kilometres from 5 – 21 wasn’t exactly easy either, but some of the factors above still apply, like confidence, knowing it is possible to continue to 21k and beyond. My confidence has come through building up slowly, increasing the long run each week by about 1.5k a time and really sticking as much as possible to my training plan and recording training sessions on my pizza box.

I now know a little about oxygen debt and optimum temperature for the body to work at, and am able to recognise the effects from my own experience. It helps to know that the breathlessness will pass, particularly.

Overall, it will be huge to just get to the finish line uninjured.

I used a race time calculator which suggested a goal time of 2hr 30 – 45 mins might be something to aim for, and my efforts at tempo running have been with this pace in mind, ie. the tempo pace was 25 – 30 seconds faster per minute than my expected race pace (note ‘expected’ rather than goal pace – I thought 2hr 30 was rather wishful thinking).

I was trying to be realistic, but I’ve found I actually ran my whole 21k long run at around my expected tempo pace, but that is a problem. Because tempo pace is pushing at the lactate threshold with a view to increasing the ability of the body to clear lactate from muscles and improve endurance – logic states that it couldn’t have been my real tempo pace.

So the first adjustment is clearly going to have to involve racking up the tempo pace. What an unwelcome prospect that is.

I have found that keeping my watch on to show my pace (ie. the number of minutes and seconds it will take to run a kilometre given current speed) together with a reading for distance already completed is really helpful too.

I can see an immediate change in pace from minimal extra effort down the leggies. Little bit of a reward on the wrist. Nice.

I’m also wondering whether I should aim a little higher on the overall timing front too, maybe try to shave a few minutes off?

Trouble is that I’ve never done this before, so getting all tight about times just isn’t necessary. I want to finish in one piece. That’s it. But…

There isn’t much time either. I don’t expect to get reliably faster in three weeks so maybe realistic improvements are in endurance, and in comfort over the last kilometres. I suffered in the last two but #19 was up a nasty ole hill; I’d just stopped for a loo break (in a real loo I should add) at the bottom and seized up a bit too. Still…

I know I have a belief that I’m extremely slow. It is slowly being challenged by the evidence as my splits come down from 7m range to the 6m range (just), but I’ll be near the back, I’ve little doubt, and that’s if things go well.

So I’m back to the plan for crossing that line uninjured, which is a good plan (but maybe, just maybe…)

If you’d like more info on the route, click here

Up next

I’m feeling a couple more posts coming on – did I mention my new trainers? This follows on from the last – nevertoberepeated trainer buying experience!

Also some race day worries beyond ‘WTF am I doing?’ Watch this space…