Time for a quick catch up?

358 days ago the first advert for tea, in England, was published. I love tea. Why not make a brew and relax, and let’s have a quick catch up, it’s been a while…

13098869_1699954423620963_1529686507_n1

It’s been quite an eventful year in my running to say the least, we kicked off the year with a big PB at the Brass Monkey Half in January. 1.44.27 for 13.1 miles however it wasn’t long before everything started going downhill!

Runhelenrun - Brass Monkey Finish
Brass Monkey Half marathon: New PB 1.44

In February I was diagnosed with blood clots/ Deep vein thrombosis in my left calf, not something you would ever want to happen but as a runner with 2 months to go to the London marathon, training on track and feeling in great form, it was a disaster. After several weeks out I was forced to reassess my goals, forget about GFA (Good for age qualification) which I was more than on course for and re focus on completing it – Which I did, in an almost personal worst time! But it was the best last 6 miles of a marathon I have ever ran; a pit stop at 20 miles to try and get the circulation and feeling back in my feet, a little cry, a rest and then having to pull myself together, meant I was in a better frame of mind and rested, ready to tackle the last 6 miles. All time ambitions were out of the window, I was able to take it easy, enjoy the atmosphere and engage with the crowds.

Not wanting to have to face another high pressured target race but wanting another challenge, next came the banana marathon – 26.2 miles down the Leeds to Liverpool canal dressed as a giant banana to raise money for The Cave Rescue Organisation. I was surprised how well this went, I felt great and despite the costume only finished a few minutes slower than London.

I had decided that instead of an autumn marathon I would try a different challenge and signed up for Fleetwood Sprint triathlon,  however the problem with this was I could hardly swim and I was terrified of putting my head under the water – So I started taking swimming lessons at Leeds Beckett University sports centre.

Then it all went downhill again at the Blackpool 10km, a week after the banana marathon; my foot/ankle gave in after two miles and hasn’t been right since, just when the strengthen exercises seemed to be slowly starting to improve things and I had managed to get up to 3 miles without pain or discomfort, I came off my bike, with a dramatic somersault from the road across the pavement and into a bush on the other side. Thank goodness for the bush. Bruised, battered and shaken up, all it took a few days later, was for me to lift my nephew out of the swimming pool, to pull my back to the extent that walking was barely possible for 4 weeks. I couldn’t dress myself or tie my own shoe laces.

 

4 weeks ago I was given the go ahead to start swimming, and that’s exactly what I did, swam, swam and swam. 2 weeks later I was given the go ahead to start gently easing back into running, starting with some 3 miles runs on holiday last week. During the period of being out of action because of my back I had completely forgotten about all the issues with the tendons in my foot/ankle stability, and now I’m back to where I was 2 months ago, barely managing to run three miles without developing limp, and an uncoordinated running style having to half drag my left foot along as my ankle collapses under me.

14294717_334167620259474_416537764_n
Running on holiday

It’s now two days until Fleetwood triathlon, my swimming is like a series of near miss drowning accidents linked together, I can swim, and quite quickly at that but with no endurance what so ever, every length has me panting and out of breath. I haven’t really been on my bike since I came off and have lost a lot of confidence, I also made the slightly silly decision to swap from cross tyres to road tyres in a hope of being able to achieve a bit more speed but didn’t take into consideration how much it would impact on how I’m used to my bike feeling. I think I may end up being a little overly cautious on the bike section and play it safer than needs be sacrificing speed. – I should have just left the cross tyres on! As for the run, I just need to get through it, it won’t be quick and my running form won’t be pretty but I’m prepared to do whatever is necessary to get round run, hop, walk, shuffle I will get me and my dodgy ankle across the finish line.

 

Swimming is a confusing sport, because sometimes you do it for fun, and other times you do it to not die. And when I’m swimming, sometimes I’m not sure which one it is.

Demetri Marti

On Sunday afternoon I will be a triathlete! I don’t really have a time in mind for the whole thing but I think 20 minutes for the swim, 40 for the bike and 30 for the run should cover it, add on transition time and perhaps around 1 hr 30 – 1 hr 40?

After the triathlon I have the Yorkshire 10 mile race to complete, which I promised Beth I would run with her, whilst her sister and Jim run the marathon. I’m a little concerned about being up to 10 miles in two weeks when 3 is currently a struggle, not from a fitness point of view but from a physical, managing to drag my foot around point of view!

After the Yorkshire 10 miles I think that’s going to be the end of my running for this year, time to take a step back, go back to the beginning and start putting the pieces back together to hopefully be able to come back stronger next year. Maybe I’ll aim for marathon number 10 in 2018.

In November I start training to become a running coach, so I will still be participating but in a slightly different way, hopefully in a less painful, accident prone way!

I’ve already decided on some big challenges for the future; before I turn 40, in 8 years time, I want to complete an Ironman distance triathlon and run the Tenerife Bluetrail ultra marathon that starts in Los Cristianos goes up Mt. Teide, the highest mountain in Spain, and back down to finish on the other side of the island in Puerto de la Cruz.

 

I just need to get through Sunday first… Any last minute hints, tips or advice for me?

Decathlon Energy Bar Generator! (Gluten free too!)

I have a little friday, running nutrition treat for you…! I often get asked about different alternatives to energy gels, for longer endurance events such as marathons and ultras; I have recently found a really fun tool to help you come up with different recipe ideas for energy bars to try out.

The Decathlon Energy Bar Generator!

Runhelenrun - Decathalon Energy Bar Generator

All you need to do is pick your sport, intensity level, favourite ingredients and whether you would like it to be gluten free or not and the generator comes up with a simple recipe for you to follow. It’s like magic!

Don’t forget to try your recipes out on during your training sessions before taking to your big event!

Why not post your favourite ones in the comments below or on the RunHelenRun Facebook page, or tweet @runhelenrun or instagram @Run_Helen_Run. 

Here’s one of my favourite recipes I have generated so far. I think I might have a go at making some this weekend.

Gluten Free Strawberry, Blueberry and Almond bar: 

Runhelenrun - EBG Recipe Berries and NutsRunhelenrun - EBG Ingredients Berries and Nuts.PNGMRunhelenrun - EBG Instructions Berries and Nuts

Non-Broken Thinking

You are what you think you are:

After 2 weeks without running and eating like I was preparing for an ultra marathon at the north pole, I’ve become very fed up, disheartened and 6 pounds heavier!

The last time I ran, I woke up the next morning unable to sit up on my own and in horrific pain when I tried to move, I haven’t ran since. The doctor sent me to the hospital for X-Rays and 2 weeks later we are still awaiting the results. My neck feels a lot better but there is still a nagging ache which gets really sore in the evening.

Having a cold the last week has stopped me from taking the chance and going for a run but I can’t put running off any longer! Jim has just started marathon training for the Yorkshire marathon in October and all the miles he is putting in are making me very jealous! I’m concerned that running might trigger the pain in my neck again and I’m worried I wont be getting up the next day if I do out for a few miles.

However…

I think I’m going to try and attempt parkrun tomorrow,

Jim has even agreed to run with me as his training plan has a slow recovery run scheduled in – It’s a little depressing that my efforts are his recoveries! I suspect, if I make it, will be very slow and steady, a potential extra 10 minutes on Jim’s 19.01 Temple Newsam parkrun PB! You never know, two week rested legs may have me running around like speedy Gonzales – I very much doubt it somehow! I also have the not so small matter of the additional weight to carry round with me too!

My friend and follow runner, the lovely Tammy shared this poem by Walter D. Wintle on her Facebook page today. The first part really echoes my outlook on life and how I think, usually, however the last few weeks I have managed to get myself a little lost. This little nudge came at a very good time.

Thinking

If you think you are beaten, you are;
If you think you dare not, you don’t.
If you’d like to win, but you think you can’t,
It is almost a cinch that you won’t.

If you think you’ll lose, you’re lost;
For out of the world we find
Success begins with a fellow’s will
It’s all in the state of mind.

If you think you’re outclassed, you are;
You’ve got to think high to rise.
You’ve got to be sure of yourself before
You can ever win the prize.

Life’s battles don’t always go
To the stronger or faster man;
But sooner or later the man who wins
Is the one who thinks he can!

So it might not be the best parkrun time ever but it’s a start, a slow parkrun is better than no parkrun!

I’m not broken – I hope…

The Banana Marathon aka The It’s Grim Up North Canal Canter Review

On 3rd July Jim, Stuart and I set off to run the Canal Canter marathon, despite being quite a small and very new race the organisation and friendly atmosphere was great, and certainly helped to calm my nerves!

Unfortunately the toilets were quite a way away from the start so after a quick hunt for a nettle free bush Jim and I put on our banana costumes and prepared to start.

The original plan had been to set off at 10 minute miles for the 10 miles out to Saltaire, then if I felt like I had it in my legs speed up to 9 minute miles for the slight incline back down to the start/ finish at 20 miles. The last 6? Whatever it took to get through them. I didn’t want to go out too fast to start with as the canal paths are quite narrow and my costume could have been a little bit of a hazard. I didn’t want anyone struggling to get round me to overtake when I inevitably  slowed down.

However that’s not what happened… 100m past the start line having found ourselves back together after being separated by going either side of the bridge, Stuart and I decided to run together, at least to begin with. I had split the race down into 3 sections, and didn’t want to think past the first one which I knew for me was going to be the toughest. The 10 miles out to Saltaire, followed by the 10 miles back to the start/finish and the last 6 miles out and back to the end of the canal.

For the first 10 miles we ran a very consistent 9 minute miles, with the splits only deviating from this when we stopped at the water stations, for a quick drink a few jelly babies and a chat with the marshal before setting off again on our way – Our strategy was very much similar to how I would have handled an ultra-breaking down the bigger three stages into lots of little check points using the water stations.

The second 10 miles felt mentally a lot different to the first 10, we were heading back in the direction of the finish, which also doubled up as 20 miles, the point in which I would know if it was all going to be ok! It also helped that after battling with the head wind and slight incline, we now had an easier sail back in the opposite direction. The main issue going back in the direction of the start, was that it was fast becoming a more reasonable time on a Sunday morning, the general public, all the dogs in Leeds and every toddler learning to ride a bike were out in force on the canal. It was great to see Leeds outdoor spaces being used and enjoyed but after tripping over the third dog who thought my costume looked like great fun, I was getting a little fed up. The last 10 miles were also fairly consistent sitting between 9.15-9.30 again only straying from this when we stopped at the water stations every 3 miles or so.

Getting to 20 miles was a great mental mile stone in the race, lots of familiar faces and a great sense of achievement knowing that most of it was now done and we just had the last 6 miles or 2 parkruns as we keep rationalising it as. After a little break at 20 miles for some sugary fizzy pop and a chat with everyone including Jim who HAD ALREADY FINISHED! In an amazing time of 3.08, and second place despite being dressed in a 6 foot banana costume – We set off again to get it finished.

Runhelenrun nearly at 20 miles
Almost at 20 miles!
Runhelenrun Jim nearly finished!
Jim almost finished, 2nd place overall in a time of 3.08!

I thought I’d find the last 6 mentally quite tough as it followed my old route to work, from when we used to live off the canal, many a time I had trained or dashed to walk in a hurry down that stretch of the canal, but it didn’t feel as bad as I expected and the familiarity was actually quite welcome. After 21 miles together I left Stuart and ran on ahead, he was struggling to find his own pace running behind me.

By the time I got to 23 miles, the turning point at the end of the canal I felt like a rusty robot, all form had gone out of the window, my right hip was barely mobile, my shoulders rubbed raw from the banana and the soles of my feet battered. At around 24 and a half miles I saw Jim and Rob in  the distance, I was really happy to see them but at that point I broke mentally, I tried to push on running again but Jim struggled to keep up hobbling behind, still wearing the banana, having already ran 26 miles and walked 2 to meet me. I felt bad leaving him behind so slowed to match his pace, chatting as we ambled along.

At 25 mile Stuart, back in his own rhythm had caught back up so I ditched Jim and fell back into stride behind my running partner, until he managed to up the pace on the last quarter of a mile and my body just wouldn’t let me respond. I finished the marathon in 4 hours, 23 minutes and 11 seconds. Exhausted and unable to speak!

Runhelenrun leaving Jim behind on the last mile
Leaving Jim behind on the last mile!

I’m really happy with my time and the whole experience, I was a little worried that it was going to be a complete disaster and I would end up letting everyone done after hurting my neck the week before and having my wisdom tooth out 3 days prior, oh and drinking too much on the company way day on Friday night and spending the day competing it it’s a knock out type events and throwing myself down giant inflatable slides…. and… and…. You get the picture!

Thank you to everyone who has donated so far, you’re amazing and it is very much appreciated! We still have a couple of the Cave Rescue buffs/neckers left to sell at £10 if anyone wants to buy one, just let me know.

Justgiving.com/runningbananas

Now for a few more pictures!

 

 

Fylde Coast Running Blackpool 10km

I’m doing this a little out of order having not actually posted anything about the banana marathon yet, (the post is half written on my laptop at home) however due to a signaling error, I’m stuck, stationery, on the train on the way back home to Leeds. So here it is… my account of today’s Blackpool 10km.

When I booked this race in, the Banana marathon wasn’t even a passing thought, if I had known that I would have been running down the Leeds to Liverpool canal for 26.2 miles the weekend before, I’m not sure I would have signed up!

The FCR races are always well organised. Today I was surprised by how few running clubs there were there, I’m not sure if that’s a regional thing or not? I didn’t start running until I left university, so I don’t know very much about the running community in Blackpool. I think that’s one of the things that makes these races so great, the number of people taking part for the first time. There were so many runners battling for their own personal goals rather than just those competing against each other.  

We made a conscious effort today to stay to the end and cheer every running in, it was very humbling watching all the runners pushing to achieve their own goals.

I knew today wasn’t going to be a PB, long before I even got on the train on Saturday morning. I haven’t done any speed work in a long time and my right leg was still niggling from the marathon. I think today’s  issue was actually in my hip, causing a missalignment to my knee and consequently my foot wasn’t planting in the correct position, which in turn put too much strain on my arch and ankle.

A bad night sleep on a blow up mattress on my mum’s living room floor, also aggravated ongoing issues with my neck and shoulder. Oh well, these things happen…

The first two miles felt great, not PB pace but it would have been about 46/47 minutes if I could have kept it up. My heart rate was up and I was running hard but I felt in control, with plenty left in the tank to push through to the end. I started to lose control over my right foot plant just past 2 miles, slowing to around 8 minute miles. I decided not to let disappointment break me and slow me down even further, if I could cling onto 8 minute miles, which fitness wise wouldn’t have been problem, there was still a chance of coming in a chunk under 50 minutes. 

At about 3.5 miles I came up on to my toes to charge up the slope back on to the top promenade and my ankle just went over and gave in completely. I stopped to try and rearrange my foot in my shoe to give it more support, it didn’t work, resigned to not being able to run at the pace I had hoped, I half ran half shuffled my way up to the finish. 

Despite being disappointed in today’s effort I couldn’t help but smile as I ran down towards the finish, the support on the last 200m was brilliant. I finished in 50.18, 8th Lady. On a better day my PB would have had my on the podium, today actually finishing was the challenge I had face, not letting disappointment break me mentally and not pulling out of the race when it started going wrong.

I’ve heard a lot of bad things over the last few years from the running community about races not being supportive of slower paced runners, from rude marshals to inappropriate tail runners. For me running is not just about winning races and fast times but about encouraging participation; today’s event supported both end of the scale, with every last runner being looked after and cheered across the line. I would urge anyone discouraged by bad experiences at other races to come and give one of the FCR events a try.

 
Fingers crossed I’ll be back in Blackpool next weekend for another night on the blow up mattress before the Windmill half marathon… Hopefully at a slightly quicker pace than today’s 10km!

Banana park run

On 26th May Jim and I decided to test out our banana costumes at Temple Newsam park run. It was a really hot day – not the best day to be running around wearing an additional heavy layer of foam!

Jim managed to run just 3 seconds slower than his Temple Newsam Park run PB?! Finishing in 19.04, however I think the heat and cumbersome costume had more of a negative effect on me! Finishing in 27.42, a whole 3 minutes slower than my course PB!

The good news is the costume is run-able, abeit quite awkward, especially around my head and face! – A few manor chaffing adjustments may need to be made! Let hope for a cold, dry day on 3rd July for the Canal Canter Marathon Take 2!

http://www.Justgiving.com/runningbananas

Here are a few photos:

Banana Jim and Helen 2 Banana Jim and Helen 1 Banana Helen 1 Banana Jim 1 Banana Helen 2 Banana Jim 3 Banana Jim 2 Monkey banana

 

Banana splits

What do you call two banana skins? A pair of slippers…!

Hello everyone,

I have something to tell you, let me explain from the start…

Jim and I are very similar in some ways and very different in others, we both seem to come up with crazy ideas, however Jim is a lot more laid back than me, I’m more…. Well I know how he would describe it…! However despite our differences it’s our similarities that get us into the most trouble….

runhelenrun Helen and Jim

Last year Jim and I ran a 70 mile (113km) ultra-marathon raising money for Cave Rescue and wanted to find another way to support them again this year. On top of this I was also feeling a little deflated after all the training that went into London and the anti-climax that brought with it. We needed a new challenge but this time something fun… something different….

RunHelenRun Grim Reaper Ultra

Jim and I have decided to run the canal canter marathon on 3rd July, the problem is we have both run multiple marathons so it’s not easy to inspire people to sponsor you to do something you already love! So we have come up with a way to make this marathon a little different, harder and a lot hotter! We want to run it dressed at giant bananas…

What kind of idiot runs a marathon during one of the hottest months or the year, never mind being dressed in a giant foam banana costume?

These two idiots it would appear…

runhelenrun Banana TV

Why bananas you might ask? Well Jim ended up running a few fell races dressed as a banana earlier this year including Auld Lang Syne and the bunny runs. He has become quite synonymous with the banana costume now! So it seemed like the obvious choice!

So when I say it’s our similarities that get us into the most trouble, I think had we been a little more different an idea like this would have been laughed off or forgotten about but alas we are not and this is actually going to happen…..

We would appreciate any support we can get! Here is our sponsorship page:

www.justgiving.com/runningbananas

Why Cave Rescue? Luckily we have never had to use the services of the Cave rescue ourselves (apart from a small incident at Ingleborough marathon that we don’t talk about… Jim…) However we have been out on the 3 peaks when the weather has taken a sudden turn for the worst and during less that ideal conditions in which less experienced walkers could find themselves in trouble. The Cave rescue do an important job in ensuring peoples safety in the dales and supporting all the 3 peaks challenge walkers raising money for other charities.

The CRO is a charity run by volunteers, and depends on public donations for its finance.
The CRO normally undertakes over 50 incidents per year, the majority of which are to help walkers in the Yorkshire Dales. CRO is also one of the UK’s most specialist rescue teams, often working in challenging conditions.

We appreciate that everyone is fund raising for something when you know so many runners so we are hoping to be able to throw in a few competitions and non-traditional bucket rattling ‘give us ya money’ type tactics!

We are also selling Cave rescue ‘neckers’ (Buffs to you and I, just like a vacuum is more likely to be called a Hoover) these are just £10 each modelled by the banana below! Just let Jim or I know if you would like to purchase one.

We are hoping to run a park run soon in our banana outfits to give them a test run and create a bit more awareness for our silly idea.

We are aware that the canal canter falls on the same day as Eccup 10, a great race which I ran last year and also a club race, however we wanted to pick a good, local marathon that was quite low profile and on the smaller scale so not to cause too much havoc with our silly plans. We would love it however if any of you could pop over, afterwards if you are running elsewhere to support us on the last few miles and help us celebrate at the end of course!

Here’s a link to more information about the event GRIM UP NORTH RUNNING

What do you call a pair of runners in banana costumes? Idiots?

London Marathon 2016

The London marathon 2016, where to start… this was certainly a run of contradictions, I both hated and loved this run. I am both disappointed and proud of myself. I cried out of sheer dispear and smiled more than I have in any other race.

I’ve left writting this post so long that I don’t really know what to say anymore! So here’s a really brief round up before I let the all important photos do the talking.

I finished the London marathon 2016 in 4 hours and 18 minutes, not my quickest by a very long shot but the important part is that I finished, especially since there was a point, sitting in the hospital in the middle of the night 3 months ago, when I didn’t think I’d make it to the start.

The race was tough from the start, not helped by the frustrating stop/start/run/jog/walk for the first 2 miles. I remember it being hard to get moving last time I ran it in 2013 but I don’t remember it being quite that bad!

My knees didn’t feel right, my hips didn’t feel right and I started to lose feeling in my left foot around mile 15, and at 20 miles when I spotted the St. John’s tent I lost mental resolve too. Sat on the floor inside the tent with my foot up on a chair trying to get circulation back, trying and failing at not crying, I honestly didn’t know whether I actually wanted to finish.

15/20 minutes later – I’m not sure exactly as my Garmin had packed in around mile 18, I dragged myself up and set off to finish the last 6 miles, I was really surprised how much better my body felt after my little rest and without the pressure of my target time weighing me down. I ran all of the last 6 miles, albeit a little slower than I wanted, with a big smile on my face, waving at the crowds as they shouted my name and words of encouragement, and in turn shouting cheering the other runners coming up the road in the other direction with a long way yet to go.

It was the best, most enjoyable, last 6 miles of a race I have ever ran.

Yes, I’m a bit disappointed with my time as I know I can and have run better.

As much as I loved (and hated) the London Marathon I have decided not to enter the ballot for next year, if a spring marathon is on the cards then I will be going for one a lot smaller and quieter!

image

image

runhelenrun Pre VLM1 runhelenrun Pre VLM2 runhelenrun vlm16 expo 1 runhelenrun vlm16 expo 2 runhelenrun vlm16 expo 3  runhelenrun vlm16 expo 5

setback

 

 

The Winners!! BRITA Fill&Go

It’s time to draw the winners! If you entered the competition then you need to watch this video to find out if you have won! Good Luck!

 

Click the link below to be taken to the RunHelenRun Facebook page where you will be able to watch a video of the winners being drawn!

https://www.facebook.com/runhelenrun/

I’ll post the names of the winners on here shortly once you have all had chance to watch the video!

 

London Marathon: The final countdown begins…

FRIDAY:
After two weeks of supporting, marshalling, cheering and generally jumping up and down and waving my arms around, it’s almost my turn. I’m scared, excited and giddy all at the same time!

Today Jim and I are travelling down to London for the Marathon; today is all about the expo and picking my number up whilst trying not to spend too much! On Saturday Mum and Lucas, my (almost) three year old nephew, arrive. The plan is to take him to see the changing of the guard, followed by a picnic in the park, weather permitting. Then Sunday’s the big day! Eeeek!

Packing and planning has turn into a mammoth task in itself, trying to make sure I don’t forget something important and working out how to get to the start. I keep remembering things I might have forgotten and have to start routing through my bags on the train!

I’m trying not to worry too much about pacing and times and PBs, my original goal was to get a Good For Age time of 3.45 however after everything that’s happened this year I’d happily settle with sub 4 hours (fingers crossed). I’m not planning on running London next year anyway so Good for Age isn’t really necessary anyway….

We received the bad news yesterday that my last two Manchester marathon times no longer count, including my current PB of 3.51 set last April. I’m trying not to dwell on this too much and focus on positive thoughts about Sunday. I’m sure I will end up writing a blog post on this at some point but not one to worry about today.

What annoys me the most about the marathon is how months and months of training can all be wasted at the last minute by something small messing everything up like a cold or stomach bug. I’ve been overly cautious this week and have probably gone through half a bottle of hand gel in just a few days!

Anyway here’s a roundup of the last few weeks non running, running activities!

A massive amount of STAC’ies ran Manchester marathon two weeks ago – A coach load of us, to be exact, travelled across to Manchester to run or support the marathon.
image

We took our supporting duties very seriously, jumping and shouting at every STAC that passed us.

Everyone did really well and it was a great day out, it didn’t do much to calm my nerves for London however!

Fast forward to the following weekend and this time I was marshalling at Vale of York 10 miles. The main part of my duties involved telling angry drivers that the road was closed and they couldn’t come past, I heard some very interesting language that morning! There was lots of expert marshalling from the St. Theresa’s crew there that morning, all sporting our club’s own stylish high Viz vests.

image

Straight after Vale of York we headed over to Temple Newsam, where yet more STACies, including Jim, were running the Grim Up North full and half trail marathon. The course looked really tough and the laps must have taken quite a lot of mental strength to keep going round and round!

Jim finished in third place in the half marathon and Jess third lady in the marathon. There were also some great performances for Mark, Lynn, Wayne and Stuart.

I didn’t take many photos but here are just a few…
image

image

image