September.  What a month.  It started off not so great.  You’ll know from my previous post about the run fail at Bedford. Following the Bedford and ABF Ride weekend, I had three events planned:
-          Two Arms on Two Legs Half Marathon
-          Leighton 10
-          NSPCC MK Half Marathon
Two Arms on Two Legs Half
Now following this race and the week after, I told everyone how hideous I found it.  Looking back, it wasn’t so bad really.
On the day, I felt good.  I was a week alcohol free. Again.  I’d slept well.  Legs were good.  Take it easy.  Training run.  This will be fine.  Off I went.  Straight away.  OUCH.  My calves were tight.  Straight away they were pulling.  Well this is useless. I should just stop.  No, no, I can’t stop.  I must continue.  This went on in my head until half way. I was stopping every now and then to stretch the calves, walk it off and then continue.  It was also cold.  And windy.  Everything to make you miserable and moan when things start going wrong.
At the 10K point, I saw the finish line for the 10K event.  I could just stop here.  Wait for the shuttle bus and go back to the start.  Just give up now, Jen.  This hurts.  It’s cold.  Sake. I carried on round the corner and then all of a sudden I was heading towards the Wendover Arm of the canal.
Up until that point, the race was on the Aylesbury arm of the canal.  “Two Arms on Two Legs” – get it? Good.
I’ve run on the Aylesbury arm before.  Training for MK Marathon last year, I thought it a good idea to run back from Aylesbury the day after my sister-in-law’s hen do.  There was prosecco.  It hurt.  I didn’t enjoy the run then.  Didn’t enjoy it now.  So many locks.  Steadily up hill.  SIGH.
Now the Wendover Arm.  I’ve not run on this before.  This is exciting. It wasn’t really.  This arm could be quite lovely, but it needs a lot of work doing to it, which is what the Canal and River Trust (the folks who put on the race) are aiming to do.  They’re raising money to sort it all out.  I think it’d be lovely once it’s had a spruce up.  And the sun is shining.  And you’re not running a half marathon when looking at it.

Got to the end of the race.  Finished.  02:34:57.  At the time I thought this is terrible.  Just three weeks before I’d run a 2:16 half! Now I can see that it doesn't matter. It wasn’t a great run.  I had to stop a lot.  I didn’t enjoy it at the time.  But 13.1 miles in the legs.  That’s no bad thing when you’re training for a marathon.

Leighton 10

The next week, I only went out once in the week for some Fartlek.  I then did a slow run from parkrun on the Saturday.   Sunday it was the Leighton 10.

I had been looking forward to this race all year.  Mad, I know.  I did the Leighton 10 for the first time in 2016.  My first proper run since I’d completed the MK Marathon.  I was injured by the end of it.  All sorts of problems.  But I loved it!  10 miles of hills that I know and actually enjoy.  I ran the whole thing apart from Shenley Hill.  Shenley Hill is just….it’s a wall.  I was determined to conquer it next time round.

So this year I was back.  Not feeling that great from the week before.  Nervous.  But thought, just take it steady.  And enjoy it.  

I started off a bit too fast.    When this happens, I find it so tough to slow down.  I just carried on.  I knew when the hills would come.  Just keep going.

The race starts going steadily up hill, it gets steeper and you reach the top of the first climb about 4km in.  Phew.  Now a steady downhill into Heath and Reach before the climb to Great Brickhill.  Once you hit Great Brickhill, you can put the turbo on and shoot down Ivy Lane.  I did this.  Got to Bragenham Lane, had a jelly baby and some water and then shot through that too.  Managed to keep my speed up until I got to Bird’s Hill back in Heath and Reach.  That’s a toughy and I was puffing.  Walked quickly at the water stop to catch my breath and carry on to the dreaded Shenley Hill.

Shenley Hill Road is a long road with a steady incline.  Tough to run on.  Then all of a sudden there’s this lump. An actual lump with it’s steepest gradient at 12.6% so Strava tells me.  Balls. I ran.  I hit the bottom.  It won’t beat me this time.  Well it beat me.  I think I halted just about the same place as the year before.  Oh well. Just walk it. I stormed up, pumping my arms and then down the other side.  From here it’s a mile downhill (mostly) until the finish.

I’d been checking my watch throughout and knew my time.  This was going to be good. For me.  Overtook some people.  I think it was eight people from Great Brickhill to the end.  Maybe nine.  This never happens to me!  And finish.  01:44:12.  Last year’s time? 1:52:49.  Eight and a half minutes! Cannot believe it.  Super chuffed.  And no injuries!

10 must be my lucky number (See Three Tens and The Fourth Ten)

Lots of the club were at the end.  And JB who’d had a storming run.  With man flu. 1:13:38.

Excellent running.

NSPCC MK Half Marathon

The following week was a quiet week running wise.  I went out on the club run, and then did nothing until the Sunday race. Apart from one thing.  I got to day 19 alcohol free on the Friday and I caved in.  Hard.   I won’t go into all the details.  But there was a lot of drinking.  A lot of shots.  A lot of hangover the following day.

I spent most of the Saturday dozing on the sofa.  Getting some rest in before the half the next day.  Which didn’t seem like a great idea.

The original plan had been to get the train to Milton Keynes and run to the start.  It’s about 2.5 miles away.  Then run the half.  So 15.5 miles for the day.  Good step up I thought.  This plan quickly changed and I got a lift to MK with my friend who was also running the half...his first half marathon!

So the new plan was to get through the half and then sleep.  Well this didn’t happen either.  I was feeling ill all morning.  Still not quite recovered from hitting it so hard on the Friday.  It was a hot day.  This wouldn’t be pretty.  

Beefy and I started running together.  About 5K in I had to stop.  I could not go on.  I felt awful leaving Beefy, but I knew he could do it on his own.  He just needed to push through.  He’d be brilliant. And he was!  Me?  I threw up.

A couple of friends from the club found me.  They were doing the 10K, not the half.  I stayed with them.  Got to the top of a hill in Campbell Park.  Threw up again. Carried on.  Did the 10K instead.  Got to the end.  And sick again. Horrific.

I feel so awful for leaving Beefy on his own on his first half marathon.  Of course he can run it on his own though.  And he did!  He smashed it!  And loved it!  (I think).  Well done, Beefy!

I hate myself for drinking that week.  And not completing yet another run. And letting people down. I'm just so angry that I did it. I'd been doing so well. I know we have blips and I've said before my aim is to still be able to have a drink, but enjoy it. Not get silly drunk. All. The. Time. Not think I have to drink because I’m in a dark place and don't know how to get out of it. What. An. Idiot.

I know this now. I'm still in a dark place. I may always be dark. I just have to keep going.

And I am.

So what now? Emergency Training...


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