First Lady at the Checkendon 5k!

Last Sunday I took part in the Checkendon 5k with the LPPT team. I was originally meant to run the 10k, but after a week of trying to calm a niggly calf and a few restless nights, I decided to step down to the 5k.

With the race not starting until 11:15am (basically the afternoon for me!), it meant I could enjoy an easy paced morning, a lie in and enjoy my breakfast from a bowl, which never happens!
Laura, my PT and owner of F!T Hub, was doing the warm up for all the races that day. I arrived just before 10:30am to collect my number, find the others and wait to start the warm up. The buzz at the start line was great, the children’s races had just finished and ice creams were being lapped up by the small, red faced, humans.

Just before 11am, the warm up started and I was strangely feeling nervous. Mainly because I wasn’t sure of how my calf was going to hold up. I took it easy and tried to focus on anything but the race. This was my second year running it, and I knew exactly what I was in for. The hill, at the end, that had to be endured and trail paths through the winding woods. We stood and waved the 10k group off, then lined up at the start. I was chatting to the girls, joking about gunning it to be First Lady, and that’s when I decided I could actually go for it!

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The countdown started, the horn buzzed and we were off. I started with a few other ladies for about the first quarter of a mile. I soon lost them, legs feeling good, I followed the route and told myself to just run. Passing through the woods, out onto the country lanes, my watch sounded at the first mile. I quickly looked down and saw I’d managed a 7 minute mile. I brushed it aside, keeping my head focused on the finish line and my ears alert for anyone coming behind me. A few of the younger boys passed me, but for the majority of the race, I was running alone. The sun was shining, temperature not too warm, my legs felt good, so I carried on what I was doing. Running hard and fast.

Running down a rather long decline, I used it to let me legs ‘go’ and recover for a bit. From my NYC training last year, and the race itself, I learnt a lot about running up and down hills. I swear though, no matter how many times I face them, I think they’ll always be feared. Especially this one at Checkendon!

At around mile 2, we reached THE hill. I felt sick at this point, and trying to forget about it, used the younger boy in front of me to get me as far up as I could go. Less than half way and I had to walk fast. I met a group of girls taking part in their Duke of Edinburgh, and they cheered me on as I continued to make my way up. I started running again, checking if anyone was behind me, and out of the corner of my eye I could see one of the ladies I’d started the race with. As I reached the top if the hill, I noticed a sign “we told you it was breathtaking!” which made me smile and I continued on. Praying for it to be over, my watch hit the 3 mile mark and I could see the finish area. Not long now, through the field, back into the woods and a brief walk again. Another younger lad passed me and gave me the push to run again. Hearing the cheers, I turned the corner and ran to the finish line. Crossing it in 25 minutes, no PB but being told I was First Lady,  I was grinning like a Cheshire Cat. I found Laura and Ellie’s husbands, and little ones, to cheer the rest of the team in.

 

After cheering everyone in, having done an awesome job, we clubbed together for a group photo.

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Saying goodbye to everyone, Anne and Laura kindly decided to wait with me to receive my award. Now, I HATE being the centre of attention, so felt quite embarrassed with all eyes on me! I quickly shook hands with the lady, had my photo taken and marched off to the side! Congratulating the other winners, I said goodbye to Laura and Anne, and made my way home for a much needed coffee and to see my parents. My mum was waiting for me on the doorstep, with a huge hug and I gifted my bottle of beer to my dad!

With this being the second year running this race, I have to say it was very well organised. Albeit starting a bit too late, in my opinion, I loved everything about it. There was plenty for children to do, whilst the 5 and 10k races were being ran, food and drinks provided and a raffle to take part in. The finish area was ready and lined up with volunteers handing out medals – which is VERY good looking – and plenty of water and snacks for everyone. I noticed it was always well stocked. Following the finish of the last few runners, they swiftly moved onto the awards and the day was over.

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Huge well done to the organisers, I hope you managed to raise a great amount for the local preschool and a massive congratulations to all the runners! I can’t wait to attend the event next year!

Emma xx

Happenings 8.6.19

I can’t quite believe we are half way through the year, and we may as well be in December, with this rubbish weather we seem to be having! I guess we had our summer over the Easter weekend!! Heres to hoping it doesn’t last and the warm, sunny days return soon.

Life has been up and down over the past month. It’s been pretty packed with work, running, taking part in my second ultra (which you can read here if you missed the post) and so much more. 

Doing: Sat in a local cafe, eating the most delicious breakfast, whilst waiting for my mum and friend to join me. I’ve just been to another great workout class, which was a little different today. We focused on the form of four exercises, doing two rounds of them and finishing with a bit of a speed round on the Ski Ergs, bike, burpees and sit ups.  Finishing with lots of stretching! 

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Hearing: I’m back home now (abandoned my post when my mum arrived and the cafe didn’t have any internet). The humming of the boiler (I can’t wait to shower later) and the birds chatting away outside.

Drinking: Lemon and ginger tea – a favourite of mine at the moment!

Eating + Cooking: Everything green and fresh! Along with steamed fish, the normal poached egg and avocado, and a new favourite – my very own homemade sourdough! Mum and I went on a course on bank holiday Monday, as I love it so much, I thought it was time to learn to make my own! Best decision made!

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Wanting: My holiday…5 weeks, 6 days and counting!

Looking: Forward to Chicago marathon training to start!

Deciding: What pillow to buy…still….

Watching: Love Island and Killing Eve, which starts again tonight – yay! I also saw the new Aladdin film last week and thought it was FAB – I definitely recommend. I’m off to see Toy Story 4 in a few weeks, with my charge and her little friend, which I’m super excited about! Really, I’m a big kid!

Enjoying: The late summer evenings and strawberry season!

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Reading: Blog posts….two of my friends (both named Charlie) and some of my book I started months ago…I need to get into audio books I think!

Wearing: Sweaty Betty everything…! I have yet to shower after working out this morning…oops!

Buying: A new laptop. Best decision I’ve made all year! I am in LOVE with the new MacBook Air!

Craving: A good run, and it’s come at the right time, as I have a local 10k tomorrow with the LPPT F!T gang, and I’m really looking forward to it! Praying this wind dies down!

Planning: My 30th! It may be 10 months away, but I know it’ll come round so quickly. Plus, I can’t quite decide what I want to do, but I know it definitely involves a race in another country!!

Loving: Late evening strolls after work with my parents!

Savouring: The very early mornings, where I can run, with Charlie along the river! I miss them so much in the winter, and definitely appreciate them more!

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Playing: Sleep catch up..although I don’t think I ever will catch up on sleep!

Feeling: Tired…I’m VERY ready for a break and my trip to America. However, it seems SO far away.

This post was inspired by Heidi, I hope you’ve enjoyed, and thank you for reading it!

Emma xx

Dulux London Revolution Ultra Trails

You’d probably all thought I’d had my ultra marathon fix after doing Race to the Stones (RTTS) last year…Oh how you were all so wrong!!

This weekend I took part in the London Revolution trails event. Originally it was just a cycle event starting at Lee Valley Athletics centre in London, ending at Windsor race course. There are four route options – weekender, ultra, Southern and Northern stage. You can camp out at Windsor or tackle the course all in one! This year was the first year with the trails options, and I thought it was really well organised and planned event!

When I heard that they were adding this trail option, I couldn’t resist in taking part. With the start being so close to home and the finish area only a short drive away, it seemed perfect.

Admittedly I felt quite nervous on the day. I felt like I had prepared myself enough, hadn’t done enough training/long runs and seriously started doubting myself. However, when I turned up at the start line to be greeted by Charlie, Andy, Mel, Hannah, Emily and Lisa, I knew I was going to fine! I also got to finally meet Anna, her husband and beautiful daughter!

At the start it was very different to RTTS. It was small but there was a great buzz in the atmosphere, and everyone was really excited. The walkers started at 8.30am, followed by our wave for the ultra and marathon distance at 9.15am and the next at 9.30am. The half marathon wave started 12.30pm. For a grey day, it was actually quite mild. Within 5 minutes of starting I’d taken my rain jacket off and regretted bringing it with me! I was thankful for the event leaders, who followed Charlie, Andy, Lisa and I around the course, for holding on to it for me!

Once we had started, we made our way through the streets of Marlow and headed out towards the trails/hills. Feeling good, we made our way through the woods, up a few hills, greeted by some beautiful views and down towards the first pit stop. Here the course splits and marathoners double back and ultra marathoners headed out through Hambleden and up more hills. We didn’t spend much time at here, but to quickly use the loo and grab some fuel to go. What we were then about to be faced with, was NOT expected!!

Hills, and LOTS of them!!!!

This view at the top was WELL worth it!!!

Once we had surfaced from the monster incline we carried on into the woods and stumbled upon the quagmire that had developed over the recent few days, and what we had been warned about before we started. Luckily, Charlie’s white socks managed to stay white, however the new shoes didn’t get away so lightly!

Down the hill and deeper into the forest we went, heading back towards Hambleden and to our second pit stop.

Not spending much time here, again, we grabbed a few snacks and carried on. We were now making our way back to Marlow/base camp, along the high ground, down to the main road, through fields, passing fast flowing streams, through THE darkest of tunnels and down to the river. At this point we had lost Andy and Lisa. Andy was getting calf cramp and told us to go ahead. I felt bad leaving him but I knew he was serious about us going ahead, and he in great hands with Lisa by his side!

I will not lie, this ☝🏼was not fun! At one point it was SO pitch black, I couldn’t see Charlie in front of me. Afraid I’d fall down a hole, I ran faster to keep up with her and get out! A few miles later and we wiggled our way through the, now busy streets of Marlow, to the third pit stop.

The most exciting thing about this pit stop, was the watermelon! I can not describe to you the cravings I had for it and I literally jumped for joy when I saw it!!!! For a second, it took my mind of the cramping in my left calf and gave me that boost to get going. Again, we didn’t stop here for long, just because we didn’t want to start seizing up and we were also on for a good time!

Onwards we wet and with only 22.1km to go, we were getting into the pain cave…the cramp continued and I started to get uncomfortable. At this stage, my mind was also starting to go, and if it wasn’t for Charlie, I definitely would have walked a lot more than we did. We were now making our way to Windsor and thankfully it being along the river, it was flat. Through Bourne End and towards Cookham, we ran a lot of the way, crossing the river and along to pit stop 4, I was very thankful for another rest station.

We spent a little longer here, using the loos, filling up my water pack, grabbing a few more sweets and doing a bit of stretching. I could feel myself mentally deteriorating and at this point wasn’t sure how I was going to get through to the end. Before we left, we were warned of a rather large wasps nest in the bush, suggesting taking a wide berth when we passed it! Here, a friend of Charlie’s caught up with us and we chatted for a while, which was a welcome distraction!

Making our way towards Maidenhead, we passed the 15km. Knowing we only had a few more pitstops, and smaller mileage in between, we continued to run/walk when we needed and enjoyed the quietness and beauty along the river. As we passed over the Maidenhead bridge, we were greeted by the sweetest family of geese!

Not having much longer to go until our 5th pit stop, we continued running. I felt okay and my cramp had gone. I took my mind off things by singing to myself and enjoying the views. It’s strange when you run with someone, as your never sure of their pace and if you’ll keep up or manage to fill the time by chatting. There were moments of silence, and I used these times and when Charlie was in front of me, to focus/almost lean on her, to get me through. We often played cat and mouse with a few other runners, who were so supportive and friendly. We passed a few walkers who encouraged us on and boosted our confidence, with many of them mentioning how strong we looked and our fast pace. Reaching the fifth pit stop, we didn’t spend long. We were so desperate to sit down, the temptation was too much and we needed to get going again. We were ready to be done now.

Carrying on and with only 3 miles until the next stop, I told myself I could do it. “It’s just a park run” I repeated and we managed to get a solid 2 miles of running in. Passing through a lock and reaching the final pitstop, we didn’t stop. There was a cameraman just past the tent, Charlie grabbed some watermelon and we ran towards him. Less than 3 miles to go, we’ve got this. Or so I thought I had…

After a mile of running, we took a quick walking break, I munched on my cliff bar hoping it would give me something to get me through. We were both very deep into the pain cave now and all we had to do was to keep going. We took turns in “carrying” each other, talking about post run massages and how desperate we were get our shoes off and sit down! As we reached an opening along the river, to the right we saw the finish area, Charlie’s husband and children by the bank, shouting at us! A huge boost we both needed! About a mile before the end, I let Charlie go ahead of me. I knew I couldn’t carry on at her speed. For me, this ultra was not about a time but all about the experience and I’m glad she chose to run on and smash the sub 7 hour PB! I met a really friendly man, who I walked and chatting a little with, until he ran on ahead.

On my own, I messaged Becky and started to cry. I’m so thankful for her quick, response and boosting messages back, to get me going again. I started running, along the main road and into the racecourse. The end was so close, passing finishers, who were congratulating and cheering me on. I ended up catching up with the man, who I wish I’d caught his name, when Charlie left me. Together we made our way up the final few metres and over the finish line.

I was DONE.

We congratulated each other and all I wanted to do was cry. Out of nowhere a medal was placed around my neck and I searched frantically for Charlie. I spotted her in the distance and instantly burst into tears, as she ran over to hug me. I’d done it. I’d finished one of the most mentally challenging events of my life. Shaving a good hour and half off our RTTS, I was just glad I’d completed it. I didn’t give up, there was NO way that was happening. I fought hard and I am beyond proud of myself. I had the best day. Yes it was hard and painful towards the end but I’d do it again. Crazy as it sounds.

“You’ll be wistful for ‘the wall’ of the marathon, when you hit ‘the death grip’ of the ultra.” – Bob Glover. This quote sums it up. This ultra broke me physically, and tested me mentally. I did hit ‘the wall’, found my second, then third wind and experienced another level of endurance I didn’t know existed, let alone, thought I ever would experience or had in me.

If I’ve learnt anything from this, it’s how mentally strong I am. I have doubted myself so many time before races and events, that I’m not ready or haven’t trained enough. Not now. No matter what is thrown my way, I am a stronger person from this day and I have Charlie to thank, for playing a major part in it. Our friendship has grown closer, and I’m beyond grateful to know this inspiring and amazing lady.

Thank you, from the bottom of my heart, to every single person who wished me good luck, encouraged and congratulated me. Your constant support means more to me than you will all ever know. A massive thank you, also, to the organisers and volunteers at each pit stop, along the course and at the end. Without you, these events don’t run as well as this one did.

I hope you have all had a wonderful weekend. Congratulations to all of you who raced, rode in the Dulux London Revolution, smashed PB’s and experienced their first ultras. I hope you are all proud of yourselves! Ride that high and tell everyone about it!

Emma xx

Tough Mudder Classic

Shivering, and soaked from head to toe, I told myself last year that I would never do a Tough Mudder again…well that didn’t quite stick…!

11am Sunday morning, and I’m in the car with Laura, and her husband Neil (our photographer for the day), making our way to the Mudder field, in Fawley. Here we met the rest of the team, checked in and took our ‘before’ photos. We arrived with a good amount of time so that we weren’t hanging around for too long, as it was cold, before the warm up started. It was 12.15pm. No going back now!

Like I remember last year, the warm up was pretty epic! A lot of humor, jumping around and wishing each other good luck. The atmosphere was buzzing, everyone was pumped and ready to go!

The first part of the course is dry and the obstacles include climbing over walls, trekking through the forest, running up Everest and piggybacking each other through the woods. We then reached the water and mud…we experienced the Block Ness Monster, Quagmire, Leap of Faith, and Hydrophobia, where many fears were conquered and realized. The water was absolutely freezing cold water but it didn’t stop us from completing the obstacles! You can find out more about all 25 obstacles here!

Making our way back towards the village/finish line through the woods and over the hills, our spirits were still high. We were so close, only three more obstacles to go! I’m hugely grateful for Philippa for staying by me as we climbed the pyramid and ran through the electroshock therapy together, trying not to face plant into the mud at the end. I, however, wasn’t so lucky avoiding that!

With everyone done, we made our way through the finish line, grabbed our t-shirts and other goodies before having the final photos taken. We were done, with big muddy smiles on our faces, we were so happy to have finished!

I can’t thank this awesome lady, who I get to proudly call my friend and PT, for a truly fabulous day! Your love, passion and dedication to your job shows through on each and every one of your clients (all members of this team) You got us through shoulder high water, mountains of mud and showed us we can all conquer our fears.

The stiffness is real and the bruises keep appearing, but I wouldn’t have missed out on this day for the world! Thank you to all of you for a fantastic day and a MASSIVE well done to everyone who took part – on Saturday too, at the 5k! I have to say, I am contemplating signing up for next year…!!!!!!

I hope you have all had a wonderful bank holiday weekend and thank you, as always, for reading! Much love.

Emma xx

Happenings 3.5.19

I can’t believe we are now in May! April flew by and was an amazing month. Let’s hope this one is too! As always, this post is inspired by Heidi.

Doing: Sat on the sofa with one dog on my lap and the other firmly asleep on my foot. We are dog sitting our friends dogs and absolutely loving it! Having four legged friends back in the house is wonderful, especially since we recently lost our pooch, Oscar.

Hearing: The snoring of the smallest dog nestled on my lap.

Drinking: Water but craving a cup of tea but we’re about to take one of the dogs out for a walk, so I’ll wait until after. Shortly followed by a bath!

Eating and Cooking: Lots of seasonal fresh greens and sweet, juicy strawberries (from England) that have just started hitting the supermarkets. Also not forgetting the daily coffee, or two!

Wanting: A lot of things…! Mostly a new pillow, which I finally ordered last night. I can’t wait for it to be delivered, because my neck is so sore from the old crappy one I currently have. Also wanting all the warm food, tea, cosy clothes as it seems that winter has returned!!

Looking: Forward to a fun month. Involving family, friends, and running adventures! I’m taking on day 1 (50km) of the new London Revolution Trails next Saturday, and I can’t wait! I’ve also got a few local 5 and 10k races that I’ve signed up for, and I get to look after my goddaughter for a weekend <3 

Deciding: A lot of things…too much to mention, so maybe lets just leave it there…

Enjoying: The light, early mornings and longer evenings. On the days I run before work, I get to see the sunrise, and recently its been the most beautiful sight. Returning home from work in daylight has also made a huge difference, and I feel like I have a longer evening at home.

Watching: Grey’s Anatomy (mostly at work because we don’t have Sky at home) and the recent series of Line of Duty – which ends tomorrow!! I’m gutted about this as I enjoy watching a little TV now and again.

Reading: Not as much as I’d like to. I started a book a few weeks ago but I’ve abandoned it, which I’m not happy about. I love reading, especially before bed, but I have been quite tired recently and fallen fast asleep the moment my head has hit the pillow.

Wearing: Allllll the sports wear! Haha! My boss gave me some beautiful leggings for my birthday, which are so comfy! I’ve also fished out my floaty tops, hoping Summer, or even Spring, will make an appearance soon!

Buying: Some running shorts – FINALLY! Thanks to Charlie for posting about them, and a reasonable price for the brand. Looking forward to trying them out soon.

Planning: Fun weekends with friends and family.

Craving: My supper – which I will start once I’ve finished this!!!!

Loving: Pretty much everything in my life at the moment. Especially the wonderful bunch of friends and family I have, who love and support my unconditionally.

Savouring: The dog cuddles and walks with our friends dogs. I really miss the company of a dog, but that will all change after the summer.

Playing: Catch up with sleep. I’ve felt exhausted recently, so have been making the conscious effort to get to bed early most nights. With my early mornings, early nights are the only way I’m going to get the sleep I need at the moment.

Feeling: Tired…with a big event next weekend, I’m prioritizing sleep next week. Also very fed up with the cold weather we have at the moment, and praying it changes soon.

Much love to you all, enjoy the long weekend, and thank you for reading.

Emma xx