Tough Mudder 2018

I’m not sure many would enjoy spending a cold, grey Saturday morning caking themselves in mud, diving into freezing cold water and climbing over many wooden obstacles. A week after running the London Marathon, many people called me mad, but I couldn’t wait. I’d attended the event last year, so knew what I was in for and this time with new obstacles and course.

We arrived at the event filled with a mixture of excitement and nerves. Our wave was at 9.20am, so after meeting at the tent, greeted by the Black Tower Wines and Sonya (our Mudder tour guide!), we had a few photos taken and then headed to the warm up zone. Here we were made to show complete strangers our cat walk, completely embarrassing ourselves before starting.

With a pledge and a short cheer, we were off. Ready to take on whatever was waiting for us! The route, this year, took us through a lot more of the grounds/woodland and the obstacles weren’t as close together as I remember them being. Nonetheless, it wasn’t raining, we were all smiling and enjoying getting to know each other. We shortly came to our first obstacle – the Kiss of Mud! Sonia showed us the most efficient way of getting through, without getting attached to the barbed wire or face planting into the mud. However I failed at this and got trapped by it twice…!

Running on, we came to the Block Ness Monster! I openly admit I didn’t do this last year…however, I had no choice and I actually really enjoyed it. It involved plunging into chest deep water, climbing onto the rotating square shaped obstacle and letting it carry us over. It was FREEZING but a lot of fun and we all quickly got moving to stay warm!

Soaking wet and with stone and mud filled shoes, we said our temporary goodbyes to the camera crew and headed around the rest of the course. We met more mud, climbed over vertical walls, pulled ourselves through tubes, trekked up a monster hill and climbed a hay barrel tower.
We then went on to tackle our last obstacles, Everest and Pyramid scheme. Both of which were two of my favorites last year and was excited to give them another go!

With the finish line in sight, we all grabbed each other and ran. Soaked and freezing, we were handed our finishers t-shirt, a snack and made our way back to the tent for a few more photos.

Feeling very proud and full of smiles, we thanked and said our goodbyes to the brilliant camera crew and Sonya, for taking us around the course safely! Yes, we were all covered in bruises and I definitely felt like I had been hit by a bus the next morning, but I had the best time. Making new friends, supporting each other and taking on a new challenge together is what this day was all about and it was so much fun!

A huge thank you to Black Tower Wines and Charlie for an awesome morning!

Emma xx

London Marathon 2018

Where do I even begin…I’ve felt very ready to talk about London since I crossed the finish line. I’ve carried around my medal all week, like it’s my newborn baby, feeling proud and wanting to tell everyone about my experience.

Sunday morning, my alarm went off at 6am. I wanted to give myself time to wake up, get dressed, eat and feel awake and prepared. The charity had organized a coach to collect us from the hotel and take us to the start line at 7.15am. Plenty of time, I thought…yeah right! I said some teary goodbyes to my parents and made my way down to the reception. I’d never felt so alone and nervous in my life.

We arrived at the red start and walked to meet the other runners for a group photo. It was great to meet everyone and be part of such a wonderful charity. Throughout the past 6 months, they have been nothing but supportive and there on the end of an email if I had any questions or concerns. Then things were about to get real. It was time to head to the start zone, use the loos and find our starting pen. One of the runners, Nicky, and I decided we would stick together until we parted ways just after we crossed the start line. It was really nice to have someone to talk to and calm each others nerves before we set off.

Miles 1-5 – I couldn’t believe the atmosphere as I crossed the start line, the amount of people out cheering us all on was amazing, and I couldn’t believe I was actually running the London Marathon! I had been warned that the first few miles were downhill, so carefully kept an eye on my pace as not to go too quickly or get caught up with racing other runners. At mile 3, all of the starting lines merged, I was running a comfortable pace, and taking it all in. The crowds continued to be thick and loud for the next 2 miles, but the heat was already making me slow. I knew at this point I was going to be running a hell of a lot slower than I had liked, meaning my sub-4 marathon was out the window. My plan now was to take it at a good place, listen to my body and make that finish line.

Miles 6-11 – Approaching mile 6 and 7 was brilliant. The course took us around the Cutty Sark, which I’ve not visited, and the cheers and signs were definitely making me smile. I had this in the bag. I felt great, both mentally and physically and comfortable with my pace. The course quietened a little but still the small crowds were cheering strong and at mile 9 I saw my parents and my friend, Becky! This was the boost I needed, I carried on with a huge smile on my face knowing I was about to see my college friend on Tower Bridge and nearly reached half way.

Miles 12-17 – Tower Bridge has to have been my favorite part! The crowds were amazing, the view was stunning and the sun shining strong on us all. I spotted my friend, her partner and their little girl, stopping to give them a hug and kiss before carrying on. At this stage I tried not to get emotional and focused on what was to come. I was very hot and uncomfortable at this point, but so thankful for the showers set up for us to run through and attempt to cool down, even if it was only for a mile or so, as we then became bone dry again!
I pushed on through, making my way through the snacks I’d packed in my shorts and bra – literally! The lululemon ‘stuff your bra’ is the BEST invention ever! I also put a good luck coin in one of the pockets, that a good friend gave me before the race. As I headed towards Docklands, I knew this would be the quiet part of the course, which I wasn’t really looking forward to. It starts where mile 21 is, so you can see runners coming towards you on the other side, knowing they were nearly done. Not a great feeling but I dug deep and continued to focus on me. The thing that got me through was knowing I would see my parents, and Becky, again at mile 18. I pushed round, continuing to take water at every station, munching my trusty Clif bar and occupying my mind with my surroundings and giving lots of small children a high five! I continued to feel strong and happy.

Mile 18-23 – As I approached mile 18, I perked up, knowing my family were somewhere in the crowds. My dad shouted my name and I instantly ran over to see them and give them a hug before carrying on. I was still smiling, albeit feeling pretty tired and starting to feel a little heavy in my legs. My pace had slowed slightly but I was okay with that. It was boiling hot, more and more runners were collapsing and the medical tents were getting full.
I saw mile 20 and thought, right, I can do this. Two park runs then I’m done. By now my knees were starting to hurt, something I had never experienced, and I got slightly concerned. I went on to see a few more friends before reaching Tower Hill. The crowds had picked up, which was a huge relief as I was really flagging. The noise, support and encouragement from complete strangers gave you the most amazing boost to carry on. The finish was so close but boy it felt so far.

Mile 24- 26 – After seeing my friend waving me through before I hit Embankment, that was honestly one of the few things pushing me on. After standing on the sideline at mile 23 last year, I knew that there would be a lot of people around cheering us on, and I was going to use that to get me to the finish. With that said, it still felt like the longest 4 miles of my life. I was so hot, thirsty and ready to be done. I’d really slowed now and my knees were still hurting. Random people were shouting my name, encouraging me to keep going and I grabbed more water to drink and dowse myself with.
Then, just like that the finish line was there, I crossed over the timing pad and I was done. I was almost in shock and couldn’t believe I’d just run my first marathon. 26.2 miles. Wow.

I walked to collect my medal, where I nearly burst into tears at the lady who handed it to me, and carried on to have a very awful photo taken of me by the photographer…! I was thankful to another runner, also running for Children’s Wish, who called my name and congratulated me. We chatted until I met the A and B section of runners meet and greet, and desperately started looking for my parents. Minutes were flying by and I was starting to feel really unwell and upset. All I wanted was a hug. Then I saw two of my good friends, instantly burst into tears and fell into her arms. I was so relieved I had found someone I knew and moments later my parents arrived. I squeezed my mum so hard, I didn’t want to let go. Hugs and congratulations were exchanged and photos taken. I couldn’t wait to sit down and whip off my socks and shoes.

We soon headed back to the hotel, where I couldn’t wait to lie down. I wanted to update family and thank everyone for their messages. My dad ran me a magnesium bath – thankful it was super low to the ground, otherwise I’m not sure how I would have got in and out of it! I was SO glad we had a late checkout, the best plan and super thankful to the hotel for arranging this. I got into some comfy clothes, stuck THE best sticker I found in my goodie bag, on my chest and popped my medal around my neck. We heading to find some food and get on the train.

I was congratulated by so many people I passed on our way to Paddington. I can’t describe the feeling but it was amazing. I was happy when we arrived home and I was able to flop on the sofa, eat and go to bed. I had the most horrendous headache, felt very sun kissed and sore. I slowly climbed the stairs, brushed my teeth and climbed into bed with the biggest smile on my face.

When I told people I was running London, the question was always “what time do you want to go for?” and now it’s “did you enjoy it?” or “would you do it again?”…the answer to both is YES!
I’m excited to announce that I will be running the New York City marathon in November and I couldn’t be more excited!! For now, though, I’m going to enjoy casual runs with friends and at events, before my training starts again.

Before I go, I want to thank each and every single person who has donated, wished me luck, supported, encouraged and congratulated me over the past 6 months. I never once doubted that I couldn’t raise the required amount for the Children’s Wish Charity, and I’m beyond proud of myself for raising over £2,000, along with all of your help. Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Have a wonderful weekend everyone <3

Much love,

Emma xx

 

London Marathon Expo

I have to say, this, along with the marathon, was something I was really looking forward to attending.  I headed to the ExCel after work on Thursday afternoon and met a friend before making our way in. It was 2.30pm, the sky was bright blue and the sun was shining heavily down on us. The raised temperatures had been the hot topic in conversation amongst many of us runners over the past few days and to say we were nervous about Sunday, was an nothing more than spot on.

We made our way through the cool building and into the expo. I was collecting a friends number, along with mine, which was quite nerve wracking. A big responsibility and I was so nervous of loosing it! Before we entered the main area with all the stalls, we were able to get our photo taken with our number and explore the superstore, filled with lots of goodies from New Balance.

We spent the next few hours exploring, picking up snacks, sampling new products, picking up a few free goodies and listening to one of the talks. At this point I felt very excited but I could feel the nerves growing inside me.

Before we left, we made our way through the lounge, where we were able to take part in fun challenges that would donate £5 to our chosen charity. My friend and I decided to take part in the bowling and came away with £10 towards my charity and a big smile on our faces. A few more pictures later and we were ready to call it a day. The long trek back to Paddington was waiting and I was ready to get home for a bath and some food!

I felt ready, extremely ready and Sunday couldn’t come soon enough.

Watch out for my race recap coming in the next few days!

Hope you’ve enjoyed reading.

Emma xx

Final training cycle and 1 week to go…

To say this final month of marathon training has been uneventful, would be a total understatement!

Week 1 – I’d been craving banana bread all weekend and because bananas don’t last long in our house, I had to go out to find the brownest ones I could! I used the recipe from the Run Fast Eat Slow cookbook, which I can’t recommend enough, and thought it would last me at least half the week. Oh how I was wrong…my mum and I pretty much devoured the loaf in a matter of days!
Admittedly the rest of the week didn’t really go to plan. It was the Easter weekend and we had planned to visit my godmother where I would also do my 20 miler run (you can read more about that on my last post). I missed my morning run on Tuesday, so ended up going out in the evening with friend. Well, that was a bit of a disaster but getting out and just running was definitely what I needed. A much needed rest day and sports massage was planned for Wednesday, and Thursday an early morning interval run, watching the sunrise, was enough to kick me back into the game. Friday morning we headed up North for a fun weekend of catching up, running and lots of Easter egg eating!

 

Week 2 – Bank holiday, and a much needed one if that. I joined Charlie for some shake out miles, before heading home for a bath and a long foam rolling session. My first run after my 20 on Saturday, and my legs felt really good. However, things suddenly changed and the following morning I woke up feeling very unwell…I just about made it into work and within an hour I was leaving to return home to my bed. I felt horrific. With lots of sleep and rest over the next few days, I definitely felt better, and returned to work and running but slowly. A light, but very sweaty training session on Friday was much enjoyed and by the start of the weekend I was feeling myself. Then I ended up with no voice. I thought nothing of it and spent the day in London with a friend, running and going out for lunch. It wasn’t until that evening, that I ended up on the phone to the local out of hours hospital where I was told I had laryngitis…Great, now I was really panicking… Not the best timing, 2 weeks before a marathon, but actually it was. I had 2 weeks to get myself better, the training had been done and all there was left to do was sleep, eat and keep my legs moving. I was determined to do my last run, 10 miles, with my friend and that is what we did. We took it slow and the rest of the day I spent at home catching up with my Grandma.

Week 3 – This week started off with a very easy reformer pilates class. I haven’t been to one in what felt like ages, but I fancied a change and booked in last minute. It was a very quiet class, of 3, and we focused on hips, hamstrings and abs – perfect! Tuesday morning rolled around and I treated myself to a lie in, as I was meeting Charlie for a run that evening. After a testing day at work, for both of us, it was JUST what we needed. My usual rest day on Wednesday was enjoyed at a friends house, and an evening on the sofa.

I managed to sleep quite well, as the following day was my birthday!!! I started the day off with a long interval run, followed by breakfast with a nanny friend and our charges. After work I went out with my mum for lunch and spent the afternoon opening presents and eating THE yummiest vegan coffee and walnut cake I’ve ever had!

My birthday celebrations continued onto the following day at Daylesford Farm in the Cotswolds. I went with my mum and a friend, where we stretched our way through a yoga class, ate delicious food, drank the tastiest coffee and treated our feet and legs, to one of the best pedicures I’ve had! I felt like I had treated my lower body like a queen and felt extremely relaxed when we left.

Yesterday was another treat day for my legs. After the best lie in, I popped to GoPerform, a sports injury clinic in Reading, to use the NormaTec recovery boots. Followed by a coffee in the sunshine and some diary organizing. A beautiful warm and sunny day, that I spent enjoying the rest of in the garden before heading out for dinner with a friend!
To end the first week of taper, and prepare for the final week of training, Charlie and I enjoyed an 8 mile run along the river ending at one of our new favorite coffee shops in town. Our final last long run, a gentle pace and much enjoyed.

I’m feeling super excited and ready for London now. I feel strong and my body feels great. This week I’ll be focusing on sleep, hydrating lots and eating nourishing and filling food.

I hope you’ve all had a lovely weekend and enjoyed the beautiful sunshine we had. Have a great week!

Emma xx

 

 

Long Easter Weekend and 20 Miles…

The long Easter weekend couldn’t have come round at a better time. The few days away and change of scene was very much needed and I felt recharged, ready to take on the last few weeks of training.

On Friday, my parents and I headed up to Oakham, not far from Leicester, to stay with my godmother. I’ve visited Stamford a couple of times, with a friend I went to college with, and have to admit I’ve really fallen for the place. It’s so beautiful and I find it so peaceful. The main reason for heading up there was so I could run around Rutland Water for my 20 miles, and tie it in with staying/spending some time with her. We arrived just in time for lunch then my parents headed out for a walk into town. I decided to stay behind and rest on the sofa, knowing what I had in store for me the following day.. When I went to bed, I could hear the rain pounding on the window and prayed that it would either pass or slow down before the morning rolled round.

My alarm went off at 6am…I headed downstairs to eat breakfast and try to calm myself. For some reason I was super nervous. I felt sick and started questioning myself. A lot of other people I knew were running the same distance today, so I didn’t feel like I was the only one about venture into the unknown. I got dressed, sorted my hydration pack and packed my snacks, it was 8am and I was ready as I was ever going to be. The rain, thankfully, had stopped, and it was quite mild out, which was a really nice change.
I headed around the back of my godmothers house and looped onto the main road then headed for Rutland Water.

I will admit that my mind and legs were just not interested in running this distance. I reached the entrance around mile 5 and wanted to give up. So, I decided to break it down into sections, telling myself I will run 5 miles around the water and then 5 miles back to this point. I could do it, and I WAS going to do it! At mile 7 I was strangely quite hungry so munched on my Clif bar and at mile 10 stopped for a few moments to gather myself and have a little cry. Crying not because it was painful but crying because it was an emotional battle I’d not experienced before. Knowing at this point it was time to head “home” was the only thing getting me through the last 10 miles. Again, 5 back to the gate then 5 back to the house. At mile 16, just as I was running over the bridge, my parents drove past and waved frantically at me. THIS was what got me to mile 20. The push I needed.

 

When I got back to the house I couldn’t quite believe what had happened. I’d done it. I had RAN 20 miles….I slowly let myself in, ran a bath and started stretching. I grabbed some food and soaked in the bath with a smile on my face.
When my parents arrived back, I wanted nothing more than a hug from my mum. Waiting for that felt like years and boy was it one of the best hugs I’d had! We then gathered our things and headed out for lunch.
I continued to feel good for the rest of the day, a little stiff and hungry, but good. The evening consisted of more stretching and foam rolling, whilst nibbling on my Easter egg and watching a film. I headed to bed and was thankfully asleep within minutes. Sometimes after my long runs I find it super hard to get to sleep and end up tossing and turning for what seems like hours.

The following morning I was awake super early. I was not impressed! I was hungry, so made myself a huge bowl of porridge, tea and water before setting up camp on the sofa.
After lunch it was time to say our goodbyes and head home. It was so lovely to see my godmother, and my godson, catch up and enjoy being together. The time away was very much needed.

On Easter Monday I met Charlie for some morning miles along the river…or what we thought we could do along the river! Turns out that it had rained more than we had thought and most of the footpath was flooded/not worth risking. So we settled for our normal early morning route and ended 8 miles with much needed coffee. My legs felt really good and I used this run as a shake out/chance to get my legs moving again. I ended up doing just over 6.50 miles, which I was happy with.

I’ve learnt so much on this marathon training journey, about my body and myself. Its been a whirlwind of many smiles and a few tears but I wouldn’t have chosen it if I knew I couldn’t do it.
As you all know, the reason I am running London is for the Children’s Wish and the support/fundraising for that has blown me away. So thank you, again, to everyone who has sponsored me and generously given to such a great charity.

As I sit here, waiting for my friend to arrive so we can do our last long run, I feel quite sad that its all coming to an end. I will miss the Sunday long runs the most, I think. Getting out with friends and knowing other people are doing the same. Strangely I feel like we are all connected in this running journey, but equally all live so far from one another and lead completely different lives. Regardless of that, I couldn’t have done it without the support from everyone on social media, as well as family and friends. I feel like I know all of you so well and can’t wait to, hopefully, meet you on the day!

A huge well done to everyone for smashing their long runs. Enjoy your last one and taper can begin!

Have a lovely Sunday guys <3

Emma xx