Run into Spring/Top Gun Virtual 5k

Along with some of my training buddies, I had signed up to a few virtual races as we have had a lot of fun doing these, but with my ankle still playing up running had been near on impossible lately. A lot of rest and gentle training though and I finally felt confident enough to run again, as long as it was slow and on even ground. For this reason although I agreed to join my friends for the run we had planned, I combined two of the virtual runs into one to minimise how much I needed to run.

Before our run in Alexandra Park
Before our run in Alexandra Park

The first of the runs was Run into Spring, where they were super efficient and I had the medal before I even set foot out the door. You could run any distance for this one then snap a picture of yourself with the medal. The second run was the Top Gun Virtual run, where you could opt for 5km, 10km or a half marathon distance, it even came with a printable race number. This one is from a company in the US and the medal when it arrives looks like it is going to be very cool indeed. We chose to do the 5km distance (for which I’m grateful due to the aforementioned ankle injury) and after a lot of chatter we finally got started.

Running felt tough from the offset, getting used to running on my ankle which felt sore but seemed to be holding up, I felt slow and unfit, but I was trotting along OK having a nice chat with Vince James as we jogged along, the others all pulling ahead.

We ran a 5km route round the park used for Race for Life, and it was pleasant running, it was warm and the park was fairly quiet. As we made our way back round to the second part of the park Vince and I caught up with Dom and Sinead who were running in front of us and we swapped partners. I was now running with Dom and he upped my pace a bit, my sore ankle just about handling it, not hurting any more that at the start of the run.

We came back round to our start point, looping round the bandstand to make sure we hit the 5km distance, had a quick finishers selfie and then made our respective ways back home.

Finished
Finished
Me with my Medal and run map
Me with my Medal and run map

Nuclear Rush 2015

When I got the go ahead from the boss man to book more races this year one of the first things I did was grab myself a Nuclear Races season pass. I loved every one of the Nuclear races I did last year and was really looking forward to running Rush again this year, then three weeks before the race I damaged my ankle and had to take time out of training, mostly because I was unable to even walk without a limp, so by race day I was feeling really unfit and my ankle was still not 100%. I wasn’t sitting this race out though so early on a Saturday morning I was picked up by my friend Bob and we travelled up to Essex.

Bob and I before the race
Bob and I before the race

The race was well organised as usual and had a good event village surrounding the start and finish lines. After hanging around for a while my friend Laura Dudley from Brocket Gear race team arrived and made my day by asking if we could run together for fun. I delightedly accepted her offer and we got ready to start.

As we were waiting on the start line listening to the race briefing and warm-up a guy was called up and proposed to his girlfriend, which was beautiful and a lovely start to the day, then there was a countdown and we were off into a ditch. I somehow missed the wooden slats set into the bank to help you up, but Laura was at the top to lend a hand. As we set off on the first set of running it quickly became clear that my ankle was not ready for racing, the uneven ground causing me trouble, I felt slower than a tortoise running through treacle!

The race had several of the obstacles I’ve met before and quite a few new ones, with over 80 to navigate across the 12k course. These included a long log carry, incorporating a stream wade, a rope climb that earned me a penalty drag of a heavy metal pipe as I failed to get up, something called “Essex Boyes” which was a lot of inflatable yellow balls with ropes above them to try and get across – or in our case fall off and have a penalty tyre carry – a few wall climbs, Irish table, a swim using a body board and the worlds longest gorilla bars.

At the bars I chose to go straight into the ditches that run alongside, I would normally give them my best shot, but falling off them onto my ankle didn’t seem like a very smart plan. In and out of the muddy ditches was then followed by several very muddy cargo net crawls. I also missed out the hang tough to avoid falling onto my damaged foot and got on with the forfeit tyre run.

The zip line across the lake followed by the death slide were awesome as always, and with a 3, 2, 1 we shot down into the lake below, a swim across to the ropes, into the smelly Ebenezer bog then over the traverse rope before off again into the trees.

Laura and I at the end of the Zip lines
Laura and I at the end of the Zip lines

We were having fun, singing and chatting, with a particularly wonderful rendition of “My Girl” which prompted the guys ahead of us to comment. Sadly I didn’t catch what they shouted to us, it was probably ” wow you two sound like angels” but could have been “who’s killing a cat” I guess we will never know!

Sometime after the slide though disaster struck when I caught my bad foot on a root and twisted it. For about 30 seconds I wasn’t even sure I was going to be able to walk, but the pain eased a bit, and after going through some more cold water which had a numbing effect, I was able to trot along again, and I’m far to stubborn to give up!

I missed out the second set of monkey bars and hang tough rings again, as I dared not fall down, skipped out a few other bits that would require me to jump or potentially fall, but otherwise soldered on with the help of Laura.  In and out of large tyres, over a big wall using a rope, up and down some steep banks with the help of ropes and a net, and down a fireman’s pole and we were finally nearing the end.

The final stretch had us going up and over some hay bails, then sliding down some metal pipes into a ditch before running up a final hill to the finish line. Laura and I grabbed hands and were cheered across the line by Mark Leinster, awesome muddy MC, a big group hug and we were handed our medals then posed for our finishers photos.

Laura and I with Mark
Laura and I with Mark

The finish was well organised, with water troughs provided as bath tubs to clean off the worst of the mud then a warm shower of water before coming to the bag drop, where you collected your bag straight away before being given a hot drink and t-shirt then directed straight into the warm changing area.

Laura had to run off to be a marshal straight after racing, so I found Bob who had finished long before me and we headed back down to the death slide for a burger at the Mudstacle after party, a beer, a chat and a few photos with friends and it was finally time to head home. Despite my injury I’d had another fantastic day out at Nuclear and I can’t wait to head back there in September for Nuclear Blast and Blackout.

Messing around after Rush
Messing around after Rush

Running: Because it’s Cheaper Than Therapy!

This post is a bit of a departure from the norm. It’s not about a race, or kit, or even about training really, if it’s about anything, other than a ramble, then it’s about me, and why these things have become such an important part of who I am.

I’m writing this because I need a bit of an outlet, I’m in the habit of bottling things up but sometimes you need to get out of your own head for a while.

I’ve had a pretty rubbish weekend, not because anything particularly awful has happened, in fact nothing bad has happened at all, on paper it looks like a pretty good weekend, time with my family, bit of shopping, taken out for dinner, but I’m miserable. I’m miserable because I hurt my foot two weeks ago and have been unable to do anything active since, but it’s more than that, which is what I want to try and explain.

I have a very demanding job, and quite frankly it has pushed me to the edge of my sanity. I love what I do, it’s an important job, however the aspects that I don’t enjoy have started to far outweigh the ones I do. By Easter of this year I was completely burned out, and teetering on the edge of a very dark place. With two weeks off I am usually refreshed and ready to start again, but not this time. I was unable to sleep, I was still stressed and worried and in all honesty a bit of a nightmare to be around. The only times I felt OK, not worried, not stressed, not panicking about work was when I was running, or training or racing. Sweet, glorious physical activity,working the body and soothing the mind.

In light of all this I actually quit my job, and felt better, for about a week, a week that started with Dirty Dozen and included a lot of training, I was working hard, pushing myself and happy. I have to work out a pretty long notice period though, and with 10 weeks still to go the stress and workload has not decreased just because I won’t be returning after the Summer, and then I went and hurt my foot. I say hurt, I turned my ankle completely over, it swelled to twice its size and the bruising was magnificent.

Hurting my foot has meant that apart from going to work, I’ve hardly left my flat, and the stress relief I take for granted by training after work in the evenings has been replaced by sitting with my foot elevated and nothing to do but stew. Adding to my work woes, I am a classic over thinker, with low self confidence, and this can lead to a negativity spiral as I start to feel a bit left out, taking things personally. I’m also an emotional eater, and as a former fatty I end up in a cycle of fear of becoming over weight again, eating because I feel sad and have nothing else to do, then feeling bad about myself and then repeat until insane!

I am my own worst critic, at least I hope I am, if anyone else is as mean to me as I am then I’m in real trouble! A lot of these issues stem from so many years ago it shouldn’t even matter any more, but school bullies have a lot to answer for, confidence, once destroyed is a hard thing to rebuild, especially when you feel worthless and can’t understand why people would like you, and some people, either by action or inaction can reinforce this negative self view without meaning too, on the other hand there are people who do nothing but try and lift you up, that support, encourage and help you through even the worst times, but sadly the bad stuff just seems to stick a little more than the good.

So there you have it, the strings to my emotional distress and a bit of a messy tour of my head. So why is running, and training, and racing so important? Why do I prioritise these things in my life? Quite simply because they make my life better, and they help me to be a better person. Exercise makes me happy (thank you endorphins!), running gives me a release, my poor PT gets to listen to me vent, I get to forget about my day for a while, whether it has been good or bad, it builds my confidence, I’ve actually managed to meet new people and make new friends, not something that comes easily for me and it gives me a goal, and a drive to do better, to beat the girl I was yesterday, a month ago, last year.

Lastly if you have read all of this I thank you for taking the time out of your day, and I just want you all to know that despite all of the above, I am OK (and almost entirely sane) xxx