March

Well here we are in March and I have two things on my calendar, the OCR Wrongens virtual race and the Hastings Half Marathon. Having looked back over February I feel it was all a little negative (with the exception of the Brutal 10 section), this can tend to happen when I get a bit introspective, I’m generally positive about everything but myself, but I want to get back to the “wow that race was amazing” feeling rather than getting so bogged down with how badly I think I’m doing and instead be proud that I’ve managed to do something at all. My only defence is that I was fighting some demons as we moved into Feb, which I’m sure will continue, but every day the sun shines a little brighter and life spins on.

With less actual races this month my training can step up a bit and this first week in March I’ve been on it, 3 circuit classes, 4 runs and a PT session and my legs in particular are feeling the burn. I hope I can continue with this schedule as much as life will allow.

The rest of this blog I’ll split into two sections, the Wrongens virtual run and the Hastings half, so here we go…

OCR Wrongens Virtual Race

This is actually more a challenge than a “race” and the rules are thus… You must do 8 runs in the month of March, one for each letter of “wrongens” Each run must be a minimum of 5km, and for the first run you need to wear or carry something beginning with W or run a W shaped route, the next run is R and so on and so forth.

Now for someone who has issues with not wanting to look stupid and embarrase myself the biggest challenge would be getting out of the house in whatever stupid get up I could come up with, more than the physicality of actually running the distance, nevertheless I did it. So here is what I did:

W – I ran 5km in the park carrying a watermelon, wearing a wrag.

W is for Watermelon
W is for Watermelon

I had originally decided to run in every wrag I own (I seem to have collected a lot over the past couple of years) but as I was settling down to sleep the night before the phrase “I carried a watermelon” from dirty dancing came to me, and I got a new plan. That watermelon got supremely heavy, and was really awkward and slippery to carry, I did consider ditching it under a bush, but I got there in the end, along with some funny looks from some perplexed dog walkers! Next up R..

R – I ran 5km in the park wearing rainbow socks and arm sleeves.

R is for Rainbow
R is for Rainbow

O – I took a 6km run with an inflatable Orca whale.

O is for Orca
O is for Orca

N – Another 5k round the park, this time as a Ninja

N is for Ninja
N is for Ninja

G – This 5k was with a garden gnome

G is for Garden Gnome
G is for Garden Gnome

E was a 5k run/walk catch up with a friend of mine, while I was dressed as an Elf

E is for Elf
E is for Elf

The second N was for Nurse

N is for Nurse
N is for Nurse

Finally S was done wearing stockings and suspenders!

S is for Stockings and Suspenders
S is for Stockings and Suspenders

Overall I had quite a lot of fun doing this, and I’m sure my snapchat friends will really miss my updates… or perhaps not!

The Hastings Half Marathon 2016

I had been a bit worried about this run, anyone who has read any of my blogs, or any of my facebook posts will probably know that I’m often doubtful about my ability to do a race well. I rarely doubt my ability to actually finish a race but I’m often sure that I’ll do badly. I put too much pressure on myself to perform the way I feel I should be performing, and beat myself up if I can’t live up to my own expectations. I’m my own worst enemy. Now leading up to the half I hadn’t felt that my running was strong, I felt like I was struggling a lot, and I was convinced that there was no way I could run this as quickly as I did it last year (1h52.45)

In the end though, this actually worked in my favour for once, as I went in with two definite goals and one hope, that I would finish, that I would manage to get round without falling over and that I might keep my time under 2 hours. Other than that I had such low expectations for myself that I didn’t really care how I did, I just lined up, and ran!

Running down Middle Road
Running down Middle Road

I was worried that I had taken the first couple of miles too quickly as I was running under 8 minute miles, but I soon slowed down up Queensway, still managing to keep it quicker than a 10 minute mile though. I got to the top and was mostly just happy that I had managed to make it this year without tripping over a cats eye! As I ran round I felt comfortable, and as I came to the 10 mile point where there is a clock, I saw that if I could hold 10 minute miles I would beat my time by a matter of seconds. I pushed on, I had been running faster than that the whole way round and it was all downhill, then flat, from there. As I hit the bottom of the hill and started the long slog along the seafront to the finish, I kept an eye on my watch, and if the pace looked like it was dropping I mentally shouted at myself “don’t stop, don’t stop” I kept it in the 8 minute mile bracket until the finish. When I stopped my watch I had done it, a new half marathon PB at 1h47.01, but my chip time was even better at 1h46.55. I had also got my fastest ever mile, 5k and 10k on route. For once I finished a race and I was ecstatic, I was actually proud of what I had achieved. I had surpassed my own expectations and finished in a really good time. It made such a nice change to finish a race and not feel disappointed in myself, I’m still buzzing a couple of days later and I can’t wait for my next race, (Currently a 10mile trail run if I don’t book anything else) and I’m just going to enjoy it!

Really happy after the Half.
Really happy after the Half.

Falling out of Love – My OCR Rant

Should I write this, shouldn’t I write this? Meh, I’m bored so here is my two pennies for what they are worth… for a while now I’ve been feeling less and less love for my favourite hobby, and it seems I may not be the only one.

To start with, one of the reasons I love OCR is how friendly it is (was?), and for someone like me who can be shy and awkward when meeting new people it’s been lovely, the amount of support I got from relative strangers back in 2014 when I was fundraising was both amazing and humbling, but all I seem to see on social media now is bickering and moaning. I long ago unfollowed the OCR groups I’m a member of, as I got fed up of it clogging up my news feed, but I dip in now and again to see what’s going on, and over the past few months, on several groups, in amongst the “what watch/shoes/socks should I buy” posts and the “this isn’t OCR but…” posts it all seems to be doom and gloom and arguments, moaning about races “I signed up three years ago and now I don’t fancy it and I can’t believe I’m not entitled to a refund 1 day before the race, its an outrage” Moaning about the cost of a race – well it is next week and prices do go up, that’s pretty standard!

Worst of all though are the seemingly personal attacks against groups of people, I’m talking about the “people who skip any obstacles should burn in a pit of hell and get out of my way” posts, the “Why don’t you just do a road run if you don’t want to climb a rope” posts, the “They shouldn’t get a medal as they missed the last monkey bar, I’d be EMBARRASSED to take it if it were me…” posts. What a load of rubbish, you are not a failure if you can’t climb a rope, you are a hero for trying anyway! Now I’m not talking about blatant cheating here, running past things for a better time, but I have a whole long list of things I can’t do, does this mean I shouldn’t go at all? I can’t climb a rope, but I will try every single time, I can’t do the monkey bars, but I am  perfecting a “swing and drop” technique and will happily take any penalty then dished out to me. Does this mean I should be excluded from the other 5, 10, 15km of the race and just put on my road trainers? I could go on with a list of things I can’t do, but you know what I can do? I can get over a high wall, if I get some help, despite a sometimes crippling fear of heights, I have found I can do a rope traverse, I can crawl, I can do a cargo net, even if its wobbly and I’m nearly crying when I finally get to the bottom, I can swim, I can wade, I can carry, I can run, I can haul my substantial ass out of endless muddy ditches with a smile on my face! And yet, despite all my cans, there are people out there who can make you feel like you have no place there at all, and it has felt lately the emphasis is strongly about what people can’t do rather than what they can.

In the midst of all this came some announcements about the UK championships and suddenly its world war 3 in the OCR world, as far as I can see it goes like this: announcement, arguments, counter arguments, new announcements, more arguments, and repeat! Now I have found myself agreeing with some comments from one side, and other comments from the other, and I’m staying firmly on the fence, personally I don’t care about qualifying but I understand that people do, I think that healthy debate can be helpful and move things forward, but what’s been awful is the increasingly personal attacks by some people. Now I’m a big girl perfectly capable of scrolling on past the posts I don’t want to read without getting my knickers in a twist, but this has been pretty hard to miss! It’s sucking the fun right out, and I’ve also seen a lot of statues echoing that sentiment so I don’t think it’s just me. Chill out people, this is an expensive hobby if you are not enjoying it, it’s supposed to be FUN! What I have also seen is that the reasoned arguments are actually listened to and acted upon, but before this can be done (things can take time) there is an awful lot of mud slinging first (poor pun intended).

So along with all this are some more personal things all muddled up in there, some small fitness niggles, one big personal drama, more small niggles and I’ve been left feeling unfit with self confidence at an all time low, so I go to a race to try and build myself back up but I have a bit of a mixed experience (not down to the race itself which if I think about without an emotional head on, was really rather good). First I was completely snubbed by someone who was a friend of mine (not a random “we are facebook friends” friend, someone I’ve run with in the past), then I made the fatal mistake of picking a race where I would be running by myself, rather than signing up with others, on the positive side though I ended up near enough to a couple of people I know that although running alone I had a lot of support where I needed it (on the high walls namely) and when it came to getting down off a high obstacle in the event village I was encouraged by some other people I know who hadn’t gone out to run yet, and who’s support vaguely pierced the fog of my mini panic attack enough to help me get down. So the friendliness I mentioned at the start is still there, but I feel it’s being masked by moaning, I’ve even seen arguments break out on social media over the price of a f-ing burger!!

With all of this and other bits I’ve forgotten (I had a whole lot of ranty rants to include on here in my head as I stomped off to training last night half way through writing this, but by the time I was done sweating it all out and laughing I was feeling quite blissed out, got to love an endorphin, and now I can’t remember what I wanted to moan about, and this is good) I have decided to give OCR a miss for a few months, I’m going to road and trail run instead (and yes I did choose JD as one of my trail runs, which could be argued falls under the OCR umbrella, but I love JD events, so sue me!). I will really miss some of the people I probably won’t see for a long time now, the ones who look genuinely pleased to see me as they come at me with a big hug when I turn up at a race, but I’m done feeling dejected because I can only get half-way across the monkey bars, wondering what it is I’ve done to upset someone enough to block me and cut me out without any explanation, feeling unhappy running alone which didn’t used to bother me much, worrying how I’ll manage and weather there are people silently (on not so silently) judging me when I can’t. I’ve already said, it’s an expensive hobby if you are not enjoying it (especially when you recklessly quit your job and are living off your rapidly dwindling savings) so, I’m out! Maybe not forever, maybe not for long, or maybe to never again swing on a rope, right now, I just don’t know! So there it is, there’s my rant, well done for getting to the end of it, much love to the people who love and support me, here’s to the future and to my hope that this is just a break, not a permanent split.