After the disaster that was January was over, it was time to start looking for some silver linings. My husband told me to book some races, so that’s exactly what I did, giving me the motivation to start getting my training back on track, fighting through the fatigue that was still plaguing me as we moved into February.

To start with training was tough, running was difficult and I was having to walk up hills I could previously run up, but I persevered and the first weekend in February I took on my first organised race of 2016, the Ashford and District 10k.

Ashford and District 10k

Last year I ran this race in 53mins, but due to my lack of stamina and training lately, coupled with a cold that had reared up a few days prior to the run, I thought it was unlikely I would beat my time this year. The route was the same as in 2015, an out and back 10k on closed off country roads, a pleasant run with some hills thrown in to make it interesting (last years blog can be read here)

I felt like I was struggling from the start, mostly because breathing with a bunged up nose is fairly difficult, and I just felt slow. Just after the turn around point I got an awful stitch in my left side, which slowed me down further. I pushed on and did manage to get up the hill without stopping, and picked up the pace a little again on the downhill stretch to the finish, but I was unsurprised to find I had run the race 2 mins slower than last year. Still I had got round, and the medal this year was immense! Confidence a little knocked and worried about the next few races I have booked up in Feb, here’s hoping I can finish those too!

Ashford and District 10k Finished.
Ashford and District 10k Finished.

Another week of training followed the Ashford and District 10k which did nothing to build my confidence, my running was slow and painful, with stitches plaguing me, and a particularly pitiful PT session, where being taken up the East Hill steps turned into a slow puffed out walk rather than a run, as the next weekend rolled around I was feeling pretty crappy.

Brutal 10 – Bagshot

Despite feeling worried all week about this run, I was still looking forward to going, as it felt like a long time since I had done anything fun and muddy. I travelled with my friend Russ to the race and we had a good chat and a giggle on the way there and were in high spirits by the time we arrived despite the cold and rainy weather and early start. After hellos and hugs with some people it had been far to long since I’d last seen it was time for a warm up and run.

The course is two 5km laps that incorporate a lot of hills and a fair bit of water, I set off steady, wanting to just enjoy running again, and trotted around at a pace that was easy for me to maintain without causing me to be unable to breath (still got this stupid cold). Up steep hills, the downhill sections that followed were as challenging as the up, and through freezing water up to about waist height, leaving my feet numb! By the time I finished I was absolutely freezing, but with a massive smile on my face. The race had done what I had needed it to do, it had reminded me that I can really enjoy running. I’m really pleased I decided to tag along with Russ for this little road trip, I’d definitely do a Brutal 10 again. Finally I think I should also just say a little thank you to Tim Lovett for trying to help warm me up, with a lovely big hug and wrap in extra dryrobe warmth after I’d finished and changed and gone over to say goodbye but was unable to stop shivering. It was much appreciated!

Russ and I ready to start at Brutal 10
Russ and I ready to start at Brutal 10

Tenterden 5

The weekend after Brutal I went along with my husband to run a fairly local 5 mile road race. It was a bit chilly, and very windy as we set off over the pavements around the village of Wittersham where the race was held. The start of the race seemed to be all downhill, leaving me worried that the end would conversely be all up hill, however the ups were gentle and it turned out to be quite a nice run. The roads, although not closed off, were quiet with very little traffic, with much of the course set on little country lanes. Despite a pulled hamstring hubby Phil still managed to outstrip me running, but I did manage a sprint finish, coming in 2mins behind him to grab my medal and goody bag that contained a protein shake and cereal bar (the promised soup for finishers on the website was noticeably missing however!) Overall a nice little run to fill some time on a Sunday morning.

Tenterden 5 Finished
Tenterden 5 Finished

I intended to have an easier training week after the Tenterden 5, proceeding Judgement Day the following weekend, but I ended up doing 2 circuit classes, a PT session and taking myself out for a run where I just kept going and ended up running a half marathon distance, so I failed a bit at that!

I’m normally really excited on the lead up to an OCR race, (so much so I once blogged about it) and this was to be my first in 3 months, but I just wasn’t looking forward to it, I was feeling really detached from it all and like I didn’t really belong there, a weird and disconcerting feeling. I was hoping that I would feel better after the race.

Judgement Day Bordon – 12km

It was a really early start, and after only 3 hours sleep my mood wasn’t at its most sparkling! As I waited on the start line, rather than excitement I just felt cold and miserable about the thought of running by myself, but time waits for no man and it was soon time to cross the line and get on with the job at hand.

This was the third time I have run Judgement Day at Bordon and every single time the race has been completely different from the last one. This time we had started and would finish inside a building and we started with a decent run out before clambering over some hurdles. The race was of the usual excellent standard that I have come to expect from JD events, but I still wasn’t feeling it. The obstacles were good, the heights freaked me out and left me shaken, the monkey bars and later rope traverse hurt the hands but I did feel amazing when I didn’t fall off the traverse into the waiting water below! The one that everyone was talking about though was the sandbag carry, which took us three times out and back through a freezing cold lake. Six crossings of cold water that varied on me from knee to chest deep, all the while lugging a heavy sandbag was an interesting form of torture. The race finished with a rig, a wall and a pretty chunky medal.

This race ticked all the boxes and should have restored my love, a great course, good obstacles, wonderful strangers to help me over walls, even better friends to do likewise, or just to give me a much needed hug before, during or after, and a great group of people to travel to the race with but I’m still on a low. The highlight of my day was seeing a lot of people who have become very good friends over the past couple of years, but somewhere, somehow I’ve lost my buzz and most of my confidence and with just the Hastings half marathon left currently booked on my race calendar this year I don’t know where I’ll pop up next, I guess just watch this space!

Me with Jason, Joe, Russ and Dean - my road trip buddies from Hastings.
Me with Jason, Joe, Russ and Dean – my road trip buddies from Hastings.