A-Z Survey

As I’m aware my blogs can be too long, here’s something a little different; an A-Z survey. I spotted this survey a few months ago on another running blog. Apologies, I can’t remember exactly which blog. If it was your blog, please let me know 🙂

A – Age: 39

B – Biggest Fear: Canals, slightly unfortunate for a hydrologist.

C – Current Time: 11:23

D – Drink You Had Last: A cup of tea

E – Easiest Person to talk To: I used to find Geoff really easy to talk to. Since he died in August, I haven’t really talked to anyone and prefer to spend time on my own…

Sutton Park

F – Favourite Song: This changes all the time but at the moment I listen to Hold on to the Vision from No Retreat, No Surrender at least once a day.

G – Grossest Memory: There have been quite a few, but my most recent gross memory was discovering that I had an infected big toenail.

H – Hometown: Four Oaks, Birmingham

I – In Love With: I’m currently single so unless I count the family cat, I’m not in love with anyone at the moment.

J – Jealous Of: Runners who never seem to get injured.

Knee ebib

K – Kindest Person You Know: My brother

L – Longest Relationship: Seven years

M – Middle Name: Alice

N – Number of Siblings: Two

O – One Wish: To remain fit and healthy

P – Person You Spoke to on the Phone Last: My Mum

Q – Question You’re Always Asked: Is it cold up there?

R – Reason to Smile: I am fit, healthy and have a roof over my head.

S – Song You Last Sang: I Know Him So Well  from Chess. I was reminded that I’m a terrible singer.

T – Time You Woke Up: 07:00

U – Underwear Colour: black with white spots

V – Vacation Destination: After visiting Beijing, I really want to spend a couple of weeks in ShanghaiGreat Wall of China

W – Worst Habit: Drinking far, far too much Diet Coke

 X – X-Rays You’ve Had: The usual dental x-rays and x-rays on my left leg and left foot.

Y – Your Favourite Food: Roast beef with all the trimmings

Z – Zodiac Sign: Taurus

Are there any other questions you’d like me to answer?

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A weekend of food, fun, friends and running

Good morning, Happy Monday etc.

I hope that everyone who reads this had an awesome weekend. Mine didn’t get off to the best of starts when Wolves lost at Cardiff. I keep telling myself it’s only a game… At least I remembered to enter the Run up to Christmas virtual event.Run up to ChristmasI set my alarm for 06:30 on Saturday as I wanted to enter one of my target races for 2019. This race is known to sell out quickly, and I didn’t want to miss out due to my laziness. My approach worked and I managed to get a place. Places are transferable so if I can’t run, someone else will be able to take my place.

I looked out the window, saw that it was quite ‘hydrological’ and decided to stay at home. My local parkrun will still be there next week. As the weather was vile, I popped round to my friend’s house, and spent the morning wrapping Christmas presents and writing Christmas cards.Christmas funI *think* I’ve only got a couple more presents to buy. A good job as my next payday isn’t until just before Christmas. After paying the deposit for the work Christmas meal – yes, in typical Emma style I left organising the work Christmas meal until the last possible minute – my credit card needs a bit of a break.

After a much-needed afternoon nap, I had a quick shower, got changed and then headed to the local pub to meet Anna. We had a couple of pints and then decided to walk to Sainsbury’s. Have you ever walked around a supermarket after a few pints? I bought some really random bits and pieces and apparently tried to sing along to “Walking in the Air” when it started to play. Opps, I’m sorry Anna.Sainsburys ChristmasI didn’t treat myself to a running mug because I knew I was unlikely to get it home in one piece. They only cost £3 so I may well end up treating myself next time I’m shopping. We walked to my favourite pub – The Butlers Arms – had a couple more pints and staggered home.

Rather frustratingly I woke well before my alarm. I think I was still a little drunk from the night before. Although it was still dark and I felt terrible, I decided to get up to make a start on some slightly overdue house work. At 08:30 I got ready for my first run since Sutton Park parkrun on November 10th. I was a little concerned when I found the mile or so run to Ellen’s house really difficult.

I met up with Ellen feeling like I’d just finished a 10 mile run. It’s amazing how quickly running fitness disappears. We had a quick discussion about our running options while I removed a layer, and decided to head into the park with the aim of taking it steady, walking when we needed to and having an enjoyable run.
Sutton ParkWe ran past Little Bracebridge Pool and after a short walking break, ran across Lower and Upper Arena Fields towards the Jamboree Stone. At this stage we found ourselves on the Sutton Park parkrun route so decided to follow the route down to Longmoor Pool. I’ve included this map of the park to show where we ran, if you ever end up in Birmingham, definitely head to Sutton Park.Sutton_Park_map-1We crossed the parkrun finish line in first and second place, ran towards Banners Gate and then stopped for a breather. I must admit that at this stage I wasn’t sure I’d be able to get back to where we started as I was shattered. I regretted not having breakfast. We started running again, found ourselves back on the parkrun route and headed towards Lord Donegal’s Ride and the Hill of Doom.

Hill of Doom navigated, we ran towards the Jamboree Stone and decided to stop at the ice cream van for a rest, something to drink and to take a selfie. I really need to work on my selfie posing skills 🙂
Sutton Park selfieAfter a quite lengthy rest – we remembered to pause our Garmins – we ran away from the Jamboree Stone down an incredibly steep hill towards Blackroot Pool. This was where the really energy-sapping muddy fun started. At one stage we had no idea where which was slightly concerning. Completely by chance, we found ourselves back on the path that leads to Little Bracebridge Pool. We reached the pool, realised we’d covered six miles and decided to walk the short distance back to Ellen’s.

We spent a bit of time drinking tea and coffee, eating the most amazing toast and talking about possible training plans for our next half marathons. I think it’s safe to say I didn’t really want to leave as I was enjoying the running chat so much. Thanks for a brilliant run Ellen!

The rest of my Sunday wasn’t as much fun, and the afternoon and early evening seemed to fly by far too quickly. One minute it was midday, the next it was 17:00 and I had to leave to start the long journey back to Wallingford.

I’m looking forward to more muddy running fun in Sutton Park next weekend.

Did you have a good weekend? I feel like weekends should last five days and the working week two days.

Have you entered any target races for 2019? The marathon I entered on Saturday scares me a little.

How are your Christmas preparations going? I haven’t decorated the house yet and need to buy a few more family Christmas cards but feel more organised than this time last year.

OmegaBrite premium Omega-3 supplement review

I think it’s safe to say, I’m a pretty injury-prone runner. My most recent injury – a painful right knee – made an unexpected and unwelcome appearance when I was walking to work. Not ideal, as I was about to start training for my next half marathon in March.

When OmegaBrite approached me to review their Omega-3 gelcaps, I did some research, liked what I read, and agreed to try out OmegaBrite and write a review.omegabrite-gelcapsNormally, I’m not a huge fan of taking supplements, and will try to source the vitamins and nutrients I need from food. However, since the start of the year I’ve been living in a shared house, and have struggled to access the kitchen. As a result, my diet hasn’t been as varied as it could have been.

My box of OmegaBrite gelcaps arrived, I read through the information provided, and decided to start the trial after the Royal Parks Half Marathon. Now that I’ve reached the end of the box and the trial, I feel that I’m in a position to produce what I hope will be an informative review.

What is OmegaBrite?

OmegaBrite is described as a physician formulated, pharmaceutical quality supplement. Each box comes with 60 x 500mg easy to swallow gelcaps. Each gelcap is scientifically formulated with high purity EPA for maximum benefit.

The extremely pure 90% Omega-3 supplement has been scientifically formulated to promote a number of benefits:

  • Cardiac health
  • Emotional well-being
  • Joint health
  • Cognitive clarity
  • Positive mood
  • Eye health

According to the manufacturer, OmegaBrite customers take the supplement for a range of reasons including cardiac and joint health. As OmegaBrite is an Omega-3 supplement, it is a natural anti-inflammatory and is, therefore, great for muscle recovery after exercise.back-of-boxAs a keen but injured runner, I was curious to see if OmegaBrite would help to reduce the pain and inflammation in my right knee. Although I must admit I was a little sceptical when I started taking the gelcaps, I was also interested to see if OmegaBrite would improve my mood. Recently, a complete lack of decent sleep combined with some stressful life events have combined to leave me feeling a little gloomy and irritable. I’m pretty sure I’ve been a bit of a nightmare to work with!

The review process

In theory, the review process was straightforward. All I had to do was take three easy-to-swallow OmegaBrite gelcaps per day with a meal. Each box contains 60 capsules so my trial should have lasted approximately three weeks.

It took me a few days to get into the habit of taking the OmegaBrite capsules. I think it’s safe to say I’m not great at remembering to take tablets. I didn’t want to take the gelcaps at lunchtime – I’m concerned my colleagues already think I have slightly unusual eating habits – so I decided to wait until my evening meal. Looking back, this was a bit of a mistake as I don’t always eat in the evening.

The gelcaps are described as easy-to-swallow, however, by the time I got to my third gelcap, I was reminded that I’ve never been very good at swallowing tablets. omega-3-capsI managed to overcome this minor hurdle by taking one gelcap before, one during and one immediately after my evening meal. I also found taking the gelcaps with a lot of water quite beneficial. My water intake increased a lot during this trial, definitely a positive.

The Verdict

After completing the three week trial of OmegaBrite Omega-3 gelcaps, I can confirm that this supplement is gentle on the digestive system. My somewhat temperamental digestive system tolerated the OmegaBrite gelcaps, a good job as five days a week, I live in a shared house with only one working toilet.

When I started the OmegaBrite trial, I had a painful right knee. I had no idea what I’d done to my knee, but it would get increasingly painful during each walk to and from the office. Walking down the stairs in the office was a challenge, and running was unfortunately completely out of the question.  OmegaBrite-omega-3I’m pleased to report that the Inflammation gradually decreased while I was taking the OmegaBrite gelcaps. Unfortunately, the pain in my right knee didn’t appear to improve much. Although I have a feeling that only complete rest will help my right knee recover, it will be interesting to see how my knee reacts now that I’ve stopped taking OmegaBrite.

One of the main benefits of OmegaBrite is described as ‘mood elevation’. Since the weekend of the Royal Parks Half Marathon, I’ve been feeling increasingly fatigued and quite irritable. Although the OmegaBrite didn’t completely eliminate my irritability, I do think my mood improved during the trial. My stress levels also seemed to decrease, pretty impressive when you consider I didn’t run once during the trial. Once again, it will be interesting to see what happens now I’ve stopped taking OmegaBrite. I’m actually a little concerned I’ll turn back into a ‘mardy Mary’.

Would I recommend OmegaBrite? Yes, I genuinely believe that OmegaBrite helped to reduce the inflammation in my right knee. I also found that the supplement helped to improve my mood. Perhaps both were some sort of placebo effect, I genuinely don’t know.

OmegaBrite are available from OmegaBrite and other online retailers and have a RRP of £29.99 for 60 gelcaps.

**Full disclosure: I was sent a packet of OmegaBrite gelcaps for free in return for a review. I did not receive any payment for this review. As I somehow managed to delete all the photos I took, all images are taken from the OmegaBrite website. As always, all opinions are my own**

How I’m rediscovering my running mojo

I’ve lost my running mojo.

It disappeared immediately after the Royal Parks Half Marathon, and I’m struggling to find it again. After a decent performance in the Royal Parks combined with some epic fundraising, I’ve struggled to run on a regular basis. Some weeks, my trainers have remained unworn and my Garmin battery has gone flat.A well placed benchMy right knee and left foot have been a little niggly. I’ve no idea what I’ve done to my right knee, it started to hurt one morning when I was walking to work, it’s all a bit of a mystery. I suspect the ‘niggle’ in my left foot is related to the stress fracture, it only hurts when it’s cold.

I’m not using this as an excuse, but I’ve also been feeling both mentally and physically exhausted a lot of the time. I think the lack of sleep combined with what has happened this year have finally caught up with me.

I’ve rather foolishly entered two half marathons in London in March, so I need to get my running mojo back ASAP.

Here’s my advice for rediscovering your running mojo. As usual, I’m struggling to follow my own advice.

Enter races – Although I enjoy running on my own, this year I’ve rediscovered my love of taking part in organised races.London Landmarks HalfNothing beats running somewhere new with likeminded people. The medal at the end is just an added bonus. I’ve got everything crossed I make it to the start line of my next 10k race on Sunday. If I don’t, I’ve got the Wheaton Aston 10k to look forward to next month. My sister-in-law has also entered, so I’ve got even more of an incentive to take part.

Set some goals – I’ve always struggled to keep myself motivated without goals. At school I’d set myself attainment goals, slightly geeky but it worked for me. I like to set myself running and fitness goals and share them on here to make myself slightly more accountable. While I’ve accepted I won’t be grabbing myself are more PBs this year, injury permitting, I’d like to run 50 miles in December.

Start again – If you haven’t fun for some time, it may well be worth going back to basics, and starting again. I’ve completed the Couch to 5k twice after recovering from running injuries. More recently, I returned to running with a slow parkrun. It was perfect, just what this doctor ordered.

Run with others – This summer, I discovered that running with others not only takes some of the pressure off, it also means that the miles fly (sort of) by. My Sunday morning runs in Sutton Park with Ellen were definitely my running highlight of 2018. We ran at a sensible pace, and stopped to take selfies and to eat ice cream. Perfect! I really hope your injury clears up quickly Ellen.Sutton Park ice creamI also enjoyed a few runs after work with my line manager. I’m gutted that these runs probably won’t happen again. A couple of weeks ago, I arranged to meet someone whose blog I’d enjoyed reading for years at Sutton Park parkrun. I hope that your hand is feeling a lot better Rachel, and you are back running again really soon. I’m sorry your first experience of Sutton Park parkrun didn’t go to plan.

Try something new – I suspect my running mojo disappeared because my training runs got too predictable. I estimate that in the lead up to the Royal Parks Half Marathon, 95% of my training runs were completed in the dark, on the pavements of Four Oaks and Wallingford. My running routine got too predictable and almost boring. Don’t make the same mistake; hit the trails, try a track session or embrace the mud. Mix it up.

Be a parkrun tourist – I finally popped my parkrun tourism cherry this summer when I travelled to Didcot parkrun.Didcot pakrun group 2

[Photo: Lewis Cousins]

Although the course was a little uninspiring, I met loads of other parkrun tourists and enjoyed running somewhere completely different. Not knowing the route was quite exciting. When I get a car, I’m determined to explore more of my local parkruns. Finally, check out Anna’s running blog. Anna has recently completed the parkrun alphabet challenge, such an amazing achievement!

Volunteer – If you don’t feel like running consider volunteering. I can pretty much guarantee that marshalling at your local parkrun will help you rediscover your running mojo. I’m looking forward to a spot of volunteering this weekend.

Listen to podcasts – I started to find my long Sunday morning training runs quite monotonous. Quite a few runners suggested downloading and listening to podcasts, so here are a few of my favourites.Running PodcastsI must admit I was a little sceptical, but listening to a podcast really did seem to make the time go faster during my final long run. I’ve now started to listen to podcasts while I’m blogging and also when I vacuum.

I Run On – I can pretty much guarantee that watching this short film will help you rediscover your running mojo.I Run On

Otherwise try watching a running-themed film, there are plenty to choose from, my favourite is Without Limits.

New kit – treat yourself. I’m going to sound really fickle, but new kit is pretty much guaranteed to get me running again. Buy that running top you’ve been secretly admiring for months, if it works for me, it may well work for you too.

Don’t stress – Finally, don’t beat yourself up if you don’t feel like running. At the end of the day, running is meant to be fun. Stick your trainers and running gear on and head outside for a walk. You never know, you might find yourself running again.

I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading my hints and tips. What are your tips for rediscovering your running mojo when it goes AWOL? Have I missed any?

Race Report: Royal Parks Half Marathon

Good morning. I hope you are all having a great week. Apologies in advance, I have a feeling this race report will be rather lengthy.

RPHM Logo

Before I start my review, I need to provide a bit of context. The Royal Parks Half Marathon was on my races bucket list for a long, long time. At the beginning of February, after six consecutive ‘failures’ in the ballot, I was thrilled when I discovered I’d finally been successful in the ballot. It meant that I could raise money for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity without any pressure.

I paid my £60.95 entry fee, let Rachel from The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity know I’d got a place in the ballot, drafted out a training plan and then put the race to the back of my mind. The original plan was for my PhD supervisor and good friend Geoff to travel to London for the weekend of the race. Unfortunately, Geoff passed away peacefully at The Royal Marsden in London in August so never got to see me run.

I started training for the Royal Parks Half approximately three months ago, and documented my training on here. I also started fundraising, and as I’m writing this race report, have raised £756.62. Training for the Royal Parks Half went reasonably well. I had a couple of injury scares but nothing too serious. I had a bit of a sniffle the week before the race, and also missed a couple of longer training runs.

I travelled down to London the day before the race, treated myself to pie and mash in The Barley Mow pub in Marylebone, and then checked into my hotel in Southwark. On Saturday evening, I headed to Casa Becci for one last time and quite possibly overdid the carbo-loading. I returned to Southwark, laid out my kit and went to bed feeling very well fuelled.Kit flat layI was woken by the rain at 06:00. I looked out the window and discovered it was absolutely chucking it down. As a hydrologist working in an area in prolonged dry weather, the rain made me smile. After spending months moaning about the lack of rain, I couldn’t really complain! I had a shower, a couple of productive loo visits, got changed into my running gear, and then as my stomach felt a bit iffy, took a couple of Imodium tablets.

By the time I walked to Southwark tube station it had stopped raining and actually felt quite humid. I successfully navigated myself from Southwark to Hyde Park Corner tube station – I followed dozens of other runners – and walked the short distance across Hyde Park to the race village. As I didn’t have to use the secure bag storage, I got straight into the queue for the portaloos. Final loo stop completed, I started to explore the race village. I spotted a VIP tent and a media tent; I guess official bloggers got to use the one of these tents. After spending 10 minutes saying no to all the free food and drink that was offered me – I wasn’t brave enough to try the healthy(?) energy drink – I tracked down a copy of the race route.Route MapI was a little disappointed as the route sent runners down The Strand rather than making the most of Victoria Embankment. I guess I should have checked out the route before the morning of the race.

And then it started to rain again and I found myself sheltering with a load of other runners under a tree. The tree didn’t make the best shelter; I should have used a bit of common sense and sheltered inside the charity marquee. If I find myself in a pre-race monsoon again, I know what to do! By the time I squeezed inside the Royal Marsden area of the charity marquee I was soaking wet and quite cold. Luckily, the rain stopped just because we were asked to make our way to the start area.

I’ve no idea why, but I’d been allocated a green number which meant I was in the second wave of runners to start. I entered the green start pen and immediately walked to the back of the pen. I didn’t want to be caught up in a mad rush at the start! The green pen was quite empty to start with. There was more than enough room for more serious sensible runners to work through their pre-race routines.Waiting to startFrom what I could see, a lot of runners were stuck in portaloo and bag storage queues. I took this selfie – how nervous do I look? – and spent a bit of time talking to a lady who was injured and was planning on run-walking the half. The loo and bag queues cleared and more runners joined the back of the green pen. This meant that one minute we were at the back of the green pen, the next we were up near the front.Pre race selfieThe race started at 09:00, and after a short delay – the different waves started at different times – I found myself running towards Green Park. I quickly noticed that the course was incredibly crowded, and my trainers were useless at gripping on the wet surfaces. Basic race etiquette was unfortunately also a little lacking at times, I lost count of the number of times I was clipped by other runners.Start of RPHMThis set the scene for the first few miles. Most runners were making the most of the stunning surroundings; I was too busy trying to avoid slipping over and getting in the way of other runners. Despite this, I felt great and found myself running at a far too ambitious pace. A familiar mistake which would come back to haunt me later on. The route took us along Birdcage Walk, past Horse Guards, underneath Admiralty Arch and then along an out and back section along Whitehall. The rain had stopped, the humidity had unfortunately increased, but the support was amazing.

The route then sent us on an out and back along what felt like the most slippery road in England, the Strand, back underneath Admiralty Arch, along The Mall in the ‘wrong’ direction, back through the middle of Green Park and then just before the 10k mark, into Hyde Park.

After years of trying and failing to get a place in the Royal Parks Half through the ballot, I really wanted to have a positive race experience. I’m a little ashamed to admit I found the final half of the route in Hyde Park a little frustrating. The support was amazing and in certain sections a little overwhelming, and the water stations well organised and stocked. The mile markers were easy to spot and had some rather unusual motivational quotes including ‘no swanning around’ and ‘tree-ly well done’.

I found myself struggling after my far too ambitious first half and had to slow my pace. As I’m useless at drinking and running, I allowed myself to walk and drink after every drinks station. Just before the 10 mile marker, I was involved in a bit of an unfortunate incident. I was running along minding my own business when suddenly a couple of pedestrians decided to walk directly in front of me. I didn’t have time to react and to stop running, so had to push my way past the pedestrians while apologising. Sorry but you shouldn’t really just walk in front of a load of runners!

I think my personal highlight of the final section of the course was the Lululemon cheer station. Thanks guys, now if you could restock my favourite running shorts

The route took us past the Royal Albert Hall and back towards the finish. I overtook a lady being pushed in a wheelchair, spotted some photographers, smiled grimaced, and ‘sprinted’ across the finish line.Finish 1Finish 2Finish 3I remembered to stop my watch and collected a medal, a couple of cartons of water, a banana and an empty canvas bag. Five minutes after I finished it started to rain again. I pretty much instantly went from feeling a little too warm to feeling cold.MedalLeaving the finish area was tricky as the route back to the race village was incredibly congested. There were loads of supporters with massive umbrellas looking out for their runners. I felt a little sad when I saw runners and their family and friends being reunited. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to travel to races on my own. Enough self-pitying, as I knew I had to get back to my hotel and out of my wet clothes ASAP, I navigated my way out of this area as quickly as I could.

Once I’d made my way back to the race village, I spotted a huge queue of runners. I asked another runner what the queues were for, and discovered that they were for the post-race goodies. I joined the back of one of the queues and less than ten minutes later found myself in a conveyor belt of runners – it was really efficient – being handed a mixture of healthy snacks, drinks and rather randomly, a bottle of tomato ketchup!Goody bagAs, by this stage I was feeling very cold, wet and hungry, I left the race village and power-walked to Hyde Park Corner tube station. Less than 30 minutes after leaving Hyde Park, I was back in my hotel room having the most amazing hot shower. The £10 late checkout fee was definitely worth every penny.

I shared a photo of my medal and pre-race selfies on my Facebook page and thanked all my sponsors. I made my way back to Paddington station, treated myself to a McDonald’s, and then headed back to Wallingford and reality.

I spent Sunday evening feeling incredibly frustrated with myself. Once again, my pacing was all over the place and I let myself down. Although I got a 5 minute PB, I feel that I definitely could have done better. After vowing to never run in London again, I remembered I’d already paid to enter two half marathons; the London Landmarks Marathon and the the Vitality Big Half. Both events are in March.

Finally, if you’ve taken the time to read and to comment on my training updates; ‘thank-you’. My family don’t really understand why I run so your support has been invaluable. If you sponsored me ‘thank-you’. As soon as people spotted my Royal Marsden vest, the support I received on during the run was incredible, quite a few other runners came up to me with their own personal stories.

Would I enter the Royal Parks Half Marathon again? Yes! It’s expensive, yes it’s crowded, but the support along the route was incredible.

Race ratings:

  • Cost: 2/10 – (£57 + £3.95 postage and packaging)
  • Course: 7/10
  • Medal: 9/10
  • Race t-shirt: 8/10
  • Goody bag: 8/10

Royal Parks Half Marathon training week 12

Good morning! Apologies this training update is a week late. I had a bit of a disaster last Monday and managed to destroy Derek the Dell (my laptop). I used my laptop to watch TV – my shared house doesn’t have a lounge – and to update this blog.Collage 37The final week of my half marathon training plan – taper week and race – suggested that I completed 20 minute easy run on Monday,  a comfortable 40 minute run on Wednesday, a steady 30 minute run on Friday, and finally, my half marathon race on Sunday. I felt reasonably confident I’d be able to complete all of my training runs. I just needed to avoid picking up the office lurgy.

So how did I get on during the final week of my half marathon training? Did I manage to avoid injuring myself running around Wallingford? Did I get ill? Did I make it to London?

Monday – 20 mins easy

After a slightly frustrating Monday morning – why do people come into to work when they are ill? – the day improved when I discovered that pasta was on the menu at lunchtime. I decided to start my carb-loading, and ordered a double portion with potato slices; my colleagues thought it was hilarious. I escaped from the office at 16:30, popped into Boots to buy some what I call cold repellent, and then walked back to my shared house.

I’ve no idea what was going on, but my housemates seemed to be having a ‘who can make the most noise?’ competition. I know I sound like moaning myrtle, but when I’m in Wallingford, I seem to get under six hours sleep a night. Even ear plugs don’t make much difference. I think it’s say to say I was feeling a little ‘grumpy’ when I headed out on my run. The 20 minutes easy turned into 20 minutes quite speedy. And then I got back to my room and managed to knock my laptop onto the floor, an expensive mishap.

Tuesday – Rest

I woke up feeling a little under the weather, so made sure that I ate a lot of oranges and ate a decent lunch.  Work was busy, but I managed to do some research and tracked down someone who repairs computers and PCs in Wallingford. I arranged to leave my laptop with him after work, so I had a slightly not very restful hour when I had to power walk back to my shared house to collect my laptop and then power walk to the computer repair place. The person I spoke to seemed reasonably confident my laptop would be fixable.

Wednesday – 40 mins comfortable

The chilly weather caught me out a little in the morning. Most people I spotted during my walk to work were wearing coats and gloves; I’d left my coat in my room. The centre of Wallingford and the River Thames looked so stunning, I had to take some photos. Work was reasonably stress-free, however, I’m not sure how, but I ended up with the thankless task of organising the office Christmas party. Arrrragggh!Collage 38I left work at a little later than I wanted to, popped into Waitrose – other supermarkets are available, just not in Wallingford – for some supplies and then headed back to my room for a nap. Predictably, I woke up a couple of hours later feeling completely disorientated and not really in the mood for running. I got changed into some of my warmer running gear, did some stretches, and headed out into the dark. I found the run a bit of a struggle as I felt quite sniffly and my breathing was all over the place. Not the most confidence boosting of runs. The cone of chips at the finish cheered me up a little.

Thursday – 30 mins steady

Thursday was pretty amazing. I found out that I’ve got an interview for a permanent job I applied for. I wrote the blog below, and shared it on Fetcheveryone, a running site I’ve been a member of for 10+ years.

One last plea

What have the last three months taught me? Fundraising, is difficult. 

I’ve found it very hard to ask people, in some cases almost complete strangers, for money. As someone who is proud to be self-sufficient, I’m not used to asking for help.

I’ve no idea how some people manage to raise thousands of pounds. They must be incredibly selfless. They must also put their cause first. I have a huge amount of admiration for these people.

To be honest, I’ve felt bad asking people for sponsorship just once. I’ve had a couple of slightly rude knockbacks, most recently last Friday in the pub following my PhD supervisor Geoff’s memorial. I think you need to be determined, creative and thick-skinned.

I’ve struggled with the rude knockbacks, particularly those from people I know, and have probably taken them a little too personally.

Most of you know I’m using the upcoming Royal Parks Half Marathon to raise money for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. I’m pretty certain that we all know someone either directly or indirectly that has been diagnosed with cancer. My PhD supervisor Geoff was unfortunately diagnosed with a rare, aggressive and generally untreatable form of thyroid cancer; anaplastic thyroid cancer. I’d like to help to eradicate it completely. Every penny really does help.

It’s not very long now until I pound the pavements of London, and I thought I should do one last push to try and raise a bit more money for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

I’ve provided more information on my reasons for fundraising for this amazing charity on my fundraising page justgiving.com 

If you could spare even £5 that would mean the world to me, and to anyone who has ever been treated at the Royal Marsden. 

At one stage, my outlook inbox was full of Just Giving sponsorship notification emails. My fundraising total increased by over £100. Geoff would have been thrilled. My final training run before the Royal Parks Half was a little on the soggy side, but niggle and incident-free.

Friday – Rest

I woke up feeling sniffle free. I like to think that my orange eating obsession made a difference. The Just Giving sponsorship emails kept on arriving; amazing. Thank you to everyone who read my slightly cheeky ‘One last plea’ blog and took the time to sponsor me. It felt a little strange not returning home on Friday and I felt a little gloomy when I got back to my room. I felt quite tired so I headed to bed at a sensible time. It’s just a shame some of my housemates decided to keep everyone awake until 02:00.

Saturday – Rest

I woke up feeling a little tired on Saturday morning, had a shower before my housemates got up, and then packed everything I needed for the weekend. I left Wallingford at 11:00 and arrived in London a couple of hours later. As I couldn’t check into my hotel until after 15:00, I decided to walk the short distance to The Barley Mow pub in Marylebone for something to drink.

I’m a little ashamed to admit I felt a little emotional when I walked into The Barley Mow. The last time I visited the pub was with Geoff, I think it’s safe to say we spent a lot of time in the pub drinking, relaxing and talking about hydrology. I had to keep reminding myself he wasn’t running late and he wouldn’t be meeting me. I decided to treat myself to a pint and a pie and mash. Probably not the best pre-race food, but I needed to eat something and options were limited. The pie was actually incredibly tasty if a little unusual. It felt strange sitting and eating alone, but a wonderful couple started talking to me, and after hearing why I was in London, gave me £10 towards my fundraising. Amazing!Collage 39I left Marylebone and caught the tube to Southwark where I’d found a cheapish hotel. I actually know Southwark really well, as I spent a few months there during my fire brigade training. Although it’s not what I’d call the most touristy area, my hotel was a five minute walk from Southwark tube station, and a two minute walk from a supermarket. I spent a bit of time exploring the area – it was incredibly warm – bought some bits and pieces for breakfast, and then headed back to my hotel room for a couple of hours to chill out.

On Saturday evening I found myself on the Jubilee Line heading back to Baker Street. I’d booked a table at the Italian restaurant I used to visit on a far too regular basis with Geoff. Eating alone felt strange, and I managed to work my way through three courses and half a carafe of red wine in less than an hour. I suspect I may have overdone the carbo-loading a little as I felt incredibly bloated when I got back to my hotel. At least I wasn’t under-fuelled.

Sunday – Royal Parks Half Marathon

As I’m in the process of writing up a slightly delayed race review, I’m not going to go into too much detail here. The weather before, at the start and after the Royal Parks Half was most definitely what I’d call ‘hydrological’! Such a shame for the spectators and race organisers. Geoff would have found both the rain and my grumpy face hilarious.

Training totals

  • Runs: 38
  • Time: 28 hrs 46 mins
  • Distance: 172.77 miles

Fundraising total

  • £756.62 (£156.62 increase from last week)

Niggleometer

  • Right knee: 3/10
  • Left foot: 4/10
  • Left groin: 1/10

Royal Parks Half Marathon training week 11

Good morning, I hope that you had an amazing weekend. I can’t believe that this time next week it will *touch wood* all be over. The last 11 weeks have flown by. I think the highlights of my weekend were catching up on some sleep and safely completing my final longish run.Collage 34Week 11 of my half marathon training plan – the ‘start of the taper’ – suggested that I completed a 20 minute jog on Monday, a steady 40 minute run on Wednesday, a steady 40-45 minute run on Friday, and finally, an hour long run at a comfortable pace on Sunday. After a confidence-boosting long run, I felt positive I’d be able to complete all of the training runs.

So how did I get on during the penultimate week of my half marathon training? Did I manage to avoid picking up the lurgy? Did I manage to avoid picking up a random injury?

Monday – 20 mins jog

Once again, it was incredibly chilly on Monday morning. As I’m a hydrology geek and find rivers incredibly relaxing, I spent a couple of minutes watching the River Thames flow past me. I could have spent all day next to the river but my online shopping addiction won’t fund itself and I had to go to work. Work was quite hectic and the day flew by. I left the office at 16:30, and headed to the Boathouse pub and enjoyed a peaceful pint of beer.Collage 35I rather reluctantly left the pub and headed back to my shared house for a quick nap. Like last week, I woke up several hours later feeling a little disorientated and not really in the mood for running. I gave myself another talking to, got changed into some running gear, did some stretches and then headed out into the cold. Although I suspect my pace was a little on the speedy side, I enjoyed every minute of the run. A positive start to the penultimate week of my half marathon training.

Tuesday – Rest

I had a great day at work as I got to spend most of the day out and about on a site visit. It’s always good to get out of the office occasionally. I actually got to see three gauging stations and a real chalk river.Collage 36The highlight of my day was discovering that another runner had taken the time to read and to comment on my last training update, and also to sponsor me.

Wednesday – 40 mins steady

I’m a little ashamed to admit that following a long day of meetings in the Reading office, my 40 minute training run almost didn’t happen. After weighing up the pros and cons of running, I eventually got changed into some running gear, worked my way through my pre-run stretches and then headed out into the dark. I was so tired, I managed to get my pacing spot on and the 40 minutes felt relatively easy. I had a brief scare when my dodgy right knee randomly decided to hurt for about 30 seconds. Fortunately, it didn’t’ hurt when I stopped running and hasn’t *touch wood* niggled since.

Thursday – Rest

My rest day was a little stressful because during the course of the day, I developed a really tickly nose, usually the first warning sign I’m about to get a cold. I guess it’s better to get a cold now rather than this time next week. I escaped from the office at 16:00 – such a part-timer – headed back to my shared house and packed my bags for the weekend. Once I felt that I’d got myself reasonably organised, I spent an hour watching The Apprentice. What a load of plonkers! Where on earth do they manage to find these people? I checked I could actually squeeze into the outfit I wanted to wear for Geoff’s memorial service, checked the local bus timetable, checked I had all my train tickets, and watched some more rubbish. Definitely a restful rest day!

Friday – Rest

I woke up feeling exhausted after spending most of the night lying awake worrying about potential public transport related disasters. I’m such an idiot. Apologies for slightly too much information, but my tickly nose had turned into a slightly runny nose. I must have sneezed a bazillion times. Anyway, I’m pleased to report that the bus between Wallingford and Didcot Parkway station actually ran and was on time, and the train from Didcot Parkway to London Paddington got me into London with plenty of time to drop my bag off at Euston station. I had so much time I ended up walking to the location of Geoff’s Service of Thanksgiving.

I found the service incredibly moving, I know that Geoff would have appreciated every single hymn and reading. The retiring collection was for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, I hope that people were generous. I just about managed to avoid crying during the service and at the reception after the service. I spent a bit more time catching up with people I’d met during my PhD and some of Geoff’s family and his wife, and then reluctantly said my goodbyes and headed back to Euston station via the pub. I didn’t get home until almost 20:00 and felt too tired (and hungry) to even contemplate running for 45 minutes.

Saturday – Rest

I must have been quite tired because I slept through and completely missed International parkrun day. I guess there’s always next year. My Saturday was incredibly chilled out, just what I needed after a quite tiring week. Although I still had a really runny nose and must have sneezed about 100 times during the day, I didn’t actually feel that unwell.

Sunday – 60 mins comfortable

Rather predictably, I woke up feeling terrible; running for an hour was completely out of the question. I headed back to bed for a few more hours. Much as missing my final longish run was a pain in the arse, I’d rather be unwell a week before the half marathon than on the day of the race. I spent my Sunday making sure that I’d got everything I need for the half marathon, watching the Cardiff Half and the Chicago Marathon, and generally doing as little as possible. The lack of coverage of the female elite athletes was a little strange.

ChicagoAfter what felt like the shortest weekend ever, I rather reluctantly started the journey back down to Wallingford at 17:00.

So that’s the penultimate week of my half marathon training not really completed. I’m definitely very good at tapering; I just hope that this cold clears up during the week!

The final week *major panic* of my half marathon training plan is described as the taper and race week. I’ve got to complete an easy 20 minute run after work today, a 40 minute comfortable run on Wednesday and a 30 minute steady run on Thursday. On Sunday morning, unless something terrible happens, I’ll be lining up with several thousand other runners waiting to start the Royal Parks Half.

Training totals

  • Runs: 34
  • Time: 25 hours 52 mins
  • Distance: 150.91 miles

Fundraising total

  • £600 (£68 increase from last week)

Niggleometer

  • Right knee: 2/10
  • Left foot: 2/10
  • Left groin: 1/10

Do you have any tips for getting rid of a cold ASAP!? At this stage, I’m prepared to try virtually anything.

Do you have any last minute fundraising hints and tips? As it stands, the Royal Parks is going to be an expensive race!