Running with Skin Cancer

This is a bit of a brave post and I have debating for all of the summer months about posting it. In 2012, I was diagnosed with basal cell carcinoma (skin cancer) and Actinic Keratosis (pre-cancerous skin cancer). Whilst basal cell carcinoma is one of the easiest skin cancers to treat, I had let is fester under my eye for too long and it had grown deeper.  If left it any longer, I was in danger of it spreading and it affecting my eye sight, and I required Mohs surgery.  I’ve never really blogged about it before.  I guess I’ve treated it a bit like a dirty secret.

So far, I have had 5 treatments on my face, and one on my arm – most of the treatments have been for Actinic Keratosis (pre-cancerous cells that turn into Squamous cell carcinoma’s). For these treatments, I have had to apply an anti-cancer drug to the area before sleep. The cream burns out and kills the cells which gave me terrible burns to my skin including open wounds.  At the end of the treatment, my skin was burnt and red raw. Yes, I have good make up for running (don’t judge me! 😊) so it’s difficult to spot unless its pointed out. I am also lucky to have had a fantastic consultant and have to regularly go back for checkups.

Unfortunately, the cream hasn’t worked on many occasions and I have had to have Photodynamic therapy which consists of initial treatment of cream to kill the cancer cells, this is then followed by a special light treatment which reacts with the cream to kill the cancer cells. This treatment was excruciatingly painful (think about the shuddery feeling of putting your foot in a boiling hot bath  – but leaving it there for 15 minutes).

Skin cancer is real, but it is preventable. Roughly 90% of non-melanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to ultra violet radiations from the sun.  I lived in Australia for a year and didn’t think skin cancer would happen to me, and would regularly sit in the sun without any sun factor.  Shamefully, as a teenager, I used to lather myself up with baby oil and just bake until I was burnt to a crisp. I naively thought I would eventually end up with a golden tan like my friends.  Half of my family are pale, Scottish and freckly so this wasn’t ever going to happen!

Cancer is scary and unpleasant, it’s also really emotionally draining. This hasn’t been an easy post to share but If this post has just reached one person in using sunblock and using sun preventative measures, I have saved one person some sun damage.

My relationship with the sun is complicated. I love soaking up its warmth and energy, but obviously have to be really careful.  The sun does like to leave its mark – age spots, tan lines, painful burns – to name but a few. There are, of course, reasons to be wary, especially if you’re logging lots of summer miles. But you might be surprised to learn that running in the sun also does your body good..

There’s something about the sunshine that makes us happy. Our mood is better, we feel more positive – making the sunshine vital to our mental and physical health, but we should also know when enough is enough. Here are a few tips to staying safe in the sun…

  1. Certain medication can make you sensitive to the sun. Most topical and oral medications, including those for acne, high blood pressure and birth control can make your skin more sensitive to the sun.
  2. Wear a hat or join the #visorclub to prevent sun damage. You won’t catch me without my visor in the summer, I feel naked without it. Also UV – blocking sunglasses are a must – polarised lenses help beat the glare.
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Follow me to the Visor Club

 

  1. Use Sun protection. Bit of an obvious one but a lot of runners won’t wear sunblock due to the stickiness and how much they can make you sweat, so its worth investing in a sports sunscreen which is lighter in texture and less occlusive. I use Neutrogena Ultra sheer, dry touch lotion, factor 55 and it goes on really lightly and isn’t sticky at all.  Gents- Don’t forget to do the rim of your ears and the top of your scalp if you have thinning hair.  If you are able to purchase a travel size, you can keep this in your hydration pack or waist band.
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I can’t run without this

 

  1. Run when the sun is less intense. Generally, the sun us at its strongest between 10am and 4pm, if you train during those hours, find somewhere shady to run.
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You can always find a shady trail run

 

  1. Do your checks regularly. If you spend a lot of time outside, its important that you check for irregular moles or spots which are there for a long time, suddenly appear or become itchy. It’s always worth getting a second opinion by a Doctor if you are unsure.

Taking these small steps is a no brainer. Not only can they extend your running, they can extend your life.

May your miles be long and your injuries few

Kezza x

 

 

 

 

 

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Fareham Parkrun Race Report

I was meant to be doing a bit of Parkrun Tourism this morning but I somehow managed to sleep through my alarm so decided on my local Fareham Parkrun. The weather man promised rain, but it was not to be, and it remained hot and muggy.  When I arrived, the air was already filled with excitement and I had a little catch up with my running club members (the Fareham Crusaders) before I knew it the runners briefing was already taking place.

Today there were 216 runners, walkers and joggers. One person was celebrating their 50th Parkrun.  Congratulations to Alexandra Brannigan!  We also welcomed the tourists and gave a huge thanks to the high viz heroes, for without them, this event would not be possible.

Before we knew it, the Director was counting down 3,2, 1… GOOOOOO! And we were off! It didn’t feel as busy this morning, it could have been due to people taking their holidays. I said goodbye to all my fellow Crusaders and promised a cup of tea in Cams pub at the end.  There’s always a bit of chatter at the beginning of this race, the narrow path means that all paces are thrown together, and you can hear conversations about antics from the night before, to weekend plans!

The first mile flew by and before I knew it, we were all spread out along the course. By mile two, the speedier runners are lapping and chasing for that first position.  I am proud to say that a fellow Crusader, Jon Isherwood came second overall in today’s Parkrun. What a massive achievement! Not many runners are fans of the ‘lapping’ but I think it’s a chance to see your team mates and friends again and urge them on!  Another ‘thank you’ to the two high viz heroes on the turn point and I was halfway there.

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The last mile hurt, a lot. I had really pushed myself on this Parkrun and it hadn’t gone amiss that there was a slight incline at mile 3. I looked out to the creek and thought, let’s get this done, so I can get in for a paddle later.  Neil Driscoll from the Fareham Crusaders caught me up and spurred me on with me shouting ‘when does this hill end?!’.  Finally, a high five from one of the high viz heroes and I somehow managed to remain focused on the home straight and kept my eyes on the cones and high viz jackets and I had finished.

I don’t remember taking a token… but I did. I do remember ringing the PB bell! Ding Ding!

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Fareham Parkrun welcomes all runners, walkers and joggers. What makes it great is that everyone is running for their own reasons. This is what makes Parkrun inclusive to everyone!

First home this week was Tom Needham (Bingley Harriers and AC) with a time of 18.20. First lady was Maisie Grice (City of Portsmouth AC) with a time of 18.55. There were 21 PB’s today!

Until next week!

Running with Asthma

Since running, I have really noticed how bad my asthma is in the cold. In fact, it’s been so bad that I took the time to research whether other runners were feeling the same. Turns out, they were, and I soon discovered that there was a common theme occurring. I was not alone.

I didn’t get diagnosed with asthma until I was in my early twenties and it has never posed me any issues. That was until I started running. This January I’ve come down with Pneumonia for the second time in two years. Unfortunately, I believe this has been caused by running in the bitter cold. The freezing cold air is absolutely no good for my lungs and this is a hard pill to swallow. Will I run on the ‘dreadmill’ for colder runs? I just can’t see it. I love the outdoors too much. I can’t think of anything worse than running and not seeing new things and not actually going anywhere!

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Running Free!

Will asthma stop me doing the things I love – absolutely not. Asthma UK have actually said ‘Exercise, including cardio vascular exercise like running has amazing benefits for everyone’s health. this includes improving how the lungs actually work. In fact, Jo Pavey is an advocate for running with asthma and says ‘Being fit has improved my asthma so much. When I was at University and not doing much running, I would really struggle for breath going uphill. That just doesn’t happen when I am looking after my fitness’

As well as Jo Pavey, Paula Radcliffe was also diagnosed with exercise induced asthma as the age of fourteen, so it is not impossible to excel at sports because you have asthma. Worth remembering!

For me, I am going to have to ease back into running gently. Unfortunately, cold weather does trigger asthma symptoms because cold air can irritate the airways. I have tried running with a buff – this has helped to warm the air to my lungs beforehand. Asthma UK have initiated the ‘#Scarfie’ and they are encouraging asthma sufferers to wear a scarf over their mouth -www.asthma.org.uk/scarfie

Luckily, I have never been in a position where I have had an asthma attack, but symptoms to be mindful of are;

  1. A) Wheezing and coughing
  2. B) Gasping for air
  3. C) Tightness in the chest
  4. D) Having trouble speaking short sentences

There are many things you can do to look after yourself if you have asthma.

  1. A) Take your inhalers. . You can take their inhalers before they leave for their runs to ease the symptoms of asthma
  2. B) In the summer, Pollen can trigger asthma so run early in the morning before the pollen count is high
  3. C) Warm up your lungs! Running for a few short minutes before your run will help. A few quick spurts will warm up your lungs for your main run.
  4. D) Use a scarf over your mouth to warm up your lungs
  5. E) Carry your inhaler – you know this makes sense!
  6. F) Consider carrying around an ‘ICE’ tag (in case of emergencies tag).
  7. G) Tell people about your asthma and what they should do if you were to have an attack.
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#scarfie

The key is if you are looking after your symptoms well, you can enjoy any kind of exercise including running. Unfortunately living in the UK means that if you have asthma, you must be extra cautious, especially in the winter months.

If you need further advice on asthma, its worth visiting the asthma UK official website (www.asthma.org.uk).

May your miles be long and your injuries few

Kezza x

 

Baby, it’s Cold Outside…

Running in Winter

It’s that time of year again when the temperature is rapidly dropping, and it can be difficult to get out the door.   There are also other aspects to consider whilst running in the winter;

Safety

Ensuring that you put your safety first. It’s important (especially if you are female) not to take unnecessary risks and stick to well lit areas.  It’s also now the time to get the high viz clothing out even for well lit areas.  As well as reflective clothing, you can also purchase lights which can be strapped around your arms or legs and lights that clip on to your trainers.

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Be Safe! Be Seen!

 

Running with Others

Now is a really good time to get social. If you don’t know any other runners, how about joining a run club in your area so you can run as a group.  Also, knowing that your running buddy is waiting for you at club is every incentive to lace up those trainers and get to club in the cold and dark evenings.

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Running Buddies!

 

 

Putting Pressure on yourself to break PB’s

PB’s are more difficult to break in the milder months.   If it’s windy, raining and snowing, your times are bound to be a bit slower.  Use winter to work on your gait and for building strength.  Most asthma sufferers really struggle in the winter due to the cold air so it’s important to remember to take your ventilator on a regular basis.

Kit

I am well known in my club for dressing inappropriately in the winter. No, I don’t wear too little, I always wear TOO MUCH and always end up TOO HOT by mile 2. It’s wise to wear DRI FIT or something similar so the sweat doesn’t stay on your clothes and make you colder quickly.  I have just purchased a new base layer from Ronhill which dries quickly and has a thermal layering to keep you warm.  I also like it as it’s long in the body – more often than not, the base layers I have purchased rise up, so my midriff is on show. (not a good look)

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Chris rocking his kit

 

Not Warming Up

I learnt the hard way on sat, it was one degree at Parkrun and I just couldn’t be bothered to warm up. This was a massive mistake!  My quads were frozen solid, and I felt like I couldn’t even move my legs.  The cold was a bit of a shock to the system.  A warm up is always a good idea, even if you don’t fancy it.  It’s also important to warm down even if you do fancy just getting home and curling up on the sofa with a hot chocolate as it means that you keep the muscles supple and prevent unnecessary pulls.

Hydrate

Although its cold, it doesn’t mean that you won’t be sweating. Dehydration is another key cause of injury, and you’re more likely to get the killer DOMS if you are not adequately hydrated.

 

Enjoy your winter runs, it makes the hot chocolate even sweeter

May your runs be run and your injuries few.

Kezza x

All I want for Christmas….

Christmas is rapidly approaching and it’s time to start thinking about presents! Have a runner in your life?  Here are some great ideas for you. Here are a few of my fav things and some suggestions! If you are a runner reading this, perhaps leave this webpage open on the gift you would like!

PANTS!

Runderwear are an absolute must for any runner. They don’t chafe, are breathable and super comfortable. I have them in every colour! https://www.runderwear.co.uk/runderwear

 


SOCKS!

The only time it is acceptable to buy socks for Christmas! 😊   I really like Thorlo socks – these are amazing for long distance but there are cheaper socks out there. Karrimor are also very good value for money (these can be bought at Sports Direct).

https://www.karrimor.com/

https://www.thorlo.com/Karrimor socks


RACE ENTRY

There are so many races out there! Just pick your distance and choose your area. From Santa this year, I am hoping for an entry to the Lochness Marathon in Scotland. Need to choose a race? Here’s a link!

https://www.runbritain.com/races

Me


RUNNING BELT

I REALLY love the Flipbelt! It’s so comfortable and doesn’t ‘bounce’ like other waist bands. It’s unbelievable how much you can fit in this baby! They come in all shapes and sizes too!

https://flipbelt.co.uk/

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TRAINERS

Of course! Nothing lights up a runner’s life than some new rides. Handy hint coming* – runners are really particular about the branding and make of their trainers so worth checking the brand that they are wearing before making any purchase. I absolutely LOVE Brooks, they do so many different pairs of trainers for different running styles. My favourite are Brooks GTS – they are so generous with the padding and support and are great for long runs.

http://www.brooksrunning.com/en_gb

Brooks


SHORTS

You can’t go wrong with a good pair of shorts. My favourite are my Gore running shorts as they don’t budge and ride up. I am finding it really difficult to find another pair.

GORE shorts


SPORTS MASSAGE

You can’t go wrong with a good sports massage. Why not purchase a voucher for your runner? Perfect for ironing out those niggles and knots. I’m in Fareham and use the lovely Sharon at the Rural Retreat – she’s only little but her fingers pack a punch!

http://www.ruralretreatmassage.com

Shazzer

 


ENERGY GELS

Perfect for any runner who is marathon training or long distance training. You might want to again check which ones to buy as they don’t always suit every runner.   Personally for me, I have gastro issues with most gels but am fine with High 5 energy gels. You can’t go wrong with these!

http://www.highfive.co.uk

 

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AFTERSHOKZ

These are a really smart idea – they work by functioning on the vibration through the cheekbone to the inner ear and so therefore you can hear everything that is going on around you.     These are a brilliant idea for the health and safety element. These come in wireless and with wires and in different colours too. Top of my list for xmas!https://aftershokz.co.uk/

Aftershokz



 

Here are some other ideas from some fellow runners;

 

paul pickford

‘A GPS handheld device with maps/route planner, A race entry (tougher and longer the better) A new pair of short shorts’ – Paul Pickford, Ultrarunner and Captain for the Fareham Crusaders (Follow him on Twitter – @Pickfordpj)

 

rebecca

‘On my list I have a parkrun wristband (@parkrunUK), a RUNR hoodie (www.runr.co.uk) and some egloves (https://www.eglove.co.uk/)’ -Rebecca Wroblewski, Runner (Follow her on Twitter on @bigmugoftea).  Follow Rebecca’s blog on www.bigmugoftea.com

Nick White‘I Have been converting some slightly pricy waterproof jackets. Particularly liking the Ronhill Nightfall (http://www.ronhill.com/mens-infinity-nightfall-jacket). Because it’s called the Nightfall and at heart I just want to be Batman… too much info right? (I’ll get my coat).”  Nick White – Runner. Follow him on Twitter – @Nickswhiteter

 

 

Kirsten

‘I’d like a parachute resistance thing, trail shoes and a top to toe massage – oh and a bigger medal hanger (in case you are reading hubby and need some ideas” – Kirsten Thatcher – Runner for the Fareham Crusaders

 

I hope you get everything you want for Christmas. Be good – Santa is watching!

May your miles be long and your injuries few

Kezza x

 

Disclaimer – I was not paid by any manufacturer, distributor, or retailer to promote any of their products. All products and gear mentioned by me were purchased with my own money for my own personal use while running. My advice to you is to do the same – get suggestions (like those in this article), but see what works best for you!

Runners Playlist 2017

You’ve got to love a running playlist. I think we all have those songs that will give us an instant boost when our legs are fatigued and ready to quit! It may be the lyrics that keep us motivated and in the zone although it could be the beat – or both!  – one thing is for sure, these songs give me the extra little ‘umpf’ that I need. I love a good ‘bursting out’ into song mid run…

Title Artist
Bullit Watermat
Sunchyme Dario G
Summit Skrillex (fest Ellie Goulding)
Summer Rain Slinkee Minx
Waiting for a Sign Antoine Villoutreix
Better off Alone Alice Deejay
Pretty Green Eyes Ultrabeat
2 Times Ann Lee
Everytime we Touch Cascada
All the Small Things Blink 182
Feels Calvin Harris
Party Chris Brown
Jubel Kingande
Hello Martin Solvieg
Nobody to Love Sigma
Who knows Protoje
Gold Dust DJ Fresh
Cool Le Youth
What about us The Saturdays
Cheerleader Omi
On My Mind The Disciples
Symphony Clean Bandit
More than Friends James Hype
Havana Camila Cabello

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I do get bored after a while and switch these up every so often. What’s on your current playlist?

May your runs be long and your injuries few…

Kezza x

Running & Iron

Up until recently I have been really struggling with my running. I really noticed it this year when I was training for a marathon; I would literally be so exhausted, and having 12 hours sleep most evenings. When running, I felt like I had absolutely nothing left in the tank and was always short of breath.  I was also training more, but wasn’t ever improving – I just couldn’t understand it. Girls I ran with at the club were suddenly overtaking me at Parkrun’s and I would be scratching my head wondering why this was happening.

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One fateful day, the lovely Nick Anderson from the Company ‘Running with us’ paid a visit to my club. Nick spoke a little bit about iron and a light bulb went off in my head.  I bravely approached Nick at the end of his presentation and presented him with my dilemma – I think it went something like this ‘Seriously Nick, am I too old for this shit?’  Nick laughed and explained that as I had only been running for 3 years, I hadn’t even hit my peak with my running- regardless that I was a ‘senior’ runner.  Nick pretty much said that he thought I was iron deficient and said I should call the GP for a blood test.  He also said I was sleeping and eating like a teenager, but moving on….  I got home and researched how on earth iron would help me improve and was startled to learn that the red blood cells are transporting oxygen to your working muscles when you run – basically if you have low iron levels, you generate fewer red blood cells and your hemoglobin levels decline – hence less oxygen to your muscles – hampering performance, or in layman’s terms – leaving you bloody knackered. Trying to improve with low iron would be like trying to flog a dead horse.

Iron deficiency in female runners is very common. In a 2000 study, 26 per cent of 126 female endurance athletes were iron deficient. (Source – Women’s Running Magazine, 2017). Shocking stuff!

I also learnt that runners are losing iron all the time and it needs to be replaced. This is through;

Through your Feet! Yep, crazy huh? When your foot strikes the floor red blood cells are damaged which reduce your hemolysis levels.

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Sweating – I’m not a lady who ‘glows’ and ‘glistens’. Apparently, the amount of iron loss isn’t huge, although if it’s hot and humid, the iron losses can add up

Through the Intestines – a problem for most athletes.

Female ‘time of the month’ – For obvious reasons

Nutrition – If you aren’t stocking up on your iron enriched foods, this is going to have a massive effect on your iron levels. I am not a massive red meat eater- I just hate the smell and the taste. Foods high in iron are green leafy veg, dried fruit, whole grain cereals / bread, egg yolk, lean red meat, lentils and chickpeas.

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My GP provided me with a blood test to check my ferritin levels (iron stores) and they were at 17mcg/L. An athlete’s ferritin levels should be much higher than this – obviously these levels are different for males and females.  An ideal score should be above 50mcg/L.  The Doctor did confirm that my score was really low and was surprised that I was able to train and run a marathon with such a low ferritin score. The Doctor prescribed some high dose iron tablets (Ferrous Sulphate 200mg) which had a really interesting effect on my stomach.  My doctor then placed me on Ferrous Fumarate which are gentler on the gut.  I am still having issues with the tablets and have had to adjust the time I take them to ensure no awkward moments. I have been taking my tablets with a glass of orange juice and a Vit C tablet to aid the absorption.

Since taking the tablets, I must say, my running has really improved and I’m feeling amazing.  I am also not having a nap at my desk at 3pm. I have been obtaining more PB’s and have even gone up a group at run club! I am also craving less sugar as I am not as tired.

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It’s important to say that I am not a medical expect in any way shape or form, but I think it is important that people know how a lack of iron can influence your sports performance.

May your miles be long and your injuries few.

Kezza x

Finding Mojo….

So, I’m back. I’ve not blogged since April. Mainly due to losing what they call the ‘running mojo’, I think I lost it somewhere around mile 18 of the London Marathon. It happens to the best of us – one minute I was setting goals, reaching new milestones in my training and then after the marathon I avoided any kind of running. Instead preferring to spend my time lifting weights and attending gym classes. I just felt like marathon training became a real ‘chore’ and more like ‘work’. I also discovered that my pace had slowed right down and it really demotivated me.

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Having spoken to running friends, I realised that losing your running mojo is a real thing. Especially after such intense training for a marathon. I realised that I needed to set some new strategies for getting out the door…

Using the run as a ‘keep fit’ – This advice one came from one of my running friends. It was good advice. Just forget about your speed, distance and just look at it as a ‘getting fit’ run.

Cut your runs down – so you’ve been marathon training, you can relax in the knowledge that you no longer need to spend 18 miles and umpteen hours of your Sunday morning out there running.

Sign up for races– Run for fun, or go for a new PB – or even treat the race as a training run… there is also bling at the end! Everyone is a winner!

Run with friends-Running with friends can take the pressure off pace (depending on what friend you run with of course!) and ensures that the miles just fly by. I do love a good ole natter but also can enjoy a couple of miles ‘just listening’. Many of my long miles with friends have been to stop in the shop for an ice cream or a drink and to take pictures.

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Try a different run– why not try a different route altogether? Even if it means driving to a new location…

X Country – I LOVE a bit of mud. Bring it on! I find X country so exciting as you never know what’s going to be around the corner and there are always some fantastic routes and views to be had.

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Don’t stress about it-It doesn’t matter if you’re not running as long as you’re moving. Take the time to try out some classes or new exercises until you get your fitness and running mojo back!

Try something different to running that you’ve always wanted to try! I am really enjoying my stand up paddling at the moment.  Why not try paddling or kayaking? We have had a beautiful summer so far so why not try something different and give your legs a well-earned break!

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Lose the Garmin – If you’re someone who has been running for a long time, then you know for sure what your pace is. Even if you tell yourself you won’t look at your Garmin, don’t believe it – you will. So, just leave it at home! Run free, at whatever pace feels good and liberating.

Join a run club – you will meet some totally awesome and inspirational people. Enough said..

Buy some new trainers – it’s the answer to everything. Plus, won’t it be great to just go test those baby’s out!

Change up your track list – my track list varies so much – I have gangster rap right through to slow ballads. It depends on what kind of day I have had as to what I choose to listen to.

Stretch!

Lastly, Run because you Can!   Remember that running is a privilege. It’s something YOU get to do for yourself. After all, not everyone has the ability to run. Some are sick, or physically not able to, and some just have no time. Be grateful instead that you have legs that are mobile, lungs that are strong, and a body that is healthy – all of these things mean that you “get” to run today.

Have you ever lost your mojo and have you any new strategies to getting your love for running back, I would love to hear them!

May your runs be long and your injuries few…

Kezza x

 

 

The London Marathon!

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Packed and ready to rumble!

On Sunday 23rd April 2017, 40,000 runners took to the street to run one of the biggest races on earth – the Virgin London Marathon.  There were first timers (like myself), seasoned marathon runners, walkers, costumed runners, younger runners, older runners and in all shapes and sizes.  I was so anxious before I started – this was my first marathon – would I make it?

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Welcome to the Expo!

Myself and my friend Michelle travelled up the day before to the expo.  As it was my first marathon, I really wanted to soak up the atmosphere and enjoy every minute!  The expo didn’t disappoint and is an absolute haven for any runner – stalls full of trainers, running info, races, running freebies, and so on! I dragged my poor friend around to pretty much every stall – picked things up, tasted things and had my face painted with the union jack!  I also managed to catch up with some Twitter friends and then as if my day couldn’t get any better, I bumped into PAULA BLIMMING RADCLIFFE! (who is totally lovely and was ever so sweet with me grinning and talking to her like a love sick puppy).  I was pretty much on a high after that and it well and truly set me up for the Marathon.

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My hero, Paula!

Marathon day – Nerves set in again. I also woke up extremely tired due to 3 hours sleep. Doh!  I had my normal regime of two bagels with peanut butter, a cup of tea and a banana.  I was surprised to see other runners having a full cooked breakfast!   Michelle and I then made our way to the Blue Start Line.  As you can see from the photo, I am finding it difficult to smile!

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It was absolutely freezing when we got to Blackheath Park and we laughed at other runners with little shorts on (turns out, it was a really warm day and I was wearing far too much and I had to take my underlayer off at mile 18).  Soon we were informed to get to our pens.  I caught up with a couple of team mates which was lovely and I was like an excitable puppy.  Considering the amount of runners there are at this massive event, it is SO well organised – and probably more organised than some of the smaller local races I have been to.

START LINE – There were so many nervous and anxious runners at the start line – I gave a couple of girls in front of me a massive hug as they were more petrified than me – I didn’t even think that this was possible.  I begrudgingly took off my fluffy fleece which I had purchased from a charity shop a couple of days before and gave it to one of the marshal’s.  I felt anxious but amazingly calm.  I think it was because I knew there was no pressure.  Before we knew it, the sound of the klaxon sounded and we were…not off… 15 minutes passed before we actually started moving!

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Mile 1 – 3 – So mile ONE, my knee condition (runners knee) started playing up. Marvelous. (this seemed to get worse and worse and I had lost my paracetamol).  I also needed a pee at mile one, I thought it was nerves – it definitely was not – it was more likely to be the cup of tea we had whilst we were waiting to start.  Unfortunately, this then entailed a 15 minute wait in the queue for the loo! At mile two, Michelle and I decided to say our goodbyes with Michelle screaming ‘GO, GO, GO’ at me!  The best part of this part of the race was at mile 3 when the red and blue pen’s joined together – 40,000 runners all in it together – totally amazing.  I think I grinned a whole lot during the first part of the race.

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Mile 4 – 12 – At mile 6 we ran past the first major landmark, the Cutty Sark – it was amazing to see it in all of its glory. At mile 12, another amazing landmark -the Tower Bridge.  Nobody had warned me here that there was a bit of an incline… I started panicking thinking that my legs had started to struggle.  This wasn’t the case at all… The crowd really were amazing here and the noise was completely deafening!  I expected the bridge to be small but it was the width of the M27!!! Coming off the bridge, you turn right and see the super speedies already 7 miles ahead of you, running in the opposite direction towards the start line.  This is where you could lose it psychologically if you are not prepared.  Luckily the crowd is electric – more jelly babies anyone?! Here is a great place to spectate as you get to see your runners twice.

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London Bridge

Mile 13 – I frantically looked for my sister who was on the opposite side of the road to which we had planned!! I had to cut across about 20 runners to get to her.   Quick hugs and a hello and I was off again…

Mile 14 – 20 – Running though Canary Wharf is notoriously quiet, however I can honestly say there were hardly any parts that were quiet on Sunday. I think this was the toughest part of the race for me without a doubt,  I just couldn’t get my rhythm going again due to the amount of runners that were stopping and it completely messed my head up.  At mile 16, I was actually wondering how long I had left – I must have spent a mile wondering how long I had left. My brain was completely frazzled.

Mile 20 to 26 – I weirdly had an out of body experience during this time and my body felt like it didn’t belong to me. I’m not sure if this was dehydration or just my body trying to block the pain of my knee.  All I can remember is looking at the pavement and feeling like I was dreaming.

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Mile 26– The Mall. Were do I even begin? I literally cried from the top to the finish line. I felt like everything I had trained for, the last 4 months of 6am Sunday mornings, the tears, the injuries and the pain of the run had all come down to this moment and the relief is absolutely incredible. I didn’t see the bandstand of people, people around me or the photographers… in my mind the London Marathon music was playing, however watching the footage back, it was actually – Billy Idol – White Wedding! I must have been completely out of it! I ran over yet another red mat and relished the fact that I had just completed the LONDON MARATHON!

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The Mall – what an Experience!

After the Marathon I met with my sister and Brother in Law and we decided to go to Canary Wharf to miss the crowds. All was going swimmingly until Rich (my Brother in Law) expected me to walk up 50 stairs to the top. A kind stranger had heard the commotion and witnessed me trying to get up the stairs backwards and kindly gave me a fireman’s’ lift to the top!!!

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My afterthoughts on the London Marathon – The sights of London were stunning and I pushed on as the miles kept flying past. I never hit the wall that day, although the second part of the race were very stop and start due to the amount of people walking.

I’m not going to say it was easy, but the crowds and atmosphere carry you through – although the thought of eating another jelly baby turns my stomach. :0)

Despite being exhausted the endorphins had taken over my body and I felt incredible – it took me at least 4 days to come back down to earth.  The experience I had was simply unforgettable. A marathon is not a walk in the park by any means, but I think the positive memories have taken over the pain my legs definitely felt the next day. The marathon journey is a tough one – its mentally tough and physically tough and it’s not for the weak willed. What a journey is was though. It was probably one of the best days of my life. I finished in 5.28 but like Martin Yelling has wisely pointed out -‘Time, positions & performances don’t define you as a person – character does’.

Now when does that ballot open?!?

May your runs be long and your injuries a few.

Kezza x

STOP! Taper time!

STOP - Taper time

9 Days to go…

So this is it. Long runs are DONE!

My last run was 20 miles. I ran 18 and walked 2 towards the end.  Unfortunately I have developed an issue with my knee.  GRRRR! I can feel it on baby runs but it becomes really bloody excruciating at mile 18.. I guess on the day, I’m just going to have to suck it up! Last Sunday, I decided to swim rather than attend the 10 mile Salisbury race that I had signed up for.  Let’s be blunt… I am RUBBISH at swimming.  I lowered myself into the ‘slow lane’ and kept getting caught up by a 70 year old gentleman who thought this was highly amusing.  He must have felt great (You’re welcome Sir).  A couple of times I had to hang onto the edge of the pool and cough out half of the pool that I had swallowed. Cue – loud giggling from the elderly gent.

Well tapering is er interesting…. I’ve never been here before (I’ve not even completed a half marathon before).  For those that haven’t tapered before, it’s all about taking your mileage down so you are fresh as a daisy for the race.  Running these smallish miles has given me major paranoia that I am going to lose my fitness. (I won’t)- and I guess these feelings of doubt are natural.

This marathon journey has been such an experience, and I have learnt a lot from it. Here are my thoughts on tapering and the journey so far…

The Journey….

  • Positivity – Surround yourself with the doers and positive people.    I am nervous yes, but really don’t need to read or hear about more doubts that others are having.    At the end of the day, we can only do our best.  My time is going to be important and will mean a lot to ME.

    the doers

    Amen

  • Speed – regardless of how I have tried, it has been virtually impossible to retain my usual pace… When friends told me that my pace would drop, I thought they were joking…they weren’t.  I have learnt to accept it.  I can’t run long distance at the same pace as my Parkruns! That’s life. I can’t remember the last time I won a strava segment, but just watch me run for miles…and miles…
  • Loneliness – There I said it.  I have found the journey incredibly lonely. Especially as a first timer.  What may seem like stupid worries and anxieties for the more seasoned marathoner, the anxiety has been very real for me. Race day will be different, I have the ability to speak to anyone and everyone – Hello new friends from Eastleigh 10k – I hope you enjoyed me singing to you around the course!
  • Tiredness – I have been so so so so tired.  To the point of waking up and just crying.  This has eased off.  Now I am tapering, I have so much unspent energy  – I literally do not know what to do with myself – I have been painting my garden fence, and my house is immaculate. Win!
  • The body is AMAZING. I have been fascinated with the fact that I have been able to run further and further each week..
  • It never did get easier… nuff said….

Tapering…

  • MARANOIA! I feel like I am hanging in the balance of being undercooked and also worrying about making my knee even worse! maranoia
  • Rest Days – These are really important.  It’s also important to remember that tapering  also means you are still training… So it doesn’t mean you can sit on your behind for 2/3 weeks. Its a good move to use these days wisely – I’ve been stretching, cross training and doing some yoga.  Feeling niggly? Get you bike out or go for a swim! Rest days is when the magic happens.  I have always had muscly legs but have developed new muscles and my calves are just ridiculous at the moment..
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Working on getting to a headstand!

  • You won’t lose your fitness in 2 weeks.  You just won’t! Relax. Tapering is essential for prep.
  • Do nothing new – Now is not the time to try new vitamin pills Kezza, it may end up in a disastrous run if you catch my drift… portaloo
  • Eating Habits- People who know me personally will know that I have a liking for Cadbury Crème Eggs.  Okay, a real PASSION for crème eggs – I have eaten 10 in 5 days. I have been told by a very reliable source (Facebook) that it takes 15 minutes to run one Crème Egg off. This means that I should be okay – although I may not have any teeth…no teeth
  • Energy – I have so much now I am tapering… I am feeling twitchy and restless.

My runs this weekend consist of a nice little Bluebell Run (5 miles) with the club and a 7 miler on Sunday. Next week I have three 3 milers in…before the big day! eeeeeek!

How is your tapering going?! How are you feeling in the run up to your marathon?

May your runs be long and your injuries afew

Kezza x