Race Day

2019

  • 13.01.2019 – Stubbington Green 10k (55.57) *PB*
  • 23.04.2019 – Virgin London Marathon – Postponed due to injury
  • July 2019 – SUPBIKERUN – Off road Triathlon – Dorset 
  • 06.10.2019 – Loch Ness Marathon (4.59.30) *PB*
  • 20.10.2019 – Great South Run (92.58) *PB*
  • 27.10.2019 – Pamber X Country Race (50.39) *PB*
  • 03.11.2019 – 10 Mile Hayling Race
  • 10.11.2019 – QE X Country Race
  • 17.11.2019 – Gosport Half Marathon
  • 01.12.2019 – Victory 5
  • 22.12.2019 – Portsmouth Coastal Half

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2020

  • Jan 2020 – Stubbington Green 10K
  • 08.03.2020 – The Big Half – London
  • 26.04.2020 – Virgin London Marathon
  • 24.05.2020 – Unicorn Frolic Race
  • 02.07.2020 – 05.07.2020 – Runtrail Festival
  • 24.07.2020 – 26.07.2020 – SUPBIKERUN – Off road Triathlon 
  • 04.10.2020 – Bournemouth Half Marathon
  • 18.10.2020 – Great South Run

The Loch Ness Marathon

Distance – 26.2 miles

Terrain – Road

Hilliness  -866 foot elevation – lumpy!

First finishing time – 2.29.31

Last finishing time – 8.38.59

Goody bag – Yes with T shirt  / Medal and freebies…

I completed the Loch Ness Marathon on 6th October 2019, this is my experience of the day…

Loch Ness Marathon Eve

The day before the race, I picked up my number from the expo which was a gazebo in a large field in Inverness.  Here, the volunteers were really helpful and encouraging – it was much quieter than the London Marathon expo, that’s for sure!   Outside there were backdrops which enabled you to grab a photo with your number which I thought was a nice touch.  You also had the opportunity to pose with Nessie herself!

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Picking up my race number!

The big day..

The actual day of the marathon was a really early start.  I arrived for the bus at 645 and there were possibly more buses than there were runners!  It took about one hour to get to the beginning of the race by coach where you are dropped at the top of some mountains and it was bloody freezing! I absolutely loved the bagpipes which was a nice touch – what I didn’t like so much was the half a mile queue for the toilets  – I ended up having a bush stop with the lads which was interesting to say the least!  In the end most of the women were so desperate and were just squatting in full view of everyone..

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Brrrrrrrrrrrr!

On the walk to the start line, ‘500 miles’ from the Proclaimers was on loop and it was pretty awesome to hear all the runners singing at the top of their voices! Once the race started, there was an immediate downhill section – I ensured that I pulled back to my usual long distance pace and didn’t get swept up in the herd who were tearing down.  Or those weaving in and out of the runners at sprint pace, yeah you know the ones, you usually see them walking at mile 3.. 🙂

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Mile 5…

At mile 5, we were already seeing a sharp ‘up hill’,  this was the perfect opportunity for me to remove some layers on the walk up and take in some nutrition. Once at the top however, there was another steep downhill… it pretty much went like this until mile 13.

I was careful not to get caught up in the ‘going out too quickly gang’ at the beginning of the race as the real marathon starts at mile 13.  I definitely run ‘with my head’ so it was important to run my own race and not to pay too much attention to what others were doing….

Mile 6..

The Loch came into view at around mile 6, and needless to say it was absolutely beautiful. I looked for Nessie but I think she was still napping.  The views were just absolutely breath taking.

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Mile 6…

Mile 13… (it started getting interesting)

At mile 13, my stomach decided it wanted to turn itself out which meant a good 20 minute wait for the toilet… that’s when I actually found one.  Unfortunately the toilet situation was dire.  When I did eventually find a loo on the course, there were only 2 or 3 – this wasn’t ideal for the number of runners.  The marshals also seemed to have no idea when the next loo was. Since the marathon, I have since learnt that many of the loos were off the actual track – so they were not sign posted very well.  I don’t think I have ever seen so many bare bums in my life, people were just so desperate and going in bushes at the side of the road.  I also used this method twice… When you’ve gotta go and all that…

Mile 17…

From around 17 miles, we were greeted with a 2-mile hill…. I used a walk / run method for this, especially as my stomach was in absolute bits.  this was definitely a more challenging section of the run and it doesn’t level out until beyond mile 19.  It was a time when you really did need to dig deep.

 

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Mile 19

From mile 19, it was a steady plod into Inverness.  From the top, it was time to come down but it was important not to get too carried away – my legs were really tired at this point!

There is one final uphill stretch around the 21 mile point but from there onward it levels out and remains essentially flat all the way to the finish line.  At mile 22, my trusty Garmin notified me that I had 10% battery left – bloody marvelous! So, all music had to be switched off which was playing through my watch.

Speaking of music, I asked all those close to me to give me funny songs that either brought back a memory or made me smile whilst sporting a grimace during the run.  This was a brilliant idea given to me by Fran Bennett (our lady Crusader at the Fareham Crusaders) – it certainly kept me going! My fav recommendation was from my sister Jenni- ‘ Donald whars yer troosers’

Mile 23 / 24

Around the 23 mile mark, the route edges into the quiet tree-lined residential streets of the built-up area. By 24 miles I could hear the cheers from the other side of the river as I was actually running parallel to the finish line! Doh!!!! That last mile was rough and I ran with a stranger for that last bit.

Reflection

Loch Ness is a great Marathon but don’t underestimate it – there is a lot of downhill, but so steep that you need to brake.  The race also has steep climbs so it’s definitely a test of endurance.  Did I ever tell you that I hate hills?

I’ve had lots of questions as to what Marathon I preferred out of London and Loch Ness, but it would like be choosing a favourite child.  Both are so different, and it would be difficult to decide as both have their pros and cons.

Pro’s -Friendly, absolutely stunning, amazing meal and goody bag, lovely route, the downhills, the atmosphere at the start of the marathon, peaceful, free soup!, less congestion than other bigger marathons.

Con’s  – Lack of toilets! (definitely needs a review), can be lonely at times, no supporters, rubbish left by runners, the early start,  the damn hills!

I hope you enjoyed the write up.  Did you run the Loch Ness or are you considering this race? I would love to hear your thoughts!

May your miles be long and your injuries few

Kezza x

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Running is Mental

As I am currently tapering for a Marathon, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to discuss the mental side of running and building on mental strength.  Life is busy sometimes and it can be tough.  It can be tough to balance life, work with numerous hobbies!  When I look at the women that surround me, they are not only physically strong, they are mentally strong…

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I am such a mental runner and recognise the signs of when I start losing my head, usually when my inner voice is telling me ‘everything is hurting’, ‘slow down’, ‘you’re too old for this’, ‘give up’, ‘stop running’. This is where mental strength kicks in, when the little voice in my head gets shut down and I keep pushing.

If you are a runner, you are stronger than you ever know. When your alarm wakes you up for Parkrun or a training run on a weekend morning and you choose to get up rather than snoozing your alarm, ran in the wind or rain or you have swapped gin for a soft drink, you have built on your mental strength.

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Pushing on with the training when you don’t want to, one more rep, one more hill, 10 more minutes, one more mile all help develop your mental strength and grit.  Running is tough, we run through all weathers and despite obstacles of what is going on in our lives. Running allows us to forget, to be strong.

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Some of my friends use mantras to get them through tough races.  My good friend Emma (@Vegangirlthatruns) counts whilst going up a tough hill. (I’ve tried this but end up swearing and forget what number I was on)   I’ve got other friends who have motivational quotes that they repeat in their head on a loop.  Some even say their mantras out loud.  A fellow runner was running a marathon and shouted out her mantras to herself and found she had quite a following.

Running isn’t always perfect, sometimes our body just doesn’t want to. this is where positive thinking comes in and remembering all the good runs you have had.  Its easy to feel let down when your body doesn’t want to… and during this time it’s good to remember the runs where you have smashed it, felt strong and it all felt effortless.

There is so many ways of developing on your mental toughness – mostly by varying your runs so they provide different paces, efforts and locations.  These all build on your mental toughness by making you physically stronger and more confident.

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Its important to remember that your mind is designed to scan for danger and so any areas that throw you into an area of discomfort is where the task of developing mental toughness begins. This is when it becomes a case over body versus mind! Tolerating the brain to deal with the uncomfortable moments will take you to a whole new level of mental toughness! Perfect for race day!

Tapering is always tough on the mind – I am currently worrying about whether I have done enough training, whether I should be getting some junk miles in (just in case) but it’s just my mind playing tricks on me.  A good friend of mine recommended that I read the Chimp Paradox to help me with any mind demons https://www.amazon.co.uk/Chimp-Paradox-Management-Programme-Confidence/dp/009193558X  I have this on order!

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What exercises do you undertake to ensure you are mentally strong for race day and training runs.  What has given you mental grit to keep going? I would love to hear all about it!

Just Breathe…

I’ve had a pretty bad month this March.  Last week I discovered that my poor Marley had a tumor – he has since had this removed and I can only pray that it hasn’t already spread.  I also found out that God made my knees on a Friday.  During my 16-mile run in early March, my knee decided to give out and was excruciating (and has been ever since).  I am yet to get a diagnosis for this and think I am on the 8th diagnosis which is not only frustrating as it is disappointing. Next week I have a scan to find out what’s going on, once and for all….

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Since the beginning of March (apart from a couple of short runs), I have not been able to carry out any long runs.  I am absolutely gutted at the thought that I may not be on the start line for London next month and the longer time goes on, the more unlikely this prospect is.  Needless to say, my mental health has taken a bit of a battering.  I’ve been keeping a low profile from social media as this is doing nothing for my anxiety.  On the positive side, I have raised a whopping £1600 for the Rowan’s Hospice which they are extremely grateful for.

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Sometimes its good to reminded that we can’t control everything. Our society promotes the ability to have it all and to do it all, if you can’t, you’re a failure. You’re not, its ok not to be ok. Its okay to let friends know that you’re not in a great place.

I have been filling my time with Marley cuddles, and lots of Cross training.  Yoga has also helped, to enable me to just BREATHE…. And mostly, I’m trying to be kind to myself.

Until next time…

Kezza x

Happy International Women’s Day!

Today it’s time to celebrate. To celebrate all the strong women in your life, and You! Women are no longer hidden and being a woman is pretty amazing.  Today is International Women’s Day, which means a celebration of achievements of women all over the world. International Women’s day 2019, has a motivating theme #balanceforbetter – setting out an agenda for a gender balanced world.

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International Women’s Day says something special to all those strong women in our lives, our mum’s, sisters, girlfriend’s, wives, daughter’s, friends and work colleagues. Women’s Day has been around for a century now, but what does it mean?

It means celebrating women’s achievements – achievements of women’s movements and how far we have come. It means demanding change for the future and absolute equality, in life, at work, and in education and sport.

Nowadays, we take for granted the ability to vote, to run, to work, the right to equal access to education  -we all know that this wasn’t always the case (in some countries, it still isn’t). These rights have come about and have derived from tenacious struggles. We mustn’t forget that gender equality is still being written. We still have some way to go to achieve equal pay, and equality in the social and political world.

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Its true to say that women are still under-presented in politics, business and construction.  If we get there, we are often paid less than men for the same professional position.  Sadly, discrimination and violence against women is also still an issue.

Together, we can get there. I believe that people come into our lives for a reason. There will be those who enter your life and a small action on their point has had a big impact on your life.

Here’s to the women in your life who have made your world, made you smile, been thoughtful, and for those that just make your world brighter just by being in it.

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I would love to hear about the woman who changed you.

As it is International Women’s Day today, I began thinking about all the women who have had an impact on my life -inspired me, helped me grow, challenged me and built me up when I needed it. This inspired me to make the following video.  I hope you enjoy it! 😊

Kezza xx

 

 

 

 

My Thoughts on the Brooks GTS 19’s

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The Brooks GTS remains true to its Acronym being the ‘Go To Shoe’  – As a pronator, I’ve been loyal to this shoe for the last couple of years and find them really comfortable. The GTS shoe is a high mileage, every day stability trainer with maximum support. I’ve currently been wearing mine for Marathon training, so they are getting some good mileage. Even when they were new, I didn’t suffer from any blisters which is sometimes the case with new shoes.

This year, Brooks have released the 19’s with a bold move of a redesigned sole.  Risky? Yes.

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Brooks have decided to totally redesign the sole with Guide Rails support system. The reason for this is to provide a softer and springier ride. The idea behind the guide rails support system is to make a point that there is not a right way to run and therefore the shoe focuses on individuality rather than directing your foot and ankle into landing somewhere it doesn’t want to! Therefore, everyone’s unique way of running will perform best when the footwear works with an individual’s unique gait.

The shoe weighs the same as the previous edition – it also looks similar to be honest – although the sole looks slightly chunkier than the Brook’s 18’s.

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When I put these on, they felt bouncy and secure – the ride felt comfortable with the midsole rails on each side of the shoe, cradling my foot. Brooks version of this shoe is to allow your foot to guide rather than it being corrected.

The heel drop on them is 12mm which is perfect for someone like me who suffers with Achilles problems.

I found the material more breathable although the stripes on the front of the show lead me to think that I had mud or a mark on the front.  I wore mine out in the rain and found that they dried very quickly and without soggy socks!  The toe box is roomy and there was no slippage from the heel.  The rear section of the mid sole has been updated with a new DNA loft foam – foam air and rubber if you are wondering – hence giving your ride some extra bounce.

The laces were generous enough to lace right to the top of the trainer (not like others who scrimp on lace length). The tongue of the trainer is still padded and comfortable. The width of it is just right and helps to improve the fit of the shoe. Overall a winner!

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 19 Shoe Specifications

  • Shoe Type/Category: Stability
  • Weight: 10 oz
  • Shoe drop: 12mm
  • Sizing: Standard running shoe length
  • Heel: Medium
  • Forefoot: Medium width
  • Previous model: Adrenaline Brooks 18’s

 

Pros

Comfortable and well padded

Sturdy

Great choice of colours

Supportive

A soft ride

 

Cons

The change may not be for everyone

Self Love

‘But what are you doing for YOU Kerry?’ This was the burning question my PT asked me not so long ago..  The answer was probably absolutely nothing.  I was caught in a working 40 hours per week, socialising, marathon training, leading at club, organising a 5K for charity and strength training at the gym.  I work in HR and I’ve got to be brutally honest, I was a bit ‘peopled out’.

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Sometimes you burn out before its too late and I had lost a bit of my spark.  I was just mentally and physically exhausted. I can’t remember the last time I sat on my sofa and just did nothing and relaxed.

It’s essential at times to remember that we all have choices and it’s OK to be selfish sometimes.  I try to lead running groups at club at least once a month.  This month, I’ve just not been able to manage it. Do I feel guilty – absolutely.   It’s so easy to feel the tug of war on expectations, challenges, commitments, technology, family, friends and work. But do you need it all to just STOP for a moment?

Dr Seuss summed it up beautifully: “How did it get so late so soon?” he wrote ” It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”

This Friday night, I have a date, with myself. I’m going to watch a good film, have a bubble bath, light some candles and incense, turn off all social media and just RELAX.  When was the last time you did that?

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I’ve thought about how I can slow my pace down whilst juggling all these balls in the air and from next week, I’m going to attempt the following;

  1. Breathe – There are a variety of breathing techniques that can help you slow down and enjoy your life. Just by breathing in your nose, hold and breathing out of your mouth
  2. Marley cuddles – There’s a reason why my dog is my best friend. Marley brings me so much joy to my life as well as unconditional love and companionship.

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3.  Just ‘be there’ – being in the present. Having gratitude, listening, being  appreciative    – this can be achieved by yoga, and meditation.

4. Less is more – Spring clean anyone?

5.  Drive Slower – I constantly race from A to B and need to slow down and become less  frustrated with other drivers. We are all guilty of it.

6.  Saying ‘No’ – sometimes having more time for you means saying no from time to time.

What do you do to relax? How do you know when you just need a ‘time out?’

May your miles be long , your weekend relaxing and your injuries few.

Kezza x

 

Things Runners shouldn’t talk about (but do)

It’s been a great couple of months for me running wise.  I’ve felt fit, strong and above all, confident.  I have been working hard with my PT with strengthening my body and so far, so good.

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I have been struggling with the early morning sessions (yes I am prone to an 11 hour sleep) on a Sunday for training runs so decided to put the training back until 10am and this is working much better for me.

I’m still incorporating Body Balance into my training which is working well for stretching and doing so by using the Les Mills Interactive monthly plan. 

That’s enough small talk, let’s get down to business! There are a few things that most runners don’t like to talk about (I do, because I am gross and brutally honest). I run as a Fareham Crusader, so I get to chat to other runners A LOT!  Running isn’t glamorous (only if you spot the photographer in time).

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‘Quick, look happy, there’s a photographer!’

Things you’re not supposed to talk about as a runner…

Snot Rockets

I’m so sorry Jane (my marathon training partner), I am awful at this.  You don’t know what this is?  Yeah right!!! So you can only do this when you are running outside.  If you try it in a gym on the treadmill, you may get thrown out.  It’s pretty much when you are bunged up and you clear one nostril at a time, you get my drift.  Don’t be that guy (yes you, runner at Fareham Parkrun) who did this whilst running and I was running behind you.  It’s very antisocial. There are actually videos online to perfecting the perfect snot rocket.  Fill your boots.

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Instructions for the perfect ‘snot rocket’

Runners Trots

My running friends all know how delicate my stomach is.  I have been known to have ducked into pubs, public loos and even bushes on particularly awkward runs.  When you’ve gotta go, you’ve gotta go.  Funny for me, but not so funny for others who have suffered or perhaps for new runners; this may come as a bit of a shock.  I also know some runners who have really weak bladders and have had to go mid race as they’ve not got to a loo in time… a taboo topic..but it’s more common than you think.

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Even elite runners get caught short..

Bra Rub / Chaffing

I wasn’t blessed with vol-au-vents for boobs and so I get serious bra rub, regardless of what bra/s I wear (Vaseline is my friend).  I’m actually scarred from the number of chaffing wounds I have.  I’m still on the search for the perfect running bra. The longer the run, the more this force begins to stalk its victims. For some, it presents as a slight discomfort, for others, it can be really quite uncomfortable and can really affect your run..

OCD

Oh you’ve only ran 4.89?!  You had better run up and down your road at least 6 times, just enough for the neighbours to think you have finally lost the plot.

Dry Skin

My face has been like sandpaper this winter. I have been using emu oil and vaseline to lather my face from the elements which have been harsh. Runners are prone to skin problems due to the damaging elements like cold, sunlight, and infection. As I am a sufferer of skin cancer, i have to wear a really high factor in the summer.

Asthma in the cold / warm months

I have had my asthma under control for the last year probably because I didn’t end up with pneumonia again for the third time.  You can find out more about running with asthma here

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Black toe nails / No toe nails

Us runners take pride in showing off our manky feet.  Yep, we’re damn proud of how calloused, rough, and mangled our feet are. It just goes to show how much time we put into training. Our feet wouldn’t be this ugly without all the miles we put in. You see, it’s our badge of honour! I draw the line at putting pictures up on social media of a missing toe nail. Too much information people! 🙂

 

Relationships

Goodbye all night raves and barhopping – unfortunately these do not work well with your training plan.  Any runners is aware that they are lucky for any support that they get.  Its really important to thank those supportive, awesome people who are watching your race, waiting for you at the finish line, or for me, looking after Marley Moo (my dog).  My parents are just around the corner and are really supportive and so I am very grateful for that.

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Marley Moo – ‘She’s off running again’

Blisters

Sometimes, they form because of too much sweat. Sometimes, it’s because there’s something in our shoes that’s causing unwanted friction. It may be because of new shoes.  Chances are, if you’re a runner, you have had a blister of some sort.  Us runners like to brag about our blisters, hell, sometimes it turns into a competition – who has the largest and most disgusting blister.  No doubt, there will be that runner who has taken a picture of their blister.  Us runners can be dirty buggers..

Of course, there are lots of positives about running which we DO talk about! A lot! These really do outweigh the above, though I’m yet to find a man who will give me a foot rub..

May your miles be long and your injuries few

Kezza xx

London Marathon 2019

Once again, I am training for the London Marathon.  I was lucky enough to obtain a charity place through Rowan’s Hospice which I am so grateful for.  So far, training is going well, and I have the pleasure of training with my good friend Jane Pollard- this is her first marathon.  This is my second.  This time around, I am not stressing about my training, I am following the plan but realise that I can tweak it at different times.  I have a life and a demanding full-time job. Sometimes not fulfilling a training run, happens.

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Me and my lovely friend Jane on a training run.. 

The great thing about running with Jane, is that she is not precious about PB’s on training runs and it’s all very chilled and chatty. This year, I have decided to use Martin Yelling’s London Marathon 16-week plan, but with a few tweaks.  I felt that the intermediate plan was too advanced for me and yet the beginners was just that little bit too ‘beginner’ for me.  So, I have decided to use the beginners plan but with some tweaks.  It’s all working well.

I did Hellrunner last November and it was SO HILLY – to the point where my back was so painful -I have had an uncomfortable feeling in my thigh ever since.  After waiting for it to disappear for 3 months, it didn’t, so I decided to see a Sports Therapist yesterday.  For those local to Fareham, I saw Lawrence Knott at knott kinetics .  He was absolutely brilliant.  Really thorough and I would highly recommend him.  Turns out I have a pinched nerve in my back which has kind of got stuck in my thigh.  Hopefully a few sessions should sort this out!  So far, my Achilles have been playing ball.

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Reaching the end of Hell… 

For my fundraising efforts for the Rowan’s, I have decided (with the help of Rural Running ), to organise a 5k race.  So far, I have over 100 participants signed up which I am over the moon about. Jeff Clark (Race Director of Rural Running) has been a real help with my fundraising and has kindly allowed me to use the platform of his website and expertise to attract race entries.  The race takes place on the 24th Feb 2019 in Wickham and there is still time to enter here.  If you would kindly like to donate to my Rowan’s fundraising, my Just giving page can be found here.

Other than running, I have been building up my strength and weights in the gym with Holly Selman, my PT.  Check out her page here, she is an absolute machine. More times than often, Holly will demonstrate what she wants me to do with some reps, only for me to have a go, and not be able to lift the actual weight that she has been holding! Holly has really helped me keep a positive mindset and to ensure that I am not doubting myself – which I often do.  Holly also keeps me in check and lets me know if i’m doing too much as in terms of socialising, working out, running and working (she forces me to take a rest day and not feel guilty about it).  She is also my life coach! 🙂

This year at club, we also have two new Captains who have also been amazing and a real asset to the Fareham Crusaders.  Neil and Bex have been good for my soul and have given me and many more, a zest of love for running with their fun approach to working hard but still getting the results.  This works well for me.  There is enough serious pressure and competition at work, and for me, running is a hobby and I want to enjoy it.

 

I hope to provide many more updates on training and will provide the ‘ups’ and of course ‘the downs’.  Let’s buckle up and get ready for the ride..

May your runs be long, and your injuries few..

Kezza x