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Stirling marathon report

July 9, 2017

I’ve bored myself writing this race report but finally finished it:
Monday 1st May I did my last long run before the marathon, 20 miles. It was horrific and I walked so much of it. Legs were just still too tired from the fling relay I think. I was glad to get to my goal of 100 miles for my 5 longest training runs but that was about all I could take from it! The taper then didn’t go well either as I caught a cold just after that run and didn’t run more than 5 miles at a time before the marathon. 
I did however then manage another parkrun post baby pb at Victoria parkrun the week before the marathon and that gave me a bit more confidence. I ran 24.58 with splits of 7.56, 8.06 and 8.13, average pace 8.04m/m. I’ll certainly be looking to average under 8.00m/m after we come back from holiday. It helped having the in-laws there and wanting to run well in front of them for the first time in a long time! 
I had wavered about entering Stirling marathon as it was Harrison’s first birthday the day before and I knew that would be busy. Preparing for and having 40 odd adults and children in the house on Saturday afternoon was not the best prep for a marathon. Neither was being woken by Harrison at 4.30am on Sunday morning. 5.30am is pretty normal but that was a new low! I know lots of people who have run further and faster a lot sooner after having their babies but I was pleased to be able to say I was running a marathon the day after Harrison turned one. Judging by the proud comments from non-running other new mum friends it was quite impressive to them! 
Yvonne had kindly organised a mini bus to take many of the large GN contingent to the park and ride buses and we met at 6.30am. For a local marathon this seemed an early start! I had trained on porridge for breakfast and running fairly soon afterwards but this then didn’t work for the marathon as there was hours before starting. I had porridge and took a couple of jam sandwiches with me. Neal and Harrison dropped me at the bus and I felt a bit emotional – I’m such a softie! It was good fun being on the bus and I enjoyed chatting to Craig, who was very nervous about doing his first marathon. Due to a mistake by our bus driver on how to get to Stirling we didn’t have much time and we all ended up getting a bit nervous! The queues off the motorway to the park and ride were enormous and a lot of people must have been late. Once we got to Blair Drummond there was quite a walk to the start area and we got there about 8.40 for a 9.00am start. Although I was supposed to be in the first wave I ended up in the last one due to queuing for the toilets. 

Team GNAC


Unfortunately I had my throat problem right from the start as a result of eating a sandwich about an hour before the start. I just felt it had stuck in my throat. I need to rethink breakfast while training so that it is similar to what the race situation will be like. 
Mentally right from the start I found the race difficult too. I kept thinking I couldn’t do it, even though I’d gone up to 22 miles in training and done 3 20 milers. I can’t pinpoint why this was, maybe a combination of factors. One was definitely worrying about my throat problem, which was there but not bad to begin with. 

Seeing the course profile afterwards I would never have said it was as uphill as that to begin with and maybe that took more out of me than I realised. I did enjoy the downhills though! 
The support in Doune, Dunblane and Bridge of Allan was incredible, I loved it. The local people got behind this race so much and it felt really special. My aunt and cousin were at the start of Dunblane and my mum and dad were at the end so it was good to see people I knew there. I had also seen John near the start.

Dunblane


Some people have said they found the first half boring but I thought it was lovely…until you got to Stirling Uni. I hadn’t been looking forward to this part as I knew it what it would be like and after struggling already mentally to here I just fell apart. Also my legs just went completely and I’m not sure why so soon in the race. *edit – I got my period back ten days after the race after almost 2 years without it and I wonder if that was working on me as it would explain the heavy legness so shortly into the race. 
I couldn’t wait to get into Stirling after that loop and was adamant to myself I was pulling out when I got to Neal but it was actually still a long drag to there, a lot of which was on lonely dual carriageway. A lot of people complained about the loops but on reflection I think I would rather have the loops than more of that long, boring road. I jog/walked the whole way into Stirling feeling worse and worse and not able to swallow gels or hardly any water. I did the whole race on one and a bit gels. 
As you came into the busy bit in Stirling centre there was lots of support from people I knew and Gavin suffered the full force of my misery when I went past him, Kirsty and Jess! 
I was then worse when I got to Neal, and Harrison, my mum and dad and what felt like half the club! I was absolutely sobbing and couldn’t face carrying on (although crucially didn’t stop my Garmin) and everyone except Angela was telling me just to stop if I wanted. There was obviously a bit of fight (stubbornness) left in me by not turning my Garmin off but one of the reasons I was not sure about carrying on was that I was going to be so long and everyone, especially Harrison, would be waiting so long. Well, what actually happened that made me feel better about this was that Harrison got really upset because I was really upset and was throwing himself at me for a feed. I sat down for maybe 10 mins to feed him and ate a lot of orange segments that I’d prepped. It made feel much better knowing Harrison had had a feed and so I decided to carry on. I’m pretty sure I’ll be the only person who breastfed during the race, although I certainly hadn’t been planning on it. 

Deciding to carry on!


I actually did okay on the first lap from there (Neal etc weren’t too far from the finish) as I was reassured H was fine and the orange probably gave me a bit of energy, although my throat was really painful and my legs had nothing.


 The last lap was torture though. I must have walked most of it and it wasn’t a pleasant experience or one that I want to repeat! I was not a fan of the little tunnels and the long drag back up towards the centre. George, Karen and Sandra provided shoulders to cry on during the last lap! Of course I sobbed again at the finish, both in relief and in disappointment! I must have lost about 15 mins to crying on people and feeding Harrison but I just didn’t care at that point! 


 I wasn’t really a fan of the organisation at the end – no meet and greet, bad surface for the Pram and ages in the opposite way to where we needed to go to the baggage trucks. Overall though for a first time I think the organisers did well but with some things to work on for next year. There were real highlights for me and the way the locals in the villages and in Stirling got behind the race was amazing! The start in Blair Drummond was pretty cool too, although there are definite things to sort about the start too. 
With the Devils at the beginning of August, (although during the race I was adamant to myself I was pulling out as I just didn’t think I would be able to do it), and going back to work just after that I was certain I wasn’t doing another marathon this year but after that race I’m not sure I can leave it there! So disappointed that that was my return marathon race, never did I think I would do worse than Loch Ness while pregnant! 
Thank you so much to Neal, my mum and dad and all at Giffnock North who came along to lend support! Also Gavin, Kirsty, Terry and Arthur, John, George, Karen, Sandra, Keith and anyone else cheering us on. It was much appreciated even if it didn’t look like it! 

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Being sucked dry! 

May 12, 2017

I set some goals for April and the results were a bit mixed! Ran 135 miles for the month, which by a whopping 2.5 miles, is the most post Harrison. Not as many as planned but I didn’t miss too much and most of those were missing one medium long run and when Harrison wasn’t feeling well
– Goal: 3 X 20 miles, 1 X 22 miles and one other long run. This turned into 2 x20, an 18 and a 22. Hit my goal of 100 miles for my five longest runs though.

– Goal: Fling relay. Tick! Although more on that later. 

– Goal: More buggy runs under 10.00m/m. This didn’t happen. I have barely ran with the buggy since the first week in April as I got my car fixed and Neal was been off a bit so I’ve been able to do some evening sessions and have also done some solo am runs.

– Goal: 3 X Monday night group sessions. Big fail on this as I’ve ended up doing a lot of my longs run on a Monday or been in work for KIT days and not wanted to go back out and leave Harrison after I’ve just got in.

– Goal: Post baby parkrun pb. Big tick! I ran 25.11 at Linwood in April and feel I could have gone faster again if I had had a warm up.

– Goal: Lose more weight – didn’t happen but have maintained what I’ve lost and am at my lowest post Harrison.
18.1 miles and 5.5 miles the first weekend of the month.
Week 1 – 22.3 miles

Some buggy running and a fab hilly run at the front of Sheila’s group on the Wednesday night. This was also the week I ran 25.10 at parkrun (previous post baby best was 26.40 in January at Victoria parkrun. 
Week 2 – 32.1 miles 

Started with 20 miles at 9.56m/m pace. Also managed a track session, inaugural Ruchill parkrun (it’s a toughie!) and a failed attempt at a 22 miler.
Week 3 – 35 miles

Couple of good 5 milers in the mornings and then a successful 22 miler, although a bit slower than the last 20 miler. Also got to do Southwark parkrun in London while there for the marathon.

I had planned to run more in London but Harrison was unwell and time just went by so fast…and with him being unwell I was soooo sleep deprived and couldn’t contemplate running! I’ll never travel without calpol again, even if it is a nightmare trying to get him to take it.
Week 4 – 22 miles

Tapered a bit this week for the fling but got to do track and Sheila’s group in the evenings.
Beinglas to Tyndrum Highland Fling relay.

I find it hard getting my fluid and fuel intake right for running later in the day and it went quite wrong for me in this race.

I had a coffee in the early afternoon to try and get some caffeine (rarely have any just now with breastfeeding) and a roll fairly soon before I started running as I didn’t think I would be running as soon as I was. These things brought on my throat problem right from the start which made the run hard enough but I also just felt more and more drained and lacking in energy from about 3 miles in, which got worse after the first A82 crossing and a lot worse once in the forest. I felt as if I had started in Milngavie not just Beinglas. 
It took me a few miles to realise but I’m pretty sure the reason is that Harrison had been feeding like a newborn the few days before and the day of the race and I think he had just sucked me dry! He’s walking already, and I think the extra effort has made him extra hungry and he much prefers milk to food! 
I’m not sure there is a short term solution to this, (there will be no cold turkey stopping!) just as well I do most of my races first thing in the morning! 

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More miles in March 

April 1, 2017

March has been a lot better and I have run a total of 132.6 miles, which is the most post Harrison yet. 
95% of my runs during the week are with the buggy and I’ve been pleased with how my pace is getting better for these. That’s been an improvement just towards the end of the month after being a bit cautious, then lazy, on the hills after my injury. I am not getting the opportunity to do any speed work so I need to keep pushing the pace with the buggy. 
Week 1 

30 miles from the 1st, including a long run of 17 miles at 10.27m/m pace including doing Victoria parkrun. I was really pleased to get this long run done. It was buggy miles the rest of the week! 
Week 2

23.7 miles. I did no long run this weekend as I did the Jack Crawford 10km on the Saturday and then a tempo run on the Sunday. I ran 8.37m/m pace for the Jack Crawford which was faster than my last 10km so I was pretty pleased, although I had hoped for a bit faster. I managed to pip Anne to the post (sorry again Anne) and ended up in the team prize for the senior women’s prize. That isn’t going to happen to me very often! I had to work hard for that pace and dig in but I felt I got stronger as the race went on. 

I then ran 9.04m/m for a 5.3m run the next day which again I was pretty pleased about. I had managed a solo interval session on the Monday too so quite a bit of faster stuff that week.
Week 3

23.8 miles. Low again as I did the Alloa 1/2 marathon and tapered a little for it. All buggy running miles the rest of the week.

I was hoping for under 2 hours but I didn’t quite make it, running 2.02.07 in 9.16m/m pace. I was on pace until over halfway but the wind on the long straight was relentless and I just couldn’t keep it up. I was pleased I kept digging in, didn’t find the hill as bad as I expected and got back on pace for the last mile but still quite disappointed not to make it under the 2 hours. 
I felt a bit emotional before the start (not too much though as it was a bit frantic), I think just because it was my first longer race post Harrison and I was a bit worried about it, but also pleased I was able to do it. I was also emotional/fraught at the end as Neal and I had both missed each other as I finished and again it was a bit frantic so I was worried how long it was going to take me to find them …and I had really wanted a smile from my boy near the finish! 

Assuming the position to feed directly after a race again! 

Week 4

36.7 miles, including a long run of 20 miles at 10.22 pace. All of the rest of my miles were buggy miles! 

I started to push the pace on the buggy runs this week, and although it felt hard not walking the uphills it’s been worth it to see the improvement. 

I was really pleased to get 20 miles under my belt. It was a gorgeous morning (started at 6.20am) and I was loving it for the first 12 miles but then really suddenly started to feel really sick and dizzy and that continued until I got to Victoria Park. I think it was sleep deprivation as Harrison can still be quite restless and is up very, very early. I had to have a bit of a break at Victoria park as Harrison needed a feed which is unfortunate but can’t be helped just now. He is a milk monster and food just doesn’t cut it if he can see me and decides he wants milk, or if he just wants it for comfort, which is a lot of the time too! I’m going with it though as feeding from me will come in very useful on flights to and from Japan in 7 weeks time! 

The two miles I had to do around the park afterwards to get my 20 done were hard going but hopefully the last couple won’t be as hard next time! Once I had a shower I didn’t feel as wrecked as I used to after long runs, either that or I just don’t get a chance to think about it now! 
Week 5

15.5 miles. All buggy running until the end of the month. I had my longest buggy running day on Tuesday of 7.5 miles, 4 on Thursday and 4 on Friday. I tried to keep it a bit easier at the end of the week before doing 20 on Saturday as my legs were definitely tired last week. I call it a buggy running day as most of these runs are broken up by baby activities like swimming, bookbugs, soft play, rhythm time. It’s not ideal but I’m still getting the miles in and it makes me feel less guilty about having Harrison in the running buggy so often! 
Plans for April:

– 3 x 20 milers, 1 x 22 miler and another long run, not sure of distance yet.

– Last leg of the Highland Fling relay

– More buggy runs under 10m/m

– 3 x Monday night runs with the runbetweners or Turban group. (Missing the Tues and Thurs club sessions so much!) 

– Get another parkrun post baby pb, I have sacrificed faster parkruns all month for races or incorporating them into long runs. 

– Keep losing weight, I’m back down to the lowest I had managed to get to post Harrison at the end of January so am motivated to keep going. 

– London! So excited to be going down, although I know I’ll be green with envy that I’m not running it! Think I will have a pretty tiring day with Harrison and trying to support. I haven’t quite figured that all out yet! 
I’m looking forward to continuing the training in April. Now that I’m in the groove with long runs this may be the training block for a marathon that I’ve enjoyed the most. Probably something to do with doing almost all my runs in daylight and not being at work. (But the sleep deprivation has been terrible!) It also helps that I can’t faff about with getting out for the long runs, I have to just get on with it and I have no time to think about it. It has also really helped me doing them with parkrun as it keeps me going, although I really need to make sure the rest of them are continuous and I’m not stopping. The breast pump will be in action on the next few weekends, Harrison is not great about taking a bottle but it makes me feel better leaving Neal something! 
***Update:

18.1 miles done on Saturday 1st April. Bit shorter than planned but 9.58m/m average so happy with that as it’s quite an improvement. 

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February 2017

March 3, 2017

February was not very successful after high hopes! For some reason that long run at the end of January left me with an injured calf that really hampered my training in the first 3 weeks of February.
I only ran 6 times in those 3 weeks, totalling 23 miles and really feel I lost a lot of fitness in those 3 weeks.
I think there were a couple of reasons for this happening:
– Still carrying baby weight that I think has made me a bit heavy for the less supportive Sketchers I wear

– Running with the running buggy has probably changed my running style a bit and the uphills put more pressure on my calves

– No time to stretch or foam roller when I get in from running, 9 times out of 10 I’m sitting down to feed Harrison as soon as I get in from a run

– I was used to regular sports massages before and up to about week 20 of my pregnancy and they really helped keep niggles at bay.

It seemed to recover in time for week 4 of the month and I did 11.5m on the Monday, 4m at track on the Tuesday, 6.7 with the buggy on Friday, parkrun Saturday and 15 miles in horrific weather and hills on Sunday where I lost the will to live. Should have been longer and faster but I just didn’t care! Total 40.2 miles.
February total: 68 miles
Hopefully March will be better! 
I’ve started doing all my runs back in my mizuno wave riders and although a bit heavy feeling they are definitely giving me more support. I might start transitioning back to sketchers for solo runs and keeping the mizuno for buggy runs.
March started with a much better buggy run yesterday and another one planned for today. As Harrison hates the car, and the fact my car battery has died, I’m basically just buggy run commuting everywhere during the week with him and loving it! 
I’ve also joined Anytime Fitness which has opened up less than a mile from our house so hoping to be able to fit in some cross training and weight training. They have the step machine that I love and hoping to use this to build up leg strength for the Devils. Not that I’ve been yet apart from to get a weight training plan!  

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January 2017 

February 1, 2017

The beginning of 2017 gave me 20 weeks until the Stirling marathon, my A race for the first half of 2017. I had great hopes of a really solid month of training to start me off on my plan. Neal and I had worked out how we were each going to get our runs in and I was going to be using the running buggy much more and building that up. I was also very hopeful of losing most of the last of my pregnancy weight. 

Due to Neal’s shifts I am no longer making our Giffnock North club nights or Sheila’s training group which I am really disappointed about but it can’t be helped. The plan is roughly that I will do:
Monday – group session with the runbetweners from Run4it or Turban group

Tuesday – buggy run or rest

Wednesday – buggy run

Thursday – medium long run before Neal goes to work

Friday – rest or buggy run

Saturday – parkrun as a tempo run

Sunday – long run 
It does not leave me much scope for ‘sessions’ but you can’t run from where we are without hills and with the buggy that is definitely making me stronger! 

This has all not exactly gone to plan, but nor has it been a dead loss of a month! 

Highlights:

– Double parkrun on New Years Day of Pollok and Tollcross

– Getting a few sessions in in the first week in January, including completing the club Merries session

– Post baby PB at Victoria parkrun of 26.41, 8.37m/m

– Getting faster with the running buggy, fastest pace so far, 10.24m/m for 5 miles for the tolls route

– Going longer with the buggy, 6.2 miles so far

– Post baby 10km PB at the Nigel Barge 10km of 54.14, 8.50m/m on a very tough course. 

Waving to my boy at the Nigel Barge 10km, who was giving me a big smile!

And sitting on the pavement at the finish feeding him as he decided he was desperate!


– One visit to Sheila’s group when Neal took a couple of days off and I got it done as part of a medium long run. 

– Getting a long run of 15 miles done, starting at 7.15am and finishing with Pollok parkrun and my strongest few miles. 

– Finished the month with my highest weekly mileage for a long, long time of 36.10 miles.

Difficulties/things to work on:

– Harrison was pretty ill the second week in January and I barely trained that week as he was stuck to me like glue, or more specifically my chest! I was totally drained so even when I did get out I was too exhausted to do much. That is going to happen though and I accept that.

– On a similar thread Harrison is not a great sleeper, and in particular is up very early. (Before 5am this morning for example, although that is a little extreme!) For this reason I have really struggled with the long runs. It’s a constant mental battle between going out right away exhausted or waiting till he naps, trying to get a bit more sleep myself and then going out. And most of the month I failed to do either option! After doing two 13 milers around Xmas it took me to the end of the month to get up to 15miles. Must do better with this!

– Mileage for the month was 95.6. Less than planned but this was mainly due to missing long runs. 

– Had a meltdown the one time I managed to go to track as I felt so slow and that it was all hopeless. Thanks to lovely clubmates for picking me up and forcing me on!
I’m pleased to see the highlights vastly outweigh the negatives and it’s mainly just the long runs I need to work on. I will definitely do others incorporating parkrun as it forces me out early and means I get company for the last hard miles. I like to run hard too though sometimes!
In February I want to work on:

– Long runs

– Pace and distance of buggy runs

– Weight loss, as that ended badly after a good start in January! 
I found out yesterday that I have a place in the Devil of the Highlands 42 mile race on 5th August. This will be my first ultra since the WHW race in 2012 and one that I have been entered into a few times but have never been able to do. I am really looking forward to it, but a bit scared too! 

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It’s been quite a year! 

December 31, 2016

My running in 2016 took a hit but Harrison was worth it! 
Stats for 2016:

Miles run – 520

Parkruns completed – 35

Other races – 3 

Marcothon miles – 114
I had a look at 2015’s stats which I finished at 20 weeks pregnant. I ran 1430 miles, did 40 parkruns, ran 23 other races and ran 163 miles for Marcothon. Bit of a difference! 
This year I ran until the end of April, gave birth by Caesarean section on 20th May, took 10 weeks off running because of the section and have very slowly got back into running since. 
I looked at the goals I set myself for getting back to running and I didn’t do very well with them but I’m actually quite happy now with how it has all gone and don’t think I could have done much better.
Goal 1 – to be back running by mid July. I made it out on 1st August and think this was soon enough.
Goal 2 – to run the southside 6. I had to pull out of this, it wasn’t enough time to get the long runs or the hill training done. This would maybe have been more achievable if I had had a natural birth.
Goal 3 – to do the cross country season or at least the latter races. I vastly underestimated this one. I felt ready to start the last race of this year but only got a mile in. I just did not have the leg or core strength for the mud and hills combined. 
Goal 4 – to be using the running buggy by the end of the year. We started using this in mid November and it’s been great. I’m looking forward to building this up further in 2017. 
I’m going into 2017 exactly the same weight I was going into 2016 and have losing the rest of my pregnancy weight in my sights! My parkrun and 10km times have been coming down now and my running is much more consistent again. 
And I have Harrison, a new house and I’m still on maternity leave for a while yet! 
Too tired to write about goals for 2017 tonight, story of my life now! 

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From despair to hope! 

December 21, 2016

Just 5 weeks ago I was despairing of ever running well or even slightly better again! I was almost at the point of messaging the amazing running mums I know like Debbie and Vicky and asking how on earth they did it as it felt like I was going nowhere! 
I had had a hard time at a few club sessions, like thinking I could do 2 mile reps sessions just a few weeks back in, was doing slower and slower parkruns mainly due to tiredness, struggled with longer runs, pulled out of the southside 6 and took 1hr 6 mins to run the Great Scottish run 10km (although I did love that race despite the slow time!). 


Then I ran the Jimmy Irvine 10km on 13th November, thanks to another Debi getting me a place. And this race turned things around! I completely surprised myself by running 9 mins faster than the Great Scottish 10km in 57.48. I absolutely loved it and really enjoyed pushing myself the whole way, running the second half quite a bit faster than the first half. While running it felt an easier course than Glasgow but on Strava the overall and max elevation were higher at the Jimmy Irvine 10km. While not particularly fast and still over 10mins slower than my pb it was a massive boost. (And the support from an excited Neal and other Giffnock runners was great.) 



This gave me the confidence to start pushing myself in training runs. A couple of other things have helped too. I’ve been going to Sheila’s running network group on a Wednesday evening where I have really enjoyed being more in a group and able to push against others and it’s helped my hills training! I’ve been able to go to most Thursday night sessions as well and have started to be able to work with others again, including one memorable session with Douglas! 
I also did a lot more walking once Neal went back to work at the beginning of October as Harrison hates the car and am now buggy running too, slowly building up the distance, (still only 4 miles so far) and these things have helped build my endurance back up and lose weight which I have also noticed has made a massive difference. I still have a stone to go but think I will worry about that after Christmas. 
I then got post baby parkrun pb’s two weeks in a row at the hilly Pollok parkrun, going from over 30mins to 29.09 and then 27.54.  


I am also up to 13 miles for my long runs, having entered Stirling marathon which will be the day after Harrison’s 1st birthday. I’m so motivated for this right now and hope I can keep this up! 

Marcothon is tiring my legs but I am really enjoying us all getting out and doing it. It’s not as challenging doing it with a baby that can go in the running buggy as it is when working full time but I think next year may be a challenge! Although I’m pretty tired this week actually!


On Sunday I ran our club handicap race, 4.6 miles ’round the tolls’. I had no idea what time to put and ran 4.5 mins faster than I predicted (no watches allowed) and was absolutely delighted with 8.47m/m pace. This is by far the fastest paced run I’ve done post Harrison and I hope to build on this.

From January due to Neal’s work shifts I will be unable to go to Sheila’s group or the Thursday club sessions which I am really disappointed about. I will be doing a lot more buggy running and hope this will continue to build my endurance and make non-buggy running feel a lot easier! If anyone is free during the day for helping with speed/hills sessions with a buggy let me know!