Sunday, 7 June 2015

Go forward, go forward...

I still can't believe A) I did it and B) it's already in the past.

That's the thing with time isn't it. It just keeps moving whether you like it or not. The hardest thing about long term goals must be that you spend months, weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds counting down until you're so close to the event you can hardly breathe. And then you're on the start line and the gun goes but before you know it (even in a 90km race) you've crossed the finish line and it's already sailing into the distance leaving you with memories, sun burn and really sore legs!

So here, if you'll indulge me, I'm going to steer away from the traditional race report because Comrades for me wasn't about my performance on the day, or in fact the time. It was about re-finding the non-mummy in me and having a challenge that I actually wasn't sure I could complete.

For those of you who don't know. I completed it. I ran from Durban to Pietermaritzburg. It was nothing short of amazing and I could definitely have given ye olde Cheshire Cat a run for it's money because not only did I do it but I did it with the biggest grin on my face from beginning to end.

But I cried.

A lot.

I cried in short bursts along the way and I did it many times.

Here's why...

I was leaving my babies behind for the longest I ever had. I always said that through all of the training I was running away from them. Actually I missed a bit out. I was running away from them to keep them closer to me.

And so when I got this picture the night before the race I cried... not sad tears, just tears. 

And then I got to the race start and was in the pen with our mate Ben & as Shosholoza (a bit like us singing 'Swing low Sweet Chariot') struck up and the sound of 19,000 native South Africans with their velvety low, beautiful voices started singing. I cried again. Holy Moly, I was on the start line. I was elated and emotional and couldn't wait to get started.

A rough translation of Shosholoza is:

Go forward
Go forward
from those mountains
on this train from South Africa
You are running away
You are running away
from those mountains
on this train from South Africa

I was running in the dark (I cried) and I was running when the sun came up (I cried) and I finished just before the sun went down (I cried). I was out there for 10 hours and 11 minutes. It took 7 minutes to cross the line so my chip time is 10 hours and 3 minutes. I took every minute of those 10+ hours in and I lived completely in the moment, it took my breath away. 

I ran with Ben for about 2 hours and then he started struggling due to a virus he'd had. I ran the next 8hrs on my own and they passed so incredibly quickly. I wanted to stop time and savour it but the kms were just disappearing before my eyes and when I got to 30km to go I couldn't believe I only had 18 miles left to run. I saw Tom (I cried). I thought about the kids (I cried). I was bloody doing it (I cried). I reached 27km to go and then my legs started to cry! I was still keeping to my run/walk strategy and I was still grinning like a Cheshire Cat but at 27km left to go there was a marked change in how my legs felt. Here we go I thought, this is what Comrades is all about. And so I glugged down more CocaCola (which had fuelled me the entire way) and just cracked on. I high fived the kids, I smiled at the spectators, I cuddled my husband, I even phoned my mother while I was running (I think she was worried I might die doing it). I poured water over my head and I held ice in my hands and I just kept moving forwards, never stopping, always forwards. I was still running and I was always conversational. I knew if I elevated my heart rate and my body overheated I'd be doomed. So I walked the majority of the steepest parts of the climbs and I ran the second I crested them. I ran on the waves of the Shosholoza singing groups and cried and smiled as their tribal chants urged me onwards.

The last 10km... wow, what a complete bastard!

I hit 3km to go and saw Tom, his Dad, Lexi and Eleanor who had spent all day chasing their tails to see me at various points on the course. I was nearly home and dry and I could hear the cricket oval where the finish is in Pietermaritzburg going wild in the distance. I was almost there and I truly couldn't believe it. I ran past the last aid station and listened to the crowds and the cheers and as I turned into the Oval it was like being an Olympian. The roar and the smiles and the cheers of the spectators were like nothing I've ever experienced. As I ran around the oval and neared the finish line I heard the PA announce me about to finish. I'd only gone and bloody done it. 

I crossed the line, got my medal (I cried). Someone shook my hand and congratulated me and I just beamed at him. And then while I walked from the finish line to the International Tent I cried a bit more.

I've had an eventful journey to Comrades that actually started when I had our babies and I felt like I'd lost a part of me. I've made (for me) a necessary change to regain some of what was missing and that feels great. Thanks to you all for being part of my journey. I could feel the love and support of you all every time I crossed a chip mat.

What more can I say except if you want to know what it feels like to run 90km, sign up. 

"Go forward
 Go forward..."

H x
Comrades 2015 
10hrs 3mins 52 secs
Tantrums - 0
Tears - lots

Thanks again everyone. x

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

The time is now...

The time is always now... unless it was 'then' and if I reminisce about 'then' I realise just how far I've come.

I'm also pleased that the time 'then' has gone.

'Then' was a dark place.

'Then' was hours of being glued to the same sofa in our tv room basically with one boob out (don't try and picture it, it's not pleasant).

'Then' was no sleep.

'Then' was running for ten minutes and looking and feeling like Bella Emburg.

'Then' was not being able to decide whether 'now' we are running Comrades or 'now' we've changed our minds and we're not.

'Then' was a time when there were two fat Comrades and 'now' there's definitely only one (but his time will come x).

And 'now'.... well...

'Now' the amount of time I sat my 'then' big beeeee-hind on the sofa in the tv room I have equalled in running and my beeeee-hind is not so big and I no longer get any boob's out, in any configuration and the postman doesn't have to hand over any of our post too large for the letterbox and stare at the wall behind me when I've answered the door feeding Aston. Oh. My. God...our poor postman!

'Now' I actually do get some sleep. Sometimes I'm treated to blocks of 4hrs at one time, never two in a row though, because that would be greedy.

'Now' is running for miles on end and four days later running for miles on end again on sore legs.

'Now' I also know Comrades is the rightest wrong thing I ever decided to do.

When I think about how hard I found the beginning of this whole process it makes me feel a bit funny. I was definitely looking at the edge of a very dark hole and although initially I felt like I was pushing myself further into that dark hole the further it took me the more I got out of it. The turning point being the last long run before Manchester Marathon and actually feeling okay. Then Manchester was great and my confidence grew and my runs were being backed up and I was having fun and I was loving the challenge and before I knew it I'd moved far, far away from the edge of that dark hole and travelled back into the light. Without Tom and my amazing friends I wouldn't have/couldn't have done this.  I definitely couldn't have done this if my mate Hannah hadn't have spotted the importance of getting me out of the door, something she really helped me do in more ways than just looking after the kids for me. In-debted forever and eternally grateful pet, thank you lots.

So, all I have to do now is run 56 miles. The nice thing is I have no performance goal other than to finish it and my plan is to stick with the 11hr 'bus' as they call their pacing groups. So as I said to my friend Paula today, "...if you're tracking me and I'm running faster than 11hr pace, get yourself a gin and call me a complete eeeeeeejit. If I'm not with the 11hr 'bus' get yourself a gin because I'm being sick and poo'ing by the road side. If I am with the 11hr 'bus' get yourself a gin and pray I can stick with them to the end. Basically, drink gin!"

We fly out on Thursday night. Wuhoooooo, a train journey and a flight without: Children, Peppa Pig, wiping backsides, hand luggage that doesn't have 15 changes of clothes, nappies, creams, snacks, wet wipes, colouring in equipment and an Elsa doll. I almost feel like I could get away with just packing my trainers. Ah the bliss of travelling light.

Time to log off as I'm actually typing into my 4hr block of possible unbroken sleep.

Next time I blog I'll be on the 'other side' whatever that means. I do know though that whatever the outcome the process has got me back to who and where I wanted to be. Winner, winner, chicken dinner. Let's get these 56 miles done shall we! Thanks so much to you all for your kind words, support and general loveliness.

H x

Ps: In case you need a magnifying glass to see the my number in the picture above it's 24737

Sunday, 10 May 2015

I would never have said...

... I would never have said ten weeks ago that I would actually start enjoying this process, but, here I am actually looking forward to running Comrades. Here's why...

1) I can now run further than 15 miles before feeling like I've never run before.

2) I really enjoyed Manchester Marathon.

3) I followed Manchester up with a 20 miler four days later.

4) The week after that I ran 30 miles, my longest ever run and could still run the next day.

5) This week I was struck by a nasty sickness bug which floored me but today me and three mates skipped off into the hills and 'ran' the 3 Peaks.

All of these things I could never have imagined enjoying when the going was really tough in the early weeks. I still believe that entering Comrades was a ridiculous thing to do and it wasn't right with the circumstances of how busy our family unit is BUT now that I'm lighter, fitter and enjoying the process I can really say that I'm really glad I persevered. Whatever the outcome of Comrades (hey, it's no 'gimmee' that I'm going to be able to cope with the heat and run another 26 miles further than I ever have) but I'm fitter and happier for being fitter.

Running is still very much a way of getting 'me' time where I can throw my own food and drink over myself while I'm running instead of the kids doing it for me at home. The thing about kids is that they don't give a damn how far I've run when I've returned and the second I walk through the door it's full on 'Mummy Mode'. How nice will Comrades be when not only will the flight be child free but my nights sleep will be free from the kids many interruptions and after Comrades I don't have to be a 'Mummy' again until we get back to the UK!

Game on I say! One more long run to do and then I can do no more.

H x

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Short and sweet...

Number of full night's sleep since August 31st 2014 - About 3...zzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzzz.

Number of tantrums since August 31st 2014 - (About 40 for me. Tom, he's working too hard to have time for tantrums. Rosie on the other hand... about 400. Aston, bless him, none).

Number of times I've changed my mind about Comrades - About 16...thousand.

Number of negative thoughts - too many to count.

Number of positive thoughts - growing thankfully and that's down to good mates and a chat with Ros Moore (who ran Comrades last year) thanks Ros.

Longest run - 26.2 miles on Sunday at Manchester Marathon (last minute entry) 3:53:18

Corners turned - One, and a massive one. After really enjoying Manchester on Sunday and being over the moon to have gone under four hours, not broken my legs and got the qualifying marathon in the bag to make sure I can actually do Comrades, I'm even more pleased to have followed Sundays 26.2 miles up with a 6 miler (pushing Aston in the running buggy) on Monday. A 6 miler on my own on Tuesday. A rest day yesterday and 20.4 miles today. Get in!!!

Comrades I'm coming to get you and I'm even (dare I say it) starting to look forward to it.

Who'd have thought lol!

Lastly... Sending mahoosive positive vibes to everyone running VLM on Sunday, especially you Hannah...go get the time you deserve.

H x

Sunday, 12 April 2015

And then there was one...

Errrrrr... I'm really not quite sure how this has happened!

Let me quickly re-cap for you.

When TOM & his DAD planned to run Comrades in the year of 2015, I was NEVER in the picture for anything other than spectating. I was pregnant with Aston and knew by the time May 31st 2015 came around he would still only be 8 mths old.  Tom tried his hardest to persuade me and I resisted... actually I didn't resist, that's a bare faced lie, I definitely didn't want to do it thank you very much.

Fast forward to Aston being born and at approximately 4 weeks old Tom spoke to me in his persuasive tones about having a goal and it being fun and how we could all run together. Imagine Little Britain's Kenny Craig...

... and being in a fog of hormonal craziness, sleep deprivation and general post pregnancy yukdom I looked into his eyes, looked into his eyes, the eyes, the eyes, don't look around the eyes, he clicked his fingers and I was under... ["Oooooo Comrades would be such a great thing for you to do with me and my Dad"] 3, 2, 1, you're back in the room.

And there I was signing up for the craziest, most untimely event that I could have possibly popped into my calendar like I was signing up for a local free, weekly timed (do-able) 5km around a park somewhere. BUT, I was signing up with TOM and his DAD and also with our great mate SAM. All four of us skipping up the hills on our way to Pietermaritzburg from Durban, oh what fun those 56 miles would be.

Then Sam got injured. Then Brian (Tom's Dad) got injured. Then I had a melt down about how ridiculous this all was. Then Tom had a melt down about how ridiculous this all was. Then we both went out on a long run together to decide once and for all how ridiculous it all was and I confused most people with our clear as mud decision (which for the record was we were going to do it) and then finally one of us saw sense and said, ", this isn't for me". And I said, "do you mind if I still do it?"

And so here I am wondering WTF is going on, I've been hoodwinked into running 56 miles on my own lol! It's definitely the right decision by Tom not to do it. Work is crazy, crazy, crazy and time is precious when he's home. I'm happy he feels relieved that he's made the right decision. So that leaves little me and the matter of 56 hot, hilly miles. Jeefus! I don't know if my runs are long enough to get me round 56 miles. For my weekly long runs I've been running no shorter than 20 miles for a good few weeks now. I ran 22 miles last week, 20 miles this morning and in a couple of weeks I'm going to run the Yorkshire Three Peaks with my mate Hannah which should give me time on my feet and some good hill training. Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeek!!!!!!!!!

So there you have it. In seven weeks time that'll be me, on me tod, running past Tom and his Pa while they eat ice-cream and cheer me on with knotted hankies on their heads. This wasn't quite how I saw this adventure panning out lol!

I looked into his eyes for too long I reckon ;)

H x