FitBits: April 2017

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Wednesday, 19 April 2017

Birthday bike rides and spring training goals


I'm 31 today guys. Thirty bloody one.

That means I'm definitely a proper adult by now, right? Oh God I really don't feel like one. I remember when I was a kid, looking at my Dad (hero) in his mid 30s thinking Christ that's old, I've got ages until I get there. 

I honestly thought that by the time I hit my 30s something would click and suddenly I'd be a responsible grown up, with a house, kids and husband, a good job and a pot of savings to whip out for loft conversions or new boilers or whatever these adults spend their hard earned money on these days.

Probably not *another* bike, right?


 

Breaking the exercise fast 


I celebrated entering my 31st year with a solo mountain bike adventure up on the Downs. With the sun on my back and a carpet of rolling green hills and bright yellow fields as my playground, it was the perfect way to break the exercise fast following my less-than-perfect Brighton Marathon.

So many of my awesome running friends have been smashing workouts and getting back to it since last Sunday but tbh all I've smashed is Easter eggs and a right good sleep binge, and I'm not even sorry.

Today marks the end of six glorious days off, which we started by sacking off the planned Forest of Dean trip in favour of some localised chill time in the van and at home / with the fam.





 
We took the road bikes camping but couldn't be arsed to ride and it set the tone for the days thereafter - hence I've done zero exercise until today's day-long adventure.

That five hours on Strava below, that's moving time.

Add another couple onto that for me basically sitting about up on the Downs eating sandwiches and taking in the view because I had all the time I wanted and had nowhere else in the world to be.

There were only about 10 people up there for the whole duration and it was bloody marvellous. (Can you spot where I lost the South Downs Way and had to double back on myself?!) 


  


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If you want to read more about cycling the South Downs Way, check out the posts below from our trip last August Bank Holiday. We did it in sections over the long weekend because a) we're not hard enough to do the whole thing in one go *yet*, and b) we like to take our time and enjoy these things, not batter ourselves into oblivion...

Part 1) Eastbourne to Brighton  
Part 2) (because fuck headwind) Petersfield to Amberley 
Part 3) Amberley to Devil's Dyke
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What's next? Spring & summer training goals

Now that the marathon's done I'm really excited to get stuck into other goals for the year. For me, spring and summer has always been about cycling - it's when we start our regular camping trips to Wales and Forest of Dean to hit the trails, and next month we're finally checking out the Surrey Hills which is much closer to home and apparently has a great network of singletrack to ride for playtime. 

We're doing a guided ride with Sean at Marmalade Mtb so stay tuned to see how that goes! 

Other cycling goals this year for me are to get 100-mile fit for RideLondon in July, and me and Chris are also hopefully doing the BHF London to Brighton road and off-road rides too. 

Check out my vlog from last year's London to Brighton off-roader - 75 miles and quads of doom! 

I saw a sign for the full BHF South Downs Way 100miler today which is fully supported but one hell of a ride - it's very tempting but will have to think seriously about whether I'm hard enough for that one just yet... 


Aside from cycling it's all about triathlon this year, after having to bail on everything after last year's collarbone and wrist break, I'm pretty much starting my swimming from scratch to get strong in the sea for the Brighton & Hove Triathlon in September.

Not giving up on running altogether, don't worry - taking on the Virgin Sport Hackney Half at the end of this month to see what all the buzz is about since Virgin took over. There's a 5.5k too if you fancy, as well as yoga classes and fitness bootcamp / dance sessions too on the day. 

Oh, and I'm also starting a 12 week body transformation soon to get rid of this marathon flab and sculpt a stronger me heading into all this training so stay tuned for that too!

Man I do love a change in season for a renewed sense of motivation! 


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What are your spring/summer training goals, and what's your perfect way to spend your birthday?

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Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Two different tales: Brighton Marathon 2017



One marathon, two runners, two very different tales.

The final She Said, He Said blog from me and the hubs. He popped his marathon cherry with a bang, I crashed and burned. 

He's eyeing up Beachy Head in October, I couldn't think of anything worse.

Maybe for once I'll be the good wife and actually support him, instead of getting jealous and having to run it all too.

There's a video in there somewhere, put your feet up - it's a long one...  (scroll down for the vid if you cba to read, or click here for YouTube, don't forget to subscribe!) >> 

And if you're bored of reading me pls scroll down to read Chris' blog as he did awesome and I want everyone to know it :) 


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SHE SAID: WHEN YOU RUN OUT OF PLANS - FREESTYLE




Well what can I say about my third Brighton Marathon.

It didn't go to plan - which one, you ask? 

Er... how about all of them.

As I wrote the night before, I had three goals, and decided to go for the middle (and should-be achievable) one, of 4:45-4:55, i.e. a PB. 

In my head there wasn't really any reason why I wouldn't be able to do this. I was far too chilled out about the whole thing really, haven't been as dedicated to my nutrition or swotting up on running magazines as previous marathon cycles.

Yes I'd missed a few sessions over the last few weeks and am not as fit as I was when I smashed my second marathon at Brighton, but I could still run the distance, it just might not be as comfy as I wanted. 

Spoiler: It wasn't comfy at all.

It sort of went wrong from the beginning, although I didn't realise it...



Plan: stay hydrated and stick with pacer.

FOILED: Our pink wave were kept in the starting pens for over 40minutes before starting and it was already getting pretty hot. By the time we set off I'd already drank all my electrolyte water and the first water station wasn't until 3 miles.

I remember being thirsty as soon as we started and stupidly declined some water from another runner as thought I'd be OK.

Get to the first water station and fill my bottle, losing the 4:45 pacer way ahead as I faff about with the cups, then mess up my pace trying to catch up.


Plan: fuel correctly. Four gels with shot bloks and energy drink in between. Two of the four gels to be caffeine, taken after 16 miles for a boost. 

FOILED: At four miles, settled into a rhythm with the pacer again and reach for a gel and THEY'RE NOT THERE. As in none of them. I must've dropped all of them out of my Fleetfoot 3 on the way (although not sure why no one behind me said anything?!) Luckily my shot bloks were in the zip up bit so I at least had these.

Mild panic ensues but lovely RunBrighton pacer Dorian assures me he'll sort me out at the gel stop coming up.


Plan: stay cool and don't let the heat get to me. 

FOILED: Out to Ovingdean in the blaring heat, with no breeze. In training runs I've laughed at how people call this a 'hill', having done lots of running up the Downs, my legs are well versed at proper inclines.

Sunday was different. Why was it hard already?

I distracted myself from the warning signs my slightly unhappy legs are giving me by looking out for Chris on the other side, but couldn't find him. (That's because he was smashing it and was way ahead btw but we were close at one point)...

You know that tired, achey feeling you get in your legs in the final miles of a long run? I'm pretty sure you're not meant to get that at mile 10 of a marathon. My new visor was keeping the sun off my face but the sweat still found a way down my face as we turned at Ovingdean.

I remember heading along to the turnpoint begging for it to come, and dreading the incline back into town.

It really shouldn't be this hard yet.

10.5 miles in at the water station and my first admission of defeat as I walk through the water station and beyond, adjusting my goal from b) 4:45ish to c) just finish the fucker.

That set the tone for the rest of the race. The thing with marathons is, once you walk once, you've broken the seal. It's like going to the loo when drinking as a woman. In and out all night.

Or in marathon terms, walk-run-walk-run all the way home.

I was thankful that I had my GoPro as it gave me something to focus on instead of beating myself up. This'll make a good vlog, I thought. An honest, painful marathon.

Talking to others who were also already walking up at mile 10ish was comforting. None of us had this in the plan, but fuck it. No time to be upset about it, let's just enjoy the day.



The weather had brought out the crowds in full force. Never before have I felt support like it, even when I was walking people were still screaming my name. I lapped up the cheers like a kid in a sweet shop, said thank you to everyone, high fived every child.

Seeing people already finishing on the other side of the road as we crossed Panda Bridge at the half way mark was a bit crushing. I think a man must've felt my pain as just before mile 14 he gave me an ice pole and I could've bloody kissed him. He had made my day!

Then seeing two lots of my family for the first time just after, including my beautiful niece with her innocent smiling eyes wondering what all these crazy people were doing running in this heat picked me right up.

The crowds on Church Road came out in force, with cowbells, street parties, water pistols and wet sponges of cold water to cool us down. It was then that I realised had I poured water on myself from the beginning I might've been able to carry on running.


I bumped into a few RunBrighton friends along the way, before picking up my good pal Sally from the BTRS Family who was struggling too. We struggled together all the way home, counting lampposts to run-walk, making promises to not stop after we got to the home stretch on Kingsway.

It seemed to take forever to get to the finish but I relished every second of those last two miles, and didn't try to hurry at all. It seemed like the crowds got louder the more we struggled, as one person said my name, so did another, and another, and same for Sally.

We were carried to the finish in a big Brighton bubble, the best kind of high.

It may not have gone to plan at all, and I came in more than half an hour slower than I wanted to, but I wouldn't change it for the world. I've literally never worked so hard for a medal.

Brighton, I still love you (just) xxx





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HE SAID: I'LL NEVER FORGET THAT FEELING


It was the hardest, the longest, the hottest day of my life but I loved it completely.

I woke up after around 8 hours sleep feeling nervous but well rested. A nice breakfast and plenty of time to get to the start line, it was all a surprisingly relaxed affair, even though Tess was shoving the GoPro in my face on the way down to the park.

Because of the temperature I knew hydration was important, and spent the previous few days drinking plenty of water, and following advice at the Expo only had a pint in the morning before the race started.

I decided as soon as I woke up that I was running a 3:45. One of the skills I’ve learned in tree surgery is sometimes not to look at the bigger picture but to compartmentalise the task at hand, and tick off stages as you go through. I applied this to my 26.2, thinking about different turn points, road ends and the big 17 mile marker which would be the furthest I’d ever ran to date.


If I could get past there, I could do anything.

After much faffing about this past few weeks with shoes, I decided to run in my old trainers, without the insoles that I thought were causing me the problems - not the shoes. Tried to find the 3:45 pacer, Andy, who was right at the front of the blue coral, and gave me some encouragement before we set off.

We all had a laugh about the delayed start which relaxed me, and I felt surprisingly confident - as long as I stuck with the pacer, everything was gonna be fine.



We set off to great cheers and excitement, but I kept finding myself ahead of the pacer, looking at my watch, and having to slow back to join the group. Must’ve done this about 100 times during the first half, which turned out to be beneficial to me at the drink stations as I was able to walk, take on two or three cups, one over my head, before Andy caught up with me.


This gave me a great boost. 

I was fuelling well on gels every half hour and shot bloks, sweets, bananas and anything I could get my hands on in between.   
I was on it.

It was always an unknown for me with fuelling as I missed so much of the training in the latter stages so I took everything.

At the Panda Bridge, 13 miles, I pulled away with a bit of a kick from the downhill back into town and this time didn’t bother to slow down for the pacer, I felt good and I believed I could do another half at that pace no problem so carried on.

I took the support from the crowd, friends and family cheering, kids high fiving, and got a lift from the crowd as I went up Church Road. I was waiting for the wall to hit me, there were walkers around me and it was bloody hot but I’m used to working outside in the heat and my hydration and fuelling kept me going.

Turning back onto the seafront again I picked the pace up further, chatting to two girls from Farnham Running Club who were going for 3:45 but they were doing 8min/miles and were on a push, so we stuck together and got talking up to mile 21 down to the Power Station.

On the turn I felt good as it was the last stretch, but knew it was a long way home still. My foot was hurting since about mile six but nowhere near as bad as it has been and I believe the adrenaline of the day saw me through (thank God!)

I knew the 8min/mile pace would be too much to see me to the end so I dropped my pace to 8:30s and let the girls go as I thought I should hold something back.

I knew I was going to finish, and I knew I would come in under 3:45 as I was ahead of the pacer, so I ran on strong and confident through the amazing crowds around Hove Lawns where I saw my family and work colleagues really giving me a push.

It felt like everyone was there just for me, not only the people I knew. 

Every step someone cheered my name, and when I waved and said thank you the support increased even further, into a mexican wave of ‘come on Chris!’ all the way to the finishing stretch.

I’ll never forget that feeling. 




When I got to the i360 I knew it was in the bag, I was overtaking runners, I was tired, emotional and couldn’t wait to see the finish line.

When it came into view I felt overwhelmed with what I was about to do, I couldn’t believe that I was a marathon runner. Tess has been on at me for years to do it, and I’m so glad I finally took up the challenge.

The overwhelming sense of accomplishment hit me hard and made the post-run beer taste all the better.

One of the first questions I was asked when I finished was would I do another one, and while some people may say ‘never again’, I couldn’t help but say ‘bring on Beachy Head!’.



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What do you do when your race doesn't go to plan? 
And what was your first marathon like?

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Saturday, 8 April 2017

Time to believe - Brighton Marathon 2017


Shit the bed, it's tomorrow morning. When did that creep up so quick?! One minute we're dusting off our winter kit ready for a wet and windy season, and the next it's a balmy 14 degrees with blue skies and sunshine.

No time to faff about feeling unprepared though, not us Agnews.

Me and Chris have got this NAILED.

EAT ALL THE FRIES 

Last minute running around today all done including volunteering at parkrun and getting a sneaky peek at the start line.

Race numbers picked up, dirty portion of Loaded Fries inaled and factor 30 and Vaseline / Body Glide purchased ready to be applied.

New visor bought (where the feck is my old one?!)

Quick (but brilliant, actually), £20 sports massage down at the expo done for each of us. I did have a massage with Tom on Thursday too but what can I say, I like to be thorough.

I even snuck in a lunchtime yoga class to chill me out and get me all zenned up. Except it wasn't the meditative, restorative chill fest I thought it'd be and was actually quite a workout, with strong poses and lots of twists and downward dogs.

Now though, now it's all done. Only thing left on our Brighton Marathon To Do list is to find Chris' flip flops, charge the tech, lay out the kit, eat and go to bed.

So, boys and girls, here's the penultimate She Said, He Said marathon write up from me and hubs as we head into the big 26.2 tomorrow. The last one will obvs be the race write up so stay tuned for that.


She Said: giving zero fucks


I've been telling everyone how undertrained, fat and unfit I've been this season due to life taking over and work schedules messing with my morning runs but tbh I've got a bit bored of my negativity so have decided to give zero fucks and run it with a smile on my face regardless.




The weather is spectacular right now in Brighton, and the whole city has been buzzing since the sun showed up a few days ago. 14-17 degrees forecast may be hard for us runners who are used to free exfoliation sessions in the driving icy wind and rain, but it'll definitely bring out the crowds, and make the post-marathon beach-fest even more of an attractive offer.

Free ice bath in the sea, anyone?



 

Setting goals

As ever, I have three goals for this year, so I don't get pissed off with myself for 'failing'. The last thing anyone wants is to drag themselves to the finish line having been dropped by the pacer on their top time goal, so I'm breaking it down into three outcomes I'd be happy with:

They are, in 'ideal scenario' reverse order:

1) 4hrs30 - I've been training in the 4hrs30 RunBrighton group all season, so in theory the race pace of 10:20 per mile should be comfortable. It definitely was for the half, but we all know the marathon doesn't really start for another seven miles after that, so we'll see. Realistically I think it'll be too fast for the full distance.

Therefore...

2) 4:45 - 4:55 (PB) - If I can bosh out a PB whilst being a few kilos heavier and a bit undertrained than I was in 2015 I'll be well chuffed.

3) Get round without any tantrums / crying / hissy fits - if it does all go tits up time-wise I'll put my watch in my Fleetfoot 3 and sit back for the ride, however long it takes. No tantrums allowed. Five hours is a long time to be pissed off with yourself, especially when 150,000 spectators are cheering your name.

I'm gonna GoPro it to make up a vlog so stay tuned for a video with the write up!


He Said: going in for the experience




I’ve been surprisingly relaxed about the whole experience until today, even though I’ve had to miss a lot of the training and adjust my goals. 

It’s only four hours or so of my life. I’ve been through a lot worse. 

I’ve done a lot of endurance feats in my life not relating to sport. I’ve worked 12hour railway possession night shifts without sleep the previous night, climbing trees and using heavy chainsaws, where you just have to carry on for one mammoth strength session. 

You’re there for 12hours, you can’t stop. You can’t go home, regardless of the conditions or how tired you are. You have to make it to the finish. 

This is how I’ll get through tomorrow, even though my foot will probably still hurt and the wheels have definitely come off my training over the past five weeks. That and the support along the course from running friends in the race and family and colleagues cheering on the sidelines. 


 

Lessons learned:


  1. Buy new trainers at the start of training, and probably again half way through. 
  2. Get used to the weekly sessions BEFORE the training plan kicks in - this was a shock to the system early on. 
  3. Listen to my wife (Tess edit: I didn’t make him say this, it came out of his own mouth!) 
  4. Listen to my body and don’t push on when injured in training. 
  5. Don’t set too high a goal in the early stages. 

I’ve always said start slowly, in every single race, you always feel better for it. So that's why I'm adjusting my goals and starting with the 4-hour pacer, to hopefully pick it up if I feel I can from 20 miles. 

Yes I could have music to help me through, I love running to music, I get really involved with it. But that’s not what I want from this run. I want a marathon experience in all its painful but magnificent glory. 

It will get done, it just might not be as strong a performance as I originally wanted it to be. 

And as for 'never doing another one', Beachy Head, anyone??  


** Here's Chris' JustGiving page if you want to find out why running a marathon is so important to him :) 

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How do you make yourself believe you can do it when the doubts creep in?

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