Category Archives: Marathon

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Achieving Beyond a Best Time

A personal record or personal best (frequently abbreviated to PR or PB) is an individual’s best performance in a given sporting discipline. It is most commonly found in athletic sports, such as track and field, other forms of running, swimming and weightlifting.

Source: Wiki Definition: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Personal_record

Let’s not beat around the bush here – the majority of runners who enter a marathon or ½ marathon or 10 km run are doing it for the personal challenge. Less than 1% will actually put in the time and effort of an elite runner: that is training twice a day, doing 100-160 miles a week.

For professional athletes, a best time is nice to achieve but it is not the total measurement of how the athlete performed.

Yet if you talk to many non-professional runners, you would think the time element of a PB is the only component that defines a PB. Runners’ can be upset for days recounting the story of how they could have beaten their PB if they just ran that bit faster, or runners’ depression sets in when they haven’t seen sight of a best time for days, weeks or months.

Parkrun (a worldwide free 5K event that happens every Saturday) sets out some performance elements:

  • Personal best time
  • Personal Parkruns you’ve completed
  • Number of times you have volunteered to help the Parkrun community

Defining a Personal Best in a Run

If a PB = Best Performance, then a PB can relate to a culmination of many aspects, that can be treated like milestones. In addition to time, you can have a PB in your preparation, conduct and effort.

Preparation

This means you can have multiple PBs in an event:

  • How much preparation did you really put in?
  • Were you able to put in more than your effort on the day?
  • Have you PBed in your conduct? ….”Hmmmm” I hear you say…

Conduct

Your preparation should have included reading up on the rules of conduct for the event. Follow the guidelines below and you can say you PBed in your conduct. These are some typical rules of conduct:

  • For road events, keep on the inside close to the curb unless you’re over taking. In places like the UK & Singapore, keep on the left, unless overtaking on the right.
  • Drop all trash into a bin to keep the course clear and safe for other users and to prevent “run-away” trash.
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    • Dropping your trash on the floor can cause other runners to slip/skid/trip causing them injury

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    • Dropping your trash on the floor can create “run-away” trash:

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  • If you run past the bins, then hold onto your trash until you come to a checkpoint. There are several bins there to deposit your rubbish.
    • TyreLadyBelieve me, you have the strength to carry a couple of grams to the next checkpoint….I drag a 10kg tyre! It just takes a little more effort and 1km is short compared to the distance you will achieve! In the Singapore Marathon there are bins about every 20 metres in the ECP area.
    • If it is a gel packet, then put it into your short’s pocket/underwear or for women put it into your bra top. For the “euwwers” out there, you are smelly and sticky anyway, or carry a small bag for your trash.SuperHeroVolunteer
  • Thank the volunteers for their time and help. They’ve been out longer than you, setting up and then waiting to help & encourage you. At the Singapore Marathon, many will have been setting up checkpoints since midnight, and then waiting for runners from 04:30 onwards. Give them energy and they will give you energy back.

 

  • Look out for each other. You are an immediate hero when you help someone.

Effort

The effort you can expand will depend on both your physical and mental preparation.  On the saying “90% mental, 10% physical” Ross, a sports scientist, says:

An athlete who lacks talent is exposed, as a junior in many cases, and never reaches the Olympic Games.  An athlete who has abundant talent, but lacks the mental edge, may fade into obscurity because they don’t have the drive or discipline to train, or because they don’t compete well.

The athlete who lacks confidence or self-belief stands out among the crowd eventually – they reach the “highest level of insecurity”, if you will, before being exposed, often spectacularly.  On the other hand, the athlete who lacks talent often disappears into the middle of the pack and obscurity.  Perhaps this is why we have identified mental aspects as so crucial, the source of the 90-10 principle?

Source: http://sportsscientists.com/2010/02/the-mental-edge-thoughts-and-opinions/

And finally an element that very few seem to spend time on is visualization. This can be done in bed some days before an event. This can help you go so much further than you expected as it can keep you positive throughout the event.

So next time you talk about your PB, remember you can PB in other areas other than time.

 

Tips for Runners at the Singapore Marathon

  • Use rehydrating salt (@ 60cts a pack in the pharmacy). Found every 2 hours is good enough for me.
  • SwelteringRunner

    Sung to the melody of Eurythmics “Here Comes The Rain Again”

    If you are a 4 hours onwards marathon runner, the sun will suck out your energy.

    Carry a water bottle that you can refill at the hydration stations. You will be thankful you had one when 1.5km to the next checkpoint feels “forever” long after 30km in the hot blazing sun on the open road…and as you’re pouring water over your head to cool yourself down, you will overtake gaunt faces wishing they had brought their own bottle to do the same between checkpoints.

 

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#67 Richmond Park Marathon: A Lady’s Campaign + Psychical vs Physical

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Event Type: A trail marathon that does loops in and around the perimeter of Richmond Park. Expect to cross roads that enter/exit the park.
Start Time: 9:30am
Weather: @ 25 degs C by mid-day
During: 3 checkpoints in total stocked with fruit, jelly babies + water to refill
At the End: Medal + t-shirt + water + food to eat
Website: http://www.1m2go.co.uk/

Have completed this event 5 times, feels like catching up with old friends from the RDs to the volunteers to the runners who I regularly meet on this run and others. Missed the gorilla lead cyclist this year!

With the Manchester bombing last week, I thought about skipping this post. However why should we let some a***holes try to replace peace, joy and love in our lives with emptiness, despair, terror and hate? Those who wholly blame one religion should remember one bad apple don’t spoil the whole bunch. Extremists and hypocrites exist in all religions, in all walks of life.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96HqPpjI3UY

Additionally with the rapid changes in technology, we have to be more discerning and teach our children to be more vigilant and discerning. I pray those affected by terrorists and s*** happening in their lives will be able to focus on peace to find joy and love once again.

And so La Blog Post: Preamble Event Thoughts

RPMShowMeYourBottleWith the French elections over, a sigh of relief came out of Europe and focused moved back to the hum drum of the UK elections to be held on the 8th June 2017. As it is the season for campaigns, I launched my own Show Me Your Bottle campaign for “Grow Your Own” seeds.

Not sure how successful it really was, but I have had a number of runners at my local Parkrun showing me their bottle.

Note to self: Hand out seeds at my local Parkrun to reward all those with a bottle.

For this event, tried to encourage runners to BYOB and write to London Marathon to ditch the single use plastic bottles. In 2017, 900,000 bottles for runners and volunteers were made available (Source: The Mirror); In 2016, VLM organisers had stated 40,000 bottles were recycled (Source: ITV news).

Am happy to report there were a good number of runners with their own bottles, with some slowing down to have a chat and ate the seeds I handed to them! Hope others were able to pick up packets of seeds from the second and third checkpoints.

Hello Sisters

Moving on to other normalaities…..and maybe I’ll embarrass my sisters out there!

Women are super strong just before their menstruation/period/girly thing. Our energy is amazing, and we have a heightened awareness of stuff going on around us at all times, meaning our octopus like ability enables us to seemingly handle all things at the same time.

Then a day or two before it happens, we can transform into evil malicious beings. I’ve certainly ripped off my partner’s head, chewed him up, and spat him out for doing something trivial.  Have had to do so many apologies!

And those days before and during ovulation, I, like many of my sisters out there, have those sleepless nights.  I have tried bedtime yoga & meditation to allow the universe to let me sleep with a little success. My best medication is sunshine, large doses of those glorious rays let me sleep far better & keep me happy.

For women who would like to be more eco-conscious in their choice of sanitary products and be more comfortable think about reusable pads if you use sanitary pads, or menstrual cups instead of tampons. Here is a nice article about it: https://www.hongkongfp.com/2017/05/28/flowing-pride-two-women-fighting-menstrual-taboo-hong-kong/

Sleep Deprivation

Dolly and BonnieAs you might have guessed, I was in “period mode” when the Richmond Park Marathon came along. As the heavens blessed the UK soil in the days leading up to the marathon, sleep was a struggle with an inability to stop thinking at night…..it just happens.

Pre-race night: struggling to sleep for the second night, I was counting from 20 to zero. On the third replication of 20 to zero, I thought counting sheep might help.

I wondered if there was such thing as a Welsh “baa”? Would Aussie sheep say “G’day Dolly” to their English cousins?……drifted off to sleep as dawn broke & then the alarm’s lullaby tunes pulled me back into consciousness. Oh baa! I awoke with my brain hanging outside its head.

Does Eating Breakfast Really Give Us Energy For A Marathon?

Currently am trying to holistically sort out an auto-immune disorder with an intermittent fasting period of around 14 – 16 hours. Thus have got into the habit of skipping breakfast and eating any time after 12pm. So I forgot to eat breakfast prior to the marathon, only remembering I should have done so once I had started. Should it really matter? Especially if we have eaten well in the days leading up to a marathon. Is it really a psychological booster.

As it was only a marathon distance, I thought I’d see if it really was a psychological booster. With being fed vitamin D by the sunshine, the hot day took the hunger away. I forced myself to eat part of a flapjack at 11:00am. By 12pm, I began to slow down, hot & tired and forced the rest of the flapjack down. Between 12pm and 3pm, I consumed an additional carob bar, banana and two Quorn cocktail sausages. Other folk along the route had also slowed due to the heat. Observing my own body functions, everything pointed to heat + lack of sleep, envying the many others enjoying the sunshine on their backs.

In conclusion, with me being the test subject, the important days of marathon nutrition happens days before the marathon and not the day before or even at breakfast. I’ll try the no breakfast test again in the ultra next month and observe how that affects performance.

With regards, to sleep deprivation and my performance, one night of no sleep has a minor effect, two days of no sleep has some effect, three days of no sleep and the mind has to work really hard to banish the tired head. Four-five days of no sleep, means just enjoy the day and get off the course (DNF).

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Happy running.

Thank you to the organisation for introducing biodegradeable compostable cups, volunteers, runners and those who donated to EarthWatch. £21 was raised on the day.

Completed this event in 7:05 (@ 20 minutes off the last year’s time)

#64 Pisa Marathon Part 2: Beating the Blues

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If the elephants can do it so can A-D

Event Type: A road marathon
Route: Starts at 9am. Roads are closed but sometimes drivers will attempt a closed section!
Weather: Started at 0 degs C at 8am. Increased to to 10 degs C by about 11am
During: Water + energy drink; bananas, apples, wafers @ every 5km; some sponge points as well. Too cold for sponges
At the End: A lovely colourful medal
Website: http://www.maratonadipisa.com/?lang=en

17th Dec: Fighting Negative Energy

The plan was to spend some time at the expo, leave the expo at 5pm, eat dinner and be in bed by 9pm.

My buddy had gone off to the Dali museum whilst I tried to convince people to be proactive in their approach to our planet, even in a marathon.

  • The clock struck 5pm and my buddy was no where to be seen.
  • 6pm: stress quickly settled in. Nadia (organiser) kept a positive cool presence and tried her best to help phone my buddy. Unfortunately none of his phones were on.
  • 6:30pm: the internal stress is burning away.
  • 7:05pm: my buddy appears.

When you’re already partly negative beforehand, it is easy to push the whole being back into the negativity cloud.

As I get older, I seem to become more OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) about stupid things. Here was a great example. My buddy had got lost in thought and was out enjoying the Pisa landscape, had made a mistake on timing and all I could be was annoyed at his timing. Lost was the positive energy that exuded from the organisation, and the stressed pre-Pisa emotional brain had returned which affected everything else that night.

Thankfully I have learned that one sleepless night before an event only degrades performance a little. However taking negative energy into an event can screw your want to move forward and has a much higher degradation on performance and mental thinking.

To fight your own demons, first recognise you’re negative. You’ll feel it from that draining fuzziness in your head to the language that you use. Negative language continues negative feelings. For example: using “Not” frequently in sentences such as “I am not being negative” vs “I am positive”. It is easier to say the latter with a smile.

Our language and feelings are all interconnected. Keep your language and gestures positive and I promise you, that negative fuzziness will quickly go away. (reference NLP or Neuro Linguistic Programming).

So “Allons-y”

18th Dec: Marathon Day’s Positive Triumph

Some demons are easy to remove by being around positive people.

I had to be positive as teachers and students from Pacinotti High School started with me at 08:30am. I enjoyed listening to their excited chatter for the first 5-10km.

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Teachers and Students from Pacinotti High School made “Run with Tyre Lady” t-shirts

I had to be positive as runners passed from the 7km until the 12km mark were constantly providing positive feedback.

Some demons require space, time and nature to remove

When the teachers left me at the 10km mark, I could focus on slaying those last remaining demons in my head once and for all. At points I wanted to weaken, but passing runners in the opposite direction reminded me to keep moving.

At 25km, the tail runners picked me up.

Their positive energy blasted me through. At the last 4km the students and teachers from Pacinotti High School rejoined the happy group. I now had a full entourage to take me home.

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As they yelled “Go Lady” there was a song we all sang …..”Laaaayyyyy di…..laaaayaa…go….Lady now you gonna go home…..” Surrounded by so much light destroyed any final embers of darkness…..And for the rest of you, the banana boat song…..to enter into town with us with a joyous sound.

Thank you to Pacinotti High School, the Pisa organisers and the amazing volunteers for their support and to Fabrizio for the use of his photos.

Thank you Pisa Marathon for the positive energy that you exude.

The world is now great and it will take a lot more now to rock my boat!

Time =6:52:22

Total stoppage time on course for photos estimated at 15 minutes

#64 Pisa Marathon: Introducing A-D

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16th Dec 2016: Opening Scenes

Signore e Signora, la Signora Pneumatico will be arriving today perhaps a little anxious but let us make sure she knows all is well.

Reflections: Meanwhile back in England, a week before leaving, Tyre Lady aka La Signora Pneumatico  (TL) is feeling stressed. Her alter ego has been sorting out all those mundane normal things: tax, work, not sleeping, screwing up a contract, discovering a leaking roof…..she is not in a happy place….especially with the roof and the builders being elusive!

It is so easy to get into bad moods especially when sleep is lacking. The negative energy particles whizz around exciting other negative particles, and when one becomes hormonal at the same time, a woman can go a little mad! Negativity had settled in TL’s brain.

The day before leaving, TL received a tweet from 1063AD that a tyre had been prepared.

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A thrilling red tyre called A-D called out. TL let out a small sigh of relief: Drue and the large suitcase could now be left behind…..and a bit of positivity chipped off some negativity.

Back to 16th Dec: So the plan was to register, find A-D, speak a little and then leave.

TL peeped into the large tent that had a small expo and registration. And there was A-D …..placed on the floor in the middle of a Ricola inflatable arch.

TL coyly says to one of the registration volunteers (RV): “Errr, I think that tyre is for me…”

RV: “Ahh you are the Tyre Lady…..Everyone the Tyre Lady is here”

TL: “Ahh yes I am a Tired Lady……” think the joke was lost as everyone looked at TL as if some major super star had entered. Really she wanted to grab the tyre and run, but the cameras came out and people talked to TL.

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Introducing A-D

As she placed her hands round A-D, she was happy it was a smaller tyre than Drue. Knowing that TL wanted a little more work done on A-D, Sergio (organiser) brought out the drill.

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Sergio preparing A-D for the Pisa Marathon

What more could a Tyre Lady ask for.

A quick chat with vendors and then time to place some final touches on A-D with a message and for A-D to become a pledge tyre for participants to become aware of what is happening to their plastic trash.

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  • A snowman looking for snow with a polysytrene cup on its head, drinking from a plastic bottle.
  • A sea cow (dudong), presented to TL by Sitang from Chanthaburi Marathon, with a plastic bag over its head! Plastic is killing our sea life.

Single-use disposable plastic should be banned!

Hope to see all those who signed A-D at the very least using their own bottles in their next event if they stop for refreshments at checkpoints. After all what are the choices….The Environment or a Personal Best (PB)? Hmmm.

Think reusable and not disposable

Am looking forward to organisers using biodegradeable compostible cups in their next event for those runners too lazy to carry a bottle that is less than 1% of their body weight!

Next write up is A-D’s tour around Pisa.

Pisa Is Calling

Sometime end of Novemeber, someone from a running site (FetchEveryone) asks me if I am doing the Pisa Marathon.

I respond No.

She tells me I have been featured on their website. I had a look and sure enough there I was:
http://www.maratonadipisa.com/545/?lang=en

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Of course it would be rude not to go. I looked at the most recent stats I could find, and it painted a bleak picture of recycling of plastics in Italy. At best it reached 4% in 2012.

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Ok this is 2016, so there have been improvements. I know in Rome, shops have been charging for plastic bags and some have provided a small discount on your shopping. The Rome marathon gave away a good back pack and cloth bags as part of the “give away” to runners.

Last stat I’ve just seen shows about 35% of plastic is recycled in Italy overall and this is a pretty typical figure throughout the world. Here is a document about Plastic Recycling in Europe.

My Northern Italian friends have told me that the North is very good at recycling.

But the school children from a school I visited in Rome told me a bleak picture of toxic waste going to the South and of Northern waste being handled by Southern companies.

Medi was thrown down from the heavens to remind Italy about this toxic waste.

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https://tyrelady.wordpress.com/2016/04/09/the-birth-of-medi/

There have been newspaper articles about this, however thought you might like to read this directly from someone who lives in an affected area in the South.

http://www.robertosaviano.com/en/how-the-mob-turned-southern-italy-into-a-toxic-wasteland-2/

….and sadly it appears this is still happening today.

http://phys.org/news/2016-01-italy-higher-cancer-death-mob.html

I will not let the children down, and hope I can continue to highlight this back to the North of Italy via the Pisa Marathon so that they can hopefully review their own processes for waste disposal (including household waste) and not simply turn their back because they “paid” someone else to dispose of it for them. Because the Northern waste is ending up in illegal landfills, rivers and the Mediterranean ocean.

Let’s hope North Industries can take stock, review and change to improve practices. After all the lives that are suffering are people, animals and plants. Yes it costs to be sustainable but how about making this month onwards all about caring 🙂

I will continue to drag this waste issue out all the way to the Pisa Marathon because it is all about effort. And if people want to feel effort, try dragging an 8kg tyre non-stop through 26.2 miles.

Some great news, Pisa Marathon have just recently responded to my BYOB requests to runners. They will be using glasses instead of plastic cups……

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Perhaps it is toughened glass! Anyway it’s a start and Italy appears to do a great job on recycling glass (@ 70%)- so bring it on.

#63 Chanthaburi Scenic Marathon: Run For the King

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Finisher’s Medal

Event Type: Mainly a road marathon
Route: Starts at 4am, so carrying a light is useful in the dark areas. Goes through Laem Sadet. Flat and rolling hills, partly by the sea. Roads are not closed but there are road controls and the second half of the marathon is on the cycle route.
Weather: Starts at 25 degs C at 4am and then goes up to 36 degs C by about 9am
During: Water + energy drink every 2km; bananas + watermelon after 10km; water sprays after 20km.
At the End: Lots of local street food + finishers t-shirt with yout name (you are expected to complete). Lovely medal with a wee embedded diamond. Chanthaburi is known for its jewels!
Website: http://www.scenicmarathon.com/?lang=en

The King of Thailand

My alter ego had to work in Bangkok, so decided to tag along and find a marathon. Chanthaburi Scenic Marathon kindly welcomed the Tyre Lady to their event which was to be held on the 30th October. Unfortunately on the 13th October 2016, the King passed away and the country went into immediate mourning for a month, curtailing all entertainment. The event was postponed to 20th November, a tenuous date for my alter ego as she likes to work. But at the end of the day, the King’s cause won.

In 2015, Thailand produced 26.85 million tonnes of waste, of which 19% was recycled properly and 31% properly disposed of, according to Thailand Environment Institute. 50% was dumped in open landfills and caused pollution. Thailand is listed as one of the main polluters of the world’s ocean. ref: http://www.bangkokpost.com/opinion/opinion/1128785/even-garbage-didnt-escape-the-kings-eye

Trash is a problem! http://www.firstpost.com/world/thailand-hurtling-towards-massive-waste-disposal-crisis-1690599.html

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Khun Krabaen Mangrove Swamp: It’s restoration was initiated by the late King

And yet this is a country that has bountiful resources, beautiful beaches, amazing rain forests ….(along with the great food and welcoming people).

The King realised the current economic model of consumerism is highly unsustainable and thus developed the Sufficiency Economy Model: it’s purpose to idealize a way of life in order to help the people reduce the pressures of “wants” versus needs versus conservation.

“Buddhist ethical and moral principles are governed by examing whether a certain action, whether connected to body or speech is likely to be harmful to one’s self or to others, thereby avoiding any actions which are likely to be harmful.”

Basically polluting/harming your environment will harm you and others: the air you breathe, the food you eat, the stress you feel and the health you cherish.

The King walked his talk, being an advocate for environmental and sustainable causes, blending into a permacultural way of living to lead towards the well being and happiness for his people. Thus the King initiated thousands of environmental / sustainable projects to lead the country into sustainable economic practices. All of these can be found at Thailand’s Sustainable Development Foundation.

Love this talk by ted talk by Jon Jandai about living a sustainable life that led to him finding a happier life.

Being Led In and Looked After

As I read more about the King, I had to be in Thailand to remind the people that though the King is gone, the greatest respect and send off the people could give him would be to walk the King’s talk. The first step that every person can take is to reduce the amount of harmful trash such as refuse plastic bags that are given away. Have set some challenges here: Reduce disposible plastic usage.

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Animals affected just by plastic bags. 25% of the fish contain plastic in their stomachs.

My potential obstacle was my passport was due to expire in 4 months.

With a week to go before the marathon was due to be held on the new revised date, I told the organisers I would be there but would need help with transport, accommodation and a Thai tyre. They responded all can be done if you can make it over.

As I faced the custom’s officer with my return ticket and passport, that is potentially useless to travel with, I prayed he would let me in.  Am sure the King must have whispered in his ear, because after a short pause, he stamped my passport and I was in!

19th November: Registration Day

1Coaches.JPGThe Sky Trains are clean and easy to use, though are crowded at peak times (just like every other city). At 7:30am, I had a wonderfully easy ride to Ekkamai Bus Station. Following instructions, I waited at platform 17 and did not see any other person looking like a runner until…. a runner type person came along looking equally confused. Of course I approached him (women always ask when they are uncertain) and he found out that the coaches were waiting at the front of the station.

19th November Meals: My breakfast was 2 small croissants; Lunch was a cornetto ice cream; Dinner was fried rice and another ice cream. My previous days meals had been pretty good, so going light for one day shouldn’t make a difference!

About 3 hours later, hey presto and we arrived in Laem Sadet, Chanthaburi registration.2registration3

Anucha, one of the organisers welcomed me and immediately showed me my accommodation at the Jungle Bay Resort. Huts mingled in with the native trees, the forests animals can come and go. Some of the permanent residents are a blind monkey, a baby monkey that was abandoned by his mother and there is an albino python that loves a good swim in the fish pond! Though mosquitos are plentiful, I loved the place for its raw and rugged feeling and yet the huts had good beds, air con and their own bathroom.

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There was an option of staying in tents that is seconds from the start/finish line (in the distance in the following photo).

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Tents set up close to the start line – has mat, pillows and light blanket

Now the only thing missing was my Thai tyre. Anucha promised me it was coming and it would be outside my room. At 2pm, I wandered aimlessly around the registration area and then at the tents.

“You need to register with the organisers and then they will allocate you a tent” a voice called out.

Ming seeing a lost soul reached out. I thanked him, we got talking and he became my buddy for the day. He was doing his first marathon.

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Eating dinner looking out over the sea

6pm, I returned back to see Anucha to let him know I would need to go to bed and enquired about my tyre once more. It had arrived and it was lighter than my normal tyre. I would be glad about this later when I would have to fight the heat (about 5kg tyre).

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Chamey was over the moon to meet Khun Krabaen

The Tyre lady was now complete. Photographer Tom gave it a name “Khun Krabaen”

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And before the rains came, we got some signatures to start the ball rolling.

We collected pledges before, during and after the event. People pledged to reduce their disposible plastic. And hopefully this would also mean in this area the moo dud (dugong or sea cow) will also be saved.

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Khun Krabaen is at Jungle Bay Resort if anyone wants to sign & pledge to reduce disposible plastic

By 8pm, lights out for a 2:30am wake up. Jungle Bay Resort was about 600m from the start line. Breakfast was a chocolate cookie and another ice cream! (the room had a fridge/freezer)

The Honour of Completion

The event starts at 4am. The air although coolish, is still humid. I am one of the last to leave the start line to ensure I do not impede the runners.

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Out of Laem Sadet and to the 10km mark over the bridge

Thus I am amongst other slower moving participants. Once out of Laem Sadet, there is less lighting. Before @7.5km at the top of a hill, I watched a participant (we had been continually overtaking each other beforehand) stop, change his clothes and get on a motor bike. I would see this same participant when I was going up to 22km and he was heading back at 38km. It was sad to see someone cheat themselves.

He may have got a medal and a t-shirt, but he lost out on the opportunity to grow. Overcoming challenges makes us become more resilient, mentally stronger. By conquering his fear of failure and suffering, any future overwhelming situations are more easily fought and conquered.

The Fight

As the sun woke up, the sun would be shining down, revealing sea, mountain, farming and village views.

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This is a pleasant marathon to enjoy in the early morning.

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Participants @22km-24km and returning along same route

Marathon food was some jelly babies and 3 small chia seed snacks + bananas and melons at check points that had food. My main concern was handling the heat and keeping cool when the sun woke up at 6am. Thankfully the event had organised lots of spray/sponge points.

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As I continued after the first 22km, many people stopped me to take wefies. Total stoppage time would amount to about 20-30 minutes. I thought it would be okay as I had killed the first 22km….well I did have a lighter tyre than normal and Ming did say it would rain at 10am. Towards 30km, the staff from FaaSai Resort were out supporting and more Wefies were taken on the return journey back to the start.

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Though with stoppage time meant that I would be facing a hotter day. The dreaded heat was soon beating down but I would continue to fight. As the sun sapped me of energy reducing me to a march, I was thankful for the lighter tyre and I would remember everyone who called out to me to keep fighting, and I would tell everyone behind me to keep fighting as I looped back on myself back to the finish.

Because it is the fight that makes us grow. And if I can put in the effort to drag a tyre 42km, then I am sure we can put in a little mental effort to bring our own bags shopping, bring our own thermal cups for a hot drink (a large amount of plasticizers leaches into the drink from the plastic bag), and we can continue to put in effort to fight for the environment that gives us joy and life.

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To the lady who finished her first marathon and gave me a big hug even though I was wet and smelly – you rock! Thank you to the organisers for all your help, Jungle Bay Resort for hosting me, the volunteers for being out so early and everyone who encouraged me to continue. Thank you for letting me run for the King.

May the late King of Thailand’s thoughts on sustainability and environmental concerns continue to become part of Thailand’s fabric of living as a remembrance to him.

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The late King’s Sufficiency Economy Model can be read about here: http://www.ipsnews.net/2016/08/thailands-sufficiency-economy-philosophy-and-the-sustainable-development-goals/

 

#53 Aston Subedge: The Doctor and the Quiet

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Group Photo with Reu before she entered the Tardis at the Aston Subedge

Event Type: Costwold some very long steep hills
Route: Trail marathon, following a pretty straightforward paper description + some signage
Weather: Cloudy and quite sunny
At the End: Food and lots of spot prizes (like wine, bottles, and stuff)

This is a really friendly event with gorgeous scenery and some long hills to go down and up and down and up and of course some muddy hills to venture back and forth.

Website: http://www.broadmeadowruns.co.uk/

At the end of my 50th event (the December Double, Nov 2014), I sat on a sofa with a plate full of food, stuffing my face with buffet food Chris had organised for the runners and volunteers.  Mike who I had seen on both days as the mid-way point marshal and at other points was also now resting contemplating driving all the way back down to Southampton. Mike had driven for over 4 hours to support his buddy Chris for his event. Such friendship is so special.

And here we were swapping admiration for each other for different reasons. Having run along the canal for 2 days, Mike suggested I participate in the Aston Subedge in June 2015. I don’t remember the exact details of the conversation, but it probably was something like, “you need a bigger challenge than 2 days of a flat muddy canal…..and we need some entertainment”. ……and that was it, I was entered into the Aston Subedge.

Stress

Heading towards the Aston Subedge event day, my head was being bogged down with projects and deliverables. At the end of the day, what do they all mean? Who cares what I have created (programmed) afterall the creation is only a small part in the machinery…….which drives a bigger cog and so on.

Thankfully Mike entered me into the lovely Aston Subedge event that Broadmeadow Runs hosts. I was soo stressed but this was good to take time out from my PC. I sometimes think I should quit work to just focus on marathons, but at the same time, I want to prove I can do it all – work, family, find accepting events, run and develop.

These runs have now become important to take me away from the “every day hum drum” to the “shang shing dragging my thing” putting perspective in life.  Although route finding does add some thought diversions. Fortunately Chris’ routes are fairly straightforward as long as one stay’s mostly focused.

Reu’s Pull

Although I had a 1 hour headstart, other participants quickly caught up as there are a couple of hills to “bounce” up and down. Reu is a 10kg lovie whose treads were telling her that this would be her last race. She’s participated in US events and in 2014, the mayor of Cheltenham had signed his name on her to pledge to reduce his disposible plastic.

Reu is a happy go lucky tyre. She bimbled along teasing the farm animals and I, the puller wondered why I was dragging a 10kg dead weight up hills and over mud. However Reu has some of her grandmother’s animal magic and shows she can “pull” too…..horses, cows, alpacas, sheep….

Spiritual Investments

For the final 7 miles, I was joined by Phil and Kim who decided to move at my pace. Phil gave some excuse about the docs wanting to keep his heart at a suitable rate. We righted the world, wondered about how people’s apathy affects their want to be sustainable and then focused on what marathon/ultra runners gain from spending time out. Here we ventured on the path of spiritual notions and even if a runner is not religious, a runner has spiritual moments, conscious about the world they live in.

Why is this? In order to become aware and understand complex matters, the brain requires moments of nothing-ness. We have surrounded ourseves with so much noise whether that is from sounds, reading, political blah blah that we become easily overwhelmed. This was our spiritual enlightenment and we merged into Albert Einstein’s reflection

“The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.”

Scientists and spiritual leaders are similar in allowing themselves to be absobed by “the quiet” to open up the unconscious to allow a free flow of new thoughts and ideas to surface to the conscious.

Try it

Find a day (or 8 hours) in your buzzing world of busi-ness to step away from the internet/TV/mobile/people telling you stuff, to allow your mind to reflect and meander into the unconscious streams. If you cannot find a day then enter into an event that will force you time away. Broadmeadow Runs or the LDWA have great prices and a nice feed at the end.

As for Reu, it is farewell to her as she enters into the next adventure in her tyre life.

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Reu’s one last wave before checking in to see the Doctor

Thank you once again to Mike for his most excellent encouragement; Chris for organising a great event with awesome prizes as per usual; the Cotswold for the great scenery; Phil for his tales of tree houses and his passion for sustainability; and of course the lovely Reu – may you have many more adventures.

#62 Cheltenham Challenge: Mud vs Hills

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Why sandals?.

Overview

Event Type: Multi-terrain
Route: Easy to follow markers (although I did miss a couple due to lack of concentration) with a large hill feature and on this occasion some wonderful mud.
Time limit: 9 hours
Weather: 17 degrees C
Goody Bag: Finishers medal; t-shirt and thankfully no plastic bag!
Check Points: @Every 5km
Scenery: Its the cotswold so look up, look out and enjoy the vistas
Date:
19 June 2016
Website: http://www.cheltenhamchallenge.org.uk/

And I sang to the check point at the last 4km mark about Mud. Here is the song in full:

In the days leading up to the event, the rain fall was high with a tropical rainfall pouring down on the Friday evening before the Sunday. The weather prediction thankfully was for a mostly dry Sunday until about 16:00. With all the rain,  there were warnings of a mud bath from the organisers. So now we had a large hill and a muddy trail to tackle.

Which do you think is worse? A large steep hill or a long slippery downward trail of mud?

Two years ago, when I had tackled this event, I had tried to somehow run and drag Reu (a 10kg tyre) up the hill. That killed me for the rest of the event. I crawled up the hill the second time round. This time an 8kg tyre called Drue came with me and what a difference 2 kg makes! Although it is rumoured the organisers had pushed down “the Argh hill” this year. So taking the hill easy on the first lap, made it fine on the second lap.

As for the mud……there was a short muddy section in the first 5km of the event that the overtaking 1/2 marathoners tread cautiously. However the real mud challenge was in the last 5 miles, an approx 400m mud trail on a downward hill incline, that was ankle/shin deep in some parts. On the first lap, Drue had an easy time as we got trapped behind a queue of people taking the muddy path very cautiously. The second time round the aim was to fly thru the mud. I was happily moving quickly thru the muddy section when Drue put on the brakes and embraced a rock burried in the mud. Yes I fell over into the bramble and nettles. When I tried to get going again, Drue did the same trick with another rock strategically placed in the middle of the path. As I lay there in the bramble and nettles, Drue smiled smuggly. (Am sure his treads were turned upwards).

What type of shoes would you wear? 

Commonsense would probably indicate trail shoes. However they  get clogged up with mud so lose their gripping power and become heavy.  Additionally muddy water still pours into the shoe when the mud grabs hold and swollows your foot. Hence your feet would stay wet for the rest of the event risking blisters.

I decided to try out flat sandals. Why because my feet would dry faster and they did. As for the non-grippiness, as long as I thought “Pose running”  and moved confidently then all would be fine….well you know what the cheeky Drue did. Grit did slide underneath, but a sock barrier softened the discomfort until the mud dried up and fell out. So I would say it kinda worked. Kinda worked, because as the feet were drying, the feet rolled in the sandals whilst wet. I think I’ll return with wellingtons next time.

Chronic Sleep Issues

Apparently 1/3 of the population suffers from chronic sleep deprivation. Being within that statistic, it is easy to see how sleep deprivation affects one’s mental ability and moods. And if you suffer from eczema, like I do, the itching becomes increasingly worst. Last year due to stress, anxiety and eczema, that after 5 nights of very low sleep (average 0 to 3 hours), I had to DNF in a skyrunning event. I didn’t want to be on the start line and couldn’t even will myself to run 5K but I switched mode to just enjoying the event and continued until they threw me off for being so slow. I did not have a tyre for an excuse in that event!

Work stress and anxiety do eventually wear me down and I need to learn how to manage this better. Health is more important than work. I am also learning to pre-emptively avoid situations that can put you in a negative mind set. Our past bad experiences are not a burden, but a way of helping us recognise and avoid a re-occurrance.

Marathon events are fantastic for getting my head back into sleep and for detoxing the body to reduce the eczema itch.

I was a little nervous for the Cheltenham Challenge as had 3 nights of very little sleep prior (3-4 hours average) however by the end of it, I was buzzing. I sorted out a situation based on gut feeling, and this turned out to be an excellent decision the next day. The night after the event I fell asleep with nettle prickles tingling over the arm and leg, and happy thoughts of ploughing through mud and singing songs.

Thank you so much to the volunteers for being out there, welcoming me back and kept smiling throughout, to the organisers for praying for weather that was cool for participants and dry for the volunteers, and for reducing the size of Aggi Hill. Thank you also to the people who donated to EarthWatch. Funds raised on the day = £16.

A Plastic Thought: Which is harder? To pull a tyre over Cheltenham Challenge or to change our “throw away” lifestyle?

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In 2015, the UK recycles only 57% of plastic bottles

  • 30% of plastic pots, tubs and trays are recycled.
  • Most families throw away about 40kg of plastic per year, which could otherwise be recycled.
  • 492,623 tonnes of plastic packaging was collected from households in 2014/2015
  • The use of plastic in Western Europe is growing about 4% each year.
  • Plastic can take up to 500 years to decompose.
  • Polystyrene breaks down to small plastic balls that is ingested by small animals
  • “Degradeable plastic” breaks down to micro plastic particles that can be ingested by plankton.

Ref 1: http://www.bpf.co.uk/sustainability/plastics_recycling.aspx

Ref 2: http://www.recycling-guide.org.uk/facts.html

#61 Richmond Park Marathon: Visualisations and Performance

Overview

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Deer versus Drue

Event Type: Busy London park trail with some very short steep hills and undulations.
Route: Flags and mile markers
Time limit: 6 hours
Weather: 17 degs C. Bright and sunny.
Goody Bag: Finishers medal; and various stuff
Check Points: Every 5km; a couple of cafes to get an ice-cream
Scenery: Rolling hills, trees, cyclists, runners, deer
Date:22 May 2016

Tyre: Drue
Photos by: Phil from Alabama (hiya y’all)

Visualisations versus Imagination

At the Rome marathon, I discovered the magic of visualisation. Visualisation is different to Imagination. In a marathon, I can imagine completing a 5K lap, I can dedicate a mile to someone and imagine a conversation with them, I can imagine eating ice-cream…..imagination is a great distractor and can be done on the day. When you are feeling rubbish, it takes far longer to pull yourself out of those negative feelings. I found I required effort to produce positive thoughts. Prior to Cranleigh, work pressures put my body postures into bad form and I turned up at Cranleigh Trail marathon feeling rubbish.

Before Rome marathon, by chance, I had done some visualisation exercises due to poor sleep. This put me in a state of positiveness before and during the Rome marathon. Prior to Richmond Park marathon, I again did some visualisations and also ensured body postures were upright in a positive state (some have mentioned the Alexander technique). Before Rome, I visualised finishing in 06:50 hours, I completed in 06:50:10. Before Richmond Park marathon, I visualised finishing in 06:45 hours….At both of them I felt positive during the week and at the start.

The Fat Chatty Pen Man

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Chatty Man Phil

Phil flew in from Alabama to celebrate his 25th Anniversary and run the Richmond Park marathon. He connected with me on Twitter, and confided he had concerns over an ankle injury that would prevent him from completing the event in 6 hours. I told him about my secret pass….. I start at least an hour early…and so he to came on board my secret pass.

For the 3 times I’ve run Richmond Park marathon, there is normally banter with cyclists for the first 10 miles. Last year was “Excuse me…..There’s something behind you”. This year it was “What expedition are you doing?”

This time Phil started with me, and talked.  Normally I dislike people talking to me as I run, because they ask me sooooo many questions. Try running whilst pulling a large tyre behind you and then let me throw a bunch of questions at you….I might be a lady, but this part of the multi-tasking does not work for me.

Phil shared amazing stuff about himself and I could not help but join in this conversation. He used to be over 360 pounds (163kg)….nearly 3 times my weight (I’m 60kg) and has halved that weight. There ain’t nuffing fat about that man now. He’s a “Fit Chatty  Pen Man” and a total inspiration to his community! As we talked, I confused the signs and forgot one loop. My bad! We made it up by doing a loop at the Isabella plantation. According to Phil’s garmin, we were now 0.2miles in surplus…better to be over than under…..as I said running and talking and navigating do not appear to co-exist in my womanly multi-tasking head.

Leg Cramps

In the 60 marathons/ultras that I have completed, I have never suffered from leg cramps. At 11 miles my right calf and left inner thigh were cramping. I had to slow it down hoping it would all go away, Phil passed a sachet to me containing electrolytes and calories. I was confused. On reflection, 3 days prior to the event, my right calf had been cramping in the night. I had not recognised it would be a problem believing it was a bizarre moment of body madness (my woman thing was kicking in). Though marathon day was the first day, I’ve run marathons plenty of times on “the first day”.

Heading into the mile 12 check point, “Film my run” Steve overtook, and then Josh and Celeste from Barnes Runners. Josh is great at boosting my ego…..”You have a fan club!”……Josh I’d better make an appearance at this fan club one day 😉 We chatted at the watering hole, enjoying the sunshine and the amazing Donna, who was a volunteer and has done many more marathons than myself, reminded me there is a first for everything no matter how many marathons you have run!  My legs felt relaxed and ready to go again. Chatty man Phil, ran with me for one more mile before heading into the crowd of trail walkers and cyclists, and I continued to enjoy the endless bemused smiles that people sent my way….

As tension began to build back up in the calf and inner thigh even when I was walking, I reflected on Pose running and relaxation (note to self, need to learn relaxation better).

Conclusions

AttheFinishWeb

Although timewise was looking excellent, at mile 13, I realigned my visualised finishing time to 06:48. At mile 17 and mile 23 the muscles tightened, I stopped on both occasions to stretch out the tension.

One pork pie, one yoguhrt flapjack, 2 jelly babies and a 200 calorie powder substance handed to me by Phil, I completed in 06:49:17. A 53 second PB!

Unproven yet, but I believe proper visualisation puts your head in a great frame of mind to perform better despite the odds….and as I discovered last year, the head affects the performance of the body (write up to come later). Thus pre-visualisation takes less work to keep your head in a positive state.

As well as to the folk I have already mentioned, big thank yous to Amon, Anna (from the 100 Marathon Club), Donna & Ray for their hugs despite me looking like a sweaty dirt bag (Richmond Park trails are dusty), the volunteers for their endless smiles and cheers, the organisers (Gareth and Ray) who have always been supportive, and everyone who put money in the bucket and encouraged me throughout. Also the lady who dropped us off at Richmond station so I could get over to my aunt’s to sort out her garden.

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BYOB next year

I hope to see you all next year and see if I can improve on the mile that you caught me at this year 🙂 …..and hope to see more people with their own reusable water bottles that they can refill at the water stations….no excuses as RPM provided one in the goodies bag this year.

Funds raised from Richmond Park marathon for EarthWatch = £95.67

#60: Cranleigh Boundary Trail Challenge: A Tale of Two Minds

Martin

With Martin and Drue

Overview

Event Type: Trail with some short steep hills and undulations.
Route: Signage mostly on ground with biodegradable paint + trail markers. Some smooth trail and other parts lumpy, bumpy and boggy.
Time limit: None
Weather: 25 degs C. Bright and sunny.
Goody Bag: Finishers medal.
Check Points: About 5km; 10miles; and then 3 more after.
Scenery: Forests; bluebells; a couple of big birds (Kestrels?); rabbits; cows; sheep; horses; farms

Tyre taken: Drue
Our Finish time:
8:30

Walking the Parish Boundary is also known as beating the bounds. It is an ancient custom still observed today in many English parishes. Cranleigh Boundary Trail follows the parish boundary.

 

Our mental attitude can adversely affect out performance and that mental attitude is not just about the on-the-day attitude, I have noticed it includes the immediate build up to an event.

Someone who is confident generally stands more upright and this can only promote a positive flow of mental psyche in one’s own body. This posture helps the individual tune into the good vibes of the world. Just look at how NLP works.

With the Rome marathon, I had an overall positive build up to the marathon even though I may not have slept wonderful the 2 nights before the event. My mental attitude had kept everything positive throughout and the body felt great after. I could have run another marathon immediately after.

Cranleigh was a different story. 2 weeks leading up to Cranleigh marathon, I had become overwhelmed with stuff happening. My postural positions became tired and I hunched when I sat down. Perhaps this continued my negative thoughts about everything, adding to the “down” feeling that I struggled to push aside.

I contemplated not doing Cranleigh marathon. A week before, Brian reminded me about my participation and Uncle encouraged me on. My housemate asked me how we would do in the marathon and my response…..”with my frame of mind it is going to be 8 hours or so, unless I can change my mind”.  Sure for women “changing one’s mind” should have been an easy thing to do. I weakly attempted to do some visualisation 2 day s beforehand but could not.  I would use Cranleigh to reconcile my head.

I forced myself to get over to Cranleigh in the morning and met runners who were interested in Drue. I tried to speak positively on his behalf and struck up a good conversation with Josh and his gang of two from Barnes Runners. Someone asked about a route description. I said it would be well marked. Josh laughed and said knowning his luck, he would probably still get lost!

Cranleigh Parish Boundary Challenge 2016

The local pastor (or rev?) blessed the event at the start. Thank you pastor.

Wrong Turns: Blame it on Josh!

Paying Attention

The positive chat with Josh had charged me up and I was nicely in front of the walkers until I could no longer see them behind me. Within 2 miles of starting, I had taken a wrong turn. I had not observed the markings and after @ 300m of running in the wrong direction I was turned back by some kind fishermen.

Once back on track, 3 walkers had overtaken me. I would make sure we would be in front of them after the single lane track ended and soon again I could no longer see them. Later a lady runner overtook me. She had taken the same wrong turn but unfortunately had not been redirected. She had lost sight of the main running pack when she had to do an emergency tree dash to reflect on life. She was still pretty calm and positive. The markings were pretty frequent and I reminded myself to pay attention.

Unseen Arrow

Going up a hill, I took another wrong turn. I continued round the hill for @100m before becoming unsettled about the lack of markings. I returned to the last sign I had seen and @5m from the sign, an arrow was painted in the grass pointing upwards.

Mis-Direction before 10 mile check point

I struggled up the hill and the head was bouncing about the possibility of calling it a day, afterall the RD at the start of the race said it would be no shame to do a 1/2 marathon instead of a marathon as it was a hot day. I struggled to recall the visualisations of Rome but the mind had blurred that time. Reminder, need to practice visualisations more frequently. An hour went by admiring the woodlands and bluebells, listening to the birds calling. There some boggy patches and some downhill but the arrows were all clear. I was still running so can’t have been too bad.

About 9 miles in, a proper sign appeared directing runners to the left and walker’s to the right. It was a joyous long downhill as more positive thoughts started to stream into my head. When I reached the crossroads, I saw the same lady runner who had passed me earlier talking on the phone. She was lost and had gone to the bottom of the hill and found no markings. We decided to explore a 100m of the other 2 possible directions. There were no markings.

Looking at the trail we had both headed down, there were more bicycle tyre markings than foot markings.We needed to return to the sign that we last saw which would have been @1km from the cross roads and go in the walker’s direction. Lost lady runner was struggling with herself. Getting lost saps energy: physically and emotionally. I have come to expect to get lost on trail marathons having found myself off-piste on so many. Unfortunately lost lady had thrown in the towel and walked the rest of the way to the check point, refusing to run even on the downhills.

Josh – am sorry – I imagined having a conversation with you and you saying that you got lost….I laughed….. then cursed and blamed you for us getting lost and had another good laugh  😉

Found My Mind

I decided at that point I would definitely complete in 8-9 hours. I was far more cautious and with the next part of the course having less markings, I dithered at potential route turnings. As for Drue, he ambled along, enjoying being carried over stiles until he got stuck in 4 tall kissing gates. Drue has a 60cm waist and joked that only slim people could live in Cranleigh.

By the end of this event, the endorphines were fully in action and I was a happy Tyre Lady once again despite being lost and being sun burnt. Afterall how can one stay grumpy when the trail has some wide open hill-top scenery and is littered with lots of woodlands and blue bells. This is a new trail marathon and will be even better next year. Now looking forward to Richmond Park marathon.

I didn’t want to do Cranleigh Boundary Trail Marathon, but I’m glad I did. Being quiet, refilling my head with nature & exercise is good for the head!

My Own Joke For the Day
I was asked at the 15 mile check point what was I: a runner or a walker? I responded…….a wunner…..walking runner.