Category Archives: Marathon

#61 Richmond Park Marathon: Visualisations and Performance


Deer - StartLeftWeb

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


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… 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).



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.


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


With Martin and Drue


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:

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.

The Rome Marathon (10th April)



Event Type: Road/cobbled stones marathon with undulations and clear views of ancient historical ruins. Time limit = 7:30 hours
Weather: Started at 10 degs C and went up to 18 degs C. Very sunny but loads of shade from buildings and trees.
Expo: Provides an insight to lots of other European marathons as well as has the normal retail running stuff at discount prices.
Goody Bag: A backpack that doubles up as your drop bag; technical t-shirt; pasta (of course); some snacks; drink; plasters and a cloth bag to put it all into.
Support: Probably the best we’ve experienced so far! Normally the back of the back pack is quiet… Medi was treated like a celebrity all the way by both runners and spectators.


The expo, 2 days before, was an eventful day with a number of invites to participate in various city marathons to promote curbing the hunger for disposible plastics.

Before accepting I wanted to see how Rome would go. I do have reservations about large city marathons. London was marred with meeting gangs of kids in Greenwich and Limehouse who decided Ted (my tyre) should be pulled and stepped on. Also whilst heading towards Canary Wharf, 1/2 full plastic bottles of water and energy drinks, dropped by runners, were lobbed at us by individuals who thought Ted would be a fun target.

New York: Verrazano Bridge was littered with “trip over” clothing dropped on the bridge by runners and immediately after the bridge the initial spectators were hostile, yelling at me to take the tyre off and run the event properly. Later some “serious” runners told me I had taken the place of a “serious” runner.

Singapore has been the only big city marathon that has always been kind to my tyres (Tring and Trang) but the heat and humidity is hell to endure!

A Cunning Plan


Medi pretending to be a shield

5 days before the big day, the organisers warned me that the Rome security will not allow me to take Medi into the starting pen due to the recent suicide bombings at Brussels.

I thought if I dressed up as a gladiator and pretended my tyre was a shield they might let Medi in. However security waved the “no no” finger at me, saying “no baggio”…despite showing Medi was not a bag, the Roma polizia pretty much told me Medi would not be allowed into the party!

Medi had a better plan, she would meet me a little after the start. Of course the Roman Gods were watching over, and my trusty friend Uncle would take and wait with Medi about 800m from the start….



…Cos nothing would stop Medi from being part of this event…..The crowd cheered. The runners cheered and Medi became an instant celebrity.


Incidences: At 15km, a guy nearly won a Darwin award when he banged into the barriers as he tried to take a selfie with Medi. Fortunately he was ok, although a little embarrassed. At 30km, one tired runner decided to see if I would drag him along with Medi. Medi must have said something, because he got off and looked embarrassed.

Running Discovery: When you’re in the run and your body begins to feel the “toughness”, reflecting back on training runs, thinking of people, and doing mind occupation tricks helps a little. But as time passes on, negativity will fight to win and sometimes the body follows for a short while (for me this can occur after 4 hours until the 6th hour) until the positive light is reignited. How can one ensure those negative thoughts never surface?

This time I approached the visualisation differently and worked this into my bed time routine some days before. Before I went to bed, I focused on the time I wanted to achieve (6:50) and how I wanted to feel throughout especially after the 25km mark. Once my brain was experiencing the positive feeling of success, I acknowledged and thanked the feeling. I repeated this 3 times before I went to sleep then let it go and got on with sleeping.

(note the last long run was a near 50km at the Green Ultra Challenge and it was a tough sluggish 9+ hours)

During the run, the normal vacant head feeling after 4 hours of being on my feet was hardly noticeable, as I focused on the body form and aligned all feelings with the visualised feeling I wanted. It was incredible and what a feeling of power!

Memories of the Rome marathon: smiling faces, oodles of encouragement to keep on with the message of reducing disposible plastic; oodles of encouragement all along the marathon route from both runners and spectators; meeting people from Modesto and Santa Rosa marathons; smiling sun and cool stretches; tree lined streets; amazing Roman architecture; enjoying the city tour; centaurian lined finish……and a big fat PB of 6:50:10…..beating my last PB of 6:55 at Richmond Park marathon a couple of years ago.

Will be testing this visualisation further especially as it helps me to sleep 🙂

Hope to return to Rome again in the future to see a more conscious reduction of disposible plastic and next time expect my “bros to run” brothers to be waiting for me at the finish! 😉

Thank you Rome marathon for hosting me xxxx

This is my favourite city marathon!

Training Medi (8th April)

8 April 2016 schedule:

4.5 km walk to Ambrit International School to talk at 10am and run around with 7-11 year old children
5.4 km walk with Roman tyre Medi to Palazzo dei Congressi to get race information and gee up folk at the expo
2.5 km walk back to the accommodation

….a great warm up for the marathon 2 days later.

First school talk to 7-11 year olds.


Gotta say, I loved talking to this age. This is the age where everything is possible. It really is a place many “grown ups” need to get back to.


I asked: “What do you want to be?” So many had ideas, but the wonderful Nina put it so succinctly what so many in the room thought and so many us need to find: “I don’t know what I want to be, I know that I just want to be me!”

We think we know who we are and yet we can forget who we are are and become what society wants us to be. Or we can drift through life never allowing ourselves to grow as we hold ourselves in a safety box with so many stifling “I can’t” boundaries.

More people need to challenge those boundaries and say “I can try”.

Anyhow back to Medi’s training. What happens when you roll a pledge tyre into a playground?


What happens when a racing tyre joins in?


Everyone wants to join in!


And then we have loads of races….


Yah to the school yard Tyre Races!


Medi has proved herself in the school yard runs.  We will be back to check on how “Pledgy” has got on.

At the expo – Medi was unstoppable


….sucking up signatures from 12pm-8pm


Medi was ready for the Rome marathon and her puller now needed a rest…..

The Birth of Medi

8th April 2016: Ambit International School.

Once upon a time, Italy was an amazing empire that intertwined nature and technology.


But in the 1980s apparently a time bomb of radioactive toxic wastes was sunk into the Mediterranean Seas. In the 1990s, Naples’s untreated municipal waste was found dumped into sites that are leaking toxic waste into the ground water and back into the seas. The effects of toxic waste on humans in the Campania region has been under investigations. And even recently waste management had been a hot topic in the news: See Reuters


The Council of the Roman Gods had a pow-wow about the errant ways of societies within their beloved Italy. Some of the Gods heads fell off as they could not believe the irresponsibility of the trusted.


Minerva devised a plan and got the Rome Marathon to allow the Tyre Lady into their marathon. She called for a tyre called Medi to go to Earth to highlight the problems that are affecting the Mediterranean Seas.

The problem is that Medi neither has legs nor wings and could not guarantee to roll down the mountain where the Gods lived. Minerva called for the Discus thrower to plant the image of Medi into the minds of Eilidh and Annie.


DiscusMedi And so Medi came to Eilidh and Annie in a dream and soon created Medi to represent the toxic waste that is a time bomb waiting at the bottom of the Mediterranean Seas. They want the Tyre Lady to tell everyone that we can be responsible for our trash by reducing our single use trash. If a lady can drag a tyre in a marathon, we can use a little bit of effort to bring our own bottles, cutlery, plates, cups…..where ever serves plastic!



Medi’s creators passing on a symbol to the Tyre Lady

#52 Richmond Park Marathon (17 May 2015)

Before the Richmond Park marathon, Nepal had a couple of hard hitting earthquakes (7.8 magnitude) that caused widespread devastation. One amazing friend talked about how her company was able to get her out. She was a lucky one.

Close friends who had visited the place and climbed the famous Mount Everest posted several pictures of what had happened. Below is one that has been viewed several times.

Large natural disasters are always surreal. Mother nature’s force is surreal, reminding me of a time when I experienced and watched the ice lift, fall and grind in the Arctic ocean. We live in a world that we should co-operate and need to look outside of what we own and our effect on our environment.

It was great to read of some climbers who voluntarily gave up their aspirations of climbing Everest so that the Sherpas could go back to Nepal and make sure their loved ones were safe or to bury them!

It was also sad to read of other expeditions, focused on their own challenge and the amount of money spent, that they still wanted to continue with their expedition. Thankfully China closed the season early forcing everyone to get off the mountain.

As countries came to Nepal’s aid, it was reported on countless friends’ feed about the corrupt officials that were focused on themselves rather than the good of the people. Villages were collateral damage in order to get aid.

So what has all got to do with Richmond Park Marathon? Having Nepalese friends and knowing that there were honest vigilante groups who would take aid directly to villages the government refused to help. These would be villages, that as you trekked in the region would welcome you with open arms, I decided to #RunForNepal. I’ve never been to Nepal but they always seem to be a happy lot and of course the Gurkhas have been courageous in our warfares.

Richmond Park marathon is a small local, friendly event held in Richmond Park, Richmond, London and have welcomed me over a number of years. The park is also frequented by a number of cyclists. A common cyclist’s heckle to a Tyre Lady is: “Excuse me. There’s something following you!”………this year it also caused 3 cyclists to have a minor crash as they called out to me about something following me and crashed into the person in front…..cyclists, just like motorists, keep your eyes on what’s in front of you or pull over if you’re going to watch me and heckle me.

At the end of the day, everyone’s kindness raised £200 for a group that went out and administered medicine and provided much needed aid to remote villages.

Thank you Santosh Rai* (RD and helped setup Northala Fields Parkrun) and your group for what you did. 100% went to the cause 🙂

For a full report of the 2015 Richmond Park marathon event, Stephen Cousins did a great report on and produced a great video here:

And I have written previous reviews at

Remember to reduce the amount of rubbish you produce by reducing single use plastic as a start to help your environment. Sure it takes effort….but you can kill apathy…..afterall if a lady can pull a tyre in 58 marathons/ultras how much effort are you really putting in?