The Big Half race recap

I signed up for this race around the middle of 2017 and had been looking forward to it for some time. Due to the weather conditions we weren’t actually told it was going ahead until 1:58pm the day before. I really hoped it wasn’t cancelled as I would have still had to do a long run on my own but when I discovered it would involve 2-3 hrs of travelling given engineering works I felt conflicted. Unfortunately, the idea of tearing myself out of bed is I’m sure what lead to a disrupted nights sleep / my concern my alarm wouldn’t go off. 6:45 am on Sunday I was still debating the idea of rolling over and staying all cosy in bed.

Needless to say I ended up dashing round like a mad woman, despite having laid everything out the night before and ran out of time to have breakfast. It wasn’t a good start. I grabbed a Cliff Bar at London Bridge station and shoved it in my face as I made my way to the start line.

Baggage drop went smoothly on the south side of Tower Bridge and I then crossed the bridge and made it to my starting pen, on the north side of the river. I brought a very old jumper to keep me warm at the start which I was very grateful for. For some reason at 8:58 they announced 2 minutes to the gun and told everyone to take their layers off, it was at least another 15 minutes until my wave actually got started, I’ll know for next time to Ignore them until I actually see the start line.

I had said that I was going to use this as a training run, run at my intended marathon pace – 11.24 and practise my fuelling and hydration strategy. I had a plan and I didn’t stick to it.

I got swept up in the excitement of the start and my first mile was 9:47. I saw Mo Farah whizzing past on the other side of the road as he approached the 5 mile mark and got a real buzz. Then we entered what I can only describe as the tunnel of doom. It was dark and stuffy and went on forever. I was sweating and struggling to breathe properly. It wasn’t at all pleasant. I kept reminding myself that it was good mental training for the tunnels on the Paris marathon course…..

Round Canary Wharf, my least favourite part of the London marathon course, but I was just grateful to be out of that tunnel! We then headed back on ourselves along what I can only describe as a hazardous selection of cobbled streets. My feet must have been gripping the bottoms of my trainers for some stability at this point because I came away with a sore inner foot.

It was a relief when the Shard came into sight and crossing Tower Bridge was one of the best bits of the course, unfortunately I couldn’t stop comparing the race to the actual marathon and that rather put a dampener on things. But what did I expect, it was the first time this race had been organised and very little can compare to the buzz of London marathon.

Tower Bridge behind us we heading into Rotherhithe and more cobbled streets…. an unwelcome return. I just kept telling myself, run to Greenwich and you are done. I thought about markers along the way to break it down, knowing where certain people are going to be cheering was a great one, I got a huge boost from two of the best cheerleaders you could want at a race, Laura Murray and the LDN Brunch Club around mile 9 and then Becca about a mile later.

I hit 10 miles and thought it’s just a 5km to go. In truth things were starting to hurt by this point and I felt frustrated that this felt a lot harder than the previous week’s 16 miles. I bumped into the super star Carly who I managed to keep up with for about half a mile. She has two young children and is absolutely smashing her marathon training for Paris. When we first met in 2016 she was chasing down her pre baby fitness and is now smashing her PBs with every race! It was another real boost to run alongside some one very inspirational.

Those three miles seemed to go on forever. I just wanted to be done. I had toyed with the idea of carrying on for another five miles after the finish to make it a 18 mile training run but I just didn’t have it in me. Sometimes a finish line can signal feelings of euphoria and pride. All I thought was, thank f**k that’s over I want to go home. Managed a smile for the post race pic!

I wasn’t pleased about how far it seemed like we had to walk to get our baggage or getting trapped in a one way system that forced you to go into the ‘festival’ in the park before you could exit and go to public transport. It probably wasn’t any worse than usual but I was just grumpy and wanted to back home already. 2hrs on a rail replacement bus was not what I needed. It was greatly appreciated that we were given foils blankets to do the walk in though.

I didn’t particularly enjoy the course, it felt like all the worse bits of London Marathon with a horrid tunnel thrown in. Again this is largely down to the direct comparisons I was drawing. I’ve heard mixed reviews from other runners.

In terms of hydration and fuelling however I think I came pretty close to spot on. The hydration vest, which I was going to include a review of in this post, was so great it deserves a post of its own, which I will do early next week. For fuel I used Berry flavoured Shot Bloks, I had my first at Mile 3, then took one every two miles until Mile 10, when I started shovelling and nearly choking on Haribo Tangytastics!

Am I ready to run a marathon in four weeks (and then again in six?) I’m not too sure. Will I finish both Paris and London regardless, and do my best to enjoy them, absolutely.

Up next Surrey Half marathon on Sunday 11 March. Hoping to knock eight minutes off my time from this race and finish in under 2hrs 30.

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London Winter Run

First race in the calendar for 2018 and having had a blast last year I was really looking forward to it. My marathon training has been sporadic at best over the last month, I had a goal in mind, I wanted to go sub 60 minutes but I was realistic and decided that I would be pleased if I managed to beat last year’s time of 1hr 14mins.

The day started off well, I had slept well, had all my kit laid out so nothing was forgotten, had a decent breakfast and importantly, had been able to properly go to the toilet following my morning coffee. The trains were running and I arrived in time to do a quick warm up before heading to the start line for my wave. As I crossed the start line it was a little congested and I found myself doing some weaving to be able to properly start running. When I did I was pleasantly surprised that my legs felt good, no tight calves or shin pain, the first mile seemed to fly by, I clocked 9 mins 54 seconds on my watch.

As the sights of London flew past, spotting faces I recognised also running and taking in the fun atmosphere I continued to feel good. The Penguin party at the halfway mark was great fun and lifted my spirits further and I dug a little deeper. I always enjoy the second half of a run or race more, something twigs in my mind and it’s like right time to get to that finish line/home.

Mile 4 – 5 I clocked 9:27 min/mile on the watch. I was loving that my brain and legs were working together for once. I knew that if I could just push a little bit harder, go that little bit faster, I had a shot at sneaking in just under 60 minutes. With half a mile to go, my legs and lungs were burning. My watch hit the 60 minute mark and having felt like I worked so hard I was a little bit gutted. I was hurting but I wasn’t going to stop, because the real goal was always to beat last year’s time and that I was on track for.

Through the Yeti cave, a series of high fives, I powered down The Strand. Passing Trafalgar Square I turned the corner and the finish line was in sight. Well sort of, I was going as full pelt as I could manage but it didn’t seem to be getting any closer. After what seemed like forever I finally crossed the line, 10k – 01:02:13 on the watch. 10:00 min/miles average pace, ranging from 8:59 – 10:25 min/miles over the race. 11 minutes 47 seconds faster than last year.

For the first time in a very very long time I felt genuinely proud of my performance. I was pleasantly surprised that for once everything had gone right. Polar bear hugs and another medal to add to the collection were the perfect ending. It’s given me a great confidence boost going into the final 8 weeks of marathon training. A big thank you to Human Race for the race bib. The London Winter Run remains my favourite 10k and I will definitely be back next year.

Paris Marathon Training – Weeks 3 & 4

Major life changes have been happening in the last seven days! We bought and moved into our first home, so I’m now a home owner (it was a life goal before turning thirty) and I moved jobs. Both of which I’m very excited about and are progressing my life in the right direction, but are equally exhausting to do at the same time.

So Week 4 of marathon training can best be described as, not a sausage. Other than the packing, lifting, more lifting and unpacking of lots of boxes and furniture, I didn’t run or go to the gym the entire week. Honestly, I didn’t even have the headspace to panic about this, what with everything else I had to co-ordinate and think about. I had planned to get a run in over the weekend but I also managed to roll my ankle on the stairs on Thursday evening so was nursing a minor sprain with some almighty bruising and I was just plain tired.

Week 3 had however been a relatively strong week. Three runs, a gym session and a snow walk in the bag!

On Monday and Wednesday I had two very different run commutes. One was extremely strong, with an average pace of 9:42 pace over 3.23 miles. I felt ridiculously good on the run and it was like a culmination of all the training since October. The second was distinctly average at best, my legs felt like lead and my watch died. It felt a lot slower. Saturday’s long run was 7 miles which took me 1hr 20 mins at 11:26 average pace. Distinctly slower. So it took me 11 minutes to run 0.6 miles further than the week before. Luckily with all the packing I had to do it didn’t give me time to dwell too much. If anything Week 3 reinforced for me that not every run or week in marathon training are you going to see improvement. It’s about being able to process that and not mentally let it hold you back moving into the following week. So Week 5 is underway. One run down. First week in a new job, I’m likely to be tired and need to prioritise rest to be able to take on all new information. Equally I haven’t currently rearranged my gym membership to a branch closer to the new flat and so the gym sessions are mostly likely to be postponed this week. Very glad I decided to opt for a twenty week training plan to allow for weeks where it’s not possible to stick to the plan! I am also really excited for everyone doing 18/16 week programmes to start their marathon training, I love the community spirit and marathon hype!

Paris Marathon training – Week 2

‘Baby it’s cold outside’ – wow the temperatures have really dropped over the past week making for three very chilly runs. On Saturday’s long run I finally nailed the layering combo, for now at least, until it decides to get even colder!

My short runs this week involved two partial run commutes, I forgot how hellish it can be to battle the crowds of central London. I was forced off the pavement at one point when a group of people decided it was acceptable to walk four abreast towards me on a pavement. Don’t even get me started on people walking eye down glued to their phones. Other people will look at you from a distance and it’s like a game of chicken as to who is going to dodge. I fully accept I’m the one going above walking speed and will weave in and out as much as necessary but come on, could we just co-exist nicely, festive goodwill and all…. share the damn pavement!

So Monday the calves were cripplingly tight. For all the stretching etc I was rather frustrated. On Wednesdays run, for the first mile I was trying to pin point when the tightness had started. Had a bit of a light bulb moment, it was when I started wearing my extra firm compression socks to run in, they did wonders for my shins. Stopped the watch, sat at a bus stop with some bemused onlookers, whilst I yanked my socks down from under my running tights, with some difficulty! For the next two and a half miles my legs felt glorious. Problem sorted. Except then my shins weren’t as happy….. are compression gaiters are thing?

Saturday I had 6 miles on the plan. I planned and out and back route from home, but by the time I ran 0.2 miles in the wrong direction, I decided to see where I was in terms of a 10k time and went for 6.4 miles. My last time for a 10k, that I remember, was 1 hour 14 minutes. So I was pretty happy Saturday’s run was done in 1:09:14 and I wasn’t going at maximum effort for the entire run. This run left me feeling really strong and positive.

With 9 weeks until the London Winter Run 10km on 4 February, I’m aiming to shave ten minutes off and come in just under an hour. If you fancy joining me for a sub 60 minute attempt please let me know. This is definitely the sort of race best shared with others. You might want to think about signing up by 6th December as afterwards the entry fee increases. Little disclaimer, I’ve kindly been given a free bib for the race, in exchange for spreading the love, but I enjoyed it so much last year I would totally have paid the entry fee.

Other than my three runs, I got my two rest days, spent packing up our flat for moving next week and one out of two cross training sessions done. Tuesday evening 8:30pm I found my train coming from central London, terminating at my train station and 16 minutes until the next train to get to the gym…. I’d been up since 6:45am and wanted to be home and having eaten dinner before 10:30pm. Sometimes these things happen. I’m working on not feeling overly guilty if I miss one session.

Heading into Week 3 excited to work on the progress I’ve seen over the last few weeks.

Paris Marathon training – Week 1

Hello or more appropriately Bonjour! It’s been a while but with training for marathon number three under way it felt like the right time to reignite the blog.

Back in 2015/16 training for Brighton marathon my goal was to simply finish. My training was very much the hit and miss of someone who had only recently started running and was totally clueless. My goal was to simply finish.

Fast forward to London marathon in 2017, I only found out I had a place with 12 weeks to go and my training was an utter shambles, I just wasn’t in the right head space. I relied solely on the fact that I was bloody minded and had done the distance once, I could do it again. I hauled myself round that course and vowed I would never put myself through running a marathon again without properly training.

So this is it. Paris 2018. My first international marathon, in one of my all time favourite cities. Time to see what happens if I commit, like really really commit and push myself further than I’ve been willing to before. A special thank you has to go to ASICS for the bib (*spot in the race) and the kit you will see me wearing through my training.

I decided to do two weeks of pre-marathon training to get my head and legs in the game, followed by a twenty week training programme. I found a number of training plans online and after painstaking analysis of them put together my own, drawing the bests bits from different sources and fitting it round my schedule.

Two weeks of pre- marathon training went without a hitch, minus one missed 40min run. It was a bit of a shock to the system but it helped me to focus and confirm that I really wanted to do this. I found this fire starting to burn in me that screamed, the timing is right let’s do this. I haven’t felt with running for a very long time.

Week 1 of official training saw a great deal of tight calves and perseverance but I got the job done. I received lots of helpful tips on how to remedy this and sports massage recommendations. So it’s morning and evening stretching sessions and I’m going to get myself booked in before this becomes more of an issue.

Monday – Wednesday went smoothly. On Thursday there was a cross training session on the plan but having been unable to sleep for several nights and having seen 4:20am that day I was exhausted and decided to take it as an additional rest day, which was far more valuable to my body than 40 mins on a bike or rowing machine.

I need my sleep, I don’t function well without it which doesn’t go well because come 2-3am I’m a world class worse-case-scenario analyst. Last week my anxiety levels were off the charts, with exchanging contracts on our first flat, potentially loosing the new flat, potentially not having anywhere to live as we have to move out of current flat. Of course none of this ended up happening.

Despite the worrying, I have noticed a significant improvement in my general mental outlook and wellbeing, consistently exercising over the last three weeks. I’m also starting to feel physically fitter after such a short time, so I’m excited to see what can happen in the months to come.

Heading into Week 2 ready and raring to go. Let me know if you are planning to run a spring 2018 marathon, sharing the highs and lows of marathon training with the running community I find really gets you through those tough weeks.

Disclaimer: I am very grateful that ASICS have given me a place to run Paris Marathon and will be providing me with running kit to see me through my training. This is not a paid collaboration.

London Winter Run

I’ve set myself the goal of regaining my pre-marathon fitness levels. Since April I’ve slowed down and I can’t hack any sort of distance either. 

First up is improving my 10km time. My PB is 53:01 and its always been a goal to run sub 50. My last 10km race took me 01:09:43 – around 16 minutes slower! 

For several years I’ve wanted to run the London Winter Run and this year I grateful to have the opportunity. The run takes place on Sunday 5 February 2017, in just under 4 months. So it gives me plenty of time to get in a few months of training, indulge at Christmas and still have a 5 weeks pre-race to shift the mince pies. 


Post Christmas things can be a little glum but with polar bear hugs, snow blasts and a penguin party this run is set to be a lot of fun. Besides I’m a big fan of these Arctic creatures. I’ll give you an idea, this has been my phone background for the last few years! (Unfortunately I’ve had the image so long I can’t remember the source to credit)


I also happen to have quite a perchance for penguins. This little guy was my absolute favourite when I recently visited London Zoo. I had to be dragged away and consoled that I couldn’t take him home. 

Another major plus for me is the course description “no major hills”. Words to my ears! So I can focus on getting a good time (and the Penguins) without having to put every ounce of my being in getting up a blinking hill! As you can see from the image below the route takes in some of London’s finest sites. 

If you are looking for a race to channel your winter training towards, want to run your first 10km or just fancy dancing with the Penguins, take a peek at the website. To get a few pounds off race entry, to save for a post run hot chocolate you can use the code SIMPELLE3. 

I will be documenting my training on the blog and over on Instagram, let me know if you will be joining me, I love sharing in other runners journey to race day and seeing familiar faces along the course. 

Marathon Number Two

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*Image from www.richmondrunningfestival.com

Crossing the finish line of Brighton Marathon  there was no doubt I’d be doing another; the thrill of that last mile alone was contagious.

Brighton, as my first, was simply about seeing if I could hack it. The training through the cold winter months, the physical and mental drain and then the 26.2 miles itself. Being my first I just wanted to finish in one piece.

Having survived, without so much as a blister I knew that I could have pushed myself to go faster; which is exactly what I intend to do during Marathon Number two.

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I decided that I couldn’t wait an entire year until Spring marathon season and so I started researching Autumn marathons. We are hoping to go away on a two week holiday in early October so I decided I would opt for something localish, to avoid hotel/travel expenses associated with races. I had heard of Richmond Running Festival before and read good things about the organisation and atmosphere of the half marathon. Then I discovered that for the first time this year, a full marathon was being added to the festival; coupled with the fact that the course is pancake flat and I love Richmond, it ticked all the boxes.

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I learnt a lot from training for my first marathon, what works, what doesn’t and what I need to improve on. Last time I undertook a cautious twenty week program and it simply too long. Twenty weeks is an awfully long time to keep focused and quite simply I became frustrated and bored. This time around, given that my fitness levels remained in tact post Brighton, I am opting for fourteen weeks; commencing today and concluded on the big day 18 September 2016.

I have also drawn myself up a more strict training program, based on Hal Higdon’s ‘The Novice 1 plan’. It essentially reflects the plan but with some of the days swapped around, particularly to account for certain events such as my friend’s wedding and Alex’s birthday; I doubt he’d be too impressed me abandoning him for a 16 mile run. However, I am determined to more strictly follow a plan so that I resist the urge to make it up on a weekly basis. If an event or class comes up, then I will still make time for it but  just make sure I get my run done in the morning before work instead. Conveniently my new office is located exactly ten miles from home.

My next addition is the inclusion of speed work. I am not a fast runner, I enjoy plodding and even as far back as the days at school, I could just about drum up some enthusiasm for 800m but the 100m filled me with dread. Following Brighton I haven’t had much desire to go on any long runs, you could say that I had my fill after running for 6 hours straight (minus the portaloo stops). Instead I have been sticking to 5 milers and 3-5 mile treadmill speed work; I know it’s not quite the same but I find it a lot easier to maintain my speed for longer on a treadmill. In just 6 weeks I’ve knocked minutes off my previous 3 and 5 mile times and running on the road I have also noticed that my natural pace is a little faster than pre-marathon. So I’m hoping that in 14 weeks time with a focused speed session once a week, it will help me to chip away at my current marathon time.

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To keep my mind on track, I am also undertaking an online ‘Behaviour Change’ Course with Future Fit Training to help me understand behaviours and how they can be changed. I am guilty of several persistent bad ‘habits’ and whilst I constantly endeavour to quash them once and for all, add lack of sleep, stress or sometimes just some bad weather into the mix and my efforts dissipate. I’m hoping this course will help me understand my own behaviour better and enable me to share this knowledge with you.

So here’s to the next 14 weeks and marathon number two; I hear there are still places, if any one fancies joining me!