First of the Marathon blogs…

So yesterday I filled out the form to make my place for the 2018 London Marathon official. That’s right, this year I’m getting organised. I’ve got my preparation half marathons booked in, the Brighton half in February, the Bath half marathon in March and (haven’t booked it in yet) hopefully the Merthyr half marathon along the taff trail towards the end of March just before I begin tapering. Me and the London Marathon have some unfinished business. My place has actually been rolled over from last year. Last year I freaked myself out-

  • Would I be too slow?
  • Would I make it round?
  • What if I was last?

That last one was the worst one, I freaked myself out so much, nightmares of reaching the Mall and there being no one there – “sorry you’re too late”. I allowed this nightmare to scare me out of training runs, so much so that I became so behind on my training that I wouldn’t be able to complete the marathon. I’m aware this will probably be my only chance to do the London Marathon, so if I’m going to do it, I want to do it right.

My first fear, ‘would I be too slow?’ well, as long as I finish within 8 hours I won’t be too slow because I’ll still finish. A wonderful woman, an inspiration of mine and fellow member of the Too Fat to Run? Clubhouse finished within the final 10 minutes of the 8 hour cut off. She’s still a marathon runner! She’s still in the 1%. One of my fellow Run Wales bloggers finished in around the 2:45 mark, he is also amazing and I am in awe of his constant race wins but is one of these more of a marathon runner than the other? To me? No, they both crossed the start and finish lines, just in different times. I think it has taken knowing these two athletes for me to see that I can do this marathon and whatever time I get, I’ll still be a marathon runner and a London Marathon finisher.

Of course, this time round I’ll still get these thoughts, I’ll still get scared and worry but this year I won’t let take over my dreams. I won’t let anxiety win and I won’t let myself use epilepsy as an excuse.

I’ll still get that voice at the back of my head “How dare you think you can do this? You’re so fat and disgusting, you’re not a runner!” but you know what i AM a runner, no matter my size, I tie up my laces just the same as every other runner and I run, sometimes with walking breaks but I AM still a runner.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is if you want to do something, do it! Don’t let your brain tell you that you can’t do something when your heart’s telling you “yes you bloody can!”. So listen to your heart, listen to the encouraging people around you. Look out for those around you that you might be inspiring, maybe to not do a run but to just to start, to go for a walk, to take that first step, which, let’s be honest, is the hardest.

Stay tuned for more on my journey.

Peace

JJ xx

Catch Up – Royal Parks Half

Well this was quite a while ago now but I thought i’d update a little on what’s been going on. So on Sunday 9th of October I did my first ever half marathon. I’m not a fast runner and have never claimed to be so set myself a target of 3:30 and came in just a few seconds under! It was one of the best experiences of my life and is a truly beautiful race. The atmosphere was great with people staying to line the route right until the end. It’s definitely a half I would recommend to anyone.

One thing I wasn’t quite prepared for was the amount of emotions I would experience throughout the race. It was great to be there with some of the Too Fat To Run? ladies and to meet up before and see each other along the course. I also had a great cheer squad along the route including my mum, dad, hubby and friend. Every time I saw them I just burst into tears, mostly because I couldn’t believe that I was actually there and doing it. It was especially poignant for me as I was running for Epilepsy Action who have helped me so much over the years.

What I really learnt from my first half was that:

  • I really need to hydrate more during long races. Although I felt fine during the race I’ve had real problems with dried out hands and feet afterwards.
  • I’m capable of a lot more than I think I am and that I should challenge myself more.
  • I really love the atmosphere of big races and taking it all in instead of running with headphones.

So that was my first half marathon experience! Exciting, scary, exhilarating and terrifying all at once. I had a great week in London after as my sister came from France to visit my parents so we had some great family time. On the coach back to Cardiff after a long week and while still riding the half marathon wave I saw on the TFTR? Clubhouse page that we’d been given 5 spaces for the VLM 2017 from the Ron Pickering Memorial Fund. So I put my name in the ring and now have a place! That’s a whole other blog but expect a lot more half marathons in the future as part of my training and throughout 2017 as a whole!

Peace

JJ xx

 

Well someone’s been busy…

Yes like crazy busy! Run club’s been going well but not as well as I’d like but I guess that’s partially my fault for starting it up right in the middle of the summer holidays. There’s some super crazy fun stuff happening over the next few months so I guess I’ll do a bit of a timeline and catch up! (Proof of just how busy below!)

img_0959So I guess we start with what’s already happened. So a couple of weekends ago I did my first obstacle run. It was Pretty Muddy  for Cancer Research and was absolutely hilarious. If you’re thinking of doing it, do it! If you’ve never thought about doing it, still do it! I found that it was a great ‘toe in the water’ for obstacle runs and that I’m now in love with them. We had over 70 women on our team and it was insane! Insane but amazing! Believe me (and our poor car) you definitely get pretty muddy! Just see the before and after pictures!

So what was next after that muddy excursion? Well, honestly I wanted a challenge so I did something really quite stupid. I applied to be an ambassador for Cancer Research UK’s new series of trail runs called Tough 10 and then didn’t really think much of it for a while until I was told I’d got it! Well as you may remember my one and only previous trail run was only in August and this is going to be completely different conditions. We’ve got a team from the Too Fat to Run? Clubhouse, the online running club I’m a member off, doing the London event in October and some clubhouse ladies and some run club ladies doing the South Wales one in November (see what I mean about different conditions!).

There are loads of different location over the UK and lots of different abilities. For some of the ladies I’m doing it with it’ll be their first 10k and some their first trail, it’ll certainly be my first winter trail over such difficult terrain! So if you fancy a challenge, and who doesn’t let’s be honest? Sign up here today! So you can look forward to views like these: img_0946I mean it’s gonna be pretty stunning! So I’ll keep you updated on how training’s going and feel free to contact if you want to get involved!

So what’s around the corner? Well this weekend I have the Women’s Running 10k in Finsbury Park which is part of the same race series as the one I did earlier in the year in Cardiff. Again, we’ll be having a clubhouse meet up which I’m really looking forward to. Apparently there are also some mega hills! which I’m not so much looking forward to!

However, it’s all great training for the race I have after that which is my first half marathon! That’s right I’m finally biting the bullet and doing it and what a half I’ve chosen. The Royal Parks Foundation Half Marathon is probably one of the most beautiful city half marathons there is and I get to do it for my favourite charity Epilepsy Action! I’m not going to lie and say my training’s been going amazing because when does it ever? But I can say without a shadow of a doubt that I’m gong to get round that course! Plus I’m still fundraising so any pennies would be much appreciated here! I’m so close to target and would hate to fall at the final hurdle.

So I think that’s about it for now! There’s loads more to come because of all the crazy races I’ve been entering lately (currently in the process of getting a team together for a 24 hour race next summer!) and will definitely keep you all updated on Tough 10!

Peace,

JJ xx

Fat Girl Learning!

Life has nearly retreated back to normal after the madness that was Euro 2016 for Wales, don’t worry we’ll be back for the World Cup!

So back to running life. Well, it’s gone a little crazy recently. I’ve got the Great Newham Run next weekend (10k) and then following that at the start of August I’m doing a three hour trail run in which you have to do as many 5k laps as possible (I’m aiming for 20k as if you’ve started the lap within the 3rd hour you can finish it). Following this I’m going to do some shorter distances as from the first weekend in September I have a half marathon once a month for three months and then it’s full on marathon training for Paris!

So that’s a little catch up on my race life at the moment but what this post is really meant to be about is what I did yesterday. I took part in a ‘Leadership in Running Fitness’ (LiRF) course ran by english athletics which means I can now run meets and a running club if I wanted to. To be honest I was terrified about doing the course. I signed up for it and put it to the back of my mind. Then on Monday it sprung back into the forefront of my mind and the usual things started to cross my crazy stupid brain. What if I’m the fattest/ slowest/ most unfit one there? What if they all already know what they’re doing? What if they don’t take me seriously or laugh at me? I posted on the Too Fat To Run? Clubhouse  on Facebook and was given a lot of support. So on Friday once we’d finished work me and the hubby packed our bags and drove across the border to a pub b’n’b just outside Bristol. It was a nervous sleep with an unplanned early morning wake up. I decided to pull myself together and represent Too Fat to Run? the only way I knew how, by strapping on my TFTR? armour and a massive grin. image

I had my beans on toast breakfast and the hubby dropped me off at Yate Outdoor Sport Complex and while he went to visit a friend I was met by a friendly English Athletics uniformed woman and given directions into the 8 hour course. I had been partly right. They were all thinner than me (apart from one man who’s run several marathons) but apart from that during the drills the only thing different was that I wasn’t as quick. I was surprised I could do the same hill intervals as them all. While we were walking out across the athletics track (which I have never run on before) everyone took off their jumpers to reveal their club shirts (it really was quite a Clark Kent/Superman moment) and I won’t lie. I was a little intimidated. Then I remembered I had my own club shirt on and mine was orange. From that moment my confidence grew, I talked to others, exchanged ideas, swapped race stories and huddled together for lunch on flip down seats overlooking the athletics track chatting about why we were doing the course. For the first time ever I felt like I fitted in this world. I was holding my own.

The course itself was amazing and well worth the money. The two women running it were inspiring both on the practicals and the course discussions. I wasn’t treated any different due to my size and there was even a part of the course dedicated to how to make running clubs inclusive for everyone. It really made me feel proud to be part of such a forward thinking sport. At the end of the course we were all packing up and saying bye to the coaches. I went and thanked the two coaches when one asked me something I really hadn’t expected.

“So you’re going to do further coaching courses right? It won’t make you rich but it’ll make you damn happy and you’ve got the right stuff for it”.

Out of all those runners in there it was me that she’d pulled to the side to encourage. She was talking about me doing this as some sort of a career. This is a whole new thing to get my head around but I know I will be forever grateful to Rachel for giving me more confidence I’ve had in a long time.

Anyone who is thinking of becoming a leader I would encourage you to. Don’t think you can’t because of your size, your fitness level, your running experience. If you have the will to do it you’ll be great and if you’re like me, you might even enjoy it. image

It seems like all I’ve done this year is stretch my boundaries, constantly pushing myself  out of my comfort zone mostly because of Julie Creffield and all the women in Too Fat To Run? and you know what? That’s not a bad thing. I don’t want to feel comfortable anymore. I want to constantly be pushing to be the best me I can be and with the help of my personal trainer, the TFTR? girls and the support I continuously get from my amazing family and friends, especially my husband. I’m getting there, to the right level of discomfort.

Peace out

JJ xx

Stepping Up A Gear

The husband is currently watching Wales beat Russia at the football (2-0 half time, who knows what’ll happen) so I figured this was a good time to do a blog.

Firstly, some exciting news, I’ll be doing my LiRF course at the beginning of July which will be my first step in spreading my passion for running and encouraging others to begin. Over the next few weeks I’m doing a couple of runs with friends who are either just starting running or haven’t run much so I’m really looking forward to being able to encourage them on their own running journeys as well as, slightly selfishly, having some physical running buddies along with all my amazing virtual ones.

I guess my biggest thing this week is that I’ve got my first session with a personal trainer tomorrow. I’ve never had a personal trainer before apart from inductions at gyms. I’m really hoping this’ll be the kick up the bum I need at the moment as I feel recently I’ve become slightly complacent.

Due to all of this my mind’s kind of been wandering around to what my next challenge will be after the Paris marathon in April. An ultra marathon, an iron man, a triathlon? To be honest I want to do them all. To think that I’ve gone from signing up for a 5 weeks to 5k programme on a whim in January to even considering doing an Iton Man or Ultra Marathon is a bit crazy but I love it. I love telling people that I’m a runner and them asking when my next race is.

The last few days my epilepsy hasn’t been great so I haven’t been able to keep up with my training but instead of getting upset I’m trying to stay really positive. I know I’ll go into my next race as prepared as I can be because I’m doing my best and that’s all I can ask of myself.

In other news I’ve just discovered Chrissie Wellington and ordered her book. I’m slightly worried I may be getting Iron Man obsessed! I’m currently waiting for her book to arrive for some weekend reading so that’ll be another blog for another time!

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For now, it’s back to pretending I’m slightly excited in 22 men chasing a ball around a field…

Peace out

JJ xx

p.s/ it’s now 3-0 to Wales, I’m never going to hear the end of this…

 

 

9 days to 10k

So it’s nine days (I think) until my first 10k. I started off training really well getting up to 7k but that was over a month ago. Life’s got in the way. Stress and anxiety has got in the way and I’ve retreated back to my old habits of not being able to leave the house. I’ve done the whole spiral. I feel pathetic, not worth anything, stupid, ridiculous and even contemplated pulling out of the run. Then I thought, for the first time I may add, where would that get me? If I pull out I’ll definitely feel like crap. If I try and do some training in the time I have left yeah it won’t be my best run ever but I’ve got more of a shot of finishing. Sometimes running isn’t about the marathons (have one next year but think I’ll get through the 10k first) it’s about having the belief in yourself that if you fall down you can pick yourself back up again. If I come last? So what? I’ll have finished the run and not quit. I’m not going to bollocks around and say I’m feeling great at the moment because I’m not. In fact I’m really struggling but I get so much support from the women at The Fat Girl’s Guide To Running that I know I can do this and I am not a failure. Julie who is the founder of The Fat Girl’s Guide To Running has entered a pitch to Richard Brandson’s Voom competition which would allow the group to grow so much and to reach so many other women like me. So please watch the pitch, pledge and share it as many times as you can at Too Fat To Run? It’s time there was a change in the running world, that overweight women feel accepted everywhere and inactive women aren’t afraid to take those first tentative steps. Believe me guys, Julie’s leading us there. So wish me luck for my 10k as I plod along proudly wearing my Too Fat To Run? race vest.

Keep on plodding

JJ x

Running with Epilepsy

So if you’re not part of the Epilepsy community you may not know but today (and every March 26th) is Purple Day which is a day to raise awareness for Epilepsy. I thought I would do my small part by explaining what it’s like to run with Epilepsy.

I do get asked quite frequently “but if you’re sick how come you can run?” For one, unless I am lying in a hospital bed post seizure feeling sorry for myself I do not consider myself ‘sick’ I just have a neurological condition which over time I have learnt to deal with. Seizures often have triggers, for some it’s alcohol, lack of sleep, lights or noise. For me it’s stress. I’m really crap with stress. If something’s upset me I don’t like talking about it as I feel like I’m just burdening others with it which leads to internalised stress (basically hiding your feelings) this can then manifest itself in different ways but for me muscle spasms, absences and memory loss are the most common.

So why do I run? Well firstly I love it but most importantly it relieves stress. After a run I feel amazing. I’ve thought through everything and 9 out of 10 times will then go and talk to someone about it. It’s also about general fitness. My cocktail of anti seizure medications over the years have made me gain weight. They also make me feel really lethargic and down. If I kick myself up the bum and go for a run I can fight this tiredness. The most important point of all that I would like to get across is for all the medical reasons I run I mostly run for me. Running makes me feel powerful, like I can do anything. It gives me back the confidence that was stolen from me by Epilepsy. A few years ago I wouldn’t go out of the house without someone else because I was terrified I’d have a seizure now I’m training for 10ks and half marathons. That is the power of running.

Runing hasn’t just helped me deal with my Epilepsy. It’s changed my life and I will be forever grateful for that. I mentioned above that I’m currently training for some half marathons. One of them is The Royal Parks Half Marathon in October which I will be running on behalf in the most amazing and supportive charity Epilepsy Action and it would be amazing if in the spirit of Purple Day I could raise some donations towards my run at my Just Giving Page. I hope by reading this you’ve learnt something about Epilepsy. I know it’s a difficult one to understand I didn’t before I was diagnosed and truthfully I still don’t but if we can all come together on this day then surely that’s not a bad thing?

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JJ x