Reflection (part two of two)

So the last post was what happened when I found out. It turns out that my first trimester wasn’t as bad as I feared. Luckily I had no morning sickness, I can’t tell you how grateful I was about that. I work in the community and while I wasn’t too concerned about actually being sick, I was petrified by the social awkwardness of being on a home visit having to excuse myself to go and throw up in the garden. Or worse, not actually getting to the garden…

My symptoms have been a magnified version of the normal, unpregnant me – I’ve been hungry and sleepy. I say sleepy, I cannot express just how knackered I’ve been. The hunger (exacerbated by having to replace the calories I’ve used on a run) has had its moments. I particularly enjoyed the weekend when I went out for lunch with work and hoovered up a massive portion of fishcakes and chips with sticky toffee pudding to finish.

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This was followed the day after with a pub tea of where I polished off a steak pudding and then had praise from the bar staff for putting away apple crumble and custard… I am trying to keep an eye on my excesses, I promise.

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This next bit is my thoughts at the end of my first week of knowing. My midwife appointment was on Friday and I ran the Mad Dog 10k on the Sunday…

On Monday (the night before we found out) I entered the ballot for the Royal Parks Half. I think it was an act of defiance, a way of shaking my fist at the fates, but without going for the ‘pay now’ option (I’m not daft). Today the ballot results were out. Never have I been so pleased to get a race email with the subject “Sorry, it’s bad news”. There will be no squirrel chasing in the park for me this year.

Today was also the day of my first appointment with the midwives. My big question was whether or not I can carry on running. I’d done my reading (including the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists guidelines) and knew that it shouldn’t be an issue, but I was all set for a heated discussion or disapproving looks from a non-runner. As it was, she couldn’t have been lovelier and more reassuring (though I didn’t mention the words half marathon), even telling me about a fitness instructor she had looked after who had gone on teaching all the way through her pregnancy, albeit at a lower intensity.

The other thing that I didn’t mention was the seven miler that I’d done before the appointment… It was an odd run. I set off feeling brilliant, but flagged on the hills, occasionally felt like I was shuffling along (even though when I checked with Miles, I was doing a pace that I would be chuffed with at the best of times. Ooops. Note to self, work on pacing) but finished up running and felt splendid afterwards. I carried water, which felt odd on this distance but seemed like the right thing to do. Oh, and I enjoyed the guilt-free spells of walking and the chocolate milk afterwards.

I am still narky about the tea.

Bling ahoy! Mad Dog 10k – Southport

It was cold, it was wet, it was race day. With Ginge at work, it was up to mum to stand in as support crew (in charge of driving, photography and post-race hugs) and we set off to Southport in plenty of time. The council had changed parking arrangements this year and there was a park and ride set up to get us to the start line. Unfortunately, it turns out that the council had thought that one man would be enough to collect the parking charge from a thousand people… It turns out that it wasn’t and this led to a delay in people getting to the race and a half hour delay to the start time. I’ve just read on facebook that the race organiser contacted the car park man and told him to let everyone in and he would cover the cost. This sums up the kind of race this is.

It’s twice been voted the best 10k in the country by Runners World and I have to say that it’s a well deserved accolade. Starting from a school, there were warm corridors to take shelter in, indoor loos (and plentiful portaloos outside), a clockwork-like t-shirt collection and nice volunteers who let mum have a carrier bag to keep all my stuff in. There were loads of food vans (which smelled amazing) and a man with a megaphone keeping everyone updated on the delay.

Huddling at the start line for warmth, the Mad Dog theme was unmissable on the various fluorescent signs and with the sound of ‘Who Let the Dogs Out?’ ringing in our ears (well if getting away from that isn’t going to make you run faster I don’t know what would) we were off.

I set off by following the Grim ReaperĀ  (who incidentally was accompanied by Tigger, which has to be the best his-and-hers fancy dress combo ever) until I overtook Death around the 2k mark. This point was also marked by a team of drummers who could be heard for about a kilometre either side of them (and there’s nothing like drummers to put a smile on my face and a spring in my step).

At 4k I high-fived Elvis.

Well-manned drinks stations between 5 and 6k, then ‘It’s raining men’ blasting out from route-side speakers, a fabulous marshal telling us we were on our way home, the sound of drummers getting louder as we reached 8k and then it was 9k and the end was in sight. After crossing the line we were handed a very weighty goody bag, fruit and more water if needed. Oh, and my chip time was texted to me by the time I found mum (less than five minutes after finishing. All this and I beat Death.

The support along the route was amazing, from the marshalls to the cadets to the staff from Chicquitos huddled under a gazebo, it was never-ending. Add to this the fact that there seemed to be something going on around every corner and this race passed quicker than any I have done.

And there’s also bespoke bling…

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And the goody bag was heavy for a reason…

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And there was a rather special technical t-shirt…

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Fingers crossed I’ll be running with the pack again next year.

Thank you to mum for being brilliant support, taking a photo of me where I look like I am actually running and bringing a flask of tea and a box of biscuits. She has made a rod for her own back with this one…

Janathon day twenty-two: races

A couple of years ago I declared “I don’t do races”. Then I did the Liverpool Women’s 10k in 2010, enjoyed it and didn’t race again for over a year. The next year I ran the Blackpool 10k in preparation for doing the Folkestone Half. Last year something went terribly wrong and I did five (the Age UK Wrap Up and Run 10k, theBolton 10k, a Badger 10k, the inaugural Port Sunlight 10k and the Royal Parks Half).

Medal Monkey - guardian of the race bling

Medal Monkey – guardian of the race bling

I have no idea what has happened to me this year, but we’ve not even finished Janathon and I appear to have acquired a race calendar. I don’t know if it’s the weather (looking forward longingly to spring) or just the fact that I’ve really enjoyed Janathon this year or what*, but (so far) I am signed up for three, am pondering one and have one pencilled in.

There has been very little planning about entering these, I am ruled entirely by my heart in these matters. I can see a race that is perfect in terms of distance, route and where it fits into whatever semblance of a training programme I have, but if it doesn’t make my heart flutter and put a smile on my face, I aint doing it. There’s no set formula for what draws me into a race, it just is what it is. So my immediate future looks like…

February: Mad Dog 10k – it’s rated as one of the top 10k races in the country by Runner’s World, you get the friendliest emails in the world from the organisers, I’ve read somewhere that someone won a toaster as a spot prize and it’s Southport, therefore it is flat. I like flat.

March: Cartmel 10k – apparently a hilly but beginner-friendly trail run in beautiful scenery and according to my mate Andy who knows about such things, “It’s tough, very soggy, but terrific fun”. Oh, and it would be the perfect race for Henniemavis – its full name is the Cartmel Sticky Toffee Pudding 10k.

April: Blackpool Half – I seem to like a coastal race, it’s flat, it’ll be the first half that I run in the same half of the country where I live and Fortnight Flo is running it so there’s a chance to meet more lovely twitterers. Splendid.

April: Bolton 10k – Another hilly one, this time in Leverhulme Park, Bolton. I ran it in a downpour last year and it still put a smile on my face.

May: Liverpool Spring 10k – This is a new race being organised by the people behind last year’s Port Sunlight 10k, which I loved. This one is in Sefton Park and Matt the organiser has plans for bands, bunting and cake. That’s my kind of race.

Phew.

Tonight’s Janathon was a 3 mile out and back picking my way along crunchy pavements without falling over.

*Yes. I know. I like a medal – just call me Muttley…