My C.R.Y. Heart Screening

My Free CRY Screening

Back when I was training for the London Marathon I said I’d booked onto a heart screening run by Cardiac Risk in the Young. Practice what you preach and all that. There was no symptoms suggesting I needed a heart scan, but Ryan wasn’t showing any symptoms either.

With the free heart screenings booking up so quickly I was lucky to get onto one in the Marches School, Oswestry. The closer the scan got the more it played on my mind. Being active became difficult because I wasn’t sure what results I’d be walking away their with.

Getting to the school with the C.R.Y. flags outside, I signed a few forms then waited to be called though. I’d be getting an E.C.G, but to keep it all simple what you get is essentially a heart scan checking your ticker is all ok. They noted down my height, weight and age and put these onto the forms I’d filled out previously. These forms asked things like if I’d experienced anything like chest pains and other medical history information.

All that was required for the heart scan was for me to lie on a bed with some sticky pads attached to me while the machine did its thing. Honestly, it lasted less than 5 minutes. The nurse takes the scan results away, which are then looked over by a Doctor. Another anxious wait then I was called in by the Doctor.

After asking me if I’d had a heart scan before and if I show any symptoms, to both of which I responded no, he said my results were clear.

It was definitely a ‘and breath’ moment, so everything is good and I can carry on as normal.

The screening I went to saw nearly 100 people and only one showed signs of something abnormal. So if you’re nervous (like I was) about booking on to a C.R.Y. screening, the chances are you’ll be absolutely fine, but even if the results do pick anything up C.R.Y. send all of the details to your G.P. so you can be referred for further tests. Testing runs for those between the ages of 14 and 35 years old.

SIGN UP TO A FREE HEART SCREENING HERE

Now the money to run these heart screenings has to come from somewhere, so to help C.R.Y. carry on their amazing work, Ryan and I are organising a day of Crit racing at Marsh Tracks in August. It would be great if you can come along and join in the fun. The more riders that race the more money will be raised! There’s even big points on offer in the National B E123 Men’s race! Racing and raising money for charity, what a great combo!?! What a perfect event to have a go at racing too. First time racers can enter the 4th Cat only race, and women can  have a go in the E1234 race!

Crit Races for C.R.Y

Have you been to a C.R.Y. heart screening? Share your experience below to encourage others to do the same!

Crit Races for C.R.Y.

 

Crit Races for C.R.Y

ENTER HERE

You’ve probably guessed it already, but I’m back organising an event! Only this time it’s alongside Ryan and Velotik Racing Team with any profits will be going to charity.

With the North Wales racing scene having been hit hard by riders discovering heart conditions, we’re running a charity race day for Cardiac Risk in the Young. The charity run free heart screenings for young people (aged 14-35) up and down the country. One of which discovered local rider, Ryan Morley’s, heart condition. Effectively saving his life.

Riders may know of the tragic loss of another local rider, Alex Jones, earlier this year due to a heart complication. For this reason the men’s E/1/2/3 National B race will be the Alex Jones Memorial Race.

Both riders rode amazing races at Marsh Tracks, from their junior years and throughout their time as seniors, so this is a fitting venue for the event.

All profit from the race day will be donated to Cardiac Risk in the Young (C.R.Y.), registered charity number 1050845.

We’re running a National B E/1/2/3 Men’s Race, E/1/2/3/4 Women’s Race and finishing the day with a 4th Cat only Men’s Race.

As it isn’t a club run event we’ll need all of the help we can get in terms of marshals, sign on etc. So if you’d like to support the event, don’t hesitate to get in touch.

ENTER HERE

Unlikely Friendships

Unlikely FRIENDSHIPS

I feel like we hear a lot from the pro peloton on what racing is like, but for amateurs like you and me (I don’t think any pro’s read my blog!) racing might pan out a little differently…

What happens in the amateur peloton? And by amateur I by no means degrade the girls in any way. The girls I race with are strong and certainly know how to play the game.

One of the weirdest things to get your head around in the peloton is the unlikely friendships you’ll make on your way round. Cycling racing as an amateur can be quite tough. You see girls on the tv working together, but when it comes to our races, you’ll probably find yourself on your own. 

I often feel that’s probably one of the most intimidating things about cycling racing. The big question of ‘what if I don’t know anyone there?’. Turning up at the racing HQ and not having a clue what your suppose to do or where to go. 

Do I warm up?

Where do I sign on?

Those sorts of questions.

You can go through all of the pre-race drama and not speak to a sole, yet after the start line you can find yourself making unlikely friendships with riders you’ve never even spoken to before. 

This is exactly where I found myself going up the Nant y Garth in Welsh Champs. Two of us had dropped off the back and the rider I was with was having trouble with her gears. Regardless, we worked until we caught another rider who had also fallen foul to a stacked field pushing hard from the off. 

My minimal knowledge of peloton tactics when it comes to working with other riders meant I didn’t feel much use. Being such a small rider meant I wasn’t much of a block in the head wind either. I wanted to be useful…but just wasn’t! Either way, I was incredibly thankful to not be riding on my own from the off. 

Despite not knowing the people you find yourself working with, you somehow manage to work together and push each other on. It wasn’t completely flawless (mainly my fault and not being that strong) but we worked together for a while.

Then there’s other races where I’ve bridged across to the lead rider where she ended up taking thewin. 

So I guess what I’m trying to say is don’t be surprised if you find yourself working with people you’ve never even met. You’re in the race together, so you may as well make the most of it. The craziest thing? You might not even speak to them again, but you helped each other get to the finish line.

Have you got any interesting storied from the peloton?

Skoda UK Cycling Academy with Storey Racing

Skoda Cycling Academy

Rolling up to the pringle shaped building that is the Lee Valley Velodrome, the weather was still as grey as when I was last there before the hustle and bustle of the 2012 London Olympics. On a school trip with school, my eagle eyes were out for olympic athletes, but at the time the Olympic Park was still in construction so unfortunately I wasn’t very lucky! We’d gone to the top of the Olympic Tower glad to be inside spotting all the Olympic Buildings.

With the London Olympics having left a big stamp in history, everywhere felt rather quiet when hoards of people would have been there a few years before. Another stark difference being the Skoda branded signs around the main entrance, because I was here for the Skoda Cycling Academy.

A few weeks ago the advert popped up in my feed thanks to Skoda Ambassador, Juliet Elliot, giving it a share. With a spot on Storey Racing being a possibility after the academy, I had no expectation whatsoever on getting a spot on the day at Lee Valley Velopark. After luckily not missing the ‘Congratulations’ email in my Junk inbox (thanks email inbox…this email was certainly NOT junk!), I confirmed my attendance to the day. With the women I race with on a regular basis, I did not feel in any way good enough to take part! Yet here I was, a second trip to London this year, signing on and picking up my number 4 that I would later pin onto my jersey.

I’ve not even been back on my bike that long…how was I going to cope with fitness testing on one?!?

Nerves aside, there was a certain changing room I had to go to as they’d split us up by surname. So I walked into a buzzing changing room with a few of the other girls eagerly getting into their Skoda Le Col jerseys and peeking in the Skoda bags full of goodies, me paying particular attention to one that will become rather useful when out mountain biking!

Skoda Cycling Academy

Jersey numbered up and cycling kit on, we all made our way to the Velodrome. Our bikes were dropped off at a secure container, as the first lot of testing was going to be on Wattbikes. With an introduction from Skoda UK and Dame Sarah Storey, thanks to being number 4 I was one of the first to head over for the 12 minute test! Out of all the tests, I for some reason got it in my head that this was the one I didn’t want to mess up. I wanted to ride consistently for the 12 minutes rather than go off too easy or too hard. When it got tough I took myself back to running down the Mall in April. I think that will also be a memory that sticks with me as motivation when the going gets tough. With injuries, I’d mentally endured those 6 months of Marathon training, so I could get through 12 minutes. I also battled the Welsh hills for 57 miles a week or two previously for Welsh Champs, a lot of it solo, which would have been unthinkable last year. I was getting through this 12 minutes!

Skoda Cycling Academy

Arms on the TT bars, my head kept bobbing up to see the Wattbike screen, battling to keep my average power over 200 Watts. I knew it was possible, I just needed to dig deep to get there. My eyes were closed. Sweat dripping off me from quite early on. Even breathing felt like it wasn’t helping with the air being so dry.

5, 4, 3, 2, 1…STOP.

Thank god.

I looked up to the Wattbike screen and there was an average power of over 200. Possibly 207 Watts? My head was such a mess I can’t really remember ha!

I’d done it. The adrenaline started pumping as a result after doing what I’d set out to. Week by week I’m gaining confidence in my mental ability to push myself on the bike. Running round London in 4 hours has benefitted me more than I thought!

Skoda Cycling Academy

There was a quick chat to Cycling Podcast about cycling, whilst trying to get my breathe back, I was talking at a million mph, so I’m surprised any of it made sense. With all the questions, it made me realise just how much I’ve accomplished in cycling now. From the events I’ve organised to racing downhill, to now standing in an Olympic Velodrome with so many amazing women.

So yea, to the Cycling Podcast, I hope even just a small amount of what I said made some sort of sense. I enjoyed chatting to you!

It was a good while before the next lot of testing, as they had 40 women to get through the 12 minute test. Then it was a 3 minute test followed by a 6 second peak power test. After some time chatting to the other women, who hopefully I’ll be able to organise some rides with soon, I was called up for the next lot of testing. For any of the riders reading this and want to come on a ride, just drop me a line! There were so many amazing cyclists there, I really hope we can all stay in touch.

Skoda Cycling Academy

I didn’t feel like the 3 minute test and 6 second peak power test went as well as the first test, but I still gave it my all. Most of it come from not knocking that resistance level up high enough. Never mind, I still gave it my all!

Then the fun really kicked up a notch with 2 flying laps round the crit circuit outside. It was windy. It was chucking it down with rain. And I still had deep section carbon rims on my bike from racing at Darley Moor the day before, I was looking forward to the carnage that would unfold on this one…ha! If there was even a time to rely on skills I learnt from mountain biking…it would be now!

Kitted up with bikes and helmets, we had two sighting laps around the circuit from which we got wet and muddy rather quickly! Regardless the circuit was ace. Lots of ascents, descents and tight corners. I’m hoping I can go back in the future and see if there’s a race on there! See how close I can get that knee to the floor Moto GP style…ha!

Skoda Cycling Academy

I can’t say I was particularly graceful on my way round with how I was throwing my bike left to right on the sections I could sprint. I nearly decked it twice, including an up hill corner where I just kept drifting to the outside of the corner making my way to the finish straight. It was a relief when I got to the finish line without hitting the floor!

Ryan laughed at the huge grin on my face when the inevitable adrenaline came back. I was soaking wet, but grinning from ear to ear. With events I do in the future, I’m certainly considering throwing some timed flying laps in there if funding allows! It’s a great way to give riders nervous about racing a taste of what it’s like, but give more experienced riders a chance to go flat out against the clock.

Glad about the chance to change out of our soggy (slightly smelly…) cycling kit, I could get warm and grab a good cup of tea. I’d avoided caffeine all day due to having no idea how my body would respond to this sort of fitness testing. You can’t not have a cup of tea in London I guess.

With closing messages from Skoda UK and Dame Sarah Storey, we obviously finished with a group photo!

Skoda Cycling Academy

Now I’m looking back on the day, I just wanted to thank everyone for making it so memorable. I’ve never been around so many female cyclists at once, it was ace! Without Ryan I wouldn’t have been able to make it down there in the first place. Meeting Dame Sarah Storey and Storey Racing rider, Chanel Mason, was amazing. They were so encouraging, albeit a little intimidating when they’re looking over your shoulder watching the numbers you’re throwing out on the Wattbike!

One of Skoda UK’s sales managers, Alan, also needs a big thank you for giving me a lift back home, cutting Ryan’s journey back to work by over half!

I hope I can stay in touch with all the amazing female cyclists I met and regardless of whether I go onto the next stage or not, I’ve got an even stronger focus on collecting BC points to get my 3rd Cat license. Road racing gives me such a buzz, I can’t wait to get the next one booked.

Pre Welsh Champs Nerves

Pre Welsh Champs Nerves

Well, it’s finally here! The weekend of Welsh Champs…only 5 weeks after I was making my way round London on two feet. Whether I think I’m ready for it or not, I’ve got a Time Trial and Road Race to get around.

And if the start sheet is anything to go by, it’s not going to be an easy ride either! One of four 4th Cats in a field of 33 women spread across three age categories, I’m definitely at the tail end of the field! Not to mention the Storey Racing girls in amongst the start list too who’ve recently been competing in the Tour Series. The Ruthin hills are going to be nothing to them!

The fact Welsh Champs is so local is one of the reasons I popped an entry in whilst I was in the middle of all of my Marathon training. I’d just received my race kit from Velotik, so I was itching to get back on my bike. So I gave myself ANOTHER big event to aim for…you know because I thought the marathon wasn’t enough for 2019…

If Welsh Champs had been down in South Wales, I probably wouldn’t have entered. It’s a long way to go for a race if you don’t feel 100% ready for it.

I say I don’t feel ready for it, yet I did manage to pedal out a 50 mile solo ride last weekend. Obviously nothing in comparison to the pro’s, or what most cyclists do, but I was completely ruined by a 50 mile solo ride I did last year. Granted there were some lengthy downhills en route, but I’m trying to think positively here…

The road race is what I’m mostly looking forward to this weekend. Without a TT bike and ALL of the aero kit that goes with it, I’m already at a disadvantage. And besides, road racing is what I get the biggest buzz off. If I can hold on long enough to be in the action, I’ll be happy.

So, my main goals for this weekend?

⁃ Keep in the bunch longer than the 5 miles I lasted in 2018

⁃ Actually finish the race instead of thinking the broom car has ended my race!

⁃ Descend the Nant y Garth like the downhiller I am for the TT.

Lining up on the start line with 33 women is a massive step up on the amount of girls who raced last year. Showing that North Wales has quite a few local cyclists with a competitive edge hiding away!

So if you’re in the Ruthin area around midday, why not come and cheer the girls on as we make our way round the road race?

Getting your foot out of the door…

Getting your foot out of the door

Anyone else take FOREVER to get out of the house for a ride on their bike?

Nope? Just me then…

My longer ride this weekend was certainly not something I’d planned. My coach may have asked me to do it, but it wasn’t something my legs were warming to.

I always prefer to get up early to go out on my bike. It’s quieter and means I can get out and do other stuff too. Rolling over and seeing my clock showing 8:40 was a bit of a shock, especially when Ryan was already out on the golf course by this point! Safe to say my early ride had gone straight out of the window. Regardless, my body must of needed a good sleep as I’m not really one to have a lie in anymore!

I may have got up, but there was still the task of actually getting out of the house. Mainly due to the task of actually deciding where I was going to go on my bike. I sat at my computer to plot out the Welsh Champs route, as I though that would be good to do. Yet, deep down I wasn’t really a fan of going on the roads it uses on a bank holiday weekend…

In the end I realised I just needed to get out of the house. Part of me thought it was so late what was even the point of going out at all (in the grand scheme of things it wasn’t that late, I just knew the roads  would be busy). Meaning I very nearly went out at all.

3 and a half hours and 50 miles later I’m sat here writing this post.

Some days can be complete rollercoasters can’t they?

A soon as I got into the Welsh hills the confidence in my climbing legs came back. I wasn’t sprinting up them, but I was just like an engine ticking away until I got to the top. As much as I was loving the Welsh hills, I tackled some steep ones then reverted back to the Cheshire lanes. Bank holiday weekends are not the time to be on busy roads in North Wales…

The Cheshire lanes however were the complete opposite. All of a sudden I hit 40 miles, so stopped at one of my favourite cafes before rounding my ride up to 50 miles. This post might not be the most eventful, but today’s route is definitely one to remember as I actually quite enjoyed it!

Even when everything seems against you in just getting a foot out the door, sometimes it’s worth it.

Any rides you’ve nearly bailed on, but enjoyed in the end?

Getting Back on the Bike

Getting back on the Bike

It was pretty much a straight swap after the Marathon when it came to my running shoes and cycling shoes. Both pink…of course! I had a week off hobbling round trying to function to some sort of extent. I probably only needed a basket, but had to use a trolley to get me round the supermarket! Running 26.2 miles definitely has a lasting effect on you…!

I was almost scared to get back on my bike to tell you the truth. How much bike fitness had I lost? Would I remember my old favourite routes? Finding all of my cycling kit was the first hurdle!

Ryan pushed me out the door so I couldn’t procrastinate anymore and I followed a route I’d followed many a time the year before. It was a route I could roll round, or a route I could ride hard round. The Cheshire lanes are good for routes like that. You just have to make sure the tail winds don’t lure you into riding too hard before you have to turn around and ride back into the head wind!

It was definitely an odd feeling being back on my bike. Odd being on my Liv too. It felt like I’d missed the off season. I think I rode my winter bike once. Thinking about it, I should probably check it hasn’t seized up, but that’s just something to add to my to-do list.

No sooner has I got back on my bike, I was back on a start line racing the chequered flag at Darley Moor Motor Circuit. A circuit I quite enjoyed racing at. The track isn’t anything special, but it’s the group of girls you end up racing with. There’s enough for it to feel like a race! It was also a 3/4 race, so I was hopefully not too out of my depth. My head was mush by the time I’d got there. Was my number on right? Would I get dropped? What tactics would everyone else be running?

Getting back on the Bike

Luckily Ryan stopped me from completely losing my head.

When the gun went the girls shot off like rockets, so my legs were pedalling frantically to not get left for dust. (Must remember to not start in my easiest gear…that only really works at road junctions on normal rides!)

Getting back on the Bike

When I managed to settle my chimp I just focussed on relying on the good ‘engine’ I had from running the marathon. I might not have been on my bike all winter, but I was determined not to let that winter training to go to waste. There were a few games played on the way round, but I just decided to sit at the back. I might have a good engine, but I had no idea what my sprint was like. I just needed to not get dropped. And that’s what I kept telling myself.

I kept spinning and spinning. I did feel anxious not getting involved in doing a turn on the front, but it was my first race of the year. I’m sure that’s allowed to get myself use to things…

Getting back on the Bike

Unfortunately being at the back for the sprint finish (which is a common occurrence at Darley Moor) meant me having the longest sprint out of everyone just to keep up with the girls. In all the chaos that unfolded in that final race, I somehow grabbed 8th. This hopefully means some points on my BC license, but the results haven’t been put online yet so fingers crossed!

Getting back on the Bike

Granted I’d not been heavily involved in the race, but I was happy coming away having been able to battle it out at the finish. That’s what I always hope for in races, that I can get involved in the action! Even if I mess up, sprints or other events in the race give me such a buzz!

Less can be said when I crossed the line of the longest Time Trial I’ve ever done on the weekend just passed. A 30 Mile TT not far from Market Drayton. Sometimes I like the idea of TT. In the end, all it is is pushing as hard as you can for the duration of the course. And that’s exactly what I did…for 30 miles! I was chucking out a stupid amounts of watts and I was only 5 miles in. I was going harder than my FTP, but instead of toning it back I my chimp decided well you’re in it for the long haul now. This would have been fine if there wasn’t new tarmac that felt like I was cycling through treacle and going nowhere!

Getting back on the Bike

Needless to say I didn’t exactly feel myself at the end! That TT did mean I got a stern look from my coach when I’d managed to increase my FTP by 18 watts…maybe I didn’t try as hard in my FTP test the other week as I initially thought…

(Thanks to Ryan for taking all these amazing photos!)

Reflecting on London Marathon 2019

London Marathon 2019

Well I’m still getting use to the idea it’s all done and dusted to be honest. My legs well and truly know the big event has been and gone, but when I don’t have a run to do each day I just don’t know what to do with myself. I know some of you might be thinking ‘get out on your bike!’, but I know my body needs a good rest before I get back into training. So this week, whether I do some sort of sport or not, it will purely be for fun. No number chasing, just moving and taking the world in as I do it.

London Marathon 2019

The closer London got the more difficult it got to concentrate on anything but something running related. What did I need to pack? Would we get down there ok? Would the hotel have anything I liked for breakfast?

A million questions going through my head constantly.

Someone wanted to test me before race day after a long list of things didn’t exactly go to plan. Trains not leaving stations, trains being cancelled, hotel rooms getting trashed so we couldn’t use them. It was just one thing after another.

London Marathon 2019

After working out the maze that is the London Underground, it wasn’t until I had my number in my hand that I relaxed just a little. I was still nervous, but not flapping if I was going to get to the Expo in time or not. That’s one thing I will say about the many emails you get before the marathon, they like to be a little overly cautious. Apparently getting to the Expo at 12 the latest was needed if you were going to get your number by 5pm. Granted getting there the earlier the better, we got there past 12 and were out by 2.

That was something that shocked me to be honest. I went in with the agenda of getting my number and some marathon merchandise. After picking up my number and some New Balance kit, I found the whole thing a little overwhelming. I suppose that’s the competitor in me. I needed my own headspace before race day. I was also conscious at how long I had been on my feet. Although Ryan had already scheduled in our busy day into my taper week.

London Marathon 2019London Marathon 2019London Marathon 2019

Back at the hotel after figuring out how to get to our pre-booked table at a local Italian by Bus, I was praying I’d be able to get some sleep. It’s rather stressful sitting on a bus in London having no idea where you are and having no idea where the bus is going. It felt like the crazy bus off Harry Potter…just not as fast but could turn a corner in the completely wrong direction at any second!

I quite like the night before race day, if I manage to keep the faffing down to a minimum that is. Laying my kit out checking everything is sorted. Pinning my race number on. It helps me get into the right head space. I did put off going to sleep quite a few times, but eventually I forced myself to sleep.

It wasn’t a completely undisrupted sleep thanks to the sirens and cars that come hand in hand with staying in London, but I woke up with the mindset of getting race ready. Food, plaits and kit. Ryan managed to push me out of the room on time and we got downstairs for a proper breakfast that I had to force down me. Race nerves and a big appetite aren’t things that tend to pair up with me. I’d picked up a reserve porridge pot in case I wasn’t a fan of breakfast at the hotel, so I managed that, a banana and then egg on toast.

Along with another runner nervous about relying on another runner’s taxi to get to the start line, we opted for the train which wasn’t too far from the hotel. We also played the system by getting on the train one or two stops before it got rammed. Following the sea of runners it wasn’t hard to work out where the start was.

London Marathon 2019

Walking up the street Greenwich Park opened up in front of us. The bag trucks making up part of the barrier between spectators and the Blue Start Zone, it took me a while to walk in. This was it. Ryan would head off to mile 21 to be part of the Cardiac Risk in the Young support crew and I would soon be making my way around London. Emotions were high. I’ve always been the same. Would I achieve my sub-4 hour goal? Something I found to be quite ambitious for someone’s first marathon. Would I get around at all? I have been riddled with injuries all through training. Could I get round without walking? All of this going through my head making it impossible to go under the blue arch. It felt like the first day of high school all over again. Luckily, like back at the first day of Year 7 when my brother came to see how my first day was going, walking under the blue arch went better than I thought. Everyone was on a high and the general topic of conversation being on deciding whether we actually needed a wee or if it was just nerves.

London Marathon 2019

I wandered round managing to find my bag drop trying not to get drawn into the amount of static stretching going on. Dynamic stretches are always the way to go. I made my way over to the right zone in some of Ryan’s Mum’s old kit over the top of my race kit to keep warm. Packed into the zone like penguins you could feel the buzz and anxiety floating around the group of god knows how many people. By chance I bumped into a cyclist who agreed with me that trying to cycle whilst marathon training didn’t really go hand in hand. I looked at the pacers dotted around, but could only find a 4 hour pacer. Thanks to Ryan’s advice I’d picked up a 3:55 pacing band from the Expo. His opinion was if I had a wobble on the way round I had 5 minutes spare to still get under 4 hours. The cyclist who I’d bumped into also said about not knowing how the pacers get you to the four hours. If it was go slow and speed up at the end…I would have been buggered.

Having the pacing band actually helped a lot more than I thought it would. Each mile I was chasing time for the next one, not the full 26.2 miles. It broke it up into doable chunks. Being a very numbers orientated person it just worked for me in that sense too. If I have something to follow I’m quite good at being able to dig deep and find the strength from somewhere.

Old clothes dropped in the clothing recycling bin, it was time for us to head under the big red arch that marked the start of my 26.2 miles. I knew round London it would be crazy and there would be people watching on the TV all around the UK hoping to spot their friends and family. But from this point to the finish line would be my experience of the London Marathon.

I was nervous about getting to the first mile and seeing how fast I’d started. At the various races I’d done in the run up to the big event I got into the habit of doing sub-8 minute miling for the first mile or two. When you’ve got 26.2 miles ahead and not a club runner, this isn’t something I wanted to be doing. Somehow it was like my body knew what it needed to do. It just kept ticking away whilst I ticked of the miles ahead of my pacing band. Meanwhile I was waiting for the Tower Bridge to come into view as I knew that would signal somewhere near half way. Right from the start we were running through a tunnel of people cheering their friends and family. I started giving high fives to all the little ones who had been dragged out to cheer, but soon realised I needed to focus on the task in hand.

I kept track of when I needed to take on board some sort of nutrition and looking out for the first Buxton water station. In term of nutrition I stuck to my tried and tested Clif Block and Clif Bar method. I saw people with belts full of SiS gels, but I knew my body would reject them after my experience of one in Majorca

I thought when I was running around London I would be able to take myself somewhere else. Running down the lanes at home. Running with Jenson my chocolate lab. Swimming in Cadair Idris, but it was purely a numbers game that kept me moving. There’s so much going on around you there is a lot to take in. Like looking ahead to see where the course is going so you can find the shortest line round the corner. Looking out for bottles so you don’t end up in A&E with a broken ankle thanks to the many dropped bottles. Whilst I had to drop bottles I was making sure I finished one before getting another. I don’t see the point in picking one up taking a swig and dropping it. It’s just a waste. For your average runner anyway. The club runners sort of have a reason when they’re running sub-6 minute miles (probably quicker).

Sooner or later Tower Bridge came into view, but the finish line still felt like it was a long way away. I think it was mainly the uncertainty of if I could keep my pace up. After 6 months of training I desperately wanted to run sub-4. I naturally seemed to run at 8:30 to 9 minute miling, so I knew it was possible. It’s just if I was mentally strong enough to carry it off.

I say I could naturally run at that pace, way back in October 2 miles was a struggle for me. It wasn’t until Ryan bought me some Endura compression socks that I managed to up my distance and pace. It took me a while to get into my Marathon training, possibly down to the fact I didn’t know what I was capable of when it came to running. I was quite happy remaining in the unknown. Eventually 2 miles lead to 3, 3 to 6 etc. It wasn’t until I booked a 10km, half marathon and 20 mile race that I really got into it when I had milestones to hit.

Those first few runs around the village seem so long ago now.

If you asked me where I actually ran in London, I don’t think I’d be able to tell you. I don’t even remember running past Big Ben because of all the people. You only notice the Tower Bridge because of how vast it is. It was all about putting one foot in front of the other and ticking the miles off on my pacing band.

I guess it’s time to bring up how my reason for running the marathon changed. You’d think the only thing that happened over the past 6 months would have been completely running related, but life has to carry on I guess. Whether that’s positive or negative. Carrying the Cardiac Risk in the Young vest round London was certainly an emotional thing to do. It signified what had happened over the past 6 months. Ryan had come to terms with his Mum being diagnosed with a heart condition, only for him to find out he had one too at the start of 2019 after a free CRY screening. The cycling stopped for him and I turned to running to come to terms with it all. Something that hit me like a ton of bricks. I may have turned to running, but I still carried the guilt of still being able to exercise. So now I won’t be taking that privilege for granted.

That’s one thing that changed in me as a result of training for the Marathon. It taught me discipline. I dragged myself out the door in my running trainers whether I felt up to it or not. Some sort of run was better than no run at all. I eventually decided to raise money for Cardiac Risk in the Young as thanks to them I still have my partner in crime. And if people were willing to sponsor me, I wasn’t going to go into it without having given 100% commitment. If anyone who sponsored me is reading this, from the bottom of my heart I can’t thank you enough. It pushed me on when the going got tough. It helped me come to terms with what was going on, because I had something to focus on. The money raised could potentially save another young person’s life by not letting an underlying heart condition go unnoticed.

London Marathon 2019

When it got to around mile 16 or 17 I was running to Ryan at mile 21. When I ran past Ryan I was running to my Mum and brother at the finish. Despite being riddled with calf injuries throughout training, my legs held up rather well  up to mile 22. I was ticking off the pacing times well and it wasn’t until about mile 22 that my right quadricep started playing up. All I could think of in my head was ‘don’t  give up now’. People were dropping like flies with injuries, toilet stops or just slowing down to walk. I desperately wanted to run the whole thing. I’d got this far matching my pace band well, so I wasn’t going to give up now.

Getting near Big Ben (despite not actually seeing it) was where it got really tough. I was so close. I just needed my body to hold on until then. I was so lost in my own mindset getting to the end I didn’t hear my Mum and Brother shouting me down the Mall. I wanted to pick up the pace but had nothing left. My pace had started to drop, but luckily my legs carried me across the line in 3 hours 57 minutes. The last 6 months caught up with me and I burst into tears.

It was done.

My life had been consumed by running for 6 months. I was one of the lucky ones who got into the ballot on their first attempt, but honestly I couldn’t have been more grateful for getting the chance to do one of the biggest running races in the world. It carried me through a rough patch I don’t think cycling would have carried me through. Running took me away from everything I was use to. It gave me an escape without noticing a space beside me. Running the marathon made me take my body to a level of discipline I’ve never managed before. I had a goal and I wasn’t stopping until I got to that finish line.

I’ve been saying this whole thing was a running race. Granted I wasn’t racing for a finishing position, but I was still racing. I was racing myself. I was giving myself the confidence in what my body could achieve.

London Marathon 2019

I suppose this is where you expect me to say turn to exercise to find piece in yourself, but the reality is that it’s not possible for everyone. All I’m going to say is find something that makes you happy. If you’re blessed with a body that lets you do sport, do it for the enjoyment. If all you can do is a walk in the park, soak up those sunshine rays. The stresses we put on ourselves really aren’t worth it if we’re not happy. If you’ve got exam season coming up, don’t shut yourself away from the world and live in a book for the next few months. Get yourself out, even if its to the park for a picnic. Laugh more than you stress.

If you are a young athlete, for your parent’s piece of mind book onto a local CRY screening if you can find one. I’ve booked onto one in June and I would be lying if I said I wasn’t nervous about it. If the worst happens as a result, there’s always something else you can turn your mind to. Even if it takes a little while to adjust.

So I’ve ticked the London Marathon off my bucket list in circumstances I didn’t expect. I got the gold medal with the red ribbon, which is a small consolation for never getting good enough at a sport to go to the Olympics, which I always secretly wanted to do. I did the ‘people’s race’. It won’t be something I forget and I’m incredibly grateful to have had the opportunity. Ryan’s always said everything happens for a reason and I really think me getting into the ballot did happen for a reason.

I need to finish with a million thank you’s to everyone who has helped me along the way. I couldn’t have got to the finish line without you!

This has possibly been one of my longest posts, so I hope you didn’t have to get up and make another brew to get through it all. My posts should be getting back to bikes now Ryan has found his new role as coach. My legs are screaming already…

Want to read about how I prepared for London?

Half Marathon

20 Miles and an Ice Bath

Running for CRY

20 Miles and an Ice Bath

Title Photo

I’m not going to lie…I could have had more enthusiasm when my alarm went off at 6.30am on a Sunday in aid of a running race. I was expecting to be running in rain and sleet, so it could have turned out to be an emotional day. However, waking up and being able to see the sun starting to rise, I was slightly pleased I wasn’t going to be battling Mother Nature at least. I still had a 20 mile run to tackle, but the improved weather was a small positive to hold on to.

It was a fairly early start in comparison to other running events I’ve been doing to prepare for London. 9am and the start buzzer was going off. I was running in a mix of people where some were doing marathon distance, half-marathon, or like me doing 20 miles. So I needed to keep telling myself to run my own race as I could end up following someone who’s running 7 miles less that me and go off too quick.

DSC_5104DSC_5105

Regardless of being conscious about not going off too quick, I was still around the 8 minute miling mark to begin with. A pace that gave me a slight boost in confidence that I was doing ok. Yet somehow it still felt like I was struggling 3 miles in. So if it’s not already obvious…my chimp was putting up quite a fight whilst I made my way around the course today!

It was odd running through the centre of the town where I’ve grown up. People were still looking at us like we were crazy but still ha!

If I’m completely honest, a lot of the course is a blur really. Apart from the times I may have had to try very hard not to get distracted by Shetland Ponies or Spring Lambs…

DSC_5147

One part of the course I will not forget is having to wade through thigh deep water thanks to Storm Gareth! I know ice baths are suppose to be good for athletes, but I’m not so sure it’s good in the middle of a run! Luckily it was just below my shorts, but it was definitely a good day to not wear leggings!

I did panic a little bit at having to run through the cold water. As a Raynaud’s sufferer it wasn’t ideal, but somehow it didn’t affect me all that much apart from being a little uncomfortable to run when we managed to get out of it. My legs felt like they did transitioning from bike to run in Chirk Triathlon! Character building I guess…!

DSC_5168

Surprisingly I seem to get through the first 10 miles quite strong. I sort of settled into things then. I was like ‘right I’m half way there’ and the next target was making sure I hit my half marathon PB of 1:51. If I hit that I knew my pace was good, especially as I wanted to do the 20 miles in under 3 hours. That’s the biggest thing about running for me is that it is a massive numbers game. I get times in my head to hit on the way round which gives me something to focus on.

15 miles in I was starting to suffer. My head started to go, but I’d done a 15.5 mile run last weekend, so I got past that by telling myself I’d not even hit unchartered territory yet.

DSC_5198

Despite getting to 17 miles and using the mental aid of it just being one Park Run distance to finish, it was the longest three miles I’ve ever done! Hills galore and my legs were suffering. I don’t know how I pushed on but I did.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

It was particularly tough near the end as the field had spread out a lot by then. I’m not sure whether most had done the half marathon, but I was running mainly alone trying to push on as hard as my legs would let me chasing that three hour mark. When it got really tough I thought back to all of the people who have helped me raise money for Cardiac Risk in the Young. I only had to look down at my vest top to remember that. Ryan can’t train or race anymore, so I need to make sure I put my all into it when I do.

DSC_5204DSC_5205

Crossing the finish line seeing my Mum and Ryan, a few tears started coming out. I’m not sure why, but it probably come from spending the last three hours wondering if I was going to be able to make it or not. Well 2:52 to be exact…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I’m Running London Marathon for…

London Marathon

Things have been a little quiet on here lately…I didn’t even do an International Women’s Day post! Some will possibly know already, but we (me and Ryan) didn’t have the start to 2019 we’d hoped for. It started with laughing and memories thanks to our eventful trip up Snowdonia, but swiftly took a sharp turn when Ryan got diagnosed with a heart condition. All of a sudden he had to go from a life of sport to being told he couldn’t do anything more than a gentle game of golf.

He’s been diagnosed with ARVC, Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Cardiomyopathy.

To most it has been hard to get their head around when Ryan took the titles of RAF Road Champ and RAF TT Champ for 2018, on top of coming 26th in the British Cycling TT National Champs.

Now Ryan’s at home when I’m going out training for the London Marathon when he would have previously had been out on his bike for 3-4 hours.

Now we’re both trying to get to grips with golf again to cut a long story short, a heart screening run by Cardiac Risk in the Young has saved Ryan’s life. More commonly known as C.R.Y., they are a charity focussed on preventing sudden cardiac deaths in the young. They run free screenings across the country that help highlight any heart issues that may have gone unnoticed until it is too late.

Being surrounded by a lot of people with a passion for sport, I’m hoping I can raise awareness of heart conditions in young athletes, as well as encouraging them to attend a C.R.Y. screening. With a screening per person costing £85, I’m hoping money raised from doing the marathon can help C.R.Y. carry on the amazing work they do.

If you’d like to put any money towards this amazing charity, then I’ve set up this Virgin Money Giving page:

Click here to support Cardiac Risk in the Young

The marathon was originally something I was doing to tick off my bucket list, but when we found out the news the reason I was training has drastically changed. I’m training because I still can. So no matter how extreme your training regime is, #trainbecauseyoucan