From 5k to 5 miles!

The training plan I’m following for the marathon has two short runs a week, with a long run at weekends. The current long runs at weekend are time rather than distance based, but due to my interval-ing and slow speed I shall always be aiming for distance.

The week two long run was a time of 65 minutes, so definitely the longest I’ve done to date! I had in my head that I wanted to reach 5 miles, which was a reasonable increase on the 5k I’ve achieved so far as my shorter training distances. I didn’t manage that within the 65 minutes, but I did reach the 5 miles.

The key thing for me was that it felt comfortable and didn’t feel too much of a step up from having just reached 5k. Yes, I’m still mostly power walking with some jogging but the jogging is increasing and I’m building up the miles in my legs, which is what is needed!

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Second training 5k

Having completed my first 5k on Friday, I wanted to try 5k again on Monday lunchtime. I completed the distance on Friday but had a few aches afterwards and wasn’t fully keen on the route – doubling up a couple of bits of it to up the distance wasn’t ideal and I wanted to find a better loop.

My idea of “finding a better route” doesn’t involve anything useful like looking at a map, just a sense of distance and heading out with my trainers on! Aside from having to do 150m in the wrong direction and double back (which I got wrong, as I ended up doing 5.1km but that’s what you get for my random approach!) it worked much better.

It’s funny how much I’m enjoying getting out and about, and again a lunchtime session was just enough to break up the working day and the fact I’ve got time to do 5k, have a quick shower and bite to eat and get back to work is brilliant.

I’m still not quick at all; I know people will be almost doing 10k in my 5k time. But for me, the key thing is I’m getting out there and doing it having previously done nothing. I’ve been told I have collapsed arches and I tried some insoles today to deal with that. The result was I couldn’t jog because it caused shin pain, so perhaps they are not the solution.

In terms of PBs, I was two seconds of my 1km best time but I took quite a bit off my average pace per km (19 seconds quicker per km than Friday) but I also felt much better when I got back. Working away this week will make things harder, but I plan to be out on Saturday and hopefully to squeeze in a session ideally on Wednesday evening.

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Training – my first 5k!

Training for the London Marathon started before Christmas, but I’d not done more than 2k/3k every other day to build up some miles in my legs having gone from doing absolutely nothing. People talk about doing Park Runs and the like but having only ever done one 5k in my life, back in 2010, I knew I needed to up my distance and see what time I could do i.e. would I be last/keeping everyone from going home if I go to do a Park Run!

Friday lunchtime I decided was time to tackle 5k and see if I could do it. I’m still power walking with some limited jogging intervals, because going from nothing to marathon distance is a bit of an ask! I knew I’d head out towards the train station and new estate, but I didn’t quite get the route right with a bit of doubling back on myself to up the distance. I found the park and river paths still flooded which was a shame, because they are good to use.

It wasn’t the best time in the world at all, but to have got out there and done 5k was pleasing. Plan is to rest Saturday and Sunday, and do 5k again on Monday!

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Why am I tackling the London Marathon?

Why is someone who doesn’t work out anywhere near enough and loves sport but isn’t particularly active tackling the London Marathon?

I will be undertaking the marathon to raise money for Marie Curie.

In 2009, my Father in Law Mike was told he had terminal cancer and had a very short time left (less than two weeks). Matt and I were engaged at the time, and with thanks to a huge number of people from friends, family and strangers, and particularly to Sarah Manston who told us we could do it/gave us the info needed, we arranged our wedding in 24 hours. It was more important for us to have our close family there if possible, than to have the “big white wedding.” We were married on 19th August 2009, and sadly Mike passed away three days later.

Mike had decided he wanted to be at home for his last days, but there was a point where extra support was needed and that’s when Marie Curie stepped in. Their support was invaluable, and quite simply for that reason I want to raise funds for them to help support others who find themselves in a similar situation. Marie Curie provide help and support to those with terminal illness, we all hope we won’t need them but if we do, it’s vital help and support is there for those in need.

Those close to me know “our story,” and some people spot we have two sets of wedding photographs (where I have two white dresses, and different coloured hair!) but this is the first time I’ve really spoken about it. It’s important to me, but it’s not something I’ve ever felt the need to discuss but having decided to tackle the marathon now is the time!

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Suze Marathon

 

London Marathon 2018!

It’s 2018, and what does that mean? It’s the year I’ll be tackling the London Marathon, for Marie Curie!

Training is underway, but I’ve kept things quiet until now and could count on one hand the number of people who knew until just a few days ago.

Like many people I have a bucket list, and it is somewhat varied. A marathon has always sort of been on there, but as my family and friends will know working out isn’t high on my agenda; motor sport, football, baking and other activities always appear first.

I applied through the ballot for the marathon without success, and found you can apply for charity places. Quite simply, I would only apply for a charity which had a personal meaning for me and Marie Curie supported us when my Father in Law was ill.

I applied, and heard nothing, until a phone call one afternoon; I thought it was a prank call, but it was true; Marie Curie offered me a place!

The long and short of it is I said yes. Now being realistic, I won’t be running all 26.2 miles and some purists or those focussed on time will have their opinion on that. For me, I simply want to complete the distance whilst raising as much money for charity as possible.

At the moment, it’s about training every other day and building up miles in my legs having gone from no exercise/distance to training for a marathon. I’ve been surprised how much I’ve enjoyed it and just getting out. There’s a tough 16/17 weeks ahead, but it will be worth it! (Incase anybody wonders, I have had medical sign-off to do this, especially after the October car accident. Given I’m going for a finish not a time I’ve been told I can go for it).

I’ll be keeping my website up to date with my training as well as social media (Twitter, Instagram) but for now, thank you for reading. All support is gratefully received!

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VCRR Winter Classic

To round off 2017, the VCRR Winter Classic was my final event of the season. A day section comprising of regularity and jogularity followed by a night regularity over Salisbury Plain was going to make for a challenging event! Brian Cammack was in the left hand seat for the first time.

We needed to be down by Warminster for 0930 so it was an early start, leaving mine just after 7. We made it down, passed noise and scrutineering, and signed on. There was plenty of pre-plot which kept Brian busy before we headed off on the first regularity.

It’s been a while since I’ve done any regularity or jogularity but after a first section of settling in, we got into it and got a good rhythm (yes, at 26mph average and other similar speeds but you get the idea) and communication going. The route chose some picturesque country side lanes through an area I’m not that familiar with, although did compete on many years ago.

Getting to the coffee/dinner halt was a relief, but we knew after that things would get harder, which they did; it was off to Salisbury Plain! We had a few pauses and checking we were on the right of many tracks, but it started off well before going downhill. We ended up cutting route but finishing was a result in itself, so a good finish to the year,

Like buses, two class wins in 2017!

It had been five years since we last competed on the Rockingham Stages, and for that event I had driven and Matt co-drove for me. As the event was a round of both the AEMC/ASEMC and ACSMC Stage Rally Championships, we entered the 2017 event with Matt driving and myself co-driving.

The week before the rally snow was forecast and we kept a careful watch on what was expected to happen. We didn’t have any winter tyres and decided we should get some with the forecast showing no signs of easing up. It was the right decision!

The event offered a Friday night scrutineering option which we took, and we then checked into our hotel for the night just five minutes from the venue. For rallying, Saturday was a sociable start time allowing a reasonable time to get up, breakfast and to head to the circuit.

Rockingham was our first time out in Muriel since the big, enforced, rebuild. Things hadn’t quite gone smoothly in the run up to the event but we had got to the start, and it was a case of keeping fingers crossed and hoping the car was working as she should do!

I always think it’s good on any event to get the first stage/test/challenge out of the way, and to complete SS1 and find we were leading the class was a pleasant surprise. Muriel had run well, and whilst there was a long way to go, getting the first stage out of the way was good. SS2 was a repeat of SS1, and again we came in off the stage to find we’d set the fastest time in the class.

For some reason, SS3 didn’t flow that well for us and we were second in class for that stage by seven seconds, although still holding a 32 second lead. Leading the class isn’t a position we are used to; we had never won our class until Brands in January 2017 so to be leading relatively comfortably was pleasing. However, coming off SS4 our stress levels rose considerably;’ Muriel developed a misfire.

The stage was being changed from SS4 to SS5 giving us more time in service (much better than when a stage was re-used and we had less than ten minutes turn around!). Matt couldn’t get the computer and diagnostics talking to the car, but a quick phonecall and it was advised to change the throttle body. It was a busy, stressful time but Matt managed to change it and thankfully it did the trick.

SS5 was run in the dark, so as Matt changed the throttle body I’d fitted the lamp pod. Having both competed on night rallies, we enjoy night stages and catching an Evo was a good feeling. We completed SS6 and, whilst only halfway through the rally, went into day two 1st in class, 23rd overall and with a 47 second class lead.

Everyone knew it was due to snow overnight, but we’d found our hotel didn’t have an external window; we looked out onto an internal, covered, courtyard. When we got up we found it had snowed as predicted, and made our way to the circuit. Matt set about changing tyres whilst I cleared the rally car of snow and headed off for the crew briefing. We were advised they were adjusting the stage due to conditions, there would be a delay to the start time and to return for a further briefing/update in an hour. This gave the opportunity for various snow ball fights and snowman building (thanks Lil, Andy, Torah, Paul and Paul!). Upon our return, we were told the organisers had taken the difficult decision to not run the event on the Sunday. With snow still heavily falling, and with the organisers having made their best efforts to run the event, it was a proper winter’s day.

I texted Matt to let him know, and he started packing up the cars ready for us both to drive home. With results declared at the time control the previous evening, we were confirmed as winning the class; having never won the class until this year, it is great to finish off with another class win! Winning the class also helps our championship results; 3rd overall co-driver (also 1st in class) in the Jelf.com AEMC/ASEMC Stage Rally Championship and 1st in class (4th overall) in the ACSMC Stage Rally Championships for myself, and class wins for Matt in both championships too.

Not a bad way to finish off the year…

Watch us compete on SS6, a night stage, on YouTube by clicking here.

 

Can I still drive?

After the “can I still navigate?” question, exactly a month to the day after the car accident I was due to be out on the Chelmsford MC Targa Rally. I’d missed some other events due to not being up to driving such as the Bovingdon Autosolo. Again, I took medical advice and got told to give it a go, not put my life on hold and to listen to my body on the day. Those that know me know I can be a little bit stubborn, and so there was no way I was going to tell Matt if it hurt. I had heat packs, I had ice, I wanted to give it a go.

First up it was time for me to navigate for Matt. Did it hurt? Yes. Then it was my turn to drive. Did it hurt? Yes. I was concerned that sub-consciously I wouldn’t have the ability to  “go for it” but my times were respectable and being back out in the car felt good.

I don’t remember any particularly high, or low, points of the day. I remember mainly trying to ignore the pain and manage it and look after myself whilst trying to get to the finish. Ice really has been my best friend and (surprisingly) given me greater comfort than heat, and icing after tests really helped. I’d not had anywhere near as much seat time in the MG, so to be competitive in class and finish up second was pleasing. My confidence was definitely lacking a little in the first loop, but as the day wore on I got more comfortable in the car and enjoyed being back competing. I’ve missed many targas in 2017 mainly through work, so hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to be out more next year.

Thanks to M&H Photography for the images.

Can I still navigate?

Can I still navigate? It may sound a bit of a funny question. Some people think navigating is like getting back on a horse, but there were two reasons for my question. 1) it had been a number of months since I’d last navigated, and that was after a reasonable break and 2) just 2.5 weeks beforehand I’d been in a (non-fault) car accident which had knocked both my physical and mental confidence more than I’d cared to admit. Physically I was in constant pain, but I was also undertaking medical treatment and took medical advice about whether I should go out that evening. I know for me that “getting back on the horse” with everything was vital, and so I offered at the last minute to navigate for the first time for Ben Cutting having missed some other events I would have liked to have done due to the accident. I was originally due to navigate for Luis Guiterrez-Diaz, but unfortunately we’d withdrawn a few weeks previously after he broke his car.

I hadn’t told Ben what had happened a couple of weeks beforehand, but somebody else had because when I arrived he checked if I should be out competing. I explained I was in no fit state to drive and compete (the 75 minute drive to the start was the furthest I’d driven since the crash) but I was happy to give navigating a go and see what happened.

We didn’t have the perfect run, but for our first time out as a crew we had a good run. Every driver/navigator is slightly different but we settled into a rhythm and, whilst unfortunately missing a few codeboards, whilst in pain the pain was bearable and we came home 1st in class and 4th expert.

It was good to get back out because whilst deep down I knew “don’t be silly of course you can do it,” sometimes it’s nice/necessary to prove it to yourself. It wasn’t my best night on the maps and I always find it frustrating to miss boards, but going back over navigation in the cold light of day is always worth the effort!

My 12 car trophy and the aftermath of my written off car on the M40. This is what it looks like if you’re stationary on a motorway and the car behind doesn’t stop pushing you into the car in front…

Introducing my brother to competing

Many years ago I introduced my brother, Mark, to volunteering in motor sport but he’d never competed. Looking for “different” ideas for his birthday present, we offered him use of the MG ZR for a day, and to arrange his club membership and entry fee so he could try grassroots motor sport.

Whilst my brother may be an adult, he will always be my “baby brother” so yes, he has a driving licence, but the idea of him driving my car competitively and me sitting alongside him was still slightly amusing. Oxford MC had a Production Car Autotest at Finmere which is local to us and being less than three week’s before Mark’s birthday, it seemed an ideal event for him to have a go.

Having arrived at the venue, we got Mark to drive the car to scrutineering and then very slowly around the paddock so he had at least driven the car. We’d spoken to the organisers in advance who’d kindly organised our colour groups so that I could drive before Mark and he could see what the tests were like through passengering for me. We walked the test and gave Mark some pointers, but then it was down to him.

It was greasy in the morning, and those conditions really suited me. After the first round of tests, I was first overall! Mark drove his first set of tests without any mistakes or cone penalties and enjoyed it.

As the day went on, the venue dried out which was a shame for me; I was quicker in the slippier conditions and started to drop down the results. Mark was growing in confidence and even had the car sideways a few times. His times were getting closer to mine, and you could see and feel the improvements in his driving.

He said he really enjoyed his day, and hopefully he’ll be able to borrow our car in the future. As much as I teased him, it was really enjoyable to be competing alongside him and I’m glad we could give him the opportunity. He wasn’t last, and did well for his first competitive motor sport event.

Videos are on Youtube of both myself and Mark driving.