I suppose the title of this kind of gives away the punchline. I recently ran a 5km PB and 10km PB. In fact, I beat my 5km PB time only to bring it down further still a few weeks later.
Were these things I’ve been training for? No, not really. In fact, my first 5km PB was purely because a good friend of mine told me I’d been running slowly recently. I set out that week with the intention of picking up the pace a little. At 1km I look down at my watch, realised I was flying and felt pretty fresh so thought I’d hold on and see what I could do. I was delighted at the end of the run to see I had brought my 5km PB down by 28 seconds to 25:37. However, it didn’t end there. When I reported back to my friend, he said “I’m sure you could go faster!” and proceeded to volunteer to pace me to an even faster PB.
Bright and early on 1st April I set off to Bushy Park in Teddington to see how fast I could run. For those of your not familiar with the significance of running at Bushy Park, it is the birthplace of Park Run, or the Bushy Park Time Trail as it was first called, and a regular training destination for Olympians and the national treasure that is Mo Farah.
Setting out with the aim of smashing out a sub 25min 5km we ran an anti-clockwise loop around the outskirts of the park. It’s safe to say, it wasn’t the warmest run, the headwind was freezing and took an awful lot of effort.
Despite not quite reaching my sub 25min goal, I was happy to have set a new personal best less than 10 days after bringing down my time. Now to chip off the final 14 seconds.
Still chuffed with my achievements considering a distinct lack of speed work and not training specifically for beating them.
Now it’s time to knuckle down and see what I can do.
As I sit here writing this I’m at another cross roads. Albeit one where I’ve already decided the route I’m taking. I have decided I’m not going to complete my marathon training in preparation for a spring marathon. Am I upset? No. Quite frankly I’m not. With everything going on in my life at the moment, it’s not the way to go. However, I’m in need of motivation so I have a plan!
Virtual Marathon Series
I was delighted to be approached to give the Virtual Marathon Series about taking part in one of their events (My event registration was kindly gifted). If you haven’t ever heard of them, here is a breakdown:
Run Athens Virtual
Run just over 1 mile per day for 25 days at your own pace or take on the full marathon distance in one to complete the Run Athens Virtual Challenge!
Run Berlin Virtual
Run TWO half marathons in a month, find a team mate and run a half marathon each on the same day or take on the full marathon distance in one to complete the Run Berlin Virtual Challenge.
Run London Virtual
Run the marathon distance on your own or share the distance between a team to complete the Run London Virtual Challenge.
Run Sydney Virtual
Run just under 3 miles a day for 10 days or take on the full marathon distance in one to complete the Run Sydney Virtual Challenge.
Run New York Virtual
Complete 8 5k’s in a month, form a team of 8 and do 1 each or take on the full marathon distance in one to complete the Run New York Virtual Challenge.
Run Tokyo Virtual
Run just over 10k 4 times, split them with your friends or take on the full marathon distance in one to complete the Run Tokyo Virtual Challenge.
Each of the events can be completed as an individual or part of a team. I absolutely love the idea of these events as there really is something for everyone. I think they are perfectly positioned to motivate without being unattainable.
My Virtual Goal
I have decided that I’m going to aim for the Virtual New York Run. I think 8 lots of 5km is perfect to get me back running with a level of consistency which has been missing in my training for sometime. I can run 5km pretty comfortably, it’s more about getting back into running regularly and having something achievable to work towards.
I’ll also be aiming to update the blog weekly so I’d better get out running to have something to write about!
In December 2020, I decided that I would take part in Veganuary. Prompted partly by reading Rich Rolls book “Finding Ultra” and “The Game Changers” on Netflix was determined to prove to myself I could manage it and if it lived up to all the hype. After much research, and signing up to the official Veganuary website, I was excited to get going.
Before I start, it’s important to mention that I’m by no means a cook. I don’t enjoy it and I’m not particularly good at it. Alex explained that she had little to no interest in becoming vegan and that I would be “going it alone”. I started this journey as a through and through meat eater. I love burgers and partial to a cheeky Nandos and my Christmas dinner consisted of no less than 5 types of meat (I’m including pigs in blankets as 2)
Veganuary was fast becoming a bigger undertaking than I imagined and it hadn’t even reached January 1st.
Armed with the The No Meat Athlete Cookbook (a very welcome Christmas to present) and some government enforced spare time (thanks BoJo), I set about trying to remove all meat and animal derived foods from my diet.
This blogpost aims to explore the good, the bad and the ugly. I’ll let you know what I found easy and where the biggest challenges were.
Meal planning was step number one on my vegan journey. I set out with the ambition of not only going vegan but trying to eat whole foods. I quickly learned that this was a step too far for me, certainly as a first attempt, and I readjusted my goals.
I knew if I was going to make this work, I’d need to get better at meal planning, batch cooking and somehow finding the motivation to cook after a long day at work and a run.
The meals were surprisingly straightforward. From homemade vegan meatballs to plant-based lasagna, I explored the different dishes and made some successful meals. Of course, I also had my fair share of “that needed more spice” and “it didn’t taste of much” meals. Essentially, I managed to eat the things I would usually eat by replaced the meat for lentils or beans.
I have always had a sweet tooth. Something that is directly linked to my weight. Now before I get reminded about “calories in/out and no food is bad food”, I want t point out that I have always very much been a 3 chocolate bars for £1.50 at the petrol station and they have all gone before I pull off the forecourt. My relationship with sweets is a love/hate one. I love eating them but hate how it makes me feel
I was wary of vegan snacks at first. Would they be tasteless? Would they be readily available?
The answer is a mixed bag. Some vegan snacks are delicious. I’m a big fan of the Graze cocoa and vanilla flapjacks and Eat Natural vegan bars. However, I also tried my fair share of blant, stodgy snacks.
In the most part they are pretty easy to pick up. Sainsbury’s and large Tescos seem to be the best. Tesco express, budgens and coop all had a few but not real selection. It’s also worth noting that many are considerably more expensive than normal treats.
So, that’s the basics. Now for my summary. I’ve divide this section into the good, the bad and the ugly.
Top Good (Top 3)
The Bad (Bottom 3)
There are no two ways about it. Veganism, or at least the transition to veganism, is a real shock to the system. Without going into too much detail, the aroma is extremely unpleasant for the first couple of weeks. Be prepared!
I have found the transition to veganism far easier than I would every have imagined. It has been straight forward and I’ve enjoyed trying new foods and, dare I say it, doing all my own cooking.
Would I recommend veganism? Well let’s put it this way, as I write this review I’m currently on week 2 of Vegebuary (see what I did there). I won’t be going back to animal products in my diet anytime soon… although the summer BBQ season is definitely going to test my resolve.
Where do I begin?
I AM OFFICIALLY A MARATHON RUNNER! And to say I’m proud is an understatement. When I first took up running a year ago, I set myself the challenge of running the Berlin Marathon. I knew I would manage it but I had never realised how much I would enjoy it.
As with every race I run, the day started by getting up far earlier than I needed to and having breakfast. My hotel the base for most of the international marathon tour companies, so the 6am relaxing breakfast I had hoped for was actually a bum-fight for a seat and time spent protecting my table! Quick scrambled egg and bread roll later and it was back to the room. I had already laid out my running gear. Partly because it’s good to not be rushing in the morning and partly because I love a flatlay photo.
At 7:45, I joined the group of French marathon travellers staying in my hotel and headed for the start line. Arriving at the event village was great. There was a real buzz of excitement as people dropped bags and did some warming up. By 8:30, after a couple of toilet breaks, I made it to the start area. This was nearly 2 hours before I was due to cross the start line. It didn’t matter, the atmosphere was fantastic. I was in wave H, which was designated for first time marathoners and people who were likely to take more than 4:15.
WAVE H - Newbies
I had planned to meet Heather there but as she hadn’t taken her phone in it was difficult to find her. Some nervous waiting and scanning of the crowds followed. Finally, she found me.
We decided on a race strategy, nothing like leaving it to the last minute and got ready to run.
The buzz walking to the start line is amazing. Thousands of people nervously moving forward, hundreds nipping off for a last minute comfort break. What struck me about the start of the Berlin Marathon is, unlike London, there aren’t many people in fancy dress. In fact, there weren’t many people who didn’t look like seasoned marathon runners.
0KM to 21km (First Half)
The first half went a dream. We had planned to run at 7:00 min/km and we were bang on the money. 10km in pretty much 65 minutes and everything felt good. We were soaking up the atmosphere and having a good laugh.
It was busy and by about 10km it had started to tip down. We were getting drenched but the rain wasn’t dampening our mood at all.
21KM to 42KM
By the time we hit half way we were soaked. Still loving our run and not really bothered by the squelching feet.
Then 28km hit. My legs suddenly felt sore. Mainly my hip flexors but in reality it was most of my legs. We decided to have a couple of walk breaks and walked through the water stations. Heather was feeling it too so we both encouraged the other to run. We set targets of when we were going to start running again for how long. This worked really well and I think without Heathers encouragement I would have really struggled to get going again.
Between 30 and 36km we were thankful for our friends and family coming to watch. Them cheering us on kept us going. By 41km when Alex text to say she was waiting I was exhausted. I couldn’t even muster the energy to pretend I was running. I mean, who was I kidding, I was going to tell her I had to do some walking anyway.
The final KM was great. As you turn the corner you see the streets lined with well wishers and you can’t help but get a boost of energy. People shouting your name, it turns out Jack is far easier for German’s to say than Heather, and you push yourself to the end.
A few 100 meters more and we were passing through the Brandenburger Tor, which if I’d been told once, I’d been told 100 times, is not the finish line. Final push to greatness awaited.
We made it! The instant feeling of jubilation fills your body. In part because you have just run a marathon, in part because you know you don’t have to run any further.
Official Time: 5:37:05