January 30, 2012

Galveston Mardi Gras Half Marathon

I'm REALLY excited about this weekend! My first half-marathon of the year is on Sunday in Galveston, Texas.
I'm starting to get that pre-race giddyness where I'm constantly thinking about what I'll need and what time I'm going to be able to run. I'm a little anxious though as my marathon training has really slowed down my pace so that I'm able to run 20 miles or more on a regular basis.
SOMEHOW (I really don't know how!) I managed to run my last half in Bridlington in 1:54:24 which is a 5.25/km (8.44/mile) pace. (EEK!!!!) I plan to set my Garmin Virtual Partner to that pace so that I'd know if I was heading anywhere near a PB, but I know that's a pretty tricky target for me right now.
Basically above all else I'm going to have fun and enjoy the race. My focus this year is the marathon on 10th March and I'd rather run this slower and be ready for it rather than going into the marathon unprepared.
Here's a copy of the race route, running right along Galveston beach front is going to be amazing as it's one of my favourite places to be!
We've had a little change of plan this evening as puppy-sitting was proving a bit tricky. We've changed our hotel reservations to a place that accepts dogs and we're going to take them with us!..YEY PUPPY ROAD TRIP!!
Plus that's going to free us up to attend a Super Bowl party on Sunday night... when in Rome and all that!

January 29, 2012

The best way to spend a day!

Yesterday I had THE best day because it was filled with simple joy and happiness. Paul and I went out to Boykin Springs. We thought it might be pretty muddy after the recent rain so instead of mountain biking there we took the puppies :) I don't even have a lot to say about the day as these pictures show how happy the dogs are and how much fun they (and we) had!

January 28, 2012

It's Who I Am....

Since returning to Texas I've been back out on the road, covering some miles for my marathon training. However when I was unpacking I realised that I'd left a really important piece of my kit back in England... my Road ID. 
I first bought one of these back in April last year. It had crossed my mind a few times that, here in the USA especially, I run on roads where there are no paths. I'm careful and don't run with an iPod so that I'm aware of my surroundings but it only takes one careless person whose too busy texting to veer off the road slightly. Also it's tough running in the heat... what if I just got woozy from dehydration? Even in York it is unlikely anyone would recognise me and regular running buddies and groups don't have my family's contact details. However running with ID is not an option either ...(immigration have enough questions to ask on the way in without being presented with a passport that has been in my pocket for a few hundred miles in sweaty Texas weather) and a passport or driving licence doesn't include the sort of information a first responder needs. 
When I heard about the Road ID on a runners website I realised that was what I'd been looking for. RoadID was set up by a father and son who are committed to the safety of athletes after Edward almost came to blows with a 'king-kong sized pickup truck' when running. It's not complicated... just a bracelet with the vital info on.. my name and person to contact plus any medical info that would be helpful to a first responder. 

There are several different colours and styles to chose from ... I opted for the yellow last time and red this time as I'm hoping it would stand out if I needed it to. They have reflective bands all around too to increase night-time visibility.
Basically it's one of those things that no runner ever wants to need, but definitely shouldn't be without. There are several different products and styles to chose from and you can check them out on their websitefacebook or twitter. They are an American based company but ship to the UK for only $2.49 (£1.60).  

Mental & Physical Toughness Test...

This week I had one of the toughest runs I've ever been on.... my first 20 miler... with hills! 
I love being back in Texas, the weather is fantastic (running in shorts and t-shirt in January is awesome!) plus it's great to be running in the countryside again. The only problem is that I may have lost my touch with the hills as it's been a few months since I was running on them regularly... and the hills here are rough! 
There is no direction I can set off from the house that doesn't include at least one monster hill if not several, so I think you can imagine how I felt running 20 miles of them!
My quads were already achy from the run I'd done a couple of days earlier as I'm just not in hill shape. Add 20 miles on to that ache and I was hurting, big time! Thankfully I got to running near the lake where the views are a beautiful and the hills are a little less severe.
 It was a massive milestone for me and I needed to tackle that as the marathon is approaching fast.
So next time I'm running in York and grumbling for any reason... just remind me to be thankful that I'm not tackling this....

January 22, 2012

London Calling

Last weekend Paul and I had the opportunity to go to London and stay with a friend for the weekend. We were both excited to go as neither of us have spent time in the city or seen any of the sights that 30 million people a year go to see! We were also fortunate to have the opportunity to visit Sarah Ezekiel who has inspired and supported me throughout my fundraising for the Motor Neurone Disease Association. Sarah has become a great friend to both of us online over the last couple of years and it was wonderful to meet her and her family.
After spending some time with Sarah we headed back into the city. We didn't set off with the intention of sightseeing that evening but once we saw the London Eye and Big Ben lit up we couldn't help but walk around to see as much as we could!
Sunday was a beautiful day with clear skies and sunshine so we spent the day doing a lot of walking, sightseeing, picture-taking and train-riding!
We also (somehow) made time to visit the Natural History Museum and Science Museum in the afternoon (both of which are like a maze of rooms that could easily swallow you up for a few days... or even weeks!).
This was a great weekend to finish Paul's time in England with and a great experience for both of us. When we got back to York we had just a couple of days to spend with my family and pack our things before flying to Houston.  I've loved having Paul in England with me and I'm happy he could spend so much time in York getting to know my family and friends.
So as his travels come to an end for now, mine are just beginning again.... For once though, neither of us had to travel alone and we could enjoy the journey together :)

January 12, 2012

Facing My Fears

Yesterday I had to face one of my biggest fears.... I'm not someone that puts themselves on the spot in front of lots of people. I'm the sort of person that usually tries to hide from cameras (especially video cameras or anything that can record my voice) and I tend to turn into a trembling wreck if asked to speak to even a small group of people. I remember being nervous speaking at meetings for the Yorkshire bank and Cedar Court Hotel, even though it was to people I knew and saw everyday! 
So you can imagine my thoughts when I got a call from BBC Radio York on Monday asking me to go and chat to them on their Drive Time show about my fundraising for the MNDA. My instinct was to decline but I knew that I really can't shy away from opportunities like this, so I agreed before my brain had time to think about it!
Trying to stay calm before the show
Yesterday I made my way to the radio station with Paul. I'd only told my Mum and Dad and had asked them not to go telling everyone they knew as that would just make me more nervous! However I surprised myself at how calm I felt before and I felt comfortable all the way through.
Elly Fiorentini
Elly was a great person to be interviewed by as she's very bubbly and chatty (I guess that's a basic requirement for radio though eh?!). I didn't think I'd like the result as much as I do and I've been pleased with the feedback that people have given me too. The interview lasted about 10 minutes and is 10 minutes into the show. Click here  if you would like to listen ... it's on until Wednesday 18th January :)

January 8, 2012

The Hardest Step....

This photo was one of the final posts from my 2011 blog though the meaning was no less true today than the morning I took the photo. 
I'm ready for the mornings to start getting lighter as getting up and setting off in the dark takes a lot more will power than it does on those bright spring mornings! 
Despite the hardest step I managed 26.6km this morning in 2 hours and 27 minutes. It's not quite as far as my marathon training plan calls for at the moment but after being ill earlier in the week I was happy with it. The pace (ave 5.30/km) was a bit faster than I'd usually do on my longer runs so I feel this makes up for the slight shortage in distance!

January 7, 2012

Where to begin

I'm excited to be starting up my new blog... I started off last year when I took on a challenge to raise money for the Motor Neurone Disease Association. To keep track of my 2011km in 2011 I updated a blog as a reference point both for myself and for anyone wanting to check on my progress, but as the year passed, I learned that I enjoy writing about my running, kayaking, pupskis and travelling :)

Now that 2011 has come to a close I've decided to set up a new, more permanent site (this one!) where I can write about running, races and anything else that inspires me :) I hope to continue raising money for the MNDA and will be keeping this site updated with my progress. 
I hope you chose to follow and comment on my posts as I begin 2012 and gear up for my first full marathon!