Great Birmingham Run 2015: I Did It!

In a moment of madness earlier in the year I signed up for the Great Birmingham Run… all 13 miles of it. As a cheese eating, chain smoking carb lover with a large bottom it wasn’t the most sensible decision I’d ever made, particularly when I followed my sign up and payment with two months of procrastination!

Over the summer, I started training regularly, building up my fitness levels, stamina and distance with several of my friends, and I started to feel a lot more confident about it. I purchased some decent running gear, changed my eating habits a little and lost weight. It was looking good!

Then, in September, I went to Barcelona, and managed to burn my feet so badly that they swelled up to double their size, taking a fortnight to go down, which was a bit of a setback. I started running again once they had gone down, but then was hit with a bad dose of the flu and a nasty cold, which knocked me out for the two weeks leading up to the race.

However, yesterday was the big day, and I was determined to do it even if it meant walking! My mum came down to stay so she could watch me run, and she and The Bloke planned to go to various parts of the track to cheer me on. It was perfect weather, being quite cold, and when I arrived the atmosphere was electric, with thousands of runners from all over the country warming up and getting ready.

As we set off, I felt good. In fact, for the first seven or eight miles I felt reasonable – I went at a steady pace, controlled my breathing and made sure I wasn’t putting too much pressure on my knees. I saw The Bloke and Mum at the 3 mile and 8 mile mark, and saw several of my colleagues and students cheering us on along the way and it spurred me on to carry on. However, by mile 9 I was beginning to hurt. Nothing bad, just a mild ache in my thighs, so I slowed down and kept going. By mile 10, however, it was getting worse, and I hit the wall that I’d heard so many runners talking about. By mile 11, the only thing I could do was walk – we hit the mother of all hills and there was no way I’d be able to make it up there by running without passing out. In fact, I walked mile 11 and mile 12 and it was agony – I felt every single step and it seemed to go on forever. By this point, all of those around me did the same thing – we took advantage of the Jelly Babies that were being handed out to keep up our blood sugar levels, made conversation and cheered each other on, and it lifted my spirits.

And then we saw the finish line at the bottom of Broad Street, and we started to run. I could see The Bloke and Mum waiting and cheering, and as I crossed the finish line I felt an enormous sense of relief. By this point, I couldn’t feel my feet or legs, I was shaking and desperate to get my medal and go home. I got a huge hug from both of them, and they were very patient as I hobbled my way to get a taxi.

13 miles.

I managed to do it in under three-and-a-half hours, exactly the time I had been going for, which I was really pleased about. However, despite stretching down and following all the recommended steps afterwards, by yesterday evening I had completely seized up from the waist down. I didn’t know that I was capable of hurting so much!

Still, I bloody did it, and I’m proud of myself! Will I do it again? Never. However, I may just sign myself up for a 10k next year… Possibly.

There’s still time for you to add the the huge amount of generous sponsorship that has already been donated to the Just Giving page I have set up, with all proceeds going to Dementia UK, in memory of my grandfather…

http://www.justgiving.com/suziespeaks

Thanks to all of you who gave so much support over the last few months, and to everyone who joined in my live tweeting yesterday during the race!

 

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Three Weeks to Go…

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In a moment of madness I agreed to sign up for the Birmingham Half-Marathon in October and run 13 miles.

My physical state when I initially paid for my entrance fee in May was not exactly in brilliant condition. As someone who likes their food, along with the occasional cigarette and cocktail, my body has slowly increased in size to the point where I have easily gained 60+lbs in the last five years, and while I was fit enough to swim or run around for hours regularly in my youth, I could barely walk up the stairs a few months ago without feeling flustered and out of breath. Continue reading

Runspiration Update

imageIn a moment of what I’m now considering to be temporary insanity in April, I signed myself up for the Birmingham Half Marathon, taking place in October. As a smoker with a penchant for cheese and about 60lbs of excess weight on my ass, the idea seemed utterly ridiculous – at the time I found it difficult to climb a flight of stairs without feeling out of breath. There were a number of people around me who must have been thinking the same thing, responding with ‘really?!’ and wry smiles when I told them what I intended to do.

I must admit, I procrastinated for a while after that, using excuses of a busy workload and being tired to avoid getting into any form of training routine. I did a single run in May (and when I say run, I mean I walked for half of it while I coughed my lungs up), managing 1.36 miles (2.2km), and that was it. Continue reading

Run Forrest, Run! Or Maybe Not…

imageIt’s Bank Holiday Monday, and I’ve been looking forward to today. As my day off is on a Tuesday, it means that I am only working for three days this week. Winner.

After my decision to sign up for the Birmingham Half Marathon in October, I spent some of the weekend preparing to start training. I went food shopping and made a plan of healthy meals for the week, I downloaded the necessary apps onto my phone and I created an epic playlist of songs that will hopefully keep me motivated and uplifted as I’m trudging my way around the park. And yes, I included the Rocky theme. Why? Because I actually attempted to run up the same steps that he did when I visited Philadelphia in 2010, and only made it about a third of the way up before I had to stop, catch my breath and walk the rest of the way as I was so unfit, so it serves as a reminder that I need to get moving.

I decided to start with the 5K fitness plan that I have used before. After some searching, (and after going to watch Avengers: Age of Ultron at the cinema, which was awesome by the way), I located my running gear, charged my phone and did my stretches. I was surprised at how nervous I was – I’ve done this many times before, but I think that it’s different because I am actually training for something rather than just to build up my fitness levels and I have made myself accountable by letting everyone know what my intentions are. Indeed, today I was going to channel my inner Forrest Gump.

My five minute warm up walk had been fantastic. The weather was beautiful and I felt psyched, ready to pound the pavement, and I was loving the tracks that I had blasting into my eardrums. When the ‘start’ beep began, I started to jog at a leisurely pace, then walked, then jogged at the timed intervals that my app suggested. I realised that it was going to be a lot more difficult than I had anticipated, and my positive attitude quickly evaporated once I had reached the first walk/run cycle. I hated every single second of the rest of the journey. I know that my body is carrying extra weight, but I felt heavy – it seemed really difficult to lift my feet off the floor.

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Twenty -five minutes and less than two miles later, I arrived back at my door. My face was purple, I was struggling for breath and I had sweat pouring from places that I didn’t know could sweat. My legs were already giving me and indication that I am going to be a little sore tomorrow and all I could do was gasp at The Bloke and asked him to get me a glass of water while I collapsed on the couch and coughed and spluttered on an unsuspecting cat, who was rather indignant at having her sleep interrupted.

Gorgeous. Forrest Gump, I am not. Not yet, anyway.

However, it’s a start, and everyone has to start somewhere. I’ve set myself a challenge, and I’m going to bloody well do it. I just wish that it was possible to lose weight and get fit by eating chocolate and watching television instead, which would be far more fun!

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog and don’t forget to check out my Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/suzie81speaks

 

A Reluctant Runner…

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After reaching my heaviest ever weight last week, I decided that I was going to stop blaming the scales and do something about it. I’ve cut back on the rubbish that I have been eating, substituting it for healthier options (I discovered quinoa – there’s a sentence I never thought that I’d say) and this morning I decided to go for a run.

A few years ago, just before my 30th birthday, I bought myself a stunning designer dress in preparation for the party that I had organised. I had never spent that amount of money on an item of clothing before (or since – my diabetic cat and her vets bills have seen to that) but I decided to treat myself. The dress was just a little bit too tight for my liking and showed all the wrong lumps and bumps, but it gave me the ultimate motivation to lose the weight that I had been procrastinating about for months. I bought some decent running shoes and several times a week I ran up and down my local park with my best friend, puffing and spluttering my way through it in a manner that closely resembled Phoebe from Friends.

I hated every minute of it, but over time it got easier and I discovered that after just a few weeks I could do 5k with relative ease. My plan worked – I managed to lose just enough weight to feel comfortable in the dress and I thoroughly enjoyed wearing it.

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Two years later, I’ve gradually slipped into old habits, and have not only put the weight back on, but I’ve added an extra 15lbs that snuck up on me and slapped me in the face when I stood on the scales recently. I’m pretty ashamed of myself. My dress now doesn’t even go past my hips, and this has prompted me to set a goal over the summer to change my lifestyle, lose the weight and wearing the dress again – it’s too beautiful to be just sitting in the wardrobe. So, this morning, I put on my running gear, set my Nike app, my 5K tracker and my playlist and did some warm up exercises. It was a glorious morning and the park next to my house was almost deserted.

Thirty minutes later, I arrived home. I had completed just 2km and burned 153 calories walking and running in timed intervals. Just like two years ago, I hated every single footstep – the only saving grace being the awesome playlist that I had set myself. My face appeared to have been replaced with a bright red, sweaty tomato with eyes, my legs were jelly, my chest was burning and I almost felt like I was going to be sick.

Gorgeous.

Still, everyone has to start somewhere! Here’s to a sweaty summer!

What about you? What’s your exercise of choice?

You can also find me on Twitter and Tumblr @suzie81blog.