The Taper and Fairy Godmothers

Blogs are a bit like buses…you wait for a long time for nothing and then a few come along at once.

My last blog was full of excitement as I looked forward to the big race. Unfortunately, since then, I have experienced what is technically known as a fit of the wobbles. 4 days is a long time in running.

Long runs are essential in a training plan as they prepare your legs for the inevitable long run and let’s be very clear about this, 13.1 miles is a VERY LONG RUN. I have followed my training plan and have done plenty of these over the past few weeks with my long suffering running wife Hattie and although we have managed them, there has always be a caveat which makes me doubt my strength for the task ahead. When Hattie and I set off for a long run, we do slip into a bit of a double act. It’s Hattie’s role to complain bitterly over the first 3k (and for any aspiring runners reading this, thinking about downloading the c25k app – DO IT – but let me tell you that the first 2 miles of any run will always be HIDEOUS and it never changes) and then she is fine. My role as “first 3k cheerleader to Hattie” distracts me from my own misery and so I manage this part of the run a bit better. However, when Hattie hits 8-10k (6 miles) and even 16k (10 miles), genuinely, she is like a train that could go on and on. She has been trying to talk me into a marathon for a while now (I am resisting) but I have no doubts that Hattie could do one and do one in style as she gets stronger the further she runs. However, as much as she starts to hit her groove at 8k, over the past few weeks, the opposite has been the case for me as I have felt neither fresh nor strong after 8 miles. This is alarming me enormously. Will I actually be able to pull an additional 5 miles out of the bag on the day – strongly? Now I know that I will complete the half, because if all else fails then I know I can walk 5 miles, but I want to complete it looking strong and looking like a runner rather than crawling over the finish line.

The second worrying fact is that although we have done quite a few long runs, we haven’t managed any of them without a break – and when I say break, I mean a 5 minute breather waiting for parkrun to start, then another mini-breather waiting to get my barcode scanned before setting off home again. There won’t be any breathers on the day and so I’m worried and feeling under-prepared.

I talked this through yesterday with Hattie and Curly Sue at our coached lunchtime running session through gritted teeth and on the brink of tears (or as much as I could speak in between running up a hill sprinting as fast as I could) and they both calmly reminded me that apparently I felt this way in the fortnight before the Bristol Half Marathon last year.

The two weeks before a half marathon or any longer race are called the “Taper”. This is essentially the “it’s too late to do anything useful now so just keep your legs moving” phase. It is absolutely terrifying and doubly so if you are a bit of a control freak like me. For the past 8 weeks my life has been about training and long runs and now, just as my brain is freaking out and wanting to do as much running as possible, the rules of the taper mean that you must not do a long run. You cannot pull the equivalent of a running “all nighter” to get you through the exam/race. There is nothing more you can do. The next 2 weeks will be about resting, massage, impersonating a camel on the hydration front and eating good food. I will run a 10k this coming weekend and then apart from short runs and a couple of 5ks here and there, there is nothing more to do.

Essentially it’s too late to do anything and I AM FREAKING OUT.

I really, really want to complete the run in less than 3 hours else I will feel like all the extra work I have been doing will be for nothing and as much as I want to enjoy the race, I want to feel like I am progressing. Not enough to try out for the Olympics or anything, but just to be moving along the improvement line in a positive manner. I also don’t want to let Hattie down as she can run faster than me and so I would be very cross with myself if she didn’t get a sub 3 because she was running with me. Additionally I also don’t want to disappoint Curly Sue who has worked so hard on getting us ready and prepared for the start line on the 25th March.

Husband is also running the London Landmarks Half and he is on for a very strong 13.1 miles indeed. His training has been more consistent that any race he has run previously and frankly some of his times over a 1 kilometre distance have been ridiculous. He is in the first wave and so will set off 40 minutes before I will and so will have quite a wait for me at the end.

So in the middle of my panic, a glimmer of hope. My Fairy Godmother, Merida, sent Hattie and I a message. If you recall, Merida paced me to my fastest ever 10k last year at the Bristol 10k last year and we’ve since become good friends as we discovered we have much in common: gin, champagne, running, children, stupidly busy jobs, and …er gin. (Never underestimate the bonding power of gin).

Merida is running London Landmarks Half for MacMillan Cancer and has raised £600 in sponsorship money. Unfortunately, thanks to a couple of bouts of proper flu (not a heavy cold or “man-flu”, but real “put you in bed for a week, oh my goodness I can’t believe I can be this ill and not be in hospital” flu) her training has not been what she had wanted it to be at all. So she messaged Hattie and I to ask if we would like to have another running buddy on the day? Also to say that if we wanted to run a specific time then she would gladly work out the pacings and run with us/shout at us/encourage us over the line too as she would like to help us achieve our goal. I was with Hattie when the message came in and I think we responded with a loud “WHOOP” and “YES PLEASE”.

So this gives me a very real glimmer of hope in an otherwise dark feeling week. Genuinely I don’t know if I can do a sub 3 hour half marathon and I am not someone who likes to contemplate failure, but I have the best friends and support network and so I will try my best. With both Hattie and Merida shouting at me (in an encouraging manner of course…at least I hope so!) I have the best chance, but ultimately I know it’s down to me. I have to pull it out of the bag on the day.

London Landmarks Half Marathon have released an app to allow participants to be tracked along the route. This is a photo of my race number.

Race Number LLHM

Should you wish to follow and send me telepathic cheers of “come on Claire, run faster” or “Merida, run in front of her holding up a can of premix gin and tonic” or “Hattie, just slap her”, this would all be welcomed.

I may or may not blog again before the big day – it largely depends on my state of mind, which as you can see, is up and down. Whatever happens, I will try to be pleased with my time whatever I get. I will try and I am nothing if not a trier.



Snow, chafing and pacing

February is the shortest month of the year and my goodness it has shot past quickly. We experienced all the seasons over the past 4 weeks: Sunshine, wind, rain and of course snow.

When I trained for the Bristol Half over Summer 2017, I found it hard to run in the heat and so most Saturdays was getting up at 5am to eat, to enable me to start running at 7am before it got too hot. The burny hot yellow thing in the sky has caused more than a few problems for me over the past two years whilst running as it seems to sap my powers.  But this is nothing compared to the problems that the Beast from the East caused.

When running in extreme weathers, the advice is always to layer up. Therefore, when it is cold I usually run in a long sleeved top (base layer), a T-shirt and then either a waterproof, reflective jacket or a zip up windproof jacket, a pair of running gloves, buff (which combines to keep my ears warm as well as keeping the sweat from my eyes), hat if it’s really cold and running tights. It therefore follows that my top half is usually toasty (often a bit sweaty…mmm) and warm but my legs are absolutely freezing.  Running tights, are essentially just that. TIGHTS! One layer of material and not wind or waterproof. This means that basically since the middle of November my bottom and outer thighs have been numb with the cold for 90% of any run and it’s hideous. So the jury is out….Spring or Autumn half marathons? It seems that both have their met office related training challenges.

As we moved towards the end of the month, I experienced all of the weathers on the same run. Last Sunday, Hattie and I set off for our long run (delayed from our usual Saturday by the snow) and I was wearing a base layer and T shirt, but  I was immediately too warm and wishing I had remembered my sunglasses. Within 2k, Hattie was helping to preserve my modesty as I quickly stripped off all layers (I was stood in my bra at the side of a main(ish) road as a women trying to park her car looked in in shock) and then replaced my T shirt, tying my base layer around my waist. Within 30 minutes, the sky was black and then we were caught in torrential rain which lasted a good 20 minutes. I was then cold and put my base layer back on. Unfortunately I was now soaked right through to my skin and undergarments and was absolutely freezing. Hattie really tried her best to keep my spirits up over the final 3k of the run but I was close to tears. When I finally got home and stripped off I was mortified to discover that the rain had caused horrific chafing around my knicker line. It was terrible. There is no photo you will pleased to read, but believe me when I say I screamed in the shower afterwards and was in terrible pain.

Cold runner picture HAT

A wise (very wise) running person has suggested to me that I try and run “Commando” ie without any pants on at all. The reasoning behind this makes sense, in that I don’t run in a cotton T shirt as it would retain moisture and rub, so the same theory should be applied to underwear. However……..the reality is very different. I have had two children and the prospect of doing ANYTHING commando, let alone running 10 miles (as I have to this coming Saturday) is not an option. CAN YOU IMAGINE? There is so much that could go wrong…But with the chafing still very fresh in my mind, I need an alternative and so I have purchased a pair of “Runderwear” Knickers (they sounds hilarious don’t they?) They are very expensive (hence only the one pair) but apparently they will work in the same way that a technical T shirt does. I am hoping they will be here in time for my final long run on Saturday. I will report back.

This run aside however, training on the whole over February hasn’t been too bad. Hattie and I have managed to get our long runs in together and to date the furthest we have run is 18k. We did this by way of a “Park Run Sandwich”. Our nearest Parkrun now is at Eastville Park where I have volunteered to Marshall on a couple of occasions, and so Saturday mornings have been a run to parkrun, a parkrun and then running home, often via the Bristol to Bath Cycle Path. It is no understatement to say that I LOVE the cycle path. There is no traffic and it’s fairly flat which is critical from the 10 mile onwards point. Cars can be hazardous not only for the obvious safety factor, but also as they provide opportunity for idiots to open their windows and shout “encouraging” (not) things as you run along.

The cycle path is awash with other runners who usually nod encouragement at you, families walking, dog walkers and MAMILS (Middle Aged Men in Lycra) zipping along on their bikes. 99% of these are very friendly and I love the Britishness of everyone wishing everyone that they meet a “Good Morning”.

Hattie and I are pondering a route for this weekend’s final long run before the taper starts and one consideration is to run 10 miles of the Cycle Path, ie running for 10 miles, then stopping and either finding a bus stop to get home or (my preference, calling an Uber). It will be like an exploring run PLUS. I’m looking forward to it, although at the moment rain is forecast and so I might be running in a bin bag…

The London Landmarks Half Marathon sent all runners an email yesterday with their start wave and times on. I am (obviously) in the last wave as I seek to run it in under 3 hours. Hattie and I have been working very hard with Curly Sue on this with hill sprints and intervals continuing and I am feeling quite fit. I have also lost 9 pounds since January 1st and I think, gained quite a lot of muscle (which is more important as it’s the muscles that carry you around).

Unexpectedly, LLHM have also decided that I should have the best chance to smash 3 hours too, as they are providing pacers up to 3 hours and 30 minutes as well as a pacer for people who want to run/walk the distance. This is AMAZING. If you’ve read my blog previously, or have my book, you will be aware of the Great Run debacle last year over only pacing the Bristol 10k up to 70 minutes and so I was paced by my (now) great friend Merida as I tried to run it in under 80 minutes.

By providing pacers for the slowest runners too it shows enormous inclusivity and understanding that we are all runners regardless of how fast we can go. I am so happy about this and so this fortifies my determination to get under 3 hours. I have also already pre-registered for next year’s race.

The next 2 and half weeks will be critical and I need to not get injured, eat healthily and drink lots of water. I am currently on a self imposed booze ban (which is always horrible, I am currently thinking about the gin and tonic I will drink after I finish) but if it works it will be worth it. Time will tell.


New Year and New Plans

Hmmm. It’s February. How on earth has that happened?

January, although for many is a long and gloomy month, for me is one of my favourites. For one thing, as much as I’m fed up with my busy, exhausting job by the beginning of December (I’m usually a bit burnt out by the end of the year truth be told) by the time January rolls around, I’ve usually had a bit of a rest and feeling ready for action again. I do love my job which is lucky when I also run my own business.

January is also both my and Youngest Daughter’s birthday month. There’s a lot of cake and celebrations in our house in January and this is always good.

January also marked the beginnings of “Half Marathon” training month again and for the first week of January, there was very much a “getting back to it” vibe for me.  As before, Hattie and I made a plan which had all of our long runs together – plotted out. As I am desperate to crack 3 hours for the London Landmarks, I suggested to Hattie that we engage a proper running coach to supervise one of our scheduled 3 sessions a week and that this session should be fartleks (I still snigger when I type that) or as they also known, the dreaded interval sprints. As for who we should engage to manage this, it was an absolute no brainer……enter Curly Sue, or Coach Curly Sue as she is now to be known.

So far we have had 3 coached sessions and I am already seeing improvements in my running and technique as I took 90 seconds off my previous best time at Ashton Court Park Run earlier this month. Queen’s Square in Bristol, *may well have been* designed by a runner wanting to improve his/her fitness and stamina for an upcoming race. (*pretty sure it wasn’t though*).  It is also very convenient for a lunchtime run. Over 3 sessions so far, we have walked, sprinted, tempo ran (this is a new one for me, it’s where you run faster than your usual pace, but not at a full sprint) and ran with raised knees, low shoulders (this is hard for me as my boobs bounce around like a couple of tiggers trying to escape 100 Acre Wood) and engaging your core. This is a lot to think about whilst trying to breathe, and it’s hard. This is why Coach supervises these sessions as when something is hard, it’s easier to bunk off or skip the session. This can’t happen now and both Hattie and I are delighted. These sessions will continue right up until the Half Marathon and maybe even beyond.

Park Run PB Jan 2018

At the beginning of the month I decided to ramp up everything as I also have a sprint triathlon to train for. So on top of 3 runs a week (one of which is a This Mum Runs Wednesday night run when we had 18 turn up on one week earlier in the month), I decided I should integrate a spin class (to cover the cycling element) into my training plan as a well as a swim. As I mentioned in my last blog post, I have been perservering with my front crawl and I’m pleased to say that now I can now swim front crawl for 400m in one go. It’s exhausting but I can do it. Eldest daughter often accompanies me to the pool on a Friday evening and we’ve managed to go 3 out of the last 4 weeks and so it’s slowly becoming a habit. One the other week, I was unable to swim, go roller blading or ride a bike and I suspect 3 out of 4 weeks will be the normal cycle for swimming training going forward.

Under the support and encouragement of some of the “Uber Tri Mums” I am going to attend a trial session with North Bristol Triathlon Club next week. Honestly, I can’t believe that I just typed that! Now as much as I doubt I will ever feel able to run with them (but never say never), swim coaching and learning the rules of triathlon are all things I need. Plus, I am reliably informed by Merida, that they are all really lovely people and there is nothing to worry about. 2 years ago, I wouldn’t have believed this, but now knowing how lovely and encouraging sporting communities really are, I suspect (and hope) that they will be supportive as I try and learn their sport. I’m going for a swim coaching session next Thursday and I will report back afterwards.

Unfortunately, all of the extra cycling and sprinting impacted my right leg and something went “ping” 2 weeks ago and I had to see a physio. As usual, tight quads were diagnosed and I was told I was doing too much, needed to stretch more and probably needed to drop a cardio session in favour of weights. I was only out of action for a week and so have decided to put spin on hold until after the half marathon as I can’t really afford drop a run with that 13.1 miles closing in with every day. I only have so many hours I can dedicate to training and although in December my job is usually quiet, in January it is bonkers busy. This is one of the reasons why I didn’t manage to write a blog post. So I will continue swimming but spin and cycling will be left alone until the end of March.

At the end of December I was contacted by TMR HQ and asked if I would assist them with an empowerment campaign aimed at women who find it difficult to exercise for fear of judgement. I jumped at the chance as this is something I really believe in, having rambled on in this blog for more than 2 years now about the mental challenge about calling myself a “runner” when I’m so slow etc, I felt like it was designed for me. The Captain asked if I would attend and be filmed reciting a poem and recorded doing so and that it would be a proper video, with a director and camera crew. A couple of weeks later, they said the results were good, but they needed footage of me running to complete it. I am not going to lie, being filmed running (in lycra) was not mentioned at the beginning and possibly may have influenced my decision whether to participate or not, but I was in too deep now and so on Sunday 7 in January at 8am, I was running around a Bristol park, in the snow, being filmed. It was absolutely freezing but the Director and Cameraman were brilliant. A few days later the results were posted and dare I say it, I am quite proud of them. Hopefully, as this blog shows, you do not need to look like Paula Radcliffe to be a runner and that we all come in shapes and sizes. Here is a link to the video

I have been told that the video has been viewed 103,000 times which absolutely terrifies and thrills me in equal measure. If it convinces one person to give running a try then that morning running in -2c will have been worth it.

On Friday evening last week, I was asked to speak at a Charity Scouts fundraising event called “RunFest”. As I sat listening to the lady who had run at least 5k a day since the 1970s, and the gentleman who trained Kenyan Athletes, the Ultra runner and many, many other amazing people, I did wonder what I was doing there?….but I went ahead all the same to tell my running story and really enjoyed the experience. I was asked afterwards if I had considered a career in “stand-up” as my stories were funny….but no, this really is my life!!  I also sold quite a few more books and raised some more money for MacMillan Cancer so it was all extremely worthwhile. I might have also agreed to do a 30 mile Ultra run (which I’m assured is a bit of running, a lot of walking and this will be fuelled by cake)..and so I’m sure there will be more on this as the year progresses.

There are only 19 books remaining now and I don’t think we will be doing another print run, so if you would like one, please do order one.

Here is the link:

Or you can order through the facebook page:

Every penny of profit is being donated to Macmillan Cancer and so far we have raised £622 which I am absolutely delighted with. Thank you to everyone who has bought one.

Yesterday, I ran the London Winter 10k which was organised by Cancer Research UK. This was a 10k around the City of London and I ran it with my long time best mate Blanche. Blanche and I have enjoyed many weekends away over the years, but they have usually involved drinking and dancing so this was a new and unknown kind of weekend for us. It was the first time that Blanche had run more than 5.5k ever in one go and she was AMAZING, smashing 10k and amassing PBs throughout the run. I hope this will be a new thing that we can do together now. My google history this morning is a list of “10k races in….Barcelona/Paris/Amsterdam/Milan/New York/LasVegas” etc because after all, it is all about balance. I think I might have that phrase engraved on my headstone when the time comes. We celebrated in style yesterday afternoon with a pint of lager (with the TMR Captain and Mrs Womble, who is a TMR London Runner whom I have chatted with quite a bit on line and it was lovely to finally meet her) gin and tonic (obviously), crisps and then a meal out with red wine. It was brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend and neither one of us would have ever predicted even 3 years ago that we would ever have had a weekend away together that would include a 10k race.

Before I finish I just want to give a little shout-out of support to my training partner Hattie, who is managing some very sad family stuff at the moment that is impacting every aspect of her life. Life can throw some horrid stuff at us sometimes for no reason at all but I hope that the running is helping with the headspace. I miss running with you and I’m sending love to your whole family.

Into February, I will try and blog a bit more regularly, not least because it helps focus my mind for training and the London Landmarks half marathon is really creeping up now. Time to properly get down to work and be a #runnerfullstop.









December Struggles and Future Plans

Why is it so difficult in December to maintain a healthy approach to life?

Over the course of 2017, on average, I don’t really drink that much alcohol anymore – well not like I used to anyway. Those of you who have only got to know me more recently, won’t really be surprised by that statement, but those who have known me a long time, will probably be quite shocked, but it is true. I might have a bottle of beer on a Friday night and a couple of glasses of wine with Sunday lunch, but on the whole, I don’t really drink that much alcohol. I think that this coupled with all the running has definitely has made it easier to maintain the weight I originally lost when I originally decided to change my life in January 2016.

However, as much as I don’t really drink alcohol when I’m at home now, I definitely DO drink if I go out. But I don’t go out that much generally over the course of the year (sad but true). However, in December, I am out, (“Out Out”, if you’re a Mickey Flanagan fan) most of the month. I dread to think how many bottles of prosecco I have consumed since the 1st December. Actually, I don’t dread to think…I love it. All the dancing, eating, giggling, eating and drinking is lots of fun and although it’s a bit of a cliché, I love spending time with friends and family at this time of year.

However, all the calories add up and although for the rest of the year the running keeps everything in check, in December it requires a more focussed approach and so I elected to run more and often as well as do a couple of Joe Wicks HIITS (minus the mountain climbers). My running has been a bit hap hazard since the Bristol half marathon and although I have run at least once, usually (but not always) twice a week, this seemed like a good opportunity to re-discover my running “mojo” as well as mix my routine up a bit.

I have signed up for a Sprint triathlon in May next year (400m swim, 24k cycle and a 5k run) and so I need to incorporate some swimming and cycling into my training. I’ve been running now for nearly 2 years and as regular readers will know, I have a complicated relationship with it. I love and loathe it in equal measure and after training for the Bristol half marathon and undertaking a weekly “long” run, I did feel as though I was in danger of becoming bored with it. This was part of my rationale with signing up for a triathlon – it would give me different things to focus on in addition to the running. I’ve also been assured by Merida over a glass or 3 of prosecco, that cycling and swimming will help build general overall fitness and these sports are the natural companions to running. They will also help with the running and make me a better runner? Time will tell.

Not many people know this, but I LOVE swimming and also in a surprising twist to the story, I’m NOT terrible at it. I find it peaceful and I am quite at home in the water. I can swim 400m breaststroke in just under 13 minutes and although I have been assured that this would be a respectable time for the triathlon (and importantly I won’t embarrass myself), it also won’t surprise you to learn that I’m going to learn how to front crawl as it will apparently save my legs, according to Swim Dad. Why take the easy road when there is always a more complicated one to explore as is my motto?! But ultimately, as always, I want to do the best I can and so swimming front crawl is necessary.

2 days before Christmas Eve, I took my daughters to the local swimming baths in an effort to burn off some pre-Christmas excitement. I went with the expectation that I would swim lengths and my girls would “play”, but I was wrong. My daughters spent 30 minutes coaching me and my haphazard front crawl. They sat either end of the swimming pool and explained what I should do in order to achieve good front crawl technique and I practiced swimming between them. They also swam and showed me too. The lifeguard seemed a bit confused and came over to ask what was going on and when I explained, he told me they were doing a good job as my “shark fin” had improved – er ok then?! I felt very proud of my girls and grateful. I managed 250m of front crawl (needing short breathers in between each length) and I was delighted. I’ll be adding this to my list of things to work on for 2018.

Swimming Photo with Lois and Rachel

But back to the running. I’ve run much more in December than I did in October or November as I have battled to still be able to fit into my Christmas Party dress.

These have included a very enjoyable Harbour Loop with Curly Sue and the LA Blond before we had lunch at a vegetarian restaurant (I’d never eaten in a vegetarian restaurant before – big thumbs up from me) and a This Mum Runs Christmas extravaganza that was planned as a usual Wednesday night run, running down the Bath Road in the rain and freezing cold that saw me hurdle a rat as it ran across the path in front of me (I didn’t know that I could jump that high!) that ended in the pub. I think more people might give running a try if there was a pub at the end of each effort. It would have definitely helped me in the early stages of couch to 5k! I can just hear the woman on the app saying, “well done on completing week 3, now get to the pub and drink a pint of lager…you’ve earnt it”.

However, the highlight of December running calendar (especially in the This Mum Runs annual calendar) is the Weston Super Mare Christmas Cracker. This is a 10k that takes place largely on the beach in Weston. It also happens in fancy dress… as a general rule, I am not a fan of fancy dress. In truth I despise it and yet I was doing a good impression of someone who was excited at the prospect of running 6 miles in the sand, dressed as a mouse. (TMR had entered the Group Fancy dress competition under the theme of “Cinderella the Panto” with Merida running as Cinderella, our Captain running as an Ugly Sister and Hattie and I running as mice which would become footmen. We won first prize which was exciting as I don’t usually come first at anything when I run in a race!) It was a very tough run as the sand was unforgiving and it was also very cold, but we giggled and sang carols on the way round. Hattie and I were accompanied by another lady on the run and we were privileged to run with her on her first ever 10k. She did brilliantly and I am sure that she will do more and I also know that she has signed up for the Bristol half marathon next year. She is a runner (even though she doesn’t believe me when I tell her that she is).

Today I ran my last 10k and got my final medal of the year at Westonbirt House. Husband was also competing and I ran with Curly Sue, who is back in full “coach mode” having agreed to train Hattie and I as we work towards the London Landmarks half marathon at the end of March. We survived the Bristol Half but now we want to improve.  The Westonbirt 10k was excellent. I’ve been struggling with a sore throat and chesty cough. I lost my voice for a couple of days this week and my asthma has been tricky so I knew that I wouldn’t get the time I wanted, but did work hard and enjoyed it, well I mostly enjoyed it, as with most runs. My final kilometre was the second fastest of the whole run and very fast for me, which shows me that I can push myself. Curly Sue is going to help me work on this over the next couple of months.

After existing on a diet of cheese and pringles over the last week or so, (what can you do? It’s Christmas after all!) I have elected to really sort my diet out over the next couple of months. If I am to improve as a runner, which I want to do, then I know I will need to try and lose some weight. This means I will need to pay more attention to what I eat. I’m not dieting and you know my feelings on them (they suck) but I’m going to try to eat better in order to build muscle and hopefully shed some fat.  Running is hard, but if you’re heavy, it’s harder and tougher on your joints, so I’m going to try and weigh less. The challenge with this is that long runs make me very hungry indeed so planning will be key. I am sure I will talk about this more as the weeks progress.

Next Wednesday it will be 2 years since I went on my first ever run. So much has changed in my life and so much if this is because I am now a runner. This word no longer scares me. I am a runner.

Next year, I have 1 half marathon in the diary already and I know Hattie and I will do another in the Autumn (we can’t quite decide which one yet) and there will be 10ks, probably quite a few. But also next year there will be a sprint triathlon, swimming (lots of swimming) as well as cycling. This will bring brand new challenges and although these challenges scare me enormously, I am also very excited about them. Being scared is no reason not to give things a go. Imagine if the fear had stopped me downloading that app 2 years ago – where would I be now? What would I look like? What state would my heart be in? But most importantly, I would never have met all my wonderful running friends and let me tell you, running friends are the BEST. If you’re already a runner, keep going – you are doing an awesome job. If you’re not……..come and join our gang. You won’t regret it I promise. I haven’t.

Christmas Party Dress

Happy New Year to you.

Chunky Runner 41….Volume 2

After I completed the Bristol Half Marathon in September 2017, I stated that I wouldn’t be writing this blog anymore and so it would be wrapped up. So as you are now reading my new blog post, I am sure you are asking yourself, “Why? What’s changed?”

Well….a couple of things.

When I started running in January 2016, it was because I wanted to lose weight and set my daughters a better example. I wanted to do it and knew I needed to do it, but I didn’t know HOW to do it or what to do. In fact I felt pretty hopeless. My sister gave me the confidence to try and gave me the tools to do it whilst supporting me.  This same sister was diagnosed with skin cancer last Summer and has undergone a fairly unpleasant second half to the year whilst she has been prodded and examined by many different doctors and nurses and undergone surgery to remove the cancer. The Macmillan Nurses in particular have been nothing short of spectacular as my sister has wrestled with all manner of things thrown at her.

Sadly I don’t know anyone who had not have their life rocked by cancer by one way or another. This horrifying disease has taken my Grandfather, my Aunt, my favourite Uncle, it’s threatened my cousin, my friend, my Mother in Law and now has my sister in its’ vicious grips. It sucks.

You will notice that the blog that you have read previously has disappeared. I’ve taken it down.

Chunky Runner 41 has been made into a book and will shortly be available to buy. Now I know this seems like a bonkers idea (I promise you, I have wrestled with this much over the past 6 weeks), but there have been nearly 1000 regular readers of this blog over the past 2 years (this has constantly surprised me) and so even if 5% of you decide you would like to buy the book in order to enjoy again and again my efforts as I tried and learned to run, this will raise some money. ALL profits from the book will be donated to MacMillan. This is not to fund my Superhero running leggings habit or gin collection, it is only to raise money so other people can be as well looked after as my sister has been and continues to be.

I have set up a facebook page called “Chunky Runner 41 – Claire Tiley”. If you would like to read my blog in future and/or buy the book, please can you find this page and “like” it as this will be the ONLY way that I will share my blog going forward and as soon as the books arrive from the printers, I will let you know (via the facebook page) when you will be able to buy them.

It’s a gamble admittedly and I might end with a pile of books that nobody wants, but if the past 2 years of running have taught me anything, it’s that you’ve got to give these things a try. It would make a wonderful Christmas gift for someone who is perhaps thinking about giving running a go in the New Year, or it could be used as a  manual for someone who is training to break the “world’s slowest runner” record.

As well as this, there are a couple of other reasons why I have decided to continue writing:

  • Quite a few people have asked me to carry on (which is lovely)
  • I’ve missed writing it as I find it quite cathartic
  • In 2018, I will be :
    • running at last one (possibly two) more half marathons. The first one (London Landmarks is in March 2018)
    • Participating in a 54 mile bike ride (September 2018)
    • Taking part in a Sprint Triathlon. (May 2018). The triathlon is a 400 metre swim (16 lengths), a 24k bike ride (15 miles) and a 5k run at the end (3 miles).

I am very excited indeed about the triathlon, although slightly anxious about the outfits and extremely worried about the possibility of “doing a Brownlee” over the finish line – with me being the Brownlee about to pass out whilst being dragged over the line, rather than the strong one doing the dragging….

So as you can see, plenty there for me to get stuck into and talk about. I’m quite excited about my planned events for 2018.

But what about the rest of 2017? Well, I’m currently training for a 10k on the 17th December called the “Christmas Cracker” in Weston-Super-Mare and I’m doing it in fancy dress. I won’t say what the theme is as I’m entering as part of the “This Mum Runs” team and there is fancy dress competition which everyone is taking VERY seriously.  What I can say is that I am going to be running 10k, dressed as a mouse. Here is my outfit.

Mouse Suit

I don’t know how fast I can run 10k dressed as a mouse (that looks suspiciously like Bungle from Rainbow) but we’ll find out. Sometimes running is a serious business and sometimes it isn’t. Life has felt pretty serious over the past 6 months and so some light relief will be welcome. I’ll let you know how I get on.