Equinox24. The Race With A Soul.

“I don’t know if I’m ready for the emotional roller coaster of this field”

“You are, you’ve been amazing, have a clean tissue”

I didn’t know if the tears were from the pain in my feet/hips/legs or my brain trying to work out the enormity of what I had just done. I wiped the tears from my eyes and put on my sunglasses, didn’t work, I still looked like a crying baby.

I put one foot in front of the other, it seemed to need so much bloody concentration, the team runners were still in camp and still cheering on solos as they covered their last miles. I tried to say thank you but I think I just grunted. I could hear the cowbells, nearly home, as I worked myself down the field towards the lake I could see the white gazebo of Shabba Camp with the red shirts waiting for me, I couldn’t wait for those hugs. I felt absolutely broken.

I collected Shabbas as I passed, I was still crying, we rounded the corner and I headed for the finish, very, very slowly.

If I’m honest, I wasn’t looking forward to Equinox and I’m not sure many of us were. Once The Vitruvian was finished, I was ready for a break, I couldn’t wait another three weeks, I wanted out now. I thought about withdrawing, but I wanted to see my friends. I thought about moving my place onto a team, but my pride wouldn’t let me do that. Oh well, I’ll have to just go then. I shouldn’t, I haven’t trained and am doing this on the back of 8 months triathlon training, I’ve been ill for weeks not knowing what it is that is actually wrong and I have no voice, so yeah, prepared.

I had done a couple of 24 hour events already this year, as good as they were, there was something missing and it made it hard to look forward to Equinox. As soon as Rae and I drove into the field it came back, this place is amazing, it has a soul.

I was scared, my awesome Run Slave Saz tried to take my mind off things and we went for a walk to check out the new addition to the course, we caught up with friends and before long Cousin Tom and H had arrived and base camp was ready to go. A few drinks, a win in the Beer Mile for Saz and hugs from Shabba Camp later and it was time for bed.

I took the opportunity to sleep in H’s camper to try and get a decent nights sleep, we opened the blind to a glorious view of the lake. The sun was shining and there was mist skimming the water, H and I smiled at each other like kids at Christmas and opened the other blind and was greeted by the sun beaming on the castle. This. This is why we love this event.

The castle

Time flew by and before I knew it I was making my way to the start. I found the Shabbas and tried to relax a bit, next thing I knew we were being herded towards the start line. I made my way towards the back with H, I asked her to run her first team lap with me to work out my markings, we ran and chatted, walking the hills and having a nice time. I also had a pep talk from H, at no point after this race was I allowed to call myself shit, I knew that I wouldn’t, I knew I would get to ultra distance and that would be my furthest distance ever. Who wouldn’t be proud of that?! I had this morning revised my goals, it was always 100km, no less, but knowing that I was ill and not run fit I gave myself some B and C goals too. So, C goal was 50km, B goal was 80km and A goal stayed at 100km.

Waiting for the start

H and I Lap 1

The first lap seemed to go really quickly, I was so pleased to share it with H. We rounded the camping field and already the teams were cheering other runners on, Saz appeared from behind a tent and pelted it towards me, I did a little running dance and she told me she was 2nd lady in the 10km, huzzah!! High fives from Shabba Camp and lap 1 was done. I nipped into base camp for an emergency wee (there were lots of these!) and to grab some pain killers that I had forgotten and was on my way for lap 2.

H passed the team baton over to Cousin Tom who asked me if he could run with me. Now, I knew that I should do miles on my own but one piece of advice I took from Kneeyul was not to refuse the offer of company, even if I feel ace (well, actually, I did take more advice from Kneeyul after reading his blog from TR24, no way was I getting arse chaffing) so Cousin Tom and I went off for lap 2. We spent some time chatting with Sid as we went back and forth over taking each other, it wasn’t long before Sid got ahead, I’ve always been a bit of a dawdler where as it seemed Sid was more of a marcher up the hills, and also, who made that long hill up to 5km steeper please, that was NOT there last year!! At the end of the lap it was time for food, I marched into base camp with a list of things I needed, Saz was excellent run slave and instructed me to sit down and she ran around getting everything for me, well, this is winning!!

I shoveled a pot noodle down myself and tea and got ready to head out, Kneeyul was desperate to run so he joined me. By this point I had started to get a bit stroppy, I taught Kneeyul a few swears on the way around as he entertained himself mimicking my accent (sigh) until he saw Sid coming down the hill in the other direction. Giggling to himself, he ran over and hid behind a tree (like all 36 year olds do) and as Sid went passed, jumped out and trolled him with some insult, from a distance I’m sure Sid told him to f@&k off, best trolling ever!

Running with Kneeyul

At the end of this lap people camping on the field were starting to recognise me which was just lovely, getting personal cheers was making me smile, the cowbells were becoming comforting, I could hear them from 8km so I made sure to thank them as I ran passed, a few hugs from Shabba Camp and back to base to change my socks. I heard a familiar voice and turned around to see Yvonne and Mick with family who had decided on a day out to come running, what an amazing surprise!! I had started to struggle mentally so had decided to walk the next lap out and made Von come with me so we could chat, I wasn’t missing out on ALL of the fun cos of the running!!

With Von

100m into lap 4 and I got a tap on the shoulder and a very nice lady introduced herself as Cathy offa twitter, hooray!! She joined Von and I and we had a nice time walking and chatting, it really helped me to get out of my grump. We ran some bits and walked hills, the girls kept me entertained and as the lap went on I was able to run more of it. I felt really good coming into base camp and thought I would go out on my own for the next lap. Saz sat me down and forced a jacket potato down my gob, I was about to go and Kneeyul announced he was joining me, like a kid at Christmas he couldn’t wait to use his new headtorch, cos really, 8.

Well, it was a good job Kneeyul came out on this lap with me cos he ended up being (ahem, self titled) savior of my race. Just after 3km something exploded in my right foot, ow. Literally I thought my foot was hanging off. I found a tree stump to sit on and warned Kneeyul that taking my sock off might be tres disgusting. I peeled it off and we both leaned over to take a good look at the ‘explosion’. Ummmmmm. We looked at each other and then back at my foot. I started to poke it, ‘it DOES hurt, HONEST Kneeyul, just there, LOOK’ (que Kneeyul doing a mini sick). In an attempt to get away from ‘The Foot’ Kneeyul offered to run back to camp to get plasters, so off he trotted the 600m (THERE AND BACK) to pick up compeed. Foot plastered up, I carried on, with the savior of my race along side me. Mind, I also needed the loo, wonder if Kneeyul could also help with that? Part time savior.

I cant remember much of lap 6, apart from Saz came and I know I was really tired in the last 5km. I remember having a conversation with Team Bear and with The Shabbas at the end, all I could think about was finishing this lap, eating and sleeping, it was all really hurting. I got back to base camp and everyone was still up, Cousin Tom was drunk (amaze) I grabbed a chair and hovered over it, no, that’s not working, better to chuck myself into it. I ate and had a hot chocolate, and made the decision to get some sleep. The team however had different ideas, one more lap.

What followed was nothing short of bullying! But, they got me out for another lap, joined by H and Saz I hobbled around very quietly. I complain a lot, but when I go quiet is when I am really not happy. I couldn’t answer questions or contribute to a conversation, this was shit. I could hear Sid approaching us from behind chatting away to someone, as they passed I realised it was Alex and I launched at him for a hug, he was on a double lap but we all walked together for a time before they both ran on. As we entered the field Alex ran passed again and said he would have tea waiting for me at the end, I don’t care hat the team said, I was signing out at the end of this lap and getting some sleep.

Sure enough, Alex was there with Stewart and a cup of tea. Both of them had done solo last year and this year were in a team together, I cried a bit, I knew I only had 1 lap to go for B goal. It was 3:45am, time for sleep.

I managed to get in the tent (launched self in head first) and covered myself up with my coat and straight to sleep. I didn’t set an alarm, turned out I didn’t need to, I woke up half an hour later freezing cold. Oh good, all my warm stuff was in H’s camper, including my super warm sleeping bag. I wonder if part of Run Slave duties are giving up your super warm DryRobe?? I don’t know if I dared! I cried pathetically, then realised I was lying on my hoodie, I put that on and warmed up slightly. I dosed on and off until I could hold out anymore, I needed another emergency wee.

I tried to get out the tent, I had totally seized up, and I was stuck. It took me around 20 minutes to get out of it. Desperate for a wee I got my shoes on and tried to move to the portaloo. Jesus this next lap was going to be hard work. The short walk there and back took me 30 minutes. I got back to camp and decided on breakfast and tea, I kept trying but my brain just wouldn’t work until I just declared loudly ‘can somebody help me please??!’ As if by magic Saz appeared from the tent as did Liz, ace, breakfast. Again, I hovered over a chair before just throwing myself onto it and chatted with Liz and Saz until I decided it was time to go out again. I’d decided, just one more, make it to B goal, stop with the heroics, you’re already broken.

Liz and I walked up to start as she was going out for her last team lap. I saw Johnny and he called over ‘one more lap Loz?’ I smiled and nodded ‘one more’.

Cousin Tom had decided to join us too. They chatted to each other as I hobbled round. I hurt, so much. I was doing toilet over sharing, basically talking jibberish. Any down hill was killing my hips and quads, my feet were moving in my shoes and I could feel the blisters getting worse. There is a steep downhill section which I was finding particularly difficult to get down, getting up the other side was easier and I was getting slower and slower. The guys were counting down the kilometers, every time I had a little cry. I heard the cowbells, it was nearly over. 2kms to go, at this speed, 30mins and I’d be finished.

So, there I was. At base camp with 100m to go, surrounded and bought home by my favourite people. The next 100m were mine, but I didn’t want to walk them alone. Saz told me to put my arms up as I crossed the line, I couldn’t. I crossed the line and saw Johnny smiling, I gave him the biggest hug and burst into tears. I’d done it. Something that seemed impossible was done, I’d gone further than I ever thought possible.

Last 100m

Getting medal from Laura

I’m fully aware how lucky I am. Base Camp was full of my bestest friends who between them and without me asking didn’t let me do a lap on my own, sacrificing their own team and lap times to support me, I can’t thank H, Cousin Tom, Kneeyul, Rae, Pilla, Liz and Damo enough, especially for the slight bullying that went on at 1am, which I think Kneeyul enjoyed just a little bit too much.

Also, Shabba Camp, who checked on me every time I passed, to check I was ok and give hugs and encouragement, and who bought me home.

There were too many people that were giving amazing support, Kenilworth Runners including my good friend Mike who checked I was doing what I needed to on EVERY lap, Team Poppyfields headed up by the gorgeous Michy, Alex and Stewart who held me up at 3:30am when I was full of cries, fellow Solo Shabbas Phil and Tigger, my running hero and friend Mike Wells who appeared just after I crossed the line and provided VERY sweaty hugs.

Hug with Mike

Johnny and Laura. You bloody amazing people. You make the effort to get to know EVERYONE personally. You have made all of us part of the same family. This race has a soul and it’s beautiful. Thank you so much for what you do.

And Saz. My friend, hero, inspiration and run slave. I learnt everything from you.

Someone said to me once that I always think I have something to prove. I’d agree with that, but, not to anyone else. I only wanted to ever prove whatever it was to myself. With all the challenges I have set myself over the last few years this was by far the hardest, and the only race/challenge/event I have ever done where I have walked away from it with my head held high, that I was’t shit, that I did it.

Medal

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I still have a confused face……

I’m known as being a faffer. So finding the road I needed at 5am Sunday morning was closed when I was en route to my race was not ideal. Great, now I was going to be late, there is too much to do on the morning of a triathlon to be late, and for a faffer, I’m going to run out of time.

I arrived just after 6am, so actually not late BUT, I still had breakfast to eat…..I’m super grumpy in the morning, so with a 4am alarm I was extra grumpy, and now I was going to have to talk to actual people so I was throwing in an extra bit of grump, and I was also hungry…..and I think by this point, growling.

After registering and catching up with Saz (who was mega organised) I shoveled breakfast down my face, got Le Bike out the car and wandered down to transition to get myself sorted. I chatted with Saz for a while before she realised how much I was faffing and she disappeared, yes, my faffing is THAT annoying!

Finally I was ready, we found out where briefing was and went for a jog around to warm up, I say jog, more dancing around avoiding goose poo in bare feet, I imagine it looked more like some kind of ritual dance than a warm up, oh well.

Briefing done and it was time to get in the water for a 5 minute warm up. Todays race would be a deep water start which suits me better than a beach start, I wanted to get in the mix a bit though, I had sharpened my elbows especially. The klaxon went and off we went, there were around 200 competitors so 100ish in my wave, although I had a target for the swim, I needed to practice drafting so for the first 500m I sat on the feet of a very kicky swimmer and relaxed. The water was lovely, I felt great and the nerves had disappeared…this was nice. I properly love open water swimming, I think I swam the whole thing with a big grin on my face!

We got to the first turn and I decided to drop the girl I was drafting and go it alone. I could see the splashes of the swimmers ahead so thought I might try and catch them, had I not had to stop 3 times to unsteam goggles I might have managed to as when we got nearer the exit they were only 5 metres or so ahead. I thought this was the pack, I thought the girl I was drafting earlier in the race had passed me on my right, I thought I was last out.

I ran out the water and looked at my garmin…..WHAT??? Seriously….WHAT??? 30:31. My target was 32:something and I thought I would be pushing that! I ran into transition…..Why are there so many bikes here please?? WHAT IS GOING ON?? I striped off out of my wetsuit, I might as well LOOK as though I know what I’m doing, socks and shoes straight on, helmet on and looked up, Saz was running into transition. CONFUSED FACE!!

Confused face

I then faffed around for an age with gloves (could’ve done that on the bike) stopped to sort out garmin (could’ve done that on the bike) stopped to have a drink (could’ve done that on the bike) so I lost ALL my time in T1. It did mean though that I got to see Saz doing her skiddy runny thing when she nearly rode into a ditch, so, silver lining.

Again I had a target for the bike, I was concerned that I wasn’t going to hold the speed that I needed to. It it well documented that I am not strong on the bike and there were a couple of testing hills that I remembered from the recce but there were also some flat sections where I could really work on making up time. Loads passed me on the bike, but I was expecting that with it being a weak discipline for me. The route itself was beautiful and the roads were good. I could see as the miles ticked by that I was keeping on target and I felt great. At 28km we turned and headed for home, the head wind was brutal! There was still the final climb to go and we had been told that some idiot had stuck temporary traffic lights halfway up the climb but luckily I didn’t get caught out and was able to ride straight up it. At the top and there was just 5km to go, time to get my head down and make up that time.

I arrived back into transition and again checked the watch, my target was 1:34, I was back in 1:33 and had held that average speed of 16mph (my fastest ever), so NO faffing in transition!! I felt really good, but I knew that if I wasn’t careful I would suffer on the run as I have a tendency to go out too hard. I paced myself well, I wanted 58 minutes but they had told us the run was long, so I wasn’t going to risk blowing up in mile 5 by going mental now! Just like the bike route the run was beautiful, I was able to run this smiling just at how lovely my surroundings were. It was a little bit lumpy in places but nothing too severe and not enough to really slow me down. Again when we turned for home on the other side of the lake the head wind was evil, I felt my HR start to rise as I tried to keep a steady pace and it got tougher, but, 10km runs are supposed to be hard, right??

I hit 10km in exactly 60 minutes, but of course it was as promised long, and I finished the run in 1:02 with a total finish time of 3:12, a whole 16 minutes faster than my first Olympic triathlon just 2 weeks earlier! And, I had a MASSIVE smile on my face, I had really enjoyed myself AND hit my targets!

After stuffing ALL of the melon in my face I caught up with Saz who had finished a long time ago and exchanged stories from our races. Saz had come first in our age group, and it appears, I had come forth!

Saz and I

Later on in the day, I got a message from Saz:

“Loz, you were first out the water in our age group!!”

Again, WHAT???

I checked the results. I was. Not only that, I was 11th lady out the water. (cries)

This is massive. My swimming has had a bit of a journey over the last couple of years. I couldn’t do it, I was scared of it, when I say I was useless I mean properly useless, and how I have turned that around to where it is now I have now idea, but I have. This year though it has really turned a corner, working with my coach has transformed my swim from ‘meh, it’ll get me through’ to being my favourite part of the day. In fact, it has transformed so much that during some open water coaching with my coach she had to double check it was me, and commented ‘I wouldn’t have believed that had I not seen it for myself, excellent work!’

I still have the confused face.

I was asked the question today ‘would you have thought this possible this time last year?’ and the answer? No, absolutely not.

Don’t be fooled. I know that this is still not seen as ‘fast’, but I’m not going to stop here. I plan to get faster. It seems impossible now but a 30 minute 1500m seemed impossible only a month ago, so my next target will come, and then I will move onto the next.

It is ok to say I’m good at it yet???

Rae found some words…..

My wonderful friend Rae McKay ran Manchester marathon. She found some words and I asked her if I could share them with you. I hope you enjoy as much as I did, the words are just perfect…..


I have no idea how to write this, how to start this or where even to begin.


Do I even need to write this, do I need some lasting written memory; do I need you to know this? Do you need to put your trainers on when the winds horizontal and rain unrelenting or there is ice on the ground and snow in the air? Probably not, but you do & it’s not the best run in the world, but it helps.


Maybe I’m hoping this will help.


Marathon came at a point in my life where everything I once knew was coming or had come to an end. I needed a self-reliant adventure to see what I was made of, to see if I like who I was. This wasn’t about anyone but me.


It was a journey of holding on and letting go, on when to give it your all and when to hold back, when to keep fighting and when it’s time to give up. One of the most important things it taught me is that it will all sort itself out in the long run, one way or the other.


They weren’t always pretty, some ended in tears on the side of the road where I could see my house through the gap but I just had nothing left to get me there. Some I wished would never end. Some runs hurt me, some I ran because I was hurting, some I ran because others were hurting, some I ran when I didn’t want to & some I didn’t because I couldn’t face doing it all again.


They were also usually a run of two halves, the first half dealing with things. There were things along the way I dealt with, with all the poise, grace and dignity of an over tired child on a sugar come down & the second half was acceptance of things & finding a way to let go.

But I think the best thing it taught me, was the absolute comfort at the moment you think you’re on your own and you’ve  lost your way that comes from a “me too” or the advice from people around you that you admire. 


Be it stood in the toilet queue at a race looking like you’re not sure what to do & being told to run with your heart, or that big hug at the end because they’ve waited in the cold for you to finish & all you can say is that was hard, or that exchange of stories the night before a race that it turns out you both found running because you felt awkward in your ages, or that genuine “me too” when you’re looking around the merchandise stand post-race feeling brave enough to confess you don’t really know what you’re doing. Or that Sunday afternoon reply to the text with words of kindness for what you’ve achieved when they did it too, in half the time. Or that sound advice over a coffee from a chance meeting. Or sitting round a table looking at excited faces for you and realising you’ve not run out of fight, just some of the things you’ve been fighting for aren’t what you want anymore. Or someone letting your tears fall on their shoulder and hugging you harder when you started shaking because what you didn’t think you could do was what they wanted most but circumstance meant they couldn’t.


All this from people you admire for the things they’ve achieved & because they remember nothing comes easy, that you’re tired and you’re trying & they’re either there again too or are humble enough to remember the struggle. 


I can honestly say Manchester Marathon weekend was magical, full of moments and words and people and things that you can’t commit to paper. Sometimes it’s just as much about the fire in your soul, the miles in your feet and the love in your heart as it is your strategy because I didn’t have one.


I ran with love in my heart, because you told me too.


I ran every footstep, because you couldn’t.


I enjoyed every mile, because there you all were when I needed to see you all most.


I ran my last mile quicker, because you’d told me to focus on that when runs were hard.


I finished it, because I wanted to make you proud.


I didn’t cry, because it turned out exactly how it should in the end.


I keep trying to thank people, especially the one who wrote the training plan, who marked my homework, who checked in, who shared his home to make it all happen. Like them he kept saying ‘but you’re the one doing all the hard work’.


Maybe now you’ll see that it’s because that was the easy bit & you helped more than you’ll ever know with the really hard bit.


It’s hard to believe I’ll be so lucky for all this to happen twice in my lifetime.

Mallorca 70.3

Nearly 12 months ago, I sat opposite Brian enjoying a coffee and listening to his story of Mallorca 70.3 2014 as he tried to settle my nerves going into Outlaw Half. I say he tried to settle my nerves, I’m not sure how a story of a horrific fall on the bike caused by a crazy German settled my nerves but it did. Not long after Outlaw Half, we had a similar race debrief and he planted a seed……..although at this point I was still firmly in the ‘never again’ camp!

THIS IS ALL BRIANS FAULT!!!!

Fast forward 10 months and I’m boarding a flight to Mallorca for a lovely holiday with family and friends, with just the small issue of a Half Ironman smack bang in the middle of it.

Training going into the race is going well. My swim has improved dramatically, I can still stay upright on the bike and my run is stronger and faster. Mallorca is a B race, a holiday with a race in it, although in saying that, I still wanted to do well.

I spent the week before the race combining family time and race prep, starting with sea swims. I was FAR too much of a wimp to go out and do this on my own so went out with Brian. It was like my first even open water swim, I panicked, had a tight chest and geez the water tasted bloody awful and I wasn’t having a nice time at all, seeing the bottom was freaking me out and as it got deeper I was feeling more and more uneasy. After about 200m of bobbing about and teeny bits of swimming we got out. Loads of positives in that swim……first time ever swimming in the sea, didn’t die, quite fancied getting in again tomorrow for another go.

The next day was better. Anne came down to get her ‘supporters training’ in and again Brian and I went out for more bobbing about. We swam further, felt more comfortable and smug at getting out. The water still tasted disgusting but I know that I certainly felt better than during yesterdays swim. I even christened my wetsuit, although this isn’t why the water tasted disgusting – honest. The final swim before the race kinda all clicked together, we swam around 700m and felt great, much more relaxed, and dare I say it……faster. I was ready for the swim, yussssssssss!! 

  

  

 Next on the hit list this week was the bike. I had managed to unpack and build the bike without too much drama (lets forget the massive meltdown I had before I declared it was stupid and went to get help) so I was ready to try what I had been dreading, the decent. Brian and Amy had kindly offered to help me out and I am so bloody grateful for this! My bike handling skills have A LOT to be desired so getting down the mountain was something I really needed to do before race day. I’ll be honest, I really didn’t think it was going to be as tight as it was in places, I don’t think I have ever concentrated that hard doing anything before and once at the bottom my hands hurt so much from being on the brakes as much as I was, but, it was done, and I’m a great believer in once you have done something once you can do it again, and I’ve done it once. Let just hope my legs don’t shake quite as much at the bottom on race day cos I might’ve nearly fallen over when I climbed off the bike!! But, that was another job done ready for race day. I was getting good at this, race prep square.

With everything else ticked off my list there was only a few things left to do. Register. Briefing. Pack bags. Rack bike.

Before the briefing my nerves had hit an all time high. There were a million questions going around in my head and I was scared about the whole thing. I know this is a good thing, it’s good to be nervous but it doesn’t make it feel any nicer!! I was a pain in the arse back at the villa, I spent most of my time staring into space, my family and friends having to second guess what I was thinking  and find different ways of asking me if I was ok to not get their heads bitten off or to get ‘The Glare’. Strangely, as soon as the briefing was over, I felt ok. I knew it was going to happen, so I just allowed myself to go along with it instead of fighting it and thankfully got the best nights sleep I have had since we arrived. 

  

 And then it was race day.

I don’t really know how to write it. So, here goes…….

Things that were ace about Race Day

Amy

EVERYONE should have an Amy. As well as meeting me in transition on race morning Amy has been amazing this past week. She made sure that I got down the mountain ok talking me through the twists, turns and fast sections all the way down, she has answered the stupidest of questions I could think of and been reassuring and a fountain of knowledge the entire time. She has a bloody massive heart of gold. After we met in transition it was a final check of the bikes, back to Amy’s to put on wetsuits, drop bags, warm up swim then good luck hugs before she went to get her spot, and I took mine, at the back, on the left, just like my race plan said. 

 
The Swim

They PILED into the water! I had chatted to coach about the best way to deal with the start, and we had agreed to let them go as getting into the water and feeling comfortable was the most important thing. The first 100m or so was as expected fizzy water and that feeling of a tightness on my chest but soon enough the water cleared, I could see the bottom and started to relax. Soon enough I was passing people as Mary assured me I would. I stayed out to the left and out of trouble and concentrated on my breathing, every 4 stokes on my left arm I looked up to stay on course and to make sure I wasn’t drifting over to the mayhem, I was passing more groups of swimmers and feeling great, I was actually enjoying this! Soon enough the turn came and we headed back to the shore, I managed to get stuck behind the kickiest swimmer EVER! I had no idea what my time was going to be but secretly I had quite fancied 38 minutes but thought this was too far out of my reach, I stood up out the water and checked my watch, 39 minutes! I was over the moon and ran out the water shouting at H, Rae and Anne ‘that was ACE, really good!!’ as I headed up to transition. First part of the day done, that swim was going to get me through the rest of the day!

  

 

The picnic in transition

The transition in Mallorca is bloody massive, and busy, so I wasn’t going to go mental to save an extra few seconds, although, I might’ve fannied around for a little bit too long! I don’t know what I was doing…….taking on fluids, bite to eat, double checking sun block, doing a dance, painting my nails, I really don’t know but I spent AGES messing around when I should’ve been getting a wriggle on!!

  

 

The Climb

Its weird that this is the one bit of the ride that I really really enjoyed, for many reasons, one of them being not falling off only 100m into the climb! Yeah seriously, I nearly went into the wall, that’s how good I am at riding a bike. Now, I am RUBBISH at climbing, it’s like I go backwards, seriously I would be faster going up on roller skates, BUT, the views on this climb make every second worth it, it was just so beautiful it took your mind off the fact that you were going up a mountain and at no point did I think ‘oh my god when is this ever going to end???’ Now, A LOT of people passed me on the climb, but nearly everyone that did had something lovely to say, the camaraderie up there was great, lots of laughing, lots of encouragement and lots of much faster cyclists passing me. Every time I thought about the time I was losing I went back to how amazing that swim was, nothing would take that away from me and that kept a smile of my face for the entire climb. I was soon to stop smiling though when we reached the top, cos now I knew what was coming…….18 minutes of sheer terror as I was about to start the decent on what was now a crowded mountain with lunatic racers whizzing passed me at break neck speed, ok good. All I had to do now was get down the other side and I knew I was on the home straight, everything I had been worried about, the sea swim, the climb and the decent were done. Ace.

Brian

I said before that racing this weekend was basically Brians fault. Since that coffee 12 months ago he and his lovely wife have become firm friends so it has been great to be able to spend some time with them on this holiday. Also Brian had done an ace job along with Amy of settling my nerves, doing the whole registration/briefing/checking bags and racking bikes which had given me one less thing to have to think about. We had worked out that with our start times we might be able to meet up at some point on the run to do a little bit together but we were going with ‘lets see how it goes’. How pleased I was at only 1km to go on the bike to hear ‘Lozza, you’ve smashed it!’ as he whizzed passed into transition. After THE LONGEST WALK EVER to rack my bike I changed my shoes and was off, passing Brian in T2 and shouting for him to catch me up. He did at 7km and as we were both suffering a little at this point we walk/ran together. It seemed a little strange that it was Brian all those months ago that talked me intoning this race to lay some demons to rest and here we were during the final part of the race getting each other ever closer to the finish line. This was by far the most memorable part of the day, it made my race to be able to share some of it with Brian. 

   

 

I’d like to say that finishing the race was amazing, that the red carpet, the atmosphere, the support, the euphoria, the relief made it all worth it. But, errrrrrr, not. 

  

I finished and I felt numb. That weight I wanted lifting was still there, telling me I’d screwed up. But, that’s not what this post is about. Although the race was extremely tough I enjoyed every second, I’m still smiling about my swim, how beautiful it was on the climb, the friends that I’ve made and the support that I had. The other stuff isn’t negative, it’s there for me to learn from, to pick apart with coach and to work out how I’m going to change it for next time. 

Break time!

Over the last few years, I’ve been using this blog as a bit of an outlet. I wrote because I had something to say, some of it things that I couldn’t say in real life to the people I needed to say it to, and mostly because I was sad.

Something weird has happened. I love writing, I’m not very good at it, my English is shit, I swear a lot, I don’t know all the words, but, being able to vomit words out onto the screen was all the therapy I needed. I didn’t write because I wanted your feedback or even your approval. I just had something to say, simple as that.

The weird thing that has happened…..I don’t think I have anything to say.

I’ve tried writing over the last couple of months, I have 12 half written and rubbish posts in my drafts folder that I can’t finish, I open my laptop and freeze. Those of you that know me know only too well that I ALWAYS have something to say, I never shut up. EVER.

It’s such a strange feeling. Even the things I want and need to write about I just can’t, I haven’t got the words. It’s almost like I’ve forgotten how to write, my way.

I’ve always been a ‘this is what you get’ ‘warts and all’ type of writer. I don’t want to write for the sake of it, or because I feel I have to. I used to have so much to say when I was unhappy and I needed to write then to put those pieces of broken back together.

Last year saw huge changes, we know this, I told you about it, lots. As well as the physical change, along with it came a confidence and belief in myself that I never had before.

This confidence and belief has meant that I no longer searched for approval in those that had another agenda, I became brave enough to leave them behind. I started to be kind to myself, put myself first, live a life that I deserved.

I’m happy.

I’m content.

I’m a different person now.

I think this is exactly why I am struggling to write. I’m only used to writing when I’ve been unhappy, the old Loz, that I just simply don’t know how this Loz, the happy Loz writes yet.

I will be back, I just need to take some time to figure this out.

VOTE FOR MEEEEEEEEEEE! (Please!!)

Somehow, my little blog that is read by hardly anyone was nominated for a Running Award. After some detective work (I asked Twitter, which is basically the same) I found the lovely person that thought I was worthy of such a nomination and am still waiting to give her all of the snogs to say thank you. I’m still a little bit blown away by it.

Anyways, I asked people if they would vote for me, and they did. I didn’t think I would have a chance in hell of making the shortlist, THE TOP TWELVE, but it turns out I have. How amazing is that??

I’d actually quite like to go to a swanky awards do next month, it’s a bit weird that my little blog might be in with a shot. But, I really really really need your help! I’m up against some major competition (like The Guardian!) and one of my bestest friends (Dreaming of Footpaths), by the way, DON’T vote for them, I WILL find out!!

Ironlozza has been quite hard to write at times, reading it back there are parts of it that are particularly difficult to revisit. I use it as therapy, somewhere for me to vomit all the crap that is in my weird and wonderful mind and lay it bare for the world to see. For those of you that have ever been kind enough to comment on the blog, thank you for your kind words, encouragement and inspiration. You’re aces.

If you enjoy reading Ironlozza, OR if you just think I’m alright and you’d like it if I won summut, please take the time (like 2 minutes) to vote for me in the second round, and then get everyone you know to as well! I will snog you forever (what? I’m good at it!) AND I might even mention you in my acceptance speech!! (what a wanker I am?!) I am OF COURSE joking, but I will be SOOOOOOOO grateful and will love you forever.

To vote is dead simple, all you need to do is

1) go to therunningawards.com (you can click the link at the top left of my home page)
2) click ‘vote’
3) you may be asked to register here, again will take you two minutes and they don’t send you spam!
4) click ‘online and publications’
5) click ‘blog’
6) click ‘Ironlozza’

Again, thank you SO MUCH!!

Can we also please keep our fingers crossed please? Mwah x

Hip Gate, the update

It’s only been three weeks since I twanged my hip. It’s fair to say during these three weeks I’ve been an absolute fucking nightmare, so much so that coach’s first words during our weekly catch up are:

‘is it safe to come out from under the desk yet?’

But now, I can run again!! A bit.

The damage was down to lots of things depending on what came first, the chicken or the egg! A twisted pelvis which could’ve been caused by weak glutes meant one leg shorter than the other and my coccyx in the wrong place altogether putting pressure on my hip and making it ping. And breathe! On inspection by my Osteo I was told my hip was ‘half hanging out the socket’ and what she did to me to get it back in and all straight resembled some kinda wrestling move offa actual Triple H, although it was only me that was in my knickers.

The actual damage, a tear to the piriformis and some damage to the hip capsule.

In the 5 sessions since that I have had with Suzanne, I’ve been hooked up to all kinds of machines, the one resembling a hair diffuser being a particular favourite of hers (not of mine) and been forced into all kinds of positions in my knickers that I have no modesty left, I’ve also got quite used to having her elbow doing unmentionables to my arse. It’s fair to say that she’s put me through the ringer a bit but whatever she is doing has worked, it’s getting better. FINALLY.

So, I can run again. On Saturday I ventured out for 20 minutes of pain free running. I so needed it. I was petrified and my heart rate was through the roof, but it didn’t hurt, hooray!! This was a great start to the weekend, off to Brighton we go!

I had entered Brighton Half Marathon after having such a great time there last year and had also entered H as part of her birthday present, a weekend away was just what we both needed, even if I wasn’t running, sulk. We had an amazing time and we caught up with Dan, Lucy, Joe and Matt for chips after the race (it’s happened two years on the bounce, I’m calling this a tradition) and H, running her first race in her Shabbarunners shirt, knocked a massive 10 minutes off her pb from October to finish in 1:48!

I’m beyond proud of her. Ten minutes off a half marathon in six months?!?! That some kind of incredible. She is just totally amazing and she is proving that hard work makes it all possible.

After such an amazing weekend, I got home Sunday night and it all totally crashed. I realised that as well as not running Brighton Half, there was no way that Silverstone Half in three weeks is a possibility, so, I’m pulling out. This was THE race, I knew I would get a good time here and sub2 was the target, pre injury I was totally on target for this but now I’d be lucky to finish, or I’d do it and be injured again. So after a conversation with coach on Monday I pulled my place.

Its ok to feel sad about this, isn’t it??

Cos I’ll still be there, supporting my friends, seeing them all achieve the times they want and shouting them on. I’ll jump all over them when they finish and I’ll be smiley and happy and proud of them and excited for them for what they have just done, on the outside. If I’m being honest on the inside I’ll be sad that I’m not racing, wondering when I am going to get my speed back, wanting it to have been my day, and probably wondering what the hell I’m doing there.

It’s hard to watch other people do the thing you love when you can’t. It makes me happy to be there, to soak up the atmosphere and to catch up with my friends, but the race envy is an uncontrollable beast and I’m sure it will rear it’s ugly head.

I’m learning though. It’s not just about running or racing. It’s about supporting the people you care about doing the thing that they love. It’s about giving them the bits out of you till they realise that they did it, no one else.

Pretending I am an actual superhero