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Beachy Head: A marathon post (sorry) 😜πŸ’₯

Hello!

I'm really sorry but this post is super long! In case you don't fancy reading it all, here is a summary:

β˜… I had an amazing year! I've run five marathons this year (two of them ultramarathons) 😊

β˜… Coming to a Beachy Head: I trained for Beachy using an ultramarathon plan, and I wasn't feeling too great in the week leading up to it.

β˜… Race Day! I drove myself to Eastbourne (a first for a marathon), and it was really really really cold at the start! I wore a lot of clothes and ended up shedding most of them during the race 😜

β˜… Off we go! Beachy Head is a lovely trail marathon with a lot of hills - the second part is the hardest. The weather was really lovely once we got going, and the views were astonishing! The support from the volunteers and locals was magnificent. I fell over at 16k, was annoyed but OK. I was a bit shocked to finish with my slowest marathon time ever: 5:19:51. But the medal is groovy (it's the one with the lighthouse) and I had a fun day out!

β˜… What happened? I ponder why I couldn't get the sub-5 hour time I wanted, and conclude that I need to work harder next time!

β˜… My plan: I'll be back!! I want to make a strong return to Beachy Head in 2020 😊

And here's the report

I booked the Beachy Head Marathon when they still had the early bird prices, so must have been the best part of a year ago. I thought that it would be nice to go back there two years after running it as my first marathon, and then tucked it away in my back pocket.

I had an amazing year!

I got on with the business of running the delayed MK Winter Half in Feb, then in April the Brighton and London Marathons in quick succession, followed by the London 2 Brighton 100k in May, the lovely July Brighton 5.30k, and then the marvellous South Coast Challenge 55k in August. With the Beachy Head Marathon that makes 5 marathons, two of them ultramarathons!!

I suppose I’ve pushed myself! 😊

Coming to a Beachy Head

By the time October was winding down I had gone through eager anticipation of Beachy to feeling pretty apprehensive about it. I had been following an ultramarathon training plan from Runner’s World, which was fun, but I started to wonder if it was appropriate for a marathon - even a gnarly trail one like Beachy. I had been through my physio exercises for the dodgy calf that had plagued my first two marathons of the year, and that was much better. Both Achilles tendons had tightened up a lot, but in the circumstances this wasn't really surprising!

During the last week I lacked sleep and came down with a cold. I viewed the forecast of 'Arctic winds’, and reports of a huge crack in the cliff, with a baleful eye. I'd always said I wouldn't show up for the marathon if the conditions weren't ideal - but there was no way I was going to miss it now!!

Race Day!

I got to Eastbourne about two hours before the start so I could get a good parking space. It was pretty windy and oh so cold! I left my running backpack in the car and went with a jumper and coat on to collect my race pack (I got another awesome number!) and hang out in the warm canteen for a bit. Beachy starts from a little prep school (for boys I think) called Bedes, and marathoners have the use of the grounds and school buildings (including the swimming pool usually, although sadly not this time as it was closed for refurb). After collecting my gear from the car and a bit more time in the canteen I nudged my way to fairly near the starting line (a narrow road filled with brightly dressed people stamping their feet), about five minutes before the off. The only concrete strategy I had was to start near the front in order to try and avoid getting stuck behind walkers (the marathon encourages walkers with a generous cut off of 9 hours, which I applaud, but that doesn’t mean I want to be slowed down on narrow parts of the course!). It was freeeeezing!!! I had already decided to wear shorts under capris and maybe shed a layer later, but the wooly-hat-on-baseball-cap-on-buff arrangement was a last minute call πŸ˜„

Off we go!

It's always a slow start - check out the picture on Beachy's website home page to see why! After the first insanely steep path onto the nice undulating grassy trail it quickly became clear that it was an absolutely perfect day for running! Crisp cool air, sunshine, blue skies, views for miles across moorland, cliffs, and the sea. Now and then throughout the day we faced a pretty stiff breeze, but mostly it was just lovely! I got pretty warm and gradually discarded my arm warmers, my wooly hat, and finally those damn capris (I hate capris).

Beachy Head Marathon takes runners along mainly grassy (there are a few rubbly bits) paths, through woodland areas, villages (lovely support from the villagers - small crowds can make a big noise in a valley, it was so exciting to hear them!), across the odd road, and of course atop hills and cliffs! There are a couple of stiles to climb, and a few kissing gates to negotiate. The first two major climbs after the first checkpoint (7k) are high, but reasonably gentle. Beachy upped their game this year by changing to a more high-tech timing chip company (the same one that Brighton and London use) and were able to provide us with live halfway results and instant finishing times texted to our phones. The lovely checkpoints with their Mars Bars, bananas, squash, and cheery marshals were the same as in 2016 😊 (NB there are a few extra food and drink stations not mentioned on the map - Beachy looks after us very well!).

My first low point came just as we were leaving the village of Alfriston at around 16k. There's a steep climb on a concrete track, and my mind was wandering back to the South Coast Challenge, which shared this part of the route. All of a sudden I was down on hands and knees, having tripped up on a join in the path. I jumped up quickly and rubbed the affected parts. Nothing serious - bruises to both hands, and my right knee was skinned and bled for a while afterwards. The people around me were kind, but I was so cross with myself! After a while I calmed down, considering that the last time I'd fallen was the last time I'd run Beachy, so I was probably overdue a tumble 😊. I lost 10 minutes at Checkpoint 3 (at about 20km) though, cleaning up my knee and putting on a plaster.

After the halfway point there's a fun downhill stampede to the fourth checkpoint at Litlington, with sausage rolls, buns, a band playing β€œWonderwall”, and some loos I was very glad of! After that come the infamous steps, where I was pleased to find myself not unduly hindered by walkers. Time seemed to be flying by!

The second half of Beachy is the hard part, with stiff climbs up from Litlington and also from the Cuckmere River to the cliffs; followed by the extreme ups and downs of the Seven Sisters, and the excruciating final push up Beachy Head itself. When I first arrived on the cliff tops at about 32k I knew I had a lot left to do. But the wind was behind us, and the scene was so beautiful I decided I would stop checking the time and just enjoy the run, and the lovely weather and views. The Seven Sisters are hard work but also mighty fun. I find it mostly impossible to run up them, and it's frequently tricky to run down them at any speed because they are THAT STEEP! But those sharp ups and downs are delightful nonetheless! For the South Coast Challenge we had to tackle them early in the run which was, well, challenging!

But I was getting really tired, and hit my second low point. The hardest part of all is after the fifth and final checkpoint, where we follow a path inland, and up Beachy Head. The views are less exciting, the path is steep, and seems to go on forever. I could not run any of it. I remembered running all the way up during the 10k last year and thinking β€œpah!”, but it's another story when you've already been going for about 38k!

Finally the path starts to level off. I think that's where the second of those race photos was taken - hence the wry smile I suppose! I decided to try and jog or run the rest of the way, and I did. The last part is supremely lovely, downhill on soft grass (being wary of rabbit holes!). I could start to hear cheers and announcements, and finally I saw again the steepest of steep descents to the finishing arch. I picked my way down (scared, so scared of falling!), and then on the road at the bottom hit my final sprint to finish.

The announcer said I looked β€œlaid back” but inside my head I was deeply shocked by the time on the clock!! I got my medal (VERY glam - Beachy upped their game there too!), and stopped Strava, which said a very different time (moving time!!! Auto pause!!!). But then my phone buzzed with the text confirming my finishing time as 5:19:51 - officially my slowest marathon EVER!! My feelings were mixed, but the sun still shone, the atmosphere was great, and my legs felt fine, so I was fairly happy. I was getting pretty cold though, so I headed off back to the car and my warm clothes (it was my first time driving myself to a marathon, and it worked out pretty well!). I drove home to an extremely late lunch followed later by celebrations in the pub 😊

What happened?

It nags me. I recognise it as a good achievement, and it was a fabulous day out I enjoyed very much! But I didn't expect it to take longer than my first attempt, in fact I thought I would finish in under 5 hours, and I feel I'm capable of that. I think maybe my training should have had more speed work, more hills, and more trails. I am bad at making myself keep going uphill, and I am nervous about running downhill on technical terrain. I did have some issues this time with getting to the trails for training; I'm a bit sick of the run through Hove to get up to the hills - it takes up time and is highly uninspiring. Another problem I keep getting is cramp in my abs, and this did occur during the marathon (by the Cuckmere, at about 30k). I can keep moving with this cramp, but it slows me down and makes moving fast downhill very difficult. Sometimes it lasts for the rest of the run! I also got cramp in my feet when I was at the Sisters, which is very unusual for me during runs. I put this down to being extra tired due to lack of sleep (that's the pattern I've noticed).

My plan: I'll be back!!

I'm going back in 2020!! (if possible) I would like to do a fast, flat marathon in the Spring, and then Beachy in the Autumn. I'll drive up to the South Downs and practice trail running more often. I'll make use of Brighton's hilly roads, and I've already turned off Strava's auto-pause so I can get a truer picture of my performance. And in the meantime I'll be working on my Achilles tendons and my abdominal strength - yay πŸ˜‚

Relive here:

relive.cc/view/1930296734

78 Replies
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Fabulous report, and huge well done I think you deserve a big prize for all your amazing achievements this year, I am in awe as always and you are an inspiration to me and so many on here too..... I think youve done just fab :) XX

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Aw thank you Ju xxx

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AND- you look fabulous in those pics, strong and athletic...

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Aw aw aw, duw duw doh!!!! 😊😊😊 xxx

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You've had quite the year Abi; I couldn't imagine completing 5 marathons (2 Ultras 😳). You're a beast!!! Sorry this one wasn't quite what you hoped for but it sounds like an amazing day, nonetheless. Your bling tree is lovely!

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Thank you, Sask! xxx

I love all my medals this year, and it's great to have them on my desk so I can admire them 😊

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Wow Abi, great post! You faced so many challenges on this one. I realize it was not up to your personal expectations, but you still ran an incredible race on a difficult course from where I am sitting. And 5 marathons with 2 ultras is mind boggling! What a year! A far, far cry from the humble beginning of C to 5k! It sounds like a beautiful day and I know you will smash it in 2020! I am surprised they don’t stagger the starts for the walkers and marathoners. At least they didn’t get in the way this time. πŸ™‚

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Aw thank you Decker!! xxx

SUCH a good year!!! Looking forward to 2020 😊😊😊

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Well done on completing it and that's still a good Beachy time. So glad the weather was clear again this year if not a bit cold. Your report brings back good and bad memories for me and have ever since been paranoid about running down steep hills.

Pretty sure I am going to do beachy next year I have unfinished business see you in the cafeteria :)

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Thank you Ben!! xxx

That cafeteria was definitely the place to be - warm, and they were making toast 😊 I'd not been in there before!

I might go for the 10k next year, so yep maybe I'll catch you for a change!

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Dammit, I’ve been waiting for you to post your Beachy Head report and now I need to save reading it for later 🀫

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Sorry xxx

I thought of you on Saturday- was running for a long way on and off near the same canicrosser 😊

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What a wonderful read and your running achievements are just awesome.

Inspiritational and so supportive to others on the forum.So knowledgeable and motivational with your 28 day speed improvement challenges, polls and all other contributions you make to this forum.

No surprise then and because of you and the rest of the team this is a place of magic.πŸ’₯

Awesome Abi, the Super Trooper, Woman of steel πŸ’₯πŸƒβ€β™€οΈπŸ‘‘πŸ’ͺπŸ’₯πŸ‘πŸ‘βœ…WOW.BoomπŸ’₯β˜„οΈ

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Aw aw aw , duw due doh!! Thanks Tbae!! xxx

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Wow! What an amazing year you have had Abi!! Superb - and that is a fantastic result for beachy head in my opinion! Great photos and report too! An inspiration to us all πŸ˜ŠπŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»πŸ‘πŸ»

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Awww thanks MM xxx

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Hey Abi, what a year... some fantastic memories and achievements. I hope 2019 is equally triumphant for you! Yay!βœ¨πŸŽ‰

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Thank you!!! xxx

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Lovely report and a wonderful achievement. Not perhaps the time you wanted and I sympathise with you there. Beachy head is local to me and I know the routes and villages you ran through well. I also know how tough that must have been to complete along that beautiful, unforgiving terrain. Well done!!

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Thank you Whatsapp xx

I love the checkpoint at Litlington. It's in front of a pub and always very jolly. On Saturday I watched with some fascination as a volunteer tipped a huge container of chopped up hot cross buns into a tray. I think I was a little away with the fairies at that point 😊😊😊

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Haha - a remember watching a show with Ben Fogle a few years back where he took some ordinary people on an adventure of a lifetime: crossing the dessert, climbing a mountain, etc. They were halfway up a mountain and suffering altitude sickness when one guy became convinced they had just walked past a pizza hut

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Eek! πŸ˜„

I really wanted to test the reality of those buns, they looked soooo good! But I knew there was a really steep bit just after the checkpoint...

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Thank you for a brilliant, awe-inspiring post!

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Well thank you!! xxx

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Great post, great Runner :)

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Thank you John xxxx

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That's amazing - so many achievements in one year. Love the photos - you look like you're really enjoying the run :) It's a horrible thing being disappointed after such a huge build up to something - all the hard work, all the anticipation - then it falls short of our expectations. But what you achieved is awesome and no-one can take that away. Your go-get 2020 attitude is inspirational. Looking like a super-hero from where I'm sitting. Be nice to yourself :)

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Aw thank you Linda!! xxx

Btw, we didn't see the crack in the cliff - I was rather disappointed by that! 😊

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Just been for a very wet dog walk - great thinking time! Can you compare your splits with the last time you ran it? I wonder if it's the cautious descents? I get more and more cautious every time I go downhill, probably because of having slipped in the past. Maybe you'd feel less disappointment if you could put it down to downhill and self-preservation :D

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Ha ha, thank you!! There was definitely an element of self-preservation! I think probably the trick will be just to get faster going up 😊

Unfortunately I lost GPS halfway through the 2016 run, but anyway there's only a couple of minutes difference between the finishing times.

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So close! I was also wondering how on earth you eat a bacon butty (or was it sausage :D ) and then carry on running? or do you just have to wait two hours before continuing?

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That's the joy of the ultramarathon! You scoff a bacon sandwich, a slice of pizza, and some flat Coke - and then you run away very slowly!! 😜

In truth, I don't suppose many runners go for the sausage rolls, buns, and soup on offer - I stick with the chunks of Mars Bar myself (in fact I was so impressed with the Mars Bar as marathon fuel that I carried some with me at the Brighton Marathon the following year!). There are always a fair few walkers doing Beachy though 😊

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Amazing. I am a pretty naive runner still - it hadn't occurred to me that if you run for 5 hours or more you're missing a meal time! It just got a whole lot harder as far as I'm concerned. Not that it's an issue for me - marathon (let alone ultra marathon) is absolutely beyond me - mentally, physically, not even happening in my dreams. So much respect for those who can and do :)

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You get some Tailwind which has calories in it. Sip that all the way round I eat as well, as you need something to do to break up the run and give you something to look forward to πŸ˜ƒ

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And misswobble

I had two Belvita Soft Bakes with some peanut butter a couple of hours before the start (about 500 kcal in all). I had a litre of Decathlon's "high energy isotonic drink" in my backpack bladder (I didn't drink all of it, but I also drank water at some of the checkpoints), plus three caffeinated gels, and a handful of Hula Hoops I brought with me in a freezer bag. From the checkpoints I took a few chunks of Mars Bar, one jelly baby, and two Bourbon biscuits - if memory serves 😊

Ooh, and I had a pickled gherkin - that was really yummy!!!

This is the Decathlon drink - I'm going to get some Tailwind at some point to compare them properly, but the Decathlon one is of course much cheaper (in fact I only paid Β£13.99 in the shop for the 2kg, not sure why!).

decathlon.co.uk/iso-powder-...

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Oh that’s worth knowing, thanks πŸ‘πŸ˜ƒ. I just got a new box of Tailwind. I tried the caffeine one last weekend on my 32 k run and it was good

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Gotta love a bit of caffeine πŸ˜„

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I like it a but too much ☺️ Espresso mad 😳

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I took up Nicky Spinks tip and got myself a small bag of Hula Hoops. My gawd they’re so gooooood I can’t tell you πŸ˜‹. They really hit the spot and you can shovel them down quite easily I am taking some with me on my Marathon. Maybe even two i suppose they work by replacing salts I don’t eat them at any other time πŸ˜‡

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I took that tip from you - they are perfect aren't they!

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I scoffed them like a ravenous hyena feasting on a fresh carcass πŸ˜‹. Just the thing they are πŸ˜‹

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Now that's an image! πŸ˜„

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I just want to echo the comments already made, Abi. Just an amazing year and I am in total awe at what you have achieved! I know it wasn't the time you had hoped for BUT look at it in context - at everything else you have done too - and I think you should feel incredibly proud. Wonderful photos as well - what a haul of bling! Keep on doing what you do!πŸ˜€πŸƒπŸ½β€β™€οΈπŸ’ͺx

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Thanks Sandra!! xx

I think the medals are going to stay out for a good while... 😊

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i have a friend ( Steve ) who always does this one too! he loves it! But it does sound like a really hard one! Love your long report and all the details , no matter what you think the girl did good! you have done brilliantly this year and should be proud of yourself! :)

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Thanks Ali! xx

I think Beachy is addictive 😊

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Could be one for you Ali πŸ’ͺπŸ‘πŸ˜ƒπŸƒβ€β™€οΈ

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Hhhhhmm never say never! I do have an aunty that lives nearby!! πŸ˜‚xxx

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That’s it then. Sorted πŸ˜ƒπŸ‘πŸ’ͺπŸƒβ€β™€οΈ

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Great report.

3 marathons and 2 ultras in a year is some going! Well done!

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Hehe, thank you!!! xx

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You really are an inspiration roseabi!! I am sorry you feel a bit disappointed but wow what achievements. Thank you for a great race report. I strongly agree with aliboo, " the girl did good".

Lovely photos too :) :)

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Thank you thank you!! xxx

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Oo I loved watching it on relive, though it does flatten out the hills somewhat! πŸ˜‚ It's a race I'd love to do one day, though I'm not sure if I'd ever be brave enough. I can't believe how much running you've done this year! Insanity πŸ˜„ Enviable insanity. Also, and there's no uncreepy way to say this, but your legs are fab. Strong, yes, but also πŸ‘Œ

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Ha ha, thank you!!! xx

I must admit there were a few photos that made me feel a bit leg-vain πŸ˜„ The tan helps - I'm pretty sure they're not that thin in real life!! Plenty of much less flattering ones too, of course 😊

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It's nice to get a good run on Relive. Sometimes I see their email after I've done a 5K hobbit run along the prom and I think "Yeah, not going to bother looking at THAT!" πŸ˜„

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Great season Abi!

It's less than 10k from Base Camp to the summit of Everest but it's a 12 day outing! Don't be too hard on yourself!

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Ha ha thank you - so true!! xx

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Awesome. You may be disappointed with your time, but I think it’s amazing to even think about running a marathon in that location . You are a star πŸ’« 🌟

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Aw thanks Dexy!!! xx

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Wow, such a great read. Well done and thanks for sharing the inspiration!

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Thank you very much!!! xx

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Oooh I love a good read. Made a coffee and settled down with the dawg for this one πŸ™‚

First up before I forget, did you conclude that the ultra plan was not the right tool for the marathon? You know why I ask πŸ™‚

It sounds like a gruelling old course 😀. You need so much upper body strength You mention ab cramp. I was woken up with it one night recently. Something I’ve not had before or since. Bloody weird!

You never know how things will pan out despite best laid training plans. It’s a leap of faith that having done the training we can get through hopefully quicker than last time It’s not happening for me either but i’m Not bothered. I know you are and sense your frustration. What to do? Fewer events maybe πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ You’ve had a busy old season. Beefing things up at the gym? Do you keep out of the sea now til spring?

I dare say you have got it covered πŸ˜ƒπŸ’ͺπŸ‘πŸƒβ€β™€οΈ Are you having a rest for a bit or have you started the next thing?

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I think it was fine for the hilly marathon, it had a lot of good endurance work, and it was really fun! I would do something different for fast flat one though - I thought the emphasis on tempo runs in the myasics plan (for example) was good for a faster race.

This is the ultra plan if you're interested:

runnersworld.co.uk/training...

I had to go through it changing all the blooming miles into km πŸ˜„ Oh, and I shortened the longest runs - eg did 22 miles not 32.

I think my main problem was that I am too hesitant on hills at the moment, and perhaps I let myself rest too often (I am "laid back", ha). This is partly due to the Achilles problem, which is no doubt due to overuse!

I'm resting at the moment, and won't run for another week I think. The heels are already feeling much better. I'm going to change up my strength training - more ab work!! Argh!!! 😊

Yes, I have no desire to get in the sea at that moment 😁 Have signed up at the swimming pool though, so I will be getting my swim on. I'm triathlon-ing again next year, so I'll be back in the sea when it warms up. Should be fun!

xxxx

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Ta for the informationπŸ˜ƒπŸ‘. Myasics has given me a really fast marathon time and training paces despite my inputting last year’s time πŸ€·β€β™€οΈ I’m not hitting their times in training. they don’t tweak the plan at all now like they used to do. My longest run was 32km

My Achilles trouble got better thank goodness Fingers crossed it doesn't return

I did the Jillian Michaels Six Week’s Abs programme at home in front of the telly. It’s a belter πŸ’ͺ. Could do with doing it again πŸ˜ƒ. She rocks she does Funny too πŸ˜ƒ

Good luck with the swimming πŸ˜ƒ. I need to get back to it. When I swam on hols I was shocked at how crap I was ☺️

Enjoy your week off I’m tapering now til race day. Lovely jubbly πŸ™‚

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Simply wow... and what a report:)

So many awe-inspiring runs for us to run ( vicariously) with you...!

For folk like me, these are things I shall not be doing... ( quite happy working towards my first HM :)) but to be able to share your exciting adventures, is priceless for me. Thank you!

You have achieved amazing things and this is another one to add to that fabulous collection.

Okay... it was not one that you were totally thrilled with, but I think it was absolutely wonderful!

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Awwwww thank you!!!!!!!!! xxxxx

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WOW!!

I am in awe of you! You have accomplished so much this year! That elevation is crazy!!!

Falling is not fun especially so early in the race... hope the knee is doing okay?

Its a miracle if I don't injure myself somehow so I do know how you feel...

Glad to see you are not giving up and keep on striving to improve, but know you are amazing already!!

I also have a 2020 plan... working on doing my first Ultra Marathon - Two oceans :) Maybe you can join me as a training run for this race?? :)

P.S Love the bling :)

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Thank you, Monkey!!!!! XXX

Knee is fine, cheers - it's a pity I'd taken off my capris by then, or it probably wouldn't have bled at all, ha 😊 Just one of those things...

That's an awesome plan - how exciting!!! I'm definitely checking it out 😊😊😊

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Great read... and what an awesome year you have had...Congratulations!

Not the time you had hoped for maybe...but such resiliance and strength Roseabi, you should be so so proud of yourself! πŸ™†πŸ˜Šxx

P.s what was your number, I can't quite make it out in the picture ?πŸ˜†x

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Thank you Bluebird!!! xxxx 😘

It was 2255, how cool is that??? πŸ˜„

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Very❄!😊xx

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Wow roseabi, that’s amazing, you look amazing too! And you’re so supportive on here, thanks for a great report πŸ‘πŸƒβ€β™€οΈπŸ‘πŸ’ͺπŸ… loving the bling...

Mx

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Awww thank you, Madge!! xxxx Am getting a big head... 😊😊😊

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Great post, well done and a great year. It’s inspiring to see what you have done, whilst I question myself if I’m capable of a marathon then I see your efforts and achievements and my motivation rises again. Top job πŸ‘Š

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Aw, thank you, Ant!! xx

And - go for it! 😊

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Thanks for your report! It made me want to do it - although we'll have to see if that ever happens. I hope you're feeling better about it now. When was your last long event before this one. Could they have been too close to each other?

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Thank you CP!! xxx

If you get the chance go for it!! 😊I think it sold out only a couple of weeks before, so there should be time for a fairly last-minute booking - gets more expensive if you do that though...

The last event was the South Coast Challenge, two months before - maybe! I'm not worried about it any more, but I doubt I'll be doing so much in one year again 😊😊

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