2007 RUNNING HIGHS AND LOWS
This year has been a rollercoaster
year for me in terms of running. January saw a good start with
the 50-mile RNLI SOS walk round the 5 RNLI lifeboat stations in
just over 13 hours with Kevin Ford (3FM Radio). We raised £500
altogether and endured gale-force conditions over the Sloc and
rocky branch-strewn pavements in darkness after Peel. However
it was well worth the trip on the Douglas lifeboat the next
Sunday, joining the crew for a training session.
Liverpool Half-Marathon in March was hard and slow. A fairly
hilly course, I was not impressed by my time. Stomach and bowel
problems were ruining my running and training and this was to
culminate in a near-disaster during the Blackpool Marathon in
June. I was too ill with the winter vomiting bug to take part
in the Fire Station’s 50-mile walk. I was gutted not to be a
part of it. I also missed the Vet’s Spring Handicap through
stomach problems. It was not looking good.
I went back onto a wheat-free diet
after Blackpool and the situation improved. The Parish Walk was
“easy” this year, if you can describe getting your best friend,
who is not a walker and “exercise” is a swear-word, to Rushen in
his first attempt. However he did it, although painfully slowly
towards the end, and I compensated for the lack of miles by
wearing the 17lb backpack that I was going to carry on MOB Coast
So by July I was back to getting in
shape again. I was weight training at the gym where I was
working and running regularly at the crack of dawn with full
ultrarunning kit. MOB Coast has to be the highlight of 2007. I
didn’t finish it, as I have written about previously, but I
learnt a lot about ultrarunning, mental and physical strength
and preparation, and met some wonderful runners and crew. It
has since changed the way I think about running and train. It
has given me ambitions!
I ran a 7-minute PB in the IOM
Marathon in August. I beat my previous course time by 18
minutes! I was delighted. It was my fastest and strongest
marathon, and made even more special by knowing lots of other
runners and marshals etc. They spurred me on when it got
tough. I was also delight to receive 2 prizes in the
Two days after the marathon,
however, my health deteriorated. I caught flu and spent the
next 5 weeks taking antibiotics, eye drops and steroid nasal
sprays to combat a series of bacterial infections. I have never
had this happen before, and I think the explanation is that
after MOB Coast and the marathon I weakened my immune system so
much, it could not fight infection. However I managed to crew
for MOB, although I lost 8lbs in weight.
I did little running in September.
I did manage the End-to-End walk, which was tough, but was
pleased with my time, especially as I had no support. (That was
why I had the 12lb backpack!)
By the end of September I was back
training hard. From then onwards 50 miles a week was my target,
although I managed 82 miles one week. Most training I do
involves a 10lb backpack in order to carry the water, food and
clothes I need when running 2-4hours in the middle of nowhere!
I train off-road now, along the old railway trails, hills etc.
I much prefer the sound of birds and country and sea smells to
the noise and fumes of traffic.
By now the weight loss was a stone.
I felt great and looked lean and slim. At the Western 10 I
reinforced this by knocking 8 minutes off my time I did for the
Northern 10 earlier in the year. I was delighted as I consider
the Western 10 course hillier and harder than Northern 10.
I find cross-country tough,
especially as the races are so short –4 miles! I just cannot
keep up with the speed of the ladies in my race! However I use
them as training runs and may even, one day, run with my 10lb
backpack, if I am brave enough!
My first fell race, the Glen Roy
Winter Hill League, was another learning curve and a near
disaster. Going up was okay and I was strong. But flying down
was scary and within moments I had gone over on the outside of
my right foot, despite wearing Walsh PB Extreme fell shoes,
although they don’t have much support. I’ll try my Mudroc shoes
next time. I gingerly managed to finish the race but spent the
evening applying ice and wearing a support.
raised £200 for the Hyperbaric Chamber and was privileged to see
the chambers when I handed the money to Claire Duchars and David
Downey. Claire explained how oxygen breathed in under pressure
saturates every cell, speeding up the healing process for soft
tissue injuries and fractures. It also treats lots of other
conditions like MS, circulatory and lung problems etc. So I
wrote to my GP who wrote to Dr Chalmers and an “open referral”
was made for me. So after my foot injury I spoke to Claire and
I have had 6 one-hour sessions in the chamber. It is a bizarre
experience that takes a bit of getting used to, especially the
art of “popping / clearing” your ears under changing pressures.
But the bruising and swelling of my foot receded and after a
week I was running on it. I then proved how effective the
treatment was by running my fastest-ever half-marathon time in
the Syd Quirk. I had a fantastic race, knocking 17 minutes off
my PB and winning 1st in my age category. However
the highlight was being awarded the “Merit Shield” – the best
birthday present I could wish for!
I’d like to say a big thank you to
all the marshall’s, timekeepers, water station officials,
results collators and photographers, who have all contributed so
much to the races this year. Your selfless volunteering means
the races can go ahead. This is much appreciated by every
So three consecutive PB’s in 3
different distances in 3 months! Not a bad end to the year
after a wobbly start! I am focussed, committed to training and
have goals to take me into next year – the main focus in January
being the Thames Path 50 Ultra. I’d like to run the Manx
Mountain Marathon in March, the Night/Day marathons immediately
followed by the London marathon, over the 11th/12th
and 13th April, if I can get into London, (this was
the reason why I started running and this is my 4th
attempt at trying to get through the ballot entry), the Parish
walk in June, RAW Britain in August and attempt MOB Coast again
and finish in September!
I need to raise £2000 to enter RAW
Britain. I will be raising money for the ‘Hyperbaric Chamber’
on top of that as well. If anyone has any fundraising ideas or
wishes to donate money, please contact me at
firstname.lastname@example.org. If anyone would like to
volunteer for bagpacking sessions at ‘Shoprite’ please contact
me. I’m also thinking about inviting Rory Coleman over to talk
about ultrarunning and raise money for my RAW Britain attempt.
Rory has run over 540 marathons, 150 ultras, holds 9 world
records for running on a treadmill and organises extreme ultra
races all round the World. He is a wonderful guy who always
encourages everyone, has a great sense of humour and has 6 kids
(not all his though!) and an equally amazing wife, who does not
think he is mad!
I’ve discovered a wonderful website
for runners –
www.fetcheveryone.com. It is free and you can log your runs
and races, chat with other runners etc. My name is ‘Freespirit’
and I’d love to have a fellow Manxrunner using the site!
See you all at future races.
However, if you see a lone, strange-looking runner with water
bottles coming out of her ears and a heavy backpack complete
with blue flip flops, give me a wave!