Active in San Diego

When I first booked a two week holiday to the golden state of California I imagined lots of down time. Time by the pool, book in hand and soaking up the glorious sun in San Diego.

With all holidays, I always have a list of sights and attractions I want to cross off the list – to break up the time spent on the sun lounger. And San Diego has been no exception. In fact we have spent more time racking up the miles – covering many areas of the city and even the North County – where views are simply devine.

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My expectations of having lots of rest and relaxation whilst here have been deminished- I am simply enjoying being on the move, soaking up the sights whilst shopping and drinking copious amounts of Savingon Blanc.

I made sure to pack my running gear – which has had a great amount of use. Where as previous holidays to Florida has seen the runners tucked firmly into the hotel room closet, this trip has been the complete opposite.

Staying in the picturesque Mission Bay means that I have been joining the early morning runners, walkers, cyclists and roller skaters for a gentle jog most mornings. Never going too far, 3 miles at most, but enjoying the freedom of running again. It’s not hard to enjoy running here – not only are the views stunning, the paths are flat and safe, and everyone is active. So it’s easy to get sucked in to the active community. Last weekend I even ran into the tail end of the “San Diego Beach to Bay Half Marathon” – which completely left me with race envy, especially as I caught eye of the amazing medal. If I thought to look ahead I would have so entered the race – just to have a bit of bling that people at home would not have.

To add to the day, we have easily racking up miles simply by shopping or taking in the sights. The first day alone saw us walk over 14 miles and we have not stopped since.

Usually, as a holiday approaches the end, I begin to feel somewhat guilty. However, this time round I will be coming home guilt free, relaxed, slightly tanned and ready to take on the next stage of training.

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Training with no agenda

Its been almost three weeks since I crossed the finish line at the London Marathon and I find myself in somewhat of a conundrum.

For months I had a training plan pinned to a wall; detailing mileage per day, spinning sessions and rest days – everything was planned out. I ticked off the day and looked to the next one. Weekend mornings were spent getting up at the crack of dawn, taking on extra fuel whilst memorising every mile of the running route.

Now, three weeks post marathon, I still seem to be finding my feet. Having no agenda and getting back into a routine is proving rather difficult. My mind seems to have shut down and if I don’t do any training one day, I simply don’t care.

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At the beginning it was okay. The week following the marathon I clearly needed the time to allow my body to recover, so I did not think much of of it – just tried to keep moving as much as possible. Week two saw me return to spinning, with the best session I had completed in months, then a few Yoga sessions and a unplanned run round one of my local parks. With the impending Rat Race Dirty Weekend I did not want to go too crazy and tire myself out – though the lack of training post marathon I found the race more difficult than usual. Now – week three started off with some spinning, a run and a couple of walks. Nothing major and probably more than the average person would do in a week – but for me, it feels like nothing.

I put the blame onto my approaching holiday. My mind has shut down, it is preparing for sunshine and cocktails. And where I would usually just get back into picking up a routine – I am just being too relaxed. But with no agenda, the upcoming holiday and the fact that there is no race in the calendar until July I ask myself if it is such a bad thing to take time out and press the reset button? Surely taking time to relax is as much needed as putting in the hours of training? Rather than running round like a mad person, I have spent more time walking around the woods and fields behind my house, taking time thinking about how to improve and spending time with friends and family. All of which are equally as important as training itself.

I have been told this could happen. When you spend months putting all your time and energy into planning one race, your mind and body just refuses to play ball once it is over. When friends told me they went off running completely post marathon I didn’t quite believe it – until now. Four weeks ago I could easily run for ten miles without thinking about it, today running just three miles feels like running twenty. It is strange how the mind works and how, now post marathon, I am going to have to pick myself up and start again.

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For now, I am calling May a little bit of a training write off. I have all good intentions to get a few training runs in on holiday. Jetting off to San Diego, where there are plenty of sunny running routes, I have no excuse. However, if I get to the other end and decide all I want to do is spend time on the sun lounger sipping cocktails then that is okay. At the end of the day we all need a time out, and this will be mine.

It will be my time to refresh and re-set my mind, ready to get back into a routine and look forward to the next challenge.

Rat Race Dirty Weekend

I have never been one for camping. Don’t get me wrong I love being outdoors. I simply do not enjoy spending the night sleeping on the floor and in the cold.

However, when a group of my Boot Camp friends decided to sign up for Rat Race Dirty Weekend the plan was to camp for the two nights. Much preferring to book a hotel but not wanting to be a spoil sport – I signed up for the 13-20 mile obstacle course race, paying an additional £20 to sleep out doors for the night. Booked back in August, it was quickly put to the back of my mind, especially after receiving the news, in October, that I would be running the London Marathon.

To say I was under prepared for this event is an understatement. Months of training for the marathon meant that my strength training was put to the back burner. Every spare moment was spent racking up the mileage and endurance to run the 26.2 miles. I did not take a moment to think beyond the marathon itself and what I had booked in the weeks and months following. To be honest, it showed.

From the get go I was struggling, for a few reasons. Firstly – despite running over 20 miles a couple of weeks prior my body was tired, my legs were still suffering and I had tightness in my quad that simply would not shift. Secondly, I had been running on road surfaces, not fields, farmlands and woods – the kind of terrain that is expected at an OCR race. And finally, like I mentioned above, my strength training had been rather lacking and therefore hoisting myself over obstacles proved rather difficult.

That said, Rat Race Dirty Weekend is by far the best OCR race I have completed to date. Not just because of the race, but the whole weekend itself. Starting with a tame “school disco” in the festivals big blue tent, with the race following on the Saturday morning and a big messy party to follow. It was one of the most enjoyable events and one that I feel was worth every penny.

If you love a good obstacle race, then I would thoroughly recommend this. Boasting over 150 obstacles for those who want to run the 13 mile course, 200 obstacles for the 20 miles or if you were completely mad – 400 obstacles for the “Double Mucker” race – which involved two laps of the 20 mile course. Yikes!

Being of a sane mind, I decided to stick to the 13 miles. Not only did it have more than enough obstacles to appease the most seasoned OCR racer, but it had more enough running too.

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I have to give it to Rat Race – they certainly are experts in their field. Not only did they use the natural obstacles of the Burghley House estate, for lack of a better word every single obstacle was simply epic!

I tried my best at as many obstacles that came my way. Some required a friendly shove up the backside or a leg up, some were simply spot on. Some, simply terrified me to the point of a panic attack. The first of which came on a Fire Man’s pole – which thanks to being vertically challenged – I could not quite reach.

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The second panic attack, and one that set the mood for the rest of the course, came around mile 10. What I can only describe as a the biggest adult climbing frame – complete with cargo nets, tunnels and tyre climbs was swarming with OCR fanatics. Excited to get involved I tackled it – only to loose my footing from one cargo net and diving head first onto the cargo net below and getting kicked in the head by another runner. In true OCR spirit, there were plenty of racers (mainly muscly men – so I shall not complain too much) to lend a hand and get be back on my feet. Though as soon as I was on solid ground the panic started. And so the rest of the course was ruined for me.

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With a new found fear of cargo nets, heights and falling – most of the obstacles that followed were bypassed.

Although shaken and disappointed I did not let that deter me – after all this was one of the toughest obstacle races I had encountered to date. I did, however, have to get to the end.

So moving past obstacles that saw many runners shivering whilst they waited their turn, I kept moving forward to the one obstacle I was determined to conquer – the Travelator!

And I did it. I kept my legs moving and got to the top, elated!

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That was simply enough for me. 13 miles and nearly five hours out in the field, wet and cold, I was happy to get to the finish, get warm and have a well deserved drink!

I am gutted to have missed a large number of obstacles, including the epic slide finish, but I don’t regret doing so. Whatever challenge you are facing, you have to listen to your body and sometimes even your mind. On this day, my body was just not ready.

In hindsight, I probably should have deferred my entry. But after missing out on Hackney Half Marathon the week prior I was determined to get back out there.

However, with every race I learn a little bit more about my strengths and weaknesses. In this case I now know that I need to spend the next few months building up my upper body strength, so I can face further OCR races I have planned for the year with full gusto!

Nuclear Rush was the next race on my list, for this coming Saturday. However, the lovely people at Nuclear already advised I can move my entry to another race after I raised concerns a few days after the London Marathon.

So with that in mind, and a couple more OCR races planned in the diary, I shall be upping my strength training and returning to Fit4OCR (a OCR training facility) to make sure I come back ready to take them all on!

And maybe a return to Dirty Rat Race Weekend in 2018? Who’s going?

BeFit London

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Last weekend saw the return of BeFit London at the Business Design Center in Islington. After missing out in 2016, I snapped up some “super early bird” tickets as soon as they became available and was thoroughly looking forward to a day of classes at the festival.

On booking the tickets I was advised that I would later have the opportunity to pre-book classes in advance. Sadly, I never received that opportunity and my emails to the organizers went un-answered. So I went along anyway, with no classes booked in and trying my luck.

The event was jam packed from the get go on Saturday morning, with fellow fitness fanatics eager to get into a class run by Clean Eating Alice and Barry’s Boot Camp, to name a few.

I began my day wondering around the festival, seeing who was exhibiting before the floor became completely packed. I was delighted to see stalls from many of my favourites including Tea Pigs, Two Chicks and Pip and Nut. The exhibition floor was great for testing out some new products – like the energy bars from Kind and the scrummy “Nutri-brex” – a gluten free and far taster version of weetabix. However, I was not there to eat all the samples, I was there for the classes.

So I attempted to get into my first class – a HIIT session by Clean Eating Alice. Sadly, by the time I joined the queue it was too late – the class was full. Rather disappointed I headed down to the live show where I caught a live cooking demonstration from Madeleine Shaw – author of “A Year of Beautiful Eating.”

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Determined to get a piece of the Clean Eating Alice action I remained on the comfy bean bags in the live area to ensure that I got to see her interview, who was so inspiring for someone of such a young age. So full of life and positivity, and completely infectious. I was so inspired after her live talk that I made my way to the Barry’s Boot Camp class, but sadly that too was full.

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I attempted a few other classes, including Yoga and Spinning, but again all the other fanatics kept beating me to it. So with one final walk round the stands, testing a few more products, I made my way home – rather disappointed.

I expected a little more from the day.

Although it was great to sample products from many companies, it would have been a nice touch to have a goody bag to take away. Sadly, the only companies giving away goods were My Protein and Oatly (an oat based alternative milk drink).

 

Additionally I was rather disappointed to have not been able to take part in the classes. Perhaps opting for the super early bird ticket was where I went wrong – perhaps I should have splashed out on the VIP ticket which gives you extra perks, like fast track class entry. A learning curve for future events maybe.

I would like to come back to BeFit 2018 and try again, but only if I can get my hands on a VIP ticket. Simply paying the standard entry gives you no guarantees and unless you love spending your day queuing – can leave you disappointed.