Dulux London Revolution

What.A.Weekend

Waking up at 4am on Saturday morning, nerves and excitement set in, trying to force down overnight oats while triple checking that we had everything we needed. We hit the road by 4:30am, I’ve never seen the London roads so quiet.

The whole experience was new to me having never taken part in a cycle event of any kind, so I was in amazement when we pulled in to the field to park the car watching what looked like professional cyclists everywhere getting their bikes ready, pumping up tyres, fitting inner tubes and attaching their numbers to their bikes. As we registered it suddenly felt real. I’d been waiting for that feeling all week, even travelling down to London still didn’t feel real. 187 miles was a distance that I couldn’t quite appreciate or get my head around. Receiving the registration pack was when it suddenly hit me. As I was looking around taking in the atmosphere I couldn’t help but notice that I was yet to see any women cyclists, automatically I started to worry that all the men around me looked particularly hard core and ready for what lies ahead.

My bike was ready, my luggage was gone and my water bottles were filled. I was at the start line listening to the safety talk and then before I really knew what was going on my wave were clipping in and we were off. I don’t think I’ll forget that initial feeling, the first time in my life that I was cycling in a group with other people. I felt like I was learning to ride for the first time and I actually felt wobbly. It was just nerves and within a mile I found my feet but I couldn’t help but notice that these roads were not closed, they were very much open and extremely busy. 

Riding in London itself was an experience, every traffic light turned red as we approached and I got lots of practice at clipping out. When we started the ride we were given a sticker to go on the bike setting out the main climbs and pit stops. Being the girl who thought the route was flat was a little confused but accepted that there would be a few ‘hills’. Everywhere has a few hills. What this ride has taught me is that in cycling there is actually a difference between a hill and a climb. 

The ride started in North London, through Shoreditch and Stoke Newingham, crossing the iconic Tower Bridge was a highlight all the way to the first climb up to Crystal Palace, I knew then that this ride was going to be a test. 

Reaching the first pit stop at mile 34 felt good, I’d settled in to the ride and had got used to riding in a group of people, learning the etiquette and enjoying myself. The first stop was great, a chance to stretch the legs and refuel. Refuelling. This is something that I hadn’t quite mastered while training and I did feel a little nervous that I didn’t have a nutrition plan. It was then that I discovered Perkier, a great brand that makes breakfast and snacks out of whole foods. I had never tried the snack bars before but they quickly became my favourite. A sprouted oaty cranberry bar and banana along with more water was just what I needed to get me through the next 34 miles. Off we went making our way to the next pit stop, strong winds, pretty views and steep climbs but 34 miles later we stopped for lunch (and I must admit another perkier bar!).

Mile 64 and I was feeling positive still, I had some self doubt but could see the end in sight. A big error I made on this ride was about to unveil as I took on the final part of the ride. Dehydration. I definitely didn’t drink enough while out riding and this is something I struggled with throughout training but when I got to mile 87 I started to really struggle. My legs had nothing left, I felt dehydrated and light headed. But I kept spinning the legs and pushing forwards. The finish line was in sight and it felt amazing to cross it. The atmosphere at Windsor racecourse was fab! 

That night I met the Dulux dog and then chilled out in the chill out area before retiring to ‘bed’ for the night. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not made for camping, especially after cycling 102 miles, all I wanted was a nice comfy hotel room but I was here to finish a race not a night of luxury. Needless to say it was a sleepless night, having spent 3 hours chugging water to try and ease the dehydration I also had to get up every hour and find my way to the portaloo and then find my way back again… not so easy when all the tents look the same!  

5am Saturday morning and the rain was pouring down, sore legs, head cold on its way I had to reason with myself. Mr cycling buddy next door also woke up feeling poorly and extremely sore and for a few minutes I did wonder how the day would end. We were proud of cycling 100 miles, an achievement that neither of us had achieved before. But that wasn’t enough. We looked at each other and knew what the other was thinking. We are finishing this race.

We turned up at the start line and perhaps that was the hardest step, the motivation and energy around us was enough to make us forget the uncomfortable feelings we had. Sitting back on the bike and pedalling was painful and my bum was hurting from the offset, something to do with my piriformis injury I expect but every bump sent stabbing pains through me. It was going to be a long day.

I settled in and tried to get comfortable but there was nothing comfortable about it, the climbs were relentless and started early, we were exploring the chilterns filled with painful long climbs, beautiful views and fast descents. The descents made me nervous as almost each one ended with another climb. Pit stop one was most welcome and I was doubting myself, I was in pain and completely blind to what was to come. Texts from my mum telling me I could do it and positive messages from my sister along with so much support from friends and family on Facebook and Twitter. That is what got me through, so many people were watching and so many people where willing me on and to finish there was no way that I could stop now. I had people following my journey and waiting for me to get the finish. I was going to finish. 

The next part of the ride was the hilliest and hardest of all, I think it was the most challenging 2 hours of my life, one hill made me sick, one made me cry but I was determined to get to the top of each. My family have been through some challenging times and thinking about these gave me to strength and determination when I needed it most. 

I know my family must have thought I was crazy when I told them I was cycling 187 miles (you can’t even ride on the road yet) and I know they may have secretly doubted me during training but they supported me none the less. Every pedal of the way and that’s what got me through.

When things got really tough I played mind games with myself, I thought about problems that needed to be solved and I learnt a lot about myself.

I wasn’t a cyclist before I started, I wouldn’t ride my bike outside as I was scared of roundabouts and junctions. I was resistant to clip in cycling shoes in case I couldn’t clip out fast enough. The training has been tough and there have been challenges along the way, rides early on a Sunday morning over winter in the freezing cold, heavy winds, self doubts, hitting 50 miles and questioning whether I can go any further, missed workouts due to illness, endless anxiety and several times considering not doing it and exhaustion. There have also been beautiful Sunday morning rides in the sunshine, discovering new coffee shops, cycling over to my parents house, achieving new goals and personal bests, smilies, laughs, proud moments, bringing my new bike in to my life and pushing my body further than it has ever been before. It’s been a journey of highs and lows, and I’d do it all again for those 60 seconds of feeling amazing crossing the finish line. 

The Dulux London Revolution is an amazing event. The organisation, support and atmosphere are second to none.

Thank you to Stolen Goat for my cycling kit, I felt like a proper cyclist stood at the start line with my kit.

Thank you to Perkier Foods for introducing me to the best energy snacks I have ever had. A new food that will become part of my everyday training! Also to High 5 for the electrolyte drinks, they too made all the difference. 

Let’s not forget the reason I did this event, after being lucky enough to win entry I decided to raise money for The Shakespeare Hospice a charity we are working closely with at work. Thank you to everyone who helped me raise £605 for such a great cause.

I hope that I can show that you really can do anything you put your mind to. I wasn’t a cyclist before I started and I doubted  myself throughout but if you want to achieve something then you are your only barrier. More is in you.

A weekend I will never ever forget.

The ultimate question, would I ever do it again? 

What do you think 😉


M x 
https://stolengoat.com/
http://perkier.co.uk/
http://www.london-revolution.com/
http://www.giant-leamington.co.uk/en-GB/
https://www.theshakespearehospice.org.uk/
https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Michelle-Mumford3

Dulux London Revolution

You CAN run a Half Marathon too!

Hands up who has watched one of the Great Runs on TV and thought ‘wow, I wish I could do that’?Every year I have watched the London Marathon and joked about how people can run so far, secretly wishing I could do it but knowing it would never happen. Last year after stumbling across Run Like A Girl and getting (gently) nudged shall we say by a friend to do the Blenheim 10km with her I started taking more interest in races on tv. 

After only just achieving 10km at Blenheim Palace I immediately fell in love with the feel of race day… Or crossing the finish line at least! When I was watching the Great South Run on TV while getting on with the ironing I was taken aback by the crowds, the support and all of people’s stories as to why they were running. Bowel Cancer Uk is a charity very close to my heart and I remember thinking to myself, ‘I wish I could run a big race to raise money for this charity’. As I watched more and more I began to question whether I could do it, and seeing the eldest man in the race cross the finish line triggered the idea in me that I was going to sign up to The Great North Run half marathon. I quickly picked up my phone and text my other half telling him my plan, he was in. He was so supportive and told me he would run it with me. That was when I knew I had the running bug! 

But September 2016 seemed so far away, I wanted to start training now, there and then (I’ve never been very patient) I put the iron away and got my running kit on, laced up and hit the road. While I was running it occurred to me that my friend who roped me in to Blenheim 10km had mentioned me doing a half marathon in Coventry. I calculated this being 5 months away and that planted the next seed in my mind. 

When I got home I started googling half marathon plans and it seemed that I only realistically needed 16-20 weeks to train, this was perfect! So I did it. I signed me and my boyfriend up that night to run Coventry Half. I think he was cautious as I had only been out of hospital a few months but he could see how much it meant to me and so he was very supportive. I proved that if you look after your body, give it what it needs and listen to it then anything is possible.

From that moment I started believing it was possible, I was going to run a half marathon. This was both exciting and terrifying in equal measure but however I felt, it was going to happen. I was doing this for me, to prove I can and using it as a benchmark to see where my body was at and as I had never covered that distance I wanted to see the pace I was running at and if my body could really sustain 13.1 miles. 

Training plan:

I followed a BUPA intermediate training plan incorporating speed work, hill runs and long runs at the weekend. I admit I didn’t follow the plan exactly, but I adapted it to make sure I was covering these three types of run.

Hill runs were designed to get my body used to running up hills and then to keep going and not stop. Although hard on the legs and bum these were my favourite training sessions ( in a torture kind of way 😉 ) 

Speed work was designed to help me with my pace. I would run intervals in the park mixing it up each week.

Sunday became ‘Long run day’ and at between 8 and 9am every Sunday my boyfriend and I would head out for our long run. I loved having someone to run with, you have someone to talk to, to support and encourage you during the difficult runs and someone to celebrate with when you finished the run (and someone to go out with and refuel with!)

As the weeks went by there were good and bad training weeks, ups and downs, amazing runs and runs where I felt like giving up after 3km but I didn’t, I kept going because I had a purpose, I had my eye on the prize and ultimately I kept thinking to my dream of running the Great North Run for Bowel Cancer Uk, running for my mum.

There are endless training plans on the internet which you can use exactly or adapt to fit your life. Below are some good ones to start your research with:

http://running.competitor.com/2014/06/training/the-beginners-guide-to-the-half-marathon_52399

http://womensrunning.competitor.com/2013/09/training-tips/couch-to-half-marathon-training-plan_15065

http://www.bupa.co.uk/health-information/directory/r/running-programme-half-marathon

Nutrition:

I admit I was pretty clueless when it came to nutrition, I knew I had to eat more on long run days and had to eat the right foods after a run but for me that’s as far as it went. Despite not having the knowledge on correct nutrition I still made it through training however it has taught me that this is an area I need to really focus on when I start training for the GNR. There is lots of nutrition advice out there so find what works for you. Try not to get to obsessive or caught up in good and bad food, what you can and cannot eat. There are no limits but you will soon learn what works well for your runs. Fuelling is so important and can’t be ignored.

http://www.livestrong.com/article/506701-half-marathon-meal-plan/

http://www.runnersworld.com/fuel-school/how-to-fuel-for-a-half-marathon

Race Day:

Talk about nerves! It’s strange up until race day I didn’t feel nervous, I knew I was going to turn up, I knew it would hurt but at the same time I knew I would do it. 
Race day was a different story! 

Arriving at the race village I was flooded with nerves, questioning my training, wishing I had got proper nutrition advice, seeing everyone kitted up, looking professional! But I was distracted from these invasive thoughts by the atmosphere. It was amazing! There were people everywhere, charity stands with food and drink, loud music, families gathering to watch their loved ones, it was amazing! 

The actual race:

Queuing up to start was exciting yet nerve wracking! Making sure we were in the right pen, getting my music sorted and most importantly ensuring the Garmin had Gps! But we were off, I remember running straight past my boyfriends mum at the start and seeing her there supporting gave me that initial buzz. We were off! When the adrenaline kicks in anything feels achievable but I just hoped that was enough to get me around the full 13.1 miles. As the race went on I admit I was struggling with the early distances, up to 8 miles felt really difficult and I was constantly battling with my own mind. These barriers we talk about ‘I can’t do it’ ‘I haven’t trained enough’ ‘I can feel injuries’ ‘I won’t make it to the end’ ‘I’m not good enough’ I was hit with each one of these but every time one came I fought it. I told myself I had worked so hard for this day, picturing how disappointed I would be if I stopped, people had sponsored me £500 to do this I was not prepared to let them down or let myself down. I thought about how brave my mum and dad have been and if they can get through what they have I can push through the pain for a few hours running. Then I thought about RLAG, about all the amazing ladies who go out when they think they can’t do it. I knew I encouraged them to believe in themselves and not give up so now wasn’t the time for me to become a hypocrite! 

Mile 8 marker became visible and I finally found my feet, I was in a great rhythm, I was smiling and the crowds around me were amazing. It was buzzing!! I finally began to believe and I was experiencing the runners high that we all talk about, I was actually doing it! I will never forget crossing the finish line with Ian. It felt amazing to have trained together and finished together. To top it off as I crossed the finish line I looked up and my sister, brother in law and twin nephews were stood there cheering. I had no idea they would be there but it’s true, it’s not just your race, you share it with so many people. 

Truth:

It hurt, my legs were so sore I couldn’t walk up the stairs and I developed injuries I didn’t know existed!

Would I do it again. Of Course I would!! 

My Half Marathon tips:

– if your in two minds about doing one, just sign up! You come to believe you can once you start training and seeing your body adapt

– train with other people- even if it’s just one of your runs a week, motivate and encourage each other

– for your first half marathon, don’t focus on time, don’t put pressure or expectation on yourself just go out there and enjoy it.

– make sure you have comfortable trainers, if you need new ones, change them gradually and don’t change too near to race day

– personally I didn’t use any energy gels, but if you want to make sure you test them beforehand

– don’t do anything different on race day to a normal training day

– hydrate, hydrate, hydrate in the week leading up to the race and not relying on the morning of the race

– queue up early for the toilet! You don’t want to be stressed about getting to the start line. It’s amazing how many people need the toilet at the same time!

– my biggest and most important tip is to enjoy it, enjoy the preparation, enjoy the run and celebrate afterwards

– oh and equally as important… Smile when you see a camera, they are likely to be official photographers and those photos will be landing in your inbox after the race!

So, do you think you have what it takes to run a half marathon?

Too right you do! See you at the start line 😉

https://home.justgiving.com/?take=10 

You CAN run a Half Marathon too!