I caught the Bug!

Following on from Mandy’s blog last week, if you remember, Mandy had just caught the running bug – lets see where this took her next……

Now I had run a half marathon, I set my goal at a full marathon -26.2 long miles. I had recently lost my father, he passed away in 2013 with Alzheimer’s disease so I knew I had to fundraise for the Alzheimer’s society. I so regret that my dad did not get to see me run, I know he would’ve been so proud of me. In a way, he’s with me on every run as I carry his photo in my bum bag, he’s always on my mind when I’m out there alone running. I put his favourite songs on my iPod which always calms and reassures me as I run. I was now running many miles per week. I always wake early so it was not unusual to see me running at 5am, with my headtorch on, heading out into the countryside. Training for the marathon saw me running almost every day. I’m so lucky to live in a beautiful part of the country, North Yorkshire, and a lot of my training was done on the Cleveland Way, 109 miles of glorious trails (which I aim to run in total one day!). Favourite day of the week is Sunday, a day I used to spend slobbing in my pjs watching movies whilst feeding my face. Now I was training for a marathon saw me running at least 15 miles on the Sunday, regardless of the weather.

In 2014 myself and Tony completed the Edinburgh marathon. Again, I was not fast, it took me 5 hours but I always say time does not matter. I had just run 26.2 miles!! I felt on top of the world, what a huge achievement. I hurt my knee around 15 mile in and I really struggled the final 11 miles but I was not going to quit. I can’t describe the feeling when I crossed that finishing line, I was in floods of tears (happy ones!) holding my dads’ picture for my victory photograph!

Whilst the majority of people would say that’s it, I’ve now run a marathon and that’s enough, I can now just run for fun, I had bigger plans. I wanted to run an ultra. Not a 50k as that’s not much different to a marathon, I wanted to run 100k. Lots of research led me to find the London 2 Brighton 100k through Action Challenge which would be in May 2015.

As soon as I submitted my application I started to panic! I mean it’s a whole 62 mile, a distance I didn’t even like to drive! People thought I was crazy but that just spurned me on even more. I had to do this or at the very least give it everything I had. Training for an ultra really does take over your life. I was at university full time studying crime and investigation and I had to get permission from my tutor to take a few days off as I knew I would not be in a fit state to return to university on the Monday, having ran 100k the day before. I also worked part time at a children’s residential unit, working various shifts so it’s fair to say I did not have much spare time. Between exams and assignments, I trained. I was out in all weathers and doing long runs back to back so my legs got used to running when tired. I tried out various energy supplements such as tailwind and mountain fuel and various gels. I brought myself a fantastic hydration vest and after trying out numerous pairs of trainers decided that Hoka was the make for me.

I now actually own more pairs of running shoes than I do every day shoes. I get so excited when it’s time for a new pair of trainers! The changes to my body were huge. I lost 8 stone in weight and was toned with no trace of cellulite! Quite a change from the overweight lardy body a few years earlier. Although my physical body had changed, the biggest change for me was mentally. I had gone from hating my body and being ashamed of how I looked to wearing whatever I wanted and was bursting with body confidence. Running made me a much happier person, I had lots of energy, my skin was glowing and I felt much younger than my years. At this time I became a Nana for the first time as well and I was proud to think that this Nana was going to run an ultra!



Return next week to find out how Mandy’s first ultra went ….