Tag Archives: Running

Heating up for the desert….two weeks until MDS2017 (whoop whoop)

Finally, the temperatures this weekend have been soaring to about 18C out of the sea breeze, and there has been no rain! In fact it has felt positively Saharan, well almost, give or take about another 15-20degrees.

But, seriously, compared to last weekend it has been heaven to run in the sunshine and to have even needed to wear a bit of sunscreen!

My long runs this weekend and last weekend took on the same path from Rock along the beaches towards Daymer Bay, up onto the Greenaway cliffs, across Polzeath Beach and then heading out along the coastal path towards The Rumps, Pentire and along towards Port Quin.  It is the most beautiful run no matter what the weather.  However, along with the weather, each time I run this route it is always different.  Last week as I rounded the corner towards the Rumps, and decided to head out to the dip between the two Rumps to wave to Daddy, I saw a fire engine.  This is not the most anticipated of things to see as you come raround this particular headland.  Before I saw the fire engine,  I did come across this somewhat stubborn and immoveable obstacle:

Well, they are quite tame pregnant ladies, and after a friendly pat on the nose, I ran on and so encountered the fire engine. So it turned out that the fire engine, was part of a larger group which included the coast guard and special animal units of each, and the local farmer.  This excitement and activity was due to one of these silly cows who had fallen down the cliff into the sea.  

She had spent the whole night down on the rocks as rescue attempts were hampered overnight by high tides, and then to cap it all, the silly cow swam to a small island which they couldn’t get a boat to.  So all in all it was quite a mammoth rescue attempt, but she was eventually winched back to safety up on the cliff tops where she happily scampered off and munched on the luscious green grass.  But judging by the site that met me yesterday morning as I rounded the headland towards the Rumps it might not be the last time one of these pregnancy ladies flies too close to the wind.  They are either very stupid or the grass in certain areas is out of this world:

Still, I don’t blame her…the sun was shining, the gorse is blooming…

and the sea is glistening like diamonds…

Ah, the desert is beckoning. Endless sunshine, sand dunes, blue skies, and camels instead of cows! (must not think about blisters, wearing the same clothes for a week, carrying a rucksack, and living off freeze dried food)! 

So I have reached £1000 in fundraising for MSF so far which is utterly fantastic. I simply cannot believe how wonderfully generous everyone is being – you are all amazing, and I am so very very grateful. Every little bit of support will help to motivate me up and down each sand dune, jebel and across each plain.  Although, don’t think I haven’t picked up on the theme of comments you leave on your donations – “I’m insane” seems to be a recurring theme!!!!!

I’m beginning to concoct my desert playlist – I’m not a big fan of running to music, but it is essential I have discovered in the desert to have a backup of some music to pick up the old pace when all other motivations are failing.  Rag’n’Bone Man has become my running mojo this time, cos after all folks when the going gets tough “I’m only Human after all!”But any y other recommendations are welcome….

I will be emailing out soon the link via which you will be able to send me messages in the desert – of encouragement, abuse, mockery, motivation – any message will be greatly received and will definitely stop me falling down a cliff in a Cornish cow style!

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Eerie night time running…

So, in preparation for the Marathon des Sables it is quite good to get used to running in the dark.  During the last two times I have run the MDS, I have always quite enjoyed the sections of the race that end up being run through the night.  Not least because you mentally reach a stage where it becomes quite surreal.  I always go down bizarre mental tangents and become enthralled with the small pool of light thrown ahead of me by my head torch and the almost sci-fi green laser beam thrown into the air from an all too distant check point.  You have the glow sticks marking the route every few hundred metres appearing like little glow beetles on the horizon that occasionally disappear as you drop down between sanddunes or rock outcrops.  The moving glow sticks attached to the back of other runners that muddle in with the markers and make you feel like you are following some strange elvish trail in the dark in Middle Earth. (I admit that it might just be me that thinks this!).  The only noise is your own breathing and efforts as your run/hobble/shuffle through the desert’s complete darkness before the crazy stars start to light up the sky.  

Running in the dark along the Camel Trail in Cornwall is a slightly different kettle of fish.  For starters, simply because it is January  and not a desert, it does feel a whole lot colder (even though the desert can reach freezing and below at night).  Tonight I ran a quiet run of 9 miles towards Bodmin from Wadebridge and back.  As I set out from Wadebridge, the last light of the day was just fading and I had my head torch on.  Unlike running at night in London, there are very few street lamps once you get outside the town’s limits and literally none along the Camel Trail and very quickly all I can see is the pool of light and the odd twinkle of the first few stars as they appear.  It isn’t silent though, as the River Camel burbles alongside the trail, although in the dark it loses some of it’s poetic merriment as the shadows of the trees occasionally loom darker than the inky sky behind them, creating eerie shapes and a sense of running through long tunnels.  Every now and then a light from a cottage twinkles through the darkness and the smell of wood smoke  pervades the air.   However, I find that what takes most of my concentration and attention is trying to spot the odd pile of horse poo!  The light from my headlamp is bright but everything is lit up in black and white and several times it isn’t until I tread in a rather soft mound or kick a rather large but soft lump that I realise I am upon and past the horse poo.  I giggle to myself as I run, imagining it is just one horse that has left a trail of dung but in reality it is probably several!  I also hope that it is only horse poo and not the rather nastier and smellier dog poo which also frequents this trail (but is mostly picked up by convivial dog owners!). I say to myself as I completely miss seeing another pile of dung that it is like yomping through small clumpy bits in the desert where the occasional sand dune  tricks you in the dark – but it isn’t really.    As I turn back towards Wadebridge having reached my halfway point, the noises of the river at night, and the occasional rustle in the undergrowth are joined by the hooting of owls who seem to be having some sort of intense discussion – they are perhaps just greeting each other  for the night’s activities.  But, I like to think that perhaps they hare having a debate about something, maybe the hilarious notion of Trump as president of the USA!  On the way back the stars are brighter and as the lights of Wadebridge grow brighter I am surprised as I run past the bird hide – there are three people sitting in there…I can’t really imagine what birds they are watching and I suspect they may be some of the Wadebridge youth hanging out.  This seems even more likely as a young teenager walks past me as I go past the first street lamp as I re-enter the town.   

It is as surreal running at night here in Cornwall as it is in the desert, and as beautiful.  But totally different and there are more owls and a lot more horse poo!

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London Marathon 2016 – the best race on earth!

Officially my London Marathon time 2016 was 04.28.37…. So, after everything it was a fairly respectable time! That’s a million times faster than I thought it was going to be.  My family, who were following on the marathon App apparently thought I set of like a bull out of a gate, but from my perspective is was steady all the way through until about mile 20 where I began to flag.

The day dawned grey, drizzly and cold – you wouldn’t have thought a week or so ago we were hitting temperatures in London of near 20.  I had a warming bowl of porridge and a steaming mug of coffee and headed to the bus stop.  I met my first fellow marathoner getting on the number 48 for London Bridge, called Bal from Leeds running his first marathon.  Then suddenly arriving a London Bridge Station there seemed to be an increasing number of people wearing running gear – albeit with a fair few layers on – and all with the same kit bag.  Bal seemed relieved as I am not entirely sure that he was convinced I was showing him the right direction to go in – don’t know why he wasn’t convinced!  Arriving at Greenwich it definitely felt cold and several local pubs were selling tea and bacon rolls.  Bal & I headed into the park.  Having not run the London Marathon for 8 years it has got some changes to the set up.  There is more checking of your number before you go into the park, which only runners are allowed into, there are big screens up showing all the different starts as they happen, and there are improved (ish) loo facilities.  I don’t know if any other race has started this, but female urinals is a first for me.  Basically, there were two great big square canvassed rooms (without a ceiling), a female urinal and a men’s.  At the entrance to the women’s on tables were cardboard funnel contraptions for women to use to stand at a urinal in the tented area!!!!! The idea of this is to speed up the normal ridiculous queuing for loos that normally goes on, by allowing several people to have a pee at once – well call me old fashioned but I feel a bit long in the tooth to start trying to pee like a man standing up. So like a few other women and calling on my time from running in the Sahara Desert I simply crouched down in the corner and peed like a normal woman!  Less mess, easier and by the judge of things a lot quicker, if less hilarious.  You might find it strange that I write about this, but it is one of the important aspects at the start of a marathon – as you need to pee far more times than can surely be normal…nerves mainly, and the hope that you empty your bladder so that you don’t need to go during the race.  Anyways, enough of that!  I sorted out my final bits of kit and as the sun was beginning to peep out and warm things up, handed in my kit bag whilst munching on a flapjack with all the claims of giving me enough energy to see me though any physical challenge I could dream up, and made my way to pen 4.

Pen 4 is for the runners aiming to run a race finishing in a time of about 3.30 – 3.45. Yes, I know, ambitious – but when I decided to run the marathon, and had my place confirmed back in October, I had planned to toy with the idea of running somewhere round this time or even a PB.  Fat chance now!  That aside, being in a low numbered pen means you get over that start line in just a few minutes rather than the 10-20 minutes those back in pens 10+ take.  I had a chat to a runner standing next to me from Brighton, dumped my horrible Third Space running jacket as I was now warm enough and shuffled forward with the masses as the start gun went, as we all gave a wave to the sky knowing that Tim Peake was setting of in space at the same time.  It took me 2-3 mins to get over the start line, I hit start on my watch and I was off.  Now I picked a nice steady pace that I didn’t feel was too fast, although it is tempting to keep pace with everyone around you, I know that would be disastrous as everyone around me was setting off at their intended sub 3.45 pace and I would have badly crashed and burned.  I settled into a comfortable pace of around 8.45 minute miles and relaxed, and started to enjoy myself – the crowds were already out making noise, as were some wonderful bands, people playing music out of pubs, off balconies.  I remember seeing a couple standing watching with their big dog (possibly a Rhodesian Ridgeback), and he was facing the oncoming runners barking madly at us – I like to think it was a positive bark!  At about mile 3-4 I ran for a while with a lovely man (who’s name I have forgotten) chatting about the horrors of cancer and why we were both running.  It is a crowded race beyond belief and there is quite a lot of jostling the whole way, elbows being nudged, and I was amazed how many times someone would catch my heels.  I might sound a bit snotty here but my personal opinion in the London marathon is that mobile phones and possibly music devices should be banned.  I think there is nothing more annoying than someone having a phonecall whilst in the middle of a race, and those listening to music, well not only are they missing all the wonderful atmosphere of the crowd and snippets of conversation going on, but they are also oblivious to what is going on around them and cause half the jostling. Gripe over!

Rounding the bend to the Cutty Sark is one of the most wonderful moments of the race, you hear the noise of the crowd grow like some sort of hungry monster and the sun was shining making the old boat look resplendent in all its glory.  If you are feeling good at this point, and I was, it is elating and almost puts an extra bounce into your pace – almost!  Soon after that hitting the streets in South London through Surray Quays and Rotherhithe I began to focus on wondering where I might see some of my supporters – I was hoping to see my niece Matilda somewhere between mile 7 and 10, and was scanning the crowds as much as possible, but it is tough, as I was also concentrating on working things out like when I was going to have my next energy gel, listening for when my name was shouted out, and simply keeping a steady pace glimpsing down at my watch every so often.  My watch was throwing me off a bit, as I told me I had reached each mile sooner than I had, the GPS seemed somewhat off, it would bleep the mile which would be at about 100-200 metres further on, and this distance increased substantially witch each mile – the relief was that it seemed to be the same for quite a few people judging by the beeps you could hear all going off at similar times. Suffice to say I missed Matilda, and she missed me 😦  still I knew she was there and in my head heard her yelling.  I think at this point around mile 9 I was overtaken by a man dressed as a rather large strawberry!!  

Water stations are a bit of a hazard with other runners suddenly slowing down, sidestepping across you, arms thrust out grabbing the bottles from the wonderful volunteers, and then the discarded bottles which are still quite full being inadvertently kicked, exploding if they are heavily trodden on, thrown badly – just one of the obstacles alone the way, they at least don’t eject sticky liquid like the lucozade stations!  I took on water at every other water station, going by my desert method of little and often, keeping hold of my bottle until it was about half empty before getting rid of it.

Tower Bridge was approaching as my 2 hour mark approached.  I looked out for my friend Lin and her family but again missed them, the noise of the crowd as you approach Tower Bridge is even louder than the Cutty Sark and again the sun shone out brightly as I turned the corner… The colours of all the charity banners and balloons are fantastic, and you feel incredible as you head over the bridge, the noise of the crowd so loud that names are indistinguishable and I found it quite emotional, and had a huge boost as I ran past the Maggies Centres cheering team just on the north side of the bridge before  turning right to head out East.  So I had missed Matilda, and Lin & Co….and I wasn’t expecting supporters on the way to the Isle of Dogs or around Canary Wharf.   They are quite long miles, and I began to focus.a bit on my legs and how I was feeling, reaching halfway at mile 13.1 I was aware that I had only 3 more miles to go before I reached the distance of my longest run and I was beginning to feel tired.  A Gandalf ran past me at this point complete with pointy hat and staff – I could have done with some of his magic!  But you find boosts in strange places and from odd things – one being spurred on from this point every time I passed someone who was already walking and looking in trouble, another being amused by a rather bizarre group of Morris Dancers on the side of the road! The bands along the way are simply brilliant, loud with brilliant beats boosting your rhythm & pace – but Morris Dancers!!

The miles through the Isle of Dogs and Canary Wharf are tough especially when you are heading out that way and towards sites like the O2 arena, you just continually feel like you are going in the wrong direction.  When I have run previous races in the Sahara I apparently sing to myself although quite loudly according to other runners.  Instead of singing during those tough miles from about 14 to 20 I let my mind drift off to the Sahara desert or the cliffs in Cornwall remembering particular stretches and try to imagine that is where I am running – it works for a bit during each mile,  distracting from the longing for each mile to go past.   I also imagined the frantic communication going on between my family as they followed my race number online each time I went over the 5km timing markers – and as I approached mile 20,  I admit I was beginning to fade a little as my muscles began to feel tired and a tad tight, I slowed down feeling a bit low, wondering if I was going to spot anyone in the crowd. I decided to chill for a bit and walk to mile 21 where I was joined by an American girl with very heavy looking fairy wings…we chatted for a bit and then when mile 21 approached we both began to try and run again.  I was just getting back into the rhythm again around 35km when I finally saw one of my brothers, James and launched into an emotional bearhug as seeing him gave me a big boost – he said the others were just up the road. Now just up the road can have many interpretations,  and to my mind it seemed quite a long way up the road before I spotted Nick, Rita & Bertie just before the underpass to the Embankment.  They had set me a challenge, and were situated on a high raised bit of road so I had to jump up to be enveloped in a big hug and lots of encouragement before gingerly “jumping” back onto the road and setting off again with more boost in the system and the knowledge that Catherine & George were just up ahead in amongst the wonderful crowd that lines the Embankment.  I was flitting from running to walking as it was becoming increasingly hard to maintain a consistent pace.  Somewhere between mile 25 and 26 I saw my sister Catherine and nephew George and had an emotional hug, both me and Catherine crying.  The last couple of miles were emotional as in my head I started to see and hear my daddy…the crowd were amazing as I kept hearing my name and the words “you’re nearly there, it’s just around the corner, keep going”. As I rounded the bend I scanned the crowd as much as I could for my ridiculously tall nephew Luke, my little niece Emily and Mummy but the marathon gods were against me and we missed each other, and then it was the home straight to the finish line.  That stretch of the race where you feel like you are an elite athlete sprinting for the line – in reality it is quite the opposite, but I did look to the left and in the media area I saw Sebastian Coe and waved as if I knew him – I think he shouted “”Go on Harry”, but I may have been delirious at that point! And then I was over the finish line and suddenly it is all over.   The emotion at that point is almost too much to describe, I burst into tears of joy, sadness and relief…the race Marshall looked a bit worried but I smiled and then had the medal put over my head and felt like a gold medalist.   I did it Daddy,  in under 4.30, and I missed you every step,  but as I went to meet my wonderful family and get the biggest hug off Mummy I felt like I had the biggest smile – everyone who crosses that finish line is a winner, you see all of humanity in the marathon and supporting the marathon, there is no other event on the planet that creates such an inspirational atmosphere.  It is said that when you cross the finish line your first thought is Never Again…well my. thought is bring on the next one.

And, of course a big thank you to everyone who supported me, sponsored me and sent me messages of encouragement – you have no idea how much you helped me get across that finish line.  And well done to all my fellow runners, you are all one in a million, and my condolences to the family of Captain David Seath who died.

Thank you everyone XXXX


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London Marathon….one day to go….

So here it is…the London Marathon 2016.  

This time tomorrow, depending on how smoothly the start goes, I will be at least 3 miles into the slog, calming down the adrenalin, bustling in the mass of other runners, smelling that bizarre smell that only comes at the start of a race – one of sweat, nerves, adrenalin,  – hearing the loud clatter of 1000s of feet hitting the Tarmac amidst the continuous noise of the crowd as we head out through South London towards Cutty Sark and the Tower.

My niece Matilda is going to be somewhere I hope in those first 10 miles – and I have a sneaky suspicion that my beloved friend Lin with family in tow will be relatively vocal as I turn right to stumble across Tower Bridge, after that I think the East End miles are going to be waiting to get back to the Embankment end of things were I am expecting my sister Catherine’s whistle to be defeating all those in her vicinity.  I’m not sure where Nick, Rita, George, Emily & Bertie are planning on shouting, or Luke & James, but I’m hoping one or two of them will be hanging out with my wonderful Mummy who is going to be positioned in that last mile somewhere, channeling Daddy’s vocal chords to shout me down the Mall in what always feels like a Usain Bolt like sprint, but in reality would probably be faster if I were doing the sack race!  

There’s no turning back now, it’s tomorrow and I am going to have to rely on some past remembered mental strength of my previous 15 marathons to get me to the finish line.  In all honesty it has been the toughest 4 months training for a marathon I ever remember.  Gradually getting back into running gently in December started well with some great runs down in Cornwall during my dad’s birthday and Christmas with my brother James:

Which all suddenly ended in disaster when I fell down this bit of path… 

And broke my right wrist, breaking the distal radius and chipping the bone.  The next day I headed off to the wonderful Cape Town for the 2nd Test Cricket match between SA & England, where I had hoped to do some beautiful early morning runs along the coast.  This was not to be, but the company & cricket more than made up for it.  Coming back to the UK with an arm in a heavy cast for 6 weeks did not really mix well with going for runs longer than about 4 miles as it began to make me run a bit lopsided – not ideal over 26 miles!  To add to the frustration of this was the mix of becoming single again and struggling with my job and general London life.  The day my cast was cut off I felt was going to be so positive and I picked up my training, and felt along with my runners in my running club at my gym were I used to work that Spring was on its way.  Not to be so…the next set back being “let go” from the Third Space half an hour before teaching my last class…12 years of dedication and slam – nothing.  The new “Third Space” brand has no place for passion, loyalty and dedication.  It left me a bit out on a limb and a bit desolate and not remotely like running.  A week later in Cornwall again, I managed to break a toe (falling down stairs this time).  Added to all this was the constant feeling of missing my dad.  I have never experienced grief before and it is a tough cookie to get used to.  I know that there are thousands of us out there running for someone we have lost tomorrow and I am not the only one.  It is a tough mindset to deal with at times and the more I think about the race tomorrow the more mixed my emotions become – when I have run for a cause in the past it has always been for a cause I believe in such as improving hospital conditions in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Malawi, or the World Wild Life Fund, it has never been for such a personal cause.  I know that I am running for Maggies Centres – but it is the fact that I am running for my Daddy that seems to make it so hard as I keep remembering past races: running down the Mall and hearing Dad’s voice coming from the grandstand seats where he & Mummy and Luke & Matilda had managed to cadge some seats, turning the last corner in Dublin and seeing him right in front of me bellowing for all he was worth, simply just hearing his English voice somewhere in the German crowd in Berlin, and always getting the biggest hug at the end in Cannes.  I know he will be there, probably standing with my Mummy who I know this will be equally emotional for, as coming to watch without him for the first time.  But I will miss him and running on emotion is tough – but don’t worry dad no matter what – I will cross the finish line…I have to, we have a table booked at your favourite restaurant Mr Buckleys!

I collected my number and chip yesterday at the London Marathon Expo…so if you are following on line or in the apple app this is my number: 41841

And here is what I am wearing front & back:



So all that there is left for me to say is a really BIG THANK YOU to everyone for their messages of love and support and to all of you that have sponsored me – I can’t tell you how much it means to me, every single one of you is making a difference, not just to Maggies, but to me as each one of you will help me plod through the agonising last few miles. Thank you.

And good luck to everyone else that is running tomorrow remember the words of the great Emile Zapotek: “If you want to win something, run 100 metres.  If you want to experience something, run a marathon.”  Tomorrow is going to be an experience, enjoy every step.  


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A chilly March evening run in the rain….or plodding out the miles!

So, it is one month to go today to the London Marathon, and I imagine that most of my fellow marathoners are just about to start tapering down as they have probably just put in their longest run, or they are about to this weekend – (a good way to run off those chocolate Easter eggs that I always tell myself that I won’t eat!).  Not me, nope I am finally just picking up my mileage as my training finally begins to look like it is taking some sort of shape.  And this evening after work I managed to convince myself despite the cold drizzle that it was better to go for a run instead of straight home.  So, as commuters were heading in all directions along Westminster Bridge, I started out for the Royal Parks.  My first mile through St James’s Park and up along Green Park is always a bit of a plod, and a stop start at all the lights and crossings until I get to Hyde Park, and then I begin to relax and start to find my stride.  My aim was to go cover somewhere over 13miles this evening, and so as not to make the run too monotonous, my first lap was around the outside of Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.  There’s a street at the bottom of Kensington Gardens that is seriously more like millionaires row, but it slopes gently up hill so quite frankly it could be a hovel for all the distraction it lends.  I always then enjoy the stretch along Bayswater – there’s something about running along against the flow of traffic that always makes it feel like I’m running quite fast…I wasn’t, although I think that was possibly my paciest mile.  As I turned back into Hyde Park and down the Park Lane side there’s always that desire to head straight for home as I reach Hyde Park Corner, but I was good and gritted my teeth and turned the corner and covered another two laps of Hyde Park, back over the corner and round Green Park, a lap round St James’s, and along the river up to Vauxhall Bridge, over the bridge and along the south side of the river back to St Thomas’s.  Bleurgh, I heard my watch bleep and glimpsed it but in the dark I misread it and thought I had only just about covered 12 miles, so my delight was quite substantial when I reached the door and it read roughly 16 miles!  I startled a patient covertly smoking in the shadows as I whooped loudly.  It took me roughly two and a half hours or there abouts…so only another ten miles to go, and roughly another hour and a half of running – if I can keep a consistent pace.  I fear that from about 16 miles onwards my pace is going to become a bit more ploddy. But you never know what can happen in the next four weeks.  As I’m building up towards London instead of tapering down to it I’m intending to peak for it perfectly on the day (unlikely, but I’m being ever so optimistic), and also simply regard it as a long old training run for the Atacama Desert which is growing slowly in the back of my mind as October creeps ever so much closer!

Adding on 4 miles cycling home in cold wet rain wasn’t quite as much fun as running in it, it has to be said, especially when about 10 mins into cycling home I realised I’d left my wallet at work.

But I’m home now, mildly regretting that I have arranged a training session with Jon tomorrow morning at 8.30am, I’m sure I used to have more energy a few years ago and back to back training sessions evening followed by early morning seemed like a fun idea!  Right now I am questioning my sanity.

Still, 4 weeks to go, and after tonight’s run things finally feel like they are progressing.  After all the niggling setbacks, not to say my time at The Third Space gym coming to a rather abrupt and somewhat unprofessional end, (a long story for another entry if I can be bothered, suffice to say at this juncture that after giving 12 years of dedicated hardwork which I passionately believed in training others for races from 5k to 100miles to mountain and desert races, to be told 1/2 an hour before what was to be my last class that I was being “let go” was a little peeving, not to say lacking in any sense of professionalism & respect – but I won’t dwell on that now), it has been a tough training route so far.  I just hope that the next four weeks are smooth and obstacle free.   

Happy Easter one and all xxxxxxxxx

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A different sort of night shift…

So, not exactly a blog about running today but it’s 4:15am and I thought I’d share my thoughts. 

A few months ago I did not think that 2 weeks before the start of the Atacama Crossing race I’d be in the position that I’m in today. I thought I’d be champing at the bit putting together my last few race preparations and becoming giddily excited. Instead this past night has found me sitting beside my beloved Daddy in his hospital room, with my mother resting on a hospital camp bed at his side.  I had to keep my excitement at Roger Federer coming back in the second set of the men’s US open final very low key…just a silent fist pump. Although the night nurse came in moments afterwards and my darling dad asked me what the score was!  And sigh, Federer has now lost…boo!  

Both my parents are sleeping, and aside from the incredibly noisy oxygen pump all is quiet.  I have time to sit and contemplate.  In perspective I’m a very lucky person, I have a truly wonderful family, and our supportiveness and closeness has become so strong in these last few weeks.  I have wonderful and amazing friends who are all on the end of a phone or willing at the drop of the hat to go and feed or catsit my slightly grumpy cat who is somewhat bemused at my constant coming and goings between London and Oxfordshire, but is rather good at being long suffering. Monkey (dodgy cat’s name I know) has perfected the feline eyes raised to heaven expression, but has also become quite amicable with extended cuddles when I’m back.  I have a career in the best profession in the world…made even more clear to me as I watch the nurses looking after my dad. (He’s doing a little bit better now than he was a few hours ago).  I must remember to thank both my mum & dad in the morning for giving me so much, I won’t wake them just now 🙂

Watching them both here together – they make me feel that I could jump up this morning and run a marathon  for them straight off…only I left my trainers in London so I think perhaps I won’t…

I was meant to work a night shift, it’s odd though, as on a night shift I often long to go to sleep but tonight I’ve just watched darling dad.  

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Training at high altitutde…

…in an enclosed chamber in a gym on a treadmill, alas not out in the Alps or in Kenya or anywhere else remotely high above sea level. Certainly not as high as the Atacama Desert. But still 2500m high in a chamber in the centre of London.  Setting the treadmill on a gentle-ish incline I plodded my way through 12.5 miles in roughly 2 hours with a variety of pace and intervals.  Variety helps on treadmill training because otherwise it really is the most dullest form of running.  I always have the urge when I see people training really regularly on treadmills to go up and shout loudly at them “outside there is a world of adventure, colour and sights that will fill a short or long run with wonder and distraction and amusement and dilemma”.  But I’m good I keep my mouth shut.  Two hours in the hypoxic chamber – as it is so called – isn’t too horrendously boring, as it is high up in my gym with a big glass wall which looks out over the rest of the gym and makes for some rather entertaining people watching.  Watching the hard core athlete gunning for it in some seriously fast sprints on either the main treadmills or the Watt Bikes, the ingenuous novice who doesn’t really know what piece of equipment to use, the posers who seem more interested in their latest colourful piece of tight latex (I won’t go into details) – I could go on, but probably best not to.  Today, my high altitude session followed an hour of training with my trainer Luke.  So my muscles have been seriously put through the mill today.  I am apparently much better a press-ups now though – although as I wryly pointed out, that doesn’t mean that I like them any the more! I mean, it’s not as if I’m going to stop every few miles in the desert and think, oooh, better drop and do 5 press-ups. However, my protestations never work.

The thing that drives me through running on a treadmill, is that it is the only time I run to music.  I’m not a big fan of running outside with headphones – not only do you miss all the sounds of outside but I have found that I become oblivious to other people which from my perspective is dangerous as numerous catastrophes might then ensue. But on a treadmill, it certainly keeps me going, I keep thinking I’ll stop at the end of this song, but then my ipod set to random shuffle picks something I haven’t heard for a while and boom I go for another 5 mins, and so on and so forth.  Still I admit to being a bit cream crackered now but as a small reward I am enjoying a particularly delicious chocolate brownie and hot chocolate in Rapha cycling cafe in Soho – mmmmmmm!

And, I get my revenge shortly – I’m heading back to the gym to put a few crazy members through their paces in one of my classes – this one is called Hardcore Hypoxic!!!! The clue is in the title, ha ha!

20 miles done this week so far, including a 10mile run on Bank Holiday monday. Memo to self, must not run in the middle of the day on a Bank Holiday Monday – very foolish…prams, dogs, romantic ambling couples, bikes, people in bubbles of Ipods and MP3 players, on mobile phones – none of them look where they are going, or what is coming towards them…I just start pretending they are big boulders in the desert which I am going to have to dodge round, it sort of works.


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Well folks, it’s all done and dusted

I’ve survived a gruelling 150+ mile race across the Sahara Desert for the second time.

All I can say is that it has been one hell of an experience from beginning to end. As fun, challenging, exciting, demanding and extraordinary as the first time, if not more so, in so many ways.

I’ve made some very special friends. Not least, the seven lovely (if a tad smelly) men I shared a tent with for the last week. We’ve shed tears, laughter and a few unsavoury moments that will bind us together forever. And also with other participants who, at times I ran with who got me through, or I helped through low patches.

The Tiyanjane Clinic has never been far from my mind, and was a wonderful source of inspiration when the going got tough. As were all the wonderful messages I recieved from so many of you willing me on… I can’t tell you how much those messages helped. Thank you!  I am now clean and sand free, if hobbling a bit with rather bruised and battered feet. It remains to be seen how long my toenails cling on to my toes!

As I sit enjoying the sun and a cold beer during a last afternoon in Morocco, I send my love and thanks to you all and will let you know in due course how much money I have raised. Cheers for now!

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Stage 5: Hello from the Sahara Desert for the last time!

What a day it has been. My 13th full marathon and boy, was it tough…

The first 10k were horrific for me. My feet were agony. Walking hurt.  Running hurt and I pretty much stumbled over the line at CP1 and had a small meltdown bursting into tears on a very sympathetic doctor’s shoulder. She patched my left foot up gave me a painkiller and off I went.

I was now at the back of the field with what looked like the walking wounded returning from some war. But, I found my mojo and set off, singing all the way. I caught up with four of my tent buddies at CP2 and then straight on to CP3 through some of the most beautiful dunes and wild scenery.  I’m proud to say from CP1 onwards no one passed me. I don’t know why but despite my feet I felt fantastic and it was just amazing to be in the desert today.

Thanks to all who wrote to me everyday – it has been wonderful to have your support and very emotional. We’re about to be treated to Orchestra de Paris, live in the Sahara. XX


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Stage 4: What a long old slog that was

We started running at 8.30am and I finally crossed the finish line somewhere around 3am.

It was a tough day… A case of power marching, the desert shuffle and a slightly delerious run. I will save the story of this stage for later as it had many twists and turns. 

I ran with lots of different people and had a lot of laughs and interesting moments – not least when stumbling out of CP5 into the dunes and falling headlong down one… Much to the amusement of the two French guys with me at that moment.

 I’m proud to say I ran in the dark on my own and didn’t get lost! I sang a lot, lost my voice, but the stars and moon were out and the desert was inspirational!

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