Posts Tagged ‘marathon’

Oh, Hello April.

Friday, April 8th, 2016

So apparently it is April. I’m not sure how that happened or how I only have 1.5 months left of my Masters degree. Yes, I still have to write that “dissertation” thing but in mid-May all of my classes finish and I hand in my second semester assignments. And that is that. All I have to do is pass those and I can start signing my name on emails as Jessica Davies B.A., M.A. and people will be impressed (not). Of course, in order to pass my assignments, I have to write them and therein lies my current problem.

Spring has been making its way to Manchester in ebbs and flows over the last few months. We had some sunny and surprisingly warm days very early on in the year but they were then replaced by snow. It is now a daily struggle to work out what to wear as it is hot in the sun and freezing in the shade. There are some excellent clouds about at the moment though, bringing rain and hail showers. I much prefer these temperamental conditions to endless drizzle – adds a bit of spice to the Manchester weather forecast.

cloud

You could just eat it!

I am hoping the wind will back off on Sunday, however, as I am once again pushing myself through 41.something kilometres and running the Manchester Marathon. Anyone wanting to follow me from the comfort of an armchair can do so here. I have had a slight set back in terms of a ridiculously sore toe. I usually ignore aches and pains but this particular niggle was excessively painful and a trip to the cheapest physiotherapist that I could find suggests it is runners’ arthritis. Not surprising really, given my family’s medical history. Just slightly annoying as I now haven’t run for 1.5 weeks, the longest period of time that I haven’t run for approximately 6 years. I haven’t gone AS nuts as I thought I would, which is pleasing. But I am very much looking forward to Sunday and have been telling my toe that if it dares to slow me down I will have it surgically removed. Nothing messes with me, not even my own digits.

marathon

Go Jessso!

A couple of weekends ago, I participated in a workshop connected to the Pilcrow Pub project. The Pilcrow Pub is a community pub that is being built by hand by a group of seriously dedicated people. They run workshops where you can come in and make a stool, clothes hook, ceramic jug or something else that will be used in the final pub. I went to the “wooden workbench” workshop that involved us turning pieces of wood that had been reclaimed from a giant Christmas tree installation into a workbench that would then be used to make other things for the pub. It was so much fun! It required a huge amount of brain space to work out how to make very non-straight pieces of wood come together to create a stable table. Plus it was all done by hand so it was hand saws and chisels in action. It was team building central and by the end of the day, my group, ‘Team Leg,’ were high-fiving and patting each others backs with pride. Amazing work. I am hopefully doing a second workshop in a couple of weeks’ time – basket weaving!

workbench

We made that!

Speaking of basket weaving, I helped my friend Jon (aka Garden Man (apparently calling a man a boy is a negative thing so I am upgrading him)) run a weaving workshop at the Whitworth art gallery. I forced Jon to let me help him so that I can write an essay on it for my Creative Learning unit at uni. It was such fun working with families to weave giant balls of willow and it once again reinforced my desire to work in engagement programmes in art galleries. It is very reassuring that I continue to have this passion and excitement for galleries and museums and that I’m not completely sick of them. Maybe I really have picked the right degree!

willow

A ball o’ willow

And one final piece of news before I go and do some real work – I finally installed my pop-up exhibition in the glass case in the Samuel Alexander building at uni. I was given the project in December last year and it took me until March to install… oops. I like to say it was because I was developing my ideas but it was mostly because 1. I had essays to write, 2. the building was locked on weekends, 3. I am my father’s daughter. Anyway, it is an exhibition showcasing people’s Instagram images of Manchester. I am going to change the photographs over the next few weeks so that there are new images to look at. It didn’t turn out quite as I expected but it still looks surprisingly good considering. I am quite pleased.

#ISeeYouManchester

#ISeeYouManchester

Ok, really should go and write an essay now. Peace out, kids.

The Marathon

Monday, September 7th, 2015

I ran a marathon last Sunday. That was fun. I actually managed to get some sleep the night before which is quite unusual for me. Usually the excitement and fear keep me awake all night and I lie there thinking, “Is it time to run yet? No.”

It was a 6am start time down on St George’s Terrace and as per usual it was a wind tunnel. Thankfully this was the windiest part of the entire race and despite a fairly nasty weather forecast, it ended up being a remarkably sunny day.

Please forgive me, I am about to brag. I set off on this marathon expecting to complete it in a similar time to what I ran in Manchester. There were going to be hills so I didn’t think I’d be able to improve on my 4 and a half-ish hours. Half way through the race it dawned on me that I was going slightly faster than I expected, and I was still feeling good. I crossed the finish line in 4 hours and 2 minutes – cutting 24 minutes off my Manchester time. I WAS SO HAPPY. I admit to crying just a little bit as I crossed the finish line but that was potentially due to the burning pain that was going through my thigh muscles. Hills are nasty. I greatly dislike them.

city to surf

Hooray! Another medal!

The race was four days ago and I am still feeling it a bit in my legs and I’m reasonably certain that my foot is broken. Sitting in this plane chair is not helping at all. I’d prefer to be running.

Thanks to some smart thinking on my part, I asked Sir Pubert if he wanted to set another dinner bet for this last marathon. He agreed and I beat the decided time of ‘less than 4 hours 26.’ I am currently about 20 hours away from claiming my prize.

I’m still here

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

I have realised that my blogging frequency has dropped significantly in the last few months. My apologies if this has affected anyone, although I suspect it hasn’t caused any great distress. I thought I would provide a brief overview of why I have become slack on the writing front.

Work.

I am up to Job #7 at the Subiaco Council and Job #6 required significantly more concentration and effort than jobs 1 through 5. I really enjoyed Job #6. But now I’m moving on. It is amazing how attached to a company you can become – I will now passionately defend the Subiaco town centre and argue against any negative comments that are made about it and its parklets. THERE IS PLENTY OF PARKING. Now stop complaining.

I have made lots of great friends at work which has been a massive bonus, and for some reason people seem to think that I know stuff about writing and whatnot. Strange but lovely. I’m going to miss these folk. Once again, I find myself in the position of having gained the friendship of such fantastic people and having to say goodbye. At least most of them say they’ll come and visit me, but I don’t think any have actually googled Manchester and looked at the weather forecast.

Visas.

My flight to Manchester leaves in 35 days. I am still uncertain as to whether or not I will be on it. Having finally received an application number from the University of Manchester, I was able to start my online application for my student visa. What I had expected to be a fairly straight forward process turned out to be a ridiculously complicated application. Why I thought it would be easy, I’m not sure as visa applications never, ever are.

There are always two or three questions that make absolutely no sense, have no explanation or require you to search through a 100-page document that is briefly mentioned in another form in order to find some sort of answer for it. If someone asked you “Do you have an existing presence in the UK?” what would you answer? Exactly. Thanks to an exceptionally helpful person in the visa office at the university, I think I have managed to complete the application correctly.

However I then needed to attend an ‘interview’ at a dodgy office on St George’s Terrace where I sat in a room full of swivel chairs waiting to hand over precious documents such as my passport. Every time I have been in this situation, I have left feeling like I won’t get the visa and that I have committed some sort of fatal error. People who work in visa application centres must have hours of training in the art of making people doubt themselves. Have I supplied all of the correct documents? Have I forgotten something? Is that an original or a photocopy? Is that really how I spell my name? Nothing is certain.

And so we wait.

Life.

The rest of my time has been filled with meeting up with friends, celebrating my Grandma’s 93rd birthday, spending as much time as possible with my family and giving guide-dog Eva lots of pats.

I’ve also started training for the City to Surf marathon. I thought that completing another marathon before I’m 30 would potentially be a good idea. The more I train for it, the more I question this logic. I ran 30 kilometres last Saturday and by kilometre ten I was ready to go home. However my plan of running a marathon in the morning of 30 August, having birthday drinks with my friends in the afternoon, turning 30 on the 1 September and then flying to Manchester two days later to start Jess’s Socially Irresponsible Adventure #328 is quite pleasing.

And that’s the crux of it.

Done and Done.

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

I can now officially tell people that I run marathons. I haven’t just flukishly completed one marathon through pure luck and chance – I have now run the entire 42 point something kilometre distance TWICE. Woohoo! And I have managed to do it in a surprisingly great time of 4 hours and 26 minutes. I finished 4228th out of 8030 entrants. GO ME. Ok, bragging over. Ego deflating.

If you read my previous post, you may remember that I wasn’t feeling all that great about my decision to run the Greater Manchester Marathon this year. However as my running buddy, Becky, and I stepped over the starting line on Sunday morning, looked at each other and started laughing at our stupidity, it was all good. We were running a marathon. What idiots.

The weather forecast had becoming increasingly worse as Sunday drew nearer and I went to bed on Saturday night expecting to wake up to gale force winds and strong rain. I was overwhelmingly relieved to see overcast but rainless skies and just a slight breeze. It was also relatively warm at around 14 degrees. Essentially the weather was perfect for running long distances in. The rain held off for the entire race and we didn’t have any strong head winds to contend with.

The manchester marathon sold itself to me as being the UK’s flattest marathon and that it certainly was. In fact, a lot of the time we appeared to be going downhill. It was great. It certainly cuts a few mental barriers when you don’t have large inclines looming up ahead of you. Lots of people came out and cheered us on, handing out jelly babies to us as we passed by. I high-fived multiple children and danced along to boy band 5ive as one of their tunes was pumped out over loud speakers. That definitely lifted my spirits.

It was great to be able to run with Becky and I don’t think I would have been able to maintain a good speed if it hadn’t been for her. Unfortunately she was struck with a troublesome belly and had to slow down. I was a terrible friend and ran on ahead at the 28 kilometre mark, but she still managed to complete the race in great time. Bad stomach, a persistent cough and a year ago she was pregnant – she is the true athlete.

Once again as I entered the home stretch, heard the cheers of the crowd and the realisation that it was almost over hit me, I felt a kick of adrenaline and picked up my speed. As I rounded the final corner, I started sprinting towards the finishing line, my goal in my sights. Then my legs turned to jelly and said, “Nar.” So I stopped being a show-off and slowed down, crossing the line at a decent pace.

And then that same evil thought that entered my brain at the end of the Paris marathon came back to me – “Let’s do that again!” I spent part of this afternoon googling races in Paris in May for when I go back to visit my friends. There happens to be a half-marathon that weekend. Becky and I are thinking about it.

That red line was me.

That red line was me.

18 Miles is a Long Way

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

Last weekend I discovered that 18 miles equates to 28.9 kilometres which concurrently equates to a really long way. I also discovered that 30 kilometres is even further and that your thigh muscles really, really hurt if you run that far. Prepare yourselves for a bit of bragging, my friends, because I am about to get on my pedestal of “Look at me” and declare that I RAN 30 KILOMETRES LAST WEEKEND!

I joined a group of 20 or so runners who are all planning on completing the Manchester marathon in four weeks’ time. We met at the sports store Up&Running and after signing up, doing some nervous stretching and asking each other what on earth we were doing this for, we headed off. The planned route had been split into two parts – a 10 miler which returned to the store where we could refuel before completing another 8 miles. At the start this seemed like a great idea as it would split the run into two manageable parts. It was two short runs instead of one stupidly long one. But then we started running.

It was a remarkably beautiful day in Manchester – the sun was shining, the birds were singing and it was weirdly hot. When it has been below seven degrees for the past six months and it suddenly reaches temperatures around 12, it’s as if you have just walked into desert and forgot to wear a hat. It’s remarkable how 12 degrees can feel like 35. And this sudden heat wave made it significantly more difficult to run long distances. We were sweating.

I managed to complete the first 10 mile run fairly easily, sticking close to a group of three guys who were setting a steady pace. It was good for the ego to be one of the runners in the front third of the pack. And I wasn’t dead yet. Excellent.

Stopping at the store was both good and bad. They had a toilet; that was good. We stopped running; that was bad. We had lost momentum and starting off again felt similar to stabbing multiple forks into my legs. Luckily my new running buddies were very supportive and stuck with me. I really needed it when we were two kilometres into the run and discovered that the first half of the run was predominantly up a hill. The second half was then back down aforementioned hill. Having already run 10 miles, when faced with an endless upwards slog, your legs are not happy chappies.

It hurt and at one point I felt all of the sugar rush out of my body and I resulted to walking. But thoughts of eventually being able to go back down hill and the support and encouragement of my fellow runners, I made it to the turn around point and could head back for home. Unfortunately the homewards journey wasn’t a walk in the park as running downhill really hurts tired muscles. And basically I just wanted to stop running. But I continued on and made it back to the store with a miraculous time of under three hours. I amazed myself with my time and am now quite pumped to see what time I can get for the marathon. But I just need my thighs to stop hurting. It didn’t help that I moved apartment the following day.

Weekend Plans

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

It is Friday afternoon. I haven’t achieved anything of any economic worth since I walked into the office six hours ago. I have written a meandering, fruitless piece about ‘Home’ but it isn’t what I want it to be and it severely lacks a conclusion. I went for a walk in the sunshine; that was nice. And I found out a guy I share my office with worked (and danced) with Alison Goldfrapp. Very cool. But that’s about it really. Not the most productive day. Having said that, I don’t think Fridays at work are ever productive. When I worked at Curtin, my co-workers and I would bring out the wine and cheese at 4pm having had an extended lunch break and a lot of general chit-chat throughout the day. At the Co-Op, no one would call and ask for IT support after 2pm on a Friday. So really, I have achieved a lot today. I feel better now.

The weekend is almost upon us which should bring joy to my heart and a spring to my step but this weekend isn’t shaping up to be a great one. I have two main tasks to complete in those 48 hours, neither of which spark much excitement or happiness.

Task #1. Pack everything I own into boxes in preparation to move apartment. Woo. I am trying to lessen the pain by reminding myself that the last time I moved it was much worse. Last time it was from Paris to Manchester and I had to send everything by post plus cart two suitcases and a backpack to Gare du Nord, onto a train to London, then walk to Euston Station, then get onto another train to Manchester, before wedging everything onto the back seat of my cousin’s VW Beetle and carrying it all up a flight of stairs to her spare room. Now that was FUN. This time I am moving two blocks away and my cousin, Caroline, is providing me with the services of herself and her car. And there are lifts.

But who likes packing? I have put a few things in boxes but every evening this week I have returned home with good intentions of packing EVERYTHING but then convinced myself that I may need to use each and every item that I own sometime between now and Monday and if I pack then I will just need to get it back out of a box. So it has come down to this weekend where I will have to take a no-excuses attitude and just get it done. I am gaining some enjoyment from the fact that I am packing my things into boxes branded with Salt ‘n’ Vinegar, Char-Grill Steak, and Sweet Chilli flavoured crisp packets. I asked my local Sainsburys if I could have some boxes and the manager left a note for the unpackers to ‘leave 4-5 crisp boxes for a lady named Jess.’ I’m not sure why crisp boxes are the best for apartment relocations but they are working out well.

Task #2. Run 18 miles. The time has arrived for me to do my longest training run before the marathon and a sports store that is sponsoring the marathon (Up&Running) have organised an 18 mile practise run on Sunday. As running 18 miles on your own is really, really boring, I have decided it is a good opportunity to do the run and not fall asleep in the process. I am actively avoiding converting 18 miles into kilometres because then I will have a far better understanding of how far I will be running and then I might cry. Best to just whack on my shoes and follow the crowd.

So basically my weekend is going to involve a great deal of pain. However, in between all of this I am also going to watch my friend Nat play roller derby (which is probably even more painful than my two activities combined) and eat food. So I guess it isn’t all bad.

Happy weekend, everyone!

Time to Start Running

Thursday, January 16th, 2014

I received an email on the weekend reminding me that there are only 12 weeks to go until I die. Well, death may be an extreme outcome, but suffering greatly is definitely accurate. Apparently, in 12 weeks time it is the Manchester Marathon, a piece of information I had managed to squash into the deepest, darkest corners of my brain so that I could live happily and worry-free. When I signed up for the marathon there was still a long time to go until I would have to even contemplate thinking about it, but all of a sudden the new year has arrived and April 6 is just around the corner. And I haven’t started training yet.

My current requirement to be at work by 9am every morning has cut back my running schedule. I can only fit in a 5-7 kilometre run each morning, getting up at 6.10am so that I can be showered, dressed, breakfasted and lunch-packed in time for work. This isn’t anywhere near 42 kilometres and I need to start doing longer runs to prepare myself. This morning I managed to get up earlier and completed a 9.5 kilometre run which was relieving and oddly enjoyable. It is good to know that I can still run that far. I am planning a long run on Saturday morning – hopefully I will manage to do 15-20 kilometres without collapsing. Hopefully over the next few weeks the sun will decide to stay in the sky for longer and I will be able to do a few long runs after work and actually be able to see where I am going.

Round Two

Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

Perhaps it is my current sleep-deprived state, the fact that I just spent a week eating a LOT of ice cream and feel the need to burn it off, or maybe my friend Becky is just really good at guilt tripping me. Who knows. Whatever the reason, I have just agreed to once again kill myself by running a ridiculously long way. On April 6 of next year, I am going to do the Greater Manchester Marathon. The views won’t be quite the same as running through Paris and it will most likely rain, but at least this year Becky will be joining me. In fact, she signed up first and insisted I follow her lead. Crazy woman.

And so the training recommences. Step one: Fix my legs. They are still sore from the Paris marathon as I don’t think I recovered properly. Silly me. I think a trip to a physio is required.

So everyone feel free to book your tickets to Manchester to cheer the two of us on. I wouldn’t have been able to make the distance if my friends hadn’t supported me last time. I’m a bit nervous that I will go in with too much “I’ve done this before” confidence. I need to return to my state of extreme disbelief in my ability to run 42.19 kilometres. Actually this time I will be running 26 miles and 385 yards. That sounds shorter.

How Ugly is Ugly?

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

Very ugly.

Wow.

Wow.

Just in case you wanted to see in detail the hideousness of the medal that I ran 42km for.

Marathon Completed!

Monday, April 8th, 2013

I, Jessica Davies, writer of words, traveller of countries, blonde of hair, am now officially a runner of marathons. I DID IT! I am currently experiencing a sense of complete personal pride. In my mind, I am the fittest, most talented, most generally genius person in the world. It’ll pass, but for a few hours I am going to feel really bloody good about myself. And I think that’s fair enough – I just ran 42.195 kilometres in 4 hours, 42 minutes and 24 seconds.

The experience was extremely rewarding – as my group (we were separated into groups by expected completion times) set off from the starting line, I felt a huge surge of excitement and general “wow, this is happening!” as I joined thousands of feet hitting the pavements of Paris. The weather was PERFECT. Sunshine, clear skies and no wind. It was the wind I was concerned about – there was none of that today! It was cold at the start but by the time we got moving it got quite warm. We headed down the Champs Elysées, past the Louvre and through the centre of Paris before hitting the Bois de Vincennes, returning back through Paris, past the Eiffel Tower, through the Bois de Bologne and back to the Arc de Triomphe. Not a bad place to run. Thankfully, Paris is nice and flat so there were no major hills to climb.

While the weather was perfect and the scenery beautiful, the toilet situation wasn’t – there were portaloos set up at various points along the course, but by the time my slower group reached them they were all disgusting. Really not pleasant. I quickly ducked into a café along the route and smiled a “I’m running a marathon which is a really long way and you should DEFINITELY let me use your loo” smile and it worked. In and out like a flash, I was. Now I shall move on from discussing my ablutions.

I felt reasonably strong for most of the course and have potentially become addicted to sports-energy-goo-things. They’re DELICIOUS! I was eating chocolate flavoured goop whilst running through Paris in the sunshine! How great is that! The last five kilometres were a little bit extremely tough as my thighs were screaming at me, my feet were questioning my motives and my original plan on telling myself that five kilometres is the shortest distance I will ever let myself run in the mornings on my everyday jogs didn’t really work. Five kilometres became REALLY LONG and as I watched other runners dropping off, getting cramp and walking I doubted whether or not I would make it. This is starting to sound like a soap opera. Anyway, I didn’t stop, I popped another energy goo and as I hit the final kilometre the adrenaline kicked in as I realised that I was about to finish running a marathon. LET’S RUN FASTER! Without any consultation with my brain, my legs started working harder and I crossed the finish line in an impressive non-jogging pace. Hardly a sprint, but still. I was impressed.

Somewhat pathetically, I almost cried as I crossed the line, I was that glad it was over and that proud of my achievement. No tears were physically shed but they were in there somewhere. I collected my horribly green tshirt and my ridiculously hideous medal before walking very, very slowly to the metro. Walking down stairs in currently a challenge. Yes, the medal is awful – it is a huge rectangular thing with very poorly shaped text and images and some terrible colour choices. Whoever designed it needs to go back to design school. But still. I have a medal! WOO! It’s like winning the Olympics.

So I am now looking for another marathon to run! But if I do it I will have to take my amazing friends who met me before the marathon and positioned themselves at multiple points along the route waving flags and cheering for me as I passed. Knowing that they were waiting for me spurred me on and I feel so grateful for having such wonderful, supportive friends. Merci, mes amies! Vous êtes les BOMBS! A super huge thank you to Becky for your artistic sign-making skills and for being heavily pregnant yet willing to stand outside in the cold for hours waiting for me to run past. You’re either crazy or amazing.

And just to make this sound even more like an Oscar acceptance speech, I also would like to thank my friend Brett for making an unexpected, unrequested but ultimately generous and life changing gesture of sponsoring me so that I could afford to run in the marathon. Without him, I probably would have said “Bah, too expensive!” and never gone ahead with it. Then there were my fantastic parents who also helped me out and my friend Sonia who insisted on donating to the “Make Jess Run a Marathon” fund. And finally to my cousin, Sam for his kind shoe donation. I would like to recommend that everyone buys Mizuno shoes. They’ll get you across the line!

So my brain isn’t functioning properly, my legs are so, so, so stiff and I’m not sure I can stand up from this chair. But that was one of the best days of my life. Can I do it again?