Posts Tagged ‘running’


Wednesday, September 23rd, 2015

A book about running has just made me cry.

For my birthday, my cousin (and fellow marathoner) Kate gave me the book Born to Run by Christopher McDougall. She had been telling me to read it for months as it discusses the art of running in its most natural form.

In very basic terms, the book is written by an American sports writer who goes in search of the ultimate runners – the Tarahumara Indians, a tribe in central America who run everywhere. It looks at what it takes to be a long distance runner and to be able to push your body through ridiculous physical feats such as ultra marathons and 100 mile trail runs.

This morning I finished one of the final chapters where they have just completed an obscenely difficult race through the heart of the Copper Canyons in Mexico and it brought tears to my eyes. Absolutely ridiculous – why on earth am I crying about running? Probably for the same reason that I get a bit teary when I finish a marathon – the feeling of completion, of having pushed your mind and body across a threshold that you’re not sure you can reach and the community spirit of people cheering you on as you do so.

I have been thinking a lot about my running style lately and have been trying to incorporate some of the physical and mental techniques mentioned in the book, and maybe it is just coincidental but I have cut my morning run time by 2 minutes. I had thought that three marathons would be enough, but I now know I have to sign up for another. Anyone want to join me?

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.

Cape to Cape Capers

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2015

Last weekend was a long weekend, celebrating what was once called Foundation Day and has now been politically corrected to WA Day. To make the most of the break, my cousin Kate had rented an apartment down in Yallingup and invited me and my brother, plus four of her friends, to join her. We headed down on Friday after work and by 9pm had arrived at our fancy-pants beach side apartment with ‘squint and you can see the ocean’ views. Good work, Kate.

The weekend involved large amounts of food, numerous bottles of wine and plenty of outdoor time. The weather turned it on for us with remarkably warm temperatures and heaps of sunshine. My Sunday morning involved a walk along the beach and then a swim in the surprisingly warm ocean. Not what you would expect for the day before winter.

Yallingup beach

Yallingup beach

On Saturday morning, Kate, Karina and I went for a run. The other two are in training for a marathon and had planned a 30 kilometre run. I was still sore from last week’s half marathon and really couldn’t be bothered running that far so instead decided I would run 5 kilometres with them and then turn around and go back. While part of me felt lazy and guilty for taking the easy option, as soon as we started running I was so glad I had made this decision.

Kate had planned the route from the apartment in Yallingup along the Cape to Cape walk, around the Cape Leeuwin light house and back down to Eagle Bay. The rest of us would meet the runners (and Tim who was their back up crew on his bike) at the Eagle Bay brewery for an early lunch. As soon as we set off, we discovered that the Cape to Cape trail was definitely ‘off road’ with a lot of soft sand and a large number of hills. The path wound its way along the coast, going up and down the undulating cliffs. It was a very tough run and after my 5 kilometres I was definitely ready to turn around. I don’t know how the others kept going – to their extreme credit they made it the whole way to Eagle Bay in remarkably good time.

Despite the tough terrain, the run was really amazing – we had shrubby bush to one side and rocky cliffs leading down to the Indian Ocean on the other. The weather was perfect without too much wind and the waves were rolling in to the shore, much to the delight of the hundreds of surfers.

View from the Cape to Cape trail. Photo courtesy of Kate Smith

View from the Cape to Cape trail. Photo courtesy of Kate Smith

It has sparked my interest in doing cross country running, something I have avoided since I was at primary school and we had to run around and around the school multiple times. I have friends in England who go for long distance runs along country paths and my Cape to Cape experience may have just enticed me to give it a go when I get back. It is a LOT harder than running on the road and my ankles aren’t all that happy with me, but since when have I ever listened to my joints? Silly weak ankles… Some rocks might just do them good.

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.

M-Day Approaches

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Twelve weeks ago, I received an email asking me how my training for the Manchester marathon was going. It was a very handy email as I had pushed all thoughts of marathons to the back of my mind and was hoping that I would never need to remember my stupid decision. Alas, alak, and alay, twelve weeks have flown past thanks to moving apartments, losing jobs, attending weddings, and general ‘life’ and all of a sudden I am two days away from running 42 point something kilometres.

I am gently reminding myself that I volunteered to do this and at some point I actually wanted to run an extended distance. But despite this I am really quite nervous about the whole thing. I’m not entirely sure what I am nervous about; I know I can complete that distance and, even if I don’t finish the race, who really cares?

I do. Good old Jess and her high expectations. Thankfully there is currently rain forecast so I will at least have something to blame if I don’t make it over the finish line or my time is slower than when I ran the Paris marathon. Got to love excuses. But perhaps if everyone crosses their fingers and toes and sends me good vibes all will be ok.

Everyone living in or near Manchester should come down and cheer for the marathon runners. There is so much advertising and hype around the Bupa 10 kilometre run and yet no one seems to know about the marathon. Well done to the 10k-ers but I’m sorry, a marathon is WAY HARDER. And everyone who lives too far away from the action can follow my progress on this nifty little website. Just enter my number 2615 and you can stalk me.



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.

Running in the Dark (or A Man and His Dog)

Tuesday, January 7th, 2014

Every weekday my alarm goes off at 6.10am, the BOOPITY-BOOP! BOOPITY-BOOP! BOOPITY-BOOP! jolting me from my comfort as I thump blindly at my bedside table – evil noise, go away. For five minutes I lie in bed with my eyes closed, my two inner beings having a fist fight and screaming match in my head. Lazy, relaxed Jess thinks lying in is good for me and that I could really do with some extra sleep. Strict, demanding Jess has higher expectations and is insistent that now is the time to get up and go for a run. This second Jess always wins due to copious amounts of guilt, threats of weight gain and promises that the more I run, the more cake I can consume. FINE.

It is DARK in Manchester at 6.10am. The sun currently doesn’t rise above the horizon until 8.22am so I have been for my run, had a shower, eaten breakfast and am leaving for work by the time the sun gets up. There are a few issues with running in the dark:

  1. You can’t see puddles. Manchester footpaths are notoriously bad for pot holes, sloping pavement tiles and for just being generally shocking. If it rains (which it always does) massive puddles form across the footpaths and when there’s no light around they are are particularly difficult to spot. This means you are guaranteed wet and therefore frozen feet by the time you return home.
  2. Your chances of being murdered are greatly increased. Don’t start panicking yet, Mum, but Manchester doesn’t have the greatest reputation for safety. There are a few oddballs and weirdos who like doing things to people in the many dark and dingy streets of the city. This means that I stick to main roads that are well lit and frequented by lots of people and cars and my running routes are therefore really, really boring. I much prefer my summer run that takes me along the canal where I can see water and rowers and evil Canadian geese. I need to devise some more interesting running routes throughout the city but Manchester is so small that it seems like I am back at home before I have even started.
  3. Sleeping when it is dark is much better than being awake. Enough said.

Despite these drawbacks, I do feel much better after I have completed my 45 minute run and there are tears streaming down my face from the cold and I feel like I have been running against tempestuous winds for the entire time. Plus I now have a friend.

I have met this smiling man and his big, friendly dalmatian at the corner of my street and the main drag, Deansgate, three times now. The first time we crossed paths it was as if he was waiting for me – “HELLO!” he said. It felt like we were old friends. I had left the house in a sour mood, stressed by approaching Christmas tasks that I needed to perform and his greeting and enthusiasm at seeing me brightened my mood instantly. Now each time we meet, his dog comes over to have a sniff and say hello. “You can pat him!” said the man the last time we met. After I had explained my allergies to all things with fur, it was as if I had crushed his heart with my bare hands. “Well that’s awful! He is such a good dog! You poor thing!”

Our meetings are only brief – a hello, a how are you, and good wishes for the day. But that brief interaction is enough to bring pure delight to my day and make me run with a lighter step.

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.

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?

Oh Goodness Gracious Me.

Friday, March 29th, 2013

I have become extremely aware in the past few days that in one week and two days I will be running in the Paris Marathon. I am completely willing to admit that I am really, really, really, really scared. Beyond scared really – I am terrified. I am not sure what of, exactly – perhaps my legs falling off or just not being able to run further than 10 kilometres. I know these are both not going to happen and I accidentally ran 10 kilometres the other morning by getting lost in Manchester, but my brain works in mysterious ways. I feel very under-prepared as moving countries, packing boxes, and getting gastro and then a cold have all meant that I haven’t been able to do as many long runs as I would have liked. But then I wonder if it really would have made any difference and I can quite genuinely say that I doubt it. I’ll either be able to do it or I won’t and I’ll try my best and see what happens. But if anyone is free on Sunday 7 April and feels like standing at various points along the route and cheering for me and telling me that I’m not dying and that my legs are still attached and that I really can make it to the end then I would really, really, really, REALLY appreciate it. Thank you kindly.

Oh and a little note for my sponsors who are paying for me to do this fantastic event – I currently don’t like you very much. Just kidding! I will just be a very, very happy girl when it is over. Then I might start training for the Manchester Marathon…