Four and a bit weeks till the off!
By Karen (Kaz) Hurrell, 10 April 2012 –
Hard to believe that it's just over a month to Day 1. Where has the time since the "you're in" letter dropped onto my door mat gone to?
Over recent weeks I've been struggling with my preparations. Not physically but with the thing that I feared might be my achilles heel - the mental side. I always worried that my confidence and self-esteem issues would be bring me down and that's very nearly what has happened.
The battle with the demons has been a real struggle but I've had four great races (Sussex, Good Friday Enigma, Bedford Clanger and Kent Road Runner tester) so far this month which have done so much for me mentally.
The new Sussex course is really quite challenging and though I did find it tough I didn't think it wasn't dreadfully so. I was actually really surprised when Foxy told me that it was tougher even than Great Langdale. Yes the hills were pretty relentless but I just kept plugging away at them and in the end was only a few minutes slower than last year's easier course. After the inital disappointment and frustration I was really quite pleased with how it went.
This weekend saw me in Milton Keynes for another of Foxy's races round Caldecotte Lake, Noel's 28 miler around the Bedfordshire countryside and finally the new Cyclo Cross park in Gravesend - three very different races.
Friday was good but I did play it all wrong pace-wise. In an attempt to get one decent time before Day 1 I reverted to my old ways of 'run like the clappers till the wheels fall off and then hang on for dear life'! All was fine until around 17 miles when the almost inevitable happened and things caught up with me. The sub-10 minute miling went, the walk breaks started and in the end I was lucky to tough out a sub-4.30 (by 2 seconds!) instead of the hoped for sub 4.20.
Now there's nothing wrong with walk breaks - after all it was only last summer that I did my first non-walk break marathon - but having run every day of the Quadzilla I'd got it in my mind that I'd really like to run all of my outings at Caldecotte. A big turning point though is not letting the negative points of the race get to me like I've been known to in the past. Instead I can concentrate more on the good things. I didn't fold completely when the wheels came off and all in all it was a thoroughly enjoyable run.
Saturday's Clanger was more of a slow mimble with friends than a race but it was miles in the bag and time on my feet. Being notoriously clumsy I'm always rather nervy during off-road races but I must admit that I've never been more nervous or paranoid about turning my ankle or falling than I was on Saturday. Race fever is well and truly upon me!
Lastly, to yesterday's outing on the sweeping tarmac track at Gravesend and what was quite frankly the best race I've ever run from the point of how I ran it - it's only taken 69 marathons to be able to say that!! Talk about a slow learner! The course is 17 laps of a c1.5 mile loop with nice smooth tarmac and a few cheeky undulations and twists and turns. Really nice course to run though being rather high and exposed it was perhaps a little more challenging in the wind and rain than it would be on a nicer day! After Friday's pacing errors I purposely set off at an easier pace. At 10 miles and half-way I was around 10 mins slower than Friday but the big difference was that I didn't run out of steam and by the last four laps I was seeing my average pace dropping - an almost unheard of occurrence!
As the laps ticked by I was beginning to think there was a chance of beating Friday's time - a big spur in helping me keep the pace up. In the end even though the last mile was only 1 second slower than the first I couldn't quite manage it and finished 31 seconds slower. Had I not had to stop for a 'comfort break' in the early laps I'd definitely have done it.
The big thing was that I ran, what was for me, an almost perfect race in less than clement weather (probably my first wet race since Beachy 2010!) and finished feeling stronger than when I started. And at the end of a triple weekend too.
What my confidence needed? Oh yes indeed! This weekend has left me feeling more confident than I have done probably since this whole journey began and now I'm beginning to believe in myself almost as much as others do in me. On that note I've had some wonderful support, particularly over recent weeks. It's very much appreciated and between now and 20 May that support will become more and more important.
Aside from training and racing, the next few weeks will see several 'Mum related' events - Friday would have been her birthday, 1 May will the first anniversary of her death and 18 May her funeral, It's become fairly obvious to me over the last month or so that I've not dealt with Mum's death as well as I'd thought and perhaps it was more a case of shutting the emotions away rather than dealing with them so I know it's going to be a tough few weeks but I'm now really looking forward to doing her proud at Brathay and doing something really tangible in her memory.
Thanks for reading and thanks again for all your support
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