Saturday, 10 May 2014

Where did that time go?

Well here we are with just 2 weeks to go before the Edinburgh Marathon Festival 2014. My number has arrived and on Saturday 24th May I shall be travelling up to Edinburgh.  Already the nerves are starting to kick in, so here I am sat looking back at the last 6 or so months to see just how I got to this point.

So many people have asked me 'Are you insane?', 'Are you mad?', 'You must be barmy!' or 'How on earth do you do it?' Believe me these are just some of the questions and some of the repeatable questions.  The real truth is... I'm stubborn and won't give in!!  I set myself these crazy challenges because I don't like to let anyone down, or myself!! I'd just set out to put one foot in front of the other and before I knew it I was running for miles and miles.

I did my long run (22 miles) a couple of weeks early because on the day I had originally planned to do it, I ended up booking in a half marathon.  Last weekend was the Lincs Half Marathon and 4 of us from my local running club, East Hull Fitmums, travelled down to Scunthorpe to Glanford Park to run 13.1 miles in the beautiful North Lincolnshire countryside.  It was perfect running weather; cloudy but not too hot and Ray had come along as our driver and No.1 supporter.  The overview of the race was that it was a fast course with lots of PB's achieved.  I set out with the intention of running it faster than my intended marathon pace (after all it was only half the distance!) but I was not particularly bothered about time as long as I got the miles in ready for Edinburgh.  I completed GNR last year in 2:30:08 which was a pretty good pace for me.  I've never been the fastest of runners but instead plod my way through and I knew I'd be somewhere near it (as I'm always quite consistent).   I have however obviously gained speed from somewhere though as I smashed my PB and was astounded that I crossed the finish line in 2:18:28.  I'd shaved off 12 minutes from my GNR time, that's nearly 1 minute per mile.

I had sent Ray (and other friends and family) a live link so they could see exactly where I was on the course at any given time with my pace, predicted finish time etc.  My ears where indeed burning as I knew it was a faster pace and I could just hear Ray saying, 'slow down Els you'll burn yourself out' and 'just you wait till I see you lady, that's too fast!!'.  I was smiling to myself and it kept me going through the race.  As I came into the stadium he was there shaking his head at me but smiling, camera in one hand and pointing his finger at me with the other hand!! It was a wonderful sight and one that will have me smiling for weeks to come.

I have to say a huge well done also to Wayne who was 15 seconds off the time he was hoping for (the runners reading this will understand what those 15 seconds mean?!); to Maxine who is such a strong runner and ran a fantastic race, she certainly kept me going; and to Lynne who ran her first half marathon.  Well done everyone and also to all the other Fitmums who took part and smashed PB's.

I've one last race tomorrow before my marathon which is the Beverley 10k.  Apparently we have an amazing 60+ runners from the different Fitmums groups across the city so it should be a fun day.  I have also been told there is a nasty little hill in there too, sorry not a hill it's a... 'mound of opportunity'!! I will tackle it like all my other runs, plod to the finish line!

So with races complete and long runs done I feel prepared for Edinburgh.  I've lots of training and miles behind me and I really don't think I could've done much more. I have done sprints, I've done short quick runs, I have done speed sessions and I've ran for hours. I've thrown some race days in there too so I'm prepped as much as I could ever be.

There are obvious people I have to thank and these are the people that stand out, I apologise if I miss anyone in person, it's by no means intentional.

First and foremost the biggest thanks have to go to my main man. Ray who has been the biggest single support I have.  He has kept me on track but also he has kept the house on track as I've been training (and fitting everything else in between).  He has cooked, cleaned, washed, ironed, hoovered, fed us and looked after both me and Benji.  He has followed me every step on line if not on his bike, he's been beside me carrying water, encouraged me to carry on when I've started flagging on my long runs, he's ran me ice baths and helped me with recovery food and foot rubs. He's encouraged me in person and been in my heart with me every single step of the way when he's not been there in person.  I am going to miss him not riding next to me in Edinburgh but know without a shadow of doubt he will be the one shouting most to get me over the finish line.

To my dear friend Suzi who has worked on me, pummelled me and sometime hurt me (far more than she should've done I'm sure!) at our massage sessions at least once a week.  I'm thrilled that with the tough time she's having at the moment she is coming up to Edinburgh with us to help with Benji, scream with Ray and no doubt pummel me some more!!

To my PT Pete Jones from Pure Fitness for putting me through my paces every week.  He works me hard ever week but it's paid off and I'm eternally grateful, I'm fitter and stronger that I have ever been and he has played a big part in that.

To Ray, Andy, Shereen, Wayne, Donna and Nikki.  We work our socks off at our circuit session on a Monday but the encouragement, friendship and enthusiasm that has now formed Monday Night Club is eternal, thank you all, my core is better for knowing you and I love and thank you all.

To all my Fitmums friends for your continued support and encouragement, thank you.  If you've not ran with me you've asked me how I'm getting on.  In Beverley on a Tuesday morning and East Hull on a Tuesday night you have all been truly amazing thank you. To the Cottingham girls from Fitmums The Choir that have asked and encouraged me especially Gayle who ran the London Marathon (with viral pneumonia!!), you are an inspiration thank you.

To our babysitters, Mum, Shereen, Jonathan and Katie, Suzi, Jeanie and Mel thank you for looking after our little man. It is comforting to know that we can leave him with you, sometime at the drop of a hat and that he will be cared for.

To the friends and family who have pure faith and understanding in what I'm doing and striving to achieve. To the ones who never ever fail to text me when I'm going out on a run to wish me luck or text and ring to encourage me to finish.  To name but a few - Jeanette, Alex, Suzi, Bev, Shereen, Jo, Tammy, Donna, Elly,Sarah and Pete.

To those that have ran or supported me out on runs. Ray, Shereen, Donna, Matty, Sturdster, Bev, Lynne and Danica.

To Jo and Pete who have booked a trip and are coming up to Edinburgh to support me.  Jo has text me at least once a week to see how training is going and encouraged me from afar.  I bless the day she walked into my life and I'm touched more than they will ever know at her pure faith in my ability and look forward to celebrating with them once I cross the finish line.

And finally to Andy (Macca) who, when I was struggling to walk at 2mph said to me that 'one day you will run!'.  I swore at him that day over 5 years ago but I guess I owe him an apology because here I am running my first marathon - so I guess he was right!  I'll never be the fastest runner but I'm a plodder, I'm stubborn and won't give in and stop.  I've grown to love running and although my marathon training has halted my weightloss I have dropped 2 dress sizes and I feel better than ever about myself and my body.

So with pre-race nerves arriving a good 2-3 weeks before the event I'm wondering if I've done enough and if I'm doing the right thing?  In reality I really don't think I could have or can do much more. I've put in the leg work (excuse the pun!) and surpassed even my own expectations.  When I was out doing my long runs it wasn't the distance that made me cry it was the fact I had been running over 4+ hours without once stopping. Yes I'm nervous that I can't 'go the distance' but I will tackle Edinburgh like any other race I will head off at the start line and plod until the finish line - and lets face it I've ran for 22 miles, what's another 4.2 on top of that?!?! lol

My thoughts on race time? - I'm more than sure I'll finish it sub 6 hours, I will be more that happy with a 5:45 finish and if I can get anywhere near 5:30 I will be over the moon!

Whatever the finish time, my training for Edinburgh has taught me a lot.

I've learned that running is like any friendship or relationship, you get out of it what you put in and if you treat it with respect it will in turn treat you with respect.  I've learned that I'm entering an elite group of people and will wear my finishers medal with pride, it's not just about the 25th May it's about the last 6+ months and the hard work, tears and laughter it has brought.  I've learned that if I train well and fuel correctly I recover quicker and if I hydrate it won't hurt.  It's taught me who my friends really are, they have accommodated my insane training regime and fitted into my time slots without question.  They've encouraged me even if they have been unable to run with me.

It's taught me that I am indeed a runner.

Until the race report.................


Monday, 24 February 2014

A year in the life of a Fitmum!

Although I started my healthy eating lifestyle in 2009 after losing my Dad, my running only really stepped up a notch last year. Previous to 2013 I had done 10k, 5k's and half marathons but never ran 'all the way'  instead opting to run/walk interval them to the finish line.

My training then took a huge dip for about 18 months in 2011 when I had to undergo surgery on not one but both my shoulders (the last one being early Feb 2013) 

My fitness along with my motivation and self esteem were at an all time low. That was until Easter last year when I heard about a new branch of Fitmums and Friends ( that was opening near my home and decided to go along. 

The group has 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 mile lead runs with the promise that using their shepherding system, nobody would get left behind. I was so nervous of going but I did and I remember crying as I completed my first 1 mile run  without stopping in over 2 years. 

I went the next week and have never looked back. 

The leaders at fitmums are so enthusiastic and motivational.  My fitness and confidence in running soon blossomed and I soon realised that not only did I  thrive on my run sessions with Fitmums but I actually started to enjoy running. 

My life took another dip when in June of 2013 we found out my husband had an aortic aneurism which at 6.2cm needed urgent repair. We found out 2 days before we were heading up to Edinburgh to complete the Edinburgh Moonwalk (a 26.2 mile walking marathon). 

We had health and well being on our side and Ray underwent surgery on 13th July 2013, the day after his 65th birthday. He has made a full recovery from the op and is now gaining back his own fitness. He is doing so amazingly well and has also joined Fitmums and Friends and runs the 2 mile route every Tuesday. I'm so immensely proud of him. 

Whilst he was in hospital I set myself the challenge of running 300k in 6 weeks leading up to and including GNR raising money for BHF along the way. I smashed my target both in mileage and sponsorship running over 312k and raising £2000. It wasn't the only thing I smashed - my finish time for GNR was 2:30:08 which is over 10 minutes off my PB. Again my running buddies were by my side whenever they could be, clocking up the miles with me and encouraging me every step of the way. 

Fitmums has given me the confidence to step up yet another gear in 2014 and I am now training to run my first marathon. On May 24th I will be heading up north to run the Edinburgh marathon.  Mike one of the clubs coaches set up a training plan for me and the miles are clocking up. My Fitmums sessions help enormously as I use them as sprint sessions and faster run sessions as mapped on my training plan and once again my running buddies from the club encourage me and  come out and keep me company on my longer runs whenever they can. 

I adore being part of such a fantastic group of people who motivate and help each other so enormously and not just  on club nights. We often meet at various times of the week for ad hoc runs, helping and encouraging each other along the way.  I have met some truly amazing people and made some fantastic friends . . . . So much so I've taken a run leaders course with England athletics and look forward to working with the rest of the Fitmums team motivating and inspiring members as I've been inspired. 

It's amazing what difference a year makes! 



Monday, 27 January 2014


From starting my journey I have always found that it's helped to set myself challenges, it's helped to keep me focused and thriving to do better and achieve more.  This morning I've been reflecting on just how far I've come since that very first challenge was set and how it feels working towards my latest one.

My journey started on January 4th 2009 when I embarked on my sponsored slim in memory of my Dad who had died the previous November.  It was because of him that I'd turned my life around. He'd suffered from heart disease and I was heading the same way with my lifestyle and it had to stop. Although I loved him more than anything I didn't want to be where he was so I had to do something about it. I was eating too much, drinking too much, I never moved much and I was morbidly obese.  I couldn't even get up the stairs with out being out of breath.

My first major event was set for June of the same year.  I would complete the Edinburgh Moonwalk, a 26.2 mile walk in aid of Walk the Walk for breast cancer charities.  It was around Edinburgh, it started at midnight and it was the toughest thing I'd ever done.

It was Fathers day, my first without my beloved Dad here to share it with and it was the toughest thing I'd done to date both mentally and physically.  I can still feel ever step of that Moonwalk even now, every twinging muscle and every tear that fell is with me to this day. But what it did teach me was that my body was capable of more than I ever gave it credit for and although my heart was breaking I was doing something to benefit myself, my future and in turn the future of my family because I would be around for a lot longer becasue of my change of lifestyle and it left me wanting more.

Challenge upon challenge followed from that very first Moonwalk.  I completed 5k's, 10k's, half marathons and more Moonwalks. Other challenges on my journey included injury and having to endure shoulder surgery on not one but both shoulders.  I had to take a break from exercise and concentrate on getting well which in turn lead to weight gain and feeling pretty grotty and sorry for myself.

After my last surgery I was desperate to train again, I missed it and wanted to be back on form and before I knew it I was completeing my 300k challenge last summer which lead to me completing The Great North Run in 2:30:08 smashing my PB.  Running from start to finish without a break, something which I'd never managed for more than a 10k.  It left me wanting even more.

I got home and in true Ellie style picked up my lap top and looked at what could be in store next and before the end of the night I'd entered myself into my first running marathon.  What better place but the same city I'd walked my first marathon all those years ago on Fathers Day but Edinburgh!!

The time is right and I've got the best support network I could ask for.  Friends who said they would run with me, non running friends who would bike and others who said they would support in any other way they possibly could. My Fitmums buddies said they would help and push me and one of our Fitmums and Friends coaches Mike who is an accompished runner, a great coach and an all round nice guy made me out a training plan. We talked about how I would deal with my runs and I'd told him I was thinking of entering the Ferriby 10 and he said it would be great marathon training. I immediately started clocking up the miles and getting in the distances he suggested. The marathon and upcoming Ferriby 10 challenge kept me focused through the Christmas break. I'd been warned it was a hilly course but like all my challenges I would just set out and head for the finish line.  Everything was new territory I knew it was going to be tough I just had to get through it.

There were quite a few Fitmums and Friends taking part and because Mike had been taken into hospital the previous week we had arranged to get together for a photo before the race. 

It was a horrible day but I don't think anyone said quite how tough it would be?! The Ferriby 10 is a 10mile road race with the 1st 5 miles uphill.  Add to that 25mph freezing wind with driving rain, hail and sleet and I have to say it was lethal!!!  (I'm looking forward to Mike getting better so I can tell him off!!!!! ;) )

Donna and I had said we would run together and set off with a 2hr time scale in our heads, taking into account the hills and the weather.  We made a pact that we were not allowed to 'idle gossip' for the first half we were only allowed to complain! We actually did remarkably well in fact hardly talked at all for that first 5 miles, we just got our heads down and tackled what was ahead of us.  The second half we knew would be a tad faster and we were both shocked and relieved when our running buddy Wayne who had already completed his 10 miles (in 1:16:56!!) came back out to the 8.5mile point and ran in with us. (I often say that if we cut him open he would have cogs instead of veins and yesterday proved it, the man is a machine) WELL DONE and THANK YOU xxx.

We romped home and completed our first Ferriby 10 in 1:50:03.  I was astounded! my legs felt remarkably good but I was cold to the core, I think the weather kept my mind off my legs. Home for a very hot shower to warm through which took about 3 hrs!!

A lot of things went through my head in that horrific weather yesterday......

WOW I've come a long way.  I couldn't walk for 10 minutes in January of 2009 and I'm not only ran 10 miles but half of that was uphill. It's true what they say from an acorn grows a mighty oak

I have lost a lot of weight but it hasn't been overnight!!  For all my friends who struggle with their weight and are wanting results straight away please please be patient, it didn't go on overnight so it won't come off overnight.  Yes I have lost 6 stone which is colossal but it's taken 5 years for it to come off (having put 2 stone back on due to injury and lost that again)! but remember every step is a step, every pound is a pound and every tear is one less to carry and one nearer your goal.

My fitness has surpassed anything I ever thought it would do and I actually like myself.

My family and friends mean the absolute world to me and I really wouldn't be where I am without their help, love and support and really hope that one day I can repay them.

The 'friends' I've lost along the way isn't really my loss. My door, my home and indeed my heart have always been open and if people choose to dislike me for whatever reason I will no longer let it effect me. It's their insecurities not mine that are at fault.  I have always been a good friend, I'm loyal and I would do anything for the people I love and care about.

My husband, my lover and my friend, what would I do without him? He supports, encourages, helps and is my No.1 fan. Last year was possibly the worst of his life with the surgery he had to endure.  He is 6 months down the line and getting stronger and stronger by the day. I know he gets fed up that he can't run with me but to run for 2 miles after what he's been through is phenominal. I just sometimes wish he could see what an impact he has on everybody elses lives.  He expects far too much of himself and does everything to please without thought of how it would effect him.

The one man I can never thank enough for my journey is my wonderful Dad.  It took his death for me to survive.  He would be laughing up there at the fact I have ditched my Handbags and Heels for Trainers and Tracksuits but he also knows deep down I'm a girlie girl and like nothing better than getting dressed up to the nines! I know he is watching over me every second of every day with pride.  When I'm out he is on my shoulder constantly as I cover even more miles. He's with me helping on every challenge and beside me on every race-day pushing and willing me to succeed .  It's just sad he's not here in person because I know he would be at the finish line of every race, cheering me over it with his smiling eyes and immense pride in what I've achieved.

Until the next update

Much love