Monday, 31 August 2015

Keep On...

Well what a weekend of highs! Possibly the polar opposite of last weekend, thanks to a really successful last long run on Sunday.

I can't believe I'm at the point of tapering again already. It feels amazing, and now is my chance to drop a few cheeky pounds in order to speed things up for race day. Not needing to take in so many carb-heavy meals to deal with the long 20+ mile runs is refreshing - most importantly I'm feeling strong, happy and healthy. Things are bang on track and I'm so excited to get to the Race Expo at Templehof and pick up my race number...then it'll definitely feel real.

After last week's mentally gruelling battle with glycogen depletion, I was determined to make this run far more positive and to go out with confidence and determination that I could complete 21 miles without any issues. I wasn't going to dwell on one bad run.

I'd decided to take the train out to Linlithgow and run the exact 21.5miles back to Viewforth along the Union things didn't bode well when the bus broke down on the way to the station. Needless to say, I missed two trains and had to mill about for another 30mins waiting for the next one...but I was keeping my chill...just. 

It was written in the stars!
The run itself was URMAAAAZING - admittedly the tow path was a bit narrow and uneven underfoot up until about Mile 14, but once I got to Ratho the path widened and I no longer had to dart into the rushes to escape the sporadic onslaught of cyclists. The lack of bins along the route meant shoving sticky gel wrappers back into my pocket, but the conveniently placed canal meant I could rinse those sticky fingers no bother. 

Every cloud...

Everything was perfect - the weather was spot on and everything went to plan. I'd scheduled myself 4hrs to complete the run, so when I reached Mile 20 feeling strong and mentally really focused, I upped the pace and pushed through the final 2.4miles in a faster pace than I'd completed any of the miles before that point. When I hit the finish line in 3hrs52mins I was absolutely ECSTATIC and felt really strong to have continued, so mentally that really spurred me on that I can complete the 26miles in Berlin in pretty good form and hopefully a pretty respectable time too.

When I ran LA I just wanted to I want a time.

I don't use a GPS watch while running, so pace-wise I just run to my own pace and "find my rhythm" as I call it. I'm possibly the world's worst advert for GPS pacing tools as I ran a pretty even pace throughout. I also noticed when I checked my splits that I'd run a 21.4mile negative split...meaning I ran the last 10miles faster than the first 10miles...and my fastest miles were miles 20 and 21. Unbelievable...I honestly didn't think I was capable - I'm overwhelmed and I was a bit emotional to have got to this stage of training to see that the sacrifices have all paid off. All those early mornings, all those refusals of lovely vino or beers during the all paid off. 
Negative Split FTW
The icing on the cake came when I arrived home and checked my email to see a notification from JustGiving to say I'd had a donation on my page. To my wonderful surprise, my very generous friend Mac had made the final donation I needed to hit my £1,000 for Alzheimer's Society - it all came together on that day. The hardest training was done, the fundraising was a success; I felt thankful, relieved, overwhelmed and excited all at the same time, and yes...I cried a little tear of grateful happiness.

Thank you to everyone who has listened to me ramble on about running, to everyone who has sponsored me, and to everyone reading this...because it really makes me committed to keep going and to keep running...and running has changed my life for the better in so many ways. 

Also this weekend I saw C!rca, my fave Aussie circus company - that was a massive inspiration to keep moving on Sunday. There's something about watching incredibly physically strong and agile people pushing their bodies to the extreme and demonstrating just what amazing things can come of dedication and hard work through training. It was beautiful and made me excited to get out and put my body through its paces on my long run. 

Equally inspiring is a new friend of mine who completed the Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc over the weekend - an ultra marathon that comprises 106miles, three countries, 9,500m elevation and is widely considered the toughest ultra in Europe. Caroline completed it non-stop in a little over 30hrs. Unbelievable...she said herself that she reached entirely new levels of digging deep, and I can't even begin to imagine what her body went through...but I was so inspired tracking her progress through the nights and watching her pass through those checkpoints knowing she was nailing it. Absolutely amazing. It made me think when I set off on Sunday "It's only 21miles"...weird, I know, but it helped me put things into perspective and not be daunted by the distance. 

All in all, it's been an inspiring weekend, and I got to spend some time with my best friend of 17 years while she was beasting the Fringe for a couple of days...made me this happy...

Straight down the line to Boogie Town...

Edinburgh is the place I love more than any other. This festival has been the best ever. I've seen poets, comedians, circus performers, buskers, choirs, preachers and dancers lining the streets on a daily basis. I've watched 100 people dance through George Square in headphones while all singing "Celebration" in unison and completely out of tune. I've learned salsa dancing in the Grassmarket while eating Stilton and grape ice cream from Mary's Milk Bar.  I've got a loyalty card from the German Bratwurst stand where if I buy eight brats I get my ninth free. I've also inadvertently become the subject of an active pool titled "What will Nikki get first: a free Bratwurst or a date?" 

Place your bets now because it's fucking ON.

In short, it's been mega. 

After 11 years living in Edinburgh, I love and appreciate this beautiful city more than I ever have and I am so so grateful to be able to make a happy, healthy and productive life for myself here. If you've never visited Edinburgh, I encourage you to put it on your destination list immediately - this isn't a new feeling, I just feel the urge to remind and reinforce.

So, from this gushingly excited runner to my beloved friends and support posse, here's to living the dream, embracing a challenge and paying attention to the little things that can bring you such simple joy on an otherwise entirely average day. 

Lots of love,
Nikki. xxx

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