London Moonwalk, May 11th 2013

11 Jun

So, Bristol 10k done and I had 6 days to recover and prepare for The Moonwalk, London. This one scared me a little. Up until now I had always trained up to the distance I needed to do for the event. For this one the most I had done was 19 miles of walking – well, actually 15miles of walking after a 4 mile run – and that HURT… A lot!
I did a few short training sessions in the week but then just 2 days before the big day I got hit by a horrible dose of tonsillitis. I struggled through the first day hoping it was just a sore throat but by late evening there was no doubt. Luckily I still had some penicillin left over from my double dose of tonsillitis at Christmas. I had just enough no see me through for 2 days – enough I hoped to get me recovered enough for London.
It wasn’t the best preparation. I managed 4 hours sleep on the Thursday night and 3 on the Friday following a (rather painful and subdued) gig in Wales and woke at 6.30am on the Saturday morning feeling somewhat tired but the penicillin had kicked in and I knew I would be alright on the night!
The Minibus with Mum and Jodine picked me up at about 3.30pm and we headed off down the M4 – putting the finishing touches to our Moonwalk bras as we went.
As we got closer to Battersea we could spot fellow Moonwalkers in their tell-tale pink caps making their way by car, taxi and on foot (as if they weren’t going to be doing enough walking!) towards Battersea Power Station and Moonwalk village. WOW! What a sight! An enormous, bright pink marquee filled with tens of thousands of ladies (and men) in bright, sparkly regalia- wigs, tutus, deely boppers and BRAS! We were just standing admiring the sight when the heavens opened and a torrent of rain sent Moonwalkers scuttling in all directions towards the shelter of the Big Pink Tent. We were warm. We were dry. The biggest problem now was that somewhere in this heaving mass of people was our Canadian walking companion, Judy. Naturally the ability to send text messages and get phone signals were non-existent so we were relying on luck and a rather large miracle.
Well, I don’t know how but after about an hour of scouring the crowd we spotted Judy wandering in our general direction and our little posse was complete.
I’m not sure I was prepared for how emotional the experience would be – so many people gathered together, and every single one of us will have had someone in our minds as we held a minutes silence for 3 brave fighters who had entered the moonwalk and not survived to take part.
It was just after 11pm when the first wave started to make their way outside towards the starting line. It was a bit of a scrap to get out but finally wave 3, and the four of us were off – it was 11.30pm and we had a very long night ahead of us!
It became apparent very early on that this was one event where time was going to be largely irrelevant. It wasn’t a race. We were walking along pavements through central London and naturally the congestion was intense. Poor Judy took two quite nasty tumbles. A result of dim light, uneven pavements and an inability to see more than a foot in front due to the crowds. It was clear that trying to walk as a four was not going to be easy or safe and so Jodine and I headed off while Mum and Judy took the pace a little slower to give Judy time to recover.
I couldn’t believe how quickly the miles seemed to peel away. By 10 miles the crowds were starting to thin out and walking was getting much more comfortable. Quite early on we passed people sitting on pavements and in bus stops tending to blisters and I remember thinking that it was going to be a very long and painful night for some of them. It was so good to be walking with someone who I didn’t know very well. The conversation didn’t stop, and neither did our feet. We were doing a great pace now – approximately 16 minute miles. By mile 18 the aches were settling in and so we made a pact. We would have a Chuppa Chup mini lolly each at mile 22. I had earlier managed to make one last for a full mile so this would then take Us to the Tate Modern gallery at mile 23. At this point I estimated we would be able to see Battersea Power station within the next mile and the end would quite literally be in sight. It’s funny how the silliest little things can keep you going – but it worked! I don’t think I’ve ever deserved a Chuppa Chup so much before (or enjoyed it so much!). It proved a great distraction for a few hours, counting down the miles to “Chuppa Chup Mile 22”
It was with immense pride that Jodine and I posed for photos along the embankment as the sun came up over London. Tower Bridge – mile 22, Tate Modern- Mile 23, Westminster, the London Eye… And then there it was – the 26 Mile marker! We were nearly there. The final “point 2” of a mile seemed to take forever but finally we turned into the entrance of Battersea Power Station and crossed the finish line. Even the glorious early morning sunshine wasn’t as bright as our smiles as we hugged each other and collected our medals. We’d just walked a marathon.
We welcomed Mum and Judy over the line about 45 minutes later. Judy was a little bruised and battered but had done an amazing job to have kept going despite her early falls and I was so immensely proud of my Mum who had quite literally held Judy’s hand all the way and enabled her to achieve such a great personal goal. My Mum – now a 2 time marathoner!

When I first joined up to the gym last July (in a desperate bid to escape the looming perils of daytime TV addiction when Will started school), completing The London Moonwalk was the one event in my head that I wanted to achieve. I can’t believe that less than a year on I have achieved so much more and that this had become just one of several fitness goals and ambitions. Next stop – BLENHEIM TRIATHLON!

Bristol 10k – May 5th, 2013

11 Jun

As ever I am playing catch-up with my blog. I never seem to find the time to sit and update. I could attempt a very wordy 3-in-one blog but I will instead do 3 new updates in quick succession!

Sunday 5th of May was Bristol 10k. It shouldn’t have been a big deal. I knew I could do the distance and although my training hadn’t exactly been consistent I was fit enough. I’d had some good training runs and plenty of those where the legs feel like they have been filled with concrete and don’t want to play. Then of course came the dreaded cold which, as always, went to my chest. Perfect timing – the week before the 10K. Still, the morning of the race was clear and warm and I didn’t feel too bad at the start of the race. I was kitted out with my race belt with energy gel and electrolyte drink in hand and my new running shorts to stay cool in the sunshine. I’d had a giggle when my race pack came through as there were 2 waves going out 15 minutes apart and I was in the first wave. I had visions of being on my own for most of the race as the rest of the pack raced ahead and I was left trying not to be caught by the second wave. The reality was that there were thousands of people of all abilities and as the race began and the pack moved slowly forward out of the pen towards the start line the biggest problem was finding some space to start running at a normal pace.
I started out really well- running at 5:20secs per km. After just 4km I realised just how much of a toll my cold had taken. I was struggling to catch my breath and to make matters worse I was reminded of why ladies with larger thighs should not run in shorts. I had forgotten CHAFING! And I had forgotten Vaseline. Maybe in some ways it was not a bad thing as the combination of poor breathing and chafing gave me two things to think about and while I was being bothered by one I briefly forgot the other. No amount of jelly babies being dished out by Heart FM volunteers were going to make me feel good about this race, however. It was painful from almost the start to the finish, and a real struggle all the way. Not a race that I enjoyed. But I finished in good time. A PB of 56:35 – tantalisingly close to the 55mins I was hoping for.
I think that part of the addiction of these kind of events is that you are never quite sure how things will go on the day. I’m pretty sure I could achieve my 55 minute 10k goal on a good day but some days your legs just don’t turn up to the party. So that’s a goal I will have to attempt to achieve on the next try, or the one after that… Or the one after that…

Bath Half Marathon, Boston and beyond…

25 Apr

First things first – my apologies for not having blogged earlier. It was my intention to be more regular but maybe I’ll get better with time…

So, March saw me run my first ever half marathon. The training was patchy to say the least. A combination of being away from home for 4 weeks over christmas and the icy weather meant I had very little chance (or desire) to get the miles in. Then came the holiday… Miami in february was fantastic and I joined the multitudes on several mornings on an early morning jog along Ocean Drive. The scenery was idyllic (especially the morning that I happened upon the Miami Beach patrol training session!) and the temperatures were so warm that I found myself running before 7am to beat the heat. The plan was to try and get up to 16k over my holiday to get me back on track for the half marathon. The second week of the holiday was on a Cruise ship around the Caribbean. Training consisted mainly of 4 “interesting” spin sessions and a shaky 5k on the treadmill. I did go out for a run with my Brother in St Thomas. The temperature was brutal and I really struggled – eventually managed almost 13k at a snails pace and I was left wondering how I was ever going to manage 13 miles…

When I got back from the holiday I decided I just had to go out and try the distance. I needed to know that I could do it. I had clocked a pub (typically) around 7 miles away from home , so I set off to get there and back. It took me 2 hours and 25 minutes but I did it. I did make the mistake of stopping running at 13 miles while still 5 minutes from home. Walking that last  1/2 a kilometre was a pain I’ve never experienced before. Every step was pure agony! But I had proved to myself that I could do it (even if at that point I never wanted to do it again as long as I lived).

11 days later was Bath Half Marathon. The weather was perfect, if a little cold. I had no major expectations of myself. In my head I thought if I could manage 10 minute miles and come in under 2hrs 15 mins I’d be very happy. So I set off and thought I’d just find a rhythm and not be a slave to the Garmin. I ran for about 10 minutes before checking my watch. I was running comfortably at a pace I thought I could maintain. When I checked the watch I was amazed to discover I was running at 5mins 46secs per km. Even allowing for the inevitable slowing down I knew I was going to do a good time.

I had  a pretty much perfect race and finished in 2 hours 5 mins and 42 seconds – 20 mins faster than my previous attempt. And I can honestly say I actually enjoyed it, even if the last 2 miles were tough! Roll on Bristol Half Marathon in September – hoping for a sub 2 hours for that one…

So I had done it. Two years ago I couldn’t complete a 5k run. I had just run every single step of a 13.1 mile race.

This all happened nearly 2 months ago now. I ran out of time to blog before I went away for Easter panto tour. It was my plan to update the blog when I got home on Monday 15th April. It was the day my Brother, Richard was running the Boston Marathon. My Brother-in Law, Alistair was guiding his blind friend, Maya who was hoping to complete in around 4 hours. Richard Facebooked us all to say that he had completed in 3hrs 28mins. He was safely back in his hotel when the bombs exploded . I had been tracking Maya and although she was on course early on to come in on her target time, it became obvious that she was struggling as her splits became slower. I don’t want to even contemplate what might have happened if Maya had not been having a bad day. It would have put them far too close to the finish line at that fateful moment. We had about 4 hours of uncertainty that evening – pretty sure that everyone was safe but just worrying about where they were  and getting them all reunited and safely back to their hotels. It seemed trivial in the aftermath to blog about my endeavours when so many people had suffered such devastating injury. I’m thankful that my loved ones were not directly affected and hope that Boston will heal in time from the dreadful events of that day.

Looking forwards, I am now ten days away from Bristol 10k. I hope to beat my previous PB of 59:32. Then the week after that is the London Moonwalk. During training this week I’m starting to think that walking a marathon is almost as hard as running one… I will let you know should I ever decide to attempt to run one! The Moonwalk is my one sponsored event this year. If you should like to help me raise money for Breast Cancer you can sponsor me on this link

http://www.walkthewalkfundraising.org/kate_williamson

I’m going to leave this blog here. The next one will be after the Moonwalk and before my first triathlon. I think there are many more adventures to come…

Thank you for reading,

Kate x

Quick Update:

26 Feb

Just 5days to go until my first half marathon. Last week I ran the distance in training in a little over 2:25:00 – at least know I know I can do it!!
I will write a proper update after the race but in the meantime please take a quick look at my fundraising page for The London Moonwalk!!

http://www.walkthewalkfundraising.org/kate_williamson

Life Begins at 40!

28 Jan

I remember not so long ago when the thought of turning thirty seemed like a disaster! And here I am 10 years down the line – how my life has changed.

I am married, have a lovely home, two amazing, beautiful children, and a wonderful and supportive husband. I am an Auntie three times over (and counting), and co-carer of our pet guinea pigs Winnie and Rolo. And life is good.

It was on my Mum’s 60th birthday a few years back that the idea was hatched for my older brother Richard to celebrate his 40th by climbing Mount Kilimanjaro – which he did along with my Mum!! So it was always going to be a challenge in itself to come up with something for me to do to celebrate this new decade of my life.

Over the last two years I have come up with several badly thought out ideas – all of which have ended up on the scrapheap as I deemed them either not challenging enough or totally unrealistic. Then last year on our family holiday to Toronto to visit my big brother my dream challenge was born. 

During the second week of our trip we went to Mont Tremblant, Quebec, to watch Richard, Alistair and their friend Kim take on the inaugural Mont Tremblant Ironman. It consisted of a 2.4 mile swim in open water, a 112 mile Bike ride through the mountains followed by a marathon 26.2 mile run. I remember driving up through the mountains of the resort and Richard was explaining to me that these hills were part of the course for the bike leg. I felt physically sick! Nothing however could prepare me for the thrill of the day.

I headed down to breakfast with Richard and Alistair at 5am, before they got kitted out in their triathlon kit and wetsuits and we headed down to transition to drop off their bags. I was entrusted with the little cards that gave me permission to collect their belongings should they be unable to do so themselves… (gulp… don’t think!!) Just before 6.30am we headed down to the lakeside where I said an emotional goodbye to them all. “Stay safe” was about as much as I could say. I then headed to the beach a little further around the lake with Kim’s mother Sandra and boyfriend, Christian. This is where they would emerge from the first leg of the triathlon.

We were able to see in the distance the churning water as approximately 2000 athletes raced into the lake at 7am. It was an anxious wait before the first of the elite pack were visible in the distance and it was with great relief that we managed to spot firstly Alistair, then Richard and finally Kim as they completed the swim leg in great time and raced off to transition to strip off their wet suits and jump on their bikes. Then it was back to the hotel to see Ian and the children and let Mum (back in the UK) know that they were safely onto the second stage. Ian and I took the children down to the village to grab a much sought after spot by the side of the road at the midway point of the cycle ride. We eventually spotted Alistair and then Richard not far behind. It was an anxious wait for Kim to come through but she did and I was able to breathe a sigh of relief before heading back to do some maths to try and figure out roughly when I would be able to spot the boys heading out of transition and onto the run.

I left Ian and the children to have fun around the village and settled down by the side of the road just at the spot where the runners would come out onto the run. Here I would be able to see them 4 times on the 2 lap circuit before they headed to the finish line. I could not imagine the pain and exhaustion they must be feeling at still having the prospect of running a marathon to come!! 

7 hours after starting, Alistair emerged on the run, followed less than 30 minutes later by Richard, waving and pulling silly faces – looking like he was popping down the shop to grab a pint of milk! I’m pretty sure he was putting on a brave face for his baby sister. 

Alistair spotted me at almost the halfway stage of the marathon and as I shouted encouragement at him he muttered something back. The man stood next to me kindly translated. “I’m not enjoying this” was Alistair’s utterance as, head down, he set off on the final 13 miles. I had already worked out what his projected time was likely to be and knew he was falling a little short of his own (very high) expectation. I was worried, but at this stage I knew he would finish even if he had to crawl!

Time to head to the finish. Ian, the children and I found a spot in the village where we could see the finish line in the distance but would also be able to offer some final words of encouragement as the boys came past. Alistair finished in a fantastic time of 10:45:31. Shortly after I heard in the distance “Richard Bowry from Toronto – You are an Ironman!” He had completed the course in 11:00:44. We anxiously awaited Kim. Several hours and the most horrendous rain storm later she was crossed the line in 15:43:58

It had been without doubt one of the most amazing and memorable days of my life. It had been an emotional rollercoaster of a day but the atmosphere was incredible. The thing that struck me most was the fact that these competitors were not all stick thin, ultra-athletic sporty types as you might imagine. They really were all shapes and sizes with one thing in common: the complete madness of looking at the race and choosing to enter, the dedication of hour upon hour of training at the expense of family, friends and often social life,  and the dogged determination to get themselves to that finish line no matter what. I can honestly say that it wasn’t so much the elite winners crossing the line in 9 hours or under that inspired me the most but the extraordinary men and women crossing the line just before midnight who had been pushing themselves to their limits for up to 17 hours. 

This was TRIATHLON… and I was hooked!

Now I know some of you are now expecting me to announce that I will be competing in the next Ironman I can find, but you will be glad to know that I haven’t completely lost my marbles!!!

I have however entered my first triathlon at Blenheim Palace in June this year. It is a “sprint” distance tri – 750m lake swim, 19.8km bike ride followed by a 5.4km run. I should complete it in around 2 hours. It will be an effort but not as momentous as I had wanted to celebrate my 40th birthday year. So this is what’s happening…

March 3rd – I will be running my first ever Half Marathon in Bath

May 5th – I’m running Bristol 10k – part of the Run Bristol series of races

May 11th – I’ve entered “London Moonwalk”, a 26.2 mile walk through the streets of London in aid of Breast Cancer. I will be posting a link to my fundraising page shortly so watch this space!!

June 8th – My dream challenge – Blenheim Triathlon

By the end of this year I also plan to run a 10 mile race – probably the Great South Run and another half Marathon, probably Bristol Half (this is assuming I survive Bath Half in 5 weeks time!) 

Ultimately I would like to enter a half Ironman race – possibly in 2014 or 2015 depending on finances, training and my own physical limitations!

Am I mad? Possibly – but this will come as no surprise to those of you who know me well… I am training and have gone from being unable to run a full 5k without being sick to having managed to run 12 miles (my furthest to date). In October last year I completed my first ever 10k race in the beautiful but hilly grounds of Ashton Court – where Ian and I married almost 10 years ago. I completed the course in 59:33 and was thrilled to have broken my personal target of under 1 hour.

I can run. I’m not fast. But I’m doing it.

I’m terrified of swimming in deep water and have a phobia of fish.

I still don’t have a bike…

 

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog. Please come back and check out my progress over the next few months.

Kate 

xx