I have been keeping this pretty quiet but I am officially running the Bournemouth Marathon! As this week is my first week of training this blog post covers how I am finding training so far, why Bournemouth and my hopes, aspirations and fears of completing 26.2 miles. To keep up my video editing practice I also thought it would be pretty cool to do a vlog each week summarising my training (and even taking you along with me on my journey).

My running journey and why Bournemouth

Since I have started running around three years ago, I have completed numerous 10ks, Race for Life’s and Half Marathon’s but I have never done a full marathon. I am the fittest I have ever been and had been toying with the idea since January. I felt that if I am going to run a marathon then now is the time to do it. I had applied to get into the London Marathon (surprise, surprise I didn’t get in *rolls eyes*) and I had been toying with the idea of running a marathon abroad.

All smiles after the Hackney Half Marathon in London. I loved the medal with the Nike logo!

I seriously looked running the Galway Marathon in Ireland but was worried at the time with Brexit and if that would have any implications on travel and also I had read a few blog posts about running a marathon and health insurance which I was worried about (if I needed hospital treatment I want to be covered!) So for my first marathon I would it would be best if I run it in the UK. It is just easier that way!

With running abroad not an option I started to focus on races I could do in the UK. A lot of marathon races are either in May or September/October and I wasn’t ready for a May race so that narrowed it down quite considerably. The route at Bournemouth was along the coast, seemed fairly flat and when I looked at the list of marathon runners and what timings they had crossed the finished line in, I knew I could run the distance within that time (I have based that prediction on my half marathon time). There are lots of different events happening that weekend as well, James could run a 10k so he wouldn’t be bored and it just looked like a really cool atmosphere.

Me having a break mid-run in Disentis, Switzerland

The Bournemouth Marathon team has sent through a training plan but I felt the easy plan was a bit too easy for me. So I had a look online and decided to follow this one. I have started at week four as I only have 16 weeks left until the race but I wasn’t too fussed by missing the other weeks anyway as I have done three half marathon’s fairly recently and a 10k as well as all my usual runs and cycle rides.

My first week (week four in the training plan)

Rest6 Miles
EZ
45-50 Min
XT
6 Miles EZ5 Miles EZRest10 Miles LSD

27 miles I had to run. Miles I ran: 16.05, I did the 45-50 min cross training (XT) and I had two rest days!

As you can see I was 11 miles down this week. The weather hasn’t exactly helped, but really when I have been out running I haven’t done enough milage. Having done two five milers and one run at 3.94 miles (I also did a couple of shorter cool down runs). It is only going to get harder so I don’t want to get further behind.

Additionally I decided to go to DW Sports in Telford and have my gait analysed. I mentioned in a previous vlog that I am having massive problems with my left ankle and have a feeling it is to do with my running shoes (currently the Nike Zoom Pegasus 34). After running on a treadmill and looking at my gait I am pronating really badly. Therefore I need shoes with support. I have had a quick look but really round want to look at the options available before I purchase.

Next week’s schedule:

Rest5 Miles
EZ
45-50 Min
XT
6 Miles EZ5 Miles EZRest8 Miles LSD

As I am off this week, so have a little more time. I am thinking about running five miles tomorrow as I am not doing a lot and schedule the rest day for another day. I might push for a 6 miler to get it out of the way but we shall see!

Are you running the Bournemouth Marathon, let me know below.

I am a big believer in Parkrun. For those of you that may not have heard of Parkrun it is a run that happens in parks all over the world every Saturday at 9am. People from all walks of life and all levels of fitness come together and run 5k, you have a bar code which you have to get scanned at the end, this is to record your run but you also get a plastic barcode which is also scanned to record the position you finished with. It isn’t a race, I mean someone has to come first (and last) but you don’t get any recognition for coming first or second or third for that matter. The aim of Parkrun is everyone coming together and running.

To be honest running wasn’t my first love. I didn’t really run in school (other than representing my school at cross-country in year 7) and I did join a cross country running club at school in sixth form which looking back, made me incredibly fit!

After Uni (where I played on the lacrosse team for three years) being inspired by the ladies team pursuit team in London 2012 I decided to make the jump into cycling. Although I loved and still love cycling (I even went to track lessons!) I found myself not fit enough to keep up in the beginner track sessions (beginners often rack up 80 miles a week at least) and found I was getting left out in the conversations about running as my friends and work colleagues were entering in races or running in parkrun. Hence I decided to get in on the action.

I turned up to my first Parkrun in 2016 in Wolverhampton as Cannock hadn’t set up a Parkrun at this point. I remember it well as I was getting constant stitch in my right side, my body just wasn’t used to running! By New Year 2019 I decided that this year would be the year I get my fiftieth shirt. By January I had only ran 23 parkruns so still had quite a few parkruns to go.

So how am I getting on?

By the time I am writing I am on 34 Parkruns. If I could have run every single Saturday this year so far I would be on 42 parkruns, so I have missed eight weeks worth of parkruns which does make me feel a little sick! If all else goes to plan I should run my fiftieth parkrun on the 26th October as I have a couple of prior commitments meaning I will miss a few but that feels scarily close to the end of the year.

I do feel somewhat that I have been on a parkrun journey. I have managed a PB this year and getting under thirty minutes was something really special as I had been trying for almost six months to break that 30 minute barrier and at one point thought it was going to be impossible!

This year I have ran in three different locations (Aylesbury, Keswick and Finsbury Park). Aylesbury was my favourite out of the three, as it is such a beautiful route. Keswick parkrun was an up and down route (2.5k there and 2.5k back and started from an old train station. At Finsbury parkrun I ran a 27.53 which I am so proud of and my fastest yet. I did wear too many layers for that parkrun and thought I was going to throw up due to overheating that warm February day took me by surprise!

Below I vlog on what running a typical parkrun in Cannock on a Saturday. is like for me with footage of me running the parkrun!

Rebecca Merchant at the Great Birmingham 10k

Say whattt, a vlog?!

To be honest I will probably never do a vlog again, however I thought to gradually improve my video editing skills I need to edit more videos and after writing a lot of race recaps recently why not talk about the Birmingham 10k instead! In my vlog I cover my thoughts before and after the race and what was in my race pack. Although I forgot to include that my race pack also included a coupon for Compeed blister pads and a free swim in the Aston Uni swimming pool!

Recently I ran the Hackney Half, in London. The run was organised by Virgin Sport. I decided to run this race because my friend asked me (well she gave me the options of the Hackney Half or Manchester Half and as I had already ran the Manchester 10k a couple of years back. I decided to run Hackney as something different and it was the only race in London I would probably ever do).

I was given my race pack about a couple of weeks before the day. It contained the usual number, letter with information on and a clear plastic bag where we would have to take all our belongings with on the day. As the race started early I had to travel down to London the night before, so I had a lovely Saturday afternoon going to a food market and a trip to the Imperial War Museum.

The next day we took the tube from Camden to Hackney. A short walk from the tube station and we arrived on this massive field where what only good be described as a festival atmosphere. The event organisers put on a lot of events throughout the weekend (calling it the Hackney Festival of Fitness) with different fitness classes, a showing of Cool Runnings and lots of food stalls. On the day, again, there was stalls full of independent food eateries, on the back there was all the bag drops and sandwiching them together were lots of porta loos! We dropped our bags off fairly quickly as there was no queue. Then headed over to the porta loos for one last pee before starting.

I had to say it took ages to get out of the starting gate. I was in the last group which didn’t help. A person on the tannoy said it was because there was a hazard on the course. When I was running through the start line it seemed the rubber sheeting that is laid on the bottom when you go was loose curling up at the ends. Having never been in Hackney before (other than to go to the Paralympic Opening Ceremony seven years ago) therefore I wasn’t sure what to expect. The route was fairly flat and it was quite warm (warmer than Stafford where it hailed in the last few miles!). Online it said the route went through the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. However I wouldn’t say it went through the park but mainly ran alongside the park. The weather was warm and I was regretting not wearing suncream! There were plenty of people cheering us on which was lovely!

The drinks stations were a bit of a mare. They were not ready for us which meant at points queuing up. Some of the stations also had drinks with electrolytes in from Nuun electrolyte. At one station it wasn’t clear until you had drunk it- ok for me but maybe not for some with sensitive stomachs. I cannot remember any food been given out. There were some gummies I think, but don’t quote me on this by Powergel and also a stall with Kind bars, which I grabbed. I did heavily rely on the jelly babies that were given out by the public!

One of the highlights of the route was running through where Run Dem Crew was based. There was such a carnival atmosphere with confetti everywhere, dancing, cool music. They were really supportive.

I finished the race in 2hr.18min and the medal although at first I didn’t like. I really like it now. It is very edgy (I think trying to play along with Hackney’s edginess) and with Nike as a sponsor it had the Nike logo on. I don’t think I will ever get a medal again with the Nike logo on! The race pack, I had to admit was INSANE! there was Emily Sweet Potato Crisps, first time I had ate the Sweet Potato Crisps from that brand and they were great! There was a full sized Kind bar (those bars are sooo good!), a can of beer from Michelob Ultra, some coconut flakes (I gave those away to my friend Soph!). A wicked Nike technical shirt (I know I am going to wear it pretty much all of the time!).

The price of the Half Marathon was £54 with a further £6.00 to get your race number delivered. It was incredibly expensive, I think they should have tiered tickets as I was literally going to only go for the race but felt that the ticket was subsidising for everything else but I do think it was worthwhile.

Did you run the Hackney half this year?

My first two weeks of April as well as being my birthday (yay!) started with two races. My first was the Lincoln 10k. I had my eyes on the Lincoln 10k for a while. I am from Lincolnshire and a proud yellowbelly, and having missed the race last year it was on my list for this year. The race route was flat and the weather conditions were really good, I was aiming for a PB in the 10k (under an hour).

The route started from North Lincoln, it was essentially a run around the Ermine Estate and was meant to finish outside Lincoln Cathedral but due to construction works the route finished to the side of the cathedral with a long walk round to the castle where I collected the race medal and goody bag.

The race was pretty standard, the only thing was there was no Portaloo’s at the beginning. I was busting for the loo, it was awful. We started and I was feeling pretty uncomfortable, about 500 metres in they cut the route in half and there was a back-log of people who had to walk. It was frustrating and I wasn’t the only one frustrated! There was plenty of crowds and after waving at my Dad in the crowd at mile two, at mile six I was so happy to see a single Portaloo!

Afterwards I kept going to the end, I I had missed the 50 minute pacer that I was keeping up due to my loo break, so just wanted to keep going and try and keep it under an hour. I managed to set a new PB and I set new PBs in everything else (5k, 1/2 mile, full mile). The medal is amazing! It has everything that Lincoln is famous for and pretty special to me. The goody bag was pretty good, as the event was sponsored by the ASDA Foundation there was plenty of food (Protein bar, chocolate bar, High5 energy gel, Protein drink, some dried fruit and a bottle of water).

Would I recommend the 10k? To be honest, unless you want a flat course, and an opportunity to visit Lincoln, I wouldn’t bother! It isn’t the most scenic of routes but that said I think it is a good route to get a PB!

Cannock Chase Trail Half

I did the 10k a couple of years back and I felt that this run would really be a challenge for me. I know Cannock Chase very well and know that it isn’t always flat! It was run by a local company so I was also keen to support them and as a bonus it was literally down the road for me as well so no early start for me!

I got my race number on the day and was ready to move. The route cut through some of the bike trails and it was so much fun! It felt like school. There was a slight bottleneck at the beginning where we were walking and a couple of bottle neck on the bike trails. It isn’t a route if you want a PB! There was three water stops and two of the stops you could also grab some jelly beans, which was very welcomed.

Unfortunately problems started at around mile ten, I noticed that my Garmin didn’t match up with the mile ten marker. I didn’t think anything of it because usually the Garmin watches are slightly off. As I was on the final stretch running through the side of the car park where my car was I realised that I was heading towards the finish line. I finished but my Garmin said 12.7 miles, I picked my medal up and was just confused to be honest.

By the time I headed into the house I was fuming, I was thinking back about the route and I had followed all the signs and I saw people all along the route. There was one part where three guys peeled off but I thought they were nipping for a wee in a bush haha! and the sign pointed in the opposite direction to where they were running and everyone else was running in the other direction. I looked on the Facebook page and apparently someone moved the directional signage so some people ran eight miles, others 16 miles and for the majority just getting under 13.1 like me.

According to the Facebook page the organisers want to put another race on again for free a new date has been set for the 29th June so I am excited!! My next races, in May, are the Birmingham 10k which I am running as part of Team UoB and the Hackney Half which I am running with a friend!

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