Ironman Austria - A blog post about inspiration

Posted by Nicky Donbavand on May 13, 2014 0 Comments

Firstly, I must confess, this post has been stolen from my personal blog.  But I felt it also had a home on the shop website, so I have reposted it here.  Secondly, it's a brazen request for donations.  Alan and I have always tried to donate our time to charity as well as raise money through organising events instead of asking people time and again.  But occasionally an opportunity to directly raise money for charity just feels right.  Hopefully the following will explain why.  Thank you for reading...

Earlier this week I finished re-reading a book written by Rosie Pope-Swale, ‘Just a Little Run Around the World’.  At the age of 55, having come to running late in life, she opted to run around the world in the memory of her late husband Clive and to raise awareness of the cancer that prematurely took his life.

In 2012 during the London Olympics I had the pleasure of meeting Rosie.  She was invited as an honoured guest of Saucony to an Olympic party held in London on the night of the 800m final.

Happily, we were also invited.

That evening we watched David Rudisha run the perfect race to take the 800m title and become the first person to set a world record on the Olympic track.  But the highlight for me was meeting Rosie.  A small, unassuming lady who was shy and almost baffled by the attention given to her.  It was a true honour to meet her.

In the Epilogue of her book she wrote the following words… ‘My run became much bigger than me, it became a metaphor for life.  It made me see that everything in life is an adventure and a miracle, whether its running across a glacier or boiling water to make a cup of tea.  Life is the greatest, happiest and often toughest adventure of all.’

It got me thinking.  In the shop, we get to meet the most amazing people with lots of stories to tell, mostly as a result of ‘tough adventures’.  People participate in sports for lots of different reasons.  But for some reason running, and specifically the recent London Marathon, motivates many people who have been through a really tough time to raise money for the charity who helped a loved one or supported them through that time.

I’ve had so many people help and support me over the last 9 months.  So I wanted to return the favour and give something back to the people who have helped me.

When we were considering the Princess Alice hospice for the Bacchus Marathon we were surprised and overwhelmed by the amount of people we spoke to whose lives had been touched by the Hospice.  All of those people spoke so highly of the care they and their loved ones received from the Princess Alice.

So when I thought that I could use the Ironman to help raise money for those whose had faced the toughest adventure of all, they were an obvious choice.  So here we are, I’m now the proud owner of a justgiving page and a modest target to try and achieve.  You can see it here… https://www.justgiving.com/Nicky-Donbavand1 (and thank you all for your support – it is very much appreciated).

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Why I run for me alone (and no one else)

Posted by Nicky Donbavand on April 25, 2014 0 Comments

I have a desperate longing for a chair.  If I won the lottery it would almost certainly be one of the first things I would buy.  I see it in my head as squishy and maybe patterned with flowers.  It will have wing backed arms suitable for propping elbows on as the attached hand clutches a favourite book.  The option of throwing legs over to achieve the optimum snuggling position into the padded back cushion is also a must.  Let's not be shy about it, comfort is essential, this is not a chair just for show. 

But comfort notwithstanding, it must be situated correctly.  Positioned next to the window in our bedroom, tucked into the corner with a clear vision of the road outside (we all have to be nosey sometimes) and the beautiful picture on the wall opposite the bed.

This chair represents 'me' time.  It is mine, situated in a room perfect for solitude and contemplation.  Close enough to the world to observe its every day movements but far enough removed to spend time away from it if I choose.

As an intrinsically lazy person the chair would be my default position.  But since we are constantly reminded that we need to clamber off the couch, this is also why I run.

Running in the outdoors is my time, it is perfect for solitude and contemplation.  If I chose I can be close enough to the world to observe its every day movements but always have the option of running trail if I want to remove myself for a while.  When there, I can use my imagination to take gold at the Olympics (at my ten minute pace woohoo), solve problems, rehearse speeches, unscramble my head and take a break from everything other than breathing and keeping going.  Not running away from anything but running towards life with energy and optimism and good health, both mentally and physically.

Running can be hard work.  Sometimes it is difficult to encourage people to take those first tentative steps.  But is ALWAYS worth the effort once it is done.  So, it makes my heart sink when I read judgemental articles like the one posted in the New York Times here.  Now granted, this article appeared in 2009 but as the recent spring marathon season comes to a close, the sentiments of this article have resurfaced once again. 

In my personal blog just last week I posted this.  The key point I am making here is this...

'And, according to the organiser of the Chester Marathon, anyone who was expected to finish a marathon in over six hours was deemed to be not good enough to enter their race at all.  A spokesman was quoted on Facebook this week saying ‘if you cannot finish in under 6 hours you should not be doing a marathon’.  Not good news for 1000′s of marathoners who finished London (and raising thousands of pounds for good causes in the process) in over six hours today.

I started to run marathons because most people admired the medal and not the time.  But according to the Chester man, since quite of few of my finish times are over six hours, I shouldn’t have bothered.  Since in his eyes, my time wasn’t good enough.'

The good news for both me and the Chester Marathon race organiser is that I run my marathons for me, not for anyone else.  Especially not for people who try to demean the achievements of slower runners.

Our personal business statement reads... ' 'Running to us is an expression of freedom, travelling a personal journey, loving open space and the elements, being alone with your thoughts, experiencing elation, contentment and happiness to build self-esteem and inner strength as well as physical fitness'.  It's a statement we stand by as much today as when it was written six years ago.

Hopefully, people who have looked on the plethora of runners around Ashtead with envy or longing to join them and have been inspired to get off the couch regardless of their pace. 

The chair is still a desire and I will keep aspiring to find the perfect one.  But in the meantime, running is all I really need.

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Mid Sussex Triathlon

Posted by Nicky Donbavand on June 09, 2013 0 Comments

You'd be forgiven for thinking that in the last few weeks we'd turned into a triathlon shop.  But the truth is, triathlon has been a love affair nurtured over the last ten years.  Today we returned to our very first triathlon and this time we took some friends with us. 

Despite the weather forecasting otherwise, the morning was bloody freezing, windy and overcast.  Last time I had emerged from the swimming pool to a torrent of rain interspersed with thunder and lightening (very, very frightening).  At least it was an improvement on that score.

The Mid Sussex Triathlon is a low key race held at the Triangle Leisure Centre in Burgess Hill.  It has a lovely friendly informal air, perfect for first timers.  It took about 5 minutes to register and get body marked (think permanent black marker and race numbers on skin) and then we went to rack our bikes.

Today I would be on Alan's cyclo-cross, resplendent with knobbly tyres and for the first time ever, no cycle shoes/cleats combo.  Although I was ever grateful to Al for lending me his bike, it was the third choice.  Piri the race bike popped a spoke sometime in the last couple of weeks and I managed to break my cyclo-cross on a ride down to Bognor Regis yesterday.  Properly break it, that is.  The rear dérailleur snapped off the bike and jammed into the rear wheel bringing me to a very abrupt stop in the middle of a roundabout.  It was only thanks to very quick thinking by Penny (riding behind) that I didn't get squashed by the oncoming traffic.

So, since I wouldn't have to change shoes to transition from bike to run I was guaranteed a personal best in T2 anyhow.

We racked the bikes and with minimal faffage made our way to the only place we figured would be warm - pool side.  We were the first ones there by some considerable margin.  Everyone else was at the race briefing.

The swim is 400m or 16 lengths of the pool.  We all start at the same point, swim up and down the lane and then dip under the lane ropes to repeat.  When you run out of lanes, you're done :O)

The swim was uneventful but clogged.  I had to resort to breaststroke a few times to avoid crashing into people.  Slightly slower than usual I finally got to the end and headed out to T1.  Top on, shoes on, glasses, gloves and helmet on and then I was ready to go.

The bike is undulating with a tasty little hill early on.  It became apparent quite quickly that the seat was too low, making for an uncomfortable ride.  The handy cycle tool to adjust it was handily on the table back home.  Oh well. 

The plan was to welly the bike and tire my legs out as much as possible then run/walk the run to see how it felt.  The gearing on the cyclo-cross was very much designed for off road riding.  It meant I had plenty of gears to chose from going up hill (always a perk), but as soon as I hit a downhill section I quickly ran out of gears and had to resort to free wheeling.  It provided a good opportunity to have a drink and look at the countryside.  And very pretty it was too, nestling at the foot of the South Downs.

The ride is a big loop.  Turning back towards home the wind made itself very apparent.  A strong, cold headwind was our companion for about 6 miles back to the leisure centre.  Still, at least it provided the opportunity to marvel at the ability to sweat and be freezing at the same time.

I must be fitter than I thought.  After yesterdays 50 miler down to the coast and the hard ride this morning, my legs still felt relatively fresh.  The 1:1 run/walk strategy was a practice for the upcoming Outlaw iron distance triathlon.  My legs felt much better than they ought as I made my was out of transition and headed uphill on the out and back run.  Ahead I could see Alan running towards me, he looked strong and subsequently finished first across the line. 

The minutes went by quickly and enjoyably.  Plenty of people passed me, include my club mate Cliff, also looking strong.  Happily I plodded along until the last bend and a slightly quicker plod up to the finish line and a hug from Alan.  Job done.

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The Best. Run. Ever.

Posted by Nicky Donbavand on May 07, 2013 0 Comments

Every once in a while a run comes together.  Sometimes when you least expect it, mostly when you haven't been training for it and so all pressure is off.

Jean and I were on our habitual cycle to Nonsuch Park for the Dave Clarke 5k.  Jean on trusty 'Shadow', a lovely little hybrid.  I was on Florence, a flightly but beautiful to ride Fuji cyclocross. 

We were chatting through our race plan.  The normal pattern you know... 'I'm gonna take it easy tonight... Osteopath said rest my foot... 12 minute mile pace at least...we'll be last but that's ok, someone has to be'.

We have this conversation every time we go to a race.

A selective field, swollen with Collingwood Runners, was a welcoming sight.  Filled with lots of friends built up from years on the running circuit meant a lovely catch up before the race start.  I love that this race has always been relatively small.  It's friendly and low key, the complete antithesis to a noisy and troublesome London Marathon a couple of weeks ago.

With a couple of minutes to go, we started to corral outside the mansion house.  A buzz of 'good luck's' rippled through the crowd and then we were off.

We started in earnest, hanging onto the tail end of the group until we'd cornered the house and head off up the approach straight.  A gradual uphill all the way until we met Kath marshalling the far corner.  She directed us right with a cheer, and downhill behind the house.  We had two short loops of the house before heading up the 'out and back' section leading one last time back to the house and the finish line.

Despite our quick start (it's all relative), we found ourselves firmly planted at the back of the pack.  Keeping sight of those in front of us, we chatted round the first loop and managed to do so without losing too much pace. 

The Garmin beeped us through the first mile in 10.17.  Blimey.  Trying not to panic, we firmly resolved to slow down for the second lap.  We did, but only by a few seconds.  Chatting dwindled and breathing increased.  But not too much.  Not enough to start the plea bargaining from the internal voice and then some really strange things happened. 

Firstly, I realised that I was enjoying running at effort.  Secondly, the negative 'I have to stop now pleasethankyou' voice never appeared. 

I noticed that we had started to make ground on runners.  Not many or by much, but enough to realise that maybe we didn't have to be last.  It happened so gradually that I nearly missed the 'kick now' voice in my head.  To be honest, it's been so long since I've kicked anything in a race I wasn't sure if my head was joking.  But then, what was there to lose.  So I went.  The breathing I could hear behind me told me Jean had come with me. 

Well, I couldn't stop now, could I.  I counted down the time until the voice screaming 'I HAVE to stop NOW' kicked in.  But it never came either.  Instead, the void was filled with a calm rational voice.  'I know you're at effort, just keep it steady and you'll be fine.  Keep on going, not long now.  You're going to make it'. 

And you know, it was absolutely right.  I kept on going, calm in the knowledge that I would make it and proudly burst across the line feeling like a runner for the first time in a very. long. time.

Lord only knows where it came from.  But it felt amazing and I cycled home a very happy girl.

 

 

 

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Spring Marathon Guide #7 - The Aftermath

Posted by Nicky Donbavand on April 26, 2013 0 Comments

Congratulations, your medal is hanging up in the downstairs loo and you've taken to walking like John Wayne.  You completed your marathon, so now what?

Firstly, take time to bask in the glory of running a marathon.  Many people would never dream of even starting one, so the fact you got to the end is to be applauded.

Reflect on your race, what went well, what would you do differently next time? (Assuming there will be a next time ;O)  Don't beat yourself up if the race didn't go according to plan.  Ask yourself, how was your pacing? Did your nutritional strategy work?  What unexpected issues did you have to deal with that you can learn from for the next outing?  Write down the key points, somewhere you will remember to look for them in the future. 

Marathon fatigue varies from person to person.  The more experienced you are, the quicker you tend to recover (although obviously this is also linked into how hard you raced).  By all means take yourself out for a gentle walk/run this week.  Swimming and cycling can also aid recovery (I'm thinking gentle pootle to the pub, not 100 mile time trial).  Enjoy the rest and be ready to go again in two to four weeks.

Find another event to enter (don't panic - it doesn't have to be a marathon).  Youjust spent four months training hard and thinking of nothing other than marathon.  Once the goal has passed it's natural to feel despondent and targetless.  Finding yourself another goal will give you a renewed focus and an incentive to clamber off the couch.  You'll also have the benefit of a residual fitness that can be turned into a 10k PB or likewise.  Make sure the goal is sufficiently challenging to interest you but not so challenging it renders inertia.

Be careful about post race bingeing!  After months of abstinence, it can be easy to fall into the habit of using the calories you burned in the marathon as an excuse for that extra piece of cake.  By all means enjoy your post race fuelling but if you're still using it as an excuse two weeks later beware ;O)

We hope you've enjoyed the marathon guide updates.  If you have any questions relating to marathon training contact Nicky at nicky@runtolive.co.uk

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