Week 8: White feathers

  • Hours on the run: 4:27
  • Kilometres: 46
  • Calories burned: 2.5 roast dinners
  • Times I felt like stopping: Twice (halfway up those hills)
  • Soundtrack: With you – Matt Simons

One word to sum up this week: exhausting. Juggling a new job and marathon training, and a weekend trip to the UK for a half marathon has taken it’s toll. On the positive side, running progress seems to be going well, despite the over-tight calves.

A 05:30 wake-up call on Wednesday had me heading to the physio before work; the immediate prognosis: “Je kuiten zijn erg strak, dame!” (Your calves are really tight, lady!). The physio thinks we’ve caught them in time, but I shouldn’t have waited this long before making the appointment…

After some uncomfortable deep tissue massage, I was prescribed compression sleeves which I need to wear for each run to help increase the blood flow. I should also be foam rolling each time I run, and have another sports massage booked for next week.

The week culminated in a a flying visit to the UK for the Wokingham Half Marathon. While the race itself was really enjoyable, I massively under-estimated how tiring the trip would be. After a full day’s work on Friday, travelling for a further 6 hours (that’s how long it takes door-to-door – minimum) meant that I arrived in Sandhurst pretty shattered that evening.

Saturday morning I clocked my 45-minute training run. The weather was absolutely fantastic – first running shorts weather of the year! I headed over to Horseshoe Lake for a nice scenic route (which meant I could also stop off at the Churchyard on the way back to visit Mum and Dad’s grave).

Sunday morning arrived with another early (06:00) start. I hadn’t received my running pack and race number when they were all sent out in the post, so on arrival at the race venue I went in search of a new one. I was greeted with “Oh, so you’re the international runner – we wondered who that was!” 🙂

Warming up….

I had about 40 minutes to wait until it was time to get ready, so I found a spot in the sun with a cup of tea, watching all the runners arrive. After some time, I glanced down at my feet and noticed a white feather lying right next to my running shoe. That was always Dad’s sign from Mum – letting him know she was still with him, so I really had to smile when I saw it (and choke back a few tears): Mum and Dad were joining me for the race.

The run itself went far better than I expected, and even though the hills were tough, I realised that at least you get to cruise a little on the way down them. When you run on the flat, you need to maintain a continuous level of effort, but running downhill somehow gives you the feeling you get a bit of a breather.

I heard a couple of people shout out “Come on Haarlem” during the run which made me smile (I had a Haarlem race t-shirt on). I think it would be great if the UK races could follow the Dutch in printing names on each race number – it really does give you a boost when someone shouts out your name when things are getting tough.


The key difference I noticed about this race compared to Dutch ones (apart from being able to see over the tops of people’s heads!) was the procedure for overtaking. In Holland, while not everyone sticks to it, generally people are good at using the left side of the road to overtake, and moving across to the right afterwards, which makes things a lot more orderly. There didn’t seem to be any such convention in this race – a complete free for all with people overtaking left, right, and centre!

The final few hundred metres also felt far more competitive. I normally speed up a little on the final stretch (if there’s anything left in my legs!) but don’t usually go all out – so I was taken by surprise when people I’d just overtaken a few minutes earlier who had slowed down suddenly zipped past me to get to the finish!

I knocked 3 minutes off my time from the half marathon in Schoorl a few weeks ago, which I was really surprised about. It was a nice boost as I was anticipating I’d go over the 2-hour mark for this one. The sunshine must have powered me on!

After the race, there was just enough time for a shower and a pub roast before heading back to the airport to fly home. Getting up for work the next day, I was absolutely exhausted and realised (after the relief of completing my first ever race in the UK) that the weekend had taken so much more out of me than I had expected.

I hope to get some energy back this week before the next long run of 26 km on Sunday….. right now, I’m feeling shattered and overwhelmed. Juggling the demands of a new job while training for the marathon and still dealing (practically and emotionally) with everything that happened last year is proving quite a hefty challenge.

But, I’m not done yet.

Soundtrack to this week: With you by Matt Simons. “I’ll be with you, I’ll be waiting for you, on the other side.”  Powerful signs appear when you need them.


Please consider sponsoring me for the London Marathon. I’m running for Chance for Childhood, a charity that protects children from the devastating consequences of extreme poverty, conflict and disability.

2 thoughts on “Week 8: White feathers

    • Thanks Margaret. I’m trying to take care that I don’t over-do it – it’s a fine balance between pushing yourself enough but not going over the edge…

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