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Interview with neems

HappyG(rrr) asks: Many congratulations, you've had a great running year (after a tough start!). So, a certain Fetchie you know has coined the immortal line, "Any c* can do 3 miles", which has inspired so many of us to grind out the tough last miles in our races. What would be your "immortal line" that you could use to inspire your fellow Fetchies and runners generally?

Congrats again. x :-)G


neems says: Thanks Happy! "Pain is temporary, success is forever." I know it's kind of cheesy (and not as catchy as Hendo's!) but it inspires me to keep going when everything in my body is screaming at me to stop. I know that if I can just push through the pain of hard training sessions and races, what I will get at the end will far outweigh all of that and I'll have a result that I can be proud of and that can never be taken away from me.
Jock Itch asks: Congrats Neemsy ! Love the way you have the drive and determination to keep beating your old fella in races, not too hard I know ;) but the question is…whats your fave race distance and why ?

neems says: Thanks Jocky! Hah, actually I have only ever beaten Hendo in one race! And I'm sure it was just a fluke ;-)

Favourite race distance is a tricky one as they all have their positives...and negatives! I have a love/hate relationship with 10ks, they are the race distance I have done the most of and where I have my highest WAVA. So that's good. But they really really hurt! I feel happier and more comfortable the further I run. Thinking off the top of my head, my two stand out "remember forever" races have been marathon and half marathon distance. So I guess I'm a distance runner at heart.
flanker asks: Brilliant. So well deserved. Do you follow J uphills admiring the view, or is it the other way around?

neems says: Thank you :-) Well, I can't speak for Hendo but I'm mostly concentrating all my efforts on getting up the hill rather than admiring the views! That being said...I am a "leg" girl and J does happen to have a very nice pair of those! Why wait for a hill to admire them though?!
Argie asks: Hendo - why?

neems says: Can't believe you even need to ask!
minardi asks: Many congratulations! Honeymoon AND running/racing? or a complete take-it-easy?

neems says: Thank you! We have just booked our honeymoon actually, which is very exciting. We haven't mentioned packing our running kit but I would say it almost goes without saying that we will! We usually run on all our holidays, so this one won't be any different. I think we'll probably skip running when we're in South Africa on safari (don't much fancy being eaten by a lion!) but I'm sure we'll run along the beach when we're in Mauritius. It would be rude not to!
*Anj* asks: Well done lovely. When I joined Fetch I think we were roughly at the same level pace wise. Admittedly I am a sporadic trainer so when did you see your pace improve (especially after your hip problems)...What race was the turning point for you?

neems says: Thanks Anj :-) I can actually pinpoint quite a definite turning point in my running - the later months of 2010. I had never really believed I could run faster, but suddenly I had more time on my hands, a motivation to run as I found it cathartic, and I'd lost quite a bit of weight which naturally saw my pace improve. I don't think it's a coincidence that I also started doing spin classes around that time too. Suddenly I was running better than I ever had, which spurred me on even more and made me believe that perhaps I could improve after all.

I entered the Brighton 10k and set myself the target of breaking 50 minutes. I was so hyped up for that race, it was the culmination of months of training that had helped me through a difficult time, so there was a lot of emotion behind it. But I was also really confident that I could break 50 minutes and pb. And I did! I finished that race in 47:55 and it's been a steady improvement from there. Consistent training, hard work and a belief in my running was what I needed.
Doctor K asks: Congratulations Neems! About time too.
Which runner or athlete inspires you the most (apart from Hendo)??


neems says: Thank you very much :-) Um, "normal" runners inspire me. The people that I see on Fetch, who quietly get on with their training hard, set their goals and commit to them. People who are dedicated to their running, and fit it all in around a normal family and working life. People who don't give up and don't make excuses. I'm inspired too by women with children who continue to run. Two in particular I could mention from Fetch are Clare1976 and Siouxsie. Two ladies with young children and careers, who have continued to run and not only run, but improve and be better than ever. They have both inspired me in my own running in one way or another, both by their own achievements and the advice they've given me in the past. If I were to ever have children, I hope that I could be even a little bit as dedicated and hard working as they are, and that I could keep running and keep improving.
Discovery Dave asks: Blimey. Hendo's punching above his weight, isn't he? What's his secret? ;)
(Congratulations on your running year. Inspiring stuff.)


neems says: Hendo has many secrets, of which I will be divulging none! :-) Thanks for the congrats!
KatieB asks: Congratulations! A very deserved win. :-) you've had a couple of tough marathons but come back and had a fantastic experience, how did you keep yourself coming back for more? And also, what is your favourite chocolate? Second question more important. ;-)

neems says: Thank you Katie :-) I would say it was a combination of pride and being very stubborn! I felt that the marathon distance had beaten me and I wasn't happy leaving it like that. There were definitely times when I felt like I didn't want to try again, but I believed deep down that I was capable of achieving what I had set out to do. After Rome, I was keen to try again quickly, but then after Milton Keynes I did need more of a break to get over it. It had really knocked my confidence and I needed time to build it back up again. I went into the next lot of marathon training a lot more relaxed about what the outcome would be, which I think helped. And then happily, the next outcome was good :-) My favourite chocolate is a harder question! I'm quite a simple girl really though when it comes to chocolate, a nice bar of plain Cadbury's Dairy Milk would see me happy for a while :-) It must be kept in the fridge though!
Nellers asks: Well done and thoroughly deserved. I understand the challenge of marathons but are they, for you, really more enjoyable than a Half or a 10k? What makes them special for you?

neems says: Thanks Nellers. I wouldn't say I necessarily find them more enjoyable than other distances. I can safely say that some of my worst races have been marathon distance! But there is something about them. I find the sense of achievement I get from them is higher than if I raced, say, a 10k. For me, more emotion goes into a marathon, more time and effort and training. The distance became my nemesis last year, I probably wouldn't have done so many otherwise. But as a distance, I do enjoy it. I am not a fast runner and I think if I have any strengths, they probably lie in long distance running. I find the pain of racing a shorter race harder to deal with than the pain that comes with a marathon. I cope with that pain a lot better and can almost block it out. That being said, I am keen to try and bring my times down in shorter races this year. I would especially like to target a half marathon as I've only ever done two!
cabletow asks: How is the hip?

neems says: Hi Cabletow. Ah, I remember many many years ago fmailing you about said hip! It's okay, I don't need a hip replacement just yet ;-) It does play up every now and again, and in summer 2012 I had quite a few issues with it. So much so that I went back to my surgeon and had more scans done, and a steroid injection. The scans showed that my joint is in pretty good health but there is some sign of the bone I had shaved off coming back. I was told again not to run so often (and definitely not marathons!) but hey, I was told that 6 years ago and I'm doing okay :-) One of my main reasons for having the surgery all those years ago was so that I could continue to run, so I'll continue to do so!
mushroom asks: Congratulations on MOTM! Given a choice, would you prefer running in a group with people you know, a group of strangers who you can chat to during the run, or running by yourself?

neems says: Thank you! I am quite shy around people I don't know, so I wouldn't choose to run with a group of strangers. It's always nice to run with a group of friends, but it's not often that you all are of the same ability or that you all fancy doing the same thing. Which is fine, but to be honest I am happiest when I run by myself, if that doesn't sound too miserable! When I run by myself I can totally relax, switch off, let my mind wander. I don't have to worry that I'm holding someone up, that I have to make conversation, check if they mind cutting the run short if I feel bad, or going further if I feel good. Running alone gives me freedom, and that's one of the things I love most about running. And I like listening to music when I run, which can seem a bit rude with other people around :-)
Bintmcskint asks: Congratulations, Neems. Well-deserved MOTM :-)
So, you're running a marathon and are forced to listen to one song on repeat for the entire time. Name that song.


neems says: Thank you :-) Wow, that's a hard one. Whatever song I chose, I imagine I would end up never wanting to listen to it again after a whole 26.2 miles of it! It would have to be a song that has helped me in a race before I think and one immediately springs to mind - If Ever I Stray (Frank Turner). This was a song that came on when I was racing the Southend Half Marathon in 2011 and literally had me feeling like I was running on air. It helped that I was having a good race but it has a great beat for running and is really uplifting. Even listening to it now, over 2 years later, evokes positive running feelings, which would come in handy during the highs and lows of a marathon!
Hendo asks: It would be weird if I asked you a question, cos you're about 3 feet from me right now and if I wanted to know something I'd be wise to just ask you out loud. Anyway, many congratulations on your success and recognition as a stubborn-arsed, determined and quite spectacular woman. Save this to the end, but what question do you wish you'd been asked, and what would your answer have been? Nice one darlin' :-) xxx

neems says: Ah, thank you future hubby :-) "What are the best and worst things about running?" That would have been a good one because running can bring such unbelievable highs but then without warning, or even reason sometimes, unbelievable lows. For me, anyway! So my answer would be: The best thing about running is how it makes me feel. A bit of a general answer I know, but I run because it makes me feel good. It's like a mate I have that can cheer me up if I'm feeling crap, shows me things and places I wouldn't otherwise be seeing, gives me a sense of achievement with every run and when it clicks, is one of the best feelings in the world. The worst thing about running is injury, without question. Being injured, especially long term, is so completely frustrating and upsetting. When I can't run, I don't feel like me and that is not a good situation to be in! For me or Hendo, as he has to live with me!
RuthB2 asks: Do you remember your first ever attempt at running? How did it feel? And, hopefully in comparison, tell us about your favourite ever non racing run.

neems says: Hi Ruthie. To be honest I don't, no. There was no grand entrance into running for me, I had always enjoyed running at school and when I started getting a bit porky, I joined a gym and the only thing I enjoyed was running on the treadmill. Although I can't compute those two words in the same sentence now - "enjoy" and "treadmill"! I haven't stepped foot on one in about 6 years!

My favourite ever non racing run is difficult. It's the little bits of every day training runs that make up why I love running - seeing a badger bumbling down the road, heavy rain and then bright sunshine bringing out a rainbow, that first run in fresh snow, fast running to loud music in torrential rain, those occasional times when you feel like you could run forever, another runner giving you a nod and a smile because you're both wearing the same race t-shirt, a fox darting across the road in front of you, a hail storm, your favourite song coming on at the perfect moment. There are too many great moments in running to pick a favourite. If I had to single out a memorable training run though, it would be the 20 miler me and Hendo ran along the SDW in 30 degree heat at the hottest part of the day. I can't say it was enjoyable but it certainly taught me a thing or two about mental strength! And that however lazy I am, I really must get up early to do long runs in the summer!
RunningRonnie asks: How much wood would a wood chuck chuck if a wood chuck could chuck wood?

neems says: Um....
-x-x- asks: Congratulations, thoroughly deserved. You had a few challenging runs in 2013 but cam back stronger. What kept you going and focused?

neems says: Thank you :-) I did have some very disappointing and difficult runs in the first half of the year. And for a while, I took my focus away from racing and back to just running. I can never imagine my life without running, so to just carry on was a no brainer. As I said before, I am a pretty stubborn and determined person, and I think in terms of my running I can be quite harsh on myself. So I couldn't bear to leave the marathon distance on such a negative. Although I am hard on myself when I race, I did actually believe that none of my previous attempts at racing a marathon had been reflective of what I was capable of. I wanted to run a marathon and be in complete control. If I hadn't done it at Leicester, I imagine I'd still be trying now! I actually have Hendo to thank for that. I wasn't going to enter, had sworn off marathons for good, but he did and I knew that when he started training for it, I'd most likely train with him. And I would be travelling to Leicester with him to support anyway. So eventually I thought, why not just run the damn thing as well?! Very happy that I did :-)
ogee asks: Blinking well done, I know you've hammered the JWUltra but what race if any would tempt over to the dark side & contemplate going really long?

neems says: Thanks Ogee :-) You're very kind, I'm not quite sure I "hammered" the JW, I would say more that I dragged myself around! But it hasn't put me off ultra distance (although nothing as impressive as what you do!) and I do enjoy going long. I don't know that scene at all though, therefore I don't know many races. Obviously Hendo has told me about the Highland Fling and it piques my interest purely because if he can do it, so can I ;-) Otherwise I have been drawn to the North Downs Way 50. It's on my old home turf and 50 is a very pleasing sounding distance. To go from 30 miles to 50 is some leap though, and I don't have any real idea how I would make that step up, or even if I would be capable. I'm not going to lie though, the dark side is definitely calling...
santababy asks: Whats your favourite distance and why? running ambitions for future? Think you'll ever be tempted to do Highland fling? you'd love it, honestly. ps congratulations x

neems says: Thanks Santa :-) I don't really have a favourite distance as such, but I said earlier that my two "stand out" races have been a half marathon and marathon. The North Downs Way 30k too, a tough trail race and another of my favourite ever race experiences, both in terms of how I ran it and how I felt. So I do think I naturally lean towards distance running, and I enjoy it a lot. Which leads on to your question about the Fling!

I am tempted, I've heard a lot about it and it sounds a really great race. I've never been to Scotland (criminal I know!) so it sounds like the perfect reason to make a trip. I guess a fear of the unknown has stopped me up until now, and a question mark over my ability to run that far, and over such tough terrain. Going longer is definitely on my "to do" list for the future though. I'm curious to see how far I can push myself. Other ambitions...sadly I don't think I'm quite finished with the marathon yet! I wish I could say that I was, and that I was content with my marathon PB to remain my PB forever! But I want to go faster and I believe I probably could, with a bit more work. I would love to get a GFA time, it was always my goal right from my first marathon race attempt in 2012. Now the time has been brought down to sub 3.45 it will be harder, but that just makes me want it even more. My biggest running ambition though, above anything else, is to be able to keep running until I'm a very very old lady :-)

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