Running away from home

Unlike the song, I did not run 30 miles or more, although I was over 30 miles from home throughout the run. This weekend was our annual trip to Norfolk, to stay with Mike & Barbara. The boys go out ringing peals while Barbara and I don’t. I usually take to opportunity to go into Norwich for a mooch around, both for old times sake and because there are some lovely shops in Norwich. This year’s shopping list included more underpinnings (now I know the selected item is up to the task at hand, additional examples were purchased in order to give the laundry fairy a slightly easier time of it) and some new leather gloves for winter (seeing last year’s examples are falling apart at the fingers) and scarf to match. All exciting stuff. Generally I have a weekend of having to do very little and it’s lovely.

Sunday morning and the boys were going in to ring for service at Peter Mancroft. I decided against (as I usually do) on the grounds that they’re an awfully long draft and that is not within my comfort zone from a ringing perspective. The one time I have rung there, the ropes felt like they were stretching more like elastic than like rope, and that’s really not something I’m able to cope with. urgh. So after having been woken up by himself as he left, then faffed about for a bit, I decided that I may as well head out for a run. The thing about running when staying away from home is that the navigation has to be very easy. I get lost at the least provocation, so anything at all complicated is simply not an option. But a nice out and back run along a railway path is well within my capabilities in this regard.

The path was compressed earth and sand rather than tarmac, but it was fairly level and not difficult to run on. As was evidenced by the large numbers of people I saw out an about using the path. There were quite a number of runners out; some speedy whippets, others who looked worse than I felt (which is always nice). Two runners overtook me, one of them having the temerity to do so twice – that’s surely just being cheeky! Then there were a number of cyclists of all flavours, from the speedy to the family out for a rind – the youngest still with stablisers attached. Then there were those walking their dogs. Although in some cases, maybe that should be attempting to walk their dogs. Fozbow was not going to come, no matter how many times he was called or whistled for; while another owner’s pooch had decided that rooting about in the pile of what I assume was compost or manure for spreading was far more interesting than chasing the ball. Bet he was a delight when he got home. But there were some dogs that were entirely under their owner’s control, including one collie who you could see was just dying to chase something, be it me or the cyclist, but instead stayed down with his nose between his paws until we’d all passed, then headed off in hot pursuit of a tennis ball. That was probably more people in one run than I normally see in several weeks on my current usual route, which just goes to show how valuable paths of this type are. An ex-railway line could be a rundown, scrubby patch of ground that’s good for nothing, or it could be altered into a valuable off road route for  both recreational and more serious sporting users.

Being ex-railway line, the path itself does not have too much in the way of hills, although the three roads I crossed all required a rise up or dip down to. There was also one brick bridge that I passed under, with steps up, I was half tempted to nip up and have a look, but “up” didn’t sound too attractive a proposition by that point. The path is sometimes in a cut, at others it is embanked, so there’s plenty of variety to keep my wandering eye busy. Throughout the path has a hedge on either side, so it was never very exposed, while allowing a view of what was passing. It was also quite varied, wit houses, village green, open fields, a farm or two, a skate park and woods all being adjacent to the route. There was also some benches that caught my eye. Some were normal wooden ones, but some appeared to be made from what looked a bit like old railway tracks, parts of which had been twisted out of shape in an artful manner. I did not avail myself of any of them, but they did catch the eye, being a visual reminder of the provenance of the route being followed.

While heading out I had a debate with myself about when to turn round. I have a strange preference to turn round something, or turn round at something, hence running to the pylon (a fixed point) not just at a set distance from home at no particular landmark. Yes, I accept that sounds a bit weird, but that’s me. As I was getting to the end of the third run segment, and when I was thinking that I ought to make the turn soon, I spotted a road that was about to cross the path, so I turned at the crossing, just after the start of the 4th run segment. That meant that the run was the furthest and longest since starting back.

Facts & Figures:
Distance: 3.7 miles
Time: 50:13 minutes
Average Pace: 13:35 minutes/mile.

It felt good too. I had debated allowing myself to cut the run segments back from 7 minutes to 5 minutes on the return leg, especially if that had been longer – so as not to overdo it. But I’m glad I didn’t. It felt good at 7 minutes all the way, and I even managed to run up the final slope to the pelican crossing when I’d started my outing. Running when not at home can take some organising, you have to remember the kit and have an idea of where you’re going to go (or have a far better sense of direction than I do), but it can be well worth the effort.

Back on my feet again

Never fear! The title it not intended to indicate a lay off with injury. Instead I’ve had a mad mad mad week with work such that I feel I’ve spent the entire week sitting down, be that on a mode of transport or in meetings. Monday started with driving to our Norfolk site, then being taxied to Gatwick prior to a flight to Switzerland. Just over 24 hours (and one 6 hour long site visit) later we were arriving back in Gatwick before the taxi back up to Norfolk. Then into a hotel, and into 2 days of back to back all day meetings. I did take my kit with me, hoping to maybe get out for a plod Wednesday night, but it never quite happened. Being in a meeting all day seems to mean that you come out of the meeting to find that your day job has been piling up waiting for you; so instead of a run, I did a few hours work, then found myself having to hurry back to the hotel to get changed before dinner out with the customer (as if we’d not seen enough of them during the day!). Now that bit I may have misjudged, it turned out to be a longer walk from site to hotel than anticipated – not helped by having to walk 3 sides of the site as there’s no short cut. grrr. Taking that walk at a fast pace, I have since had sore lines of tightness up the outsides of both ankles. By Friday, and the end of the third all day meeting in a row, I was so glad to be home that I just flumped on the sofa all evening, catching up on TV and generally being a lazy madam.

So after just about a week spent almost entirely on my behind I was feeling the need to get out. Saturday morning, therefore, became out and run time. Not having been out in the week, I stuck at the same pattern as previously, 5 minutes run to 1 minute walking. Only this time I went that bit further. Instead of turning round at the pylon, I continued on the same road until I came to the entrance to the church and the manor farm. At this point, there’s a sort of turning circle, which allow me to cross the road at a run without trying to half turn round to look quite so far over my shoulder. The only downside to extending the run is that I get a real physiological hill to get over. Just prior to the village, the road dips down and changes from open fields on either side to being almost enclosed in a tunnel by greenery. Heading down the slope is OK, but coming back you’re under this green tunnel, which is surprisingly dark, and you can see the top of the rise ahead of you. But where it is dark you don’t see the beginning of the rise very well, there is just the top and the sky seemingly far ahead of you; all of which conspires to make it look a lot steeper than it probably is. Just my luck, a walk segment ended just as I reached the foot of the rise, so I had to start running heading up it. Blimey, not done that in a while and it was quite hard going. However, that brings up my furthest run to date, and it felt really good to be out and moving the limbs. Even the tight ankles didn’t play up. Must be something about walking that aggravates then, although why running would not eludes me.

Facts & Figures:
Distance – 3.44 miles
Time – 45:49 minutes
Pace – 13:20 minutes/mile

So that feels much better. The body has been shaken out and still appears to work. Next week should have a lighter work schedule, so hopefully I’ll manage multiple runs and move up to a longer run interval next week.

Strange magic

What makes a good run into a good run? Difficult to say, but on some days the alignment of the planets is just right and it all comes together. You feel on top of the world. Today I felt I was on a roll. Well I was, but the parts of me that suffered undue movement last time out have been firmly restrained. I did battle with the shopping crowds and and inclement Saturday weather to visit a specialist purveyor of intimate garments for the, ahem, larger lady. As a result I now own what looks rather like a medieval implement of torture, but is, in fact, a sports bra. Once into the item (which is an exercise worthy of a contortionist) things are not going very far, let’s put it that way. If I’m completely honest, the adjustment on the shoulder straps are at their tightest and I’d like it a smidge tighter, so a couple of tucks are clearly in order, especially to give some room to take up any stretch. But compared to last outing, this was divine.

Whether that is entirely as a result of the new underpinnings or not it is difficult to say, but I had an epic run today! Set off in the middle of the afternoon, which is an odd running time on a Sunday. But what with ringing first thing and a coffee shop stop, a quick foraging session in Sainsbury’s, the Grand Prix (recorded & watched on catch up; eventful, but no one wants to see that sort of accident) and lunch, it was gone 3 pm before I set off. By this time the morning’s ground frost had long since departed, leaving blue skies and fluffy white clouds. It wasn’t quite as warm outside as it looked from inside, but no way could it be described as cold – not yet, anyway. It should be the final outing at 3 minutes run to 1 minute walking and it really felt like it was time to move up. The run sections felt fine, the pace was good. Once again I ran past the pylon to turn at the beginning of a walk segment, meaning that for the first time since I picked up running again I managed an outing of over 3 miles. Whoop Whoop.

Distance: 3.02 miles
Time: 38:51 minutes
Ave Pace: 12:52 minute/miles

Which is hardly speedy, but is the first time I have averaged less than 13 minutes to the mile since returning to running – which at least shows improvement in a positive direction. And it felt just really good out there. The running was not exactly easy, but it wasn’t lung bustingly difficult either. I felt I could have gone on for longer and returned feeling that post exercise rush of euphoria that makes the good runs so very very good. These are the kind of outings that I used to so much love running for; the days that make all the pain, discomfort, blisters, chafing, rain, cold, miserableness, (insert your pet hate here),  worthwhile. This is what I’ve missed. This is why I will be out again next week, just hoping that magic happens again…

Last but one done

Penultimate run has been ticked off. 5 easy paced miles round town done. nothing particularly eventful to report. The weather’s been nice all day, just a few clouds have bubbled up during the day, so I’ve quite enjoyed being off. Certainly enabled me to get some washing dry on the line, which is always a bonus.

Facts & Figures:
Distance – 5.4 miles
Time – 1:03:27
Average pace – 11:44 minute miles

As I said, nothing really to write home about. Nice to get out and run in the evening, but still in daylight. I am looking forward to running over the summer again, the dark runs are real soul sappers. Much easier and nicer to run in the light. Although hotter – and I don’t deal with heat too well. Having said that, how often is it we get a good hot summer? See, I’ll be fine.  

I’m currently trying to gather everything I need to take with me for this marathon and the few days either side. So I have pre-race stuff; race stuff (including number, safety pins, socks, capris, sweat band, 3 different tops, 2 hats, Garmin and shoes) and post race stuff which is basically warm layers to put on over the top and compression calf things. As well as normal clothes – seeing we’re going out for a not-a-birthday meal at the local Italian on friday night, I need something relatively respectable. And, just to add to the pile, there’s another set of running gear, in case I do decide to got for the last run on the schedule, which should be 4 miles on Thursday. Might bring that forward, Thursday is due to be birthday outing day. It’s worth noting that I’m not at all worried about being 40. The husband had a major wobble over his and this marathon lark is slightly his fault – he was on about a party and I’m not really a party person. But I did feel the conclusion of my 40th year on the planet shouldn’t pass unmarked, hence a marathon. It made sense at the time…

I’ve been obsessively making lists of things, putting things into piles, moving the piles about and then starting again. Oh well, it’ll all be in the bag soon and thence into the car before heading to Mum’s to stay.

Seven more days, all I gotta do is survive

Yes, one week and counting…

This morning, as we’d just finished ringing a touch of Stedman for Easter Sunday service, I was asked what I’d be doing in a week’s time. It was a few minutes after 9, so I imagine I’ll be heading towards the start line, probably at little more than a crawl, until the crowds start to open out.

At present all my worries are related to making the start. Curiously I have no worries about completing this marathon. All the fears are the things I can’t control. Will I miss the park and ride bus? Will we find a car park space ? This despite the fact I’ve bought and got a permit for one. Will Mum ever talk to me again once she discovers I want a 6:15 departure Sunday morning? She knows now… All these things worry me. And, I imagine, will continue to worry me until 0900 next Sunday.

And so to the last long run. Today had 10 miles on the plan, the last double digit run ahead of M-day. And it went OK. The husband, acting as chauffeur,  dropped me off on our way home from ringing, and I ran home. Weather was OK for running, cool but not cold, a breeze but not blowy, overcast and with just the hint of moisture on the breeze. Not the best for doing anything outside, but ace for running. A repeat order for next week would do nicely, if the weather gods are listening??? Tootled round the nature reserve, then up the railway path and home. Did run just beyond home to make the miles up to the full 10. I didn’t obsess about time, this was about running comfortably, not setting good times. But, as it turns out, the pace was pretty good too. No real niggles or aches, legs all loosened up nicely once I’d got going. Stretched out once home and had a few toasted hot cross buns for lunch. I’ll start on the Easter eggs later…

Facts & Figures:
Distance – 10.05 miles
Time – 1:56:10
Average pace – 11:33 min/miles

As I sit a type this, it’s 6:30 pm. In one week’s time I’ll have finished this marathon journey, in one way or another. Hopefully with a medal round my neck and my head held high. Between now and then there’s the small matter of 2 runs, a birthday and lots of rest and relaxation.

As I come to the end of something inspired by a milestone birthday, I must mention another of my friends who is embarking on a quest. One of my slightly nutty friends, it has to be said. Andy, who I run with at the club and has gamely been my partner at the back of numerous speed sessions, hits his 50th birthday this time next year. In the meantime he intends to run 50 different events, clocking up as many kilometers as the year of his birth (that’s 1963 for those not quick at arithmetic) and raise money for the National Autistic Society. His webpage is here and is well worth a look, if only to be inspired. No speedy whippet is our Andy, but his heart is completely in the right place and he deserves every ounce of support.

The beginning of the end

It’s tempting fate, but this might just be the most miles I’ve posted yet, and will likely be the most until M-day itself.

That'll be me, then!

Talking of which, I have a race number – that put the collywobbles about, I can tell you! Gulp. It’s getting awfully real now. And this week marks the last high mileage week, they start to decrease gently now such that I’m fit and raring to go on the day. I might well believe that when I see it!

Anyway, two running days, three runs and 25 miles logged since I wrote last. Thursday I set out to do 11 miles. After Wednesday’s run got cut a bit short, I went out just to run the miles. Not sure if the training is beginning to take it’s toll, but the first few were just grim. Achy and difficult and for no good reason at all. Nearly called it a day and came back after 2, but gave myself a stern talking to. “If it starts getting hard at 18 miles, are you just going to stop? NO! So HTFU and keep running! Pretend it’s the last 10 miles of the marathon and grind it out.” And so I kept going. Concentrated on the basic things like counting the footfalls to each in (one, two, three) and out (one, two) breath and trying to keep the shoulders relaxed. I can’t say it was a brilliant run, but it did improve. Should have been 11, but I allowed myself to stop after 10, figured that was close enough to mission accomplished. Certainly better than stopping after 2!

Then the weekend long run. The way the plan is structured, each 20 mile run has a shorter, 15 mile run either side of it. With Silverstone and Ashby being on the “wrong” weeks for the plan, I had this one down as 22, but was advised to cut that down to something 15 to 17 or so. This weekend happened to be one of the club’s ladies coffee & cake runs. We meet up, run a 5 mile loop and then have coffee & cake. It’s a chance to run with ladies in the other groups and generally have a chat about life, the universe and maybe a bit of running. I wanted to go, but 5 didn’t really fit with 15+, so a cunning plan was hatched.

I’d get up early, run 10, then get in the car & drive to the run, run the 5 mile loop, have my cake and drive home again. I did think about running there, doing the loop and running home, but didn’t fancy the running back after stopping, and that would put the scuppers on cake! The only slight fly in the ointment being we meet for the run at 9:30, meaning I’d need to get out the house for run 1 shortly after 7 am. The husband was staying away friday night (something to do with a 12 bell eliminator – Ok Darling, what ever you say), so I was on my own. Not sure if it was that, but I was wide awake at 5:30 and showed no signs of dropping back off to sleep, and I figured I may as well get up & have breakfast ahead of my runs.

It was foggy this morning and that made for a really strange experience. I kept collecting dew drops on my eyelashes, that had to be wiped off periodically, and it muffled sounds, but wasn’t quiet. People sort of appeared out of nowhere and everyone seemed a little bit in their own cocoon. It was quite isolating, but not unpleasantly so. I did the usual 10 mile loops round the lake and then up onto the ridge before heading back. Scared a number of geese who were grazing on the field surrounding the nature reserve lake. They sort of waddled away from me at increasing speed before taking flight and making a honking noise about it. Don’t ask me what geese, I’m no twitcher (but there were two colour ways) just be impressed I knew they were geese! The sailing lake overflow was running for the first time in a very long time, suggesting that the rain we’ve had recently has started to make its way into the water courses. Ground was still firm underfoot though, certainly none of the slushy mud I have had to contend with. Made it back in good time and nipped in to use the loo and collect clothes, money and car keys.

Found a text from the husband, asking if I was awake, so replied and he called back. Asked what I was doing and when I said going for the ladies run he asked how far. 5 miles. Which provoked the “that’s not far, hardly worth it” tease. hmm. I didn’t need to see the face to see the shock when I said I’d already done 10, and this was just a little extra! He thinks I’m off my trolley, and I think I can see why…

Anyway, met the ladies in good time. I’d cooled off after the first run and was cold and stiffening up by the time we set off. The first mile was a bit of a struggle, as everything started to get moving again. But it did loosen up again and remember what it had been doing for the last few hours. Nice company and lots of people doubling back to collect the back markers. We also had a gentleman with us, but he was only little, being in a buggy and had a whole host of people taking turns to push him. He was very sweet and smiley, and wrapped up warm in an all in one suit. The sun was finally beginning to make its way through the fog, such that by half way round I’d shed one layer and was wearing it tied round the middle. Rounded that off with a hazelnut latte and a slice of carrot cake. I don’t usually partake of cake, but felt this was deserved – and it had been an awfully long time since my bowl of porridge.

Facts & Figures: (Thurs/Sat1/Sat2)
Distance – 10.2/10.25/4.9 miles
Time – 1:59:48/1:58:05/58:23
Average pace – 11:45/ 11:31/11:55

Making a grand total of 25.35 miles – that’s almost as far as I’ll be running on M-day, and that’s in one go! Mind you, I get a bit of a rest between now and then. I can see why runners refer to this month as Mad March, I seem to have been tired all month. Next week the miles start to drop, with the long run being “only” 14 miles. It’s a startling change of perspective, 4 months ago I’d run 14 miles once and thought it was about the limits of endurance, now I’m thinking of that as a relatively short run. Part of me would just like to fast forward through the next 22 days, and for this all to be over and done with. I’d quite like my life back – weekends have become dominated by what miles I have to run and when I’m going to be able to fit them in. And I’d like to sleep for a week, if no-one minds. Having said all that, I am (sort of) looking forward to it and am not worried about running it, I have no doubts on that score at all. I will finish, even if I cross the line on hands and knees. I’ve done the miles, this is now the beginning of the end…

You can leave your hat on

There are good runs, there are bad runs and you don’t always know which it’s going to be. Today doesn’t go down as a good one. Maybe I’ve still got Ashby in the legs, but the body didn’t want to co-operate at all today.

Missed a run Tuesday, just too much on and I was just too tired by the time I thought about a run. So today it was out for a tempo run. Only it didn’t quite work. Set off and managed to forget my hat! I can’t remember the last time I ran without a hat, but I always go out in either a cap or my beanie – felt quite undressed! Started to run and it was all feeling quite hard work. The garmin claimed I was toddling along at the fast end of easy pace, which was as it should be, but it didn’t feel easy. The legs were complaining, particularly in the outside of the calves, the stomach felt really heavy and slightly sick while I was just struggling to breathe easily. Not sure what it was exactly, but I just couldn’t find that sweet spot.

Got to the pylon and changed the pace, picking it up to around 10 min/miles. And I managed this for approaching 2 miles until the body finally over-ruled the will and I slowed right down again. Maintained a slow plod, with a few short walk breaks, until I got home.

Facts & Figures:
Distance – 5.4 miles
Time – 1:01:14
Average Pace – 11:20 min/miles 

Time was I’d have been thrilled to have managed 5 miles in under an hour, or 2 miles at sub 10 min pace, but that was then and now I expect more. This was obviously one of those bad runs and I’ll just have to move on. Not sure I can entirely blame forgetting my hat, but I will be properly dressed next time I set out.

Every triangle has three sides

And this post has three runs. This week started on a high after the performance at Silverstone. Still buzzing about it, and there will be a follow-up post with pictures and additional superfluous detail. Proudly displayed my medal to anyone who showed even a flicker of interest, and even those who didn’t.

But back to this week and the running. Monday I actually went out for a short pootle. I could feel the after effects of Sunday’s exertions, lightly in both thighs, but quite noticeably somewhere deep in the bottom of my bum. Several times found myself absent-mindedly massaging that area while stood talking to someone. oops. Work pattens this week meant I didn’t think I’d manage to get out Tuesday, so Monday it was. Just the standard 3.5 mile loop with Janet. The legs got going OK, with not too many complaints – the bum being the most vocal part. As we got back towards work, she did ask if I was going to continue, but the calves had said that enough was enough. Before an early night I did spend quite some time stretching out all the aches, and felt better for it.

Wednesday I was later home than anticipated – I’d had a call from my local running shop (LRS) that my new bra was in. It’s a Shock Absorber Run bra – could they have though of a less attractive name?! They are the most difficult items of clothing to get into – it’s quite some contortion required. But, once in, they hold on to all the bits that might bounce. They’re certainly effective – and I imagine if my car’s shock absorbers ever fail I could simply replace it with one of these! That makes just about the complete kit set for the marathon, and I’ll be wearing it for long runs, just to make sure it’s all comfortable. Being later home meant I only had about an hour’s light, so I switched the week about and did the 5 mile tempo on Wednesday. That went well. Headed out at a good pace, but at the change of pace went too fast – turned round having run over a mile a 9:30 pace! Wow!! That’s pretty fast for me, and proved to be unsustainable. Slowed on the return leg, but still managed sub 10 pace for the 3 miles.

That meant Thursday was midweek long run. 11 miles on the plan, my longest midweek run. Set off and kept below 12:00 for almost the entire run, including the slightly boggy bits round the lake. Ended up having to double back for the very last section in order to find the extra 0.5 mile, otherwise I’d have got to the end of the road, and my usual finish point, too early. Pleased with that, as it felt quite relaxed the whole way. It was getting dark as I got back, by which time I was quite pleased I’d headed out with a long sleeve top, once the sun went down, the temperature dropped and the wind got up.

Facts & Figures: (Mon/Wed/Thurs)
Distance – 3.57/5.4/11.1 miles
Time – 40:58/56:57/ 2:09:36
Average pace – 11:29/10:33/ 11:40

If all goes to plan, there’s just the small matter of a 20 mile race between me and my first 40 mile week. Plan will be to go out for the first 5 easy and then pick up to MP for the remainder. It’s all about practising the race day routine, pacing with that many people around, fueling and taking on water in a race scenario – even if it’s not really an out-and-out race. Guaranteed PB , which will be another one to add to the collection!

So, to finish the week, I’ve had a lovely relaxing Saturday morning, food shopping, hair cut and a cup of coffee with a slice of cake. My hair looks great, sharp at the ends, well finished and lovely. And with a 20 mile race tomorrow guess how long that’s going to last?!

It’s a beautiful new day

This week has mostly been concerned with taking things a little easy, and getting prepared for the Silverstone half marathon this weekend.

After Tuesday’s run got canned, I did go out both Wednesday & Thursday, and both were alright. Nothing too fast, and the niggles in the legs have worked their way out – although the foot still has a tendency to creak a bit. Maybe that’s just age…

Wednesday was a run from home this week, so I took advantage of the lighter evenings to head out for a lap of the sailing club, then a loop round town to finish. After Sunday’s extreme weather, there was at least no rain and the skies were clear, but it was still rather blowy. Cold when you were in the wind, but OK otherwise. 2 layers plus windproof meant that I didn’t suffer like Sunday as well. It was quite surprising how firm the ground was, a few puddles, but I was expecting a lot worse after the amount of rain that fell. but there’s been very little rain recently, so it’s probably just gone straight into the ground. Got round the lake in good time  and was back onto tarmac before the light failed completely. That coincided with the 5 miles easy, meaning that the 3 at MP were at least on tarmac and not mud. Picked the pace up Ok, but drifted up in speed for the last one. Last miles were in the gathering gloom, with the street lights coming on.

Thursday was a loop with Janet, then another, shorter one, on my own. Not quite as fast as usual, which suited me fine – an easy run being just the ticket. I got back to work to be greeted by someone asking how the run had gone. When I said 5&1/4 miles, they pointed out that I’ve got to go 5 times that distance at Brighton. That’s not exactly a comfortable thought, but it’s not totally scary either. We then had a discussion on the art of pacing, and somehow a half marathon became a boys day out to the rugby with a selection of ales on tap. A marathon being a whole weekend stag do – it’s all about pacing – not letting anyone get more than one pint ahead, and sticking to a good session beer, not starting on the Stella!

Facts & Figures: (Weds/Thurs)
Distance – 8.02 / 5.25
Time – 1:36:30 / 1:03:04
Average pace – 12:02/12:01

So that’s a respectable set of figures. Just got Silverstone to race now. I’ve been told to try and race it hard, as that will be a good indication of where the training has got me. I ought to expect a good PB simply based on an increased training mileage. However, there would be nothing worse than heading out too fast and then slowing as I’ve run out of energy – that would not be a good for the confidence. My PB time averages out at 10:40 pace. So I’m going to go out at something  between 10:20 and 10:30, with the intention of trying tp pick that up after half way. If it goes to plan, I ought to PB by 3-4 minutes, which would be pretty good if it worked. The weather forecast isn’t looking too bad. Silverstone’s an ex airfield, so it is rather exposed and very bleak if the weather’s bad. But the wind is due to drop and temperatures are in double figures. Should be OK. Just need to pack everything and make my way there… Wish me luck!

It’s as cold as ice

We had one nice day and one horribly cold wet and windy day over the weekend. Care to guess which one I ended up running on? Yup, The coldest wettest windiest Sunday imaginable.

The weekend started with a 40th Birthday party on Saturday afternoon. Ann’s one of a group of friends who I met at University and we periodically get together and natter on and on and on about life, the universe and everything. It’s been a very long time since we all met last. 3 of us were going to be able to make this do though, so loads of chatting was expected. After a brief shopping trip first thing (I may have not got a present at that point) we set off about noon and took the scenic route. Stopped at a nice pub for lunch, and generally took our time arriving. Cream teas were laid on in the afternoon, along with chocolaty nibbly things. I may have partaken of one or two… The there was a Barn dance. I love a good dance like this, but certain practicalities have to be taken into account. Like I’m running a marathon in 6 weeks time and can’t afford a turned ankle at this stage. So trainers were the order of the day. Had a good time, loads of chatting, dancing, eating and generally behaving like people NOT about to turn 40! Not that I hit the booze too hard – the long run was always scheduled for Sunday.

Sunday was all a bit out of sync, what with getting home and a late breakfast. It was, therefore, approaching 12 before I set out. I suspect I missed the best of Sunday’s weather – although the view from the window was pretty grim all day. It was wet and windy and it was just miserable. I was going to run out & back, 8 miles each way, so ran a 4 mile extra loop, to make it up to the 20 I needed. By the time I got to 5 miles, I was 1 mile from home and sorely tempted to go home. I did consider it to collect some gloves and another layer, but I suspected that if I’d got in the door I’d never have got out again.

The railway path’s usually a buzz with walkers and other activity takers – not today. I barely passed enough people to need to take my socks off to count them – and those I did pass were all wrapped up as if on an arctic expedition. Not me, I was bliddy freezing. Actually, I tell a lie there, my torso was OK and the legs don’t tend to feel the cold anyway. But my hands and arms were so cold that they hurt. Tried sticking them up my sleeves, but a wet technical shirt doesn’t offer a massive amount of protection from the elements – in fact it seems quite effective at wicking away heat. Once I was out of the wind, the temperature wasn’t too bad, but the wind was so persistent and bitingly cold that the whole run was really unpleasant.

At the visitor centre at the nature reserve, I stopped to go to the loo and sat there a shivered – could barely get my fingers to work well enough to remove the necessary clothing. As I came out the centre, the cold hit me and I so nearly turned round and asked them to get be a taxi – but I manned up and set off home. I didn’t get any warmer. My world reduced to the 10 yards immediately in front of me, with distraction activities like singing to myself (the tune a’ hunting we will go featured quite heavily – no idea where that sprang from, but it was a nice rhythmic one – just wish I could remember the words – the line “to catch a **** and put it in a ***” remained incomplete) or counting foot falls each in and out breath simply to keep the mind a bit blank. At one stage I was randomly wondering what the first signs of hypothermia, then couldn’t recall them and started worrying that memory loss might be one of them. Just to reassure you, I still don’t know the first signs of hypothermia so I’ll assume I never did.

I decided to stop being silly as I got back towards town and took the direct route home. Meant I didn’t get the full distance, but it was so grim out there that calling it quits was surely the right decision. Took a while to get in the door – finding the key, getting it in the lock and turning it all requiring more dexterity than I seemed to posses at the time. Dumped a pile of wet clothing on the bathroom floor and leapt into a warm bath until sensation started to return to the extremities.

Facts & Figures
Distance – 17.5 miles
Time – 3:40:34
Average pace – 12:36 min/miles

Which actually looks a load better than it felt. Cutting this short was almost certainly the right decision, but it means that, yet again, I’ve missed hitting a 40 mile week. Just hope that the weather next Sunday’s a whole heap better – Silverstone is ex-airfield and is rather exposed – won’t look forward to running round that on a wet & windy Sunday afternoon!