Start at the very beginning (again)

It’s a very long time since I last updated this blog, and that reflects the last time I put on a pair of running shoes and went out the door. I’m not really sure why, I had all those good intentions after finishing that marathon, but they never really happened. To start with, the idea of not having to run was so liberating that I didn’t run. However after a break in running it becomes progressively more difficult to get motivated to do it. It’s going to hurt, and the longer it is, the more it will hurt.

And after over 2 years, I can assure you that it did hurt; it’s as if I’ve never run before – apart from I’ve got all the gear this time. There are a couple of things that made me get back into the exercise. One is my ever increasing girth. Since I stopped running, I’ve put on weight. Quite a lot of it. So much so that a good proportion of my wardrobe no longer fits or does up – and that’s not good for the ego. Neither is a size 16 in jeans. So that’s one motivator. The other has been that I have been hankering after a run. I’ve seen runners out and have felt envious, rather than thinking, “nutter”. That sounds to me like it’s time to bite the bullet and get back out.

And so I have been out for some exercise. One can hardly call it a run, as there was more walking than running involved. I covered 2.7 miles in under 40 minutes, with that split into 1 minute of running and 1.5 minutes of walking. It works out at not much faster than walking pace, but at an average 14:33 for a mile is, technically, faster than I walk. The run sections were pretty evenly paced, so I can still do it, just need to make sure I do it lots more. It’ll be slow, it’ll hurt (and as this is being written the next morning, I can assure you it does hurt in places) but I need to remember that it will get better – eventually.

Getting back on the horse

It’s been a bit quiet in blogland. I’ve run a few times, but have quite enjoyed being freed from the tyranny of the training schedule. Not only can I have a night off, I can have a whole week of and it will matter not a jot – that’s been really refreshing. But I can’t sit around on my backside doing no exercise for long before my backside will be showing this – I’m not designed to be slim and it’s the exercise that helps keep me in some sort of shape. So it’s time to get off the sofa and back out on the road.

I’ve also quite enjoyed reading about everyone else’s experiences at Brighton, London & Milton Keynes (still think I got the best weather!) The time is still bugging me. Although it may be I’m being overly harsh on myself. A while ago a request was put on the RW forum for data to contribute to a real life study of conversion from half to full marathon. This got updated this year and some stats put around the ~ 180 sets of times that had been posted. It turns out that my 5:06 sits dead on the average conversion of 2.25 times my half time of 2:16.  There is that feeling of unfinished business though. I’ve also gone from “never again” to entering the ballot for London in the space of a fortnight. I doubt I’ll get in, but it was sitting there, tempting me…

At the weekend I helped out at the Titchmarsh 10k, a village event on a challenging piece of road. I’ve seen that hill and I didn’t fancy it! Put my walking boots on and walked across the field into the village and arrived only slightly muddy at the clubhouse. Found myself a job in the kitchen, preparing the cake and other goodies. Was then assigned a job of running the results sheets from the finish line to the race secretary. If I’d known I’d be running I’d have put the trainers on! Being a little local race, the race timing is done in a partly automated fashion. There is a PC with a timing programme on it, such that each time a runner crosses the finish, the operator presses return, and the time is entered. Simple but effective. However, assigning the times to runners requires a clip board and a pen and someone to write the runner’s numbers down in order they cross the line. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? In practice it is anything but. Runners are great at not always following instructions. Numbers were not on their front, were flapping over and if you’ve got two people making a dash to the line, it’s a judgement call as to who was first. There were 2 races, a 3k fun run and then 10k. It was the 3k that proved more of a problem, as this had families running it, so potentially 3, 4 and 5 people coming to the line in one go, making getting numbers quite tricky. But it did serve as a practice for the 10k, which would be taken more seriously by the participants. A little bit of a revision of the finish chute and the addition of a third number taker at the end of the finish chute meant that it did actually work fairly well. The two scribes at the finish line had a person to call the numbers to them. Having two allows checking of the order from 2 points of view – and adding numbers obscured from one side or the other. The third taker at the other end of the finish chute was when the runners had slowed to a walk, such that missing numbers were more easily obtained. It got the adrenaline pumping though, I can tell you. It also meant that I got to watch the fast people coming in, which I don’t usually do. They’re usually finished and changed and looking as fresh as a daisy by the time I arrive. I got to see that they look equally as dreadful at the finish as I do. And you can’t but help be impressed at the pace of the front runners. It all seemed to go fairly well, and I had a good day out.

I also decided it was time to get back into routine and get myself back to the club. Turned out it wasn’t the gentle re-entry I’d hoped for, 1 km reps was on the agenda. Ouch. Jog out and warm up before running 4 loops of 1 km, with a few minutes rest between each. I’m always afraid I’ll set out too fast, so took it slightly easy on the first one, but thereafter I knew how far it was and knew I could push it a bit more each time. Times of 5:21, 5:11, 5:06 and 4:57 for the loop.  I’m pleased with that as a progression – got faster each time. Then a slow pootle back and a stretch. I know it’s doing me good, I can still feel it today!

And if I was in any need of some inspiration, I need only take a look at this link: here. Claire Lomas broke her back in a riding accident in 2007, and is paralysed from the chest down. With the help of a bionic suit she covered 26.2 miles on her own two feet, the first person to use the ReWalk suit to perform this feat. That it took 16 days is neither here nor there, it’s the level of determination displayed that means I will take my hat off to her. And will promptly get my lazy self off the sofa. I can run without a second thought, she has to think about every step she takes; there is no excuse.

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.

A week’s a long time in Politics

And even longer for me to be quiet in blogland. As you may have guessed from the silence, it has not been going terribly well.

Last week should have had 4 runs in it, I managed 1.

Tuesday I bailed, just feeling tired and run down. Wednesday I did get out and run. For the first 2 miles it was completely awful – just like I’d completely forgotten how to run. If it could ache, it did ache. Seemed to work its way up, starting with sore ankles, working through calves, knees and then thighs. After the 2 miles of sheer hell, it did get better, but hardly goes down in running as a great day out.

So why the blank for the rest of the week? Well I seem to have  damaged something. Somewhere in the very outside of my left leg, below the knee and heading in a line down towards the ankle there is something very not right. Thursday it hurt to walk, since then it’s been tender to the touch and most noticeable when I go up on tiptoes.

All in all, I’m not a happy bunny.

It feels remarkably similar to a previous injury I sustained. It’s going back a bit, but the line of pain from knee towards ankle reminds me very strongly of the pain I felt after I’d managed to fall off a pair of high heels into a drain returning from Ann’s 21st birthday party. It was next morning, I was sober at the time. Honest and I can produce witnesses to prove it. Didn’t go to the docs for a few days, but it turned out I’d sprained an ankle and torn the ligaments in the outside of my knee. Now, I don’t think I’ve done that, but it does make me slightly nervous that I’ve pulled something and that I shouldn’t have soldiered on the way I did. But, hey ho, nothing I can do about it now. I’ve rested up and it is all feeling a load better, so just need to get my lazy self into gear and get out for a run.

I did consider a run at the weekend, but I’m afraid that the better than expected weather and a trip to the garden centre intervened. I am now the proud owner of a plum tree and a number of other climbers that are now planted. The lawn got a good scarifying and then a mow – it looks really good with its slightly wonky stripes. Needs a good dose of moss killer, but I’ll wait for some rain before doing that.  I planted lettuce in the greenhouse, carrots & parsnips in the vege patch. So terribly productive, but not really anything to tick off on the running plan.

One other point of interest – I’ve passed £900 in sponsorship for the British Lung Foundation. Thanks to all those that have sponsored me, I appreciate the thought. If anyone wants to help push that towards the magic £1000 mark, the link’s here: http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/HelenAllton I promise to get out and run – but maybe tomorrow.

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!