Just a run to the library

Today I wanted to get out for a run when I got home, but I also had 2 library books to return. So, thinks me, why not run to the library, return the books and then run home again. I found the books to return and located a rucksack to put them in. It was possibly a rather large backpack for the size of the books it had to contain, but I decided I didn’t want to run holding a bag in one hand. I’ve not tried running with a backpack before , but thought it had to be worth a go. It was gone 5 by the time I got out, so I went for the full night time running gear – bright outfit and head torch. The torch did decide to work this time, so I could at least see where I was going – even if I had to wait for streetlights to see the Garmin – I never can remember which button turns the backlight on! Just the long way into town, which is downhill all the way. I was not far from the centre of town when the 10 minutes was up, but I decided that as I would have a longer break than just 1 minute (I know the library self service is quick, but it’s not usually that quick – and certainly isn’t when one of the titles refuses to scan and needs to be taken to the desk to be checked back in) I’d run all the way to the library. 13 minutes running, albeit gravity assisted, makes this the longest run stint since I started back again.

I found that 3 books I’d had reservations on were ready to collect, so I now have Sarah Waters’ “Fingersmith” on CD (for listening to in the car), Hannah Kent’s “Burial Rites” and Horace Walpole’s “Castle of Otranto” to entertain me for a bit. The last of these is an edition published in the 1930s and has some relics of past library systems inside. I do love older books, they have so much atmosphere about them, and that’s before you get to read the story they contain. These were stowed in the rucksack, and I headed back home.

There are advantages to living on top of a hill. If the river that flows through town should ever flood, I know that most of the shire will be under water before we are. We get the best of the sun being at the top of the hill. The downside is that it means I have to run home back up hill. urrgh. I made it 7 minutes before I hit the steep section and allowed myself a minute walk. I did then get going again and run home, but I certainly need to get some hills back in the legs – they’re just too much like hard work at present.

Practically, combining the library and the run made sense, but it wasn’t a comfortable experience. Running while wearing a backpack felt really weird. I don’t know if that is related to the fact that the bag was mostly empty, so the books bounced about inside it; or if I move my upper body too much, and the bag is bounding about on my shoulders. I felt I wanted to tighten it further, but it wouldn’t go. I don;t know if a smaller bag would give less sensation of movement, or if having the straps across the body, rather than round the arms, might make it feel more secure. Either way, I’m not sure I want to try that on a regular basis, it was just very very odd. Just 2.15 miles run, but it was a mid week run and I’ve not been getting them in as often as I’d like. Need to keep the discipline up and make the time to run.

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.

Being blown away

Crikey! That was hard work. But I’m back, 15 mile race completed successfully.

First surprise came when I get dressed this morning. The capris I was going to wear were the same one’s I’d worn on last week’s long run. As i was putting them on, I discovered something in the back pocket. on closer inspection, it was a gel pack. I took 4 with me last week, but only had 3, this must have been the spare one, which has since been through the washing machine and been dried in the airing cupboard! It looked a bit battered, but intact, so I decided I may as well take it and use it today.

The weather forecast was not promising. not cold and no rain predicted, but very windy. 20+ mph is gale force. Yikes!!

The weather forecast looked blowy.

That leaves me with a clothing dilemma, you don’t want to overheat, but windy conditions do make you cooler quite quickly. I opted for long sleeves under my club vest. The legs don’t notice temperature quite so much, so capris as usual. Packed up hat, garmin, gels, milkshake for after, pre and post run bananas and all the usual paraphernalia for a race. Pinned the number to the club vest and set off.

Had arranged a lift with two other ladies from the club, so had to be ready to collect at the services just round the corner for 9 am. A later start than sometimes, for an 11 am race start.  Arrived OK, and were directed to pack in a rather lumpy bumpy field.It was blowing quite decidedly, so we quickly made our way to race HQ and met up with the rest of the club. This race has the unusual routine of giving out race shirts before the race. It does mean that I got a size that fits, rather than the tents that are left at the end. Everything got stowed in then bag, warm layers stripped off and ready for the rather long walk to the start.

I headed for the back of the pack, in order to not get carried away too early. After discussing how to approach this, the plan was to run the first 5 miles easy, then pick up to marathon pace for the next 10. So easy to say, but how very difficult to actually do…

Gun went off and we headed for the start line. As usually, I got that first half mile far too fast – something about the start of a race that completely throws me. So I made a conscious effort to slow down. It was quite breezy, but it wasn’t exactly a headwind at this stage. It became a full on head wind when we turned the corner. Blimy! It was hard going! The road wound through a small village, then headed up hill to the radio transmitter. It was at this point that I rapidly began to loose the ability to run to pace. It was just so very difficult to keep going at the required pace uphill and into a very stiff headwind. I was amused to hear the marshal at the top say “not far to go now” I shot him a surprised look and he corrected himself, “to the top of this hill”. Ok, I will let him off that extra description, but I’d barely gone 2 miles! The next stretch was downhill and it was a remarkable experience. I lean forward going down hill, trying to relax and let gravity help me out here. Long strides, arms flapping – I must look bizarre in the extreme. With the strong headwind, it was easy to lean even further forward than usual, and it felt remarkably like flying. I didn’t land with a bump at the bottom, but this rather fast patch, along with the slow one before it, mucked up the idea of running to pace. I felt I was continually trying to run faster on the difficult bits and not taking advantage of the easy bits. I won’t say I stopped looking at the watch, but I did worry less about it. 

See: they've marked the hills just to make them obvious!

After the downhill, we turned a corner, such that the wind was now marginally following wind, then up another hill – not quite as steep this time and onto a plateau. Turned another corner and it was magic – flat, and a really strong tail wind. Apart from the annoyance of the ponytail whipping round and trying to get in my mouth, this was quite fun. About 4 miles I had a gel and water station, and decided that I was just going to pick the pace up and aim for something about 11 minute miles, where I could and accept that some of the stretches would be slower. Went OK until around 6 miles, when there was a lovely long, shallow downhill, followed by the corresponding up hill. At the top of this, I was at about 7 miles, the leader came past. Blimy! He was going some, 1:16 ish and he had ~ 0.5 mile left. I applauded politely, while gritting my teeth. The marshal ahead said that I musty be in second place, seeing I was following the leader. How nice to dream of such a thing. He did break the course record, so good going.

Lap 1 down, and lap 2 commenced. Gel again at 8 miles, just to keep the energy levels up. I suspect it’s probably a mental boost, but they do help me keep going. The route hadn’t changed any, although it was, if anything, even harder to get up the steep hill. I passed Sue & Heather through the village at the bottom, and emerged round a bend into a phenomenal headwind. You know how cartoon characters sometimes run, head down, into a wall/obstacle – the legs keep turning, but the body goes nowhere? It felt an awful lot like that as I headed up the hill. Head down, like way down, trying to head butt my way through the wind and up the hill. The marshal at the top remembered me from the previous lap and promised me I didn’t have to run that hill again. Downhill was exhilarating again though.

One of the nice things about having a slow race start is that you catch people and pass them. This is always good for the competitive spirit. Going up the next hill, I passed Rob, who was trying to run to a heart rate, which the uphills certainly weren’t helping. Passed another runner towards the water station, then a group of girls strung out across the road (grrr – keep left signs were there for a reason) and turned the corner onto the fast section. I’d kept going at a reasonable pace. I won’t say it was really comfortable, but neither was it exhausting. Final gel at 12 miles (I did debate this one’s usefulness, but I figured I need to get into the habit of having them, so I may as well). Then past 13 miles, and down the last hill. 14 miles at the bottom and it was half a mile up hill, then turn the last corner and half a mile flat in to the finish.

As I turned the final corner there were 2 ladies from Herts AC ahead. That little competitive spirit got the better of me and I picked the pace up a bit. after all, only half a mile to go, what’s to loose? With barely 200 yards left, I snuck past them on the inside and approached the final turn to the finish line – and heard the rest of the club start shouting me to the finish. I do love this about them. Some of them must have finished over an hour before me, but there they all were, shouting, clapping and generally encouraging me into that last sprinty flourish at the end. They also seem to be the only club that consistently do this – and I do appreciate every last ounce of encouragement.

Crossed the line in a quite pleasing 2:46:30 (or so). No, it didn’t go exactly to plan, as the splits show. But I think that elevation profile looks pretty tough too!. You can see the fast spikes line up nicely with the down hills.

The stats don’t lie

Facts & Figures:
Distance – 14.94 miles (Under reading again – must be it’s habit)
Time – 2:46:33 (but I did turn it off after the finish line)
Average pace – 11:07. (oooops, that was a bit quick)

Finished an headed back into the HQ to collect my bag, and get some clothes on. it was cool out and the body temperature can dip badly after a long run, so some extra warmth is essential. Then the post race milkshake and banana were consumed. Again, it helps keep the body warm and helps recovery. And I like chocolate milkshake. Went back to the finish and the last 3 of the club were all seen in safely. We all congregated, and then set off back home. Sitting in the car I managed to set a bit, such that the walk from the roundabout home was more of a waddle initially, but the legs did remember how to function eventually. After some toast, and a bath I’m feeling human again. Next run is Tuesday, club night. If I can’t manage the speed session, I did this too hard – there’s one way to find out…

It’s cold out side

After a few days of beautiful winter weather, it was supposed to turn milder on Monday. I can report that it didn’t! Tuesday morning my car thermometer was reading -3C. That’s not mild, not in my book!. Tuesday night it was still cold, hovering at the 0 to 1 degrees mark. Not exactly toasty. But it was club night, so I wrapped up in 2 layers and my sleeveless windproof, gloves and hat and set off.

100 m efforts tonight – I hesitate to call them sprints, not at the speed I run at! Warmed up at a pretty fast pace over the river to the industrial estate on the other side. Fairly recently built, so good surface and well lit. All to the good. Someone’s been out with a measuring wheel and a can of spray paint, as there are 6 markers, each indicating 100 m further along. It’s uphill for the first 200 m, and this is where we concentrated ourselves. Started at 0 and ran 3 lots of 100 m efforts up hill, recover down, then walk to 1 and repeat. Final set were from 2 back to 0 for the effort and recover the other way. All good fun, and the walking to different start points allowed us to recover between sets, but stopped us standing about getting cold.

Returned to base the long way round, at which point the benefit of good paving became apparent when one of the group caught their foot on a lip in the pavement and went down. Sore hands, grazed knee and a bit of dented pride, but nothing severe. A reminder of the importance of watching where the feet go occasionally. The longer run back to base took me to 5 miles for the night. Finished up plenty warm enough, despite the frost starting to form.

Why is this blog post is like a bus…

… because you wait for ages, then 3 (runs) come along at once.

Ok, Not that funny, I’ll get my coat. But before I leave, I do have 3 runs to report. What with life and work getting in the way, I’ve run more than written this week.

Tuesday’s club night. And it was hills. urgh. I appreciate that these sessions are part of the reason why I’ve been able to run up my nightmare hill, but I can’t say that my heart leaps when I see “Hill work” on the training schedule. It was a bit miserable out, slightly drizzly, but not actually very cold. Long sleeves weather, but not multiple layers. We started sprinting down the hill & recovering up. hmm. The words “recover” and “up” don’t go together well. Then sprint up & recover down. The conjunction of “sprint” and “up” isn’t a good one either. And so it went on. No, I didn’t enjoy it. Made worse by one of the coaches who (fortunately) only occasionally coaches our group.  I suspect he was a PE teacher in a past life, I’m not sure if it’s what he says, or the way he says it, but I get terrible flash backs to school PE sessions. Something about him really gets my goat. I end up remembering exactly why I hated all organised sport and I long to give him an almighty thwacking. I realise that’s bad of me but he gets right up my nose!

Forgot to take Garmin, so have no idea how far we went, or how fast, but it did hurt, so has no doubt done me some good – even if my blood pressure ends up distinctly higher than it ought to be.

I’m trying to get into the habit of 3 runs on consecutive days, in preparation for starting marathon training at the end of this month. So that leads neatly into Wednesday’s run. Just a run, aiming to not be too fast, just to go out and get some miles in the legs. The first week of the plan has 5, 6, 5 as the three mid-week runs, so I went out for 6. Duly accomplished.

Facts & Figures:
Distance – 6.0 miles
Time – 1:10:08
Average pace – 11:42 min/miles

And then, with a certain amount of extra willpower, we come to thursday. I was feeling the previous two day’s runs in the legs by now, so it wasn’t fast and it wasn’t pretty, but it was done. Forgot Garmin (again), so you’ll have to take my word for 3.75 (ish) miles and 45 minutes.

I will admit that on Friday I was feeling it. But mission accomplished.

Sunday, Sunday

A bit of a disjointed day. Had to collect the husband from the station this morning , meaning I didn’t head out the door until midday. Fueled by toast for breakfast and a post gardening smackerel of Millionaire’s Shortbread. Utterly yummy, but possibly not the best pre-run fuel I’ve ever seen!

Was on a bit of a tight schedule, as I’d put a casserole in the oven before I set out,  meaning I had to run 10 miles, stretch, shower, dress and be ready to eat in 3 hours. Possibly because I was aware of the schedule, I was just pushing on a little. Not trying to break any records, but keeping the pace going nicely.

Facts & Figures:
Distance – 10.0 miles
Time – 1:55:27
Average pace – 11:33 min/miles.

It was quite nice out, sunny in spells and not too breezy. Short sleeves were certainly the way to go. The walkers were out in force, all tucked up in their coats, hats, gloves and boots. I love the slightly strange looks I get as I pass by – I suspect they think I should be sectioned.

I managed to run up my nightmare hill again. Again, not fast, but it was at a run. I was slowed a fraction by the state of the next two fields. The recent rain made the soil adhere to my shoes – those nice cut-outs that are supposed to improve rebound from the road also act as really good mud attractors! Got to the end of the second field and had to stop to shake most of the county from my feet.

I got home to be greeted by the smell of a casserole cooking, which was lovely and welcoming. I’m now happily fed and would be set for a snooze – only  I’ve got to go to a Fireworks party. Well I suppose the bangs will wake me up!

Running up that hill

After a monster headache that started Thursday afternoon and only subsided Saturday, I’ve not been out since Tuesday. But the weekend means it’s Long Slow Run (LSR) time. If I had been organised, I’d have made the most of the extra hour to run before the Indian GP started at 9:30 (GMT). But it didn’t quite work out like that and we stayed in bed dozing until too late for that to be an option. So I popped a load of washing on the line, had breakfast, watched the GP and cleared the ironing pile – how’s that for productive!

After the GP, I changed and headed out for a run. After last week’s 14 mile, this week was a more sensible 10 miles. Beanie hat and long sleeves, as it was quite breezy. Overcast the entire time, with that humid, rain threatening sensation in the air. It almost rained in the last few miles – not real rain, more water in the wind, but enough that I was very pleased I’d got the washing in before I left!

Headed out at a fairly steady pace, settling into something a bit slower than 12:00 min/miles. Stayed between 12 and 12:30 for the entire run, with the exception of my monster hill. It was a bit slippy underfoot in places, with the clay soil that comprises most of the locality starting to get into that slick, sticky mud state that is such fun to try and run through (NOT!) My nice pink and white trainers are certainly no longer a bright white.

At one point I run from the edge of the sailing club lake, across a field and a road, then up a monster hill, before heading across yet another field. That section is 0.75 miles, but goes up almost 40 meters, most of which is in that one hill section. Killer hill. Today I actually ran up it for the first time. I’ve always resorted to walking between telegraph poles 2 and 3, which is the steepest bit. OK, so the pace over that section dropped to 13 min/miles, but I didn’t actually walk. Nearly did me in, but that’s a different story!

From there it’s mostly road and fairly level. I had an eye on the watch and worked out that if I picked the pace up I could do the 10 miles in 2 hours. So I made a concerted effort to pick up the pace. Last 2.8 miles were under 11: min/miles, with the last half mile seeing the pace in the 9:s. I ran towards the roundabout praying that traffic would be clear, as standing waiting for a space to cross would ruin any chance. Fortunately, one lane was clear, and there was a convenient gap at the second; so no need to stop, nor any risk of being squashed.

Facts & Figures:
Distance – 10.0 miles
Time – 1:59:14
Average Pace – 11:55 min/miles

Which is pleasing. I think that’s the first time I’ve run 10 miles in under 2 hours (except in a race scenario) And it felt good to find that pace at the end. I could just do with a week that actually has some training in it now, after a few disjointed weeks. Fingers crossed.

I’ve got it bad!

The running bug, that is.

Talking to the husband today and he’s off for a weekend’s fun and jollity (and a sunday morning headache, if the evening goes true to form) next month. So what do I start doing? Plot a nice girly weekend in? No. I start looking for a race. Oh dear, that’s serious. Sits 3 weeks before a half, so I’m thinking 10 k…

This weekend’s running can be described with a big, fat 0. None, not a footstep. But, given the unseasonably HOT weather, I don’t feel too bad for that. The calendar says it’s October and should be autumn – looks more like August out there. I did a reasonable amount of walking on Saturday, on a day out in Bath – which has hills, in case you han’t noticed (I won’t be putting the Bath half on the “to-do” list!). I had thought about heading out this morning, but got distracted by the Ireland v Italy rugby match, and the first of 6 loads of laundry I’ve got dried on the line today. And then it was Touring cars, then lunch and now it’s nearly time to do the roast potatoes, and I’ve still not run. There’s always tomorrow.

And I’d like to formally welcome my family to reading my blog. The fact that some people might read this was one of the things that had exercised my mind before I started writing this. I am writing this as a means to vent my running enthusiasm without boring all my non-running friends. I also want to be able to look back on this as my voyage to my marathon. You, dear reader, have stumbled in (possibly by mistake) and want to be diverted or entertained; or to find someone suffering the same trials as yourself, or to laugh at my novice mistakes. Whoever you are, I cannot know you. Obviously some of my readers will be people I know; those I’ve directed to the site might be kind enough to read a page or two. But it can seriously cramp your style, knowing that your aged rellies are reading in on your exploits. >;-) Where’s that edit pen?