Saturday strikes again.

And so begins my fortnight of not knowing what day it is. That’s my favourite things about being on holiday, it becomes a whole series of Saturdays, one after the other. Another great thing about an extended series of Saturdays is that we don’t need to set the alarm, and we don’t need to get up. However it seems my body clock won’t let me sleep in until noon any more (is this another sign of impending middle age? I can no longer sleep like a teenager?), so by about 8 am I had done all the laying in bed I could do. In which case I got up, leaving the husband in bed, making snuffly, snoring noises.

It wasn’t all that cold out by the time I set off, but there was a strong lazy wind blowing. A lazy wind sounds gentle, but it isn’t. It’s one of those winds that is too lazy to go round you that it feels like it is going right through you. Blimey! that was sharp and made a reasonable day feel very cold at times. I saw a post from a cycling friend this morning that he’d been blown off his bike and I can well believe it. The wind was gusty and several times nearly blew me to a standstill. Surprisingly (or maybe not) I didn’t see a single other person out today who was not ensconced in their nice warm car. No dog walkers, no runners, no cyclists – just me plodding across the countryside in the teeth of a howling gale. Some of this may be prone to exaggeration, but what ever the met office may say about it, it certainly felt like a howling gale.

Just the usual out to a smidge beyond the pylon and back again, at 3 minute run intervals. Just shy of 3 miles accomplished in 38 minutes. They felt quite good, and that is the third run at this ratio since being given the all clear to resume running. What with the indulgences of the next week or so, I will go out regularly (and you may hold me to that if I don’t) but I may stick at this ratio for a few more runs, just to keep things ticking over.

By the time I got home, he was just about up and thinking of breakfast, which made for good timing. Toast & coffee after a stretch and shower went down just nicely. The rest of the day is going to be a bit less fun. We’ve got his mother coming to stay over the holidays, so there’s some remedial tiding that urgently needs doing. Housework being my least favourite occupation, there is quite a lot of it that could do with doing. It won’t all get done. In my opinion there is so much more to life than being tidy. No one ever laid on their death bed regretting not having done more housework. And neither will I!

The answer is blowing in the wind

Tonight’s run was a little bit windy. Strange weather all round really, but it was the wind that captured the attention. Not really cold, it was quite humid, but really very blowy. It had not long rained; I drove home in rain, and there was a covering of cloud in varying shades of grey, but that was scudding along above the tree tops at a fair old rate, propelled by the wind.

It wasn’t blowing so hard that you couldn’t stand up, nor was it capriciously peeking round corners and caressing the skin. This was wind that meant business, it was getting from A to B and nothing, not even a short podgy runner, was going to get in its way. So the question that I pondered tonight was why, when running an out-and-back route, does it seem to be a head wind more than half the time? My current outing is approximately an backwards L shape, where I start at the bottom tip of the horizontal, run 0.6 miles, turn to the left by about 90 degrees and run at least 0.7 miles before turning and retracing my steps. So what strange weather phenomenon causes at least 3 of these legs to feel like a headwind? All I can think is that I register a head wind most noticeably on my face, I don’t register a tail wind on the back of my head in anything like the same manner. A tail wind would have to be significantly harder to be noticed to the same degree. Similarly, a cross wind may register as a head wind because the sensor faces front. I’m not going to claim that I clearly run fast enough to create a head wind in the manner of a speeding bullet. I’d like to, but that would be exaggerating.

All of which was going through my head as I ran out and back into various degrees of wind. Today was the first run at my next step up in run ratio – a move to 5 minutes run for every minutes walked. This is getting serious, the entire outing was accomplished in only 6 run segments; I forewent the last 15 seconds of walking I would have been allowed and ran into the end of the road. It wasn’t easy, I was checking the watch several times in each run section to see how far I’d gone – never quite as long as I thought I had is the generic answer. And the walk breaks were most welcome and not quite long enough to be entirely comfortable and rested by the time the minutes was up. But having said all of that, it wasn’t awful. I didn’t feel I was about to expire and I didn’t feel the need to add any extra walks. Another step in the right direction, even if that was into a head wind.

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!

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…

That’s better!

After last week’s quite dreadful long run, this week had “just” 13 scheduled. After debating which route to take, I decided to round that up to 14. There is a logical reason for this, but, in essence, it’s because I’m turning into my Granny. As a child, my Granny had a habit of always using a toilet if we were out for the day “just in case”. I’m not sure she could cope with the concept of passing a toilet and not making use of it “just in case”. I used to mock this, but I am beginning to see this trait appearing. I’ve started planning routes that pass a toilet “just in case”! And that was the reason for 14 miles over the scheduled 13. The route for 14 miles takes me down the railway path the the visitor centre & back – with a handy toilet and tap at the turn point.

Anyway, enough psychology for one day, and onto the run. My plea for a wind free day has, thus far, been ignored. It wasn’t that fierce, steady wind we’ve had recently; it was more gusty & swirly. This meant that it wasn’t a slog the entire way – although it did cut across hard on the more exposed spots. After last week, I’d decided I was just going to run and feel comfortable, and worry about pace later. As it turned out I had no need to worry about pace at all.

Facts & Figures:
Distance – 14.25
Time – 2:53:29
Average Pace – 12:10 

Which is well within the band of pace I should be hitting for this run type, so a much better performance than last week. Out was marginally slower than back, but not a lot in it, 3 minutes in 7 miles isn’t a large margin. Feeling much better about this running lark again!

Let the wind blow high, let the wind blow low

And it has most certainly be blowing the last few days! I’d love to know why any windy run seems to have about 75% headwind, and never a nice tail wind? What is going on there? Anyway, enough complaining: it has been windy and I’ve run 3 times in it, with varying degrees of success.

Tuesday was club night, and we had hill sprints. After a warmup, which didn’t quite achieve what it set out too – bits of me stayed cold all night – we began the hills.  These turned out to be across the park, which wasn’t too bad, but into a 45 degree headwind – I seemed to spend the entire time running with a lean to the left in order to keep going straight up the hill!

Wednesday found me, slightly unusually, at home. So that meant laps of town. Seeing as the weather was even worse than Tuesday – with a sprinkling of freezing cold rain to add to the general chill and cutting wind, I decided to switch the 8 easy with the 5 tempo. It didn’t turn out to be either 5 or a tempo run. First mile was fast for a warmup, but it was cold. There was then little differential between that and the supposedly faster section. I was either running up hill, or into the wind, or both (see the moan about headwinds, above) and the pace was a bit low. I was going to run one more lap of the estate, but 4 miles came up at the end of our road and I decided to call it quits then. brrr. That was distinctly not nice!

Thursday meant I had 8 to do, and these were no problem. I won’t go as far as to say the wind had died, but it had eased. Still cold out, but at least without the wind cutting through it didn’t feel quite as cold. The sky was clear, so the temperature was actually lower, but it was a far more pleasant experience. I did worry about what was about to happen to my bare lower legs when I saw a gritter in action, but, fortunately, it wasn’t spewing grit about and I escaped without being bombarded with salt. 

Facts & Figures: Tues/Wed/Thurs
Distance – 5.4/4.0/8.6
Time – 1:24:07/42:57/1:42:25
Pace – 15:35/10:46/11:55

So the miles got done, although at times the pace was a bit iffy. Thursday’s run by far the best. Fingers crossed for some lighter winds soon.

I may be a tinsy bit mad

There are days when I question my sanity – and today may just be one of them.

It’s blowing a hooley out there, and a cold front’s gone over, meaning the car thermometer is reading all of 3 degrees. And I head out to go running? Yes!

Boy! was it cold out there! Full length everything tonight, hat, gloves, gillet, the works. And we did sprints. Mixed group, my usual group and the beginner’s group below – which I’m not sure really worked. But we hurtled down the hill, then we hurtled up the hill, then we puffed & panted a bit & came home nice & early.

Facts & Figures:
Distance – 4.06 miles
Time – 54:44
Average Pace – 13:29

And we’ll swiftly move on.

One cool t-shirt!


This link was forwarded to me today, and I want one!

Aren’t they cool? Based on the wartime slogan of “Keep calm and carry on” that has recently been adopted to every situation. The thing about this one being that to keep calm it really does help to go for a run! Sorely tempted to treat myself, even though the T-shirt drawer is already full to overflowing.

Although it is almost time for Santa to pay a visit, maybe he can sneak one in his sack for me???


That’s the first run on the training plan done & dusted.

Only it wasn’t really.

The plan I’m following has 4 runs a week, long on Sunday, then shorter runs on Tuesday, Wednesday & Thursday. The plan stated “Easy 5” for Tuesday. (Easy being a pace, not necessarily a feeling! – In my case it ought to be about 12:00 min/miles).  Tuesday also being club night, and usually speed work, it may not always reach the necessary distance or speed, but I will run.

It was raining cats & dogs on the way home from work, and I seriously did doubt my sanity in going out running, but the rain had passed over by the time we started, leaving it not too cold but with a very cold wind. As fate would have it, we were running straight into the wind for what felt like most of the night!

Tonight’s torture session was 150 m sprints. Warmed up the long way round to the park, then had to jog from bench to railings, sprint to the next railing & jog to the bench, turn, repeat many many times. Ouch. I hate these sessions while I’m doing them, but I know that it’s exactly this sort of session that got me running flat out at the end of the half – and a spanking new PB to boot. I’m not sure if some of the others go out too fast, or if I get faster, but I seem to start the session trailing towards the rear, but finish them comfortably mid table. The a slow (and it was slow in my case) jog back to the school and stretching.

Facts & Figures:
Should have been – 5 miles easy (12:00 min/miles)
Actual Distance – 5.51 miles
Time – 1:11:10 (although we’d started stretching by the time I stopped the Garmin, so probably minus a minute or so)
Average Pace – 12:56 min/miles.

So I got the miles in, but some of them were distinctly faster than “easy” pace, and some (especially the break between sets) at a much much slower. A speed session with the club is always going to struggle to match the training run specified by the plan, but I know these sessions do me some good (even if I hate them at the time). I think it best to accept that this run might be a bit off target, but that at least I’m out and running.