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Thursday, 30 August 2012

Lost in Dorset

Popped down to the parent’s house in Dorset for a relaxing weekend and decided to take advantage of the lovely hills and lanes to get a run in. It was only supposed to be 6 or 7 miles, but my Dad got a bit enthusiastic about driving me to a good destination (he obviously wanted an hour or so of peace) and dropped me off about 13 miles from home.

It was a really nice idea, but as he knows the lanes and the area so well he drove with a commentary, saying things like “Of course you could always add in 2 miles by going left back there and running around there ...” and “You don’t have to go this way at all, you could cut off this bit by running up that lane, left at the end, past the tree shaped like a chimney...” and such helpful and highly confusing comments. As a result, I got dropped somewhere in a maze of lanes with a vague idea that my first couple of markers were a right into a lane, a left then immediate left into an almost identical lane and then I would pass a post box at some point. Hmmm ... a good start to ‘Operation Get-Completely-Lost’.

To my credit, I managed to follow the route back fairly well. Not a mean task considering my route took place on lanes with almost uniformly green and 12 foot high hedges. Forget all this quaint hawthorne hedge and patchwork fields stuff, these were the summer hedges hiding mad pigeons and roaring tractors and with nettles growing out of them which I had to press myself into every time a car driver came roaring around the bend. It was a nice run nevertheless, although very warm and that coupled with the hills meant I wished I’d brought a bottle of water.

I stopped briefly while passing the pub in Stourton Caundle to let an elderly Nissan driver attempt a parallel park outside the pub. He didn’t seem to realise he would be blocking the pub entrance or notice that he was attempting to mow down a runner so I thought I’d stop and do my part for Help the Aged by allowing him to go first.

Over the next couple of miles I regretted my decision not to stop for a drink as it got hotter and hotter and the next 2 villages didn’t have a local pub. Focusing all my attention on the Gainsborough Public House in the next village and dreaming of my nice icy cold coke, I missed a turning which meant a 2 mile detour and U-turn ... and the cold drink being put back by another 18 minutes or so. Sod.

Got a *too late* call from my Dad telling me I’d missed my turn. Worryingly all of my family seem to have developed stalker tendencies since the advent of ‘Find My friends’ app on the iPhone. I told him I had worked it out and was on my way to the pub. Dad perked up considerably and told me he could leave the BBQ in the capable hands of my Mum and he would join me for a half a cider at the pub.

Needless to say, I got to the pub, cold drinks were enjoyed and the last 2 miles of the run were abandoned for a lift home. One day I may develop will power and lose the need to stop at pubs during long runs for a nice cold coke ... well. Stranger things have happened.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Bad Habit #1 - Stopping at Pubs

I’ve developed a worrying habit of stopping at pubs halfway through my long runs for a coke. I know it isn’t as though I’m stopping for a vodka and tonic (lots of ice and a slice of lemon, please) but the point is that I’m stopping.

The whole point of a long run is that it is a long ... run. Not two short runs with a coca-cola in between. The point is to get used to running for a couple of hours – or longer without stopping and to make sure my  legs get used to keeping going. Otherwise I’ll have to stop halfway through Liverpool marathon, hop over the barriers, find a suitable drinking establishment, order coke, drink said beverage and re-join the marathon. I’m pretty sure that sort of thing is frowned upon.

Although my Twitter running buddy was fairly enthusiastic about it.

Maybe I'll start a new running revolution ...

An Unscheduled Break

I tend to run in every lunch break as 1) it’s easier to fit it in at lunchtime with my crazy evening schedule  2) it stops me eating sweets and going to the pub for lunch 3) it means the run is done for the day and I can be smug for the rest of the afternoon.

I went to get changed in the work changing room for my lunchtime run. I got in there and picked up my kit ... and then put it down again.

I didn't feel Like a run today. I mean I REALLY didn’t feel like a run and that's not like me. Sometimes I have to remind myself how nice it will feel when I’m outside and running but I rarely struggle to get out there.

But I turned around and went to the pub for a coke and some peanuts instead and had a rest day.

Sometimes you've just got to listen to your body and I was being told firmly that running was NOT a good idea. I didn’t have any particular niggles but I Love running and I don't want it to turn into a chore or something that I have to force myself to do.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Women’s Running magazine – The Great Debate

Wow! So yesterday was an eye opener!

I went to take part in the Great Debate which is about a hot topic chosen every month by Women’s Running magazine and you can volunteer to take part and chat to other runners about the topic of the month!

It was in Central London so a 1.5hr drive and 3 different trains were required to get there but it was in a good location – a decent pub! – and the other ladies were great so it was worth the hassle!

When Claire from Women’s Running magazine put the dictaphone on the table, there was silence. No one wanted to be the first person to speak. All of a sudden, the chit chat disappeared, but then Helen broke the silence and we all got caught up in each other’s stories. It was nice. All of the nervousness disappeared and we all got chatting about the subject that interested us ... our running – why we do it, how we do it and what and where we’re planning to run!

Some of the stories were sad,  some were painful and others were amazing and hopeful but all of the stories were inspiring.

The ladies were eleoquent, interesting and funny and it will be good to stay in contact on Twitter and Facebook and follow how their running is going although I’m a little concerned that I’m going to be the donut of the group. I’m fully expecting my sole contribution to be "I like running, me". Meh.

Women's Running Magazine link

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Parkrun - a day of 1sts ...

Had an early start after my race last night as I was taking a few friends for their first taste of parkrun. Very exciting, although thanks to a late bedtime last night my eyes weren’t fully open until the M6! However, I wore my bright pink compression socks just so they could find me and fish me out of the hedge when I fell asleep on the course and got trampled by the other 300 enthusiastic parkrunners!

Had a wander around the Memorial Park when we got there and someone asked me about how effective the compression socks were. Not sure how effecive they are but I don’t tend to get achy legs after a long run if I have a cold bath and pop some compression gear on.

Sphinx AC were recruiting new members at the parkrun. Had a bit of a chat with a few members and they seem a nice, friendly group and the membership is a LOT cheaper than I currently pay at Rugby & Northampton. Might pop down towards the end of my R&N membership and see how I get on. Lots of blue and gold vests there today.

The parkrun started off and there were lots of people in front of me who weren’t quite sure where they should be. The start is quite narrow and of course everyone is chasing a PB and people don’t want to get stuck in the bottlenecks between the parkbenches and the flowerbeds. It was chaos as different people vied for the front and slower runners got caught up between prams and people trying to overtake them. I stayed back and kept my pace as steady as possible – no point getting run down by a parent with crazed eyes and a running buggy.

The first lap flew by and it felt quite comfortable. When I first started parkrun, just under 2 years ago, I used to tell myself „Just get through this. You don’t have to do it next week if you don’t want to. In fact, you never have to parkrun again after this. Just don’t drop out!“ Of course I would always go back to parkrun the next week. It still hurts every week, of course, but now I know that the hurt is only temporary. And completely overshadowed by a new PB.

I finished the run with a sprint finish with a chap and I beat him by a whisker, but forgot to stop my Garmin so absolutely no idea whether it was a PB or how I’d done! Went and got my chip scanned and went to clap the others in. Tom was first, then Vicky and I went to catch up with Ali. She was doing SO well and running at a steady pace up the final hill. She overtook another runner on the final straight and made it through the funnel to applause. She was overcome. She had run so many miles and started running for her Dad and now she had done it. She had completed her first race.

We had a coffee afterwards and chilled out in the sunshine. We were in no hurry, just soaking up the sun and enjoying the glow of a job – run – well done. I was surprised when the results came in - I was 1st woman and with a new Coventry parkrun PB. A good run.

The Beacon Hill Trail Run - Woodhouse Eaves near Loughborough

This is a gorgeous hilly run set in a country park and winding around the hills. I’m sure there must be a flat part to the run somewhere, but try as I might I can’t remember any flat sections at all! It’s all steep uphills and windy paths and glorious fast downhills!

The run is set mainly in woods although you come out of these on the top of the hill by the trig point and get an amazing view across Leicestershire. Although after the first mile being entirely uphill, I wasn’t really in that much of an appreciative state of mind at the time. The trails are lovely sandy paths with some uneven patches but this adds to the fun and it’s the whole point of running trails. If you want flat and boring and predictable stick to roads!

The carpark was busy but there were loads of spaces although the amount of club vests and club stickers on cars was a bit daunting. I had visions of trailing in at the back end of the race to find out that the coffee van (yes there was one but £2.50 a cup!) had run out, but it was pretty friendly and I had a few minutes to chill out with my sleeping toddler and Simon before the run and enjoy the gorgeous evening.

This run is open to canicrossers too and all the dogs started at the front of the pack and were raring to go! The dogs were howling and barking and it sounded like werewolves were being fed! I decided that they should have started the dogs at the back of the runners as the thought of that lot behind me would definitely make me run faster!

The first mile was ALL uphill. It was a gorgeous trail under tall trees and through patches of dappled evening sunlight but the trail was quite damaged and you needed to watch your step. It got progressively steeper and steeper and at one point even before the one mile mark, I was tempted to walk ... although not THAT tempted. I reminded myself that if I were feeling like this then the other people would be too and bizarrely the thought of shared misery helped me push through. I know. What happened to runner’s cameraderie?

There were people watching and cheering us on just before the final push to the top and then out of the trees and the first site of the Old Man of The Hill – the unusual rock formation on the top of Beacon Hill which looks like an old man and then the views opened up and you could see for miles!

The 2nd mile was ALL downhill which was a lovely respite from the uphill push although my legs weren’t terribly impressed with the idea of a fast run to try and make up the time from the slow up hill climb. I tried to relax myself and my arms and shoulder on my outward breaths as suggested by one of the chaps at my running club and it helped. Flew down the 2nd mile but was overtaken by a few tall runners with longer legs than me, I’d overtaken on the uphill.  One day I will  grow an extra half an inch reach the heady heights of 5“4 ...

Didn’t stop for a drink at the water station, but there were quite a few spectators cheering us on there which was lovely.  The third mile flew past in gentle up and downhills, but I was counting down towards the end of the 4th mile as I knew the last mile was all downhill! The last uphill between an avenue of trees was steep and hard but I could see runners going downhill past the wall on the other side and knew that that was the start of the last long downhill and fast stretch to the end.

Flew down the last hill but my legs were not impressed witha  mile of sprinting ... my short legs just aren’t made to go that fast! Finished with a final sprint with a burst of energy from somewhere and overtook 2 chaps in front of me and then slowed down at the finish flags ... which were 15 metres in front of the finish! Whoops!

As I came past the finish line, I was told I was the 2nd woman home too! What a lovely finish to a lovely run! And totally unexpected.  And best of all, a great big cup of coffee top finish off a really good run.
Beacon Hill Trail Run
The awesome pics by Runner Photos

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Stupid zombies. Stupid bogs. Grr. Arg.

Running with zombies again today but had a few problems. First of all the app seems to have developed a bit of a bug. The music no longer dips in volume when the ‚transmissions‘ come in so you can’t hear them properly. Also every time there was a ‚transmission‘, it restarted the playlist so I had Jeff Bukley’s Hallelujah and Lola by the Kinks so I was alternately depressed and romanced 4 times.

To top it all off, the path I’d chosen today was ankle deep in mud in places and the rest of the path was slippery so not the best option for intervals. Although it was probably entertaining to watch as I had several leg-spinning Roadrunner type moments. Still ... not good for avoiding zombies. As  a result I got caught by the zombies TWICE breaking my clean and shiny record of not being eaten. Never mind ... I would have tasted of thick black marsh mud anyway.

Where I got caught by the zombies

My poor shoes!

Mud Doesn't Count!

Nice gentle run yesterday – with about 30% - 50% trail running. I would have been quite happy to keep running through the fields and trails but without the incentive of the promised pub stop halfway through the route, I didn’t think the running buddies would have been terribly impressed!

The paths were a bit muddy but mainly dry and no-one lost a trainer to the mud tonight which is one better than we did last time. The slugs and snails were also hiding so I didn’t have to hop about avoiding them or else feel like an invertebrate mass murderer with alternate footfaulls going „squish“ and „crunch“.

One of the girls headed off before the halfway point as she had a bit of tightness behind her knee and wanted to rest it before the parktun on Saturday so WolfRunner and me headed up the hills to get to the pub at the top. It was nice to sit down but refiills of fizzy drinks probably weren’t the best option to run after and I was alternately burping and trying not to fart all the way back down the hills. I would say I was trying to remain ladylike but quite frankly I was dressed in lycra and slightly concerned that my capri trousers would blow up like a balloon and take off.

Made it home just before the rain and with dry trainers for the first time in a while. Meh ... mud doesn’t count.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

English weather and running don't mix

I’m not sure English weather and running mix. Went out for a quick trot with a friend and the heavens opened. The gutters were overflowing, there was water pouring out of drives onto the pavements and I’m pretty sure my makeup was turning me into a parody of Alice Cooper.

I don’t think I’ve been that wet on a run since I had to do the river swims for Tough Mudder.

My friend was laughing at me because my trainers squelching made me sound like I had ducks on my feet and I was laughing at her because her trainers squalching made her sound like she was walking like E.T.

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Zombies and Mud

Had a 5 mile run yesterday using the Zombies Run app on my iphone. Was an awesome run – one of my favourite routes. It goes out of the Industrial estate and out towards the golf course and then it’s all trails. The next mile is mainly uphill but it’s jumping over branches and avoiding muddy patches and nettles and going in and out of dappled sunlight patches. All the fun things that should be included on a run!

The only problem was that my first zombie chase on the app started when I was under trees so although the Garmin picked up my speed the app didn’t and I was doing 5:30 minute miles and they were still getting closer! I was panting like a dirty caller and still couln’t out run the zombies although when I checked when I finished the run apparently they didn’t get me after all. I DO understand that these are VIRTUAL zombies. Honest.

A run past the Abbey and round the lake and an unintentional paddle in the muddy puddles and it was back to work.