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Thursday 28 February 2013

Asics Target 26.2: Runners World Bootcamp 2

First of all ... an apology.

This is the blog post of the Runners World Bootcamp 2 of the Asics Target 26.2 which happened on the 26th January!! I'm so sorry. I thought I'd already posted this ....!!


26th January...

The snow was still hanging around so I decided it was probably safer to book a train. Safer than driving anyway. Not necessarily for me getting there on time.

Trains should be simple right? You buy a ticket for where you want to go ... and then get on. Apparently not. The time on my ticket said train departs 6:58am. Turned up – the train was in the station so I asked the Virgin train man. Nope, apparently the train I want is 7:17am.

A dark, confusing station
I'm confused. Again. Sigh. Decided he knew what he was talking about so got onto the next train.

I hadn’t had time to finish my usual coffee that morning and hadn’t had a chance to grab one at the station, but decided that getting one from the Uni coffee shop would be the best option. I listened to an audiobook on the train on the way down and enjoyed the novelty of being able to sit and do nothing. With an energetic 3 year old it’s a treat to be able to sit down.

I got to Birmingham New Street station needing a wee. But apparently you needed to pay 30p. THIRTY PEE? What happened to spending a penny? I only had notes on me. I looked despairingly at the attendant. She either decided that I wasn’t a budding graffiti artist, either that or I was about to wet myself and she let me through for free. Phew.

Had a wander aimlessly around the station and then gave in and asked a train man. Managed to get on the right train for the Birmingham University. The route was surprisingly scenic and we passed the canal, frozen solid and with the paths packed with snow and ice. A runner in a hi-viz running top was stopped and was stretching out his legs. I watched him until he was lost to the distance.  A good sign of the day to come.

Arrived early and met Tom who was doing the photography. We decided that the first and best idea would be to source a good strong cup of coffee. Coffee shop was shut ... until 10am. An hour and a half to wait.

We went and posted some money into the instant coffee machine in the lobby. Nope. It decided that under no circumstances was it going to dispense any coffee today. Argh! We texted the others asking them to bring caffeine. Urgently. I was dispatched to the Starbucks on the other side of the campus to try and track down 2 Americanos. Starubucks was also shut. Anyone would have thought students didn’t get up early on Saturdays. Oh.

Everyone else arrived, having had their caffeine hit at the station. Grrr!

However, it was lovely to catch up with everyone. Shady Ady looking very swelte – obviously a combination of tracking his food and hard marathon training was paying off! Mel looked fab and smiley and again ... we were wearing the same kit. Down to the trainers. Sigh. It looked as though this was going to be a theme of our training days.

Alex had decided that although he may be miles quicker than the rest of us, we wouldn’t lose sight of him by wearing a pair of beautiful but eye-burningly orange trainers. Today it really DID look as though he was leaving a burning trail like the De Lorian in Back to the Future.

Bacon Steve was glowing from a combination of being deprived of his takeaways and fever, having been forced from his sick bed by the thought of a nice run in the snow with the rest of the Target 262 group. However, he rose to the challenge and knocked out a set of perfect laps of the campus.

The icy, slippy, snowy canal path
Our training session today was supposed to be mile repeats on the scenic canal paths, but due to the amount of packed snow and ice and the fact they hadn’t brought grappling hooks to fish us out of the canal after we undoubtedly fell in through sliding on the aforementioned, the Asics and Runner’s World team decided we would do the laps on the track ....

Which wasn’t to be. The track was under a couple of inches of snow and also had a couple of snowmen sitting proudly on the inner lanes. Hmmm.  

The track ... somewhere under the snow
Sam Murphy spotted a runner and smoothly accosted him. Apparently there was an almost perfect loop of the campus which worked out at about .8 of a mile. All on tarmac and practically snow free. Just the odd car and running group to dodge. Perfect.

The snowmen ...
The first lap was at marathon pace which worked out for me neatly at an 8 min/mile, the next was marathon pace -15 seconds a mile at 7:45 min/mile, then 7:30 min/mile, 7:15 min/mile and the last lap was to be as fast as I liked. Steve Smythe and Sam Murphy had all of our times worked out perfectly so we’d all start at different times and then finish by crossing the line all together. Nice.

It was fun although difficult not to try and catch up the person in front. This was supposed to be a pacing exercise, but trying to maintain pace rather than catching up Ady who started each lap just 10 seconds in front of me was difficult. Had to get brain to outshout legs ... is NOT a race!

I managed to maintain the correct paces for my laps and managed to resist the urge to chase the others (must have been a Labrador or a Springer Spaniel or some other equally loopy dog in a previous life) and was rewarded by being allowed to do the final lap as fast as I liked. So ran it at a 5:55 min/mile.

Marathon Coach Steve had been watching how we were running and gave me some valuable tips. Apparently I keep my arms and shoulders quite hunched and he suggested relaxing these which made the arm action more comfortable and was a lot smoother. He also suggested trying Power Bars or Protein Shakes as I don’t eat a lot of carbs so these may act as an additional insurance.  

The Sports Centre
Sam Murphy ran with us on our cool down lap and helped us find a more efficient style of running as we all had a tendency to overstretch our legs. She got Alex – our super-speedy chap - to run at a comfortable speed – for him!! - then to run faster and made us watch the difference. It sounds so basic but it really did illustrate the point. His arms came higher in front and his feet kicked up higher at the back. She gave us all a quick exercise which was to pick our knees up further and kick our legs back further while keeping our hips under the body. The aim was to make your legs move in a more circular motion – think Road Runner, rather than over-stride.

Got back to the room with all of our kit in it and arranged to have a shower. Best of all the coffee shop was now open and Elaine had brought us all coffee!! Amazing!!! I put the coffee down in a safe place on one of the benches and went off to have my shower, safe in the knowledge that it would be the perfect temperature when I got back. 

Got to the showers and realised I’d forgotten my towel. Face/palm. However, I HAD brought a very large and drapey scarf ... now just to explain the black bobbly bits of wool stuck all over me...  

Got back to lecture theatre ... my coffee had disappeared! Argh! No time to get another so postponed that until after I’d spoken to Ruth McKean.

Ruth is lovely! She is also tiny – which was unexpected as judging by her photo was expecting someone tall and intimidating! We had a good chat and she suggested carb loading before races and the types of foods to try. She also said that if there were gels or sports drinks I hadn’t tried at a race that I could always wash my mouth out with these if I wasn’t going to drink them. There had been a recent study showing that athletes (not sure if I class myself as one of these, mind) who washed their mouths out with sugary drinks or gel got a burst of energy even if none of the substance was absorbed. Apparently the body was expecting the extra energy so had a bit more of a push! A really, really useful tip! Especially if you’re accident prone like me and may end up dropping your final gel or squirting it all over the floor. We had a chat about my ‘delicate stomach’ and we decided to go pretty much gluten and wheat free. Especially on the days leading up to a race. It was really nice to chat and to get an idea of sensible fuelling.

Finished up and went to get a coffee ... Coffee shop shut. Head-bang-wall. Repeat.

Had a sit down and a chat with Marathon Coach Steve and he outlined the training plan for the next few weeks, including when the long runs were likely to be and fitting these in around races scheduled such as Dorney lakes Half (Race your Pace) and the Silverstone Half Marathon. It was really nice to sit down and chat to Steve. He REALLY knows his stuff.

Had an MOT with Sarah Connors and she put me through my paces. She could tell I’d been foam rollering my ITB ... but also she could tell that I hadn’t been doing the bridges as diligently as I should have! No secrets from a good physio! She loosened off my knee and showed me how tight my hip flexors were ... With her elbow. I could feel the pain right down in my foot. She looks so sweet too! But it’s definitely a lesson to make sure I foam roller my hip flexors properly and do the ITB stretch using a partner.

We all got called outside separately to shiver in the snow and to have an interview in front of the camera! Wow! Felt like a celebrity ... although came across as a gibbering idiot. Oh well. At least I came across as myself.

Time to head home and back to the station. Next time we’d all be together would be the March Bootcamp! And that sounds SUCH a long way away ... but I know the time will fly by. Fingers crossed for some good long runs, no injuries and lots of smiles!

P.s. I finally got a cup of coffee at the train station. I went to pour some milk in and the lid fell in. As did all the milk.

Coffee. Pre-milk. Milk jug looking innocent in the background.

Wednesday 27 February 2013

Runner’s Foot Update

I caught myself using a Ped-Egg on my manky runner’s feet earlier. Seriously. A Ped-Egg.

If you haven’t come across one of these it’s basically a cheese grater for your feet. It’s the end. I’ve turned into my Mother.

That wasn’t the worst bit. The worst bit was trying to work out which wheelie bin to put the foot shavings into.

The Lurgy, A Pie-Bald Boyfriend & Regrowing Toenails

Ring the bell. Paint a cross on my door. I seem to have developed the plague.

I’m feeling breathless, drained of energy and I’ve got a cough to rival any 60-a-day smoker. All I want to do is lie in bed but I can’t even do that without coughing. I’m not getting any running done, but my stomach muscles are getting lots of work from all of this hacking and coughing. My legs feel like cooked spaghetti and I’m sulky, grumpy and feeling sorry for myself. So altogether, I’m wonderful company right now.

I’ve been given a round of antibiotics and been told by Marathon Coach Steve to lay off the running for a week. I’m sulking about not being able to run and about not being able to train. 

However … I still seem to be doing better than the boyfriend who has the same thing and ended up at midnight going to walk-in clinic at the local hospital. He got prodded to within an inch of his life and they shaved bits of him for an ECG. With his hangdog look and now patchy body hair, he’s ended up looking like a chimp destined for the lab. I know I should be more sympathetic but I’m using being poorly as my excuse to be unsympathetic. And to snigger at his new piebald look.

I just want to run. When I don’t run I feel crap. I can’t quite get my legs to understand that running now will make me feel worse, not better. My body is in revolution – my brain wants to sleep, my legs want to run and my stomach wants to eat crap food. We’ve reached an uneasy truce. I give my stomach crème eggs and ignore my legs and brain.

Although all this non-running is giving my toenails a chance to grow back. I wouldn’t say that my feet are ready for non-runner eyes just yet, but they’re probably past the vomit down the front of your shirt stage now. It’s all glamour, this running lark.

Thursday 21 February 2013

An Ode to Toenails

My first marathon and right up to marathon day my feet were virtually perfect. No blisters, no hard skin, nail varnish intact. Marathon day came and went and all the toenails survived. Just. Although there were a couple of close calls.

Marathon training finished, I then did 2 cross country races and then half of them went AWOL. Later to be found in socks ... and upsettingly in one case, floating past my face in the bath.

They were never quite right after that. I painted my toenails in several coats of pink nail varnish and pretended that underneath the cheery pink colour, my toenails were normal.

They were not. They were plotting. They were waiting for halfway through marathon training when they would start falling like confetti at a gross body-parts obsessed wedding.  I’ve started moisturising my feet – which have previously needed no care at all to look respectable. I make sure my toenails – or what’s left – are kept short and neat. And I’m shovelling on the pink nail varnish in the hope that’ll it’ll weigh the toenails down enough to keep them attached. Or at least I’ll be able to distinguish when one drops off in the house and I’ll be able to find it quickly before someone else and the screaming starts.

My trainers fit well – I’ve had gait analysis, 3D foot modelling done and had a video of me running to check I’m in the right shoes. I moisturise my feet with a veritable mix of potions. I cut my toenails before running – short and neat. But I seem destined to wear closed toe sandals. Never again will my feet grace the soles of flip-flops and peep-toe slingbacks are a thing of the past.  But it could be worse.

Imagine if instead of toenails, toes fell off. The athletic tracks would be surrounded on all sides by discarded digits. They’d have to create a new role possibly some sort of caretaker-janitor to ensure that the track was kept clear. And imagine at the gyms ... instead of toenail clippings and pubic hairs in the showers, you’d be treading on toes instead. And just don’t even think what the swimming pool would be like. You’d definitely have to swim with your mouth closed. It would be more dangerous than a toddler’s paddling pool in the summer.

No. I’m quite happy to have my toenails falling off. I’ll carry on painting the skin underneath and pretending there’s a toenail there. Better no toenails than less than the full complement of toes.  

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Week 10, Day 2: 3 Miles sub 7:15, Coughing & Lemsips

Week 10, Day 2:

Goal: 7 miles with middle 3 sub 7:15
Actual: 7.72 miles with middle 3 sub 7

Note: I’ve switched Tuesday and Thursday’s runs this week.

After feeling a bit under the weather last week, I’d been coughing and hacking all day at work today and the sympathy of my colleagues had worn thin after the 77th coughing attack. I’d been told that I shouldn’t really be in and they’d threatened to lock me in one of the labs and only open the door to throw Lemsip packets at me to keep the risk of contagion down. Charming.

I wasn’t feeling well but decided to give the session a try. If I started feeling worse, then I could always come home again. Better to try the training and not manage it than not bother trying.

The warm up run was very slow and I stopped at mile 2 before the fast 3 miles to cough. I did 2 miles at sub 7:15 pace, but stopped at mile 4 for about 20 seconds to cough and then completed the final sub 7:15 mile and had another cough. Then ran home very slowly.

This should have been a fun session, but I definitely didn’t enjoy it. I’m going to see how I feel and maybe give this evening’s long run a miss if I’m not feeling better. Either that or slow the pace right down.

Run Summary:
Distance: 7.72 miles
Time: 1:02:55

Middle mile splits:
Mile 3: 6:43
Mile 4: 6:51
Mile 5: 6:43

Avg pace overall: 8:09 min/mile

Update: Judging by how I’m feeling at the moment, I think I’ll give tonight’s session a miss and use today as a recovery day. My chest feels as though it’s stuffed with cotton wool. While I’d like to complete every session, I don’t think going ahead with the one tonight will achieve anything except possibly make the cold worse ...

It’s very irritating as in every other way, I feel very strong. I don’t have any other minor niggles and the left knee which was slightly stiff a few weeks ago seems to have completely healed. Although, I hope I don’t jinx myself by saying that!

Week 9, Day 7: A run of 1s ...

Week 9, Day 7:

Goal: 8 - 10 miles Malvern Hill run

Actual: 9 - 10 mile run around the streets of Rugby ... not quite as interesting!

Unfortunately I couldn't make the Malvern Hills run this morning, but instead settled for a trot around Rugby.

1 pub stop (for loo rather than beer)

1 other runner encouraged to run up a hill with me (nice to have company for 5 mins)

1 lap of the town (dark)

1 giant protein milkshake when I got home (Vanilla)

1 creme egg eaten (scrumptious)

Monday 18 February 2013

Week 9, Day 6: Dorney Lakes, a Sprint Finish & Squirty Gels

Week 9, Day 6

Goal: Dorney Lakes Half Marathon
First 3 miles at 7:55, 7:45, 7:40 then final 10 at 7:20 – 7:25 min/mile

Dorney Lakes was about 85 miles from me so I’d decided to book into a hotel to save having to drive an hour and a half on the morning of the race. The race didn’t start until 10am so a lie in and a leisurely breakfast sounded amazing. I have terrible pre-race nerves so having one less thing to worry about would be good.

Mel liked the idea too and we booked into a Travelodge just down the road from the race venue and we travelled down separately. We arranged to meet up for dinner at 7pm for a catch up and chatter. Texted Mel and we both decided to meet in the hotel lobby. 15 minutes later and I’m still standing there … where is she? I get a text from Mel. We’re both waiting in the lobby in the hotel. But the hotels are 20 miles apart. She’s in Slough Traveleodge, I’m in Maidenhead Travelodge. Thank God Asics are arranging Paris travel and accommodation for us. We’d never get there.

I couldn’t work out the kit I wanted to take and what to leave. So I compromised and took everything. I ended up taking a rucksack, a running belt, a handbag plus a large suitcase on wheels. Well … at least if a piece of running kit broke, I‘d have (about 3) spares …

I slept really well and had an entire double bed on my own to stretch out in. Bliss. A leisurely shower and porridge - pre-measured by me the day before and put into a plastic bag with sugar. Can’t say I’m not taking this pre-race prep seriously! Dried hair and got an electric shock from the hairdryer! So long as the jolt of electricity gives me a boost for the race …

I got all organised and packed up. Rucksuck on the bag, handbag slung around my shoulders, running belt around my middle and suitcase dragging on behind. Got out of the door – which slammed behind me – and my tummy gave an ominous rumble. Dashed back into room and running belt off, handbag unslung, rucksack off and suitcase abandoned in the middle of the room. A hotel room loo MUCH preferable to a portaloo at the race venue … and I did not want to have to pack loo roll for THIS long run.

The drive to the start ...
The satnav directed me perfectly to Dorney Lakes, but far from the perfectly organised parking at most venues we were directed to park along the sides of the road. Apparently the car parks were mainly underwater. Oh well. Better to park along the side of the road than to come back after the race and find the car floating peacefully down the river …

Texted Mel, Shady Ady and Bacon Steve who were all also running this one. It was great to catch up … even if we did all look like a matching set with our pink and blue T-shirts. At least we’d be able to spot each other easily in a crowd. Or a race. Mel, Ady and Steve were all going for PBs and had a specific time they wanted to beat.

Me, Mel, Ady & Steve just before the start!

Steve Marathon Coach knew full well that I have a bad habit of going off far too fast and then paying for it and this race was to be an exercise in pacing. He’d asked me to start off the first 3 miles slowly and build the pace. He had suggested 7:55 min/mile, 7:50, 7:45 and then sit in the goal range of 7:20 – 7:25 min/mile.

I started off with Ady as we thought we’d probably be aiming for a similar end pace of 7:20 ish. It was so difficult to keep my pace slow as he and everyone else streamed past me in the first starting-gun rush. I felt as though I was moving backwards, but when I checked my Garmin I was already doing a 7 min/mile which was well outside the pace I wanted. It just highlighted to me how easy it is to get swept up in the first rush and get carried away. It had felt as though I was barely moving but I was almost a minute a mile quicker than I’d wanted to be. Eek! Brakes on!

The view across the lake. The race was 4 times around this.

It was a pancake flat course around a rectangular lake and each lap was about 5k long so it was a great course to pace yourself and you knew exactly where you were at all times as you could easily see the other sides of the lake and work out how many laps and miles you had left. I kept the first 3 miles very steady at 7:45, 7:40 and then 7:35 just increasing the speed by a steady 5 seconds each mile. 

Me ... looking as though I'm walking! I'm not - promise!
It was a relief to be able to increase the speed to 7:20 min/mile and because the route was so flat and predictable it was an easy pace to maintain. I ran with a chap for about a mile at about mile 8 and he paced me quite well – just over the pace I was aiming for - was why the pace increased a little bit, but he disappeared just as we came up to the main building again. I did briefly consider waiting … but it wasn’t quite in the spirit of a race so I carried on. I DID feel a bit mean though. 

I was taking a gel every 3 miles as recommended by Ruth so I did this as I passed the main building as it was a big landmark and I didn’t have to think about the mile markers. Gels were available on the course but they weren’t the brand I’d trained with so I’d carried the ones I wanted.

This all went perfectly to plan until the final gel which I squeezed a little too hard and it ended up in my left eye, hair and all over my face. There wasn’t a lot I could do about it although an older chap spectating though it was highly amusing. I was just relieved it wasn’t mid-summer as I’d have been followed by a cloud of flies and wasps around the remainder of the course. Might have been good for a PB though. Nothing like being chased by an angry swarm of wasps to add a bit of an incentive to your speed. Maybe a tactic to consider if I start slower down at Paris …

I decided that as I’d been so good so far, I’d speed up the last 3 miles just a little bit … again by just 5 seconds a mile. I was having so much fun, I decided that the last mile should be a good one and ran it at just under a 7 min/mile. I could see the red bridge in the distance and I knew that the finish was just over that.

I was overtaken by a young chap in a grey top just as I cam e over the bridge. He’d been hovering at my shoulder ready to overtake me and he pulled away slightly towards the finish. What happened to ‘ladies first’? Stride lengthened, arms came up, and the sprint for the finish started. Over the line in 1:35:42. And I beat the bloke in grey. Well and truly chicked. 

Sprint for the line ... what happened to 'Ladies First'?

P.s. Check out the speed of the final 0.1 ...


Time: 1:35:42.0           
Distance: 13.10           
Average Pace: 7:19

Mile Splits
1. 7:43 min/mile
2. 7:40 min/mile
3. 7:36 min/mile
4. 7:19 min/mile
5. 7:20 min/mile
6. 7:20 min/mile
7. 7:20 min/mile
8. 7:17 min/mile
9. 7:19 min/mile
10. 7:17 min/mile
11. 7:11 min/mile
12. 7:11 min/mile
13. 6:55 min/mile
0.1 4:57 min/mile

Week 9, Day3: Cheating and Eating Around the Crunchy Bits

Week 9, Day 3

Goal: 8 x 800m starting every 5 minutes at 6:42 min/mile (14.5kmph)

Actual: 8 x 800m starting every 5 minutes at 6:42 min/mile (14.5kmph)

I cheated. I’m very sorry … but I feel I need to confess.

After a day nursing a poorly 3 year old who has been alternating tantrums and sulks and attempting to cook a meal this evening (after setting the smoke alarms off and doing the ineffectual flailing with a tea towel and then surreptitiously trying to scrape the burnt bits into the bin), I decided that getting to the track tonight was not going to happen.

So toddler finally in bed, I sat down, ate my food (eating around the black crunchy parts), watched a film … and then went out into the garage and got onto the trusty treadmill. And did the intervals on that.

Week 9, Day 3: Don't Eat 4 Plates of Chilli Before Running

Week 9, Day 3

Goal: 11 miles at 8:30 – 9 min/mile

Actual: 11.3 miles at 8:40 min/mile

This run was thankfully uneventful apart from a brief stop off at Asda about Mile 7. In hindsight, going to an ‘All You Can Eat’ chilli night an hour before the run probably wasn’t one of my brightest ideas. Although I was running a lot better AFTER I stopped at Asda.

My legs were feeling quite tired for this run. I’d like to be able to blame this on the VO2 Max cycle test I had 4 hours earlier but that was only about 12 minutes long. So probably not an excuse I could really get away with.

3 things I saw on my run: a fox running across the road in front of me and into the hedge, a drunk man trying to climb over the railings into the road, snow on the banks sparkling in the light of my headtorch.

(I'll pop a post on with the results of the fitness test shortly ... including the Vo2 max results)

Week 9, Day 2: An Uneventful Run ... Bliss!!

Week 9, Day 2

Goal: 7 mile build up run starting at 9s down to 7s

Actual: 8 mile build up run starting at 9s down to 7s ish plus 0.91mile cooldown

Note: I swapped Tuesday and Thursday sessions around this week.

Bliss. This run was completely uneventful apart from a sausage fingers moment when programming the Garmin which meant I added on an additional mile to build up to so ended up with 8 miles instead of 7.

I used my new headtorch which I’d bought from eBay and which was unbelievably bright. Love it. £16 including postage and it was lighting up street signs half a mile down the road.

Didn’t feel 100% on this run but my 3 year old has been poorly for the last few days so I hoping I’m not coming down with anything.  However, as a treat for getting the pacing bang on I had a bit of a blast on the last mile.


Distance: 8.91 miles

Time: 1:12:47

Mile 1: 9:01 min/mile

Mile 2: 8:44 min/mile

Mile 3: 8:30 min/mile

Mile 4: 8:16 min/mile

Mile 5: 7:58 min/mile

Mile 6: 7:44 min/mile

Mile 7: 7:28 min/mile

Mile 8: 6:46 min/mile

Mile 9 cooldown at 8:15 min/mile

Thursday 14 February 2013

Week 8, Day 7: An Attempt on my Life, a 999 Call and the Loss of a Favourite Buff

Goal: 11 miles at 8 - 8:30 min/mile
Actual: 11.3 miles at 8 min/mile ... in 2 parts

Sunday afternoon and it had been driving rain and blowing a gale all day. I knew that at some point I would have to get out in it and run. For at least an hour and a half. Luckily Little Sis was around and I could guilt trip her into coming for a run in the rain too. Misery loves company. Or at least, I feel less miserable when there’s someone else as dripping wet as me.

I’d chosen a route that followed the cycle paths from Weymouth to Portland. The path was a disused railway line which cuts through the centre of the streets, but which was self-contained and looked scenic and secluded. Perfect for a Sunday afternoon run even if the rain was coming down horizontally.

I planned to start at the train station next to Weymouth Harbour, run to Portland via the causeway which is Chesil Beach and then back again. I’d originally wanted to add a loop of Portland on the end but I’d decided to save that for another day when I would be in less danger of being blown off a sheer cliff edge by gale force winds.

When I got to Weymouth, the weather wasn’t too bad at all. The first mile or so was uphill to an old stone railway bridge and then it was a gentle downhill for what felt like 2 miles. The old railway line was high above the town so I could look down on the roofs of houses and across to the harbour. And see the ruined castle at on the hill at Sandsfoot and the masts of fishing boats.

There was a gentle slope down to Chesil Beach which passed lines of rowing boats in a small harbour and finished conveniently outside a pub … but I didn’t stop. To get to Portland I ran along the grassy track on the causeway along the left of the road for a while but the path was flooded and marshy so in the interests of dry feet I changed to the pavements.

The rain had been drizzling fairly lightly but steadily, but with the wind at my back and sunshine from over the top of the pebbled beach on my right, it was good to run. I looked to the left out across the causeway and towards Weymouth and a rainbow arced high into the sky. Because of where I was running with the sun on my right my shadow stretched out long across the road and to the exact centre of the rainbow. It was a perfect running moment.

It was such a nice run that I’d struggled to keep the pace down to the 8 – 8.30 minute mile … and when I got to Portland and turned around I realised why. I’d been running downhill, with the wind at my back practically the whole way. The way back was a rude wake up call and with the rain driving into my face and the wind blowing against me as I came back up the hill, I edged back into the correct pacing zone.

I passed a few runners, all looking fairly damp and windswept and lots of dog walkers all of whom seemed to own Springer Spaniels which were running around with something in their mouths and looking wet. It’s the Springer Spaniel law that they must not pass water without leaping into it. Well, that’s what they tell their owners anyway.

I got to the top of the hill and enjoyed the run back down to the harbour which had been my starting point. I decide to add some more miles onto the run by going around Radipole Lake which has a nice cycle path around the edge. It’s flat and streetlit although it’s a bit boring with only a road up a high verge to the left and high reeds and a fence on the right. I only had 4 miles or so to make up so I thought I’d go this way and take advantage of a traffic free route.

Coming out from under a bridge, I met a couple of cyclists riding 2 abreast on the path. The one in front of me looked me straight in the eye as he rode me off the path and made me jump out of his way onto the verge. Charming but I didn’t think too much of it. 99% of people are runner-friendly. Hopefully this one was a lone idiot.

I turned right off of the cycle path and onto the waterside paths and ran around the edge of the island. There were tall reeds and a pavilion and I was kept occupied by dodging and hopping over the large puddles on the dirt path. It’s amazing how the time flies if your mind is occupied and if you really, really don’t want wet feet.

3 miles to go. I crossed the final bridge and came out onto a dimly lit car park. I timed the traffic lights just right and managed to cross the road without slowing too much. Onto the pavement and past a petrol station and … the same two cyclists.

The cyclist who had ridden me off the path was now on the left and as they came towards me he cycled straight at me with his right arm out blocking my path. I leapt aside into the brick wall on my left and narrowly avoided having tyre tracks up my face and turned around to say something when I witnessed him go full tilt into the phone box behind me.

There was a big crash and he hit it full on. He stood up briefly and then fell over onto his bike and onto the bike of his friend who had pulled up beside him and he had a seizure. I ran back to check on him as he was on top of both of the bikes and I was worried he was going to cut himself on the gears, but his friend was adamant we shouldn’t move him even off of the bikes. Luckily a lady came over who had witnessed it and who was happy to take charge. I handed over my gloves and buff to put under his head to cushion him and to stem the bleeding. An ambulance arrived very quickly – thank goodness for big towns and that was the end of that. Buff was binned due to the blood on it and it was time to run on.

I wasn’t sure whether he had a seizure because he had bumped his head so hard or whether him cycling into me was part of his seizure. Think it might be time for me to have a first aid course as next time there might not be a lady around to take charge.

There was 2.5 miles still to go but I decided that it was probably time to have a coffee and catch up with my sister who had been waiting in a pub on her own for me to finish my run. Granted there are much worse places to wait. I ran the last bit to the pub a bit too quick but just made it into my allotted pace. It’s amazing the incentive a pub can give.

I had a coffee and a coke at the pub and gave Little Sis the praise that her new 10k PB deserved (Under an hour! Woo woo!!) and dried out a bit. I decided I couldn’t leave 2.5 miles undone (I was under the impression that Steve Marathon Coach might count waiting for an ambulance as an unscheduled rest and didn’t want to risk the wrath ) so did a couple of laps along the promenade and back to the car to make it up to 13.26.

Time: 1:45:49
Distance: 11.3 miles

Pace: Avg pace 8 min/mile
Pre-Cyclist run:

Distance: 10.5 miles
Time: 1:23:59
Pace: Avg pace 8 min/mile

Post-Cyclist run:
Distance: 2.76 miles

Time: 21:50

Pace: Avg pace 7:55 min/mile

Saturday 9 February 2013

Week 8, Day 6: Poole Parkrun, Bitey Swans & a New PB

Week 8, Day 6

Goal: Parkrun + 1 mile warmup and 1 mile cooldown

Actual: Parkrun + 1 mile warmup and 1 mile cooldown

Today was the day to be a parkrun tourist! But this tourism stuff isn’t easy … I was up at 6am and had to leave the house at 7am as the nearest parkrun was almost 40 miles away. 40 miles doesn’t sound too far until you consider it was Dorset … so no motorways in the entire county and most of the journey through lanes and on single track roads. And stuck behind a Nissan Micra for 15 miles. Doing 35mph. Sigh. 

Hang on ... so HOW do I get to Stourton Caundle?

My car was in for MOT so I’d borrowed an ageing Honda. The first step was to get used to driving with a steering wheel the size of a cart wheel, the second was to realise I was now driving a petrol car, not a diesel … so it shouldn’t really sound as though I was driving a tractor. The economy light kept flashing at me as I kept letting the revs drop below 2,000 rpm. Good for fuel economy, but not great for getting anywhere very fast. Well … at least I sounded as though I was fitting into the county.  Just needed a bedraggled collie and a straw to chew and I’d be sorted.

Just before the start ..!

I got to Poole and managed to find the start. The weather wasn’t particularly inviting and the drizzle made everything slightly misty and damp. However, the volunteers and other parkrunners were very, very friendly and welcoming. I was soon spotted as a newbie and introduced to a few others. I was given an overview of the parkrun route and told to stay away from the swans as apparently they were ‘very bitey today’.

It was a very friendly atmosphere and to make it even better, there were pacers with bib numbers showing from 18 to 40 minutes to help everyone get the times they were aiming for. I wasn’t sure how far I’d be able to improve my 5km time although ultimately my aim was to finally break into the 20 minutes … so not get overtaken by the 21 minute pacer! I had a quick check of the boating lake. 2nd aim – not get caught by any bitey swans. The ducks looked a bit hungry too.

2 laps of the boating lake

As usual the start was chaos as 436 people tried to get as quick a start as possible without tripping over their own feet, the feet of their neighbours or any of the small children who had positioned themselves at the front. I tried to bear Steve Marathon Coach’s advice in mind and tried to keep my pace as steady as possible while it seemed like the whole world and their children streamed past my elbows.

In short races, I’ve very often gone off far too fast and tired out quickly and spent the rest of the race feeling like hell and panting like a dirty caller, whereas in races with congested starts such as half marathons where I’ve been forced to keep a steady pace I’ve often had better results. 

The War Memorial

There was a layout change in the route today as part of the footpath was flooded so the start was moved to the War Memorial. This parkrun took us twice around the boating lake and then back to the café. It was a gorgeous route and flat as a pancake. The only gripe was that the paths were quite narrow so if you had runners running 2 abreast on the narrow path in front of you, you were stuck. Also on the second loop you caught up with people running their first lap which caused a few bottlenecks, but it was all amicable with everyone aiming for the same goal … a new PB. 

Shield your eyes ... I now have a matching T-shirt to go with my retina-burning socks!!

Previous PB (05/01/2013): 21:06

New PB (today!!): 20:39


6th woman / 164 women

54 / 436 people

Age Grading: 71.99 %