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Sunday, 31 March 2013

Week 15, Day 5: Pub Run, Cheating Siblings & Head Torch Mark

After a day of having to trawl around shops with the sisters looking for sparkly hair bands, I decided that no matter how rough I felt, a run had to be easier than THIS. Shopping with my sisters is like herding cats. Cats with a penchant for shiny things and weak bladders due to having to stop for a cup of tea every half an hour. Sigh.

By the time I got home it was dark. But my resolve wasn’t weakened. I had had a week off running and was finally feeling a bit better. The headache was still there but I no longer felt like a lurching zombie and the thought of a run wasn’t as dreadful as it had been for a while.

Now … problem one. I’m staying in the depths of Dorset. The house is a little oasis of warmth and light but there are dark roads, lanes and trails stretching in all other directions. I felt that I should have some company. But how to persuade the others that they really should accompany me on a night run?

Tried a positive tack … Get out in the nice fresh (slightly dark) air? Meh.

Went for the calorie burning approach … Make some space for the Easter eggs tomorrow? Meh.

Go to the pub? Finally got a positive … until I said that we’d be running. However fortified by the thought of some country cider they agreed to accompany me. Hi-viz on, trainers tied, head torches doled and out we set off.

The first part of the run is a mad dash downhill down the main A30 … no pavement, no verges, just a mad rabbit-like dash of ¼ mile to try and get to the pavement at the end before ending up as some sprawled hood ornament on the bonnet of one of the farmers who has had one pint too many of the Thatchers on a bank holiday. It’s amazing what an incentive this can be. Even after a week off running I managed a 5:44 min/mile over that stretch.

Apart from the mad dash we set the pace fairly conservatively as the others felt they’d be more comfortable running at 9 – 10 min/miles. It was nice running with other people even if the puffing and panting and the flashing of the super-bright head torches behind me gave the impression I was about to be abducted by asthmatic X-files type aliens. My Dad was cycling along beside us … rallying us with cries of “Come on! Only a mile to go until the pub!” and “Watch out for the sick!”.

We finally got the pub and it was safe to say that in our bright lycra we stuck out a little bit among the Bank Holiday drinkers in their finery. It also caused a certain amount of confusion when we departed as some of the more drunker revellers tried to work out why 4 people in hi-viz neon had only one bicycle between them. Think they had been expecting some Laurel and Hardy style comedy with all of us trying to ride one bike and people falling off the back and chasing on behind.

A small challenge was set on the way back. The other 2 runners decided that they wanted to take the short route home. I wanted to go back the way we’d come as it was a nice route and we were already in our running gear. We decided to compromise. The other 2 runners would go the short way (half a mile) and I would go back the way we’d come (1 mile and a half) and we’d meet at the old Black horse and go home from there. They decided it would be a race. I pleaded illness and said I wasn’t going to race this close to the marathon. Dad suggested that if they go went around the one-way system which would make it up to three quarters of a mile then we might consider it. I told them under no circumstances was I going to race.

Waited until they got round the corner and I started sprinting …

Managed to keep the pace reasonably even but was a bit peeved when I saw head torches bobbing towards me on the final stretch … and I suspected a little bit of cheating was going on. This was confirmed when the headtorches did a U-turn as soon as they saw me coming and started sprinting towards the old Black Horse … I don’t care what anyone says … sibling rivalry doesn’t ease up when you get into your 30s …

Caught them up and we all had a nice steady trot home fortified by the pint of diet coke we’d had at the pub. I felt fine which was a relief after a week off running. Maybe not the most by-the-book run, but a test of the legs and lungs after a week off with sinusitis. 

Garmin Info Here

What Do You Mean You Can Tell I've Been On a Night Run with a Head Torch?

Friday, 29 March 2013

I’m Sitting in the Walk-in Centre Trying Not to Breathe

I’m sitting in the GP walk in centre. Trying not to breathe. Or touch anything. There are people coughing and hacking all around me and I can imagine germs swarming towards me talking in strange nasal voices like a Domestos advert.

I waited in a queue of one – just me - while the apathetic receptionists chatted about the tea rota and applied lip balm and made sure their pens were perpendicular to the desk edge.

I shuffle in the queue wondering whether being ill makes you invisible to receptionists. Please. I just want to see the doctor. I want to feel better. I'm going to have to run the marathon whatever happens and I'm going to try to run it at the speed I'm supposed to. But it will hurt. It will hurt even more if I'm unwell. Please just help me. Stop applying your lip balm and stop your inane chat about who is getting sugar in their tea. I know I'm unimportant but I just don't want I have to hurt more than necessary. Sometimes trying hard isn't enough. I need help today.

Finally get seen by receptionist. Grudgingly. On her part.

I’m sitting here with the smallest parts of my buttocks touching the hard plastic orange chairs, breathing in through my nose and with my handbag on my lap like a prissy old lady. I’m trying to hold back the urge to go round and spray everyone coughing with the antiseptic spray and I’m rubbing alcohol gel on my hands so often I look like a miser anticipating a big haul of gold.

Get seen by Nurse Practitioner. Who is actually lovely, sympathetic and in direct contrast to the receptionists. She prescribes me some antibiotics. And almost apologetically tells me I shouldn’t race while on antibiotics. I reassure it’ll be fine. I will have finished the prescription by almost 2 days by the time Paris marathon comes around. I clutch my slip of green paper and shuffle out of her office. 

Sunday, 24 March 2013

6 Years Ago I'd Had Enough ...

Yesterday was the 6 year anniversary of the day I decided that enough was enough. 

I was 5 stone overweight and miserable. My self-confidence was rock bottom and I drank and smoked too much and cried a lot. I couldn’t think of any way to get out of the cycle I was in … misery eating, weight gain and eating because I was miserable. Then I read a news article where a girl had DIED on a crash diet. Rather than thinking, “Oh my goodness that’s terrible” I thought “Oh my goodness. She lost 3 stone in 3 months.”

I had of course considered the standard diet classes counting points but the thought of staying on a diet for years to lose the amount I wanted to was a horrific idea. I was also in denial. I thought “I’m not fat enough for Weight Watchers”. Yes I was. I was in the obese category ... not just overweight and a diet of rubbish food and little exercise meant that I was staying firmly in that category and moving upwards all the time.

You know how this ends. I lost the weight and finished the diet at 9 stone. It was hard work – every day of the 100 days I had committed to eating soup was a struggle. But the real work started when it was back to normal food. This sounds obvious. It was. From being on a ‘safe’ diet of soup, shakes or bars where each item was carefully measured and contained all of the vitamins and minerals. I was free to go mad on food. Again.

I found this pic recently ... I think it's from Alton Towers. I didn't like having pics taken so this seems to be practically the only one that's survived from then. Not good, is it.
This was a pic taken on Friday. I'm wearing my favourite dress, I've had my makeup done and there was the chance of a glass of wine and creme egg if I behaved myself which is why I'm so happy!

However, I had a secret weapon. My bloody-mindedness.

People were waiting for me to put the weight back on. Waiting for me to fail.

Screw them I thought. Running was the most time-efficient way to burn the calories in a gym so I started doing that at lunchtimes ... then I started enjoying it. Then I discovered I could run outdoors ...

The rest is history. 

... Plus I get to run now. 

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Week 14, Day 3: Bikini Hills, Shooting Pains & Blame

Week 14, Day 3

Goal: 9 miles at 8:30 min/miles
Actual: 9 miles at 8:30 min miles

Checked Garmin every now and then but ran this session by feel – by what I thought was 8:30 min/mile. Not far off. Looks as though I’m getting better. However looking at mile paces, it looks as though I only really got 2 of the miles close to 8:30 – the others were a bit of a way on either side. However, I consoled myself that the gradient chart looks a bit like a bikini – I must have slowed down on the uphills and sped up a bit on the downhills to get the right pace. (Points finger of accusation at the hills)

I had faint shooting pains up right leg and a dull ache on right knee. I considered cutting the run short at the 4 mile point, but recognised the pains for what they were – my back was tightening up again rather than anything serious. I’ve got a physio appointment tomorrow which I’d booked a while ago at Sarah Connor’s advice – to get checked out before the marathon and it looks as though it’s come at the right time. I’ve also got a sports massage next Tuesday but I’m hoping that (faint hope) it won’t be too horribly painful and also that we can agree beforehand that no elbows are to be used. However I’m pretty sure that won’t agree to this. But it’s worth asking, right?

I’ve also woken up with a cold. Again. Yet again the finger of blame is coming out and I’m pointing it firmly at my 3 year old who seems to be bringing home every cough, cold and sickness bug from nursery. We’re all taking so many vitamin pills in my house at the moment, we rattle.

Distance: 9:07 miles
Time: 1:16:44
Avg pace: 8:27 min/miles

I went for the subtle approach last night. Yes I KNOW how stupid I look.

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Week 14, Day 2: Avoiding Dog Eggs & Tree Climbing

Week 14, Day 2

Goal: 6 miles with 4 at marathon pace
Actual: 6 miles with 4 at marathon pace

I finally managed a weekday run in daylight and it wasn’t a (curse, curse) morning run! Well almost daylight. It was dusk and I’m sure that counts. I’m sick of winter and cold winds that creep up jacket sleeves and rain that runs down my neck. Finally it’s getting lighter and a bit warmer in the evenings

As I had some light to see by I decided I could reclaim one of my old summer routes and have a change of scenery. In winter I tend to stick to fairly busy routes with street lights in the evenings but I miss the interesting runs through the tall grass in the fields and the little hidden footpaths.

This route is an old railway line and the path is a mixture of cinder blocks, mud and gravel. If it hasn’t been too rainy it’s usually quite nice to run on so long as you keep your eyes open for dog eggs. It was nice to run it again yesterday and I actually saw other runners – 3 in fact! Usually because of the late nights I tend to see only the occasional dog walker so it was nice to see these even if our only greeting to each other was a nod and wave rather than a stop-and-chat about the state of pre-race loos and the problems with lycra.

The path slopes upwards but is straight and fairly scenic with old brick railway bridges every so often. The path comes to a stop with a wall at the end but if you look closely there’s a track on the left side that runs under the trees with boards over a couple of boggy patches and which comes out about 100m back down the track – great for a quick but squishy run. Or there’s a zigzag path leading up the high hill on the right side of the track. This is usually well hidden by trees but it looked as though the local arbourists had been hard at work and although the hill was clear, the path up the hillside was littered with branches.

I don’t tend to get put off by a couple of obstacles so I climbed the worst and jumped over the rest but when I got to the top of the path to turn into the picnic area, the gap in the bridge was blocked with a big metal fence. Bother. Turn around, back over the branches and back onto the usual route.

It was a nice run and it was good to have a bit of a change with the tree climbing.  I’d checked the Garmin to confirm I was at marathon pace, but on reflection, I should have covered the Garmin for the final 4 miles and run it on what I thought was marathon pace.

Distance: 6.18 miles
Time: 51:07
Total pace: 8:16 min/mile

First 2 miles average approx: 9:15 min/mile (stopped to climb over some branches)
Final 4 miles average approx: 7:51 min/mile

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

An ode to my beautiful clean trainers

An ode to my beautiful clean trainers ... now no quite so beautiful and clean.

My new trainers were sparkly and white
They gleamed like a beacon at night
But I stepped in goose poo
Now they’re covered in goo
And the gleam is all covered in shite.

Can you tell I’m a bit peeved that my previously white and beautiful trainers are now a not-quite-so-fetching brown colour? Flippin’ incontinent geese.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Week 13, Day 6: Fartleks are good practise for avoiding alsations

Week 13 Day 6

Goal: 5 mile Fartlek
Actual: 5 mile Fartlek

The weather meant that going outside was completely unappealing, but this was a fun session to do and when I got going I didn’t even notice the weather. I’d never done a fartlek session (intentionally) before starting this training but I think this will definitely be a style of training I will be continuing after Target 262. If only because it appeals to my inner laziness. Slow down to a 9 min/mile going up a big hill? Why yes please? And speed up dramatically when a huge alsation dragging a chav dressed in a white hoody comes towards me? It’s the perfect workout for a Rugby housing estate.

I set up the Garmin to alert me every minute and I changed the pace every 1 – 4 minutes. It was nice to have the freedom of choosing the length of the interval as and when and trying to keep it as random as possible … although I did enjoy the last big downhill on the way home. It would be rude not to. Hills WANT to be run down.

This was another late night run with the headtorch and neon clothing. Morning runs are to be avoided at all costs and kept only for emergencies and races.

Time: 43:49
Avg Pace: 8:25 min/mi
Distance: 5.21 mi

2 mins at 8:47
1 min at 7:07
33 mins at 9:14
1 min at 7:05
4 mins at 9:16
2 mins at 7:53
1 min at 8:55
1 min at 9:32
2 mins at:9:56
2 mins at 9:07
1 min at 8:12
2 mins at 7:28
1 min at 8:53
1 mins at 8:54
1 min at 10:00
2 mins at 8:08
1 min at 7:47
1 min at 9:06
1 min at 9:28
1 min at 8:41
1 min at 7:29
1 min at 6:50
1 min at 8:33
2 mins at 9:37
2 mins at 6:33
1 min at 9:14
3 mins at 8:11
2 mins at 9:14
1 min at 8:17
47 secs at 7:22

See ... told you it was random.

Week 14 Day 4.2: 8 x 1000s ... and goose poo

Week 14 day 4

Goal: 8 x 1000m in 4 – 4.10 minutes (6:20 – 6:40 min/miles) starting every 5 mins (approx 45 secs recovery) 8 miles in total

Actual: 8 x 1000m in 4 – 4.10 minutes (6:20 – 6:40 min/miles) starting every 5 mins (approx 45 secs recovery) 8 miles in total

1.07 mile warm up
5.2 miles intervals
2.22 miles cool down.

Total 8.49 miles

Maybe should have done a longer warmup rather than a longer cool down as I had to do a quick change about the 6th rep as started overheating. You know those magicians that can whip off their clothes to reveal another layer underneath? I would have put them to shame with my flying buff, jacket and gloves all landing in a perfect pile in the middle of the grassy part of the track.

It had been so cold when I started but there’s nothing like a few quick runs to get me ‘glowing’! Glowing that is like a very sweaty person getting very hot from running around in a circle very quickly (for them).

Total Time: 39:20

Avg Pace: 7:34 min/mi (including stopped intervals)

Best Pace: 5:04 min/mi

1 6:23
2 6:25
3 6:30
4 6:41
5 6:37
6 6:33
7 6:34
8 6:34 

Also ... my new white trainers? Not so white. A combination of the recent rain and Canadian geese poo had meant there was a big mushy patch in the middle of the grass of the inner field of the track. I didn't notice this ....

Week 13 Day 7: Not Going on a Bear Hunt

Week 13, Day 7

Goal: 22 miles in 8:30 min/mile with final 5 miles at sub 8 min/mile.

Actual: 17 miles in 8:30 min/mile with a dash to find some streetlights then 5 miles at sub 8 min/mile and 1 mile cooldown.

I tend to enjoy my long runs. They’re a couple of hours of peace away from everyone else where I can ponder the unanswerable questions of the universe. Do ducks all speak the same language? If a duck from France says ‘Quack’ to a duck from England, is one trying to talk about bread while the other one thinks he’s trying to find the way to the bus station? Do pigeons poo on each other while they’re flying? And if they can hold it in, why do they save it for when my washing’s on the line?

There was a reason all my questions were bird related – I was doing my long run around Draycote Water which is a large reservoir and nature reserve of 4.75 miles around and apart from the odd cyclist or walker, the only other signs of life were ducks (timid) and geese (hissy and bolshy). The route is a lovely one and it’s very peaceful. It’s all on smooth tarmac paths and one side is slightly undulating and windy, shaded by trees and the other side is straight and flat. There aren’t any dogs allowed around it either, so I can ponder my completely useless questions without any fear of being tripped, maimed or jumped on and licked. Unless one of the cyclists gets a bit over-enthisiastic.   

Today’s route was to be nearly 5 times round the reservoir with a final half a mile trot back to the car after I’d finished the run, as a cooldown. I started off comfortably, but I’d made the same mistake as I had at the track on Thursday and I’d dressed too warmly for the weather I’d taken the threats of snow seriously and as well as wearing a jacket, buff, gloves, headband and long running tights, I was also wearing 2 tops underneath the jacket.

It wasn’t too bad as the weather outside was pretty chilly but for some reason I had sweaty inner elbows. Nice. I looked rather bizarre, running along quite normally but with enormous sweaty lower jacket sleeves. Rather as though I’d dropped my keys down the loo and had been fishing around for them before I’d come out for a run. 

I quite enjoy lapped runs normally as although the first few are hard knowing you’ve got to repeat the run again and again, the last two laps always feel great as you know you’re almost done and I can tell myself “I only need to pass that tree once more” or “Next time I pass those rocks I’ll be on the way back to the car”. However, I soon noticed that rather than passing geological features, I was rather bizarrely passing packets of gel. Yes … that’s right. My new gel belt was dropping my gels rather like a trail of breadcrumbs … but for runners rather than ducks. Glad that 1) it was a lapped course and I could retrieve my belongings and 2) that I trial all my gear before my big races. This wouldn’t be quite so amusing if it happened in Paris. Unless I was running behind someone with the same problem and I could eat all HIS gels.   

I soon hit a snag. I had been so busy pondering my useless and unanswerable questions I hadn’t realised that it was getting quite so dark. I still had 5 miles to go and I couldn’t see very far in front of me.  Draycote, while beautiful and peaceful is also secluded and completely unlit. Unless I fancied doing the last 5 miles at 5k pace - not going to happen after 17 miles - I was either going to have to complete it in pitch blackness and probably fall into the reservoir and be eaten by a flock of Canadian Geese or I was going to have to get somewhere with light and do the final 5 miles there.

Bother. I pelted to the car and decided I could get to my normal mile loop in under 20 minutes if I went straight there and parked at the pub.

Got to the car and threw myself in and started up. The car park was completely deserted and absolutely pitch black now. Got out of the carpark and down to the main gate. Oh. That great big metal gate wasn’t there earlier. I drove up to it expecting it to slide aside. It didn’t. Oh yes. There had been something on the carpark ticket about leaving by dusk …

Oh look! An intercom thing at the side. I’ll push the ‘help’ button. I’ll plead ignorance and I’m sure some helpful chap will be able to push a button and slide the gate aside for me. Pushed the help button. Help meant a recorded voice telling me to push the arrow keys for the directory.  I pushed the arrow keys and a helpful message popped up telling me the directory was empty. Bugger.

Right. Time to start thinking outside of the box.

I can’t lift the car over the gate. I can’t go under the river. I can’t go under the hill. Can’t go through the pampass grass. Hang on. We were slipping into Going On a Bear Hunt. Time to think. (Thought) Gave up. Went to sit back in the car and slammed the door behind me. The noise activated something on the gate and it slid smoothly aside.

Got to the pub and did 4 laps of the housing estate at sub-8 as my final 5 miles of the 22 miler. It wasn’t an all-joined-together run as it should have been with my brief drive in the middle but hopefully that won’t cause a problem. I’m not planning on stopping for an ice cream break and hopefully there won’t be any electric gates blocking the way in Paris. If there are I’ve probably gone the wrong way …


Distance: 22 miles (+ 1.03 miles cooldown)
Time: 2:57:51 (+ 9:34 mins cooldown)
Average including last 5 miles is 8 min/mile

First 17 miles:
Distance: 17.00 mi
Time: 2:20:04
Avg Pace: 8:13 min/mi

1 8:16
2 8:15
3 8:16
4 8:18
5 8:18
6 8:19
7 8:11
8 8:08
9 8:13
10 8:14
11 8:15
12 8:10
13 8:07
14 8:16
15 8:18
16 8:17
17 8:15

Garmin Here (17 miles)

Last 5 miles at sub-8:
Avg pace: 7:36 min/mile
Time: 37:47

1 7:40
2 7:38
3 7:43
4 7:42
5 7:02

Garmin here: (5 miles sub-8)

Cool down: 1.03 miles in 9:34 (9:17 min/mile)

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Week 13, Day 4.1: Morning Runs should be Illegal

Week 13, Day 4.1

Goal: 8 miles from last night ... adjusted to 4 this morning.
Actual: 3.32 miles.

Ok ... it’s official. I am completely unable to run in the mornings.

I was supposed to do 8 miles last night, but after a gang of kids came past vandalising all the cars, I decided it might be a better option to stay in yesterday evening and do the run when there was less chance of (a) having insults hurled at me (b) being pushed in the canal or (c) being spray painted.

I decided to do the 8 miles this morning instead.

Steve Marathon Coach was more sensible than me and pointed out that as I’ve got intervals this evening, it might be worth cutting the 8 miles down to 4 miles. I didn’t argue with this. A 4 mile trot in the morning in the sunshine sounded lovely!

In reality it was heavy-legged, lung-burning, breakfast-craving despair.

It shouldn’t have been. The mud was all frozen so all the paths were solid and dry and my trainers made a nice satisfying crunching sound on the trails. The sun was just peeping over the horizon and everything was frosty and beautiful. However, just having had to crawl from my nice warm bed and put my trainers on, I wasn’t feeling particularly enthusiastic about the beauties of nature.

I didn’t even make the 4 miles, instead trailing home after just over 3 miles. It did all look very pretty outside, but there needs to be a longer gap between bed and run before I can truly appreciate it.

Time: 28:35
Distance: 3:32
Pace: 8:37 min/mile

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Asics Store Visit 2: Mad Joggers & Confusing the Competition ...

Asics Store Visit #2

I was in Central London yesterday and decided it was time for another visit to the Asics Store on Oxford Street. I’d managed to total my original beautiful, sparkly white trainers and they are no longer neither white nor sparkly, instead they are now shades of brown and rather sad looking. I’d decided to raid my savings and stock up on a couple of new pairs.

I know they gave me free kit at Christmas – securing my undying love – but I really do like this store. One thing that really makes a difference is that the staff are runners. I had a chat to one of their chaps who’d run the Paris marathon last and he gave me some tips:

  • Watch out for orange peel and banana skins - yes really! Apparently the whole comedy slip-up thing isn’t just reserved for cartoons and the cobbles really become quite slippery with both of these.
  • Keep your head up – the route goes past some of the most famous landmarks in Paris so if you’re keeping an eye out you’ll spot these. Some of them include Notre Dame, Eiffel Tower and of course you start only a little way along from the Arc de Triomphe.
  • And ... possibly most importantly – the last 2 miles are downhill. Just what I wanted to hear.

I’d known that I was coming up to this store a few weeks before the marathon so I’d saved the pennies and today stocked up on some lovely new kit. However, I’d left the Asics store before realising I’d forgotten a couple of small bits I’d wanted. I was already the wrong end of Oxford Street and was passing a competitor shop ...

I didn’t burst into flames as I passed the threshold with my bag full of Asics kit and neither (disappointingly) did an employee leap out from a concealed doorway with a staff bellowing “You shall not pass ...” and attempt to confiscate my Asics shopping bag and replace it with their branded kit. 

I needed a gel belt. I had a running belt but this wasn’t quite big enough with my mobile phone and the 6 gels I’d be carrying for the marathon so I needed something in addition to this. Although preferably not in the competitor store’s colours as I didn’t feel Asics would be best pleased ...

A member of their staff was on the shop floor so I stopped them:
“Hi, can you help me? I need a gel belt.”
I was greeted by a blank expression and the question: “For ...?”
I hadn’t been expecting this. “For gels ...” I helpfully supplied.

Apparently they didn’t stock these. But I also needed a new buff after the last one had been donated to a cyclist. After the last conversation, it was probably best to make sure there was no room for misinterpretation:

“I also need a buff...” (pause) blank look.
“... A neck warmer?” (longer pause) blanker look.
“For necks?” Aha. A look of comprehension.
“Sorry. We’re out of stock.”


There were loads of runners around London – even in the centre of the city. They were neck and neck with the mopeds and cyclists for death-defying manoeuvring. Skilfully integrating in between the buses and cabs and hurling themselves off the kerbs with second-precise timing to pass between lines of traffic. A ballet of trainers and metal.

All except one lady runner who was obviously determined to have a run past the sights of the city but who seemed to have a severe pigeon phobia. She managed to negotiate the complicated crossings and avoided being mown down by a particularly determined black cab driver but when she came past Marble Arch and into a flock (swarm? pestilence?) of pigeons she had a mini freak-out mid stride, but managed to disguise this as a stumble. She did however have a bit of an arm-flail as the birds took off around her as though she was swimming through a particularly pigeon-dense pool but made it out guano-free and only slightly dishevelled. 

It made me wonder whether she could use her fear for a more targeted training session. Just imagine ...  If she covered herself in birdseed for the London marathon and with the added incentive of her ornithophobia she would be able to run a cracking time! No chance of slowing down for fear of being eaten by London’s feral pigeons. However, I discounted suggesting this to her by thinking of the mess the startled pigeons would make when the starting gun went off. We’d all end up looking like living statues.

I ended up walking over 8 miles around London and with the 7 mile run when I got home in the evening, I’d ended up doing the equivalent of a long run. Just very, very slowly. And with coffee breaks. And shopping.

No gels required. Just the incentive of hot coffee and shopping for new running kit.

Week 13, Day 2: Miners Who Have Escaped from Raves ...

Week 13, Day 2

Goal: 5 miles of 2 mins mara pace, 10k pace, fast jog – total 7 miles
Actual: 5 miles of 2 mins mara pace, 10k pace, fast jog – total 7 miles

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

This was very similar to the run I did last week early in the morning, except that the intervals were slightly shorter. I found it a LOT easier doing it at this end of the day rather than when I had to get up at a ridiculous hour. I had the disadvantage that my body was aware I was going for a run (whereas on the early morning run I don’t think my legs twigged until a couple of miles in) but I knew that rather than a day of work in front of me, I had a nice warm bed when I got home. A much better incentive.

One thing both runs had in common was that I had to stop off at Tescos for a loo break again. Luckily Tesco is almost exactly at the 1 mile point, where the warmup stops and the actual run begins so it wasn’t too much of a disruption. Well not for me. A few of the old ladies pushing trollies around did double-take when I walked into Tesco.

In hindsight I suppose I probably was a BIT noticeable dressed in my bright pink compression socks, sky blue jacket (with neon bits), bright pink headband and skull buff pulled up over the top of my head. Plus I had my headtorch on with the massive battery pack at the back of my head. I probably looked like a miner that had escaped from a rave. But with bloodshot red eyes from the cold wind. Me walking into Tesco was like Moses parting the red Sea ... if Moses had been dressed for warmth and visibility and the sea had consisted of blue rinsed shoppers.

I’d been for a visit to the Asics Store on Oxford Street earlier in the day (and walked over 8 miles just in Central London!) so the neon on the new running gear was extra bright and the new trainers extra white and sparkly. Not quite at the level of Alex (AW’s) retina-burning orange shoes but eye-catching nonetheless. So I might have stood out a bit.

My aim for the next 3 weeks – apart from stay uninjured, not get ill and get to Paris on time – is to keep my new sparkly trainers as new and sparkly as possible. I’d actually forgotten that the GT2000s are quite this pretty! My other pair (which are only 3 months old!) are now subtly shaded in tones of brown. If you put them next to a bog they’d probably blend in quite well. In fact they look as though they’ve evolved camouflage.

Ran a different route tonight and it was nice to have a change. It was mainly on cycle paths and next to busy roads so there plenty of other people around, but none of them were in the way. No dodging around required – just enough of them for it not to be lonely. The route was reasonably flat too – so perfect for this sort of run. I could concentrate on the paces rather than trying not to  trip over.

I’ve got a bruise on top of my foot which is a bit irritating and I ended up using Bacon Steve’s style of shoelace fastening to avoid putting any pressure on it. It was a bit irritating for the first half a mile but it didn’t cause any problems after that. When I got home I made the mistake of googling foot bruises and worrying myself it was a stress fracture before I remembered I dropped a box on my foot last week. That’s another thing I’ll have to try not to do in the next 3 weeks before Paris. After the marathon, I can drop boxes wherever I like, but I’d prefer to get to the start line without too many avoidable injuries.

Distance: 7:06
Time: 58:02
Avg pace (incl warmup/down): 8:13 min/mile

Paces used: Fast Jog: 9 min/mile. Marathon Pace: 8 min/mile. 10k pace: 7 min/mile.

Week 12, Day 7: 21 miles ... putting it off

Week 12, Day 7

Goal: 21 miles in 9 min miles with final 4 miles sub-8 min/miles
Actual: 21 miles in 8:20 – 9 min/miles with final 4 miles sub 8 min/miles

This was my first long run back after feeling ill … and I kept putting it off and putting it off. Yes it didn’t look very inviting outside with snow flurries, but I used the
Mother’s Day excuse as a reason for a lie-in, then decided it was absolutely crucial to update my phone before I went, then to sort out my socks …

I finally got out of the door at about 2.30pm and took my first step of the long run at about 3pm. I’d forgotten how much I enjoy long runs … when there aren’t suicidal cyclists around anyway. It’s time when all that matters is being able to put one foot in front of the other and keep doing it. Today the aim was to keep doing it for about 3 hours so I’d picked a scenic route around Pitsford Reservoir near Northampton. 

Although it was Mothering Sunday, the cold winds and snow had kept away most of the cyclists and walkers except a few diehards with deerstalker hats and woollen scarves so the paths were mainly mine. 

I’m relieved to tell you that at no point did I fall in a ditch, have to wade through a flood – although there were a couple of large and rather muddy puddles – or have an attempt made on my life by a cyclist. Nowadays, that’s all it takes for me to be able to count a long run as a win. Boring though they may be to read about, uneventful runs are a definitive plus for me. In fact, the most exciting thing that happened today was that I forgot my water bottle so completed the run without having a drink. Something I didn’t actually notice until I was back in the car wondering why I was sitting on a bottle of water. 

I’m a little bit suspicious about the lack of adventures on my recent runs and am slightly concerned that the Running God has something in store, so I’m making sure that stores of loo roll are packed, personal alarms are charged and I’m trying my hardest to look particularly unappetising to large dogs. Or small dogs. Dogs generally. 

Goal: 21 miles
Avg pace: 8:23 min/mile
Time: 2:56:08

0.97mile cooldown.

Last 4 miles sub 8:
Mile 18: 7:43 min/mile
Mile 19: 7:43 min/mile
Mile 20: 7:39 min/mile
Mile 21: 7:30 min/mile

Total Time: 3:05:20
Total Distance: 21.97 miles

Also on this run my heartrate has stayed reasonably steady at 150bpm so looks as though this bug has finally departed.(Happy dance!)

Week 12, Day 4: 3 Min Intervals ... and Daylight!

Week 12, day 4

Goal: 5 miles of marathon, 10k and fast jog - 3 minute intervals (9m total)

Actual: 2 mile warmup, 5 miles of marathon, 10k and fast jog, 2 mile cool down, (9m total)

Decided to try an early morning run … more out of necessity and being unable to fit a run in in the evening but I thought it might be a good idea … after all most races start in the morning.

How do people manage it? First of all the getting out of bed at 5am for porridge … then having to leave the house before the sun was up … heavy, tired legs … having to stop for cars at junctions as the roads were busier (not usually a problem during late night runs!) … although being able to stop at Tesco for a call of nature rather than a pub was a bit of a novelty.

Ooh daylight! ... but FAR too early for comfort.

However, it WAS nice seeing a bit of daylight while running and it meant that I was able to use the canal paths which are usually off-limits when it’s dark because they’re so lonely. It was definitely prettier seeing the scenery rather than just blackness and orange sodium lights.


I used 7, 8 & 9 minute/miles for the paces. My brain doesn’t seem to function early in the morning so I thought I’d keep it simple. However, in the final ½ mile of the 5 miles of the intervals I still forget that I had to change back to 9 min/miles and wondered why it was hard going hopping over the puddles and kerbs … 

Some parts were a touch muddy

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Week 12, Day 3: Running Like You're 6 Years Old

Week 12, Day 3

Goal: 11 miles slow in 8:30s to 9s

Last night’s run was fine, although I noticed that my pacing was all over the place. I kept dipping down to sub-8 min/miles then pulling myself back to the proper pace of 8:30 – 9s. But rather than being disappointed with that. I’m seeing it as a good sign. As a sign that I’m feeling better and finally shifting this cold.

When we did the pacing exercise at bootcamp of running at 8 min/mile I found it difficult to hold that pace because of the cough and the tightness in my chest and it felt as though I was running at least a minute a mile quicker. I didn’t even like to think of running 26.2 at that pace while I was feeling like I was.

I’m training for Paris at the moment, but my whole reason for running is because I enjoy it and I love feeling like I do when I run. Remember how great it felt when you were about 6 years old and running in the park just for the sheer joy of it? That’s how I usually feel when I run. Life is good. The grass is greener, the sky is bluer when I run.  But the last 2 weeks, there hasn’t been much joy. Every mile has been a hard slog and I’ve laced up my trainers and gone out there because I had to.

But finally ... dipping into sub-8 min/miles by accident? That’s good. It means that running is no longer feeling quite so difficult, that I’m reclaiming some of the joy. I’m not quite back to normal, but soon I’ll be running like a 6 year old again.

With joy, that is. Not around the local park with a mad Labrador and a football. Although there’s time for that too.

Distance: 11:14 miles
Time: 1:34:21
Avg: 8:30 min/mile

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

Week 12, Day 2: 5 x 1600 in 7 min/miles ... maths fail

Week 12, Day 2

Goal: 5 x 1600 in 7 min/miles starting every 9 mins (8 miles total)

Actual: 4 x 1600 in 7 min/miles starting every 9 mins …. Maths fail ...And 1 x 1392m in 6:36 min/mile (8.2 miles total)

Today’s session was in 2 parts owing to the fact I ran out of lunch hour. An hour seems like such a long time to get 5 miles of intervals in but when you add up the time taken to get these done it’s surprising:

Time to leave desk, sign out and get to car: 2 mins

Time to drive to gym: 4 mins (yes I know I should be walking as it’s that close … but short on time, remember?)

Time to wrestle gym bag out of car boot, find gym pass and get through the turnstile: 2 mins

Time to get changed, visit loo, find £1 for the locker, find a place to put the key: 8 mins

That’s almost 15 minutes of faffing … and I have to do that all in reverse again when I’ve finished at the gym. Plus have a shower and dry hair. In fact … how do I ever get a chance to fit a run in?

Managed to get in 3 of the 5 mile intervals at 7 min/miles starting every 9 mins. Had a 3 minute warm up too. Only meant to have a 2 min warmup but I’m blaming a chatty friend on the treadmill next to me …

Distance: 3.44 miles

Time: 29:01

Made it back to work with 1 minute to spare ….

Plus sides of treadmill work: The treadmills are in front of a mirror which can be a bit disorienting, but which gave me the perfect opportunity to work on my form. Both Steve and Sam have mentioned that I hunch my shoulders and don’t move them as smoothly as I should.

I used the 30 mins on the treadmill to practise how I moved my arms. Sam gave me a tip at the bootcamp day which was to put all my shoulder weight into my elbows and pretend I was putting my elbows into egg cups. I also had a play with cadence and stride speed which is easier to do on the treadmill as you don’t have to look out for kerbs and extendable dog leads.

Although I feel that doing intervals on the treadmill is cheating a bit, at least I managed to get some useful form work done at the same time.

Part 2:

Did the other half of the workout outside when I could fit it in after work, settling the 3 year old and teatimes ... so 10:40pm.

Distance: 4.76 mi

Time: 39:04


Mile 1  8:44 min/mile
Mile 2  8:53 min/mile
Mile 3  6:57 min/mile – sub 7 interval
Interval of 2 mins walking for 0.13 mile
Mile 4 … and this is where it all went wrong! I pressed the lap button and didn’t stop to consider it didn’t start the mile again … so I was 0.13m short for the last interval …
‘Mile’ 4 6:36 min/mile
0.76 mile cooldown at 8:48 min/mile