Thursday, 17 April 2014

3 months in to 2014

So we're well into April and this year is truly flying by for me. As March rushed to an end, I thought it was a good time to reflect on how my year is going so far. At a quarter of the way through, am I on track for the things I want to achieve?

It's going ok so far.

One of my goals for this year (and an easy one) was to complete my 50th parkrun, which I did a few weeks ago. I'm waiting to be presented with my free t-shirt, and meanwhile, I'll start working on progressing to 100 runs...

I've also met my other parkrun goals - to run in a different location - done here - and to run with Emma - she's done 2!

I was hoping for a few PBs too, and so far I have beaten my Half Marathon PB, with my 1.56 in Brighton in February. Another goal was to run 4 Half Marathons and I've done 2 so far, so I suppose that's on track. I'd love to think that I could go faster again... Another goal was to run 8 races, and I've only done 2, but I've got lots of ideas of others I want to do! I really hope I can do more races this year, as 2013 was a bit rubbish on this front.

My mileage goals are not going too badly. My aim was to run 1000 miles in total this year - or at least get as close to that as possible. I don't think I'll quite get there, but by aiming for that distance, I am motivated to try to average about 20 miles a week, which is good for me. Recently I have been doing that mileage consistently, but January took a while to get going and was quite low numbers.

As for biking, I'm aiming for 500 miles. So far I've cycled 55 miles to the end of March, and in fact most of those miles were cycled in March. With the better weather, I'm hoping to build that up quickly.

To sum up:

Ran 16x = 70.09miles

Ran 16x = 77.41 miles
Cycled 1x = 7.27 miles

Ran 19x = 92.99 miles (ouch for that 0.01!)
Cycled 3x = 47.72m

At the moment it's Easter holiday time, so it's been more of a struggle to fit in bike rides and long runs while the kids are off school. The weather has been AMAZING recently though, so we've had some lovely walks, and I can't wait to get stuck back in to consistent running and biking soon!

School holidays are sooo tiring...

Saturday, 29 March 2014

The family that runs together, eats cake together.

This month the whole family has been joining in with running and activity in general. It seems that either a. I am an inspiration to them all, or b. they have given in and realised that if you can't beat me, join me. Here follows a brief recap of our family achievements in March.

1. My last post was about Robbie and I running a new parkrun course, which was on the 1st March. The following day I did my 2nd race of the year, Eastbourne Half Marathon. It was my 3rd year in a row, and my worst time yet! Having run a PB 2 weeks earlier, I was content to take it easy, but tiredness in my legs, the huge hill and a strong head wind all took their toll and I found it really tough. The family was there watching me though, and Robbie and Emma joined me to run through the finish, which was the ONLY reason I was smiling.

2. On Saturday 8th March, we finally persuaded Emma to join us in a parkrun! Yay! She's only 6, and she did find it a long way, so we let her stop and walk a few times. She still completed the 5K in under 40 mins though, and was not last. She has decided that she will aim to join us every other Saturday, giving herself plenty of rest days! It was great having all 4 of us run together, and Robbie was really sweet, wanting to let her cross the line first.

According to Emma's schedule, we all ran again 2 weeks later, but were hit by cold weather and hail, which she didn't like. She only walked once though, so did really well to keep going.

3.The following day it was beautiful sunshine, and we all went for a walk in the countryside. It was just outside our town, and we had a great time exploring up a hill, where we found a nice spot to sit and eat a snack before hiking back. Lovely day.

4.  The spring weather has definitely been inspiring us, and last week, Pete decided to take a day off work so we could go for a bike ride together while the kids were at school. We headed East, through a nearby town and on to a country road, which turned out to be popular with cyclists. It was great, we sped along and really enjoyed it. After about 11 miles, we reached a big seaside town, and stopped for a coffee in a museum cafe there with a view of the beach. It was wonderful.
When we headed back though, we found that we had been helped on our way by a strong tail wind, which we now had to battle all the way back. As we went along the coast, it was very tough! We did stop at a pub and get a roast lunch, before making it home. It was about 25 miles in total. I honestly can't think of a better way to spend a day off work!

5. Last weekend, it was Emma's second parkrun, and then on the Sunday we took part in a Sport relief mile. This runs every 2 years and we did it last time. You get sponsored to run for charity, and we ran a mile round a race track, so 4 laps. It's not timed, just for fun, but Emma did it all without stopping this time, and they got another medal at the end.

6. This morning, it was just Robbie and me at parkrun. We went at his pace, and my garmin failed to locate any satellite whatsoever, so I didn't know how fast we were going, but we both thought it was pretty speedy. When we got our results later, it was a PB for him by 1 min and 10 secs, beating his previous best time from November! Amazing! We ran 31m12s, and it was also my 50th parkrun. This means I should soon be seen sporting the appropriate red 50 t-shirt. It was Robbie's 25th run, so he's not far off either!

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Parkrun adventures

Last weekend I managed to tick one of my goals for this year off my list. Robbie and I ran a different parkrun!

We were in Pete's home town for the weekend, and drove down on Friday evening, which meant we were there and ready on Saturday morning for the run. I had planned ahead, and brought our running stuff, but early on Saturday, Robbie was almost tempted by the lure of a cafe with Grandma and a chocolate treat. Pete and I spent a few minutes convincing him that he should do the run, and that he'd feel pleased with himself afterwards, and eventually he agreed to come with me.

Robbie has now done about 22 runs at our local parkrun, but this was his first at a different location. It was very different! It's in a country park, and on path, grass and - that morning - a lot of wet mud. It also included quite a long uphill, and then downhill. Robbie is used to running on a gravel path which is completely flat, so I thought it might be a challenge.

I had to ask someone to show us from the car park to the start, and we chatted about the course. When we got to the start, a few people asked where we were from and everyone seemed really friendly. It was the Queen Elizabeth parkrun (in Queen Elizabeth Country Park), and has been going for less than a year. There were about 40 runners altogether.

It started with a run up the hill, then we turned and ran downhill, where it was very muddy, and very slippery. I think Robbie coped better than me, as I slipped a few times, and then was wary of falling or getting injured. We ran a short loop, then it was the hill again, but further up this time. Robbie did really well! I preferred the hill to the mud at least.

Determination etched on his face!
We reached the top of the hill, then ran down into mud again, and along a very muddy stretch to the finish. We had to stop and pick our way through the really boggy bits at times, and I didn't really enjoy that part as I just couldn't run through it.

Approaching the finish
We finished near the back of the pack, but although our time was slow - just under 36 mins - it was still faster than Robbie's first 4 parkruns on a flat course, so it shows how much progress he's made!

Robbie pushing me out of the way...
We were so muddy afterwards that I ended up buying him new shoes that afternoon! The photos were posted on Facebook by the photographer, and I think they're really nice ones of us running together. I might try that parkrun again when the mud has dried out, and we'll definitely hope to do some more in different places!


..and he beats me again!

Monday, 17 February 2014

Brighton Half Marathon

What a day! After weeks of gales, storms, floods and hail, Sunday morning was dry, sunny and totally calm. We were so lucky with the weather, and there weren't even any puddles on the course, although you could see some of the damage from the storms, such as knocked over beach huts and washed-up rubbish on the beach.

Pete and the kids were away as it was my father-in-law's birthday lunch, so I had the house to myself the night before and on Sunday. Very relaxing, but this meant I had to catch a train to Brighton as they had taken the car, and take my bag with me. Luckily the organisation was fantastic, and I was able to easily check in my bag and pick it up afterwards with no waiting around or queuing.

Sunny at the bag drop
It was pretty cold when I left the house at 6.50am, and I was well wrapped up with scarf, hat and 2 jackets. After I had checked all this in, I got nice and cold waiting at the startline. I was at the back, as I had planned to run with a friend, and so was in the 2h30+ start area, even though I was hoping to run around 2 hours.

So it took me about 8 minutes to cross the line - not too bad. I think there were about 7000 runners in the end. In parts it was very crowded, especially in the first few miles, but also on narrow parts of the course later on. I did find it quite frustrating whenever I got slowed down, but it might have helped me pace myself.

I hoped to run around 9-min miles, and thought that if I was just under that, I would be happy with my time. My first 2 miles were 9m11s and 9m10s, so I was a bit worried that I might not make it.

However, they turned out to be the slowest 2 miles - probably due to the congestion. From then on I kept looking down and seeing 8m50, 8m45 etc on my watch, and worrying that it was too fast and I would slow down later on...

As the miles went past, I realised that the conditions were so perfect, I had to go for it. There was no wind, which was shocking after the gales we've had almost continuously since before Christmas. I put my mind on auto-pilot and just kept ticking off the miles. It was great.

Although I got tired around mile 10, I felt strong enough to keep the pace steady, and confident that I could keep it up to the end. The spectators were great, making lots of noise and generating a fantastic atmosphere. That's the positive side to these busy city races, I suppose!

Sunny Brighton andSpectators
Anyway, for the last 3 miles I was roasting hot in the sunshine! I was wearing long tights, a long-sleeved top, a jacket and (at the start) gloves - not really appropriate for the weather at the end. Such a change to have sweat dripping down my neck rather than freezing rain!

My last mile was my fastest, in 8m21s, and I finished in a PB of 1h56m31s! I was thrilled! This was 2 minutes, 7 seconds faster than my previous PB, from 2 years ago. I had hoped to run faster this year, but hadn't expected to be ready to go that fast yet.

Chip time is what counts!
It was a lovely day and a great race, and one I'd like to run again. The medal was nice too, one of my favourites:
I must have pushed my legs to their limits though, as they were very tired afterwards, and today I have really struggled with up and down stairs - it's been almost as bad as when I did the marathon! Totally worth it though for the great day and the unexpected PB!

Happy and tired!

Saturday, 15 February 2014

A Race at last!

It's been about 7 months since I last ran in a race! Due to injury and busy-ness I didn't do any races in the second half of last year, but tomorrow it's Half Marathon time!

I entered Brighton Half Marathon last summer, when a non-running friend of mine told me of her plan to take up running (with me), build up her distance, maybe do a 10k, and then run this Half. She wanted to run for a charity close to her heart. So we both entered and paid, and a few weeks later, she found out that she was pregnant!

She now has a gorgeous 6-week old daughter, while I have an ugly green race number that forces me to start at the back of the crowds, in the 2h30m+ group. Oh well.

The last few weeks in the UK have been stormy and wet. There has been appalling flooding, with entire villages cut off, as well as people being killed and injured by falling trees and buildings in the gales. Many races have been cancelled due to the weather, so tomorrow I will just be grateful to be there - to have escaped relatively unscathed, and with the race still on.

It's supposed to be a fast, flat course, although it's all along the seafront so the wind could be a factor. It's also big - about 10,000 runners I think, so crowds could also slow it down. I'd love to get a good time, but I'm really not fit enough to beat my PB at the moment. However, I'll be aiming for the following; A goal - sub 1h58m; B goal - sub 2 hours; C goal - happy to be racing again and seeing this as part of my preparations to smash my PB later this year!

Saturday, 8 February 2014

Goals for 2014

Hmm, I suppose my first goal should be to update my blog a bit more regularly. I'm not sure what's been going on lately - I have quite a lot of work on and seem to also be spending a lot of time ferrying the kids about to various clubs and activities. Must try harder, must do better.

Anyway, I've had plenty of time to think about some plans for this year and they're not really going to be vastly different from last year.

Here are some repeaters:

1. Run 1000 miles
This was a goal that I didn't achieve last year, and I'll probably struggle to reach that mileage this year too, but I think it's a good number to aim at. It's a bit too high for me, but it's a good round number, and 1000 km is not enough of a challenge. If I aim for 1000 miles, I might get to 900 at least.

2. Cycle 500 miles
I was nowhere near this last year. Why not? Dunno. But I'll try again this year. Although I'm currently on 0 miles, it seems so achievable at the start of a year, so I'll try it again.

3. Strength training and stretching
I just need to keep the stretches in my routine forever now. Although I've been lazy and not doing them every day, I do stick a leg out every so often and it makes such a big difference when I do. I haven't done any strength training since last year's April marathon really, so must add some of that at some point.

4. Do more swimming and master front crawl and breast stroke
I haven't been swimming for a few weeks, but I might go tomorrow, and then I'll definitely try to get that front crawl going again. My breast stroke is much improved, but I can only manage a few metres of crawl at the moment. Plenty of motivation from the fact that both Robbie and Emma (at the ages of 8 and 6) are now far superior to me in every aspect of swimming.

5. Keep injury at bay
Not only the dreaded plantar fasciitis, but as I get old, there are myraid opportunities for aches, strains, tears and so on. I need to run sensibly, not overdo mileage, stop running when I get a niggle, and constantly buy new shoes.

Other goals:

6. Complete loads of parkruns and get my 50 t-shirt
Last year was the year of parkrun for me, and this morning I ran my 44th run. I should be getting my t-shirt fairly soon I hope, but will keep going, especially when Robbie wants to come. I love jogging round at his pace as he chatters away incessently, and it's become a real weekend routine for us both.

7. Run a parkrun somewhere else
I ran 2 parkruns in Edinburgh before we moved, but apart from that they've all been in Eastbourne, and Robbie has only run there. It'd be nice for him to experience a different venue and a fun trip for us I hope. There are some fairly local ones so we wouldn't have to go too far.

8. Run a parkrun with Emma!
She often wants to come with us, but I think she would struggle to run round the 5k. However, she could probably run/walk the whole thing at not too a slow pace now, so as soon as it stops raining, hailing and blowing gales every day, I'd like to take her along too.

9. Run 8+ races
Last year I'd hoped to run 10, but ended up doing loads of parkruns and only 4 races. There are a few I'd like to do this year though, so I should be able to manage 8 in total.

10. Run 4 Half Marathons
...or more. I'd like this to be the year of the half marathon, as I won;t be doing a marathon, and I've got my first Half coming up next weekend.

11. PB at 10K and Half marathon
I haven't run a PB for ages - the only one I got last year was the marathon - so I think I could go for it in these 2 distances. I'd like to beat my 5K PB too, but speed is not my thing at the moment. Maybe later in the year...

So that's it for now. We are having lots of terrible stormy weather in the South of England at the moment, which is making running less fun. My last few long runs have all been wet and windy, and at parkrun this morning I was almost forced to run on the spot as I got hit by a headwind. There are more obstacles than usual on some of my running routes:

I'm really hoping the wind calms down for next week's Half along the coast...

Who knows what is to come - at the start of last year I had no idea we'd be moving house, or that my marathon would go so well! Bring on the miles, the parkruns and the races!

Monday, 6 January 2014

2013 Rundown - Review of my Goals

Here is a quote from my post last January in which I listed my goals for 2013:
'...this year I am setting tougher and more specific goals, and if I don't meet them all, then at least that means they were challenging!'

Those goals turned out to be a bit too tough and challenging and I certainly didn't meet them all...

1. Complete my second Marathon
Of course I managed this one! Having suffered through Edinburgh Marathon in 2010, I almost enjoyed Brighton Marathon in April. It was all down to good training and careful planning. If you have time on your hands, the recap is here.

2. PB at the Marathon
Yes! Originally I hoped for around 4h20m, but as my training went on, that seemed too optimistic and I refined it to 4h30m. On the day I ran with a 4h28m pace band, and got an official time of 4h28m exactly. I'm still basking in the glow of that accuracy. 

My running highlight of 2013
3. Run 10+ races
Nowhere near! 2013 turned out to be a very quiet year for races for me, and I think I did only 4. There was 1 DNS, due to ankle injury, and that injury also stopped me entering any races at the end of the year.
But on the other hand, I hadn't planned to do parkrun so often. I did 30 parkruns in 2013 - that's 30 5Ks that were not officially races, but were timed runs with other people (so quite race-like). 18 of those were run with Robbie, who surprised me first by being able to run the whole thing, and second by being so keen to keep coming back for more! This was something I hadn't planned but loved doing in 2013.
Robbie's first run - first of many!
4. Run 1000 miles
I'm still a bit gutted about this one. I was just about on course to do this in September, as long as I ran 20 miles per week until the end of the year, which I think I could have managed. But then I hurt my ankle, had about 5 weeks off and that was the end of that goal. The final total was 880 miles, which although a long way off my goal, I'm still quite pleased with as it's my highest year yet. Small whoop!

5. Cycle 500 miles
No chance! This failure was mainly down to not having time. The last term of College (Sept - Dec) ended up being really busy for me, and when we added moving house to the mix, I've had very little free time over the last few months. When I was focussed on my running mileage, I didn't have time to cycle as well, and I only cycled a measly 283 miles - significantly less than 2012.

6. Do regular consistent Strength Training
I did this really well while marathon training. Since then though, it basically dropped off my radar as usual.

7. Do stretches EVERYDAY!!!
Again, I did this perfectly up to the marathon. But I did keep doing them afterwards. In the last few weeks I have slackened off a lot, and I dropped from 'every day' to 'after a run', but still, not bad.

8. Keep swimming! Learn to do front crawl and build up to swimming 20+ lengths regularly
No no no. Just no time, and I kept my focus on running. I haven't been swimming for a while now... Must do better!

9. Get a top 3 Age Group Placing
I haven't really done enough races to give myself a chance of this one. Also, I need to do small, local races with hardly any women (and no other 40-44 year olds).

10. Keep Plantar Fasciitis at bay
Yeeees! I'm sure the stretches and strength training helped with this. There's been the occasional niggle, but no heel injury. I did get that ankle injury though, which may also have been an overuse injury, and possibly dure to the marathon.

So there we have it. I missed a lot of those targets, but I suppose if I'd done them all, they would have been too easy. Some of those will definitely continue to be goals for 2014. 

Excellent Christmas present from the family!