Thursday, 27 June 2013

Heathfield Midsummer 10K Race Report

This year I haven't really been running as many races as I had planned. This has been partly down to being busy and doing family stuff most weekends, and partly due to focusing on the marathon and then recovering from it.

So last week on a whim, I decided to enter a local 10K. The last day for online entry was Thursday and I did it at about 5pm that evening . I had been procrastinating about it for a while...

Having entered, I spent a concerned few days looking at some fairly rubbish weather forecasts of rain and wind, but on Sunday morning, it was actually quite warm and sunny, and most importantly, dry. We'd been to a friend's party the night before and it had been a late night for the kids, so I left them and Pete at home recovering, and drove myself to the race.

Arrived at the start
In my sleepy, confused state, I forgot to take any money, and when I started driving, I realised that there wasn't much petrol in the car. It should have been enough, but as I got to the location, I got a bit lost and drove a few miles the wrong way. Luckily I found it soon, but it was a slightly stressful start!

This was a small race, but a local Grand Prix race, which means that the local running clubs send teams of top runners to compete and win points in their leagues, so there were a lot of fast runners there. There were some fun-runners too, but it was quite a fast field overall. I picked up my number, and it was soon time to line up for the start.

Preparing to start
The course was advertised as being 'undulating for the first half and uphill for the second' - uh-oh! It was run on quiet country roads, with just the occasional passing car to worry about. Most of the route was under a canopy of trees, and I thought that if it had been raining we would have got really cold, but as it was, the conditions were perfect for running.

The course proved to be as advertised - we started with a long downhill, then an uphill, then a downhill... and so on. I picked up speed on all the down stretches, and ran the first 5K in about 25m30s, which was faster than a lot of my recent 5K runs. I knew that the second half would make up for this though. Throughout the race I kept picking off runners, and no-one really overtook me after the first 2Ks or so. Just after the 7K mark, the long uphill started. It was just a slow, steady, 3K climb to the end.
Course profile - yuck!
It wasn't too steep for most of it, but it was relentless, and a bit of a slog at the end. The very last part of the race turned into a field (the local rugby club), and there was about 200m to run around the field to the finish. As each athlete entered the field, their name was announced on a loudspeaker, which was a nice touch.

I tried to sprint as hard as I could to the finish line. At the end there was a bottle of water and a medal - no frills! I sat on the grass for a bit and watched a few runners come in before leaving.

I really enjoyed the race. The next day the results were online, and I finished 147 of 212 runners, in a time of 54m24s. I was 31 out of 73 women and 6 of 14 in my age group. I was quite happy with my time on a hilly course and up against some good runners.

I did feel quite tired afterwards though, and after blogging in my previous post about a busy weekend, I've been feeling unwell this week. I called in sick to work on Tuesday and stayed in bed all morning. I think it's a virus as I haven't got a cold, but have been achey, weak and dizzy and my temperature has been up and down like crazy.

I'm feeling much better today though, but perhaps it's a lesson not to overdo it at the weekends!

Sunday, 23 June 2013

A Busy Weekend

It's been a very busy couple of days.

I started Saturday morning in the same way as many previous Saturdays this year - with a parkrun. It was a pretty horrible morning, with constant rain and very strong winds, but I was really in the mood for a run. When I arrived, there were predictably fewer runners than in the recent warmer and sunnier weeks. A lot of the run is on grass, so trainers were soon covered in mud and cut grass.

I felt ok during the run, and as I came to the last 500 metres or so, there were a couple of women in front of me who looked to be slowing. I gave it all my effort and managed to overtake both. I started to feel really sick, as though I was going to throw up, but I stayed ahead of them and crossed the line in 25m16s, which is my equal fastest time this year - yay!

My highest ever position among female runners at parkrun is 4th, and I had hoped that this might have been enough to get me into the top 3 this time. Sadly though, when I saw the results later, I was 4th again! I'll have to wait for a cold, wet winter day when hardly anyone else turns up.

After the run it was home for a quick shower and change, and then I went off to work. I was examining in English Language Tests. When I finished, we had been invited to a friend's barbecue, just round the corner from our house. By then the weather had improved slightly, although it was still windy. I got the train back, walked straight to the party where Pete and the kids had been for a couple of hours, and got stuck in.

It was a really nice evening as there were a lot of kids playing together while the grown-ups ate and drank. As it got late and dark, the kids showed no signs of slowing down, and I ended up having a few lagers. Eventually we got back at about 11.30pm, and everyone fell asleep.

Then this morning, I had a race! This was my first race since the marathon in April, and I only entered a few days ago on a whim. It was a local 10K, and I ended up driving there alone, as the kids were too late getting up!

The weather was dry and warm, and the course was very hilly, but good fun. I'll write a proper report about it later, but I had a good time there, and was only faintly aware of having had a late night and too much beer the night before.

Posing with medal in the garden
This afternoon we tried to relax, and after a supermarket shp, we went to a lovely cake shop for a delicious cream tea. This was a real treat which we haven't done for a long time, so it was really nice.

Now it's Sunday evening, and we're all exhausted - probably a sign of a weekend well spent!

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Encouraging others to run

Not long after I ran Brighton marathon (in April), a friend of mine told me she was thinking of getting fit and taking up running. Her ultimate goal was to run a Half marathon and raise money for a charity close to her heart, but for now she just wanted to get started. So a few weeks ago we started running together.

As I'm not a personal trainer or running expert in any way, I googled some beginner training plans, and cast my mind back not that long ago to when I could only run 2 minutes, walk 5 minutes and repeat. We started one Sunday morning with a stroll to the start of the local trail, then alternated 3 minutes of running with 2 minutes of walking, over about 2.5 miles.

As she works and I work, and she has 3 kids and I have 2, we only managed to squeeze in one run per week together, but she did also do the occasional run on her own in the week. About 3 weeks in to our training, another school Mum said she'd like to join us.

So we've been running together as a group of 3 for the last 4 weekends, and it's been good. Although I have sometimes felt that I'd rather just go at my own pace, overall it's been fun to pass on my enthusiasm for running! One time when I wanted to increase my mileage, I just ran a few miles on my own before we met up and another week I ran 5x in total instead of my usual 4x, to make up my mileage, so it's been ok.

I must admit, it's quite nice to think that my running has inspired others to think they can do it too. I certainly think that almost anyone is capable of becoming a runner - if you want it enough, you can always find time, and it's something than can be learnt and trained for from nothing.

Meanwhile I hope I can encourage my kids to run and do other sports. So far they are both keen and confident swimmers and both love being active in general. They're not really interested in running yet though, and I don't want to push it on them and put them off.

I hope that by seeing me exercising, they will assume that it's just a normal part of life, and that by attending running events and races, they might be inspired to take part. They have participated in a few children's races - some they enjoyed, others not so much - and they have marshalled at parkrun 3 or 4 times. Last week, I volunteered and they accompanied me as I handed out position tokens at the finish. It was good fun, and I hope that these experiences will help promote the idea that exercise can be fun and normal!

Little angels...

Friday, 14 June 2013

The Headlines This Week

Here is the news this week...

On Monday I went to netball. I'd missed a few weeks due to it being cancelled for rain and a holiday, and then I missed one. This week it was good fun, but there were 18 of us there, and we ended up playing with 4 on each team. Not enough! It was extremely funny to intercept the ball, turn round and not see anyone to throw it to as there simply weren't enough players. At times we couldn't continue for laughing.

Unfortunately though, about half way through, I hurt my finger when the ball hit the end of it. It was quite painful, and although I carried on playing, I could only really try to catch the ball with one hand, which proved unsuccessful overall. Luckily everyone there is very relaxed about skill levels. As I was Centre, I asked if anyone wanted to swap with me and I said 'I can't catch', and about 3 people replied 'don't worry, neither can I'.

 Normal size ring finger

Swollen ring finger (wedding ring stuck!)
My finger was very swollen when I left, and I put an ice-pack on it later to calm down the throbbing, and it's a lot better now.

On Tuesday I wasn't working, and I finally managed a decent long run - my first since the marathon many weeks ago. I ran 8 miles which was quite enjoyable, despite the drizzle that soaked me on the way home.

I've been really tired this week, and my students have been preparing for an exam, which has provided me with lots of extra work, while I've also been covering for another teacher. So yesterday and this morning I got up early (dragging myself away from the pillow) to fit in a couple of runs. Both times I felt much better for it, if knackered by the evening. And at some point this morning, I tipped my year's mileage over the 500 miles mark.

One of my goals this year is to run 1,000 miles, and as I have no plans to train for another marathon, I'm not sure I'll make it in the second half of the year. For now though, I'm still on track!

And that concludes this week's news.

Friday, 7 June 2013

May Rundown and Sunny Running!

Summer has arrived at long last and I've had a great week of enjoying the sunshine, despite working for some of it. I managed to fit in a run before work on Tuesday, then went for a super-quick spin on my bike after work on Wednesday.

But on Thursday I had the pleasure of a day off, a sunny day and nothing to do except enjoy it. So I drove to the town of Seaford, about 9 miles away, and parked by the beach. From there, I headed up to the cliffs to attempt some trail running and see a different view of a place I love.

It was a pretty steep climb up though, and I found myself walking very soon after starting the ascent onto the cliffs. It was all very green as I got to a clifftop golf course and plodded slowly past it. There was a sheer drop to my right as I got to a high point and then started going downhill.

After going through this gate, the path went downhill to the most fantastic view of the chalk clifffs. It was amazing, flying down that slope towards that view with no-one else in sight.

Great fun to run down!
Love this view

I went on over the cliffs, stopping to snap photos and to work out where I was going. I came to a point where I was overlooking a beach that we went to last weekend, but I hadn't approached from this side before.

Then I headed back the way I'd come, but on a different path. The views were just lovely and the sunshine was glorious.


When I got back to the car, I'd only done 4 miles, although after all the hills it felt like more! So I jogged along the beach for a mile, and back again to make it up to 6 miles in total. It was nice and flat there!

I loved the bright colours of these beach huts:

Long may the good weather continue so I can get more runs like this...

As for May, my running mileage was still quite low following the marathon. I've been running very regularly, but my longest run in May was only 6 miles. I did a fair bit of cycling though, especially as the sun came out.

Ran - 16x = 65.6 miles
Cycled - 4x = 63.3 miles
3 Parkruns

I could really do with a race to motivate me, so I hope I'll find one that fits in with our busy weekends in June. I need a goal!

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Half-Term Hijinks

Last week was half term here, which meant no school and no work - yay! We did a lot of stuff together...

A walk in the woods

A play in the woods
... including a trip to visit friends in Luxembourg...

Pretty City
 ... which was lovely in sunshine...

... and in rain...

...then back home to the English seaside and finally some good weather!