Sunday 25 September 2011

The Big 10k

Well today was my second race of the year and my 4th 10k ever. In my previous post I related how I have struggled with this distance in the past, but I felt that I ran ok today (in spite of my time...).

It was a very hot sunny morning and the race - The Big 10K - takes place in Bexhill-on-sea and is all along the seafront. It was a lovely route with fantastic views across the Channel taking in beaches, cliffs and little boats out to sea. However, while the race is advertised as a fast, flat course, there was a last minute change due to unexpected road works. This meant that we had to do 2 times a 5k loop, and this loop contained a nasty little hill.

It was a small hill, but steep, and you had to run up, then down, then turn round and back up and down. As the loop was then repeated, this meant 4 steep hills instead of the planned 2. Anyway, it wasn't too bad (and let's face it, after Scotland I am used to hills). The bigger problem was the sunshine.

It was a glorious day, but there was not one spot of shade, and very little wind, and it was just roasting! There were a few drink stations but I didn't dare to take any water as I didn't want to get a stitch, even though I soon felt quite dehydrated.

Anyway, my first mile was ridiculous (8m47s), but it was slightly downhill, and I just can't help but get caught up at the start of a race. The next 4 miles were all well over 9 mins, with an exceptional 5th mile of 9m41s - I was suffering by then! My last mile though was 8m58s - I had held something back at least.

As I got to the finish line, I felt so hot, exhausted and a bit sick, and for the first time ever, I slowed down almost to a walk as I crossed the finish line. I usually try and sprint towards the end (although I often feel as though I'm sprinting only to watch a video later of a tired me plodding slowly). Today, it was just too hot.

I hit the button on my Garmin at 57m16s, giving me an average pace of 9m10s. I know I said I was aiming for 56 mins (and if I'm honest, I'm always secretly hoping for a PB), but I think a flatter course on a cloudy day would have got me that.

Looking back at my Garmin data, I see I hadn't run over 6 miles since 3rd June, and before that not since September last year when I got injured! So taking that into account, I'm fine with the time. I've got something to improve on now.

Plus it was great fun to do a race again. Even better though was the kids' race at the start. Robbie and Emma did the 500 metre race and it was brilliant! Their first race and they really enjoyed it. I was amazed as the race started and within about 10 seconds, Robbie had run off - he's not at all competitive, and more likely to wait for Emma than think to run fast, but today he really surprised me. It was great to see him go for it - Pete said most of the kids in front of him were aged about 8 or older, and he's only 6, so I think he did ok.

As for Emma, I ran along side her, and she just kept going. We were almost at the back as she was one of the youngest, but she ran the whole thing and never gave up or complained. As we came towards the finish, she started waving to the crowd - it was hilarious, and as there was no-one else around us, they were all clapping and cheering her on!

I wish there were more childrens' events like this with adult races - it was such a nice atmosphere and a great thing for them to take part in.

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Me versus 10K

On Sunday evening I was half-watching a crappy film on tv, when I decided to browse the internet for what local races were coming up. I thought I could see whether there might be a 5k or 10k in about November or something that I might try... anyway, I ended up registering for a 10k next Sunday! I didn't really mean to, but it's only about 12 miles away, and it's along the seafront, so hopefully fairly flat. I've only done two races so far in 2011, so I just couldn't help myself.

As I went for a preparatory 5 mile run on Monday, I started thinking about my history of 10ks. I've done 3 before now, and none of them has gone particularly well.

The first 10k I did was my second ever race. I had done a 5k in June 2008, and couldn't really believe that I could keep running for over 6 miles in one go. But I signed up for the Great Edinburgh Run in May 2009. It's quite a big race, and was televised. I started off too fast, and probably overdid it on some of the downhills (it's very hilly). Just before 6k, I got a stitch, and had to stop and walk for a while. But I made it to the finish line in 62 minutes, which I was happy with.


Then 6 months later I did my next 10k. By then I had joined a running group, and was running a lot more regularly and with a focus. The 'Run with the wind' event had competitors meet at a school, then we were all ferried up a hill in some coaches, and the race was run down the hill back to the school. Although the course had some uphills too, it was down overall, and the first 2 kilometres were basically a case of falling down a small mountain. It was pouring with rain, so I wanted to get it over with quickly, and I ran with a friend who was faster than me. By 5k, I had to stop and walk - I had a stitch again, and I was exhausted. I started running at a more appropriate pace soon, and still managed to bag a huge PB of just under 55mins - still my best time at this distance.


The following year I concentrated on the marathon, and then eventually got injured and out of action. My 'comeback' race after all the heel pain was the trail race I did last June. It was supposed to be a 10k, but turned out to be a 9.3k. It went ok, but I was a bit disappointed that it was short, and I found the trail a lot tougher than road. Again I had to walk up a particularly steep hill. Having said all that, I really enjoyed it.


My main problem with 10ks seems to be that I start off too fast and get a stitch halfway through. I'm not expecting a PB on Sunday, as I've barely run over 3 miles since that trail race, but my 5k pace has been fairly good recently. I'm hoping to enjoy a new race in a new town, and not have to walk in the middle of it, and aim to be somewhere around 56 mins. I can't wait to find out what kind of souvenir there'll be...

Sunday 18 September 2011


So as many of you noticed in my last post, I have bought a bike! I bid for it on ebay, and won it for a bargain price of £32. I had to drive just over 50 miles round trip to pick it up, but I still think it was a good deal.

So on Tuesday I went for a little ride to check it out, and to also explore the local cycle paths. As sson as I started cycling, I realised that the saddle was too low, so I didn't go too far as my legs felt quite uncomfortable. Pete helped me raise the saddle later, and on Friday I managed a longer ride.

This time it felt great. It was a lovely sunny afternoon and I just followed the cycle path signs. It was great. Everything was so clearly signed. In Scotland, our local cycle path was very badly signed, so if you didn't know where you were going, you would just suddenly come to a dead end. Here though, it is difficult to get lost. I had no idea where I was going, but every turn and junction was marked so I didn't have a problem. I can't wait to explore more of the fantastic network of paths round here.

On the way home, I had a craving for chocolate milk, and I knew there was none at home. So I took a small diversion to the local supermarket, bought a bottle, and wedged it in my brilliant bottle holder that came on the bike. What a great feature!

As for running, it was a really good week! On Wednesday morning I ran my fastest 5k for a while - 26m37s. This was an average pace of 8m35s per mile - a huge improvement on my recent times around 9 min miles. I must admit though, it's a lot flatter than my usual route in Scotland!

Then on Thursday evening, Pete managed to get home from work on time for once, and I went to try a local running club. It was great - we did a hill session, which I always enjoy, and it was very friendly. As usual, I found that running with others made me push myself more than on my own, and I really attacked the hills. I definitely want to go regularly, but as Pete is working long hours at the moment, I probably won't be able to go for a few weeks. Hopefully his new job will settle down soon...

On Saturday I had a plan - I wanted to run at a slower pace and do about 5 miles. We were going away on Saturday night and I knew it would be hard to fit a run in on Sunday. So I set off at about 9am, and tried to keep my pace around 9min miles. It started off sunny, but I soon got soaked in two heavy showers. Anyway, I did what I wanted - 5.1 miles at 9m08s average pace. I was really happy with that.

I'm looking forward to exploring more in the next few days on the bike and on foot, and adding to my distances as well.

Wednesday 14 September 2011


Hooray for E-bay!

Monday 12 September 2011

Settling in

So I've finally been getting some running done! When I looked back at my running diary and the calendar on the Garmin, I couldn't believe how long it had been since I'd been running regularly. Basically, ages. I ran 4 times in the first week of July, and then had a bad cough and cold. I didn't run again until 31st July, when I barely managed to complete 1 mile! After that my running was very sporadic, and whenever I did get out I struggled with both distance and speed.

But since we moved, I've been running a bit more, and my speed has definitely been improving.

Last week we got stuck into a new routine as Robbie started school and Emma nursery. I managed to run 4 times, about 3 miles each time, but also including a great 4 mile run on Friday. It was really hot and humid, but I felt good, and averaged 8.53min/miles, which is definitely an improvement on previous weeks. As you can see, I was very red and sweaty after that run.

This week I am hoping to try a local running club, which is as much to meet people as anything. I've also just bought a bike! Since mine was stolen before we moved, I've really been missing it, especially as there are a lot of cycle routes around here that I can't wait to try. I haven't picked it up yet though, so I'm looking forward to that. Hopefully summer will hold on for a few more weeks, despite high winds today. I'll need some fine weather to get out on the bike!

Monday 5 September 2011

New house, new start!

Phew, that was a long break from blogging! I'm typing this from our new living room in the South of England! We arrived 2 weeks ago today, and there is still plenty of unpacking and sorting out to do... boooring. It seems incredible to me that we've moved from a 2-bedroom flat to a 3-bedroom, 3-storey house, and yet we have too much stuff to fit in. We blame it on the kids of course.

So far so good. The weather has been pretty sunny and warm here compared to in Scotland, and I'm enjoying exploring the local area. Our little town is quite quiet, but there are a few good shops in the High Street. There is a good leisure centre about 3 miles away, and I've already signed Robbie up for swimming lessons there. There is lots of nice countryside around us, and we are near the coast, and some good beaches.

There are a couple of little flies in the ointment though. We haven't managed to sell our flat in Scotland yet. The property market is in a poor state, and there is no market for small, first time properties such as ours. We can't afford to keep paying the mortgage for much longer, so might have to consider renting it out soon.

The other problem is that Robbie has not been able to get a place at a local school. The South of England is densely populated - there's so much more traffic here than in Scotland! - and the 2 local schools are full. This means he is in a school 3 miles away, so he's not going to make any local friends there, and it's not a particularly good school academically. I've got him on the waiting lists for the 2 local schools, which have better reputations, but this morning we had to drive him to his first day in the car. The local schools would be walking distance, so I really hope he gets a place nearer here eventually.

Meanwhile I am not making a lot of progress with my fitness. Before we moved my running had got to a low standard - I was running short distances slowly. After more time off, I'm not much better. However, last week I started running here. I went for 2 runs without my Garmin, so I could just explore the area and run without worrying about my speed. That was a nice change!

Last weekend, I took my Garmin as we now had an internet connection set up, and ran about 3 miles at a 9.01m/m pace. Not great. But as today is the first day of school, and Emma starts nursery tomorrow, it is time to start new routines! I'll be trying to increase my running a little, and work on speeding up and getting back to full fitness. I'll also be finding my way around the many footpaths here, and working out some new routes. I'll be sure to take some pictures of those for the blog!