Saturday 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas!

It's nearly Christmas! I've been really looking forward to it this year. I've always enjoyed Christmas, but having the kids just makes you see things through their eyes. Robbie and Emma are old enough to know a bit about what to expect now, and they're so excited about tomorrow. I'm looking forward to them opening their presents too, and then going out for a little walk before an enormous, delicious lunch, followed by cake, mince pies, chocolate etc and maybe a few games before plopping down on the sofa with a drink to watch some Christmas tv, some more mince pies...

Decorating Christmas biscuits

I had a good run yesterday - 6.2 miles in strong winds, drizzle and under dark skies, it was wonderful! Although the temperatures have been pretty mild here, it felt like a nice wintry run as the wind blew right up my nose. I've run about 13/14 miles each week this month, but I'm not sure what I'll manage next week. We'll be visiting family after Christmas, so I'll be fitting the running in whenever I get the chance.

Gingerbread stars by Robbie and Emma

Hope all readers of this blog have a lovely Christmas and a wonderful new Year!

Tuesday 20 December 2011

Last week's running

Last week was fairly busy. I had to fit running around my parents' visit, my birthday and a night out, Robbie's school holiday (term ended on Thursday), Pete's work night out, Pete's 2-day trip to Scotland, and an overnight stay from a friend. All things considered, I'm happy with my running!

On Monday I ran an uneventful 4 miles before my parents arrived and while Emma was at nursery. Then on Tuesday I went to my running club. It was the night of the 'Turkey Trot'. This event is an approximately 3 mile run in which everyone estimates their speed and is given a handicap. The first across the line wins a Christmas turkey, and prizes are awarded for fastest male and female. Needless to say, I did not go along for the prizes.

The race took place around the streets of the town, which meant some looking out for traffic, and some busy pavements. I set off with 2 other women who estimated their times as similar to mine. However, once we started, one of them (B), went off like a rocket! The other woman (A), with whom I often run and who I know is about the same speed as me, went with B, and soon the pair of them were running at under 7min/mile pace. Well I knew this was no good for me. I didn't want to completely blow up, so I let them go. I was running much harder than I would have liked, but I wasn't prepared to overdo it by so much.

They zoomed off, and after a while, other runners started catching me and overtaking. I think a lot of runners underestimated their ability, and I'll know to be more cautious next year! Anyway, I kept running fast, and after the first 1.5 miles, I started to catch them up. I could see that A was started to flag, as I had expected her to, and I overtook her at around 2miles. Then I could see B
just in front of me. I pushed hard, but suddenly we had reached the end of the race. I hadn't really known where it was, and it was only about 2.7m, according to my Garmin.

I wished I had realised where the finish was as I think I could have taken B as well! However, it was only for fun, and in the end my time was 5 seconds behind her, so not too bad. It was a really enjoyable event, and very sociable.

On Wednesday morning I went for a birthday run of 3miles, as I knew I would be busy for the next few days. That's the first time I've run on 3 consecutive days for a while! I didn't get a chance to leave the kids for a run until Sunday, when I had a very enjoyable 4m run round the housing estates nearby.

So in total I managed 4 runs and a total of 14.4 miles. Not bad. This week I might be too busy making and eating mince pies and biscuits, never mind the fact that the kids are both on holiday. My goal for now is to run just enough not to put on too much weight!

Homemade and delicious!

Friday 16 December 2011

Another year older...

It was my birthday on Wednesday! My parents were here for most of the week, and after taking Robbie to school, I went for a little run while Mum and Dad looked after Emma. It was a great way to start the day, especially as I knew I was going to be doing a lot of eating later on.

We went out for lunch and I had a really tasty burger and chips. I was trying not to eat too much as I was going out for dinner too, but I did have pudding (naturally), and ended up feeling really stuffed. After picking Robbie up from school, I got glammed up (more than usual anyway), and caught the train into Brighton to meet Pete.

With Emma in the restaurant

The weather was horrendous, and as it was pouring with rain and hail, we decided to head for the cinema. First though, we stopped off in a pub for a couple of huge vodka and tonics - a drink we both used to enjoy about 15 years ago when we first met but hardly ever drink nowadays! It was lovely.

We saw 'My week with Marilyn' which was really good. Kenneth Branagh was hilarious and Michelle Williams was amazing as Marilyn Monroe. Before we had children we used to go to the cinema 2 or 3 times a month, and now we go about once or twice a year. Whenever we get the opportunity of a babysitter, it's usually our first choice for what to do.

After the film we went to a little Spanish restaurant. It was a tiny place with just a few wooden tables and one (really good) waitress. We ate tapas and the food was just like what we used to eat when we lived in Spain, it was lovely and very nostalgic.

So as I reach the very end of my thirties, I wonder what should be on my 'list-of-things-to-do-before-I-turn-40'. I'd definitely like to get a few more PBs! I wonder when I'll get to the age of slowing down, rather than speeding up? As I only started running a few years ago, I still think I can get faster, but I sometimes feel as though I'm past it already! I know that Paula Radcliffe will be aiming to win the Olympic marathon next year, and she's only 1 year younger than me. In fact, Constantina Dita won the Olympic marathon in 2008 at the age of 38, so I can't really use age as an excuse...

A delicious gift

Monday 12 December 2011

Last week

The Good:
  • I started the week on a high after my PB race on Saturday!
  • I had a great run on Wednesday evening. It was about 5k, and I ran about 4 mins slower (!) than my new PB, but I really, really enjoyed being out there.
  • The sun came out for a lovely bike ride along the cycle path on Friday afternoon.
  • I ran 5 miles on Saturday night with a fantastic view of the moon, huge, low, and yellow. It was another really enjoyable run, and ended up being pretty fast too (44m45s).
  • I picked up my dumbbells and then repeated a few times for the first time in months.
  • I am LOVING running in the cold weather. It's keeping me warm and preventing the winter blues!

Sunny bike ride in the country

The Not-so-good:
  • I tried a run on Monday morning which totalled 1 mile as I had an unexplained backache and I gave up and walked home.
  • I ran with the club on Tuesday, and while it was nice to run with others, I really hated the hill session we did. Every time we reached the top of the hill, the wind smacked into us...urgh...
So the good far outweighs the not-so-good!

Ran 13.4miles
Cycled 10.6miles

New landmark on the cycle path!

Thursday 8 December 2011

November rundown

Well November was not a bad month, despite a few days of illness which stopped me working out for almost a full week. Surprisingly I managed to fit in the same number of runs as in October, although I did a lot less cycling to make time for that.

Ran 13x = 52.7 miles
Cycled 3x = 30.3 miles

That's only 5 miles fewer than I ran in October, which means I'm still doing a lot better than the rest of 2011. I didn't cycle as much as I would have liked, partly becuase I wanted to run more, and partly because of a couple of trips Christmas shopping which took priority when I had child-free time on my hands!

I'm quite happy with what I did last month though - I increased my long run to 8 miles (my furthest run in 2011), I focused on speeding up on shorter runs, I did a couple of really good sessions with the local club, and I found more picturesque routes for cycling. Interestingly I did all my long runs on Monday mornings (when Emma is at nursery), and only ran once on a weekend day! That was because we were away every weekend - I didn't spend one Saturday night in my own home throughout the month!

I haven't got any races planned in December, so I'm really focussing on maximising the enjoyment of running. I don't feel the need to do any tough running sessions like long runs or speedy sprints, I just want to revel in being out there in the cold, feeling fit, healthy, uninjured (fingers crossed) and lucky to be running.

No doubt various Christmas events will be getting in the way all month, but I'm going to fit in what I can. Speaking of which, this week we've already enjoyed a school nativity play:

Shepherd 1

..and Emma's little performance at dancing class:

Bring on the festivities!

Monday 5 December 2011

Christmas Cracker Chase 5k

If you are seeking advice about getting a PB at 5K, do as I say rather than as I did on Saturday. For example:

1. Don't choose a race date the morning after your husband has a big work party, coming home at 1.30am and waking you up.

2. Similarly, avoid a time when your husband has a cold and snores all night, keeping you awake so you end up downstairs on the sofa.

3. Don't choose a race route along the seafront on a windy day as there will be no shelter from that headwind for the first 2.5k.

4. Don't eat an enormous bowl of pasta and whole bag of choclate raisins the night before. It's not a marathon, you don't need to carb-load, and you will need to find a toilet in the morning just before the race.

5. Do press the on button on your Garmin efficiently at the start of the race. This will help you discern your speed, how far there is to go, and whether you are on course for a PB or not.

6. Do position yourself at the start so you can hear when the race has started, rather than coming to a gradual realisation when people in front of you start jogging.

Despite all these basic errors, I got my PB! So what do I know about race preparation...

Anyway, it was really cold when we arrived at the start of the race. I bravely removed my jacket as I knew I'd get hot with running, and I'm glad I did - the sun even came out towards the end. I stood fairly near the front, but I didn't hear the race start, and as people started moving off, I relaised that I should have got right at the front. I had to run around a lot of fun-runners straightaway.

After less than a minute I looked at my Garmin and realised it was even later to the party - I had missed hitting the start button somehow. I switched it on, and tried to cope with the horror of not being able to measure my progress exactly. It turned out that I had only missed 0.1 miles though, so it wasn't too bad. When my first mile beeped, I looked down and I had run 8m12s. I knew I needed to be averaging under 8 min miles so I was a bit disheartened when I saw that.

There was a 10k at the same time, and all the runners ran 2.5k together, until we turned and headed back to the start to finish the race, while the 10k-ers continued further along the seafront. So for the first part of the race I was trying to keep up with and catch certain runners, and then I remembered that most of them would disappear at the turn anyway, and so it proved. We ran into a fairly strong headwind to the turn, but all the way back it felt a lot better!

For the rest of the race I was completely on my own. No-one caught me and the runners in front of me were about 1 minute away, so it was down to me to motivate myself. I did have the back of the pack coming towards me now though, and there was a 'last runner' marshal who told me I was about 8th. That made me feel great!

All the way back I couldn't see where the finish was, and I kept seeing landmarks and thinking 'nearly there', and it wasn't at all. I didn't know how much I'd missed on the Garmin, so I couldn't tell how far I had to go. The last part of that last mile was really tough. I just kept telling myself how gutted I'd be if I gave up, and how great I'd feel if I got under my PB.

Eventually I saw Pete and the kids at the side of the path, and the finish just behind them. they were all clapping away, and Robbie and Emma came to join me and run the last part with me. It was lovely, until I suddenly noticed I wasn't running as fast as I could! I'd slowed down a bit to run with them! As any good athlete would, I gasped an apology and kicked for the finish line.

I stopped my Garmin, which said 3 miles in 23m49s, so I thought I'd probably done enough but I didn't know for sure. I collected my memento coaster, a cracker, and a mince pie along with a drink. Then we went for a huge lovely cup of coffee.

I spent the rest of the day checking the website for the official results. Finally they were posted in the evening, and I saw that I was officially 8th position out of 63 women with a PB of 24m31s!! My Garmin stats were as follows:
Mile 1: 8m12s
Mile 2: 7m49s
Mile 3: 7m47s
I am not used to those sub-8 min miles!

I was so excited for the rest of the weekend! I knew I could get close, but I wasn't sure how much faster I could go. Now I think I could go faster without the wind and with a better start etc, but I won't be going for it yet. It was a really good event and one I'd hope to do again.

Saturday 3 December 2011


Nailed it! Despite strong winds by the sea, I ran a PB of 24m31s this morning - 20 seconds off of my previous PB! So pleased with this time, and I finished 8th out of about 60 runners - Yay me!!!