Monday 27 February 2012

A faster week

My running has been a little speedier this week, although my cycling was much slower than usual... This was the week of my last long run before the half marathon I'm training for, so it was a bit of a taper week.

I started with an evening run on Monday, which was a recovery run after Saturday's horrible 12 miles. I expected to be tired and slow, but for some reason I was a lot faster than I'd assumed. It was just 3.1 miles, but my average pace was 8.36 min/miles. The previous Monday's recovery run (also 3.1 miles) was run at 9.17 pace, so this was a huge improvement.

On Tuesday I had time for a bike ride, but it all went wrong when I had to struggle home with a flat tyre - see previous post. Pants.

Wednesday was an early morning run, and I did 4 miles while my family slept, at 8.53 pace. This was particularly pleasing because I ran great splits, getting faster with each mile: 9.14; 9.02; 8.50; 8.27. It was also great that I can now experience the sunrise at this time, whereas a couple of weeks ago it would have been pitch black outside.

Then on Friday afternoon, I had to fit in my last long run, as I wouldn't have time at the weekend. I was hoping for a better run than last week's 12 miles, which I struggled for most of and lost all my confidence in running long. On that post I had a whole lot of supportive comments urging me not to worry and that I would do better in the race. Thank you so much for those! You were probably right, as I had a much better attempt on Friday.

I ran 10 miles in 1h32m35s, which is one of my fastest times for 10 miles. In sharp contrast to last week, I actually struggled to go slowly enough - at the start anyway. My first 2 miles were sub 9 mins, and the first 5 miles were all around 9 mins. I slowed down for the last 5 miles, and ended up with 9.12 pace overall. Very pleased with that! And I felt much better too, and could enjoy the run.

On Saturday I was out all day working as an examiner, and on Sunday we had to visit Pete's family for lunch. I didn't have much time in the morning, but squeezed in a 2.2 mile run, just for the fun of it! perhaps the fact that we were in a hurry made me run faster too, as I averaged 8.25 m/m pace - my fastest (if shortest) run for a few weeks.

So in total, that was slightly fewer miles than the last couple of weeks, at 19.3.

This week I am going to keep things just ticking over for the Half which is on Sunday! Can't wait!

Thursday 23 February 2012

The trouble with bikes

As I've been concentrating on my upcoming half marathon recently, I've been using most of my spare time to run. My cross-training has fallen by the wayside a bit, and I haven't cycled as much as I would like.

Up until this week, I had only managed one bike ride in the whole of February. This was during the week after the snow came, and there was still a fair bit of ice and compacted snow on the paths when I tried to cycle on them. This meant a slow ride, and one which was cut short because it was such hard-going.

Then I planned a bike ride last Tuesday. I was looking forward to it as I've been doing so little cycling, and I intended to do about 12 miles. Before I went, the back wheel looked as though it needed some air, so I pumped it up. I went off, and was having quite a good ride, although it was very windy, so I was pretty slow.

After about 4 or 5 miles, I realised that something was wrong. I could feel every bump in the path a little too well, and it was getting harder to keep going. I looked down at the back wheel and it was completely flat. I had a puncture. I changed direction and headed home the quickest way I could, which was about 4 more miles.

It was so hard getting home! I tried to go really carefully so I wouldn't damage the wheel, and it was so uncomfortable. It was extremely slow as well.

I know nothing about bike maitenance, so it's always a worry that a chain could come off, or something else could go wrong. This is where running has a huge advantage - no equipment that can scupper your session - except your tired old body of course!

Monday 20 February 2012

Last week's miles

As I mentioned in my last post, it was half-term last week, so my training has not been in its usual routine. Although having the kids at home meant I lost the time I would normally have to myself, the fact that Pete took 3 days off too gave me the chance to fit some running in.

On Monday morning I set off for a 5 mile run to start the week, but almost straight away I had to ammend my plans. I hadn't realised how much my body would still be aching from the previous Saturday's 11-miler. My legs felt very sore, and I only managed 3.1 miles at a 9.17 min/mile pace! I had forgotten how much these long runs can really take it out of you. In addition to this, I got a bad cough over the weekend, and I don't think that helped.

I next ran on Wednesday, when I did 4 miles at a 9.10 pace, so some improvement. However, after I got back, I felt quite wobbly and realised I had a little bug to fight off. Emma had had a bad cold over the weekend, and I think I'd caught something from her.

By Thursday evening I felt a bit better, and ran another 4 miles, at 9.01 pace, so I was gradually recovering my speed from the long run!

On Saturday it was time for my next long run, and at 2 weeks out from my half marathon race, it had to be 12 miles! I planned my route on Friday evening, so I knew exactly where to go, and I tried to get myself in the right mood. I put some podcasts on my ipod and made sure I had enough to last nearly 2 hours. It was so much warmer than last week, which made getting out a lot easier.

However, the run was anything but easy. My legs felt tired from the start, and by 4 or 5 miles I was seriously thinking of heading home. It was windy and blustery, and there were some stretches where I was running into the wind when I was really going at a walking pace. From mile 5 onwards it was incredibly hard work. I just told myself to keep going, and trudged through one mile at a time.

Eventually I made it. I was exhausted by the end, and my mile splits were horrendous. 4 of the 12 miles took 10 minutes or more, which is a time I never like to see. My overall pace was 9.48m/m. In a half marathon this would give me a finish time of 2h 08m, when I'm really aiming to go under 2h 05m.

So it was not a great boost to my half preparations. On the other hand, I always feel a certain pride in sticking out a really tough run, and I'm so glad I was able to get through it and complete the distance in spite of struggling. Taking into account the wind and the fact that I'd been a bit under the weather and had a nasty cough, I hope I can do better in a couple of weeks.

All that running came to 23.1 miles - still going up! I'll have a little taper next week though, so it won't be as high.

Apart from training, half term has been pretty good. We've managed a fair bit of relaxing, as well as the cinema, a castle, a bike ride, a school project, an art gallery, a walk on the beach, the library, some tree-climbing, and many, many cafes!

Thursday 16 February 2012

Half Term

So this week is half term holiday and although this does absolutely nothing for my training, we have been having fun. Pete took a few days off work too, and although we've done a lot of relaxing and catching up on sleep, we've had some days out too.

On Monday we went to the cinema, and saw the new Muppet movie. It was great, I really enjoyed the nostalgia factor, and the kids laughed a lot. The songs were really good, and as always, the Muppet band are the coolest.

On Tuesday we took a trip to Bodiam Castle. We'd never heard of it until Robbie went on a school trip last year, and he enjoyed it so much he wanted to go back. It's completely surrounded by a moat (which was still frozen from the cold weather when we went), and it's very picturesque.

They had an activity for the kids which was to find a lot of things hidden around the castle and draw pictures on a worksheet. They loved it, and they loved clambering up and down the narrow winding staircases.

Then on Wednesday we were a bit more lazy, but we did go out for a bike ride which was pretty good fun. It's so much nicer now the cold snap has ended and the temperatures are quite comfortable.

Today Pete was back at work, and we caught the train to go and meet him for lunch. The kids were really excited about going to his office and eating in his canteen. It was fun going on the train too.

We're planning to meet a friend tomorrow, then the schools are closed on Monday too, so we are not back to normal until Tuesday. Hopefully next week I'll get stuck in to some more running and cycling!

Tuesday 14 February 2012

Things I learned last week

Last week I learned:

- that I hate running in snow. On Monday I attempted my long run, and there was a lot of fresh snow about. Where it was icy I had to slow down and tread carefully so as not to slip, and where it was deep snow, my feet got soaked, and it was totally exhausting. At one point I just wanted to sit down and cry, it was so hard! I managed 5 miles before giving up.

- how to get a bead out of a child's nose. Yes, Emma did that most cliched act of a small child and stuck a bead up her nose. While facing a 2-hour wait in A & E, a nurse told us that blowing into the child's mouth hard can help dislodge the 'foreign body'. I tried this several times (to Emma's horror) until eventually it slid out, covered in slime, before we'd so much as spotted a doctor. The sheer relief and joy I felt at the moment of the bead coming out of her nose was greater than any I can remember feeling before!

- about a new parent at school. After 5 1/2 months of attending his school down here, Robbie finally had a classmate round to play. It's not that he hasn't made friends, but rather that I haven't got to know any of the parents in the playground. They are an unchatty lot, no-one seems to talk to each other, which I find odd after the village school in Scotland where I knew every Mum of every child in Robbie's year (only about 20 kids!). Anyway, a new girl started, I spoke to her Mum, and they came round for a play last week. We had a great time.

- that I might just be capable of running this half marathon on 4th March. On Saturday, I finally succeeded in a real long run - 11 miles! Woo-hoo! It didn't kill me either. Although my legs are still recovering, I felt fairly strong after the run, and delighted to have got it done.

- that I ran my biggest weekly mileage since August 2010. Into the 20s at last, I totalled 22.45 miles, (plus an 8 mile icy bike ride). Pleased with that!

Tuesday 7 February 2012

January Rundown

That was a pretty awesome month, training wise. I've started 2012 with the highest running mileage for about 18 months (or since the heady days before Plantar Fasciitis). In January I did this:

Ran 18 times = 82.05m
Cycled 5 times = 50.8m
1 race
1 pilates attempt!

So the pilates and resistance training has not been going so well, but my focus has definitely been running. I've built my long run up to 10 miles, and I've run 4 times every week of the year so far.

I'm really hoping to be ready to beat my (admittedly rubbish) PB at a half-marathon in March, and from my January training, I'm pretty much on track, although I could do with some more speed.

However, February is bound to be less consistent. I've been doing all my long runs on Mondays (when Emma is at nursery and Robbie's at school), but this month there are no less than 3 Mondays when Robbie's school is closed! This also includes half term, which means a week of little time to myself at all. We also have plans every weekend, which means I can't easily reschedule my long runs, and in addition to all this, the weather has gone all wrong:

We woke up to thick snow on Sunday morning, and now, on Tuesday afternoon, it's hanging around with a load of slippery ice. It's really hard work to run in, and in the mornings and evenings when it's below freezing, the ice makes it too dangerous to risk. Those of you who live in places where you get a lot of this weather, I really don't know how you do it (ajh I'm looking at you!).

So I will be juggling things in February, and hoping to keep on track with some long runs when I can. Come on sun - melt melt melt!

Thursday 2 February 2012


Ok, so I'm perhaps the last blogger on the internet who will answer this charge, but here it is...

1. Post eleven random things about yourself;

i. I don't like bananas, ever since I was pregnant with Robbie, I can't stand the smell.
ii. I do like banoffee pie though, oddly.
iii. I've been a stay-at-home-Mum since we moved house in August, and I'm starting to like it.
iv. I have applied for some work writing English language exams though, and I'm going to a training session this weekend. I get a paid-for night in a hotel - whoop!
v. I got a Kindle for Christmas and paper books are getting harder to read now.
vi. I've got very low blood pressure. When I was pregnant and getting it checked, the midwife thought the machine was broken, it was so low.
vii. I've been wearing glasses since I was about 16, and contact lenses since my early 20s. Glasses are only a problem for me when I'm running in the rain, or when I walk into a warm place and they steam up.
viii. I failed my driving test 3 times.
ix. I got my licence when I was 19, but didn't own a car until I was 31.
x. I'm currently driving over 100 miles a week just getting kids to school, nursery and various clubs.
xi. Luckily, I quite like driving.

2. Answer the questions set for you:

Alma tagged me first;

What is your preferred method of re-fueling after a long run?
Chocolate milk and preferably, a bar of chocolate.
Do you keep a food diary?
Not now, I did when I was losing weight.
Do you typically run alone or with others?
Typically, alone, but I try to go with a group once a week.
If you could get paid to run, would you?
I suppose I would, but I'd be worried about getting injured if I had to train hard!
Desiree, Shalane, or Kara?
Who are they? Over here it's all about Paula!
What/where is your “dream” race, the race you would love to do over all others barring any limitations in resources or ability?
Maybe the New York marathon? Or one of those Disney ones? They look great! Barring all ability, an Ironman might be fun!
What are you most proud of accomplishing in 2011?
Getting back into running and not just giving up after months of injury.
Have you ever changed careers?
No! This shocks me! I've been involved in EFL (English as a Foreign Language) since graduating.
What podcasts (if any) do you listen to?
Alma you already know I listen to Marathon Talk! The others are mainly from British radio programmes.
If you had to pick, where would you go in 2012: Japan, Iceland, Mexico, or Spain?
Well I lived in Spain for 5 years, and Japan for 18 months, so I would have to say... Mexico! For the weather and the food...
How much longer do you think you’ll continue to blog?
As long as I have a few followers!

Then ajh;

What tv series do you recommend?
The Wire is still one of the best things I've seen. I love Modern Family too - funny, but full of heart.
What is a book you couldn't put down?
Recently, it was 'So much for all that' by Lionel Shriver.
Serious movies or chick flicks?

Definitely serious movies. I miss going to the cinema since we had the kids...
What is a race you would recommend hands down?
Strathaven 10k or Dechmont Law Trail Race - two small races in Scotland with a friendly atmosphere and homemade cakes at the end.
What grade did your favorite teacher ever teach?
Hard to say - I loved my English teacher and my music teacher when I was 16/17. I was the only pupil in music, so it's lucky we got on well!
If you could live anywhere where would you live?
Somewhere near here as we moved to be nearer our families. I'
d rather be in a huge house in a little village though!
What was one of the best days of your life aside from marriage and childbirth?

Easy - running the marathon!
What food could you never give up?
Even easier - chocolate in all its glorious forms...
What is a place you would NEVER want to live?
Any big city like London, Paris, new York. Great for a visit, but I'd hate to live there.
What famous person do you admire?
Stephen Fry has been my idol since I was a teenager (I wrote to him!), but I'm really admire Chrissie Wellington these days.

Now I'm supposed to tag some more people, but I can't think of anyone who hasn't been tagged who might still want to do it. If you read this and want to, let me know and I'll send you 11 questions!