Monday 28 May 2012

Bike, Sun, Run, Mum...

Well that was a week of fantastic summer weather. Of course we Brits have all been out trying to make the most of it, because you never know how long it will last. I absolutely love a sunny day, but I must admit, I have been struggling a bit with running in the heat.

I'm trying to gradually up my mileage at the moment, and on Monday I went for an 8-miler. It was pretty hot, and I spent most of the run trying to find shade, but there wasn't much. Thankfully it was a bit windy, which helped keep me slightly cooler.

On Tuesday I couldn't wait to get out on my bike. It was glorious, and I cycled to the nearest bit of coast to our town. It was almost 6 miles there, and I could ride right up to the beach. Most people were at work or school so it was really quiet. It was lovely.

The only drawback was, I only had about 5 mins to soak it up before turning around and heading back, to pick Emma up from nursery! Later that evening, I discovered I had red, sore arms, and a distinct line where my t-shirt sleeves were. Nice.

I ran early on Wednesday morning, but it was still too hot even at 6.30am, and on Friday I attempted to run up a hill, which was a bit silly.

At the weekend, we had friends staying over on Saturday night, so I knew that it would be tough to get up and run on Sunday morning. On Saturday though, Pete was away all day, and took the car with him. Initially I thought it would have to be a rest day, but then I decided to take the kids out on their bikes, and I would run along with them. Emma is only on a balance bike still (with no pedals), so she can't go too fast, and Robbie just has to wait for us to catch up every so often.

Getting ready to go

We drank some water, went to the loo, applied loads of suncream and set off. We headed for the cuckoo trail - a long, flat, traffic-free cycle path - only to find it was closed off for maintenance to sewer pipes. How dare they do that on a sunny day?!

So I improvised and went another way. It was very difficult running. We were constantly stopping and starting, Emma couldn't keep up, Robbie stopped if anyone came the other way, they both kept moaning about injuries or tiredness and I ran about half a mile in 15 minutes.

Then I had a better idea. We went down a dusty track, into a field, over 2 stiles, and eventually found ourselves in the local park. There was a play area for the kids, and while they entertained themselves there, I ran round and round the park. They were happy, I was happy to be running faster and without stopping, and I could keep an eye on them too. It worked out really well, although I only got to 2.7 miles, as I didn't want to leave them for too long, and the sun was getting hotter.

We dragged ourselves and the bikes home to get some ice-cream. And I didn't have to run on Sunday! So altogether last week I ran 20.1 miles, and cycled 12m.

Sure enough the temperature is forecast to drop this week, but I'm actually quite happy with this. I can sacrifice a bit of sunbathing in the garden if it makes my long runs more comfortable!

Friday 25 May 2012

Hill Run

At the edge of the town where we live there is a big hill. It's visible from most places around town, and we have lovely views of it every day on the school run. Since we moved here in August last year, I've often wondered how I could get to the foot of it so I could go up it. A few weeks ago I pootled around on my bike, and eventually found a path that leads to the bottom of the hill. Then we had weeks of heavy rain, which put me off trying to run near there.

Now we are enjoying a long period of hot sunny weather, so this morning I headed off to the foot of the hill.

Before I left I applied plenty of suncream, as my arms are already sunburnt from the last few days, and most of the run was unshaded. It was about 2 miles to the hill, and then I got to a gate and a field with 2 cows and some calves in. Luckily I met a walker there, and she told me which direction to head in.

It was quite steep and I had to walk quite a lot of it, and I stopped near the top to sit and rest in the blazing sun. I started to worry that I was going to get sunburn or sunstroke (or just dehydrated), so after snapping a few pictures of the view, I clambered down again. It was still slow-going, as it was too steep to run in places. It was such a relief to get to the last 0.5 mile along the road, as I knew that part was shaded by the trees.

Overall this was more of a combination of running and hill-walking than a usual run, but it was definitely a good workout. It looks as though the weather is set to continue, so I'm going to have to find some more shady routes. I'm very much accustomed to running in the rain and cold, but I'm not used to this heat at all!

Sunday 20 May 2012

A Week of Runs and Sun

Well there are finally a few signs of summer appearing again! This week we had a little less rain and a lot more sun - thank goodness!

On Monday morning I decided to take advantage of the dry weather by running a new route which included cutting across a field of sheep. It was quite a good run, but when I got to the gate that lead into the field there was a sign saying Stick to the Footpath, but unfortunately I couldn't see a footpath! I knew which direction I wanted to go in though, so I aimed for that. The sheep ran off, and I stumbled over some bumpy bits of grass and mud.

It was a pretty good run, but there were some very soggy patches of grass and mud, which were almost like marshland. Although i tried to tread very carefully on these stretches, I ended up sticking my foot squarely in a stinky brown pond of mud and water. Yuck! Luckily there was no-one around to hear me swear. My left foot squelched all the way home and I'm not sure my trainers will ever be the same. I think I have a lot to learn about this off-road running stuff.

On Tuesday I had planned to go for a cycle, and I was really looking forward to it. However, I ended up getting a last minute opticians appointment, and as I couldn't seem to get an alternative date, I reluctantly went to get my eyes tested instead. The fact that the sun came out while I was in a little room reading out letters from a screen just made me more grumpy.

Later in the week, my parents were coming to visit for the weekend, so I managed to get myself out of bed early 2 mornings in a row, and ran on Weds and Thurs before the kids got out of bed. This meant I didn't lose out on mileage and could still be a good host!

The weather has really brightened up over the weekend, and we had a lovely day yesterday visiting a castle, going out for a big lunch and then heading to the beach. The kids even had a paddle in the sea, it was great.

This morning I had a little run to bring my week to 18.2 miles. A shame that I didn't fit any cycling in, but I'm hoping to get stuck into some good running and biking mileage over the next few weeks - especially if the weather stays good.

Friday 18 May 2012

What have I done?!

Oops, I've accidently gone and entered another marathon! For most of the last 2 years I never thought I'd do that again... At least I have plenty of time to train for this one - about 47 weeks in fact! It's 14th April 2013! Perhaps that will help me prevent injury.

Any tips for a long-long-term training plan?!

Monday 14 May 2012

Recovery week

Last week started with a boom when I raced the 10K on Monday. Did I mention that I got a PB? Of over 3 minutes? With a time of 51m17s? Well I mentioned it again!

After that exertion, my legs were really achey on Tuesday (and the next few days), so I decided to go for a cycle rather than a run. I did my usual route around a lot of farms and then on a cycle path, and I went quite gently as my legs were so tired. It was really nice, but unfortunately I forgot that I hadn't had lunch! As a person who is quite obsessed with food, this is very unlike me, but Emma and I had been out in the morning, and when we met a friend for coffee, I just had a snack while Emma had a sandwich. After I dropped her at nursery, I went straight out on the bike without eating anything else.

So after about an hour's cycling, I started to feel a bit weak and shaky. It was a relief to get home and have a sandwich and a big medicinal bar of chocolate...

On Wednesday I did my (now traditional) early morning run. The Garmin was playing up and couldn't seem to find any satellites, so I set off with it still on the 'Loading' page. I didn't know my pace for the first mile, which was quite nice as my legs were still stiff, and I just had a relaxed 3 miles without caring about speed. A good job too as I was pretty damn slow, at 9.03 min/mile pace.

Thursday was a rest day, but I did a few weights and some stretches to try and get my legs back to normal. All week I had been feeling hints of heel pain, so I wanted to do some of the old foot exercises to try and keep it in check.

With this in mind I opted for another bike ride on Friday. I found a new route, which basically meant going in one direction to a nearby town, turning round and coming back. I was super fast on the way there, and pleased with my speed, although I knew I'd had some downhill help. But on the way back I realised I'd also been assisted by the wind, which now hit me like a wall on the way home.

It was the first sunny Saturday we've had for a while, so I decided to do the local Parkrun race, but without actually racing. It was a lovely morning, and Pete kept an eye on the kids as they played on the swings while I jogged round. A guy I know often paces for different times, and luckily he was pacing 30 mins on Saturday. We ran together, chatting all the way round the 5k, and it was great to do this course without feeling like I wanted to die at about 2 miles, which I usually do.

I couldn't help but sprint the last bit, and swerved off course to high five Robbie and Emma, but I felt a bit mean as I overtook a couple of runners. I wasn't trying to show off, I just felt as though my legs needed a bit of speed at the end there. My time was 29 minutes something, which felt a lot more comfortable than 24 something!

Afterwards I ran home, which made 6.8 miles in total. So my total running mileage for the week was 16.45 miles, and I cycled 25.5 miles. I only ran 3 times, so hopefully my body has had a chance to recover a bit.

Away from all that, it was a great week for Robbie, as he got a couple of certificates from school for good behaviour, and his first badge at Boys Brigade (an organisation a bit like scouts). He was really pleased with his achievements, and we were very proud, especially of his school behaviour. He also made me this lovely picture, which apparently showcases 3 of my favourite activities - running, reading and eating biscuits!

Wednesday 9 May 2012

Hampshire 10K Race Report

After March's Half Marathon, I did several speedy runs in training which let me know that I could comfortably beat my 10K PB if I could find a race. I entered one in April, which turned out to be a DNS. So I looked for another, and when I couldn't find anything local, I entered one about 70 miles away, but which was helpfully round the corner from my brother-in-law's house.

We drove along the South coast on Sunday, and stayed at my parents-in-law's overnight. On Monday (Bank Holiday) morning, we went to Portsmouth to my brother-in-law's place, where I got changed and ate a cereal bar, then Pete and his brother walked me to the sports centre where the race was to start. It was pouring with rain, and we were all pretty soaked when we got there, although it was only about 10 mins away.

Getting ready...

My goal was to average around 8.30 min/miles, in order to dip under 53 minutes, and I knew I had run somewhere around this pace in training, so it was definitely achievable.


The race started on a running track, and after a quick loo stop, I joined 141 other runners at the start. I think this was the first race I have done which began with the firing of a starter's pistol, and as it went off, several runners exclaimed in shock - it was really loud!

We set off for a couple of laps of the track, which was lovely to run on, before leaving the sports centre and continuing up a path alongside the sea, and next to a park. As this was a club race, and most of the participants were fairly serious runners, the pace was fast. I got carried away on the first mile as usual, and ran it in 7m43s - my fastest mile of the race! Oops! I reined it in a bit, but tried not to get overtaken by too many people. I seemed to get passed a lot in the first 2 miles or so.

We got to the end of the path, and ran a loop before heading back to the track. I started to get a bit of a stitch, but luckily it never came to anything. Having had a bit of heel pain during the week (due to wearing work shoes instead of my usual trainers for a couple of days), I was relieved not to feel much discomfort while I was running, and certainly not enough to slow me down.

Along the path I noticed a lot of race numbers had fallen off, and at about 5K, mine came off too. The rain had soaked the paper so it just fell away from the safety pins. By the end of the race, very few runners were wearing their numbers, but at least I managed to grab mine, and I stuffed it in my pocket in case I needed it.

We ran another lap of the track, then headed out to repeat the first loop. I was still feeling good, and a few people who had overtaken me were grouped ahead of me. Gradually I started to pick them off. It gave me great pleasure to catch up each one and overtake them!

By about 8k, I knew I was going to get my PB, it was just a question of how fast I could go. At 9K I could hear someone behind me. It sounded as though his footsteps were getting closer and closer, and I thought he would come pass me. I was feeling strong though, and put on a surge of extra speed! We came onto the track again, and I tried to sprint as fast as I could. The chap behind me fell away and as I came to the finish I could see the clock read 51 minutes! This was so exciting, and I felt great as I charged across the line. There was no chip timing, but someone recorded my time, and I gave them my soggy number.

The unfortunate thing about running such a fast time was that I finished before my family arrived to meet me! It was a shame that the kids didn't see me finish, especially as I felt so fast and happy, but I was really thrilled to have run such a good time.

The official results gave me 51m17s, and 17 of 37 women, 12 of 28 in my age group, 100 out of 142 runners altogether. I had expected sub 54 mins, hoped for sub 53 mins, but never imagined going sub 52 mins!

It was a completely flat race, the flattest race I have ever run and really well organised. The only downside was the weather, but I don't think I'd have gone any faster without the rain.  My splits were as follows:
Mile 1: 7.43
Mile 2: 8.18
Mile 3: 8.18
Mile 4: 8.19
Mile 5: 8.13
Mile 6: 7.51
0.2: 7.14 (pace) 
Average pace: 8.04 min/miles

So although the first mile was a bit fast, I'm pleased with the consistency of the middle miles, and with that last mile being under 8mins!

As far as the 10K is concerned, I suppose the next goal must be sub 50 mins - something I'd never have dreamed possible a few months ago, but which is beginning to seem almost attainable!

Robbie, Emma and cousin Joshua posing at the track afterwards!

Monday 7 May 2012

Job Done!

Yay I did it! On my second attempt, I got the 10K PB I knew I could run. After a very off-putting week including 2 rubbish runs, a sniffy nose and cold symptoms, a planned run swapped for a nap and worst of all the ominous re-emergence of heel pain (NO!!), I finally got my sh*t together this morning.

Despite the above concerns and pouring rain throughout the race (skies brightening as soon as the last runners had completed the course), I smashed my PB by about 3 minutes, and my highest expectations by 1 minute to finish with a Garmin time of 51m15s!!

The official result has not been posted yet, but there was no chip timing, so I'm just hoping it's similar to what I've got on the Garmin.

I'll post a proper race report in a few days, with some more interesting photos and the official time. Meanwhile, my legs ache!

Thursday 3 May 2012

Pre-Race Concerns

After running a PB in a fantastic Half Marathon race in March, I have found myself at peak fitness, running faster than ever before. I have run several training runs over 6 miles which have been faster than my 10K PB pace, so naturally I've been looking for a 10K race to do.

Last month I entered a local 10K, only to have the car ruin my plans (it turned out to be a flat battery, just when my batteries were fully charged and ready to go).

So next Monday I'm going to try again. I've entered the Hampshire 10K, which is held in Portsmouth, just down the road from my brother-in-law's house. It's a Bank Holiday, and we'll be combining the race with a family visit, staying over on Sunday night before the race.

The course is 2 laps of a flat route, starting and finishing in an athletic stadium, but mainly on road. Sounds good so far, but it can be a very windy spot, apparently, so I'll just have to hope that there are no gales forecast.

I've been browsing some comments from people who ran this race last time it was held, and it seems that the competitors are mainly fast club runners, and that it is not really suitable for beginners. I'm not planning on coming last, but I don't mind being near the back, and hopefully a fast race will spur me on.

Although I know I am in good form and should easily beat my PB, I must admit that my last few runs have been rubbish. On Monday I ran 6 miles, and felt very heavy legged. I decided it would be fine to make it an easy run, but I was still shocked by my overall pace of 9.04 min/miles. I felt very achey afterwards, so rested on Tuesday, only to have another tough run yesterday. It was just 4 miles, but again I struggled to feel good, and averaged 8.48 min/miles.

These runs have done nothing for my confidence. Usually my running really benefits from a rest, so I'm hoping that if I don't run at the weekend, I'll feel fresh and revived for the race.

The other potential spanner in the works is the weather. It's been very changable recently, going from this:

to this:


in a matter of hours.

I don't mind cool temperatures and a spot of drizzle, but I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that we don't have strong winds, storms or pouring rain. And if that bloody car lets me down again, we'll be needing a new one!