Saturday 29 September 2012

Race Goals - The Big 10K

Tomorrow I'm going to run a 10K race. Here are some of my thoughts before I do...

Why am I doing this race?
 * Because I did it last year and enjoyed it. It was the first race since we moved from Scotland to the South of England, and I was still on the comeback trail from Plantar Fasciitis. Incredibly, this will be the first annual race I've ever run twice!

* Because 10K is a fairly undemanding distance, and in a month's time I'm doing a 10-miler so it fits into my training.

* Because last year, Robbie and Emma took part in the children's races and had a great time. It was their first experience of running in a race, and they both did well and had fun.

*Because I haven't raced since the start of June, as I wanted to spend more time with the family during summer weekends.

What are my goals?
* Enjoy it as much as last year.

*Enjoy the experience of running a race for the second time.

*I hope the kids enjoy their race.

*Although I'm not expecting a PB, I wouldn't want to finish much slower than 53 minutes. My last 10K in May was a completely flat course, and I had trained for it. Hence my unexpectedly good PB of 51m17s. But this race has a hill, and looks like it'll be windy, so I'm not expecting too much.

*I hope the t-shirt looks good and fits well.

In other news, Robbie has turned 7 YEARS OLD!!

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Helloooo Autumn!

Summer is over! I didn't want to admit it, but the sunshine and warmth seems to have gone for good this week. Parts of the UK have experienced terrible flooding today, with hundreds of people having to evacuate their homes and others being stranded by flooding on trainlines and roads.

Luckily for me the South East has got off fairly lightly, and the only worry I've had to face was how to get my run in.

Only last Saturday we had a lovely sunny afternoon. Pete took the kids to a birthday party, and they spent the afternoon in the garden, where I was concerned about sunburn, rather than getting wet. I had to go to work and examine some foreign students, but at least I got to cycle to the College and back, so with a bit added on, I had a nice 10-mile bike ride (mostly) in the sun.

By Sunday though, it was all change. Robbie went off to his Rugby practice at 10am, and came home when it was ended early, as all the boys were freezing in the cold rain. He stood in the kitchen shivering and soaking, until a hot bath and mug of warm milk sorted him out. We spent the afternoon at the swimming pool - an activity mercifully unaffected by the weather.

On Monday and today I had planned a 6m and 4m run. Again, I was lucky, as on both days the driving rain in the morning was replaced by dry weather (leaving just gale force winds)  in the afternoon. On both days I managed to run without getting wet, but because of school pick up time, I cut both runs short, to 5.4m, and 3.4 miles. Never mind though becuase this is a busy week - it's Robbie's birthday on Thursday, my parents are staying for a few days, and I've got a race coming up at the weekend!

Hard to believe that it was only less than a week ago that Emma and I were at the beach, commemorating her last day at home before starting full-time school!

On 19th September it was still sunny and warm!

Thursday 20 September 2012

Super Saturday!

Yes I know Saturday was ages ago, but I've only just got around to blogging about it.

Last Friday after work, Pete and the kids had a quick dinner and then drove off to visit Pete's brother and family for the night. I could have gone with them, but there was a running event I wanted to attend on Saturday morning, and this gave Pete the chance to stay up late with his brother playing board games, as is their wont.

So this left me with not only the evening to myself, but most of Saturday as well!

I quickly decided that this was a great opportunity to get out on my bike at last - something I've hardly been able to do at all over the summer holidays. I also had some running I needed to fit in too, so I spent Friday evening planning how to make the best use of my time.

I got up early on Saturday morning, and cycled down to a nearby park. The first thing I wanted to do was run a mile, as fast as I could. This was instigated by having signed up the the Marathon Talk podcast's Magic Mile - a 1 mile running challenge. I had run out of time to get it done, so without much training or practice, I got off my bike at about 8.20am, and belted out a mile.

It was hard going, and seemed to go on forever, as I was really pushing myself. I had no target time, and no idea what to expect, but I did it in 7m08s. Later I checked how fast I'd run a mile last time I'd tried, over a year ago in July 2011. It was 7m26s, so yay - progress!

Anyway, after a few gasping minutes sitting on a bench, I slowly made my way to the start of the Parkrun race, which was on the other side of the same park. I wasn't planning to race after my all-out mile effort, but someone I know was completing her 100th Parkrun - quite an achievement, and I wanted to cheer her on.

I planned to jog round nice and easy, but the woman in question was aiming for a sub-27 minute PB, and that's not quite as relaxed a pace as I might have liked! I ran the last part of the race with her and her partner, and she got a PB, but we all finished in 27m04s.

Shortly afterwards, I got back on my bike. It was a pretty good day, nice and sunny. I cycled down to the town centre, and popped in a cafe for a second breakfast and a big latte. I was aware that I was very stinky after my exertions, but there was nothing I could do about it and no-one actually complained...

Then I wandered down to the seafront for a brief sit in the sun. It was lovely.

Then I got back on the bike and cycled along to another town on the coast. It was mostly on a busy main road, but there were some good views along there too. It was about 4 miles away and my legs were already feeling tired from the running! When I got to the beach, I pushed my bike across the pebbles and lay down for a little sunbathe.

It was so quiet and peaceful.

I locked up the bike and walked round to a local shop to get a drink and an ice cream. After refueling (pigging out), I slowly cycled the 5.5 miles home. It's an undulating route, and I've never found the uphills as tough as I did then - the 1 mile hard had taken more out of my legs than I had expected.

It's a picturesque route, cycling through the grounds of our local castle.

When I got home it was still only about 1.30pm, but I didn't have much energy left. I lazed around for a while, had a relaxing bath and did some baking for the others' return.

All in all I had run 4 miles, and cycled 17 miles. Not exactly record-breaking, but a great way to spend my me-time!

Saturday 15 September 2012

Emma starts school!

At last Emma is going to school. Well, kind of. On Thursday she went along for the morning, with about a third of her classmates. She goes again on Tuesday morning, then finally starts full-time from next Thursday. All schools have different ways of settling the new children in, and it seems that Emma is one of the last to start, but at least she will be going full-time soon. When Robbie started (in Scotland), he only did mornings for about 6 weeks before starting full days.

I'm sure there are good reasons behind these gradual starts, but it can be confusing for the children. Emma is keen to go every day, like her brother, and it feels as though she's been ready to go for a long time now!

Anyway, needless to say she had a great time, and thankfully I managed not to get upset! I have been feeling sad recently about the loss of my little playmate. Since we moved here a year ago, Emma and I have spent a lot of time together, and we've explored new places and got to know this area as a twosome (with an emphasis on cafes).

She is such a happy and energetic bundle of fun, and most of the time, I absolutely love her company. I will really miss having her around, but of course at the same time, I am relishing the idea of more freedom for me!

Monday 10 September 2012

The last days of summer

Last week we had the last few days of school holidays, and then Robbie went back to school. Boo. But we had a good week, and it looked like this:

It was lovely sunny warm weather all week, and on a last minute whim, I decided to take the kids for a walk up a local hill. I had run (crawled) up there once before, but there was more to explore. We see this hill every day on the drive to school, so it was about time we went up it.

It was quite steep at the bottom, but the kids were really good, and didn't moan too much!

Chalk pit

All the way up we were the only people around, and didn't see anyone. Then at the top, there were quite a few walkers around, and several dogs. I realised that there was a car park near the top of the hill! The other walkers had driven up the other side and parked at the top - we might go for that option next time!
Top of the hill

Pete went to work late today, so I went for my run at 7.30am - later than usual. I did some speed intervals round the park, which was fun. Later in the morning, we went to the local play park in the morning, and the kids played with some of the friends who will be in Emma's class at school. In the afternoon, we had to go supermarket shopping...yawn...

The last day of the holidays! It was another sunny day, so we headed to the coast. It was quite cool at first, and we walked along the beach and stopped at a cafe for coffee and babyccinos.

Sunshine on the water
On the way back along the beach, we found an area of the pebbley beach with a patch of sand, and Emma was desperate to make a sandcastle. They decided to help each other to build a big castle, while I relaxed in the sun with my kindle. It was wonderful.

Playing in the sand
If it hadn't been for the fact that we were hungry and thirsty, we could have stayed there all day. The kids were so content playing on the beach, and it was better than soft play - free, quiet and more fun! We had most of the beach to ourselves.

I ran at 6.40am, intending to take it easy, but I met a runner who recognised me from Parkrun! He started chatting, and as I ran with him, I went much faster than usual to keep up, and it ended up as a really speedy run. When I got home, it was time to get ready as Robbie went back to school. He is in Year 2 now, with a new teacher, in a new classroom in a different part of the school. I hated leaving him there, and he was a bit quiet, which I didn't know how to interpret. Emma and I drove away feeling miserable. I looked forward to picking him up all day, and when we did, we met another family and joined them on a trip to the park. So it wasn't all bed! Needless to say, he'd had a good day and enjoyed being back.

I ran at 6.45am, and this time it was nice and slow. After taking Robbie to school, I had to tidy as we had a visit from Emma's teacher in the morning! This is something they do here for new pupils, and Emma loved telling Mrs Jones about her new shoes, favourite toys etc. After school we went to a miniature railway, where the kids had a good play again.

More sunny weather, and we went to a park where Pete and I played a bit of basketball together (in a loose sense!), and Robbie and Emma rode round on their bikes. We didn't stay too long as it was so hot. In the afternoon, we went swimming, and stayed in the pool for ages. It was great fun, and I conquered my fears by going down the flume! I'd been down it once before but never again, so this time I made myself go 3 or 4 times. I found it quite terrifying, but fun too, and by the 4th go, I'd just about stopped shaking, although my heart was beating like mad. Of course Robbie and Emma have been down it several times and love it - they don't seem as scared as me...

I started the day with my long run - 8 miles. I picked a shady route, but it was still really hot. I aimed for a slow, easy pace, but picked it up in the last few miles. While I was out, Pete and the kids made a picnic, and then we went for a walk in the woods. It was lovely, and quite cool in the shade of the trees.
View of a White Horse
Views of the countryside
We found a bench next to a tree which was perfect for climbing, and sat down for lunch. After demolishing the sandwiches, Robbie shot up the tree like a squirrel - he just loves climbing. Then the rest of us had a go.

Tree fun
After some more walking, we stopped at a tea rooms on the way home for a cream tea. It was a very posh place, but the tea was disappointing. The scones were expensive, and not very good!

This week the weather is set to cool down, and there is rain coming. But we made the most of last week, and hopefully that won't be the last of enjoying the sun just yet. I'm happy that we did so much really fun stuff, and that I still managed to run 20.3 miles!

Thursday 6 September 2012

August Rundown

Considering that there was NO SCHOOL for the whole of last month, it went pretty well. I managed to fit in more running than I'd hoped, and even a race. I didn't quite run as far as I would have liked with my long runs, but my weekly mileage was not too shabby considering.

Ran: 17x = 79 miles
Cycled: 1x = 9.47 miles
30-day Shred DVD: 9x
1 Race /Parkrun

I only managed 1 10-mile run, which was right at the start of the month, but my other long runs were 2x 7-milers and 1 8-miler. I'd like to get back to 10 miles and above in September, which will be easier with the kids at school!

I had a couple of great evening runs, when I really enjoyed running for fun in the evening sunshine, and it told in my speed. Both times I ended up going further and faster than planned because I was having so much fun.

When I was worried that I couldn't fit enough running in, I started doing my 30-day Shred DVD again (with Jillian Michaels). I last did it when I had the dodgy heel at the end of 2010, and I've been finding it pretty tough. I've enjoyed it though, and the kids can go and play upstairs for 30 minutes while I get on with it, so it's handy.

I didn't plan to do any races in August, but I ended up going to Parkrun on 18th, and ran 5K in 25m38. I think I was defrinitely hampered by some very hot weather.

I hardly touched my bike, because whenever I had some free time, I ran, but I'll get back to that soon I hope.

As well as looking after the children, my running was also limited by staying home and watching the Olympics, and then going to London to watch the Olympics! I went to London 3 times in all, and saw the Women's and Men's Marathons, the Women's Open Water Swim, and some Women's Basketball.

Discovered the Seven Sisters Cliffs, just down the road!
The weather has been pretty good here, especially compared with a lot of the UK, as we missed out on a lot of rain in the South East. I've really enjoyed the school holidays, and done a lot of fun things with the kids. The last couple of weeks we've been out for walks in the countryside, and had some fun at the beach. As I write this, Robbie is back at school for his first day in 'Year 2', and Emma will start next week. I'm really going to miss thme both, but I know they'll both be happy, and I'm looking forward to getting some great training in as I have a lot more spare time!

Saturday 1 September 2012

Parkrun PB!

Two weeks ago, I decided to run my local Parkrun 5K race. It was my 7th attempt at the Eastbourne course, and I wasn't expecting a great time, but I have been doing a bit of speed work recently, so I wanted to test myself on a short distance. It turned out to be a really hot, sunny, hot morning, and it was too hot for running! I struggled with the heat, and got round in 25m37s - almost a minute slower than my PB for this course.

This week I decided to make my 8th attempt. It was much, much cooler, with a lot of white cloud, but no rain, and little wind. Perfect for running.

I chose to cycle there, as I haven't had a chance to go on my bike for almost a month. It's only 3.5 miles to the start line from my house, but my legs felt a bit tired as I arrived, and I thought about forgetting running fast, and just running for fun.

However, once the race started, I decided to go for it. I ran as hard as I could, and every time I checked my Garmin, I was delighted to never see a number 8 at the start of my min/miles pace! I felt good after the first miles, but not sure I could keep it up; after the second mile I knew I could get a course PB if I didn't crash and burn, and at mile 3, with just 0.1 of a mile to go, I knew I was close to my 5K PB. I tried to kick to the finish, and crossed the line in 24m33s.

This is 12 seconds faster than my previous PB on this course! The trouble was, when I saw my time, I was gutted to be so close to my all-time PB of 24m31s! If only I had run a couple of tighter corners, sprinted harder at the end, saved a couple of seconds somewhere...

But I'm happy with a course PB really. My best 5K was last December at the Worthing Christmas Cracker - a completely flat race along the pavement next to the sea. The Parkrun course has a couple of stretches on grass, which can be very bumpy and overgrown in places, and I find that much tougher than tarmac. So I want to find a nice flat road 5K soon!

One of the great things about Parkrun is the range of stats they provide on each race. Here are mine from today:

Time: 24m33s
Position: 31/68
Gender position: 9/26
Age category (VW35-39): 1/1!
Age Grading: 61.91%

And from my Garmin:
Mile 1: 7m53s
Mile 2: 7m50s
Mile 3: 7m49s
0.1:  7m06 pace

Average pace: 7.49min/miles.

Cycling home afterwards was tough - I hadn't realised how much the race would have taken out of my legs, and it was a struggle! I'm looking forward to a 10K at the end of September next...