Friday, 28 September 2012

Here we go again

On Monday I entered the Turkey Trot half marathon. Yes, really. When I filled in my details on line I did think 'what the hell am I doing!!' But over the past 2 weeks since the Great North Run I haven't really done much exercise and I feel like a sloth. I liked what running was doing to my body, I liked that I slept well every night and I liked the feeling of achievement when I finished a session.

So I'm going to do another one. This time it's personal, looking back at the GNR I think I could have shaved a couple of minutes off just by stopping moaning in the last 2 miles! (Flino would agree!!). I need something to focus on to stop me wittering about everything else. I've had a couple of weeks rest and now I'm back on it.

I'm on a train at the moment on the way back from a meeting in London. When I get home I'm going to run 4 miles. Even if it's raining.

Monday, 17 September 2012


So I've done it. It's over. Yesterday I ran 13.1 miles (well 13.3 but more on that later) for Rainbows Childrens Hospice. A massive thank you to everyone that has sponsored me - it's not too late to do so if you've got a spare £1 or two, you can use this link.

I was nervous yesterday morning, I woke up much earlier than the alarm and lay there thinking of miles and hills. At breakfast, where I was very pleased to find the hotel had porridge, Flino & I discovered we'd both dreamt of trying to get through a tunnel but things kept blocking our way - weird anxiety dreams!

We'd booked shuttle bus tickets to the start of the race so had to leave the hotel at 7.50am. This got us to the start area far too early so we had a wander round, covered up in some Asics foil blankets that were being given away.

Nerves are strange things, I couldn't stop yawning and had to go for a wee about 5 times. Why, at events where there are portaloos do us British only form 3 orderly queues outside a row of about 15 portaloos? Why don't we queue outside each one - surely that would make the whole process quicker? Or at least seem quicker.

It was soon time to get to our allotted start 'pens'. There were huge screens between the pens so we could see the start of the wheelchair race and the elite athetes. When they showed the Elite Mens start line I was proud to see my brother's friend Jon Gilby!  He finished 32nd in an amazing time of 1hr 7mins 36seconds ( I was at around 6.5 miles then!).

Once the gun had gone off it took us about 12 minutes to actually cross the starting line. The race has to start on a motorway as it's the only 'space' big enough for 50,000 runners.

The first few miles seemed to fly by despite the rain and I was surprised how quickly we got to 6 miles. I was feeling good and the supporters, bands and other runners served as a great distraction. It was at about 10 miles that I started to feel the pain. My legs hurt, the course started to incline and I could feel myself starting to panic. I think if it hadn't been for Flino motivating me I would have stopped to walk. But I didn't stop, I reached the 12 mile marker and could see the sea where I knew the finish line was.

The last mile is all downhill which on paper sounds great but in reality hurts your knees! There were so many supporters on the sidelines, the noise was incredible. Those 1600 metres lasted a lifetime and I admit that I cried for most them. I managed a very pathetic spint over the finish line and thought I was going to throw up.

So these were my splits:
Mile 1 - 9.12
Mile 2 - 9.45
Mile 3 - 9.51
Mile 4 - 9.52
Mile 5 - 9.55
Mile 6 - 9.34
Mile 7 - 9.29
Mile 8 - 9.39
Mile 9 - 10.10
Mile 10 - 9.57
Mile 11 - 10.23
Mile 12 - 9.36
Mile 13 - 9.49 *and a bit

Final time 2.09.47
My watch clocked me at 2.08.13 at 13.2 miles but that was before the official finish.

If I hadn't been such a drama queen I probably could have finished a minute or two quicker!!

We got our finishers goodie bag, put the t-shirts on and then went to meet the other Derwent Runners at the Rainbows tent in the Charity Village. A lovely woman from Rainbows gave me a cup of tea which made me very happy. It was great to see the other Hoops and find out how they'd got on. We'd all done well especially Matt who had done a new PB of 1.18! Brilliant.

So that was it. Finished, training done, half marathon in under 2hrs 10minutes, goal acheived.

I couldn't have done without help & support from a lot of people  - Flino who puts up with the majority of my moaning & whittling, Rob for writing my training plan, Rachel & Lee for looking after Frank and the Hoops - Matt, Suse, Carolyn, Adel, Bee, Rachel, Matt B. Also thanks to everyone that sent me a message before or after the race yesterday, I've got such lovely lovely friends & family.

I'm at home today, my legs hurt but I'm feeling pretty pleased with myself. And thinking about how I can get to run under 2 hours.....

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Pre race nerves....

So it's Saturday night, almost 9pm and I'm sat in a hotel room near the Metro Centre. My number is pinned to my vest, my watch is charged up, I've eaten noodles & chicken for dinner and I've been drinking lots of water all day. 

I've done every training session that was on The Plan. Every mile that Rob planned for me, I've ran. I've stayed in when my friends were going out, I didn't drink alcohol for a month & my jeans are definitely feeling bigger.

I've done everything I can to prepare which is more than I can say for any other race I've ever done (about 5 in total!). All in all I'm pretty excited about the 13.1 miles ahead of me tomorrow. Let's see how I feel at the end...

Friday, 7 September 2012

Getting Hooked

It's Saturday morning, 7.30am and I've been up for 2 hours already. I'm not even planning on doing a long run today. Frank the wake up call dog is the culprit. Now he's back asleep in his basket & I'm too wide awake to go back to bed. I've been Googling 'How to get your puppy to sleep longer' ......

I've not ran much this week. 35 minutes on Monday and then 8 miles on Thursday after work. I had to really motivate myself to do the 8 miles. It was sunny, I'd not had the greatest day at work and a week of 5.30 alarm calls had taken it's toll. I left the office with heavy legs, ran a mile, did some stretches and then things started to feel better. I just ran up the river path for a couple of miles, round the empty roads of what I think will one day be a business park (strange at the moment, roads are ready, there's a pub but nothing else!) then I turned around and headed back into Derby. I got into town and thought about running straight home but that would only have got me to 6 miles so I ran into Darley Park. A drunk man walking past me told me to 'never stop believing' so I took his advice and managed the full 8 miles!

When I stopped I thought about the first time I ran 8 miles which was about a month ago. It seemed like a bit deal then, a long run. And I'd just done it after work. Just a little jog on the way home! 

I've got to do 35 minutes today, a couple more jogs in the week and then it will be time for the Big Day. I get butterflies thinking about it. In some ways I'd like another month so I can get a little bit faster but then again I'd just like to get it over with. To have done it, to be sat down next Sunday thinking I've just ran a half marathon. 

A couple of people have asked whether I'll stick to running regularly afterwards. I'd like to say yes, I like what running has done to my body, I'm thinner, I look more toned, I'm proud that I've stuck to the plan, I feel like I'm  becoming a 'runner' rather than someone that just pretends now & again. I'll need to find a new challenge though, having a training plan and something to aim for is what has pushed me. Maybe this is what people called 'Getting Hooked'. 

Monday, 3 September 2012

Last long run

Last week was hard. Hard to fit my training in, hard to make sure Frank was getting the attention & time from us that he deserves, I was up early every day and I am well known to be incredibly grumpy when I'm tired.

I ran on Monday - did my planned 35 minutes. Then on Tuesday I was meant to do 2x4 miles at 9 minute mile pace with 5 minutes recovery. I didn't do it but planned to do the session on Wednesday. I thought I'd run home from work & fit it in then. I can't remember now why that didn't work out but I ended up not running. By Thursday I was irritated and angry with myself for not doing the planned session & I was due to do intervals. So I ran from home to Pride Park (3 miles). Did the interval session (5x3 minutes at 7.30 minute miles with 90 seconds recovery) and then ran home. It wasn't what was on the plan but it was the best I could do.

Yesterday I ran 12 miles. Flino came with me to be my pacemaker - he's brilliant at running almost perfect splits. Compared to last week's 11 miler yesterday's run was a breeze! We ran up through Mackworth, onto the cycle track to Mickleover and then down the old railway track to Etwall, once we'd done 6 miles we turned round and came back again.

The first 3.5 miles are a steady uphill so I had to work hard at keeping to my pace. Once we got on the railway path it flattened out & we ran along having a conversation about great it will be when Frank is big enough to come out running with us. I didn't have my watch on, I wanted to just run for 2 hours without thinking about pace, miles or time.

We reached the halfway point and I was feeling pretty good. Flino did a great job of keeping me motivated and the time seemed to be flying by. I had a wobble around 10 miles the end seemed to be just too far away but other than that I managed. I felt tired, of course, at the end but much better than I did at the end of last weeks 11 miles.

I ate some soup when I got home, had a shower and then went to sleep for an hour. Later on I made Cottage Pie - it tasted amazing by the time I got to eat it. So I had 2 portions. And a Magnum. The week didn't seem so hard after all.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Strong is the new skinny...

Usually on a weekend morning you might find me reading the papers, having a coffee or sleeping in. 10 years ago on a Sunday morning at this time I would have just got in from a night out. This morning I was in the garden with Frank at 6am and yesterday I had run 11 miles by 10am! I hate admitting it but I think I'm almost a grown up now.....

So, 11 miles. I got up at 6.30, ate some scrambled egg on toast as we'd run out of porridge, drank some water, mopped the floor a few a more times after Frank and eventually got out of the door just in time to meet Adele, Sues & Carolyn at Darley Park.

The route was  - Darley, Allestree, Duffield, Milford, Makney, Little Eaton, Darley. There were a couple of good hills thrown in as well. I hate hills. Rob explained to me last night this was all to do with my threshold levels. Basically, I've not been running enough miles for long enough so whenever I have to exert extra effort i.e. a hill, my legs & the rest of my body have to slow down. That's the non scientific answer anyway.

Running with other people definitely made the time pass quicker, even though we weren't doing much talking. I felt fine until we got to the last bit through Little Eaton and then I had to rely on some motivation from Carolyn and Suse to get me up Ford Lane hill.

These were my splits:
Mile 1 10.30
Mile 2 10.26
Mile 3 9.56
Mile 4 10.10
Mile 5 10.12
Mile 6 10.06
Mile 7 9.58
Mile 8 10.01
Mile 9 10.16
Mile 10 11.07 *Ford Lane hill
Mile 11 10.37

Overall average pace was 10.17, total time 1.53 and the best bit, 1306 calories burnt.

When I finished running I walked (well in a fashion) down Broadway to get home. In 2 weeks time I have to run 2 more miles but 2 weeks ago I had only run 9 miles so I know I can do it. I think, being realistic, my target time of 2 hours is possibly not going to happen given that would mean me running at 9.07 pace for the full 13 miles. 2 hours 10 mins is more likely. Flino is going to run with me so I can be sure of running even splits - he's the human metronome.

This week coming is the last, possibly hardest so far, full week of training:

Monday 35 minutes at 9.45
Tuesday 2 x 4 miles at 9 min mile pace with 5 mins recovery
Thursday 5 x 3 mins at 8 min mile pace with 90 seconds walk recovery
Saturday 2 hour run

I've been finding inspiration recently from this blog. Strong is the new skinny. We all need healthy, positive role models, not famous for fifteen minutes fakers. Like my Gran used to say "It's nice to be important but it's more important to be nice". 

The whole point of this run is to raise money for Rainbows. The hospice is the only one of its kind in the East Midlands, it offers valuable support for life limited children and their families. So for anyone that is reading this you can sponsor me here. I'm sure you'll agree it's a very worthy cause.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

It's a sqeeze....

It's Thursday tomorrow, this week has passed by in a blur of Frank the dog, feeding him, clearing up after him, talking about him, worrying about him and generally becoming obsessed. Paul is away this week so I've been thrown in at the deep end, it's definitely an experience!

Having a dog has made me realise that my next door neighbours are absolutely lovely. They've checked on Frank a couple of times whilst I've been at work and were also my comfort blanket on Monday when I attempted to leave the house to go for a run - which meant leaving Frank for a whole 35 minutes.

I was glad of those 35 minutes, they made me feel calmer as I pushed my aching legs round the park. It was good to be outside, not worrying, not picking up dog mess, just concentrating on breathing. I didn't manage to get to the Derwent Runners on Tuesday night, I'd been out all day at work and didn't want to leave the little bundle of fun on his own during the evening too. I also had an insect bite on my ankle. Yes, this sounds like a poor excuse except I am a total freak when it comes to insect bites, most people get a small raised itchy lump for a couple of hours, maybe a day. I got bitten on Sunday and my ankle was still the size of an elephant this morning. I couldn't do my shoe up!

The swelling had reduced somewhat by this afternoon (I had been given some hardcore anti histamines) so after I fed Frank and wore him out enough so he was quiet, I put my trainers on and headed out. I was meant to do an hour at 9 - 9.15 pace but it was late, I hadn't had my dinner and didn't want to leave Frank for too long. In the end I did 5 miles. These were my splits:

Mile 1 - 9.58
Mile 2 - 9.15
Mile 3 - 9.13
Mile 4 - 9.48 *Darley Abbey hill
Mile 5 - 8.38

I was pretty pleased with the last mile. My legs were ok and I felt good.

Tomorrow's interval session is 10 x 1min @ faster than 8 min mile pace with 1 minute walk recovery. I want to see if I can keep each minute under 7.45 pace.

This week I've felt overwhelmed with having a dog, I've thought a few times 'what have I done?!', I'm tired, I have to plan my day to fit everything in and it seems like a chore. Tonight when I was running I remembered how I felt when I started this training and thought about how I feel about running now. In time I know I will grow to love Frank.