Monday, 26 December 2011

Wedding bells, Christmas Bells, picture frames and all!

The last couple of weeks have been manic....in fact it's all a bit of a blur now it's all over. In amongst it all though the highlight has to be the wedding of fellow ERR member Sophie to James, simply beautiful! Alas after the celebrations though it was back to work. Just why people think we have picture frames under the counter in which to fit their football shirts, drum sticks and jeggings (yes I did say jeggings!) I really don't know. Now though, after two weeks of madness, including late nights, even managing to leave work and go to run club and then go back to work some nights, I can proudly say we didn't turn one customer away. Here's hoping those who received something in one of our frames this year were pleased with it. It's sure been a hard slog for the both of us. Arriving at our Gallery though on Christmas eve eve morning to find the door kicked in was unpleasant to say the least. Thankful that the hooligans hadn't managed to actually get inside, Martin managed to raise a smile as he popped his head out through the gaping hole as I took a photograph for nostalgic reasons, one to show the grandchildren in a few years.


One of the evenings I strived to get to club was the Christmas lights run - our route took us up to the very top of Idle and through Swaine House, stopping momentarily outside numerous houses to adore their decorations, it was apparent on some streets Mrs Smith was clearly trying to out do Mrs Jones. Arriving back at the clubhouse we proceeded to kick off the festive season with mince pies, amazing Nigella chocolate hazelnut cake and mulled wine.


I've managed to fill the gap of the first holiday from run club with a race. Today (Boxing Day) saw my first ever attempt at the Chevin Chase 7 mile, I've so far avoided entering the race in the knowledge that it would put a damper on Christmas day as I would be sure to avoid over indulgence. The last couple of years though I have regretted not taking part after no signs of over indulgence anyway! So I decided this year would be my first attempt. I was relieved when Lisa suggested that she, Gill and I should run together and treat it as a training run. We did just that. It was extremely windy up on that there Chevin, coupled with copious amounts of mud - we had a brilliant run. Rather hilly though it was, I'm now looking forward to next year's race already.


Due to yet another family party I'm unable to get to club on Wednesday so I'm now off to plot a route for a morning run - working towards the Brass Monkey next month I need to make sure I keep my mileage up.

Monday, 12 December 2011

Medal Envy!


With our first snow run out of the way last Monday and our monthly time trial well and truly scuppered I fully expected the weather to deteriorate further as the week went along but despite being cold and occasionally frosty we weren't prevented from following our usual Calendar of events in the running stakes. Undercliffe Cricket Club have decided to shut down the changing block completely for the winter in light of last year's burst pipe issues and asked us to move into the cosy club house and provided us with a hot water boiler and cups and saucers, add to that the occasional cake and who wouldn't want to turn out on even the most wintry of evenings? It feels like we are being 'put up' in a hotel!

Friday though, was a different story. As we got out into the car park to warm up it began snowing, flakes as big as old pennies (if you're old enough to remember the size you'll know, if not, trust me, they were big!) I was quite giddy, the flakes swirling round in the wind made the car park look picture postcard beautiful! As we set off the fair weather runners amongst us bid a hasty retreat and those of us prepared to tolerate the inclement weather conditions pushed onwards. It didn't last too long and although bitterly cold it wasn't unpleasant to run. Cosiness was soon back with us as in no time at all we filed into the club house afterwards to brew up!

The weekend turned quite mild which inevitably brought us some rain. On Sunday I had volunteered to marshal at the Epilepsy Action Reindeer Stampede in Robert's Park at Saltaire. It began to rain soon after we had set off. Gradually got worse and really didn't let up for the whole of the race. Considering the year before the same race had had to be postponed until well into the New Year due to ice and snow the conditions were completely different, unpleasant though it was for us marshals, the youngsters in the race seemed undeterred for the most part and even some of the adults seemed to be able to enter into the spirit of it all despite the soggy conditions. A chap strapped by reins to his female partner formed Santa and his sleigh pulled by the one reindeer much ot our amusement, there were also people running round the course with inflatable reindeer of varying sizes!

Our ERR loan ranger was Dawn, a casualty of last year's postponement she had deferred her entry to this year as when the race was rescheduled it clashed with another race. No less than a dozen of her team mates were there in a voluntary capacity to cheer her on though. Dawn joined Tom and I ( Lisa and Steve had also joined us) at our marshalling post after the race to off load her reward for running, a mince pie which she didn't like! I noticed the medal around Dawn's neck and turned it over, oh how cute, a cartoon reindeer was peering back at me! At that point I so wished I had been running to earn a medal, suitable for hanging on the Christmas tree I thought! Next year for sure!

Post race coffee and cake at the Half Moon Cafe in Robert's Park made up for the miserable weather and off home I went to make preparations for putting my Christmas tree up, before that though I managed to convince my family to go back to Saltaire and visit Salts Mill to get into the Christmas spirit!

Tree now suitably installed it'll be a pleasure to return home each day after work to the cosy festiveness of my living room, the test is going to be getting myself out of the door and leaving it all behind!

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Tally ho!

Eccleshill at Ackworth



Being a year since the last cross country race had quite clearly enabled me to erase all but a few memories of the five races in last year's Peco Cross Country League! Elves bells is one blog post I recall frequently, a constant reminder of that is the lady who dressed as the elf and overtook me in the snow and ice on a steep hill as I gasped my way to the top! She is reminiscent of an 'ever present' at the London marathon, always seems to be at the same races as me. Now, I bear no grudges - just horrific hauntings of those darn bells in the distance, coming ever closer and closer as I struggled to the summit, and of course, the humility of being overtaken by an Elf!

I felt I did go some way to redeeming myself on Sunday at the first race in this year's XC league, crossing the line in front of said lady did make me feel marginally better. The memory though, lives on. A very sunny but cold and extremely windy morning greeted us for the start of the race at Ackworth. Wondering what the blazes possessed me to don only my club vest, I shivered and shook and we had well over an hour to wait before the off, thank heaven for my ERR hoodie! Walking part of the route it didn't appear to be nearly half as muddy as I had expected given the amount of rain which had fallen over the previous few days. Thankfully the time passed fairly quickly and we were soon set off on our way, the manner in which everyone surges forward into the countryside makes you feel like shouting 'tally ho!'. A few hills were exacerbated by the immense wind in our faces, making it difficult to catch your breath. Despite crossing the line fairly near the back of the field I felt a sense of achievement, maximum effort, team spirit, cheered by and for team mates made it all worthwhile. A coffee from the 'Frothy Coffee Man' before we set off home topped off a wonderful morning!

Undeterred by the previous day's activities I went to Monday club night fully aware that the session was 'Enterprise Surprise'. I absolutely love these sessions so ignored my own advice that really I should do something less vigorous. The club provides this type of session on a monthly basis and it amazes me every time how the competitiveness surfaces in each and every one of us! It is so rewarding when the team you are in gains a victory. (We are shuffled about after each activity so everyone gets a chance to compete with and against each other.) Such fun! Next month's session cannot come around quick enough! No doubt it will be more than welcome as we try to work off the season's festivities!

Please note:
No elves were harmed in the writing of this blog!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

I predict a PB!

Am I becoming predictable I ask myself? Another PB on Sunday at the Abbey Dash didn't quite cut it in the same way as the others I've achieved recently. Did I set my sights a little high? I crossed the line in 51:52 after looking at my watch at the 9k mark it read 46 minutes... and for a few fleeting seconds I raised my hopes that I could dip under the 50 minute mark. Who was I kidding? For some unknown reason I had imagined that a kilometre was much shorter than it really was! I tried to do the maths in my head but had clearly worked very hard and my judgement was somewhat clouded! This no doubt contributed to how disheartened I felt when I learned I hadn't managed a sub 50 10k. Talk about being hard on yourself. I ran the race when just the day before I had doubted that I was well enough to run, never mind if I could bag a personal best! Thankfully I soon came to my senses and despite gaining only a few seconds on my previous 10k best I began to feel much better about it, 'maybe next year' I told myself! After the race we went to The Light to find a coffee house with my family and as we entered the shopping centre Christmas music was being played - it was all decorated ready for the festive season, for the rest of the day I repeated PB in my head to the Christmas tune!


Enterprise surprise - fitness improving at it's best! Monday club session was enough to lift anybody's mood. I don't suppose it is the most sensible thing to do following a race the day before but I really don't feel it did me any harm. Quite the opposite! I find it so uplifting and it always amazes me how it brings out the competitive streak in each and everyone of us! I went home feeling on top of the world and apart from the usual DOMS for a couple of days suffered no ill effects. I managed 6 mile run out on my own on Wednesday afternoon after circumstances beyond my control meant I couldn't get to club in the evening. Apart from a head wind all the out I found it to be a pleasant and stress busting run where I lost myself in my thoughts and in no time at all arrived at Nab Wood Cemetery to place flowers for my late grandson's 5th birthday. It wasn't the distance I was expecting so I wished I hadn't arranged a lift and run back home too. That's the beauty of running, it gives you the ability to offload your baggage and return lighter in mind, body and soul.

Due to the club's AGM there is no run tomorrow evening so I may find myself on a solo run for a second time this week if I can get myself up bright and early to get out before work. Time will tell. I may even try and take in some off road in preparation for the first race on the Peco cross country calendar this coming Sunday, no PB's there no doubt! Now where are those trail shoes........

Friday, 18 November 2011

Pudsey to the rescue!


Inter club training at Leeds based club Hyde Park Harriers on Tuesday evening very nearly turned into a disaster for some of us. After meeting up with a few other club members to travel over to 'The Edge', the sports centre at Leeds University where Hyde Park Harriers meet to train we set off over to Leeds but very soon we were caught in traffic and naturally began to panic. As we did not know exactly where we were supposed to be going when we set off we knew we would be cutting it fine anyway. Finally arriving in the region of Hyde Park we managed to accost a young lady who gave us precise directions to said sports centre. Her directions were very accurate and in no time at all we found where we were supposed to be, 13 minutes late. Unfortunately upon enquiring at reception we were informed they had already set off! Quite a lot of effort had gone into actually getting from work, to home, to the meeting place and finally to Leeds, I felt quite deflated. Fortunately Dawn suggested the five of us should run anyway. So Myself, Dawn, Alison, Kathryn and Marc had a nice steady 3 mile jog, winding round the city centre where the Christmas lights were a sight to lift anybody's mood! I would have been clueless as to where I was going around there so thanks to Dawn and Alison for their navigation skills. When we got back to The Edge our club mates and the Hyde Park Harriers had arrived back from their various runs. Shame we missed out but hopefully some time soon we can get a return visit organised, this time we'll know exactly where we need to be!


Pudsey to the rescue?!!

So I've had a very up and down week, (and I don't mean hills), three visits to the dentist and a very near visit to the doctors, I'm trying to convince myself not to go to club this evening. I've told myself all week that I felt better after a run only to find after a night's sleep that I'm coughing and barking worse than ever. It's always difficult to ascertain whether a visit to the doc is in order or whether you'll come across as a bit of whimp when you sit in the chair opposite him trying to put your best 'poorly voice' on and convince him you really are ill! I always seem to feel better once I've made the appointment. So I've avoided it so far but figure I may well benefit from putting my feet up and spending the evening with Pudsey, watching lots of money being raised for 'Children in Need'. Since the dark nights are well and truly upon us it does seem very appealing. I also have a number for the Abbey Dash on Sunday and think maybe I will benefit from a rest. I've entertained thoughts that I should really 'go for it' and try and bag another PB since the route out to Kirkstall Abbey and back is virtually pancake flat. I could of course, sit back and accompany my Sister who is running the race to raise sponsorship for a premature baby incubator awww. I'd be fibbing though if I didn't admit that I've been thinking about this race for ages. Since the Jane Tomlinson 10k in York yielded me a PB of 52 something I've been thinking that the Abbey Dash just might be the race that I could dip under 50 minutes, or is that too much to ask? I don't know, I also don't know if I'm fit enough so maybe the easy option might be kinder to my health and my ego.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

No pain, no gain!


Training has gone well again this week. Despite not getting a recovery run in I was mighty pleased on Wednesday when, even though I had already done the 10 mile Guy Fawkes race the previous Sunday, a few of us managed to complete an 11 mile run and I was able to haul myself up Carr Lane at Shipley quite near the finish! The weather has done a u turn this week though and been a little kinder to us, no hail stones at least! No doubt next week will be different story again as we are hauled head long into Winter, Bbrrrr.

It's an age old saying 'no pain, no gain'and looking at the photo Ian Watson took of me as I was running to the finish on the final third of the race track at today's YVAA race at Spenborough my face said it all!

On Saturday afternoon out of the blue my voice disappeared! Some might say that is good thing but worryingly I also began coughing uncontrollably as I tried to clear my throat in a bid to emit even just one word from my voice box! All to no avail. I went to bed that evening wondering whether I would be able to breathe let alone run in the morning! Realising it was the last race in the series and I had completed them all so far, I tried to think positive and told myself at worst I could walk now and then if it meant getting round and affording myself the accolade of having run all 8 races. As it turned out I didn't have to voluntarily walk at all, a few enforced stops to clamber over fences and stiles sufficed!

Something I did realise during the race is the value of trail shoes. I've often thought maybe I didn't need to wear them and could have probably worn my road shoes during off road races. Today as I witnessed runners around me wearing road shoes and trying their damnest to stay on their feet as they slipped from underneath them in the copious amounts of gloop, I was truly grateful I had worn my Adidas Kanadias, they certainly ensured I stayed on my feet! They also served to instil a sense of security which in turn gives you the confidence to plough through it. I was not so grateful though when it came to running on the refurbished railway section which is now tarmacked and lined with sheep fashioned from old scrap metal and adorned with plastic 'carrier bag' bows around their necks! My calves screamed as each step resembled two pieces of concrete crashing into each other. I really must do some research and see if there aren't some trail shoes on the market which also offer cushioning. If and when I find some they will be firmly placed at the top of my Christmas list.


*Update
My reward for my efforts yesterday? Nearly 7 minutes taken off my time for the same race last year!

Monday, 7 November 2011

For Fawkes Sake!


An unlikely name for a hill but along with the 'Birstwith Brute' and the 'Swinford Swine', 'For Fawkes Sake' was just that! Just where do we get the ability to block out such atrocities as how steep hills are in races we have previously taken part in? I can't think of any other reason why one would enter such a race where the naming of hills actually gives the game away other than that I've 'forgotten' just what it was like!

We awoke to frost covered cars yesterday morning but as we prepared to travel over to Ripley for the Guy Fawkes 10 mile race the sun was shining so we knew the frost would bid a hasty retreat quite soon. Chilly as it was it was most pleasant but that didn't stop my teeth chattering as we gathered at Morrisons, Five Lane Ends to travel over with fellow Eccleshill runners. I began to wonder whether I had made a mistake turning up in only a vest but there wasn't much that could be done now so off we set.

Arriving in the beautiful village of Ripley we made our way to the village hall to collect our numbers. We were greeted by impeccable organisation and joined the relevant queue marked alphabetically with the first letter of our surname. In no time at all we had our numbers and off we went to find a patch of sunshine in which to stand in a bid to keep warm. It was a little too early to consider warming up for the race. Thankfully it didn't seem too long before we were herded to the start line to begin our attack of the challenging course. A water station at Birstwith, mile 4, heralded the first hill - most runners around me were walking but I some how managed to summon the will power to keep plodding up the steep incline, it seemed never ending but I felt a great sense of relief when I got to the top and we turned left to continue along a much flatter section. Carr Lane eat your heart out!

Two more hills ensued but I really couldn't help smiling when I saw the sign at the bottom of the final hill, it read 'For Fawkes Sake'. The marshals all around the course were very encouraging, especially on the hills, their words of encouragement were a great boost.

When I finally got to the finish I felt a great sense of pride that I had completed it without having to walk at all and was rewarded with yet another personal best time. I had resigned myself to the fact that I would not better my previous 10 mile best since I had set it at the Eccup 10 which although not totally flat is no where near as challenging as Guy Fawkes so imagine my surprise when I did just that, finishing in 1:32:59!

In past years the goody bag has been second to none as the race is sponsored by Nestle and although it didn't live up to it's usual high standards it was way better than most others, containing a bounty of chocolate products, with a technical tee shirt and a bottle of water thrown in who could complain?

Tonight's club session is the monthly time trial at which I am resident timer so I won't get to run the 3 mile route as a recovery run so I'll just have to rest until Wednesday, sounds good to me - I may even indulge a little chocolate, I think I've earned it!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

A funny old week, or two........

The last couple of weeks have been the kind 'you're glad to see the back of', one way or another. It happens occasionally and I'm trying not to dwell on it.... Beginning the week following the Bridlington Half with the club Monday speed and hills session it was incredible how much the weather changed since the day before when I had been paddling in the sea. I set off to club hoping that Marc and I were the only ones who thought it was acceptable to turn up, we could perhaps then turn round and go back home. Wrong! Five others braved the hurricane wind and rain. Thankfully as quite a few members had taken part in the half marathon the day before it was decided there and then that the planned 'Enterprise Surprise' session wouldn't be a good idea for most people and we would see what people wanted to do instead, suggesting a 3 mile run would suffice! Phew how glad was I that we wouldn't be hanging around doing sprinting/speed work - given the weather conditions to be honest it would have been near impossible, just trying to keep moving forward was bad enough. The howling wind hurled the rain at us so hard it felt like hail. We managed the 3 mile run and arrived back at Pulse Gym soaked to the skin and freezing cold, despite that I felt a sense of achievement that I had battled through despite the awful conditions. Remembering previous moments of madness is always a great tool for getting me out of the door! Try it and see! A fair weather runner I am not!

Wednesday we had a group joining us from Morrisons HQ on Gain Lane, a stones throw away from Undercliffe Cricket Club. With our Winter training base being on their doorstep it was decided it was worth a try to approach them to suggest that to forge links might well be beneficial to both parties. Helen met with them and they had seemed enthusiastic, a staggering 50 of their employees had completed this year's Great North Run! A very friendly group turned up to join us for a run and indulge in tea and cakes afterwards. Despite us returning to base to find water gushing out of the door when we unlocked it they all seemed to have enjoyed their run with us. Thankfully it was a minor hiccup where the ballcock had detached itself and the cistern had overflowed and it's now drying out nicely, I did, however, expend more energy sweeping water out of the building than I had done running!

The week drew to a close with yet another of those incidents of setting off to a race and not getting there. The Woodland Challenge - although only at Brighouse proved elusive as we set off to support the runners. Confusion as to which direction we should travel along the M62 meant we were delayed and not. it seemed, going to get there in time. Finding out later that the start was delayed by half an hour just might spur my better half on to persevere with our journey if and when that happens again, so instead of cheering in the runners we ended up in Ikea cafe!

Thankfully this weeks training has seen better weather conditions - Autumnal runs have certainly been so much more pleasant but ironically I've ended up with a streaming cold and cough. I keep harping on to myself how fast time flies but by heck it was reiterated as we did hill repeats up Lister Lane trying to wade through the mountain of leaves which have once again fallen off the trees, makes you feel like a kid again, remembering how we used to fashion them into a pile with our feet sideways, then dive in them! Just a shame my week culminated in a visit to the dentist - having put off the inevitable the week before I finally had a tooth removed and have been left with a deep sense of loss almost like mourning and I've been feeling sorry for myself which so far has halted my running for a few days. In my defence it did say on the after care sheet that I hadn't to do any strenuous exercise for a few hours afterwards. Today I thought about running to Saltaire where Marc was playing football so I would be able to get a lift back.

Monday, 17 October 2011

Accidentally on purpose PB

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside.....Me and my medal!

Suited and booted.....the new way to run, or so it seems. Running back to the club house with Liz on Friday evening we were confronted by a young man running full tilt, in a suit! I giggled and commented to Liz that it may be the new way to run! Of course, I didn't actually think he was out for a run but he showed no signs of slowing down as we carried on up the road so maybe it is a new fad, who knows! I'd been trying to convince Liz that the upcoming half marathon she had agreed to 'because there was a number going spare' would all work out fine providing she got the idea into her head, since that is half the battle, and it reminded me of the times I have done exactly the same. It is rather daunting when you find yourself on the start line of race you hadn't planned to do, it feels a little like an accident! By and large though it's always turned out fine for me in the so I was confident I had spoken from experience and Liz would be fine.

Thankfully I was still looking forward to said half marathon, thoughts of travelling to the seaside always seem to over shadow the fact that I have, at some point, got to undertake a race, the real reason I am there! 35 of us met to board the coach and there was certainly an air of excitement, despite the fact that we had had a very late night phone call to inform us that in fact the coach we were travelling on had suffered a breakdown and we would now have to travel on two separate coaches. After a stop half way we arrived in Bridlington - way ahead of time allowing us to visit the leisure centre and get ourselves a locker and then watch the junior run ahead of our own race. After a substantial warm up there we were on the start line. The gun sounded and we were off! My plan? Well I had one, for a change, all thanks to my picking up a pace band at the Great North Run. I knew if I could get under the 5k and 10k targets we had set in Newcastle I could better my time of 2:10. It's always a gamble whether you go off too fast and burn out. At mile 2 I looked at my watch, 17 minutes, a little too fast I thought and slowed slightly, mile three 25.51, well under the 35 minute target for 2:10, I felt ok so kept going. I didn't look at my watch again until I was alongside the 6 mile marker, 51 minutes, by now I was quite excited and feeling quite good. I didn't have any other targets and so decided to go on how I felt. Although quite sunny, it was very breezy which proved to be perfect. A while after the 9 mile marker I started to feel sick and my legs felt as though I had nothing in them, I made a split decision to listen to my breathing, sipped at my water and managed to keep going without getting in a panic. I never saw the 11 mile marker but presume by the time I hit it I was feeling much better. Running past the entrance to 'Sewerby Hall & Gardens' I knew we wouldn't be too much longer before we entered said grounds which ultimately lead to the cliff tops and down to the sea front. I wasn't disappointed - before I knew it we were running past pens of rare breed sheep, llamas etc and headlong at their visitors! Running along the cliff tops was quite tough, the breeze had turned into a wind and was doing it's utmost to hold us back, it was literally a fight to keep moving forward. Down the steep slope to the seafront, it was a site for sore eyes, although quite a distance to the finish, the front was lined with people, I glanced at my watch 1:55, my heart missed a beat and jumped for joy, I was nearly at the line, under two hours, I was ecstatic! I was so thankful that it had all gone to plan even if it was accidentally on purpose! The official times aren't yet out but my watch read 1:56 so I'm hoping I wasn't too far out, either way I've smashed my 2:02 half marathon PB adding yet another distance PB to this year's race portfolio!

A shower, a trip to the local Weatherspoons, followed by a paddle in the sea and an ice cream cone to top off a really fab day!

Monday, 10 October 2011

Flying by....literally!


It seems as the years progress the months, weeks, days, hours and seconds follow suit. A week passes at the blink of an eye. Just days away from my next half marathon and I must admit I'm feeling good! I'm really in a good place mentally and feeling that I can give it a 'good go' (overuse of the word good, I know). Though still not 100% fit in the leg department I (and Pete May) don't feel there's anything detrimental to worry about so I'm happy to carry on with my monthly massage, icing and compression regime which really does seem to be keeping things in check. I've now got into such a routine that it's part of my everyday life, for the foreseeable future anyway. It works for me and whilst it continues to do so I'll stick with it. The alternatives don't appeal anyway!

Eager to keep putting the miles in the bank I was going to run with Helen and Janice on Sunday. Tales of their exploits in and around Baildon Moors the previous week left me feeling that perhaps I should think twice as they were planning to run the same route of about 13 miles again. A little apprehensive I told myself it would be ok and if all else failed I would rack up and see how I got on. Praise the Lord, fellow club member, Alison texted me on Saturday evening to enquire if I knew if anyone was running on Sunday morning. Explaining the options we decided on getting a lift to Keighley with the footballers (as they were going to Silsden for a game) and having a steady run back to Apperley Bridge via the canal.

Picking Alison up for the journey a phone call informed us that the football match was cancelled but luckily Martin said he didn't mind running us through to Keighley anyway. Dropping us at a convenient place where we could get onto the canal we set off, no navigational skills required - a straight route all the way back, it was drizzling but it wasn't long before we had to remove our rain jackets and tie them around our waists due to the humid heat. A little way into the run, whilst chatting, a fly swooped to the back of my throat, I spluttered, took a swig from my water bottle and it seemed it had completed it's journey downwards! Seconds later I coughed again, the blighter was trying to escape! *cough*, *cough, cough* and so it continued. Eventually I had to give in and stop running, unable to breathe and coughing uncontrollably, the offending insect appeared in my hand, it's mission accomplished, although it was dead. Now there's a first, it's usually 'what goes up, must come down' not 'what goes down, must come up!!' A flighty heron flew up from the canal bank, a sight to behold, I love the tranquility a run on the canal brings, the ducks and swans gliding by, although I have heard others describe it as 'boring', I don't agree.

Monday evening and our weekly speed and hills session, short interval, was very well attended. A short warm up then jog down King's Road, dynamic stretching and jog a little further down to Canal Road to start and run 12 1/2 minutes out, turn round and run 12 1/2 minutes back. The idea being that the faster runners get furthest but we all arrive back at the start point at around the same time. I was elated to find that I was only 11 seconds outside the total time it should have taken me to run out and back! Everyone worked really hard despite rain blowing in our faces on the outward journey, by and large all arriving back within a few seconds of each other.

Days away from the Bridlington half marathon and I'm looking forward to completing this week's training to take me to the start line.

Monday, 3 October 2011

(Unsuccessful) Ballots.......


The person who posted this comment some time ago will know who they are......

Next year together! 2012 is your year for another 26.2 London miles, I feel x

As I read it today it made me realise that the chances of this happening are slim.....

I have lost most of my faith in the ballots of these popular races, 6 years of entering the ballot for the Great North Run have been fruitless each time as have my (now) two entries into the London Marathon. Thousands and thousands of people will now be recipients of a 'commiserations' magazine informing them they were unsuccessful in this year's Virgin London Marathon ballot. All is not lost as this year (unlike last year) I am eligible to enter the club draw for one of the two places up for grabs! My first thoughts are of trepidation with regard to running 26.2 miles again. I know in my heart of hearts if I had got a place in the ballot and indeed if I am lucky enough to have my name drawn out in the club ballot in November then I would certainly have another 'crack at the whip'! A few more weeks to wait and we shall know the outcome.

How though, do you prevent yourself from entering time and time again. I know that whether or not I do get the opportunity to run London again in 2012 I will find it very difficult not to enter the ballot for the 2013 race 'just to see if I get a place'. It could very well turn into a vicious circle, as I said this year, 'if I am privileged enough to get a place in the ballot, I would have to run it'. Where will it all end. The only difference between London and the Great North Run is that for the most part, I will continue to seek out a charity place for the world's biggest half marathon, whereas charity places for London are not even a consideration, the demands placed on runners by charities are way out of my grasp. I would not even consider taking on the task of raising that amount of sponsorship year in year out. Which is a shame as they are all worthy causes but the demands placed on the people I plague year in year out are already enormous, though very much appreciated, our final sponsorship total for Scope now stands at £590.10 - and the offline portion of the money is now winging it's way to them as we speak! Until next year when I will most probably be seeking out another good cause to raise money for it's a big 'thank you' from me and a big 'thank you' from him.

Thursday, 29 September 2011

A tale of three halfs

I suffered no ills following the Great North Run other than slightly tight hamstrings, just where is Peter May when you need him? Sunning himself in Egypt. "I'll be thinking of you", he said, "as I'm sat by the pool", during our conversation about the half marathon as he gave my legs a remedial massage in preparation for said race. I'm a firm believer in keeping going after long runs or races wherever possible, and nearly always find I can loosen up the legs with a steady recovery jog which is why I decided to keep pace and carry on regardless!

Last week concluded with the Horsforth 10k. Arriving down at Apperley Bridge on a very wet Sunday morning I was quite looking forward to taking part, the last time I did this race was in 2008, I'm not entirely sure why I didn't take part in the 2009 race, I clearly didn't take part in 2010 due to injury. Hoping to knock a few minutes off my previous time of 58 minutes 39 seconds for this race, I knew, however, that it isn't a pb race. Thankfully the rain stopped to give us perfect running conditions. Trailing some of the other Eccleshill runners all the way round, I caught up to Brian a couple of times but he managed to pull away on the last stretch of the canal, I felt though that I had had a really good race once I finished. I forgot to stop my watch as I crossed the line and when I finally remembered it read 55 minutes 49 seconds, I knew it obviously wasn't correct but I also knew I had completed it in a better time than previous. The results came out late on Monday afternoon, scrolling down the list I came to Brian, knowing I was a little way behind him, I scrolled, and scrolled, and scrolled, finally coming across my name with a time of 1:04:31 - how long? How could this be? I was confused, I knew I hadn't been so far behind Brian. I then realised they had given me the number 240, my number was in fact 244. I immediately emailed the organisers to raise my concerns. I received a prompt reply apologising for the Hick-up!! (Hiccup!). As yet the result has not been amended but I am certain they have mixed me up with the lady who was given my number and a time of 53:31 so I'm taking that to be my time and hoping they eventually change the results sheet.

This brings me to last Monday's Enterprise Surprise - our monthly session aimed at improving cardiovascular fitness. I find these sessions extremely enjoyable, we usually conduct it in a team manner, i.e. we split into teams and take each other on at sprinting activities. A completely false impression is created in that you have no idea just how hard you are working. That is until the next day, and the day after that, and even the day after that. Delayed onset muscle soreness wasn't in it this week.

Deciding to take on the middle option of this Wednesday's club runs, eight and a half miles, I told myself I would take it steady and once I got going my DOMS just might subside. Who was I kidding? My quads were screaming most of the way round, a factor for my determination to power up Gaisby Lane ( a steep hill in Shipley)- I think had I have stopped I would have had trouble getting going again! Usually reserved for the men folk, my lats (just above the ribs at the back!) were also complaining, anybody would think I had been weight lifting, but no just powering with my arms! It just goes to show how different sessions, though still running, work different muscles. A reason I do my utmost to take part in any alternative sessions on offer even though I know I am almost certain to suffer painful DOMS for a few days after. No pain, no gain? I sure hope so! A few days and a bottle of Peter May's Runners Rub later and I'm pleased to report the DOMS have more or less subsided.

I became aware some time ago that there were three half marathons in a six week period, starting with the Great North Run, then the Bradford half marathon and finally Bridlington half marathon. I had ideas that I would take part in all three but after a scare a few weeks before GNR when the familiar pain in my right leg returned culminating in my not running at all in the week leading up to it, I have decided against Bradford and instead am going to assist in club promotion at the race, I have been busily ordering some business cards to distribute and am looking forward to blowing the club's trumpet to those unsuspecting people who approach the table and cheering in our runners of course. I am though, looking forward to our club's Bridlington trip on 16th October with the half marathon thrown in! Two out of three's not bad.....

Monday, 19 September 2011

Gannin to the GNR!



To pick up where I left off this time last week..... I did indeed make it to club tonight for the King's Road hill reps, I didn't however, complete the session as hill reps but more of a hill recovery jog. I was just in the mood to get my trainers on and get out again following our somewhat hectic but extremely enjoyable weekend.

We started our journey at about 2:50 on Friday afternoon, setting off up the A1(M) it was very busy and a long stretch of it was reduced to 50 mph speed limit due to road works. It didn't seem too long before we spotted the Angel of the North. It was though rather late and fairly dark when we arrived at Sandy Bay caravan park in the pouring rain. Next morning as we prepared to set off to Newcastle Quayside for the junior Great North Run, the sun was shining and although quite breezy and showery now and then it was a much better day. Marc, Taylor and Dylan thoroughly enjoyed their junior races and posted fantastic finishing times for their 4k races. It was thrilling watching the likes of Mo Farah, Jenny Meadows, Hannah England and Helen Clitheroe compete in the City Games, England & N I were thrashed 7 - 3 by the USA but it was still brilliant to watch! After all the excitement of the day we visited the Great North Run Fitness Show and Pasta Party for some much welcomed carb loading! My best Great North time so far was 2:14 so for a laugh I picked up two 2 hour 10 minute Pace bands from the Powerade stand! Upon returning back to the caravan we were treated to even more of a carb boost by our resident chef Neil who made us a fantastic pasta bolognese!

Early (ish) to bed we rose early to travel to Morpeth to catch our transfer coach to the start of the race. We seemed to arrive in Newcastle in no time at all and it was very early as we walked through St James' Park to the initial field (full of cow pats) where the first portaloos are situated, tentatively crossing it to make our way down to the closed roads and our starting pens. After walking up and down for quite a while we settled on a barrier at the side of the road and I put on my poncho which I had brought in case of rain in the hope that it would shield me from the wind as I was now quite chilly. A few minutes later I felt a searing pain in my left arm, lifting the poncho and slipping my hand inside my fleece to rub the area it began to dawn on me that I had been stung. Upon removing the top layers I saw that I had been stung twice, probably by a wasp. Seeking first aid, I was told by a steward that he didn't have a map and didn't know where the first aid was, furthermore the radio they had wasn't working! Charming, good job I wasn't allergic. Eventually we were instructed to walk further down to the next crossing point and we would be met by someone who would show us where the first aid was. On arrival I was told they had nothing for stings except an ice pack to reduce the swelling. It did just that but also made me shiver uncontrollably. Martin was worried that I was becoming ill due to the stings but I assured him I wasn't anything more than cold. When we eventually got into our pens I soon warmed up dancing around to the music being played for the official warm up routine.

The start gun sounded and we began to move slowly forward, 20 minutes later we crossed the start line. The sun was shining and I felt good. It became quite warm and at around the 3 mile mark it clouded over and soon began to rain. Very welcome rain it was too. The rest of the race remained over cast with frequent outbursts of rain, heavy at times. It was though much better conditions than running in the blazing sun as we have done for the most part of every race since 2006. I absolutely had a ball, the miles fell away. Martin and I had made a pact to keep going if we could come what may. Despite him suffering stomach cramps and being quite fatigued and having to keep a slower pace at times we did just that and managed to run every single bit without stopping at all.

As we ran in along the sea front I glanced at the pace band for only the third time, at 3 miles we had been on target and also at 6 miles but I hadn't looked at it again until now and lo and behold my watch said 2 hrs and 8 minutes, I exclaimed to Martin that if we kept going we would quite likely make the 2 hrs 10, he wasn't at all moved by this and just declared that he couldn't go any faster!

Crossing the line I stopped my watch and and observed that we had completed it in 2 hrs 10 minutes! A little while later when the official results came through by text we found we had done it in a time of 2:10:18, fantastic. Here's to next year!

Big thanks to my family and club mates waiting at the end to cheer us in, it's just the best feeling in the world to get to the end and see familiar faces.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Making, Baking, Icing and timing............




My running has taken a back seat the last few weeks. Not that I haven't done any, it's just felt like I've had to squeeze it in between shopping, weddings and birthdays. Including doing the flowers for my Niece's wedding which was quite stressful, not knowing whether the florist wholesaler would have the correct colour and quantity of flowers I needed, whether a 5 am set off was early enough - flowers are sold by auction by the growers and then travel overnight in refrigerated wagons, florists then shop for what they need, getting there as early as they can to pick the best from what's available. Needless to say my cream and black bouquets turned out perfect and the bride seemed very pleased. Next up, my husband Martin's 50th and a cake to make and catering to do. As the party had a music theme in the form of 45 rpm singles being played all evening it seemed fitting to base the cake around the same theme. Anyway the alternative for a running theme would have been a treadmill (since that's what he trains on), perish the thought! Marc very willingly baked a fruit cake for his Dad a few weeks ago and then agreed to bake some cup cakes, in black and white cases which I then iced in the opposite colours, the black ones white and the white ones black, and fashioned a 7" single for the top of the cake and piped musical notes around the sides! Appropriately themed rice paper 'singles' and musical notes fixed on top of each cupcake completed the look! Lovely! Just very time consuming! The party went off smoothly and even my first ever attempt at barbecuing and the odd shower failed to dampen the mood!

After a very late night/early morning - Sunday proved to be a challenge from the minute I opened my eyes. Very tired, I set off for Robert's Park in Saltaire, the venue for a Vets race at which I had agreed to marshal. Eccleshill had agreed to co-host the race as a learning exercise of how to put on a race. On arrival everyone was milling around and I chipped in to help move some barriers into place. Following this we were all designated our roles, timing at the finish for me : 0
I have to say I was mortified at the very thought of being involved in such an important job but hey ho it had to be done, thrown in at the deep end comes to mind! I was partnered with Liz from club, all became clear as mud when we found out it was a relay race with runners a, b, c and d in some cases. Our job was to stand a little way past the official timers, John and John, and manually record the finishers team, number and sex as a back up just in case anything went wrong. As the race progressed my confidence grew and I really enjoyed it. As we all know a runner's finishing time is very important to them and I think we did a brilliant job - each time one of the John's checked with Liz how many finishers we had had across the line it matched so I'm guessing all were present and correct when the results were processed.

So, very light training this week and the Great North is upon us, our caravan is booked, the transfers to the start of the race are booked, our vests are printed with our names, so roll on Friday when we will be setting off up to the North East to take part in my favourite race ever! Excited isn't in it! More so since we have far exceeded our fundraising target for SCOPE. There is however room for more at http://www.justgiving.com/Juliemartin-Steele1

Marc will complete his final Junior Great North Run on Saturday and will then be eligible to run the half marathon next year. So it's fingers crossed for a great weekend, see you on the other side! (That's Monday for the King's Road Hill reps!)



The vests are ready to go!

Monday, 29 August 2011

Time flies when you're having fun!

I decided to take a week off from running after suspecting that I was heading for injury. The familiar pain in my right leg returned after Friday run club a couple of weeks ago. I was also due to go and house and horse sit at my sister's house in Otley the following week and all too aware of how I love to run in the Washburn Valley I concluded a rest was a good idea. Following the week's rest I didn't feel there was much, if any, improvement so I decided not to run for a further week and stuck to dog walking twice each day, thank goodness I wasn't expected to walk the horses! How time flies when you're having fun, the week passed really quickly and before I knew it we were packing to return home.

Easing myself back in to my running last Monday I abstained from the planned fartleks at club and just jogged each lap of Peel Park with Annie and Kath. All seemed well. The next test was a Vet's race hosted by Bingley Harriers. Having completed all the races in the series so far I really didn't hesitate in my decision to take part. It turned out to be quite a tough race with a stupendous uphill start but an all round excellent race. The leg held up too. I was now quietly confident then that I would be fine to take part in the Hyde Park Harriers inaugural race - a one miler in Hyde Park in Leeds on Wednesday night.

It's some years since I've done a one mile race, the last one organised by members on the Fetcheveryone website now a distant memory. How I underestimated that one. A race is a race no matter what the distance but a mile race, now that's a different kettle of fish. You have to give it your all from the start and it's not as short as you imagine it to be! However, I completed mine in 7:58, (gasping) which I was quite disappointed with after having had a dry run at club a couple of weeks ago I had done a mile in 7:40. I should really have been pleased with my time having done the race the night before. Nothing's ever straight forward and we runners are never satisfied for very long. I must say though, HPH are to be congratulated on their brilliant race organisation, fab goody bag and topped off with the prize presentations at the pub what more could one want! I took along a birthday cake for ERR's Mick who had turned out to run on his birthday, yummy! Here's hoping they organise it again next year and I'll be making sure I arrive with 'fresh' legs!

Our social Friday run night added up to 5 1/2 miles. Numbers were down at club, no doubt due to the impending Bank Holiday. However that did not stop those of us who did turn up having a lovely run to start the weekend.

I've had a few other issues other than leg pain - athlete's foot being one of them. I know it's very common amongst us runners and I've been plagued by it from time to time. Always on the same foot. I've always used the cream available to buy over the counter and although a long drawn out process it has eventually remedied my problem. However, tired of applying cream two or three times a day I decided to seek out a product I've seen advertised on TV, Lamisil once. Quite expensive at £9, as the name implies it says on the packet, you only apply it once, to both feet regardless of whether they are both affected or not. I am pleased to report that in little over a week all symptoms have disappeared. I will now monitor if and when it recurs, hopefully it won't, at least for an acceptable length of time. So I highly recommend it, for now at least.

The perfect end to last week was Marc and a few other family members' GCSE results. Proud of all of them and after managing a 10 1/2 mile run on Sunday with Dawn and Gill, I'm now focussing on maintaining the mileage as the Great North Run draws nearer. We have now managed to raise a fantastic 89% of our fundraising target for SCOPE and if you can find it in yourself to help us realise our target we will be eternally grateful. Visit our Justgiving page to donate: http://www.justgiving.com/Juliemartin-Steele1

Thursday, 4 August 2011

A Smashing PB!



I couldn't believe my eyes when I crossed the finishing line of the Jane Tomlinson 10k, York and checked my watch. I always question what I read on my watch despite never finding that it differs from the official time by more than a few seconds. 52:37 didn't seem possible, so once again I did question the time, more so because I immediately realised that I had smashed my 10k PB (54:04) by almost 2 minutes. So patience is indeed a virtue and good things certainly do come to those who wait! Official time 52:42 Chamone!

Having taken part for the first time, the JT 10k in York comes highly recommended from me, I will almost certainly be back next year, running past the Minster with the bells chiming has to be the highlight of anyone's Sunday morning, very special. Having just finished reading the third of Jane's books, 'How Good Is That, the story of a reluctant heroine' finished by her husband Mike as she passed away before it was finished, she was certainly at the forefront of my mind as I ran around the course. It is amazing to see not only her family supporting the events but the thousands of runners of all abilities turning out to support them too.

So, what now? Goal achieved. I'm now entertaining thoughts of whether I can bring my times down any further, only time (and effort) will tell. I can't attribute it to anything specific - I wish I could, but of course weight loss has to be a contributing factor, now having lost 19 and half pounds I do know that it has had a positive effect, I actually feel better when I am running. I suppose staying power too, I don't often miss a club night and in addition I have been racing a lot too. You can only hope you reap the rewards one day and realistically if I don't improve my PB's any further I know that I have been there and done that, even got the tee shirt!

The excitement is heightening as September draws ever closer, I have entered Marc in his final Bupa Junior Great North Run, he'll be stepping up to the big one next year, our Scope vests have arrived and our fund raising target has reached 74% 'Thank you' to our sponsors so far - can you can help us get a little nearer by visiting our Justgiving page and here's a link http://www.justgiving.com/Juliemartin-Steele1?

Friday, 29 July 2011

Seconds out........


Eccleshill at the Golden Acre park Relay hosted by Abbey Runners on 27th July 2011

Well what can I say, still chasing that elusive 10k PB I travelled over to the picturesque town of Harrogate with Mick and Dawn to take part in the latest club championship race. Having never taken part in this race before I hadn't a clue what to expect and have to admit for some reason I assumed it would be fairly flat. Wrong! In actual fact it was quite undulating. The two lap course wound around the leafy suburbs coming downhill back to the start point in the town centre on each lap. The marshals and supporters were brilliant in what was truly a very well organised race. Parking, toilets and race HQ were all located conveniently very near the start/finish. Sadly upon receiving my official finishing time I was 46 seconds outside my 10k PB. Although my 54:50 time was much faster than I have done for a 10k in quite a long time. So next target is the Jane Tomlinson, York 10k on Sunday 31st July. Everything's crossed!

Meanwhile, over at Golden Acre Park the following Wednesday, the second of our relays in as many weeks proved to be another good turn out for the club. Although we didn't have as many teams as the Washburn relay we did still have 5 teams entered. Once again the team spirit was second to none as we all cheered our own and other club's runners in. I have to say the highlight of the night was definitely Mark Scott's finish. He came careering down the gravel path which took us right around a field to the finish, with a young lady from Wetherby Runners tailing him, we were all shouting at him to keep going and he ran as though his life depended on it, holding her off right to the finish, crossing the line still behind him she collapsed in a heap! Mark triumphantly strolled over to us with a big smile on his face! It was brilliant to witness. The official times are not yet out but who's looking, we didn't take part for the finishing positions : )

My thoughts are now dominated by preparations for the Great North Run, the highlight of my year when I get to spend the weekend away with my family and take part in Britain's biggest mass participation half marathon, in fact THE most iconic half-marathon on the planet. Fundraising is going well and we are over half way to our target amount for the fabulous charity SCOPE. So if you have sponsored us already, 'Thank You' and if you haven't you might just want to pop to our Justgiving page and support our efforts. Here's a link: http://www.justgiving.com/Juliemartin-Steele1

Friday, 22 July 2011

Here we relay again!


Following the success of the Washburn Valley Relay and ERR entering no fewer than 10 teams of 3 into the race we are now plugging away at the upcoming Golden Acre Park Relay. One member even stated that he had caught the 'relay bug'. I advised him to 'pass it on!!' Hopefully we may have as good a turn out for the club. The photo above illustrates just how good it looks to see so many runners from one club out in force! It was absolutely an immense feeling of pride to see so many blue and white vests at an event. I hope many others felt the same. That is one of the great things about being part of a club. The team spirit was fantastic. The heavy rain which ensued towards the back end of the race failed to dampen our spirits as the first to the last runners were cheered in and many of the competitors from other clubs too.

We didn't finish on the leader board but that didn't matter to any of us, we weren't there to win, merely to take part and we did just that!

We are still trying to finalise plans for our new Monday night training venue following the sad closure of Fitness First Gyms. Hopefully this will all be in place for the 1st August. Exciting times really, one door closes and another opens. Hopefully our new venue will open up new opportunites for all involved. Watch this space!

Training continues to go well. Club are continuing to offer a wide variety of training opportunities to our members and with the added races and relays thrown in there's something for everyone. I'm particularly looking forward to the next Enhanced Training session on 8th August. Meanwhile I have just placed the latest order with Spellsports our kit supplier and it's great to see the increase in members wearing the new matching kit on training nights and at races. If you haven't yet checked out the full range log onto the website and click on the 'online shop' logo.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Races, Birthdays, Anniversaries and more!


The Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness persisted and if anything, was worse come Wednesday's Helen Windsor 10k race. Unsure how I would fare I stood on the start line trying to hear what the starter was saying, impossible and all I heard was 'Go!'. Off we set like the charge of the Light Brigade down the road. A sharp left sent us up the first incline and I settled into my pace, my legs didn't feel too bad. However, by mile 4 they began to scream! Nothing in them at all, I tried to distract my mind from focusing on them. Counting. 1,2,3,4, 2,2,3,4, 3,2,3,4 4,2,3,4 etc It really does work! The scenery helped too. What a lovely part of Yorkshire in which to run. The organisers had announced that there was a change to this year's route to avoid some road crossings and a hill at mile four. Taking nearly 5 minutes off last year's time I'm not entirely sure how much of it is due to the route changes but also due to my recent weight loss.

I would like to think that at least some of it was down to weight loss having now lost a total of 17lbs on the Weight Watchers programme I also gained my latest PB at yesterday's Eccup 10 mile race. Elated wasn't in it! A cold and chilly day met us at Adel yesterday morning for the race. It was soon all change though as the clouds cleared and the sun came out. Baking hot was putting it mildly! It made each incline seem like a mountain! I plodded on though to finish in 1 hour 33 minutes - our Eccleshill Team all did really well and posted some great times. Abbey Runners (the organisers) always excel in trying to provide something a little bit different as a memento, past years have yielded a mug, a rucksack and yesterday's race was no exception as we were rewarded with an etched glass 'trophy' bearing an engraved plate with the race details on - all that was missing was my name!!

Following the race we had planned to go out for lunch not least to celebrate mine and Sophie's Birthday's this week - and loverly it was too, we (Me, Lisa, Gill & Ian) ended up going to the Fox and Hounds at Bramhope just a short distance away. Sophie would have remembered it well as she had to make an unscheduled stop there last year during one of our marathon training runs! Sadly she announced on Saturday that she wasn't going to be able to join us for the race or lunch due to planned Birthday celebrations by her partner James, she wouldn't, she said be able to commit as she didn't know what he had planned. Sadness turned to joy though later in the day as she phoned me to say that James' secret was a hotel, a meal and a proposal! "Fantastic news", I screamed down the telephone when she rang! I'm sure the club will join me in wishing the two of them every happiness for the future! That's a date I'll remember as today is mine and my husband's 30th (Pearl) Wedding Anniversary, they have a little catching up to do!

Next on the agenda is the Washburn Valley Relay, the reccie last Friday gave some members the chance to find out what's in store for them at the end of the week! We have ten teams of three runners entered, should be a sight to behold getting so many of our Members together for such an event filled with fun and camaraderie. Look out for the team photo!

Monday, 4 July 2011

Feeling hot!


My theory about Honley on was indeed correct! The YVAA race number 5 course was extremely hilly and extremely hot to boot! Arriving in the pleasant surroundings of Honley, the home of the race organisers, Holmfirth Harriers, the sun was beating down and it was obviously set to get hotter as our Sunday morning progressed.

After two laps of the cricket field we were off up into the woods, and up and up we climbed. The hills were wicked! I'm sure a lot of the runners had the same train of thought as I did, 'what goes up, must come down'. The further we climbed the more varied the route became. Stiles, fields, gates, cows, alpacas, yes alpacas! I spotted them in a field but didn't actually realise until I scaled yet another stile that we were going to end up in the same field as them! Fortunately they just stood and gazed at us, probably wondering what the heck we were doing invading their space. From that point on the descent began. I wasn't wrong, what went up, certainly did come down! Scaling the final stile (hole in a wall!), the cricket pitch was a welcome site. Once round and we were finished..... What a relief. Today, at least, I had managed to stay on my feet, just.....

Following the tough race yesterday I didn't feel too achy this morning. Just as well as I have been looking forward to the first of our three Adult Endurance courses run by Airedale Athletics, of which the club is playing host. Racking up at Pulse Gym/Hanson School I admit to being just a little apprehensive. I had my reservations after having heard Sophie mention the England Athletics coach Ilona and how she was not shy of shouting and making her charges 'do'. Starting out with circuits we stayed at each activity for 30 seconds before moving on and then jog around for 2 minutes before then going on to do 1 minute on each. Ilona did indeed, assert her authority and guide us through the correct manner in which to undertake each activity. Following the circuits we went outside to do some drills and then progressed to sprints.

All in all a very tough 2 hours session but extremely enjoyable. I am now very much looking forward to the next session on 8th August.

I am now frantically trying to stave off DOMS in the hope that I can put in some kind of effort at the Helen Windsor 10k on Wednesday. The theory is that if I carry out some stretching and gentle walking the aches and pains might well be lessened.

Thursday, 30 June 2011

New beginnings, New shoes and pitfalls....


This week has been another very busy one.
Sadly our partnership with Fitness First Gym has come to an end. We can't seem to get a correct story but the bottom line is it closes today, Thursday 30th June. So we had our last meet there on Monday and after several years of meeting there it will seem odd that we aren't going there any more. I took along a box of chocolates and a 'Thank You' card for the staff just to express out gratitude. So the process of finding a new venue to meet for our Monday sessions has begun. We have had a few suggestions which we are looking into so hopefully it won't be too long before we find somewhere. Meanwhile we will be meeting at Pulse Gym, Hanson School next Monday for the first of three Enhanced Training sessions being provided by the Airedale Athletics Partnership which will offer some top class training from England Athletics top coaches. I am really looking forward to that.

It's a fair while since I stopped during a race, I did just that recently, not for very long though! Tuesday saw the fourth race in the YVAA series at Meanwood. A lovely trail route if a little repetitive, hilly and treacherous under foot. So much so that a good few of us took a tumble, me included. Momentarily sprawled out full length on the floor, I think I actually got up quicker than I went down! After checking that a chap who I had just over taken and then went down immediately behind me was ok, red faced, cut and bruised I carried on regardless! Incidentally we over took each other another twice but he managed a sprint to the finish line! My time of 42:36 was a pleasant surprise as it felt like I had been out on the course much longer!

Wednesday's run followed a day of shopping in York where I purchased an early birthday present of a new pair of running shoes. I'm not going to mention how long but suffice to say 'long overdue'. I was glad to learn that the 10 mile route was actually only 7 miles, my bruised and battered knee wouldn't have stood up to much more, I don't think. Certainly the prospect of a rest day today is very welcome as the post fall aches and pains seem even more accentuated as the day goes on. The new shoes were a pleasure to run in and quite a jazzy colour, I love them! There's nothing like a new pair of running shoes to put a bit of spring in your step!

My weekly visit to Weight watchers since reaching my 'goal' weight last week and I learned I had lost another 1/2lb taking me to a total of a stone lost, I was presented with an actual 'stone' to mark the occasion! So I am now carrying a stone lighter around than I was 8 weeks ago and I must admit it feels great! Some of it may be psychological but it did actually feel much easier getting up the likes of Harrogate Road, up to Calverley and then up Woodhall Lane last night, let's hope it continues!

Meanwhile this Sunday sees the next of the YVAA races at Honley, for me, anywhere near the town Huddersfield spells 'hills' so we'll see if my theory is correct!

Monday, 27 June 2011

Come Rain or Shine.....



The beautiful Washburn Valley

Well what can I say? The Jane Tomlinson Leeds 10k was (nearly) a total washout! My prayers were not answered and I got up (late) on the Sunday morning to pouring down rain! I knew I had to collect my number at the event due to my (late) entry and so it was we hurriedly made our way to Leeds. Got to the bottom of my road and the van's fuel light came on, cue unscheduled fuel stop, just to make me even later. Finally arriving in Leeds, the slip road to the multi storey car park was closed as were most other slip roads off the main ring road, after frantically driving round for about 15 minutes I asked my husband just to drop me off and I set off running in the direction of a few runners I could see up ahead, not a clue where I was or where I was going!

Anyway all worked out fine, I managed to find Millennium Square, got my number and got directions to the Red start area. Before I knew it we were off, soaked but off! Although I do love a busy race this it seemed was over busy. The streets were narrow, I zig zagged from one side of the road to other, up and down the kerbs, however I did feel I had made a good effort as I neared the finish, the welcome site of fellow club member Linda sent me gliding to the right, right again and....another incline, I had imagined as I race down the Headrow that I was continuing to the finish line, mistaken, I ploughed on up before turning left and finally the finish line came into view. Lesson learned, 'don't count your chickens!' So I didn't manage my sought after 10k PB but well and truly justified the reason why I hadn't. Last year's race had been so much more relaxed as I had pledged to stay with my sister, compared to this year's race I really did feel the brunt of the crowded course. Ah well, onwards and upwards there's plenty more 10k's to be conquered.

In stark contrast, some of our members were travelling over to the Washburn Valley (the following) Sunday. Holidays were preventing some of them carrying out the Otley AC reccie of the three legs of the Washburn Valley relay we are entering teams in, somehow I was 'talked into' doing the reccie along with them. Not though, a reccie of one leg, but all three!

Getting out of bed early the sun was cracking the flags. Mick and Dawn arrived to pick me up and off we set. There were 7 of us in total. Arriving at Otley we set off on leg one, it was very warm. Next, leg two, it was warmer still. Leg three it was getting on for 11 am, it was stifling. The guys set off and Dawn and I followed. We arrived at the bridge at the bottom of a gravel path and stopped for a drink. I think in the heat both of us wanted to turn back, it was however, an incline back to the car park, probably just over a mile to run back, we both agreed we may as well carry on and finish what we had started. It just seemed to get hotter and hotter. We were plagued by flies. What a difference from the same time last week. You wouldn't imagine you were in the same country, never mind postal district! Amazing.

All the times I have run around Fewston & Swinsty reservoirs I have never noticed the lovely Fewston church, those of you who have run around there will know that there's a point where you need to come off the banks of the reservoir out onto the road and then back down again. The church is just as you get to the car park to go out onto the road. Stunning, can't understand why I've never noticed it before.

It felt really good to finish and I hurried to the ice cream van to buy myself an ice lolly, an orange lolly never tasted so good! So hopefully, one leg at the Otley AC reccie will seem like a walk in the park. Oh and the race the week after? A little more effort may be required, let's hope it's not so hot!




Fewston Church

Saturday, 18 June 2011

Flying time and racing by....


The eve of the Jane Tomlinson Leeds 10k and it seems only yesterday that I ran it with (my sister) Sue, her first ever 10k and also (my son) Marc's first year of stepping up to do the 10k instead of the family fun run for which he had become 'too old'. How time flies!

I am able to look back with a feeling that it's not such a bad thing that the last year has passed me by. My patience and determination to stick to regimes devised by my previous physio and current masseur have meant that I'm now back to a relatively good level of fitness and have taken pride over the last few months in gaining PB's in some of the races I've done, most notably at 5k and 10 mile distances. So I'm looking forward to tomorrows race and although I know I should without doubt better my time from last year, I also know that if I can put the effort in and not be hampered too much by the crowds that I have a real chance of a 10k Pb on that course. We'll see....

Training for the Great North Run is going well and I'm really looking forward to our yearly trip to the North East. Just need to get the fundraising for Scope moving so if you can find it within you to part with some of your hard earned cash visit http://www.justgiving.com/Juliemartin-Steele1

Club race wise, we are now in full swing with the Yorkshire Vets races, three of this year's series have already been run at Horsforth, West Vale and Pudsey. Like the cross country races earlier in the year, there is a certain camaraderie attached to the vets races, they are always well attended by all the clubs and most of them cheer in the runners at the finish, the atmosphere is electric! Of course there's the post race presentations and food too! Most of all though, they are usually very challenging courses, great for your fitness and afterwards you get a real sense of achievement, a feeling you have really put in some effort and of course been part of the team. We at club, will be rallying round for the next race as lots of people are on holiday so it's going to be doubly difficult to get those teams out.

Next on the agenda though for my weekend is indeed the 2011 Jane Tomlinson Leeds 10k in the morning, followed by a meeting with Capt' Hogan to sort out the teams for this year's Washburn Valley Relay followed by the monthly ERR Committee meeting tomorrow evening.

Then the start of a whole new week which I'm sure promises to be eventful!

Now before I retire I may just pray for good weather to be bestowed on tomorrow's race : )

Friday, 27 May 2011

Taking stock........

It's necessary to take stock from time to time. In all areas of life. This week I have been forced to take stock, all round. It's got to the point where I seriously do not know if I'm coming or going, big style. I'm always like that anyway, trying to stretch myself here, there and everywhere, that's my nature, I've never, ever, been any different. Something in my life changes, for whatever, reason, something takes over that spot. I deal with it. For the most part. Then for some unknown reason, (well that's not entirely true, but let's not go there,)I am forced to take stock, look at how ridiculous my weeks have become, which is difficult because they all blur into one. Trying to balance, work, home, running, tending my allotment and everything else which weaves in between all that, and it's just not working. Several times last week I found myself down at Stanley Street allotments watering my vegetables at going on for 10 O'clock, yes in the dark!

These Summer months, lighter, longer nights may be favourable but we always want more don't we? Not satisfied that it doesn't really draw in until 9:40 I have to stretch it out even longer.

So my first casualty? Parkrun.... I have had to make the difficult decision to step back, at least for a while. Largely due to the transport issues I've been documenting recently, and there's still no sign of a solution. As well as the prospect of adding over six miles to the 5k parkrun by walking there and back, three club nights and mid week races, I started to feel the pinch. I've had a couple of near misses injury wise in the last couple of weeks, hamstring and quad strains, so I fear I am treading on rocky ground and may well be heading for trouble. I may make further changes still, but for now I'm going to see how it goes. I am still on the trail of an alternative activity to even out the load and have been looking into Zumba classes ....... here we go again......

Meanwhile I'm extremely pleased to report that I did obtain that elusive PB at the final race in the John Carr series - not by very much but none the less a PB of which I'm very proud as the 5k time to beat was set in 2009!

There's life in the old dog yet!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Faster than the speed of light!


Well not quite! Last night we dropped the 'hills' from our 'speed and hills' session and turned it into a speed session!

Some time ago sessions were provided by the club behind local supermarket, Morrisons at Five Lane Ends. These sessions were coached activities comprising, hurdles, relays etc. Very enjoyable sessions they were too. Trying to keep what is provided on training nights fresh and varied is a difficult task which we, the Committee, all have a hand in from time to time. Mick suggested a while ago that we might benefit from a speed based variation such as a track session or similar, aimed at improving fitness. After failing to secure a night where we could use the nearest track to our club on one of our training nights, Horsfall near Shelf, he suggested that we might be able to use the industrial area round the back of Morrisons, some weeks later he had cleared the way for us to use it.

We (Mick & I) met up an hour before our monthly steering Committee meeting on Sunday tea time to throw some ideas around and see if we could remember anything from our previous sessions. We came up with a few ideas and agreed that we should keep the session quite short but with maximum effort. I'm pleased to report that by and large it went really well. The weather wasn't kind to us, it was very blustery and drizzling the whole time we were training. Those Members that expressed their views, approved of our team relays and overall speed work saying that it was really good as it encouraged you to work hard without realising it. The camaraderie involved in such sessions is second to none, if you didn't know everyone's names beforehand you did afterwards! It really did turn into a bonding exercise. I hope that the enthusiasm will spread throughout the club and encourage those who may be perhaps a little apprehensive at trying such sessions to give it a go next time.

Wednesday sees the final race in the John Carr 5k series and I'm pleased to report that I was a couple of pounds lighter when I alighted the scales last Saturday so hopefully by now I might just have shed a couple more......is that elusive PB on the cards? Watch this space!!

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Every second counts....


Last night saw the second in the series of the John Carr 5k races. I must admit to being a little apprehensive as we set out to drive to Esholt. After Monday’s club night of a pyramid/hill session my left hamstring felt very tight, luckily for me I already had a massage with Peter May booked for Tuesday tea time. I had been looking forward to it anyway as I’ve had a few issues with the (previously injured) right ankle area too. Not so much recurrence of my old injury as pain that seemed to be radiating from my heel, plantar fasciitis? Plantar fasciitis is a painful inflammatory process of the plantar fascia. Those not familiar with this condition are advised to read up on how to prevent it at all costs; apparently it is excruciatingly painful, often described as feeling like nails sticking into the heel.

The good news is that Peter gave my legs a good going over and declared that he in no way associated my foot pain with plantar, maybe ligament trouble and he managed to loosen off my hamstring. However, the following morning the hamstring was still causing pain; it did feel more of an ache than a pulled muscle but how does one know? On the start line at the John Carr I was wondering whether I would be troubled by it or get round in one piece. Thankfully it was the latter and I even managed to knock one whole second off last week’s time. Still chasing that elusive 5k PB, missing it again by a second. Will next week be the week? Can I knock off those pesky seconds? I shall certainly be giving it a good try!

Thanks to Sophie – or Speedysoph as she’s affectionately known in club I’ve taken the plunge to try and shift some of the excess weight I’m carrying around too, largely since Marathon training ceased and also no doubt a large portion of it went on when I was injured. There's a tendency to up your intake and then fail to adjust it once the level of activity decreases. It certainly has been a bit of a rollercoaster these past few months. What with starting out on the Wii yoga and then distance training with the marathoners, I've dropped it all like a ton of bricks since London. Not a conscious decision, I have to say, more of a diversion, in that my attentions have been focused elsewhere but that's another story for another day! So weightwatchers are once again having the benefit of my company for the next few months or so anyway. Who knows, maybe a few pounds lighter next week, hopefully, will be the key, after all every second counts.........Especially if it leads to a PB!