Monday, 31 January 2011

Red faced but happy.........

Training is still going very well. I highly recommend having a plan and sticking to it. My three nights of training with club, additional run/walk at Bradford parkrun on Saturdays, topped off with the odd race on Sundays seems to be keeping me on an even keel. Of course the all important cross training must be having a positive effect too. Nothing strenuous needed here, the Wii yoga seems to be providing the balance I have needed for some time. Nicely rounded off with my regular massage (Peter May's Runners Rub) and ice and compression!

I was very nearly tempted to sign up for the next round of Airedale Athletics training courses but managed to 'turn a blind eye' to the application form when it arrived in my email inbox in favour of not over doing things now that I seem to have regained control over my Achilles tendon, I could quite literally have thrown in the towel and hung up my trainers not that many months ago. I did think at times that I wasn't going to regain the ability to get back to full training. Patience, I am pleased to say seems to have paid off. Fingers crossed!

Ever had that feeling during a race that you're going 'hell for leather' but it turns out you weren't really? That was me yesterday at the penultimate cross country race of this year's Peco League. Although there were times when I slowed to snails pace due to accumulating half a stone of clay like mud on each shoe, I really felt I had given it my all. I can still feel the excitement I felt as I approached the water jump and a few ladies were hesitating about getting over, a marshal perched at each side trying to catch those who faltered, I made a split decision to negotiate it from the opposite end, leapt with all my might, I then realised I was at the wider end of the ditch which was probably the reason for the congestion at the narrower end, SPLASH, one foot went into the water and down on all fours I went, the marshal was dithering as if he didn't know whether to grab me or not, I made the decision for him and bid a hasty retreat up the banking and carried on. My red face didn't last for long as I encountered the next batch of slippery mud and my attention was once more focused on staying on my feet.
When I crossed the finish line I was handed number 91, number 91 I thought? Handing it to Mick to enter on our sheet he said 'shall we use it the other way up?', 16 was what I felt I deserved for effort, so I'll forget what's on the score sheet, I'll take 16 in my fantasy league, if only for ending up on all fours at the water jump!

Outward bound at the Peco XC

Sunday, 23 January 2011


A belated Eccleshill Road Runners Christmas meal didn't seem like the best preparation for my first half marathon in quite some time. Consoling myself with the fact that it was at an Italian restaurant and I would be able to carb load on pasta and also that it was a fairly early start and a few of us were running the next day meaning we shouldn't have too much trouble being tucked up in bed at a reasonable hour, we went along and had a lovely evening and managed to be back home and bid a hasty retreat up the stairs by 11 pm.
I woke early this morning before the alarm went off at six having slept surprisingly well. I took great pleasure in going to meet fellow Err'ers at Morrisons Enterprise Five to travel across to York for the Brass Monkey Half Marathon.

Arriving in York in good time to collect our numbers and timing chips thanks to Ian and Gill we avoided the onslaught we then went on to witness, chaos wasn't even close to describing the scene as throngs of runners queued to get theirs, we then had time to hang around and chat with our own and other club runners until we eventually decided to go and warm up and head to the start line. The butterflies began, they were, fortunately, short lived. I hadn't spoken to anyone about a race plan but had decided I was really going to take it easy, although a PB course, I put all such thoughts out of my head. I really did have serious doubts as to whether I could get around the 13.1 mile course in one piece. Determination aside, the factors which are beyond my control lurked around in my thoughts, as did Peter May's advice the previous week, "if you are going to do it, be prepared to struggle" he'd said when I whined that I really wanted to do it. We set off and it became almost immediately clear that the conditions were perfect for running. The rain that had threatened us with a soggy run earlier had subsided, it was overcast and a little breezy.

I held back and decided to run with Dawn if she was happy for me to do so. A couple of times she urged me to push on but I was feeling totally comfortable and really wanted to stay that way. I've run with Dawn before and there really isn't much between our paces, she's really improved over the last twelve months and more so since she's been training for the London Marathon, as have quite a few club members, PB's were sure to be plentiful following today's race. I can still remember the feeling when I took 11 minutes off my Great North time at this race last year, I was ecstatic and I hope that's the case for some of our runners today. Alas, I can only hope that I can set my sights on a new half marathon PB this time next year.

The race progressed really well, I said to Dawn at the 3 mile mark I wished it was a 10k then we would be half way, then upon reaching the 7 mile mark that conversation seemed only moments ago. In no time at all we were at the 10 mile marker and I felt compelled to point out we only had 5k to go - a parkrun in fact! Dawn wasn't impressed at this point but I managed to keep her going with idle chat. I only hope I hadn't got on her nerves! I'll find out later....

Meanwhile I can honestly say that today I ran one of the best 13.1 miles of my life, I still hold my first Great North Run very dear! The smile on my face and the cry of 'Yes' as I crossed that finishing line today was genuinely portraying the happiness I felt at getting round the course I had earlier had serious doubts about conquering. It is also great to be part of a club where fellow members are waiting at the finish to cheer you all in and I must make a special mention to the brilliant marshals of this race too, they really did put in a big effort to spur us runners on and they are to be commended.

Onwards and upwards, today also made me realise that the last couple of cross country races were not a 'walk in the park' with either adverse weather and/or mud and hills to contend with I had no reason to doubt my ability except that I really do need to concentrate on getting my fitness back to where I was some 9 months ago and shed the few pounds I've managed to acquire over the past few months of reduced activity.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Blue Monday

I've had a great week in the training stakes. Having trained Monday, Wednesday and Friday with club, been sweeper at Bradford parkrun with Dave and topping it all off with a tough cross country on Sunday. I'm not dwelling on the cross country as I was just pleased to get round the muddy, hilly, 3 lap course given my lack of training due to recent illness and not so recent injury. I had vowed I was going to title this blog 'hills bells' in keeping with my Christmas one where the elf out ran me, as she did this time but it didn't feel nearly as painful since she wasn't in her previous get up! I should also mention the fantastic support from fellow club and non club runners throughout the race. It's uplifting when someone comes up behind you and says ' keep going Julie, you're looking strong' even though you know damn well you're not!
My spirits were not even dampened upon turning up at parkrun to find that the race was included in the Eccleshill Road Runners club championships, just how I had managed to overlook that escapes me but hey ho 42 minutes plus for a 5k was never going to get me any points was it? So following such a good week, why then did I feel down in the dumps all day today? I didn't have an explanation, until that is, my regular Fetcheveryone newsletter dropped into my email inbox! Today was 'Blue Monday'. That explains everything then, or does it? Many people subscribe to the psychological theory that today -- January 17th -- is the most depressing day of the year. If we chose to believe such claims, apparently a theory dreamt up by academics then surely we would have lots of blue Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays.... You catch my drift.
Apparently you can boost your mood by helping others, it's also suggested that receiving an unexpected compliment; listening to the sea; sitting in the sunshine (hmmm); listening to music; eating your favourite food; hearing laughter; winning money; going for a walk on the beach; and having a snowball fight can all have a positive effect on our well being! What would you recommend? A duvet day? A touch of New Order? Or is it simply a matter of ignoring dubious formulae and getting on with things? Well for me, there's simply nothing better than a run with friends to lift my mood and I can honestly say it works every time! It really is no wonder then that we runners become down hearted, depressed, frustrated or whatever other emotion springs to mind, when we cannot for one reason or another run.
On a brighter note, I'm on track with my cross training goals having kept up regular yoga sessions on my Wii fit, I've yet to find further discipline in swimming or be it something else, but am confident in attaining this. Another sports massage with Peter May tomorrow will hopefully iron out any issues since before Christmas and stand me in good stead for the Brass Monkey this coming Sunday.

Friday, 7 January 2011


I am what you might call a creature of habit. I get into a habit and pound away, day in, day, out, week in, week out, month in, month out, year in, year out. That, I fear is what I've been doing for the past three and a half years at least. Running is by far the only 'hobby' I've taken up and stuck with for any length of time, until now that is. I think I've actually managed to convince myself that I won't be able to get back to where I was a few months ago in terms of being able to run and not suffer ill effects or being able to race and get back to being able to better my times. That is, of course, apart from 28 years ago when I first ever took up running, well jogging actually, myself, my sister-in-law Tricia and (my husband's, cousin's wife!) Edwina all purchased black and white track suits and began 'jogging'. We signed up for the Calverley fun run, 4 miles I think. If my memory serves me correctly it nearly finished me off! We also signed up for the Otley half marathon, I'm afraid I backed out and another sister-in-law took part in my place, I still have a guilt feeling every time I think about it to this day. I'm sure there's some photos somewhere of us in those black and white tracksuits but I think I'd prefer it if they stayed stored away!

So how do I get out of this hole I have dug for myself? I keep making promises to myself and for one reason or another they go out of the window. Illness and of course, adverse weather have both played a part, so I suppose I shouldn't dwell on it too much and take it one day at a time. I actually feel a little scared to get back to it now, the feeling is a little like when you were off school or work for a few days and then when you go back you feel like it's your first day all over again. Except in my situation I have reached a point where, without realising, my leg has been pain free, I'm not sure for how long but definitely pain free, so I'm mildly excited and I really don't feel like compromising that. I do realise I am going to have to do it at some point but plan to bide my time for now, be resolute and not rush things in the hope that I don't end up back to square one yet again (I'm also really tired of hearing myself say that yet again!).
(Incidentally looking out of the window it's once more snowing profusely so there's probably no going back on my decision to wait a little longer to run anyway!)

I'm still waiting confirmation of several cross training ideas which have been suggested by friends but continue to explore different options but one thing is for certain one of my New Year's Resolutions is most certainly to incorporate more variety into my training.

So I can now add the Pennine 10k, this coming Sunday to my list of uncompleted, planned races....... I think..........

Monday, 3 January 2011

Time Trials and Talking Marathons

It was lovely to meet up with the club members who turned up for tonight's monthly time trial. Feels like an age since I was at club, Christmas just turns everything upside down!

Still unable to shake of my chesty cough I just about managed to take the warm up session and was very out of breath, it was fortunate then that I was only going to do the timing anyway because I wouldn't have been able to run. I'm going to try get an appointment at the Doctor's tomorrow and get checked out, having put paid to my Christmas and (nearly my ) New Year I figure this has dragged on a little too long now and needs to scarper!

It was my intention to try and have a short run this Wednesday even though the advice is 'neck and above - it's ok to run', 'below the neck - don't run', I've somehow managed to convince myself that if I had maybe done a little running it might actually have helped my chest - I don't know if that's true but I've now had a better offer of an invite to go and listen to Tom Williams of Marathon Talk fame which promises to:

"Get your training off to a flying start with a free Marathon Evening hosted by Tom Williams of Marathon Talk, in conjunction with the University of Leeds and local run club Hyde Park Harriers."

Yes I know, I know, I'm not doing a marathon this year, I do however, think that there is a lot of valuable information to be gleaned from attending such an evening in regard to amongst other things, injury prevention and management and nutrition and anyway my experience of listening to Tom Williams on the couple of occasions I have been fortunate enough to meet him, is that he is absolutely mesmerising and I could listen to him talking for eternity. He is one of those people who just has the ability to capture your attention and keep it, I suppose it helps that I am interested in what he has to say!