Monday, 28 February 2011

Compos mentis

I questioned my sanity a number of times yesterday, but I guess least said about that the better.

Given that I declined all suggestions that I should do another marathon in 2011 I did wonder why I was crossing the landing into the bathroom at 6.15 on a Sunday morning in preparation for an 18 mile run to Huddersfield. I then remembered the reason. All my own doing of course! Following last weeks 15+ miler with the 'marathoners' I found myself uttering words to the effect that we could probably run to Huddersfield next week in time to cheer in the runners of the Huddersfield 10k whilst increasing the training mileage for the marathon which I am not doing. I am then, of sound mind, and indeed responsible for my own actions! Make sense? No? I didn't think so either.

Anyway here I was bleary eyed and trying to focus on what I needed to pack into a bag to be left in Mick's car since he was going to be the one bringing us back. Would it rain, would I need to change my clothes, a towel, spare shoes, snacks for after the run? This felt like I was preparing to run a marathon, gels, pain killers, mobile phone??? Questions, questions, I had to take a step back and think straight. I wasn't going to be alone in this long journey since we had yet another addition to last weeks party, Alison was joining Dawn, Karen and myself on this one. Finally I managed to pack everything up, get my breakfast and get dressed.

Mick arrived promptly at 7.55 and off we went to Pudsey to meet Karen. Retracing our steps back to Eccleshill we began our journey. 9 miles in, the half way point, I again declared how, similar to last week, I felt much better running in the morning than I did on the longer club runs on Wednesday evenings. Was it the daylight or was it that having not worked all day one feels less tired? Not sure but probably a combination of the two.

After a brief toilet stop at Tesco in Huddersfield we continued on our journey, 6 miles to go. Little did we know a punishing incline lay just around the corner. We all tackled it with our own determination. Once at the top we had a steady decline down into the centre of Huddersfield. This is where it went slightly wrong. We continued on through the city centre. No sign of 'Lockwood' the place where the rugby club was situated. Apparently this was where the race started and finished from. I must admit that put a downward slant on my mood. After feeling really upbeat about reaching Huddersfield and a sense we had 'done it' my mood slowly began to take a nose dive. We asked several people for directions and each time confidently set off again only to reach the end of another road and not know which way to turn. Eventually we came across fellow ERR runner, Lindsey who had finished the race and directed us to our intended destination.

Sadly the race was well and truly over so we didn't get chance to cheer anyone in at the finish but nonetheless we had completed more than our intended 18 miles, nearly 19 and a half which can only serve to instill some confidence into the marathoners of their ability to achieve their goal which must be now firmly in their sights.

After our long run I have managed to end weeks of uncertainty in my mind and make a decision to run Trimpell 20 next weekend instead of the final Peco cross country at Otley. It has been a difficult decision as I really do enjoy the cross country races but feel that I have more to gain by going to Trimpell from a personal point of view and from a 'friends' point of view. The group will be increased even further as Mick, Sophie and Gill join our gang! I do love team spirit! Anyway who can resist the offer of a free swim after a 20 mile run? Salt Ayre Leisure Centre here I come......

Salt Ayre Leisure Centre swimming pool, Trimpell

Sunday, 20 February 2011

S'now go...

Although forecast, I was surprised at the amount of snow we woke up to on Saturday morning. Would parkrun be going ahead? Should I selfishly take the 4 x 4 and leave my unsuspecting husband to travel to Queensbury in the go kart (smart car!)? I picked up my mobile when I got downstairs and saw I had a message from Arthur saying he wasn't going as it was thick snow where he lived,Queensbury! So I text him back saying I was unsure whether to go or not. I logged onto the parkrun Facebook group, nothing, signed into my email to obtain the volunteer rota and race director's mobile to try and find out if the run was cancelled. Then realised it was not Rick, who has stood in throughout Linda's absence, who was race directing this week, scuppered, I knew I had to make a decision. It began snowing furiously outside again, the roads were already covered, I knew that I would have to let Martin take the 4 x 4 in order to get him to work and back in Queensbury. Decision made.....

An hour or so later Dave was still whining - he knew he should be running round the lovely Lister Park by now, so I donned my wellies and winter attire, got him on his lead and off we set for a lovely stroll through the local woods. Not parkrun but the next best thing! I did have a few regrets when I later found out 35 runners had braved the inclement weather and I felt as though we had wussed out, slightly!

Decisions though, still had to be made about Sunday's run, my offer to run with Dawn et al to try and increase her marathon training mileage was still worrying me as she was adamant in completing 16+ miles. Could I increase to that? Would it set me back in my quest to get back to full fitness? I really couldn't muster the confidence to agree to a 16 mile run. Self doubt had reared it's ugly ahead yet again. It seemed as though it would be easier to give into it even though there was just a little ray of self confidence.

So I text Dawn to ask if she had mapped the route from Calverley to Saltaire, Guiseley, Rawdon, Horsforth and back to Calverley she had earlier outlined so that I could maybe get a lift to a point further out and join them for the latter part of their run, the top of Hollings Hill maybe? She duly emailed the exact route and upon studying it I realised I would only complete just over six miles if I met them there! Frustrated, I 'bit the bullet' and agreed to meet them at Greengates which would reduce the route by just under a mile for me. Acceptable I thought. So I made my way to Greengates early next morning and right on Cue Dawn and Karen (from Pudsey Pacers) appeared, I crossed the road to join them and we set off on our merry way towards Shipley, thoughts of the dreaded Hollings Hill lingered...

It was a real boost to be able to reassure Dawn through my experience of trying to get to grips with fuelling for the marathon from last year when Lisa, Sophie and I had taken similar routes, figuring out our fuel intake and my being able to advise Dawn in the hope of things working out well for her which it later seemed they had. I remembered getting to the same point last year, the road up to Rawdon and fuelling there in the hope of not running out of steam half way up, it worked! Dawn followed suit.

In what seemed like no time at all we were approaching Horsforth roundabout, a downhill and then a slight uphill back to Calverley was all that remained, both Dawn and I were visibly tired, Karen seemed as though she had miles left in her. One of the most uplifting parts for me though had been earlier, finding myself at the top of Hollings Hill, the half way point for me, and just another small confidence boost!
Then when we arrived at our finish point and hearing Dawn declare she had just completed her highest mileage to date (over 16 miles)! Brilliant. That's team work. For me, 15.29 miles - done.

Did I really hear myself saying we could run to Huddersfield next Sunday and get a lift back? Oh dear the route has already landed in my inbox!

Thursday, 17 February 2011

In the pink....

I was rather pink after my 10 mile club run last night but again this morning I'm feeling tip top so it's all good. I'm now trying to resist the charms of Dawn who's trying to persuade me to accompany her and a few friends on a 16 miler on Sunday - tried to convince her it is too much of a hike in her marathon training mileage but don't think I managed it! We'll see....

I am going to be in the pink from now on at races! I've supported a very worthy cause, 'Breakthrough Breast Cancer' and got myself a very limited edition Frogtrade Pink Hoodie, I love it!!!

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

The hills are alive...

Not though, with the Sound of Music!

I am a true champion of speed and hill work as an aid to improving one's fitness. I quite often quote my own experience to members of our club. I harp back to when (my then young son) Marc and I joined Eccleshill Road Runners, attending regularly once a week on Friday's, still in fact billed as our 'social run night'. I can't remember what it definitely was that influenced us to attend Monday's in addition to Friday's but I think it might have been either a time trial or a circuit session we used to hold at the back of Morrison's Enterprise Five, 'Enterprise Surprise'! After that we regularly attended two nights per week. I can still see from my past training logs the improvement in my running both training and racing. Although I don't profess to be Speedy Gonzales, I do know that those Monday speed and hills sessions really did help me to improve my running as a whole.

So having had a huge dip in my fitness in recent months due to injury I now feel that I can begin to work on it. Beginning last night I'm now on a mission to start and make improvements to the way I train. Meeting as usual in Fitness First reception we had yet another new comer trying out the club. Chatting about our club's training regimes Helen and I explained exactly what kinds of activities we do on Monday's. Rather worried our new lady asked if it was a competition. I explained that each one of us was competing against ourselves. 'You get out what you put in' is a familiar turn of phrase we use when describing our sessions. Lister Lane hill reps was the order of the (Valentines) day. After a fantastic warm up with Helen in the form a gentle jog around Fitness First followed by dynamic stretching, we then jogged along to the hill in question. We were supposed to aim for 4 to 6 reps of the hill which included a lovely downhill recovery before each effort. I set off on the first one with gusto, down the hill with a sharp turn to tackle the beast at the bottom. As I overtook some other club mates I heard 'show off' muttered. I smiled to myself and carried on, after all this was supposed to be about 'effort' was it not? Nearing the top I ran out of steam and was reduced to a power walk. I continued on and was soon able to regain my stride.

I was very satisfied with my effort at the end of the session as I had managed to complete 4 full reps and then finished off with two half reps with Marc. Following those I had a fast paced jog back to base with Lindsey, Nikos, Annie and Marc. I went home feeling that I had fulfilled my aim. For some time now I have not been making any attempt to put any effort into the Monday sessions, opting instead to exercise restraint for fear of aggravating my injury.

Today I have been considering the possibility of entering the Trimpell 20 in a bid to support fellow club members who have entered this race as a training run for the London marathon. Tomorrow I have a 10 mile club run to look forward to.

Now where are those choccies I got from my Valentine? I think I've earned one or two!

Friday, 11 February 2011


Yesterday I was smiling, today I am not!

Just how do you obtain a place in the Great North Run Ballot? For the 6th year in succession I have a received a rejection email. Once, just once I would like to open the email and read 'YOUR ENTRY FOR THE BUPA GREAT NORTH RUN HAS BEEN SUCCESSFUL'

Noun: A person or thing dismissed as failing to meet standards or satisfy tastes.
Verb: Dismiss as inadequate, inappropriate, or not to one's taste.

One can begin to get a complex.........

Thursday, 10 February 2011

The morning after the night before.

This is the morning after the night before. No I don't have a blinder of a hangover! I went to club last night with thoughts of joining the group doing the shorter run, partly because I could still feel sore spots from my massage with Peter on Tuesday and partly with thoughts that I didn't want to 'push it'. However, with holidays and injuries amongst club members and a Leeds University Lecture by Alistair and Johnny Brownlee - runners were thin on the ground.

Tony had turned up despite not feeling very well, then decided he would return home as he was feeling worse. This left Janice and I to 'man the fort'. Janice has been unwell recently so decided she would do the short run, so I decided I would accompany John and Alison on the longer run. Oh how the mind is changed in a very short space of time!

Anyway, we had a lovely run, I was starting to feel aches and pains on the upward climb to Five Lane Ends, Highfield Road is more of an incline than you might expect! Arriving back at club having covered a total of 9.5 miles my legs felt like lumps of lead, I began to visualise how I would feel in the morning, sore I guessed!

Upon rising this morning I felt tip top! I'm sure there's some secret ingredients in that there 'Runner's Rub'! I could of course attribute it to my Wii Yoga too!

The downward facing dog!

Monday, 7 February 2011

Dernière deux fois!

Twice during my short weekend I have hesitated before writing my blog, firstly on Saturday after parkrun and I abstained in favour of waiting until after Sunday's race - the Dewsbury 10k and combining the two. After said race I hesitated again and wished I had gone with the first attempt and then I could have omitted Sunday altogether!
Why? Well, certainly not because I had a bad race, nor because I didn't get a PB, how to put it into words might have been the reason.

I really do seem to be experiencing all manor of enlightening events recently. I have been tail runner, sweeper whatever term fits best, at Bradford parkrun for quite some time now, a role which I thoroughly enjoy and that is partly due to the enjoyment I know Dave takes from it. It is also due to the sense of being part of the support network that is 'parkrun' and we are, each and everyone of us who turn up week in week out, part of it, whether as a volunteer or a runner, without all of us there would be no parkrun, that's special. This week though, in stark contrast to last week, I found myself chatting to a very small boy and his Dad, he can't have been much more than 6 or 7 and he chatted away in between a little running and walking about Dave and why one of his ears was down and one was up and various other things. After lap two he decided he didn't want to do any more so his dad asked a lady if he could stay with her and off he ran, well I didn't have a hope of staying anywhere near him, so I merrily set off on the third lap with Dave. It was very odd running into the finish area with no accomplice, but hey the job was done I knew there were no other runners behind me and so I still signalled the end of the run. I hadn't previously given any thought to what would happen in the event that the person I was behind decided not to finish and there being no visible person in front to catch up but of course I well and truly would be last!

Sunday's race was a real test of ones fitness or lack of it! Most runners will quite likely have set off with thoughts of a PB lurking in their minds on the pancake flat, out and back town centre course. The outcome for a lot of people could, though, have been very different even if they were in rude health, no injuries etc. Personally I felt at times like I had a bungee rope attached to the back of me! The half way turnaround point seemed to take an age to reach. One saving grace was the sight of the front (very fast and fit!) runners on their way back. It really was a sight to behold seeing the sheer determination on their faces as they fought against their competitors and the wind! It's also great to be able to cheer on fellow club runners and friends in both directions. Those who have run an out-and-back race will know what I mean when I say I got a renewed energy as I ran round the cones to start my homeward journey. It was still difficult to fight against the wind, possible due to the lay out of the buildings, the wind seemed to be coming at us from all directions. At 8k I rested on my laurels, 'not far to go now' I heard myself say, with that I heard a familiar voice, looked to the side of me and there was fellow ERRers Gill and Dawn. I have known for some time that both my club mates have improved markedly since taking part in various training courses and undertaking marathon training. They both sailed past me - a light bulb flicked on - I'm now in last place (ERR ladies!). As any self respecting runner would do, I clicked up a gear and caught back up with them. Battle commenced! It was very much cat and mouse. Right up to the finish as they both fought to leave me behind. Alas, the times came out at Gill 58:14, Dawn 58:18 and me 58:19. Last was where I stayed.............. I can still hear it playing in my ears.....

Thursday, 3 February 2011

If at first you don't succeed....

Just when I thought things in the training stakes couldn't get much better after feeling 'on top of the world' on Sunday I found myself uttering the 'yes' word yet again!

Once weekly on a Monday we incorporate a speed and hills session into our training. This can take many forms, an interval session, a fartlek session, hill repeats, a pyramid session to name but a few.
Last Monday I managed to keep a lid on things by toning down our planned pyramid session, intended to be completed with gusto to improve ones fitness. Gently jogging around the course provided me with a recovery run from Sunday's muddy encounter at the Peco cross country. Whilst most other club members were tearing round as if their lives depended upon it, Dawn and I must have looked like we didn't have a rush in us! Dawn who is following a marathon training plan was supposed to complete a 45 minute 'easy' run and although slightly longer, she managed to do just that!

So to Wednesday's club run, 10.5 miles including the infamous Carr Lane said the Calendar on the club website. To date I had not managed to negotiate said hill without stopping. Each time I have attempted it this thought had been at the forefront of my mind. I have discussed this fact with various persons who have managed to achieve such a feat. The reason, I concluded was partly mental. Tell yourself you can't do something and you are most certainly set to fail before you've even begun, people experience this in all aspects of life not just running, we can't be positive thinkers all of the time, if only! Since we had a fair few miles to cover before we actually had to run up the 1 in 6 gradient we discussed tactics to get us up it, including running in front of a car in order to avoid our fate and positive thinking!

As we ran we tried to offer positive encouragement to each other and to my amazement on reaching the bottom I felt quite confident that I could get up there in one. Previous attempts have seen me get to the second bus stop (there are four in all). As I approached the second bus stop I began visualising getting to the top, punching the air and writing my blog! To those who have run up the 'hill from hell' several times before I probably sound like I am making a 'mountain out of a mole hill' but believe you me this hill is like a mountain to me. A goal previously unobtainable.

As I neared the third bus stop I could see Dawn in front of me and John in front of Dawn - I kept my momentum, the fourth bus stop came into view, I was now at the steepest point, again I was visualising the moment I reached the top. Before I knew it I was there! A fifth bus stop is situated quite a way on from reaching the top, I kept going and upon drawing level with it I punched the air - 'Yes'! I had done it, turning around Alison was just coming to the top, we all shouted encouragement to keep her going, all four of us had conquered it, and to me at least, it felt like Everest.

If at first you don't succeed, try,try,try again..............