Monday, 18 April 2011

What a weekend!

Having looked forward to a weekend away for so many months, the excitement was building very nicely when all of a sudden my train of thought was turned upside down. 'I'm not going to be running London as I'm injured would you like my place (you've done all the training after all!)' was the text message which appeared on my phone from Nikos. My heart missed a beat and then began to race, thoughts that I could run this year after all were looming around my head, reliving a dream I had a few months ago that I had been offered a place, exclaiming to Alison and Dawn on a training run 'Friday night's dream, told Saturday morning comes true', not that I believed it for one minute but I can oft recall my Mum saying the self same thing many, many times! I addressed the possibility with my husband Martin, the expression on his face, however, gave me my answer immediately. He then went on to explain why he did not want me to run. Giving me the reasons why he felt like this didn't make me feel any better. I reasoned with it all in my head, perhaps if he had given me the choice then I might not have wanted to run. As it was now I began to think the weekend was ruined. I would be unable to forgive him for not letting me take the chance to run so we wouldn't enjoy the trip to London anyway. Hours later I seemed to come to my senses and realise how we had looked forward to the weekend away without the stress of the marathon, we would be able to travel around, see the sights and generally enjoy ourselves and then watch the race on Sunday. His negative reaction to the news that I may well run after all was of course, well and truly justified.

So now I could sit back and enjoy giving my support to the runners!

Boarding the coach on Friday morning everyone was buzzing, milling around, discussing this, that and the other. The journey down to London didn't seem to take too long and before we knew it there was the familiar sight of the Expo. Once inside the sights, sounds, queues to register and pick up numbers and timing chips were all too familiar and it seemed only yesterday that I was in those queues myself.

Photos taken, shopping done, well wishers wall written on, we boarded the bus to continue our journey to the hotel. Again, all too familiar, we checked in and were all allocated our room numbers. Down for evening meal at 8 - the start of a great weekend was signalled.

Helen, Janice & I met early Saturday morning to go for a run in place of our planned London parkrun, we had been assured it would take us over an hour to reach our nearest one and also make it difficult to make the return journey back to the hotel in time for breakfast and so we agreed to a jog around Canary Wharfe. How lovely it was too. We found ourselves eventually in the beautiful surroundings of The King Edward Memorial Park, nearly a parkrun then, just not quite!

Saturday was our 'free' day. Martin and I decided that after our run we would hop on a Thames Clipper boat and head to London's Soho district. Martin had years ago helped his former boss to move the contents of his Lexington Street art gallery and picture framers up to Bradford and he said he would like to take a trip down memory lane. We also agreed we would like to look around Carnaby Street. Hours later after much to-ing and fro-ing we had fulfilled our expectations and much, much more, taking in many of the famous tourist areas, Regent Street, Oxford Street, Piccadilly, Chinatown, Pandora, The National Gallery, Hamleys, St James Park, etc etc, we wearily made our way back to the Thames Clipper to return to the hotel to prepare to surprise Janice with a pre-arranged get together. I put in a request to the hotel manager to seat our whole group together for dinner so that we could surprise Janice for her 50th Birthday with balloons, cards, pressies and a cake!

After a full and eventful Saturday we all retired to bed at a reasonable hour and I woke early next morning with thoughts of how the runners would all be feeling. I hastily got dressed and went down to the dining room to find Dawn, Sophie and Gill sitting eating breakfast, they all seemed fairly relaxed and after breakfast off they went back to their rooms to make their final preparations. I came back down just before 7:30 to wave them off to the start. The hotel was a hive of activity with runners making their final preparations and leaving the hotel. I went back to our room to continue watching the marathon coverage on the TV before going outside to find our spot opposite the hotel, mile 18 of the route, behind the barriers! I can honestly say it was a very emotional, energy sapping few hours as we anxiously waited to catch a glimpse of our ERR runners and the many other familiar faces including friends, other club runners, celebrities etc. I never realised how difficult it is to spot someone amongst the crowds of runners. You are fully aware when you're running just how many people are around you but it's impossible to imagine how difficult it it for your friends and family to pick you out of the masses!

Thankfully we managed to spot all of our runner and sadly we missed a whole lot of others. Oh well maybe next year!

All that remains is to say how immensely proud it felt to be part of that epic journey for the runners from our club and a few others. I am immensely proud of their achievements and am truly thankful to have now been able to experience the London Marathon from both sides of the fence!

I'm now excitedly awaiting the opening of the ballot for the 2012 (Olympic year) marathon on 26th April!

Sunday, 10 April 2011

Time for tea!

It feels like only yesterday that I finished the bulk of my training and was looking forward to the Virgin London Marathon in only a short weeks time. This year I feel exactly the same except I'm in a totally different position in that I still feel the excitement and trepidation but it's on behalf of someone else, or four someone else's in the plural form!

This morning 10 of us met at Rawdon Meadows for the last significant run, 45 minutes out and 45 minutes back along the canal towards Rodley in the brilliant sunshine for the four 'marathoners' Sophie, Gill, Dawn and Karen just a week away from achieving the goal they set themselves during the latter part of last year. Karen now feels like 'one of us' since she's been training with Dawn and Sophie and I hope she will continue to hook up with us when this is all over. Following an excellent run, if a little faster than I had anticipated, a large group of us then strolled a little further along the canal to Toby's Tea Rooms to put an end to what I know has been a long few months of training for them all, leaving them with the bare minimum left to do in the week ahead. I also hope that for all of them it will have all been worthwhile, I'm sure it will and I'm really pleased that I'm going to be there on the day to share in their jubilation and to see out their journey to the end. It's impossible to imagine exactly how they'll feel when they cross that finish line but I have a very good idea!

The tea and cakes at Toby's were exquisite!

Monday, 4 April 2011

Wot no Dave?

After some indecision I managed to haul myself to club on Friday evening. The boys went off at their usual fast pace, Helen and Gill were just ahead, I had a lovely, if slow and steady, 6 mile run with Pam. I felt much better for it afterwards so was really pleased I made the decision to go.

I also received a very kind offer of a lift to parkrun from my sister-in-law Tricia! I didn't however, fancy the prospect of taking Dave in her car since he would have had to sit in the car itself rather than being able to be tucked away in the boot! Apart from the risk that it would rain and he would end up being all muddy and wet I am also acutely aware that he is very unpredictable and may well have taken a dislike to travelling in a saloon car, no telling what might have happened.

The number of people who shouted 'where's Dave?' as they ran past was incredible! One of the two young ladies I was running with made a valid point, 'would people ask where I was if I were missing?' We joked at the prospect of Dave running round as back marker alone and people quizzing him as to where I was!!

This week it was a joy to see an elite athlete from Ethiopia (I must admit I did wonder if he was Kenyan when I first spotted him!) on the start line with all the other parkrunners. Just another fine example of the versatility of parkrun - a joy to behold running around the park effortlessly and most probably unaware of the admiration surrounding his presence! It's a mystery to me how he knew about the run, had he stumbled upon it by mistake? He hadn't registered in advance and thought he needed a number to run! Unfortunately, although he won the race in a fantastic time of just over 16 minutes, over 2 minutes ahead of his nearest rival, he went down on the results as 'unknown' which is the best you get if you don't register in advance and print off your barcode! Incidentally, and much to my surprise, I even spotted my dentist running this week!
So, having gone against all that might have been on Friday and Saturday I felt better prepared for my intended race on Mothering Sunday. I was just a little apprehensive as I stood under starters orders for the first of this year's Yorkshire Veterans Athletic Association races at Horsforth Hall Park, why I have no idea and as Helen pointed out we run much further on a regular basis in training but a race, for some reason, causes those little flutters just before you set off! The sun shone and though a little breezy the conditions were perfect for a run, with the added bonus of being part of our Eccleshill team, I just love the team spirit! I had a really good race, the course was rather tough, a two lap course with it's fair share of downhills as well as up but one of those where you really are satisfied you gave your all. The results never seem to reflect that though but hopefully my continued effort on club nights will rectify that situation over the coming months, with a bit of luck! I'm not expecting great things but live in hope that I can get back to where I was this time last year and I remain optimistic about that goal. To move nearer to that we have another 'Speed & Hills Session' at club tonight!

Team ERR at Horsforth

Friday, 1 April 2011

Cigarettes & Alcohol!

I feel like a bear with a sore head.
Having been a migraine sufferer in my late teens well into adulthood I have noticed that since beginning running nearly five years ago there has been a marked decrease in attacks, this may or may not be exercise related but I would like to think it has played a part. It's widely known that a whole range of things are cited as 'triggers', smoking, cheese, caffeine, chocolate, alcohol and the list goes on. I, however, have never been able to pinpoint a cause, other than on occasions, lack of sleep and stress. I have read several articles relating to running and migraines, some suggest that stress can indeed be a trigger and running (or any physical exercise) quite often reduces stress, also high cholesterol and again running (or any physical exercise) can help eliminate the condition. So even though a few weeks ago I was diligently informed by some of the younger members of my family that running makes your skin sag and makes you look older I absolutely intend to continue. Me vain? Not in the least? It's amazing what you can find in the cosmetic bag!

Migraine did, however, get the better of me on Wednesday. I wanted to leave work early and go home to bed but that would have meant two buses from Queensbury so I stuck it out and retired to bed as soon as I did get home. Still entertaining thoughts that I may go to club and do the 10 mile run if I felt better when I woke up. I didn't.
Which brings me to this evening. Should I run or shouldn't I? The recommendations are that as long as you're not retching (oh the thought!) and feel it's possible then there's no reason not to. I don't have too much experience of running with or after migraine so I'm undecided. Fellow sufferers will sympathise when I say I still get the pulsing pain when I bend down or cough today, two days later, so not sure if I will be able to run but maybe I will go along and try. I ran a couple of months ago at parkrun the morning after a migraine and felt that it was beneficial but I figure this one was a much worse attack.

My parkrun tomorrow is in doubt as our car is off the road needing major repairs for the MOT - so if I don't run tonight it may well mean that as I haven't run since last Monday the first in this year's YVAA races will be my first run in a week. Not a very good prospect to expect to be able to have a good race with no preparation at all.

As this Sunday is Mothering Sunday perhaps I should put my feet up for the rest of the week and start afresh on Monday?............ Hmmmmm that thought doesn't actually appeal to me.........