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

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!