Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Shell shocked!

Well, well, well! Our club AGM incorporating Summer championship trophy presentation and London Marathon draw had been on the cards for quite some time.  I didn't however, give too much thought to the question of  'what if I get a place?'

The week leading up to the get together had been a pretty ordinary one.  Training is plodding along nicely.  I avoided the 'Hill from Hell' that is Carr Lane on Wednesday by opting for the shorter of the runs on offer and since I was leading, stayed at the back and frantically ran backwards and forwards to the last runner, giving myself a really good workout! So said meeting meant no run on Friday, I couldn't fit it in earlier since I had to dash from work to the meeting.  I thought about doing parkrun on Saturday but that was out since I had to be at the vet for 9:10 - the runners would have been over a mile into their run whilst I was down the road in Shipley and oddly enough there was no race on Sunday either so I have had a really relaxed week (or should that be lazy?!) Anyhow the formal business was taken care of, onto the trophy presentation:
First Place and very pleased!
On to the Marathon draw, club had two places, first out 'Julie Steele', second out 'Marc Steele'! We were shell shocked to say the least! We are now on the look out for a training plan, I wonder what time Marc will be aiming for. I'm so pleased and proud that he is going to get a chance to do the marathon at such a young age and hope that it will keep his thirst for running alive and perhaps inspire him. And me? Well I'm just hoping I can get to the start line unscathed, again, and perhaps take a few minutes off my 2010 time.

The YVAA Awards Dinner at Elland Road on Saturday evening was just the ticket to celebrate my successes and a really good time was had by all.  I certainly made up for my lack of running with a night of dancing!
ERR partying at the YVAA Awards Dinner

Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Mud after the party!

Oh dear what can the matter be?! The relentless rain is causing havoc!  Not least with the poor people further down the country in places such as Northampton & Devon.  The horrors of what the floods have caused portrayed on the news make our moans about running in wet conditions pale into insignificance.  My heart goes out to them. However, last weekends downpours made for terrible conditions at the first of the season's cross country races hosted by Ackworth Runners within the grounds of Fitzwilliam Park.Trawling through flooded roads to get there gave us an insight into what the running conditions were going to be like. It had, thankfully, ceased raining by the end of our hour long journey to reach Fitzwilliam.

People were seemingly undeterred by the weather, the queue for registration was very long and continued to get longer behind us. The wind whipped around our legs as we patiently waited to hand over our entry fee. Were we really standing in a queue to pay to be subjected to these adverse conditions?  Doubts began to surface as I yawned for about the hundredth time, having been out partying the night before at an 18th Birthday party, sleep had evaded me for the most part.  I had also done something I have not done a very, very long time, which is consume copious amounts of alcohol knowing I was going to do a race the following morning.  I had taken the fact that the race start wasn't until 11 am to be confirmation that I should be ok by that time, paying no attention to the fact that club members had agreed to meet at 9am to care share and travel over.

Thankfully club mate Dawn had expressed a wish to run a really steady race since she has been injured on and off of late.  I took the opportunity to keep her company, providing me with the perfect antidote to my 'hangover'.  Despite the most boggy, muddy and wet conditions I have ever had the pleasure to encounter during a run (beaten only by the conditions of the Three Peaks in July), we really enjoyed ourselves once our feet were well and truly soaked.  The initiation ceremony is always met with screams of fear, maybe we think our feet will fall off if they get wet! Wearing my new trail shoes for the first time caused me to shriek even more as the lovely pink decor and laces disappeared under the cover of mud!


Hope of ever getting those socks back to some form of white seem very remote! As Christmas is well and truly looming I think maybe I'll put that old favourite 'socks' at the top of my list!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Wading in butter!

With the blink of an eye a couple of weeks have passed me by, a culmination I think of being busy with work (not complaining!), family and running.  Training has continued with our usual mix of sessions since the Guy Fawkes 10 mile and on Remembrance Sunday weekend I took part in the last of this years YVAA races at Spenborough, which, at least since I've run them, the last race has always taken place here.  It's usually a big turn out from all the clubs possibly because it is the last one.  A very cold and frosty but bright morning meant I hoped against hope that it wouldn't be too bad under foot, since I had demoted my cross country trainers to the bin and failed to purchase any more, the only alternative I had to my usual road shoes was my Nike Lunarglides, I chose these simply because they are black! However, they were a very different shade of black when I had finished! Having negotiated mud which I likened to wading through butter - extremely slippy - my shoes were unrecognisable as shoes let alone what colour when I emerged back onto the track to the finish.  It felt like I had a whole field attached to them, much of which was deposited onto the track by mine and previous runners shoes!

We observed a minutes silence before the race
I really enjoyed the race and have to chuckle to myself as I recall the moment when having just exited the railway bridge (a highlight for me as not only are runners turned around and sent back from whence they came we are also treated to the now familiar sight of the metal sheep!), I came down and under a bridge, spying some spectators on my right out of the corner of my eye but concentrating so hard I wasn't listening properly to the marshal who was frantically shouting (I thought) 'Dan's here, Dan's here' - turned out he was shouting 'darn here, darn here' in his southern accent, actually meaning 'down here' - by this time I had completely missed the turn off and had to turn round and run back up the hill! Ha well it provided me with an excuse for being marginally slower than the same race last year!

So with the YVAA series over for another year we 'welcome' the start of the Peco Cross Country League next Sunday with race one at Ackworth, before that though the Abbey Dash which was the next race in the club championship.  For me though, it was to be as cheerleader yesterday, I missed out after leaving it too late to enter and upon logging onto the Age Uk website read 'RACE ENTRY IS NOW CLOSED'.  Sadly I have also missed entry into the Chevin Chase on Boxing Day - I find it financially challenging - if there is such a phrase - if not I've just invented it - to enter races so far in advance - meaning popular ones sell out fast.  It beggars belief how much we runners must spend from year to year on race entry and with rising costs for those hosting them these have to be passed onto runners, this one though will have to be selective in choosing which ones to enter with a factor being the entrance fee. I have also now got Marc who has stepped up to senior level running and can be part of the club championship so if he wants to enter too it's double bubble!

Party season is hotting up with invitations flooding in! I have a sneaking suspicion the social life is going to start getting in the way again! The YVAA Awards Dinner at Elland Road along with numerous coming of age (friends, nephews, neices) and (over the hill cousins, brothers) party invites and the club AGM on the 30th falls right in the middle of it all. Party on my friend........

Monday, 5 November 2012

Frosty Fawkes

Training is back on track after the Bridlington Half marathon.  I had a few aches and pains but as they say 'no pain, no gain'! I feel I am really back in the swing of things and am really enjoying my running at the minute.  It's always a breath of fresh air when the lighter nights come along but this year I feel exactly the same now the darker nights are here since the clocks have gone back an hour. We don't seem to get so much hassle as we run around slightly more anonymously! No doubt as it gets colder and colder I will long for the Summer months to be back with us but for the moment I'm happy!

The Guy Fawkes 10 mile race at Ripley proved to be an extremely cold one, I must learn to assess what to wear beforehand.  Arriving in the beautiful village all shrouded in heavy fog and a severe frost covering everything in sight, I began to shiver at the thought of having to remove my outer layers leaving me scantily clad in my club vest! I comforted myself with thoughts of being able to leave my gloves on, cold hands seem to be my worst enemy and have given me some funny turns over the years!

As us ERR girls tried in vain to warm up before the race we found ourselves at the start line, and a huge throng of people came up behind us - time to assemble for the start then! Stood amongst all the bodies, respite from the cold was short lived as the crowd began to move forward and off we set down the rocky road that is the unmistakeable start of the Guy Fawkes race.  Half a mile in and I began to feel out of sorts, I was extremely cold and finding it difficult to breathe, it was like an icy blast as we ran forward.  Thankfully after about a mile and a half I began to settle into my pace, my toes and arms though, were still numb.  Thank heaven for the gloves.  A short while later I felt much better as signs for Birstwith came into view.  Reminding me of the first hill of the race at around the four mile mark, the 'Birstwith Brute'.  I began to entertain thoughts that today I may well have to walk the hills at some point.

Reaching the top of the first hill I felt a sense of great achievement, it may well be the case that some feel they can walk it quicker but when I turned left at the top it felt like a weight had lifted from my shoulders and off I ran as fast as my legs could carry me! This was also the case after the next two 'named' hills. My efforts reaped me a course pb by a sizeable margin and the satisfaction that I hadn't walked at all, but not a 10 mile pb but that is to be expected on such a hilly course and my Askern 10 pb will take some beating even on the same course!  It's amazing what we'll do for a bit of chocolate, my goodie bag contained 4 Kitkats, 2 Aeros, a Yorkie bar and a Milky bar and with a bottle of water and a technical tee shirt thrown in I'd say we got our just desserts!

A foggy uphill finish!

Attending a bonfire tonight will round off my plot weekend a treat, a recovery run will have to wait until tomorrow!

Monday, 22 October 2012

Bridlington Mist

As I lay wide awake at 4 am I questioned again and again, why?  I wasn't worried or nervous, I didn't feel ill,  I didn't need the loo, in fact I could think of no good reason at all. I had even set an additional alarm on my mobile phone to ensure our Eccleshill friends weren't left waiting for us to board the coach should my dear husband decide to press 'snooze' on his alarm as he so often does on a work day!

When I decided enough was enough I got up and began my routine as I do on the morning of any race. Breakfast eaten, bag checked, we set off for our usual meet point to board the coach.  It didn't seem to take long before we arrived in a very misty Bridlington.  It wasn't a heavy fog so the thinking was that it would lift as we drew nearer to lunch time and the sun would peer through.  The 12 o'clock start time arrived and we assembled on the start line, being chip timed for the first time I had wondered more than once what effect this may have.  Bridlington being my pb for a half I questioned whether I would be able to better it. I set my watch as we crossed the line and soon came upon Steve and Claire.  The pace seemed comfortable and after a while Steve pulled away, leaving Claire and I running side by side.  We seemed to take turns to take the lead, sometimes I would overtake and she would follow and vice versa, I was just waiting for the time when I would start to fade and when we happened upon a short hill at around mile 4 I thought that would be it.  We kept good pace up the hill and I managed to recover ok and keep up.  I always feel like it's a gamble but am a firm believer in staying in the moment and if I feel good I'll go with it if not I'll drop back.  I surprised myself until mile 11 when I started to feel tired, an onlooker shouted to us that we only had two miles left and Claire uttered 'have we?' with an air of surprise. I was never entirely sure how Claire was feeling, and advised her if she had anything left to go for it for the last two miles. She did get a little ahead but was never out of site and I was more surprised to come upon clubmates, first, Brian and then Steve, we were all on for around a similar finishing time it seemed.

The cliff top finish I had been looking forward to was a bit of a let down, shrouded in mist you could see no further than the sea front, as always though there was plenty of supporters out along there and as I edged nearer and nearer to the finish, it seemed never ending.  I crossed the finishing line and stopped my watch 1:53:28 I was elated to have beaten last year's time 1:56:58 by a reasonable margin. Let the celebrations begin! Off to the Leisure Centre to freshen up and change and then meet up with the rest of the coach to while away the afternoon.

Team ERR

Misty Finish!

Next on the agenda is the Guy Fawkes 10 mile race so training will resume as soon as I feel I can put in a recovery run and get back to it.  I don't envisage a 10 mile pb having the Birstwith Brute, Swinford Swine and For Fawkes Sake to contend with, time will no doubt tell.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Winter is nigh..

With the Winter championship races well and truly placed on the Eccleshill website and this weekend's Roundhay parkrun being the penultimate race of the Summer championships we can't ignore the fact that Winter is almost upon us. The gloves are out on training runs albeit they sometimes turn out not to be needed! The next step is the clock going back and that will complete the cycle!

Thankfully, we have had dry runs of late though, parkrun at Roundhay on Saturday was beautiful if a little cold, the sun shimmered on the frosty grass as we ran the three loops of the park.  This was the message I got when the results were emailed:

Congratulations on completing your 16th parkrun and your 1th at Roundhay today. You finished in 90th place and were the 14th lady out of a field of 185 parkrunners and you came 1st in your age category VW50-54. You can view the full set of results here. As this is your first run at this event we have set your PB.

Amused that it was my 1th run at Roundhay I then spied that I finished the race first in my age category! I'm just 'taking it' I don't even want to know how many ran in the category!! Although it is obviously a Roundhay pb I was three seconds away from my 5k pb and just one second away from my all time parkrun pb, note to self: 'must try harder'!
The beautiful lake at Roundhay

So another Monday arrived and although I really enjoy our monthly Enterprise Surprise sessions I once again realised we were only a week away from a half marathon as I did the week before the Great North, and I really felt I could not take part in the fun and games session and risk compromising my fitness ahead of the Bridlington Half marathon so I and a few others who are running this weekend opted to do our three mile time trial, a little more effort than our social runs but no twisting and turning involved! I think it's important to keep up with the variety of the sessions but to just be sensible about it. It seems to work for me anyway, I know you have no way of knowing what's around the corner but in my opinion there's no need to invite trouble! Sadly one or two at club have already announced they are pulling out due to injury or illness which always puts a damper on things but on the plus side there are 53 of us going on the trip so it should be a fab day out despite some of us having to run 13.1 miles and I will keep in mind the words of the late great Arthur James and run 'because I can'.

The plan now is to coast along the rest of the week, sports massage with Peter May is booked and so I hope to get to the start line in Brid and more importantly Wetherspoons after the race in one piece!

Sunday, 7 October 2012

It never rains but what it pours!

The weather forecasters distinctly said it was going to dry up - I know we often don't believe them but on this occasion I hoped against all hope that it was true.  Just how much more rain is there up there waiting to come down?

It always seems to start raining an hour or so before run club. Monday's time trial session ended before the rains came but Wednesday's longer run night we were not so lucky, the heavens opened, the wind was blowing, enough to make the dog refuse to go outside never mind us runners. Numbers were not bad despite the fact that it was atrocious and felt really cold. I ran with Dawn and Sarah - we formed small groups and decided to ditch the waiting game this session, it was far too cold and wet to be hanging around.  We seemed to keep good pace and as we headed into Pudsey town centre before taking a left turn to loop back to base the wind seemed to increase, flinging the rain at us, it felt like icy globules! 9.7 miles later, back at the club house after taking a soggy photo to prove how wet we got, we dried ourselves off and made our way home.  There's extra satisfaction in knowing you've braved such weather conditions and still done the suggested route and can  go home and have a hot bath, bliss!

Friday's 5.5 miler meant another training week was over and the weekend appeared again, this time I decided to take my own advice and make a decision whether or not to race since pre entry is not required for the YVAA races and I already have a number.  Having spent all day Saturday hopping on and off buses and exploring Leeds College of Music with Marc I was physically and mentally worn out.  I decided a day of cheering was in order instead of the hills of West Vale.  I have to admit it was just the tonic.  After a cooked breakfast off we went to Cheer the runners in at the finish of the YVAA race at West Vale with quite a few family members which was uplifting and I didn't feel too guilty for not running since the trusty team had enough ladies to count. Much better I thought than turning up feeling tired and not really wanting to run and the sun shone making for a lovely Autumnal morning.  There was though, still plenty of mud around from the recent rain fall and the runners came back covered in it!

The beautiful surroundings at West Vale
A couple more weeks to go until the Bridlington half marathon and training is not feeling so easy, I am convinced the changing season has an undesirable effect.  It's not so much that I don't want to go out and train but that something just doesn't feel quite right. I'm suffering disturbed sleep and think maybe I'm suffering an 'inner' cold.  I don't have the outward signs of sniffles and cold sores any more but still don't feel that I have totally shaken it off. Hopefully that won't still be the case a week next Sunday. I'm going to keep a lid on the mileage for the next couple of weeks and hopefully I'll get round with pleasure and not pain!!

Monday, 1 October 2012

Carr Lane Revisited!

Training and racing have continued to go well since the Great North Run.  Having had a few days rest I'm now back to club and looking forward to the Bridlington Half Marathon. The last week or so have seen us training in some horrendous weather, getting a thorough soaking most nights. Last Monday and Wednesday being no exceptions.  Monday was just a short interval session but by the time I had finished running into the lashing rain along Canal Road I looked like I had jumped into the road's namesake! How nice is it though, to get home and jump into a lovely warm bath when you're cold and wet?

Wednesday was the first training session for me from our Winter base since ERR moved back to Undercliffe Cricket Club the previous week.  It's nice to get back to some 'new' routes when Summer training ends and vice versa.  This week though I was dreading the thought of revisiting Carr Lane at about the 6 mile mark for the first time in quite some months -  I did question whether I may or may not get up the 'hill from hell' without stopping.  I often recall the early days of club running and my attempts to get up it, my making land marks of where I got to without stopping, 'the first bus stop', 'the second bus stop' etc.  On  'going all the way' for the first time I remember my elation and it obviously did wonders for my mental attitude towards it since, all be it slow, I have managed each attempt in one every time since! There is nothing like getting to the top and turning to look at the spectacular view of the town of Shipley - if you can stand upright enough to look whilst trying to regain control of your breathing!

I wasn't able to run on Friday due to work commitments, yet another wet and windy evening made me thankful I was actually indoors even if it was at work until going on 11pm.

And so.......to the weekend.  Horsforth 10k on Sunday, I had several emails from the host club and I ignored the first couple telling myself I had already entered.  Finally I decided to check in my 'race entries' email folder whether I actually had since I now had my third or fourth email from them in a week! It turned out I hadn't entered! I have no idea why but I still held off entering telling myself I could enter on the day if needs be.  Still undecided I made pasta for Saturday tea and then began to wonder whether I should have a glass of wine with it. Just one I thought, well maybe two - I'll see if I feel ok in the morning and then decide whether to enter or not.  So it continued, I am convinced I was still undecided as I left the house at 9:10 and headed down to Apperley Bridge.  I parked up and it started to rain, I began to jog along to the registration area still thinking I wouldn't be disappointed if there were no entries on the day left.  There were.  I joined a large queue and paid my entry fee.  Just time for a quick warm up before we were walked a short distance to the start on Woodlands Drive.  I then realised why, surprisingly, I had only done this race once before, quite likely due to the fact that it was uphill for the first two miles. I soldiered on but quite soon began to feel awful.  My legs felt weak and I gasped for air. Thankfully we reached the part where we were turned right and I knew it was flat and then downhill.  I managed to pick up a bit of speed and overtook quite a few other runners.  Downhill and then the canal would usually be a perfect time to get control of your breathing and pace your way to the finish. Not so for me, I continued to feel terrible as I tried to find my pace - I just had nothing in my legs, I could barely put one foot in front of the other and considered stopping quite a few times,  Finally we turned into Woodhouse Grove to the finish, people surged past me as I struggled to keep moving forward.  Thankfully it was a long finishing funnel, a chap in front of me was hardly able to walk, asking if he was ok he said he was but he couldn't walk any faster. I reassured him that he was ok, I didn't want him to go any faster and breathed a sigh of relief that he wasn't about to keel over in front of me! It seems the race had taken it's toll on a few of us! No doubt all will be forgotten until the next time, I will though, learn from that hopefully and prepare better, I already know that mind as well as body needs to be in order if we are to give ourselves any chance of having a satisfactory race so shame on me for acting the way I did. Amen
If that isn't enough to make me want to make better
preparation I don't know what is!

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

(Not so) Great North Run!

Our return from oop North today was a gradual descent from Whitley Bay via Newcastle and the Angel of the North.  Our extended break made it seem an absolute age since we had taken part in the most anticipated race of the year.  I'm always on a count down from one year to the next as I 'love', in every sense of the word, this race.  From the very first time we did it in 2006 we have managed to better our experience each year, even in 2010 when I wasn't able to run due to injury, I stood on the sidelines, drinking in the atmosphere and whilst there is no comparison to taking part, I enjoyed my first time waiting at the end to try and spot anyone we knew coming through the finish.

This year though, my experiences changed somewhat.  We decided to save ourselves some money and not get our usual transfer to the start line which would then also include being picked up from near the finish in South Shields and taken back to our caravan park.  Martin had spotted the Bupa Great North Run weekend Dayrover tickets in the Bupa magazine which accompanies your number/timing chip/race info etc.  For just £5.50 per day, £10 for two days or £15 for 3 days, your Dayrover allows unlimited travel on the bus, Metro or ferry.  Bingo! At £30 for the three of us a ticket we were going to save £60, not to be sniffed at! This would cover our travelling round on the Saturday to go and watch the City Games and also our travel to the start of the race and our return to the caravan park. Saturday went to plan as we had an enjoyable day hopping on and off buses, the highlight being able to watch Mo Farah win the 2 mile race and even though England & N I lost out to the USA in the City Games we still had a brilliant day all round.

After a sleepless night almost certainly aided by thoughts of how/if we were going to get to the start line on time, fear of the unknown personified.  We rose early and were out of the caravan by 7:30 to catch our bus to Newcastle.  As it turned out it was an absolute doddle and we reached the start area by 8:15. However, the toilet queues were that long that we were locked out of our starting pens by the time we returned to the start area.  We literally had to scale fencing to get into our pens. Finally we crossed the line and the race began.  We hadn't had the atmospheric start we usually did but the excitement was still building.  It began to rain.  It continued to rain. It rained throughout.  It wasn't unbearable and we had to thank our lucky stars it wasn't beating sun, give me rain over sun any day!

I didn't notice what time we did our first 5k in but by 10k we were at just over 54 minutes, acceptable I thought.  Onwards, at just before the 7 mile mark I heard a lot of screaming and shouting from the sidelines, looking across I saw a group of Hyde Park Harriers, Liz Jones and former Eccleshill Road Runners Clare Mason and Diane Aykroyd, what a boost, it's lovely to see familiar faces and if I'm honest it was lovely to see so many people in general, how fantastic of each and every one of them to stand out all day in the pouring rain. Brilliant! I take my hat off to them all.

A mile or so later and Martin began to struggle, his breathing was really heavy and he was a funny shade of green.  I tried to keep dropping back to him, this I think caused people to regularly bump into my arms, stepping on my feet, and generally antagonising me.  Martin walked a while and then would summon up the energy to begin running again, regularly telling me to go on without him, I tried not to lose patience and encourage him on but it was difficult, there was no way I was going to leave him, he looked like he might keel over at any moment.  Thoughts of how little training he had done came flooding back and I began to resent him.  Getting him to the top of the hill at just over 11 miles I knew we would make it to the finish line but it had been a real struggle.  Along the sea front I had my eyes peeled on the crowd looking for family, each time I turned round Martin was further away from me, I would go back to him and focus on the crowd again, after what seemed like an age we crossed the line - me holding him up, I was so glad we had finished but for all the wrong reasons.

It turned out we had marginally beaten our time from last year, only by a few seconds, and I really don't know how. Thankfully the other boys had really good runs, Marc and Taylor on their debut half marathons finished in 1:51 and 1:33 respectively.  Craig and Gavin also did brilliantly both finishing in 1:51 - very difficult to comprehend since Marc & Taylor set off in the faster (orange) zone, Craig set off with us in the white zone and Gavin much further back in the Green zone, the wonder of timing chips! The journey back to Whitley Bay left a lot to be desired as we faced quite a long walk to the Ferry Port and then an enormous queue of people to get on board, the only saving grace was that they were every 15 minutes and took 150 people each trip so although we had quite a long wait I assume it was quicker than getting on the train which also had enormous queues.  A long walk and two more buses later we arrived back at Whitley Bay, extremely tired!

I only hope now that I can change Martin's attitude to training for races if he is to continue and most certainly if he's reading this I plead with him to reassess his attitude to training as although he maintains how he felt wasn't due to lack of training - I had to point out that had he done adequate training he would have been reassured that that wasn't the cause of him feeling unwell and me being worried witless, as it is we don't have anything else to blame. We absolutely loved our few days break following the race and managed to visit St Mary's Lighthouse, Cullercoats, Tynemouth Castle & Priory and the famous Angel of the North before returning home.

The beach through Tynemouth Castle window

Marc surveys the Angel of the North

Hey ho, bring on the Bridlington Half marathon in October! If you're reading this and taking part, get training! I can still hear myself saying 'well if anything goes wrong at least I know I have done the training' when I was on my way to the start line of the London Marathon in 2010. Remember, respect the challenge.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

The end is nigh.....Countdown.....

Return to Wednesday training she did! Dawn that is.  Wanting to try and complete the longest route of 11 miles I pledged to run with her.  My pleasure I'd said as I now wanted to take it really steady as the race of the year draws near.  Out and back on the canal seemed a good bet as I had said to Dawn if we got to a point where she felt she had had enough we could just turn back.  We were pleased to reach the turn around point, no turning back, so to speak, we had now committed to the full distance.  We happily set off back towards our start point, Apperley Bridge, chatting away about one thing and another.  Suddenly it became dark, we were under a cover of trees and looking beyond them I could see that the sky was still fairly light, I reassured Dawn who by now seemed a little worried.  We carried onwards, it got darker and darker all around us.  I tried to focus ahead, occasionally a light would appear and turn out to be a cyclist, no doubt caught out as we had been.  Every so often I would spot what I thought was a figure in front of us, hoping it was a friendly one, only to find my fears were unfounded, the dark does play tricks!

Finally, our dark journey was over as we arrived at Dobson Lock, Apperley Bridge, back to civilisation and street lights! Within the next couple of weeks we will be returning to our Winter training base, until then we will seriously need to stick to road running!

On Friday I wondered if the weird and wonderful weather is keeping club runners at home, or maybe they are turning into opportunist runners and getting themselves out of the door when it's dry outside!  Numbers on Friday certainly plummeted as only five of us turned up, or was the uphill start to Yeadon maybe? Puzzle I did as I must admit I hadn't relished the thought of running in the pouring rain but as always once you get going you don't notice when it actually stops! Back after our 5 miler we all agreed although it had been quite tough we all enjoyed it, having got the flowers out of the way first this time (albeit that they were for a less than happy occasion this time) all round it was great start to the weekend.

Flowers for a memorial
Speaking of which I was pleased to play a part in the Eccleshill hosting of the Saltaire YVAA relay in Robert's Park - much respect to Ian our Membership Secretary for diving in there and doing what most of us would run a million miles from, albeit his nerves are now in tatters! All seemed to go very well and the feedback he has received has been positive so who knows what''s next?

Gaggles of geese, one flew over Robert's Park as another grazed!

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Floral Training

Occasionally life gets in the way of my running and I hate it when it does.  I know 'hate' is a strong word but I was going to say 'despise' and that's worse!  I had a last minute request from a friend to do some flowers for the church for her wedding.  I was reluctant, firstly from a confidence point of view, although I adore flowers and wish daily that I could have more in my life, I don't 'play' regularly enough to build my faith in my own abilities. Also, with a theme of black, silver and purple, I had my work cut out! Bradford parkrun was a race featured in the club's Summer championships.  I really wanted to go and run it knowing that lots of club members would be there so I left it open, saying to friends that I would see how it went as I had a lot on and I wasn't sure whether I would be able to fit it in.  Getting home from Friday club run, shower and tea, I started on the flowers. Retiring to bed after midnight and only the bare minimum of preparation done I knew there was no way I could spare the time to go run the 5k.
Flowers for the altar
I've now missed a few run sessions due to flowers, socialising at the wedding and monthly time trial timing at club but hopefully Wednesday club run will fix that and I'll soon feel back on course.  I know I could have gone for a run on my own but as I document regularly I don't run to run on my own, I'm a social runner and that's how I would like it to stay.  A highlight this week was Dawn returning to run with us at Eccleshill. A steady time trial and a pledge to go a little longer on Wednesday will hopefully see her returning to regular training since her fall over 10 months ago.

Thursday, 30 August 2012

Worm hurdling to a PB!

With three weeks to the Great North Run, the excitement is building.  Aside of the fact that it is a family affair, a long (long) weekend is in store too as we have decided that instead of travelling up Friday and coming home on the Monday after the race as we usually do we are going to stay until Wednesday!

By way of training I've really just stuck to club training with the odd longer run at the weekend for good measure.  I'm not out to set any personal bests but instead just enjoy the race and soak up the atmosphere. I'm well and truly ready for it and Marc said the same last weekend after we completed a long run together (well not strictly true as he was way ahead of me!) I don't suppose hubby and I will see anything of our two sons who will be off like whippets at the gun.  Takes me back to 2006, our first Great North, when our two eldest sons decided after their Grandma was diagnosed terminally ill with the 'Big C' they would join us in the run (she lost her fight before we actually did the run) and raising sponsorship for Cancer Research and Martin House Hospice. I was a physical wreck for the most part, I don't even know why, but I was convinced because they both ran off with gusto, that we were going to come across them laid in the gutter, or that every siren we heard 'just might' be going to aid them.  I suppose it's a mum thing.  I'm sure this year will be similar.  I won't rest until I get to the finish and see them safe and sound, no mention of the fact that we parents are probably considered more at risk than they are!

The Askern 10 held last Monday gave me a chance to see where I am at in terms of fitness levels.  I went with the intention of giving it my best shot but really not expecting anything grand as my last to attempts at this race have really been no where near any of the other 10 mile races I have done.  I soon discovered I am worse than I thought at remembering where I have run.  I clearly had a conversation with some first time Askern runners on a club night last week and telling them it was one of the more urban 10 milers.  I really only could remember the built up areas, houses, shops etc.  In actual fact there is a large part of the race where there are fields on both sides, no off road sections but very rural! Me and my brain! Following said race anyway, I am now going to approach the Olympic Committee, my suggestion? Worm hurdling! I have never seen so many worms! Just what had brought them all to the surface of the tarmac I have no idea. Was it the stampede of runners? The recent rain maybe? I don't know but there were plenty of them. Good job I do watch where I'm putting my feet! Still getting used to the Garmin, I switched it on at the very last minute, again, by the time it had gained a GPS signal we were well and truly over the start line, a box I couldn't dicipher appeared on the screen and once I finished fumbling with it I realised there was already time and mileage on it.  It transpired I hadn't cleared it from my previous run after losing signal and the remaining mileage was now being added to my race! Crossing the finish line I didn't have a clue what time I had finished so when the results came out and I had run a 10 mile personal best by over four minutes I was elated! Maybe the worms had a hand in that!

The week ahead will hopefully be another steady week biding my time in preparation for the impending half marathon and hoping we can reach our fundraising target once again - with four of us on the team I'm hoping that won't be too difficult and we can once again do our charity, SCOPE, proud.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

What's within?

Is there a faster runner within? I often wonder. Some time ago I clearly remember thinking I had had my lot, past my best and all that, yes seriously. That was until I found out I wasn't very well and there was a reason why I was slowing down. Since then I have improved times in races I never expected I would.  The key words there, 'never expected'. I also ask myself if placing pressure on oneself has any bearing on the outcome of a race? I don't suppose I'll get answers to those questions if indeed there are any! Looking at the bigger picture, I suggest there's really not one reason but whole load of reasons why we sometimes don't perform as well as we would like.

I'm currently reading 'Run Like a Girl' by Mina Samuels, another of my birthday gifts (thanks Soph), described on the website as 'part locker-room confidential, inspiring manifesto, and personal memoir, the book shows us, through stories of nearly a hundred women, how the confidence women build by participating in sports - whether it's running or rock climbing, swimming or yoga - can transform our lives in profound ways. Lively, funny and sometimes heartbreaking, in the candid stories, which fill it's pages, these women share how sports helped them overcome life's obstacles and achieve the happiness and success they'd been running toward'. I'm gripped after reading the first few chapters so more on that later.

I'm now working towards the Askern 10 mile, the Great North Run and the Bridlington Half Marathon.  All of these I have aspirations to beat previous times.  That, I think, is a for gone conclusion with most runners, we all want to better our times but some of us don't want to broadcast it as the thought of public failure is much worse than private failure.  Of course taking part and finishing a race really isn't a failure at all is it?  Try telling us that! It seems to be how you deal with it within yourself.  I have known people who have pulled out of a half marathon race 5 miles in because they knew they weren't going to get the time they had set out to do and won't settle for anything less.  That, I find bizarre.  I won't and don't follow my time so closely that I could make such a decision early on in a race, I tend to take the 'what will be will be' attitude.  The outcome is at or extremely near the finish and no time sooner. I have only publicly declared my intentions in a race on a couple of occasions and sadly fallen down both times, denting my confidence so making me reluctant to do it again. The laid back approach is much more appealing. Unless of course Mina Samuels manages to convince me otherwise!

Monday, 13 August 2012

Rounder, rounder, all rounders

What a week! Wednesday saw us travelling over to York for the second time in 4 days.  Not so much of a traffic headache this time though as not a fraction of the runners were likely to turn up for the 8th Race in this year's YVAA series! Hosted by Knavesmire Harriers the (mainly) off road route for this race is a flat out and back in and around the racecourse.  The only grumble I have is the last mile and a half or so which is along the riverbank and it seems to last for an age.  I did though, feel like I had put all I had into it and proved that was the case when the results came out next morning I was flabbergasted! My 2011 time 55:11, my 2012 time 48:54.  2013 is going to be very interesting in terms of the races I have managed to better my times in, not necessarily a distance PB but quite a few course PB's and if I get to grips with the Garmin stats to boot it could begin to border on 'geekish', time will tell!!

Dancing daisy!
Thursday this week saw me visiting fellow running buddy Anne's house along with a few other Eccleshill team mates.  'Girlie Gardening' brought us out on a non-run night with the aim of raising funds for Cancer Research.  Being more of an allotment gardener than a 'home' gardener, I'm happy for the shrubs to do their thing in my front garden as long as they flower now and again and in the back, a simple hammock and table and chairs on a raised area of bark surround a neat lawn, flanked by high conifers and privet hedge, it's secluded and private. So, whilst the 'girlie' pink gift sets, wellies and the like were very appealing I considered them more suitable as gifts rather than splashing out on myself (which incidentally I'm not very good at!). I did, however, order a pair of pink gloves - modelled on a golf glove I was told, they looked very fashionable and were ever so comfortable.  I don't know if I'll be able to bring myself to take them down the allotment but I may well consider 'wearing them in' by driving in them for a while during the Winter months! They'll match my dancing pink daisy sat on the dashboard : )

Friday club run took us out along the canal, being another warm, humid evening the bugs were out in force once more luckily, no incidences this time.  Homeward bound on the road we were back in ample time to get home for the next exciting round of Olympic action.  The weekend culminated in more Mo & Usain action, oh the excitement boiled over as Mo started at the back in the 5000 metres, working his way up to the front with 700 metres left he joined the Ethiopians and Kenyans, they gave him a run for his money and I can imagine the whole nation was jumping up and down and shouting at the TV like we were! He did us proud!

With our ERR annual rounders match and bbq at Undercliffe Cricket Club and the closing ceremony on Sunday evening, well I could hardly contain myself! The weather was grim all morning but although the forecast was for showers, it promised to brighten up late afternoon.  Everyone arrived clutching their offerings to the buffet come barbie and off out onto the cricket pitch we set to divide ourselves into two (very large) teams. Oh what fun! After a while the heavens opened but we managed to continue until the end of a match and then went inside. The barbequers managed to keep on cooking and everyone was inside and out until finally it stopped.  After consuming our food quite a few of us decided on resuming play.  Much fun was had by all and a fantastic weekend was topped off by the closing ceremony of the Olympics - not quite a match for the opening ceremony but pleasing to watch all the same.
waiting to bat!
The best team won!

Monday, 6 August 2012

On track!

It seemed very fitting that we should visit the track amid all the hype of the Olympics.  I have never been so interested in such an array of sports as I have for the past week or so.  I've been drawn in by such sports as judo, hand ball, beach volleyball and the list goes on.  Never more so than the athletics though.  I am usually against day time television and will not tolerate it when I am at home unless it's something special like World Cup football or the closing stages of Wimbledon but we have had the television on from morning til night.  Just a shame I've had to go to work in between. Special events I have had a sneaky peak on the lap top at work.  Thank heaven for iplayer technology! I'm not sure whether everyone who turned up had been inspired by said Olympics but we certainly had a great turn out for the track session and the 100 & 200 metre sprints and relay race were tackled with lots of effort and enjoyed by all so plans are in place to offer these type of sessions once a month whilst members want to do it.

I received a Garmin watch for my birthday and am just starting to get to grips with it.  I've logged my training and racing information for a lot of years on Fetcheveryone and really love being able to look back and compare stats - be it how many miles I've logged in a month or a year to what time I did a certain race in.  It's not always an improvement but feels good when it is! I've no doubt stats play a part in motivation on occasions.  The Garmin is proving to be an interesting gadget.  I've always used the Nike+ Sportband and for me, it's been invaluable, easy to use and quite reliable, that is until a few weeks ago and it stopped syncing with my sensor (worn in the shoe).  I ran a few weeks without a watch at all until my quick thinking husband bought me the Garmin for my 50th Birthday.  The first few uses proved beyond me, I didn't manage to get a GPS signal on my first couple of outings, then when I did I didn't manage to record all my run, I was slightly frustrated but then all of a sudden everything seemed to click into place and for the first time I wore it for a race, the Jane Tomlinson 10k at York and managed to upload my run and see mile splits, elevation etc. All very exciting!  Here's some of the info from the race:
Garmin Forerunner 110

Avg Pace

I was surprised when I looked at my watch at the 5k mark and had done it in 25:11 but I also knew that my aspiration of a sub 50 10k was out of the window as I probably wouldn't complete the second half quicker but it spurred me on and I was pleased to see that I was quite consistent until the last couple of miles when I slowed slightly but overall was quicker than last year despite there seeming to be even bigger crowds of runners to negotiate, twisting and turning, jumping up and down curbs.

So the weeks are flying by as we near the end of Summer training at Apperley Bridge with only a few weeks left until we move back up to our Winter training base at Undercliffe. If the Summer doesn't pick up we'll no doubt end up moving earlier than previous as the darker nights draw in.  Until then though here's hoping we can enjoy our last few weeks of being able to at least fit in some scenic routes - tonight's session isn't very scenic though unless your idea of scenic is perhaps pubs as we stage another monthly 3 mile time trial and there are quite a few en route, no calling in though! Alas, Wednesday's and Friday's runs are much more appealing!

Thursday, 2 August 2012

Bothersome bugs!

We welcomed yet another new lady for a try out with the club, she had actually been to club for the first time the week before whilst the majority of us were at the Golden Acre Park relay.  She was introduced to the Wednesday night group as Hazel.  We warmed up and set out towards the canal towpath with a choice of three distances ahead of us, all out and back and totalling 11, 8 or just over 5 miles.  I opted for the middle one and under the grey clouds we settled into various groups and pairings.  I went out with Ghizala whom I've found recently on some runs I can keep up with.  We seemed to be keeping quite a good pace, arriving at the turn around point for the shortest run Ghizala stopped with a view to turning back.  I admire her so much for keeping up with her training even though she is fasting during Ramadan. I continued on towards the next turn around point in Shipley.  A few minutes later, slap! A fly landed in my eye, I continued to run and tried my best to eject it.  Arriving in Shipley I still had the resident fly which by now was becoming irritating.  Marc made several attempts to remove it without success.  I had no option but to try fashion an 'eye bath' by squirting water from my drinking bottle into my eye.  After two flushes out it came much to my relief! We set off on our return journey and a while later came across the group doing the shorter run, they had decided to run a little further and meet up with us.  I began chatting to Hazel about walking the Three Peaks and running half marathons and before we knew it we were back at Apperley Bridge.  All in all a good paced out and back run.

Recently I've been doing a little reading into bothersome bugs as we have had quite a few club members being bitten whilst out running, blaming off road running initially, all that changed when we visited Horsfall track on Thursday and the pesky insects were out and biting again!  It seems there's all sorts of theories on the subject as to why some people get bitten and others don't, particularly by mosquitoes which incidentally I have always associated with warmer climes and was shocked to learn there are over 35 species in the UK! Theory has it that all humans emit kairomones, common ones include C02 and lactic acid.  It's thought that we all have our own kairomone signature which is probably unique to the individual in the same way as our fingerprints and different species prefer different kairomones just as some people prefer spicy and others don't!  Very plausible since we 'gasp' half the time we are out running so must emit more carbon dioxide than most and also it's a known fact that lactic acid is produced whilst running.

So why when we all have the common factors which attract them don't we all get bitten? Well, it's thought that some people have certain chemicals in their blood, sweat and tears which act as a repellent and some of these naturally produced molecules may also be masking individual kairomones in the same way as incognito anti-mosquito spray camouflages users! So my sympathies to those who were bitten in the last few weeks, I know some of them are suffering terrible after effects but it may be worth their while to undertake some steps to camouflage themselves and keep experimenting to find what works for them as what works for one person may not necessarily work for everybody!

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
kairomone is a semiochemical, emitted by an organism, which mediates interspecific interactions in a way that benefits an individual of another species which receives it, without benefiting the emitter.[1] This "eavesdropping" is often disadvantageous to the producer (though other benefits of producing the substance may outweigh this cost, hence its persistence over evolutionary time). The kairomone improves the fitness of the recipient and in this respect differs from an allomone (which is the opposite: it benefits the producer and harms the receiver) and a synomone (which benefits both parties). The term is mostly used in the field of entomology (the study of insects). Two main ecological cues are provided by kairomones; they generally either indicate a food source for the receiver, or the presence of a predator, the latter of which is less common or at least less studied.[1]

Monday, 30 July 2012

Category, cool, but no sign of Ron!

Off road running seems to be the flavour of the month with club runs taking the form of trail runs of late.  They receive a mixed reception amongst club members, who range from those who adore off road running to those who loathe it.  It's hard to please everyone all of the time but in general everyone gets on with the set route without too much complaining.

Friday club run was once again a large percentage of off road.  Taking in the golf course, anyone who knows the area in which we train, the sheer mention of 'golf course' firmly paints a picture of steep hills, as said golf course is named 'Woodhall Hills Golf Course' and it doesn't have 'hills' in the title for nothing!  After negotiating wooded trails known locally as the 'jockey path' - again appropriately named as a horse would have been a great asset in covering such terrain, we began the climb up to the golf course.  The crossing was a little tricky as unlike previous crossings, there were actually golfers out on the fairway. I for one, quickened my pace and hoped and prayed I didn't get hit by 'however mile an hour' golf balls which were being launched by said golfers  across the green!  All safely across we continued on our way unscathed down into Calverley and through the woods. 6.5 miles done, we arrived back at Apperley Bridge,  a few of the group bitten by unknown insects but that's one of the hazards of off road running if you're prone to bites, I myself am one of the lucky ones and must possess inbuilt repellent!

Cue, the weekend.  With the recce undertaken as a club run a couple of weeks ago I was looking forward to the Idle Trail Race.  Bright and breezy Sunday morning we arrived down at our training base, Woodhouse Grove School for the 10:30 am start.  Inbetween traces of drizzle the sun shone brightly.  A lap of the school field went some way to thinning out the field before we encountered steps taking us down onto the canal tow path.  We still had to queue a little before arriving down there.  Two miles of flat terrain is superb for allowing the runners to get their breathing and pace sorted before the start of the climbs.  Over a stile and a little way down a private road before a marshal sent us upwards through what seemed liked steps to a ginnel - emerging minutes later onto another private road before turning down one of the steepest roads I've had the pleasure to run down!  Thanking my lucky stars that it wasn't too long before we emerged at the bottom of it signalling that we weren't too far away from where we started.  Digging up of the school fields meant a slight detour for the finish which when the finish line was crossed meant we had run 6.60 miles instead of 6.1.  I was elated though to find I finished 6 minutes quicker than my previous time for this race in 2010. Looking on the results though it was very strange to note for the first time that I was in the
                                                                F50 category!

As an added bonus we were treated to a choice of finisher's memento too! in the form of either a tee shirt or a cool bag - as I love it when there's something different on offer I chose the cool bag of course! I Didn't even catch a glimpse of Ron Hill this year - he was there though according to the results. 

Tonight's session at club is, as usual, speed and hills this week in the form of Bolton Lane hill reps! A quick but challenging session - usually feels a little like a short, sharp shock! Great session for testing the cardiovascular system!!

Thursday, 26 July 2012

Relay me in!

 I'm sure it's not age related but I've done something I have never done before and lo and behold I've now done it twice! Double booked races.  Firstly I entered the Woodland Challenge and then promptly realised it is taking place on the same day as Bridlington Half Marathon and then if I didn't enter the Idle Trail Race and then find out it's the same day as the next race in the YVAA series at Crossgates. So decisions had to be made.  There was however, no contest between Brid and the Woodland Challenge, Brid wins hands down as we have an annual club coach trip. A run by the sea and ending up in Wetherspoons seems much more appealing than the 'Fruitypot Woodland Challenge'!! But....the Idle Trail versus the Crossgates vets race,  I'm either going to lose my achievement of doing all the races in the series (which I did achieve last year) or miss out on running in the same race as Ron Hill and supporting a local club.  I was still deliberating until we did a recce of the Idle route at club last Friday - and now my mind's made up, Idle Trail it is, mud and all.  Crossgates is new to the YVAA series, during my time of doing them anyhow so here's hoping St Theresa's host the race again next year and fingers crossed that Ron is joining us this year!

Meanwhile I'm trying to concentrate on getting back to regular training now that all my planned social events are out of the way.  Monday's speed and hills session, a regular on the training Calendar and although we all moan about it, it feels great once we have completed it, Lister Lane hill reps. This session was no exception but despite the fact that it was very hot, we all put in great effort and supported each other to complete the required reps.

Wednesday brought us our second relay race, this time hosted by Abbey Runners, the Golden Acre Park Relay is once again teams of three runners but this time all runners complete the same route.  Having missed the Washburn relay I was really looking forward to this one.  Team events - in training or racing are always so much more enjoyable, I think it's the camaraderie more than competitive aspect that's appealing. This time was no exception as we had 6 teams entered.  I hoped that having had a sports massage with Peter May the previous evening would help rather than hinder my run.  I wasn't disappointed when as last runner for the team club mate Mick accompanied me around the course and I really felt I had a great run.  When the results came out however, I was given a slightly slower time than last year, the first time I got to use the Garmin watch I got for my birthday in a race and it lost GPS in the wooded area so I hadn't got my own time but I really thought I would have been much quicker.  I do have reservations about manual timing but hey I'll just have to set my sights on doing better next year!
Team ERR at Golden Acre Park Relay