Thursday, 10 October 2013

Grandma on the run!

16 long weeks ago I never envisaged just what lay ahead! That was a lovely Sunday afternoon when that I innocently went for a walk and ended up with more than I bargained for! A torn collateral ligament in my knee.

So, I'm not expressing elation just yet but after several weeks of physio I have been given the green light to start 'light jogging'. Music to my ears I can tell you.  This being the longest stint on the bench I have had, I often wondered if this was the end. I often wondered 'am I ever going to run again'? Am I sounding like an athlete? I certainly didn't feel like one the last few club nights! I'm sure I resembled something out of a comic book, gasping, sweating and doing snails pace into the bargain! I'm determined to take it easy though and ease myself back in. For this I have enlisted the help of my seven year old grandson Charlie.  He had been asking to go to parkrun for some weeks. My promise, 'when I get back to running I'll take you'. I did just that on Saturday 21st September, two laps of Lister Park with him were wonderful, not least because he has expressed an interest in running but also because it gives me something else to take it steady for. I didn't feel like an injured runner returning, more like a grandma running with her grandson and I loved every minute.

The following week we returned and completed all three laps and the week after that too! It's great to be back with team mates who have supported me too by accompanying me on shorter versions of the club runs so I'm well and truly back (but still taking it really steady!).

Charlie 'my middle name's Usain' Steele ready for parkrun

Thursday, 15 August 2013

9 weeks and counting.........

Apologies to my readers for the lack of posts but I'm sure you'll forgive my absence since I have (a) been really busy with one thing and another and (b) not had very much to report!

I'm still steadily increasing my exercise and am now back to doing intervals on the bike at the gym, I've also increased the length of time I spend on the cross trainer. I'm amazed at how much 'non-impact' those two are so added to my resistance exercises I'm managing to keep a relatively challenging programme going. With very short runs inbetween I feel I'm doing ok, I still haven't managed to fit in any swimming which is disappointing but I'm confident I'll get there yet!

Of course we at club have held the inaugural Arthur James Relay (last Sunday 11th August) and what an exciting day that was, still unable to run more than a mile or so, I marshalled the race at a point where the runners needed turning off the main road back into a wooded area which headed for the finish.  How exciting, despite the purposeful low key element of the race it still had a proper race feel to it! Everyone seemed to enjoy the morning with many of us heading to the watering hole across the road from our training base for refreshments afterwards.  The trophy was awarded to my son Marc and newcomer to the club, James - they had a 'small' advantage in that they are both relative whippersnappers and were a man short so James ran two of the legs - unavoidable though since the pairing was as random as any other as the teams were drawn from a hat (well a plastic bag!).

So off to the engravers the shield has gone to be returned to the winners as soon as possible.  Here's to next year.... Arthur would have been proud.

Hallelujah! 9 weeks and counting, I now have a physio appointment and despite my advancement with the help of the lovely lady at the gym and 'magic hands May' I'm still going to consult them in a bid to check that I am moving forward in the correct way.  So roll on Tuesday when hopefully I will have some more professional guidance and perhaps an assessment of where I am at.

Meanwhile, there will definitely be no Great North Run for me this year so I am doing my utmost to persuade Marc to take it on - not strictly allowed but I will make sure his details are correctly completed on the back of the number and hopefully get to cheer him in at the finish line, just the ticket to start him on his University path the following day! Oh did I forget to mention? I'm just on cloud nine at the moment after learning that Marc has passed his 'A' levels with flying colours and gained a place at Leeds College of Music. Life is good despite not yet being able to join my club mates at training sessions.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Good news!

Good news!

I've been increasing my walking, increasing my cycling in the gym, increasing my visits to Peter May and progress is being made!

Yesterday I ran a mile, though not literally! Albeit a very slow mile, I really felt liberated, ok out of breath, very sweaty and not dissimilar to how I usually feel at the end of a race! I'm in no doubt that it's going to be a long road back, but I'm on that road, that's the main thing!

I'm still attending club three nights and either standing and watching and encouraging (translation: longing to join in) or taking Dave for a walk whilst the runners run.

Out for a stroll with Dave & Marc 

Tonight I set off to Pulse Gym to meet session leader Brian and check the runners out and in.  Heavy rain, thunder and lightening threatened I'm sure, to put most people off coming out.  Just as we arrived the sun came out and it stopped raining. Thinking there was still a big risk nobody would turn up since they would have already made the decision not to run I was most surprised to see a half dozen people stood waiting.  A steady trickle meant there was a sizeable group once they set off.  I drove down to where the session was to take place to encourage them up the hill of the pyramid.  It wasn't long though before the heavens opened again, doggedly determined they all carried on regardless.  After the session we all set off back soaking wet but none the less happy, they had all put huge effort in despite the weather. I love being part of a club even when I can't run. I'm sure they all thought I was mad standing out in the rain but I really don't see it like that, I like to think of it as having KIT days!

Excitement is building as the club prepares to mark 25 years of runners achieving goals, making friends and generally doing a brilliant thing!   Everyone is doing their bit to ensure the silver jubilee is celebrated in style throughout August, including a 'bring a friend along' night amongst other fun activities so if you are reading this and don't currently run but have a longing to do so (as I do!) why not get in touch and 'Run because you can'.......

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Time is running out......

It's very frustrating when titles such as this keep landing in my email 'Inbox'

Time is running out to enter the UK’s most beautiful 10K city race

I'm well aware that time is running out, the problem is I can't run Grrrrr!  However, my main concern is that time is running out to train for the Great North Run.  I need something to focus on to keep me sane.  If time does run out for GNR then I will move my focus to the Guy Fawkes 10 mile in November.  I don't know if any of these goals are realistic at all until I have professional advice which I intend to seek very soon. Until then my goals are firmly in place and are going nowhere!

So week four of being incapacitated - thankfully the days are rolling by just as quickly as they were before - I cannot believe it is four whole weeks since I slipped and ended up visiting minor injuries.  Worryingly though each day is day closer to the GNR and weekly emails land to facilitate the count down, the latest being a reminder to book your accommodation and transfers to the start of the race, which are already sorted. I do though, feel that I am recovering well. I am being anal about doing the exercises I was given in the hope that my recovery comes about in as shortest a time allowed!

The two week anniversary of my injury happened to be my birthday. It started out the way anyone would wish - breakfast in bed, surrounded by my boys, opening cards and presents, then came a bombshell as I opened a 'card' from my two eldest sons and their families, tickets to see Rod Stewart at the new First Direct arena in Leeds. Emotion took over and I was soon in tears, wow it's years since I last saw him - I could hardly contain myself. Next a visit to Adel to cheer on the Eccup runners and I consoled myself with a bacon buttie after the runners had set off - a change to see the other side of the Eccup 10! After we had cheered almost all the runners in we set off with some of the runners to Golden Acre Park to meet family and visit the quaint tea rooms for cake. A boys game of football completed the afternoon and off we went home to prepare for a birthday barbecue in the evening.

So right up to date, I'm still stationary aside of regular walking and gym visits to cycle and cross train, I've progressed onto the next set of exercises from the hospital and a planned walk round parkrun on Saturday are all making me feel like I'm 'getting there'! Now, how do I stop that clock?........

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Interpreter in the house?

Not being very tech savvy I tend to muddle my way through and usually manage to achieve what I set out to do.  Creating a new post for my blog the other day, the next line eluded me, I decided to meddle whilst inspiration materialised.  Clicking here, clicking there, I came upon an option to change the language in which my blog is written. 'I wonder what my blog would look like written in Urdu?' I asked myself. 'Click' and there it was, all the headings, everything in swirling Urdu.  Now what's 'language settings' in Urdu? Oh, no clue! Just as I was about to give up I happened up on a click which revealed what 'language settings' was in Urdu!! That'll teach me to meddle!

So now I can get back to writing. What's been happening? Well.........

My dark cloud grew ever darker. Following my visit to Peter May he assured me there were no issues to worry about and to run but take it steady and keep to low mileage as I had been doing. That evening I ran. It hurt. I decided to take drastic action and strip it right back to basics. Walking. I would go to each club session as normal but when the groups set off on their runs, I would walk, I would keep walking until I felt confident to begin run walking, even if that took a few weeks to achieve.

All went well, the next session, Friday evening, I went down to Apperley Bridge, taking Dave with me. The groups set off, I set off and walked 25 minutes along the canal towpath, turned around and walked back.  Soon after the runners returned. Great! All had gone to plan.  The following Sunday and we decided to go for a family walk into nearby Buck Woods. My son, his partner, two grandsons, Martin, myself and of course Paul and Dave (the dogs).  Strolling through the beautiful woodland, the children frequently stopped to admire the stone carvings along the route, pine cones, rabbit holes anything that caught their attention. Bliss!  Craig, my son, was walking just ahead of me holding 3 year old Zach's hand, all of a sudden he lost his footing and slipped down a sloping rock dragging Zach with him.  Instinct obviously took over and I reached out to get a hold of the little one. My right foot also slipped down the rock, my left foot remained on the path. I twisted my knee and I also felt a horrible 'pop' to the inside of the knee.  Scrambling to my feet I was in agony and began to 'giggle' uncontrollably, this carried on for some time as I struggled to make my way back to the car. I imagine it was either pain or shock or both!

Anyway I did the usual, ice, rest, ibuprofen and also rubbed Ibuprofen gel into the area and went to bed thinking it would be ok in the morning.  How wrong was I? I woke at 3 am in agony.  A visit to minor injuries later and I was told I had torn my collateral ligament and I was to completely rest for 48 hours and was given an information sheet of advice and exercises.

So, a visit to the docs on Monday will hopefully help me to find out how I can move forward from this and what I can and can't do when. I'm hoping that I might be able to go swimming fairly soon and resume my upper body programme in the gym!

Meanwhile here's hoping it won't be too long before I can get back to my walking, running it seems is much further away than it ever was!

These little fellas will no doubt be much bigger when I see them again.......

A pair of Swans patiently await their new arrivals

Two cygnets had arrived next time I saw the pair!

Monday, 17 June 2013

Running is my sunshine!

I have just read a lovely and indeed very apt quote "Running is my sunshine" (Joan Twine). This quite literally sums up how I feel about my running. Alas I have a dark cloud hanging over me at the moment.  I've tried to be sensible and keep to low mileage, resting for more days than running and hitting the gym a couple of times a week just to stave off the pounds.  That's weight not money!

The crunch came when I had to give away my Otley 10 mile race number.  One of the tougher but really enjoyable races I had looked forward to as part of my series of races entered to help regain my focus after London Marathon. Enforced cheering is not nearly as much fun as the voluntary variety.  Where will it end? I don't know the answer. I do know that I need to work at getting tip top quite soon if I am to fulfil my innermost desire to run the Great North Run in under two hours which has been an idle thought for quite some time. Where to begin?

I know the sensible option for some would be to visit a physio but after my past experience I'm loathe to do so and for the time being place my trust in the formidable Peter May. He's confident I'm on the road to recovery so we will see.  Next visit already planned, let battle commence!

Friday, 31 May 2013

Stock taking......

Due to the Spring Bank Holiday I've only managed to visit the gym once since my programme was put together for me.  I am under no illusion that I am going to have to work very hard to fit it in at all but none the less I remain confident that I will do just that at least twice a week. I still have the swimming to master but again - time permitting I am going to try and get there a couple of times a week.

I'm already feeling the benefit mentally because I have made the decision to join and also mastered the basics during the times I have been there. Never having stepped inside a gym to train before I am surprised at my attitude to it so far. I'm also confident it will have it's benefits since I have visited after tough sessions and definitely felt it eased my DOMS. following a hard sprinting session and subsequently, the YVAA race at Bingley which was tough for several reasons. Not least the hills but also the rough terrain over which it was set, fields with cow hoof holes to twist the ankles, a very long path through fields resembling the yellow brick road but in concrete slabs, moorland up on the top of Shipley Glen all interspersed with woodland tracks, paths and snickets (ginnels if you rather). Alas these things are sent to try us!

Love this action shot courtesy of Linda Bussey
YVAA Bingley Tuesday 28th May
I now think I pushed my luck on Wednesday having had a tough race on Tuesday.  Club training session stated that there was an 'element of a time trial' in the route, one route, which is unusual for a Wednesday.  However, we split into groups and went along with suggestions of treating it as just that, a time trial, loosely translated as not meeting at strategic points as we would usually but staying as groups.  For some unknown reason I set off we a group containing runners I knew to be much faster than me. We set off on the uphill route, I gave it my all and after the 6 mile jaunt I felt similar to how I often feel post race, satisfied I've worked hard even if I don't get the result I want.  My thoughts immediately turned to the fact that I can't seem to go under an hour for 10k. Distant memories of last year's personal bests constantly invade my thoughts. Brain training to give ourselves a break anyone?

Arriving home I take stock. My left leg has been troubling me on and off for some weeks. Same old same old. Run, it feels better, stop, it give me pain.  Things - as they do - came to a head.  I made my regular visit to Peter May and explained how my leg had been troubling me.  He did a lot of work on it and advised me to rest for a couple of days and then try it out which is what I intend to do. Fingers crossed  his healing hands will have done the trick!

Friday, 24 May 2013

Goals, training programmes and more........

The jury is still out on the gym business.  I went along with Marc last Sunday and did an hours session but steered well clear of the weight machines as neither of us felt confident in how to work them or what we should be doing on them.  We did a total of an hour on the cross trainer, rower and a little floor work before making an appointment to take advantage of their offer to find out what we want to get out of it and tailor make a training programme for us to help us achieve our goals.

Meanwhile, I fulfilled my promise to myself and entered some races. After this coming Tuesday's YVAA race at Bingley I then have the first of my planned races, Otley 10 mile on Wednesday 12th June.  Hopefully that will get me back into the swing of things.  I really can't get away with standing on the sidelines for too much longer.  I am repeatedly being asked 'why aren't you running?'  People (who I know have done marathons too) look at me as though I have got two heads, my explanation that I have not long since run the marathon doesn't wash! A lady much more senior than me reeled off that she had done Manchester marathon, all three John Carr's, and every other race she could think of! I felt a tad inadequate! Just what happened to the rule that after a marathon, runners should take one day per mile off to recover?

Rolling up to the gym for my programme making session I was introduced to each machine in turn by a lovely young lady (her name escapes me) and given lots of advice and guidance - at the moment I have pledged to go twice per week so I'm just hoping I can get into the swing of things and fit everything in, I've yet to work out when I will get to the swimming pool.  I really enjoyed my session on Wednesday but it's whether I can keep my focus when I turn up to do it on my own.  I already have aching abs so must be going some way to achieving my 'washboard' stomach!

Despite a cold and windy evening, Martin and I went down to Apperley Bridge to support runners in the Apperley Bridge Canter 10k race.  Organised by Horsforth Harriers it's a well attended race - it seems to attract quite a few unattached runners.  The cool evening made for perfect running conditions although it was a little windy, that didn't stop the first runner coming in at 33 minutes! I am in awe of the faster runners but it's amazing to see everyone finish, it's no wonder I get attached to race supporting instead of running them.  Copious amounts of cheers and shouts saw 5 Eccleshill runners home and as each finished we eventually made a sizeable, if a little rowdy group who stayed on until the end to cheer all the runners home.  That's Eccleshill for you!

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Lost, one race mojo.....

The merry month of May is a manic month each year for me, Birthdays galore keep me busy but one person I wish I could celebrate with is Arthur James. Today would have been his 78th Birthday. It's difficult to believe he has been gone for over a year already.  The Bradford parkrun in his memory was a chance to remember him in a way we all know he would have wanted us to - running.  I felt proud as we at Eccleshill jogged around Lister park in a large group chatting and laughing, he would have loved it! The club are also planning to arrange a relay race for members to compete for the 'Arthur James Trophy' so we don't plan to let him be forgotten any time soon!

Team ERR at Arthur's (Bradford) parkrun 4th May 2013
I seem to have lost the inclination to race of late!  I just don't seem to get on and enter! That is until most of the time it's too late and entries have closed. I'm putting it down to 'marathon blues'!  I am though going to make an effort to enter the Otley, Eccup (on my Birthday) and Guy Fawkes 10 mile races to give me something to focus on. The next YVAA race at Bingley will hopefully get me kick started since I already have my number at the ready! Nothing like a team activity to rekindle the mojo.

Meanwhile the mojo stayed firmly tucked away yet again as I spent the evening cheering on runners at the second race of this year's John Carr 5k series. - the first time in quite a few years that I haven't run them, it was though, great to cheer on my youngest son Marc and ERR members, along with hundreds of others in this fast and furious race. It also provided me with an opportunity to encourage my husband Martin to come out for a run yesterday morning to replace what would have been Wednesday club night. Although the weather wasn't on our side we had a brilliant 10k run and Dave (the dog) came too. We went through Yorkshire Water to Esholt Village and then came back along the canal. It did, though, improve for the race and barring a shower at tea time was a most pleasant evening.

Not yet knowing how I am going to fit it in on a regular basis, I have signed up for gym and swim at Eccleshill pool.  I have decided it's high time I introduced regular cross training into to my regime as niggles, aches and pains frequently surface following each run. First session on Sunday, watch this space!

Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Post marathon post

The ballot for the 2014 London Marathon opened on Monday and closed in a record time! By 11:30 125,000 people had entered the ballot to try and gain entry. Not surprising it is difficult to get in, reported to be only a one in seven chance! I resisted entering with surprising ease. I had imagined I might just be tempted but not the case. I suspect my trip to Manchester on Sunday may have played a part.

A group of Eccleshill members travelled over to the home of the mighty reds to show our support of club mate (and my marathon training buddy) Claire. Her debut at what is billed as the flattest marathon course in the UK began early as it was a 9 am start. It was great to be able to be there before the start to share a coffee and last minute reassurances.  After she made her way to the start we made our way to the 2 mile point of the course and were able to cheer her on before moving to the 5 mile point from which we had easy access to the 24/25 mile point. It was standing at this late stage of the race which resurrected memories of the later stages of my marathon the week before and almost certainly staved off my desire to enter the VLM 2014 ballot!

So how long does one leave it before getting back to training. For me, a week off had felt much longer even though I had a mid week walk on the canal on Wednesday club night and I was eager to return to light training.  I started out with a very slow jog around Bradford parkrun last Saturday and felt great.

Monday training, speed & hills, was Bolton Lane Hill reps, I went along with a view to just taking it really easy which is just what I did.  Hopefully this will now stand me in good stead for another short gentle jog tomorrow and again on Friday.  On Saturday I will be attending Bradford parkrun to take part in what will now be an annual event and it is incredibly one year since the most wonderful, inspirational man Arthur James left us.  We at Eccleshill plan to all run together at the back of the field wearing our Arthur James tee shirts.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013


Two days ago I completed my second marathon, 26.2, some of them, difficult miles. The journey began what seems a very long time ago now. April 2012 I entered the London marathon ballot to try and gain entry to run once more, my reasoning behind this was to give myself a chance to ascertain whether I could actually enjoy the experience of pounding the streets for over four hours and appreciate the enormity of this prestigious event and all the pomp and circumstance that accompanies it since I hated the first time.  The answer? Yes and no......

Just to recap, the rejection magazine had arrived months after entering the ballot, the next step is that it gave me entry into the club draw for a place. Marc, turning 18 before the race also entered and he too was rejected and after a protest was allowed to enter the club draw. We were both successful in gaining places. How proud I was that at such a young age Marc had decided to take on the challenge of running a marathon but not just any marathon, London marathon!

Following a tweet to Martin Yelling we downloaded a training plan and training commenced  in earnest. Choose what Mother Nature threw at us we trained through thick and thin.  As you would expect, we encountered the usual hiccoughs over which you have no control and can do little other than literally pray! That said we never considered that we wouldn't get to the start line. With club mate Claire entered for the Manchester marathon she was an amazing training partner since the three of us did the same routes most of the time but Marc would always be way out in front. Giving me cause to consider his marathon strategy and hope that he paced himself well and appreciated the distance he would have to go.  In taking on 21+ mile training runs I still knew that the full distance isn't appreciated until you actually come to do it. Something that a first timer has to discover.

So the events in Boston still left me wondering what effect they would have on London. Would the supporters stay away, indeed would runners be put off, would numbers be down? Not a chance, from what I remember of 2010, support this year was even more prolific and as for the runners -  we all stood shoulder to shoulder in defiance.

The day itself was fantastic from start almost to finish. I was was doing great and seemed to get to 10 miles and then half marathon in no time at all. It was hot with only short respite of a breeze now and again. Approaching mile 18, the thought of seeing family and friends outside our hotel spurred me on. After a brief 'hello' I carried on, but by mile 21 I was really feeling uncomfortable, chafing here and there, pain in my hips and back and generally fatigued. I walked for a short while until I began to feel better, reaching Big Ben I recalled how, the previous day we had walked around that part of the course which gave me a boost knowing I really didn't have too far to go.  By this point the crowds along the Embankment were immense and the support to the finishing line was second to none!

I can't describe the feeling as I came over the finish line - I was so pleased to have reached my goal and at the same time relieved that I didn't need to run any more.  My medal was placed over my head and I really had earned it but by the same token I really wished I could give each and every supporter a medal too, they truly deserved one. I immediately spotted a face I knew and didn't hesitate in walking over to say 'well done', I then realised it was BBC newsreader Naga Munchetty! She promptly returned the compliment!  Off I went to be photographed, pick up my goody bag and find my family.

All in a days marathon! Londone! For the last time!

Ready for off!
Hanging around the Blue start

Marc sending last texts!

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

United we stand......

The events at the finish line of the Boston Marathon yesterday have somewhat cast a dark shadow over the whole running community.  I would be telling a lie if I said I had not considered my position in running the London Marathon on Sunday.  It is likely that possibly each and everyone due to run has done the same.  Some will have taken the stoic stance and immediately made up their minds not to let the perpetrators of such a despicable act win and there is no question that they will run, heads held high.  Others may well have decided not to run. I am of the mind that I will not let such persons unworthy to be in my thoughts render my months of hard work pointless.  I will stand united on the start line with 34,000 others including my youngest son who has also made the decision to run. I will run. I will, though, run with a heavy heart and a troubled mind until the event is over and everyone is safe.

With my last few days of training going quite well other than aches and pains which I know are normal when reducing the mileage, all that remains is one club run on Wednesday and perhaps a swim at some point if I can find the time, and we will be off on our way on Friday morning.

Meanwhile my thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by this tragedy...........

4 days to go....

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

The colour purple

After a couple of weeks of disrupted training which have led to panic attacks, feeling unwell, aches and pains and anything else I can think of I feel I'm now back on track once more. It really has been difficult to keep my mind on the job in hand this time around. Oh and preparations for an 18th Birthday party might not have helped! Securing his eligibility to run the London marathon for the first time Marc came of age last Friday.

I've also purchased replacement shoes.....Hoping that this time I have learned by my mistake. The colour was of course, of some influence as well as the fact that they are Nike Pegasus 29's!

My new purple bad boys!

Squeezing in a last long run of 21 miles at the end of training week 13 which should have been our first week of tapering really did go some way to ease my fears in my ability to actually complete the 26.2 miles. The weather took a turn for the better and it was a Spring like morning making for a very pleasant run from Greengates to East Riddlesden Hall and back. That is until Sunday.  The training plan recommended a 1 hour 30 minute run so I reckoned 10 miles would take us over that in training mode.  My darling husband confidently told me that to run to White Cross (Harry Ramsden's as it was) and back would be 10 miles.  Marc, Claire and I set off up the hill from Rawdon Meadows towards Guiseley.  Marc soon disappeared out of sight. I ambled on up the hill, getting warmer and warmer.  Not sure if it was the hill or it was actually that warm I puffed and panted my way up the hill, Claire getting further in front as we climbed.  Finally the road started to level and I started to feel a bit more comfortable although my legs still felt like they belonged to someone else. I never really got into the run and on reaching our turnaround point (I had yet again forgotten my watch) Claire announced it was only 3.66 miles. I asked her how she was feeling and she said she was fine.  I really couldn't bear the thought of going any further and having to come back.  She agreed to carry on alone whilst I turned back.  She is after all a week in front with her training plan since Manchester marathon is a week after London.

Running back alone my thoughts turned to how I was feeling right then and of course doubts began creeping in again - if I can't do 10 miles how the heck am I going to do 26.2?? Luckily by the time I got back to the start point I had reasoned with myself that I had had a particularly stressful week with the party organisation etc and it had most probably taken it's toll.  Marc had a good run but Claire, on returning, said she had struggled too, this tapering lark has a lot to answer for but I have faith in my Martin Yelling training plan!

Since it fitted in with the training plan I decided to carry on regardless and went to club the following day for our weekly Monday session with the intention of putting in some effort and seeing how I felt.  Much better as it turned out.  Here's hoping my pants run is out of the way and the next phase goes without a hitch.
Less than two weeks to go...........

Monday, 25 March 2013

Off more ways than one!

Having made the decision to buy some more new trainers I inexplicably decided to have a trip down to the city centre to a sports shop and 'have a look'.  After about half an hour of trying several pairs on I came away with a pair of New Balance, various socks and Lycra.  Walking up and down the store in them they felt really comfy.  Happy with my purchases I went home with the intention that I would wear them for a club run that evening and then alternate them on training runs up until the marathon with a view to wearing them for the big day.

Arriving at club we warmed up and set off.  I felt really good - the route wasn't too challenging and at 7.5 miles, relatively short.  However, on the way back, about a mile from base I started to experience a numb feeling in my right leg and mild pain in my left.  Since we didn't have far to go I soldiered on.  Once I stopped running and stretched I didn't feel too bad.  Arriving home it was a different story.  I felt sick, couldn't eat my tea and went off to bed.  Next morning my calves felt so tight it was unbelievable.  Was it the new shoes?

Thursday was the club's monthly track session, however, we were otherwise engaged in that we had tickets to see a show at Immanuel - Marc drumming in the school band - so that put paid to that.  Claire and I scheduled this week's long run for Saturday since I was marshalling at the Bradford 10k on Sunday so no planned club run on Friday either. Turned out the session was cancelled anyway as it snowed. This also prompted Epilepsy Action to cancel the Bradford 10k - some said it was a little premature but the forecast was for more snow on Saturday.  The forecast was correct, all day Saturday it snowed relentlessly. I promptly took advantage of the opportunity to ask Claire if she fancied running Sunday instead knowing this would give me another days rest after Wednesdays episode. She agreed.

I was excited as I dressed in several layers ready to run on Sunday morning.  Did I say? I love running in the snow! Marc and I set off out the door and it immediately became clear that the temperatures had plummeted over night.  The pavements and roads were a mix of deep snow in parts and sheet ice in others. We picked our way down through our estate to Greengates to meet Claire. We made the decision that it would be impossible to run all the way to Bingley and back on the paths/roads so we agreed to go down to Apperley Bridge and run along the canal, again, and play it by ear, see how far we got.  As it turned out we got to Hirst Wood at Saltaire and decided the journey back from whence we came would be enough.  The going was tough, Arctic winds blew snow from the trees at us, it was a mix of ice and deep snow under foot making it difficult to negotiate but pleasant all the same.  Claire kindly dropped me near to home and I was just daydreaming of how thought I had found my niche, I really do love the challenge of running in snow, for some reason it's so much more satisfying, I got to the top of my road, crossed over and all of a sudden lost my balance, slipped and down I went.  Luckily my arm tucked underneath me and although I banged that and my knee, I got to my feet quickly, pain searing through my arm and started to make my way through a snicket to my house.  Arriving home I felt more embarrassed than hurt and started to think how I hoped nobody had seen me fall! I got off lightly, this time. It did though, bring home the reality of how easy it is to put an end to all the hard work I have put in over the last few months. No regrets here though as I have seen runners fall in such different circumstances and although snow and ice are obviously much more of a risk, that's life! (For me any way!)

What I do find baffling though is what Mother nature is throwing at us - how different the weather has been from one week to the next...........

Last week at the top of Baildon

This week at Hirst Wood, Saltaire
Now, this evening, to run or not to run, that is the question?

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Wishful thinking?

I had hardly typed the last word and pressed 'publish' for my previous blog when I heard that those lovely weather people had forecast snow for the weekend! Wishful thinking? Yes it would seem so. I'm sure I wasn't the only one lulled into a false sense of thinking that Spring was in the air.  I was horrified to learn that the temperatures were set to plummet  again just when we thought we had turned a corner.

Leaving home early on Sunday morning with Marc to meet up with Claire and Ghizala (who was starting out with us and planning on running a few miles out and back on the canal) it was bitterly cold but as yet no sign of snow.  It was a different story a couple of miles later as the flurries began.  Hitting the back of my throat like flies in the summertime or hindering my view by landing on my eyelashes.  I began to think back to Liversedge a few weeks ago.  How pleasant it had been when we set off with the snowflakes dancing all around us only for it to turn into sleet and then icy rain, making for a most unpleasant last few miles of the race. Fortunately last Sunday the worst we encountered was puddles from previous rain fall and frequent patches of very slippery mud! The intermittent snow flurries accompanied us all the way to Skipton. I reached for my phone camera at one point intending to take some photos of the view of the towering snow covered hills in front of us only to find it wasn't in my pocket, thankfully I later learned I had unwittingly left it at home.

Reaching another milestone in the the marathon training is yet another confidence boost. I even managed to overcome the dread of refuelling with energy gels and, it appeared, managed to administer them at appropriate intervals and stave off any serious dips in energy levels.

Why though, did me and Claire have to sit and watch Marc tuck into a Macdonald's meal whilst we were unable to eat, feeling sick, I managed a few fries while Claire only managed a cup of tea? I'm  going to look into the cause and effect when I get a minute. Could it  have something to do with him not putting enough effort in?!!

The training plan recommends a 10 mile or half marathon race this week so I'm a little unsure what to suggest since we had mooted ideas of doing the Trimpell 20 thinking that it would be good to do some higher mileage in a race situation. Decisions, decisions. As a result this is how I'm feeling as the weekend approaches leaving only five weeks to go...........

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Marching into Marchvellous!

I've surprised myself and managed resolutely to stick to my marathon training plan of abstaining from races two Sundays running (pun intended!) and keeping a lid on my midweek club run and I have to say it seems to be going swimmingly! Following a strained run to Huddersfield last week we embarked on an 18 mile canal run.  Not knowing what was in store as there have been several closures along the Leeds/Liverpool canal we set off in the direction of Shipley/Bingley/Keighley. We were able to negotiate the diversions onto the river bank at Saltaire emerging back onto the canal at Bringley. Nine miles later we reached our destination and turned around and headed back to Apperley Bridge.  I felt slightly disadvantaged at knowing how far we had to go to get back to our start point and 16 miles in my bones and muscles began to groan! I did though, feel grateful to complete another long run!

Thanks to Martin Yelling and his Marathontalk training plan which I've been loosely following I'm feeling quietly confident about getting round the 26.2 miles.  I initially said I would like to better my 2010 time and I still feel that second time around I will have a good chance of doing so, not least because I know I am going to be accompanied to the start line by my youngest son Marc who is also in the throws of training - I also have a good insight into what's in store!

Improver's 16 week marathon schedule
You will embark on this schedule if you are able to run for approximately 60mins without stopping
and plan to run 3‐4 days a week. Your running days are not fixed so you can fit these in around your
lifestyle and weekly commitments. You can change the order of the runs but do try and have an
easier day following a harder days running. Be flexible with your training but at the same time, firm
with your commitment to getting out of the door.

, for me was key and without blowing my own trumpet (well maybe just a little!) I have commitment, that has never been a worry.  Mother nature did her best to scupper our early training but with the exception of one session so far I have managed to keep both me and Marc on track and also Claire from club who was first reserve for the marathon place - she has now entered the Manchester marathon and has been a valuable running buddy at club and on the last couple of long runs, we've literally run through thick and thin, some training nights have consisted of me Claire and Marc!  If that isn't commitment I don't know what is.  We've been called 'mad' amongst other things for running in the adverse weather but I never saw it like that, for me it was about doing what I could to keep my training on track, even though sometimes we didn't get the mileage in we might have liked, the effort was well and truly there. Although there's no guarantees with the British weather but hopefully the snow is well and truly behind us!

A 7 mile run on Wednesday and a short social run on Friday takes us to our planned 20 mile run to Skipton on Sunday, leaving just 6 weeks to go...... I'm actually looking forward to it so something must be clicking into place!

Meanwhile marathon shoes are on the cards, I want to invest in them now so that I can alternate my runs in them to have them well and truly 'broken in' by marathon day. I won't be making the mistake of internet shopping again and I now know a man that can!

Last but not least I must mention Marathontalk's fabulous Spring motivation tool 'Jantastic' which has been a useful aid to keeping me on track - I can't explain why but when I registered the Eccleshill Eagles team and encouraged club members to join quite a few did just that, alas most have fallen by the wayside, I'm not judging anyone, I'm sure they have their reasons, perhaps forgetting to log runs they have actually done, illness, work commitments? Who knows, but for me it works and I'm sitting pretty at the top of the table as we go into Marchvellous, for now at least!

Friday, 22 February 2013

The Long Run

I don't suppose I'm the only one but I'm finding myself looking for ways to keep me inspired on my marathon training journey.
I've been subscribed to the 'Realbuzz' site since my first attempt at the Great North Run in 2006.  It's an excellent site which promotes 'Healthy Active Living'. The resources available on the site are endless.  Today though I read an article by running expert and blogger Tom Bedford titled 'The Long Run'.  The blog reinforced just what I tried to tell myself during my long run last Sunday. Whilst I set off with my son Marc, he's much faster and it wasn't long before he disappeared into the distance leaving me to run alone.  It's well documented that I don't like running alone but I obviously realise that it is necessary sometimes for one reason or another. So my thoughts were allowed to linger on each little niggle as first one knee hurt, then the other, my back began to ache, then my hips, by the time I reached my finish point I felt (a) shattered but (b) elated that I had finally got my training on track.  In the meantime I cast my mind back to marathon training in 2010 and remembered the exact same feeling - just how can I do any higher mileage when I feel like this at 15/16 miles? Tom Bedford says exactly that in the blog - each time you go higher it's taxing because you are still pushing your body to be where you want to be and it won't feel easier anytime soon, however if you were to take a step back and repeat a run you did a few weeks ago at the same pace it would most certainly feel amazing. So it looks like I'm in it for the 'long run'!
8 weeks to London.....

The club runs have been a boost this week as always.  I'm happy that the content is sufficient to keep me on track and get me to my goal - I've known members who have been marathon training to drop club altogether, preferring to train on their own, which is all well and good if that's what suits you but this method doesn't appeal to me at all, but once again I consider myself lucky to be part of such a supportive club who's members are happy to give up their time to help others and get the necessary training done.

Thankfully this weekend I have a 'long run' training buddy, after doing a couple of miles on my own, Claire is going to run to Huddersfield with me as we run to the start of the Huddersfield 10k where some club members are running the race. A lift back to our start point will no doubt be most welcome!

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Behind the times!

I can't really say I've lost my running mojo, a term I've heard from a few club members of late but I have to say that although my body has been willing my mind really hasn't been in the zone running or writing wise so apologies that it's been a few weeks since my last update meaning I'm a little behind the times.  Still struggling to get into marathon training mode the impending 26.2 miles seem a far reaching goal.  The weather hasn't helped and neither have the weekend races.  I had planned to reduce midweek mileage, club long runs not being long enough, and increase Sunday run mileage.  It hasn't quite gone to plan as the YVAA Grand Prix series race one popped up unexpectedly!  Clashing with the Dewsbury 10k which was a club championship race - I didn't hesitate in making my mind up that I would go and run it since numbers would be low, and low they were as just four of us braved the wet, muddy and very hilly conditions of the race at Horsforth.  My mood was already low as I turned up to run and just got lower as the race progressed. I haven't considered dropping out of a race on many occasions but this was one such time.  As I emerged from an off road section out onto a pavement leading to a narrow but steep path for the second time I hit rock bottom and very nearly burst into tears! Somehow I managed to compose myself and carry on.  Some time later as I waded down hill through mud to the finish I felt a huge sense of relief and vowed that this was one for the 'not to do again list'!

I have now made a decision that I am going to try and abstain from weekend races until after the London Marathon, come what may I am going to stick to my plan of long runs on Sunday, progressing as far as I can before it's time to taper. I figure it's the only way to get every thing to fall into place.

Beginning with the Liversedge Half marathon last Sunday I now feel it's onwards and upwards. Dawn suggested I run round the course with her as a training run.  Apprehensive as to whether I may be asked to leave the course since I didn't have a number, I reluctantly agreed.  I needn't have worried, the weather was so atrocious that lots of runners donned outer jackets which covered their number so I didn't stick out like a sore thumb! I got round without incident and was pleased that I had been able to cover the mileage with relative ease and am now looking forward to completing higher mileage this coming Sunday. Liversedge though is a must for next year, such a varied if a little challenging course may well be my replacement half for the unappealing Brass Monkey.

Snowflakes at the start.........
(Dawn at the Liversedge Half, my pink jacket and shoes just visible to the far left)

Turning to icy rain.........
Photos courtesy of David Owen

Monday, 21 January 2013

New Shoes, in the news, racing blues.......

My new marathon training partner arrived in style and in double quick time! I was astonished when I logged onto my Fetcheveryone account to add my shiny new and very pink Nike Air Pegasus 29's to my kit list, I had logged well over 800 miles in my 28's - no wonder it felt like I was running barefoot on the pavements! With 13 weeks to go I'm sure they will serve me well!

Fame at last! I featured in a headline in our local paper the Telegraph & Argus' Running Log which ran a report on the Muddy Fools 2 race at Golden Acre Park, it caused quite a stir amongst family and friends as people scrambled to let me know that I was in the paper!

Mother nature has tried her utmost to scupper training and my Jantastic targets of late but I'm pleased to say that although she nearly succeeded I have managed to keep on track one way or another! Beginning with last Monday - ok, so we were unable to carry out our speed and hills session but a hardy few of us did manage to brave the icy conditions and carry out a short recovery run which was adequate since the Peco XC at Bramley Fall Park had been a rather tough affair the day before. Wednesday was a different story however. More snow had fallen. We set off from club intending to do 6 miles in light of the fact that a lot of us had the half marathon at the weekend.  Two miles into the run and I couldn't get my hands warm, we stopped to regroup and my head spun, I felt as though I was going to faint, be sick or both. I sat on a low wall and put my head down. Starting to feel better I stood up, the same happened again so I sat down again.  I asked the group to go on without me. Marc stayed behind and before long suggested we ring home for a lift.  Getting home I felt much better but worn out and deflated.  Was it a recurrence of my low iron levels of some 7 months ago - a visit to the docs for me! I kind of hope that it is iron so at least I can correct it, we'll see. Friday she nearly thwarted me again but I still got my run in on the treadmill. I was quite pleased that I managed 4.5 miles.

The Brass Monkey had been in doubt all week but understandably Knavesmire Harriers didn't want to make a decision too early and get it wrong.  It was no surprise then on Saturday afternoon when the news we were all dreading came, the race was cancelled. I consoled myself with a lovely home cooked meal,dreadful Saturday night television and the promise of a Sunday roast next day, something we don't often get to do since races or other activities get in the way.

10pm I noticed I had a text message on my phone.  It was from club mate Dawn, did I plan to run Sunday? No I hadn't not at all, I took full advantage of the race cancellation to do nothing and have a lazy Sunday, or so I thought.  I immediately got back into training mode and weighed up all the benefits of replacing the cancelled race with a run.  Instructions with the boys on when to put the roast in the oven and 10.5 miles later it was done to a turn! I know I felt so much better lazing on the sofa for the afternoon than I would have done had I not run! It also completed my 4 runs for my Jantastic target too! Result!

 Friday's run on the mechanical excuse for a road has made me determined to run outside this evening - time will tell - the holly berries on the tree in my garden are still visible, just!

Friday, 11 January 2013

And the winner is.........

The organisers of the Peco XC races decided they would stage a 'Muddy Fools 2 race' (Muddy Fools was originally held on April lst last year as part of the Peco presentations). We were told that runners were to be handicapped according to their Peco race finishing times for race one and two of this year's series.  Totally unaware that this would impact on my handicap I ran the first XC race hungover following my Great Nephew's 18th Birthday party, I decided it was better to plod around with Dawn who was doing her first race back following injury than sit at home nursing my hangover. On turning up to register for the Muddy Fools a few weeks later I learnt that my handicap was slightly less than it might have been had I run race one at my usual pace or indeed had I been able to run race 2! Slightly embarrassed I was set off in the second wave, I'm not totally sure but I think the fastest runners were set off some 20 minutes after me with various time delayed waves in between. I was soon in the lead having overtaken the first wave (Hilary).  I drove on, putting all I had into the race.  I do not find it easy to run at Golden Acre park, aside of the uneven, muddy and hilly terrain, I have great difficulty navigating the place, thank heaven for marshals! Glancing at my Garmin which read 2.5 miles I immediately heard footsteps behind me, a pleasant rather fast looking athlete said 'well done' to which I replied 'well done you'! Mentally writing my blog I 'wrote', "I stayed in the lead for 2.5 miles", with that more and more speed merchants passed me by, I surged on thinking I had done well to stay in the lead for so long.   Round and round the park I ran, through the bogs, up the hills and through the woods as fast as my legs would carry me. Coming up a hill the lady marshal shouted at me "keep going, you're still in the lead". I was puzzled to hear this when suddenly I heard a familiar voice (that of Liz Jones of HPH) shouting at me to 'do it for the girls' and that I was doing brilliant.  I knew now that I was heading to the finish and with renewed vigour I bounded up the field and then down to the start area, around the perimeter and then up the finish funnel. I had 'won' the race and into the bargain there was nobody else in sight! It was a good five minutes before the runners started to come in thick and fast.  I was totally amazed.  On the one hand I knew that I had received my handicap by default but on the other hand I also knew that I totally gave the race all I had in order to finish where I did so I'll wallow in the glory a while longer if you please!  That's quite likely the first and last time I stand amongst the prize winners!
Race to the finish!


Thankfully I seem to be finally getting my head around the fact that I really do need to start thinking about marathon training or should I say getting a plan - whatever level - I realise that it really is a necessity to have some sort of plan in place to guide you through the process of increasing your mileage or the time you are going to be spending on your feet.  I have come to the conclusion that I will be more than happy if I can get to the start line in London once again and feel satisfied that I have done the preparation to the best of my ability and of course, if I can shave anything at all from my 2010 time I will be ecstatic to say the least. I have also joined Marathontalk's Jantastic Spring motivation challenge, setting up a club team, Eccleshill Eagles, join in now by clicking on the link.

All that in mind I happened upon a tweet from Martin Yelling recently which mentioned VLM training and in a light bulb moment I decided to tweet him and ask his assistance in finding a suitable training plan to which I was surprised (not sure why but felt a little star struck!) to received a reply enquiring as to my level.  I replied that I had completed London once, ran three to four times per week and wanted to try and beat 4 hours 30 minutes.  He pointed me to an 'improvers' 16 week plan on the Marathontalk website.  So a week or so in and I'm feeling much more positive, new trainers are ordered and should be here any day now so onwards and upwards.

I received my Brass Monkey number yesterday, on reflection the race doesn't really fit into the marathon training plan so I'll do my best to hold back and not over do it.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Happy New Year 2013!

Well that's the Christmas and New Year celebrations out of the way! I really don't think I've let my work and social life get in the way quite so much as I have over the last month or so.  Happily I seem to be back on track. Oh wait.....I have another 18th Birthday party tomorrow.....Hopefully then I will stay on track.

Dazzled on our ERR Christmas lights run 21/12/12

I have though, run twice this week already, clocking up almost 17 very wet and windy miles with the lovely Dawn for company.  Despite missing tomorrow I will achieve my three runs this week as I am planning to race the Muddy Fools 2 at Golden Acre Park on Sunday.  Sounds like a bit of fun.  Apparently only those who have taken part in one or both of the recent Peco XC races can take part in the Muddy Fools 2 race since we are to be handicapped based on our time for the XC. Thus, there are to be teams A through to J and we are to be placed into said teams which will determine our set off position, therefore, allowing a head start for us 'slower' runners. Should be interesting. Golden Acre Park is not one of my favourite places to run, I don't mind a training run around there but races always seem to be much tougher, maybe it's a state of mind but alas I will be giving it a go for the sake of the Eccleshill team spirit!

I'm guessing our visit will be a little more muddy!
Marathon training is now on the agenda for Marc and myself, I am currently studying training plans to find one I think we can realistically stick to - no point whatsoever in having my head in the clouds and trying to follow something which may turn out to be impossible, so I'm not rushing into anything just yet with 16 weeks last Sunday to go before London I figure we've got time to tap into something in the next week or so, being regular runners we aren't complete beginners and I for one know what is expected of me. Marc on the other hand, may be in for a shock!