Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Juneathon Day 4: Staying out for the summer

Well if the weather carries on like this....

Evening run for me today at about 9pm, it was just the way the day went. 5 miles fartlekky style on undulating-ish route - first half mostly uphill, second half mostly down. I say fartlekky but the fast bits weren't particularly fast. Listened to the latest parkrun show (always fun). I do love my parkrun but not as much as some of the people on the parkrun show love theirs. (And I am a person who has not only a 50 shirt but is also the proud temporary owner of the female points trophy - the only running-related trophy I'm ever likely to win.)

5.2 miles in 52 minutes anyway - 6 days into a streak which started on 30th May, and feeling pretty good so far.

Juneathon miles so far: 24.4.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Juneathon Day 3: Here comes the sun

Well, today, anyway.

Just a 3 mile recovery streak-saver today, squeezed in between finishing work, going to Sainsbury's and picking the little one up from school. It's a bit warm. I'm not complaining. I think I need to get some sort of moisturiser with sunscreen in it, though. Also, I have one of those runner's tans on the back of my legs that starts at my knee and stops at my ankle. We runners are easy to spot.

I felt a lot better than I usually do, yesterday and today, after a longish run yesterday. Dunno if that was down to the For Goodness Shake that I drank as per yesterday's blog, but I've bought some more anyway while the half price offer is on. (Half price is only on the chocolate flavour. Not a problem.) No aches and pains today and none yesterday even after scrambling over slippery rocks and fishing my phone out of rock pools. And none of the sick/dizzy feeling which plagued me after marathon-training long runs last time round. Let's see how it goes when the long runs get longer.

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Juneathon Day 2: So long, and thanks for all the fish custard

Sorry, I just had to get that in there. I won't mention it again.

*weeps uncontrollably*

I ran 11.15 miles today along the old railway line, out and back, with a negative split of nearly 2 minutes! This is the longest run I have done for a while (did 10 last week). It was lovely. A bit warm on the unshaded bits. Listening to Big Finish Short Trips which kept me going nicely. I saw loads of people, including an entire family out running (dad pushing double buggy, followed by child on bike, followed by mum with dog). Lots of people on bikes. Girl wearing Where's Wally style woolly hat (?!) taking her pony for a walk.

Now that I'm marathon training again (Loch Ness on 29 Sept) I thought I'd better get a bit more organised on trying out different fuelling options, because during my last couple of marathons I have suffered what is politely termed Digestive Discomfort, including vomiting profusely during Loch Ness last year, feeling awful and walking most of the second half. I wouldn't necessarily take anything during an 11 mile run normally, but in the interests of research I tried a SIS lemon gel at half way, which was OK. Also took a bottle of water (in my waist thingy) with a Nuun tablet in it.

Earlier in the week I noticed For Goodness Shakes chocolate recovery drink milkshake fancypants whatnots were half price in Sainsbury's, so I bought a couple, and took one when I came back from my run today. It was really rather nice. Whether it makes any difference, or any more difference than a large glass of milk might, I don't know, but having spent the rest of the afternoon scrambling over rocks and peering into rock pools with the little one (we found starfish but no crabs), my legs feel pretty good, so maybe it does. (Also managed to drop my phone into a rock pool, which weirdly seems to have actually improved its performance.)

Stats: 11.15 miles in 1:57:24 (10:32 pace). Last 4k at marathon pace: 6:04, 6:11, 6:18, 6:15. (Have new watch and haven't figured out how to change it from kilometres to miles yet. But I rather like the kilometres, they pass quicker.) Happy with that.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Juneathon Day 1: Basically, RUN!

I'd forgotten about Juneathon till somebody mentioned it at parkrun this morning, then I hmm'ed and ha'ed a bit and thought oh, what the hell. I'll give it a go. I've done month-long streak-a-thons a couple of times before and it's been a positive experience. My running needs a hefty kick up the backside at the moment so maybe this will provide it.

Off the starting blocks with parkrun this morning. My parkruns have not been great recently. My PB is eighteen months old and I am nowhere near it. 27:36 today on a warmish day down at the beach - nearly three minutes away from my PB and a minute slower than my year's best time which I set last month. I'd really like to get the parkrun time down a bit. I've been doing intervals and everything. But I just don't seem to get any quicker.

This morning's parkrun was enlivened by a bunch of people in fancy dress (not runners) who were walking up the prom in a big group for reasons as yet unexplained.

Anyway today's scores on the doors: 5 miles exactly (parkrun plus warm up and cool down, not planned as 5 miles exactly but that's what it added up to!).

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Such stuff as dreams are made on

I wasn’t there, at the Olympics, although I think one of the places I would most like to have been, ever, would be in that stadium on the Saturday evening when Mo won his second gold. Instead, I was watching the race in a caravan in the Lake District, where the gentle evening peace of the quiet caravan site was shattered by screams (mine) of COME ON MO COME ON LAD KEEP GOING KEEP GOING OH NO HE’S CATCHING UP COME ON COME ON YOU’RE NEARLY THERE YES HE’S GOING TO DO IT COME ON COME ON YEEEEEESSSSSS!!!!!!!

 Anyway. As I was saying. I didn’t see lots of the Olympics (missed nearly all the cycling, for instance), due to the unfortunate necessity to do holiday stuff rather than spend all my time in front of the telly, but I did see quite a lot of it and I found there were many things to love.

Some of the moments I will remember: -

The complete unapologetic bonkersness of the opening ceremony.

- The gloriously multicultural nature of the GB medal winners – summed up, perhaps, on one memorable Saturday evening when a long-jumping ginger bloke from Milton Keynes, a mixed-race golden girl from Sheffield and an awe-inspiring Somalia-born black guy called Mohamed all scooped gold. To coin a phrase: Nick Griffin, Aidan Burley, the Daily Mail - your boys took one hell of a beating.

- The reactions. Chad LeClos’s dad; Felix Sanchez crying uncontrollably on the podium; Gemma Gibbons’ heartbreaking “Love you Mum” moment; Mo crossing the line, arms wide, eyes popping; an exhausted Alistair Brownlee finishing the triathlon at a walk, Union flag draped around his shoulders; super smiley Nicola Adams saying winning the first ever women’s boxing gold has “made my day”; Andy Murray playing out of his skin, burying his demons, lifting his face to the sky in the sweetness of a long awaited victory; Bolt and Farah copying each other's trademark celebrations; the BBC commentators going mental for Mo (special mention: Denise Lewis); Louis Smith's graciousness in being pipped to a gold medal when he'd scored identical points to the winner......

- The firsts. Sarah Attar becoming one of the first two Saudi Arabian women to ever compete at the Games, finishing a distant last in her 800m heat while wearing approximately eight times as many clothes as the other athletes, but receiving a standing ovation from the crowd who warmly cheered her home. Women’s boxing being included for the first time. David Rudisha's amazing world record. The surprise win for Stephen Kiprotich in the men's marathon, the first Ugandan gold medal in 40 years. Bolt's double double, of course, but who could really have doubted it?

- Horse dancing

 - Some proper inspiring role models for our girls and boys. Dedicated hard working individuals who were, for the most part, humble in victory and gracious in defeat. Proper coverage, for once, of women's sport - the refreshing change of women being celebrated in the media for their speed and strength and skill, rather than just for being pretty and thin.

- Silly comments from my husband. Random selection: “What’s Usain Bolt’s real name?” “How long do women’s football matches last?” Daughter shouting "Come on Great Britain" at everybody regardless of nationality.

I've forgotten lots of moments, I'm sure. Others I never saw in the first place. Several made me cry. Sometimes I wondered if I was actually dreaming. But these are some of the things which will stick in my memory. What are yours?

Monday, 19 March 2012

There and back again: D33 race report (My first ultra!)

The D33, an out-and-back course from Duthie Park in Aberdeen to Banchory, along the Deeside Way, and back, was an obvious first ultra choice for me, what with it going more or less past my front door. And while 33 miles is still a terrifying distance, it isn't *as* terrifying as some of the longer ones... Knowing the terrain really well also felt like an advantage, though it might not be for everybody, but I guess I just like the reassurance of knowing what's ahead... It's a pretty flat route, a few undulations but nothing drastic at all, mostly on trail or quiet country roads.

I really wasn't worried about time, my aim was just to complete the distance, 7 miles further than I have ever run before. Preferably without dying at the end. I was hoping to enjoy it, but secretly I wondered how realistic that would be... I fully expected to be suffering a fair bit towards the end. I did have a notional target of 6:30:00, which I thought should be achievable, but I wasn't going to worry too much if I missed it. My plan was to mentally break the distance down into 8-and-a-bit mile sections (i.e. between checkpoints) and not think about the total distance any more than I could help!

As D(33)-Day approached the nerves were building, and by Saturday morning I was just about ready to explode. I was excited, looking forward to giving it a go and to seeing everyone who would be there, but also wondering what on earth I had taken on and whether I would be capable of seeing it through. The morning dawned blue and cloudless, which was not entirely good news as I was worried it would get too hot and I don't do well in the heat! Still, there was no point worrying about that. I ate some porridge, refrained from my usual cup of tea (just in case it might be implicated in the stomach/bladder problems I've had on previous long runs), filled my Camelbak, gathered together all the necessaries and headed off to the Duthie Park for the back of 8 (9am race start). There were loads of people there already and the atmosphere was brilliant. Said hello to all the people I knew (runners and volunteers and supporters), jumped around excitedly for a bit, went to the loo, and before I knew it we were lining up for the start... a race briefing from the RD, George (most of which I couldn't hear as I had made my way to my rightful place at the back), and we were off....

I had my strategy in place - run 25 minutes walk 5 minutes, eat every 45 minutes whether I felt like it or not (I knew this would be important, as in retrospect I have been woefully underfuelled in the past and suffered accordingly), and most of all DON'T RUN TOO FAST AT THE START. Of course it's hard not to as adrenaline takes over and you can be running faster than intended without realising it, but I was determined to keep my pace down and I did, quickly settling into a position near the back as the runners poured out of the park and onto the old railway line where most of the race would take place. I chatted to a few people, including a lady in a yellow top who was just doing half due to foot problems. She went on ahead when I slowed for the first of my planned walk breaks, and a bit further along I noticed a grey pouch lying in the middle of the path, which I was sure I had last seen attached to the lady in the yellow top. So I picked it up and carried it along with me for the next couple of miles until I finally gradually caught her up! Although it was getting a bit warm, I was feeling very comfortable (as one should be in the first few miles of an ultra!), sticking to my plan and keeping my running pace down to around 10:30. I look to be running fast in this picture at about 6 miles in, but I really wasn't!

It was lovely running along the familiar path in such beautiful weather. As it was such a nice day there were quite a few passers-by around, at least in the more populated areas, and quite a few smiled and clapped and said well done, while others looked understandably alarmed at all these dangerous lunatics who had invaded their quiet Saturday morning stroll!

The first 10 miles or so were very comfortable, and the Fetchpoint and quarter-way checkpoint were a huge encouragement, but by 13 I was feeling my legs slightly and it suddenly seemed like a long way to the halfway point! (I tried not to think about the fact that I had 20 miles in total left to run.) Not helped by running out of water! (the downside of the Camelbak - I had no idea how much I had left until suddenly there was no more.) However I got a huge boost when first a trickle and then a flood of runners started coming the other way, on their return leg. I loved seeing all the faster people coming past, and most had a smile and a friendly word. I really enjoyed this aspect of the race, although I was still very happy to see the beautiful halfway point (16.5 miles) and its lovely volunteers appearing mirage-like in front of me!

The halfway point gave me the welcome opportunity to replenish water supplies, eat a jam buttie, babble on deliriously and drop my Nuun tablets all over the ground (I may not have been entirely compos mentis at this point). Then it was back on the road for the homeward leg, always an important moment for me psychologically, knowing I have less distance to run than I have run already and every step is bringing me nearer to the finish. Nevertheless I think this was the toughest section of the race for me, retracing my steps along the route I had just traversed, and it seemed like a very long way to the next aid station at 25 miles. I was running very much on my own for most of this, with nobody in sight in front or behind me. However I had my Talk Ultra podcasts to keep me company and I really don't mind running on my own - I just go off into my own little world! I managed to keep going reasonably well, stuck more or less to my 25/5 run/walk strategy, and even passed a couple of people. I knew the longish "hill" (not much of one, more of a slight uphill gradient, but it felt like one) not long before the three-quarter point would be tough, and it was, but not as bad as I thought. I was also cheered up by the elderly couple walking the other way who encouraged me that "there's a fine wee tuck-shop when you get to the top!". "I know, I'm looking forward to it!" And I was indeed very glad to reach the fine wee tuck-shop a.k.a. the three-quarter point with its lovely helpful volunteers (you know who you are ;-)) who were taking time off from chatting up men and photographing everything in sight to help me refill my Camelbak and feed me biscuits and generally be helpful and supportive. After that it wasn't too far to the road crossing and Fetchpoint - also a very welcome sight, not least because it meant I was really onto my home stretch, the 6 miles I have run so many times before, and I could start thinking I was probably, definitely going to finish...

I was so relieved not to suffer the stomach problems which have plagued me on other long runs from about 20 miles onwards, as this was the main thing I was dreading happening. I think proper fuelling and hydration, as opposed to my usual hit-or-miss approach, definitely helped. I had a strategy planned of taking Shot Bloks/gels every 45 minutes whether I wanted them or not (and I never do) and I was determined to stick to it, and did. I also kept well hydrated thanks to the Camelbak, even if I did run out three miles before the halfway point! I think these factors really helped me to feel much happier and more comfortable than I would have done otherwise, as although I was certainly feeling tired towards the end, I didn't feel any tireder than I would normally feel on a much shorter long run, and managed to keep running most of the time.

With about 2 miles to go, two people on bikes appeared on the horizon and lo and behold, it was Maz and Erin, who I was very happy to see :-) Maz then gave me a bike escort to the finish, which was brilliant and really helped me to keep running for the last 2 miles, as if left to my own devices I probably would have walked a lot of it. I felt like I was running reasonably fast but whenever I looked at my Garmin it was around 11:45 pace! The perceived effort was definitely higher... Not least due to the effort of not colliding with all the people who were out on the path enjoying the sunshine...

As we got near the park we saw a group of 3 brightly dressed runners up ahead and Maz suggested I could possibly pass them :-) I said no way, then thought ah, what the hell, let's go for it, and managed to increase my speed enough to get by. Then we were in the park and I was weaving through the Saturday-afternoon families and children and suddenly I was sprinting (felt like it anyway - probably wasn't!) to the finish line and people were cheering, and my family and friends were there, and George in another epic t-shirt was giving me a hug and a medal and a goody bag, and there were hugs all round and it makes me smile and cry a little bit just thinking about it :-)

All in all I just totally LOVED this race. Yes I had to dig deep a few times, but overall it was not as hard as I thought it would be (as shanksi later, and correctly, pointed out, this clearly meant I wasn't working hard enough :P). But I enjoyed it loads. And hell, I've got to give myself an achievable target for next time - right?!

All the very important statistics:

Total time: 6:24:25
Fastest mile: 10:07
Slowest mile: 16:12 (included five minutes faffing about at aid station)
Total time spent faffing about at aid stations: 15 minutes (approx)
Food consumed:
Shot Bloks - 15 (in batches of 3)
Horrible tasting gels - 2
Jelly beans - several
Custard creams - 1
Jam sandwiches - 1
Hula Hoops - half a packet
Nuun-enhanced water - lots
Flat Coke - a bit
Al fresco toilet stops: 2 (not bad)
Small flying beasties launching themselves into my eyes/nose/mouth: lots
Small flying beasties actually swallowed: several
Excellent medals and goody bags: 1
Organisation: Fantastic
Volunteers: Awesome
Feelgood factor: Priceless!

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Ultra training: the good, the bad, the ugly

The good:

I've managed all the scheduled long runs so far (longest to date: 24 miles. Still to come: 27 miles), and they haven't even been that painful, in fact I have largely enjoyed them. Well, to be fair, during both the 20 and the 24 my legs did start hurting towards the end, but the length of time before that happens seems to be getting longer, which I suppose is the point of training, really. The run 30/walk 5 strategy seems to be working well, my only reservation being that it can be hard to get going again after a 5-minute walk break, especially later on in the run when legs seem to stiffen up as soon as I stop running. I know I'm not going to run 33 miles without stopping, though, so walk breaks have to be had, and the consensus seems to be that taking them from the start is best.

My 24-mile run was lovely, for the most part. I ran along the North Deeside Road, out through Peterculter and onto the largely uncharted (by me) territory of the country roads near Drum Castle, until I got to 12 miles at which point I turned around to run back. Weather was lovely, and although I was running mainly on roads it was quiet and peaceful with hardly any traffic. Took it nice and easy, waving to the occasional cow, with my Garmin set to show time rather than distance or pace, but was surprised on later inspection to find a couple of sub-10 minute miles slotted in quite late in the run. It did all start going a bit pear-shaped from 20 onwards, of which more later, but an overall pace of 11 m/m was quite satisfying. If I can maintain that over 33 miles in the race, I'll be happy - but I know the last few miles (at least) are going to be a struggle.

Also to my surprise, I've suffered from hardly any post-run soreness so far. Legs were a bit achey the evening of the 20 (though not really in a bad way, more in that kind of pleasantly-tired way), but were fine the next day, and even after the 24 there was very little in the way of after-effects. So I must be doing something right.

The bad:

I've been running, which is the main thing, but I haven't really been doing anything else, though I know I should be. I planned on all sorts of cross-training and strength training and core work and all that but to be honest just finding time to fit in the runs is challenging enough. So I've done a *bit* of core stuff, but only a very tiny bit, like this video about twice (though I can't keep up the exercises for as long as you're meant to, mainly because they're murder) and I've also bought the 30 Day Shred DVD which everyone has been going on about, but I haven't actually got as far as taking it out of the wrapper, so big FAIL as far as that's concerned. I will do it, though, I will, I will...

The ugly

was my very sore and achey stomach over the past few miles of my 24 mile run... I haven't figured out a reason for this yet, although it has been suggested that inadequate hydration may have been a factor... Basically I spent the last few miles feeling like I really needed the loo, but actually going to the loo didn't alleviate the feeling at all. Rather worryingly, the symptoms persisted for the rest of the day even when I wasn't running any more. I'm a bit concerned in case this happens in the race... however, I have one more long run planned, a 27 with Rhona , so I'll be able to see how that goes.

27 sounds alarming, being further than I've ever run before and venturing for the first time into ultra territory, but I figure if we've done 24 we can do 27. Will just have to take it slowly and not think too much about the distance!