Saturday, 31 December 2011

My Year of Running - 2011

Total Miles Run = 1,008.7

Races Run =  22 
(including 6 Parkruns)

Number of PB's = 4 
(5km, 5m, 10km and Half Marathon)

Favourite bit of kit = Garmin Forerunner 305 

Favourite Event = Thunder Run 24hr Relay

Most miles in one pair of shoes = 537 miles 
(Brooks Vapour 9)

Toenails Lost = 2

And I would run 1,000 miles and I would run 1,000 more

Today nothing else mattered, I had 2.5 miles left to run and that is what I would be doing, but I would not be doing this alone. This was too big for me to start celebrating in the street alone and jumping up and down whooping with joy while passers by shielded their children from me and averted their gaze - I needed companions and I knew exactly where to find them.
Today is New Years Eve and in anticipation of some hangovers tomorrow the weekend long run had been moved to this morning, with a shorter, and later run planned for tomorrow. 
I arrived at the meeting point early, keen and with a tin of my famous family Christmas cake - made by few but loved by many! There were six others running today, I couldn't keep my eyes off my Garmin as the distance gradually added up, I was getting close and before we knew it I was there, 1,000 miles! There was no fanfare but my fellow runners congratulated me, James gave me a good pat on the back and as is the way we continued along our route. James said I didn't have to work hard now because anything else was just for enjoyment! It came at the right time as we had reached the woods and went for a lovely jaunt (me lagging slightly behind) through woods and trails, through High Elms Golf Course. As we reached more built up areas I saw the unmistakable gait of a fellow PWR runner Dave B and immediately I felt it necessary to stop him to tell him of my 1,000 miles achievement, he hugged me and wished me well for the New Year and we were off again!

We returned to our meeting point, by which stage I was once again full of beans and soon Christmas cake as well. The rumour was out and I was joined by another  PWR, not running that morning but keen to share the joy of my achievement (and more likely the cake).
Next stop was Emma's where we had a cuppa, delighted in my mileage once again and ate the remaining cake. Her very sweet daughter also rewarded me with a lovely painting she had done by way of congratulations too!
Now I am home, not yet deflated and running a bath in which to soak off the 11 miles that took me comfortably over the 1,000 mile threshold this morning. A great run with great company and a great end to my year of running! 

Thursday, 29 December 2011

Tortoise and lots of Hares

This time the fable did not come true with the tortoise winning the day. The first of the weekly track sessions I hope to complete over the next 16 weeks as I approach the London Marathon was tonight. There was a good turnout with 11 runners, plus Jerry who was doing some pacing work (only 3 seconds out he was chuffed to bits!).
The track training session was not so easy, not that I would expect it to be, we did a good warm-up and then 3 sets of 1600m with 1 minute recoveries. As I approached the final lap left of my first mile both Grant and John overtook me - oh woe to be lapped so early on. 
I had chosen my pace, I was sticking with it, I am nothing if not consistent, just a shame that tonight I felt consistently slow. At some point jerry changed direction and hollered good encouragement at us as he passed by in the opposite direction. My thoughts remained with keeping my pace steady and counting down the miles left to hit 1,000. 
During my final lap (all the others had finished but were still shouting encouragement to me) I had a moment where I really felt like crying, being ill earlier this month has maybe rested my legs but it has certainly been no good for my stamina, it will return I know it will as I get deeper into my training schedule my legs will start to feel normal again.
I finally finished and as we cooled down and stretched the question that stuck in my mind was do I stay on the track until it is done or go home ready to run another day, I have two days left after all. My decision was to go for the James Bond finish, lets cut it fine!

Are we nearly there yet?

So I know some of you are waiting with baited breath and others may have seen my updated running log and know that tonight was not the night to hit 1,000, however with a mere 2.5miles to go it should be as easy as 1,2,3 (see what I did there!).

The final countdown...

... that's right I am a mere 8.3 miles away from achieving my goal of running 1000 miles during 2011.
There was a time when such a goal would be an outlandish and crazy thought for one such as myself, to even start running was achievement enough for me. This year as the miles clocked up I knew it was possible, I entered November well ahead of schedule and if I continued as planned I would reach the magical (maybe to me only ) number well ahead of the end of the year.
Then disaster struck, I got a cold, followed by a virus, then a nasty cough and lost my voice.... the days were slipping away and with them my chance of reaching my goal. I soldiered on trying to stay positive and hoping somehow 3 weeks off would give me a boost rather than set me back. I have been running steadily for nearly two weeks now and although my fitness has suffered the miles are slowly creeping towards the 1,000 mark. On Tuesday I tagged some distance to the start and finish of the club run and now I am left with 8.3miles with today, tomorrow and Saturday to complete. It can be done, I know it can.
Tonight I will be joining others from PWR for the first week of track training to get us prepped for our 2012 running challenges, the Spring marathon for many of us. With warm up and reps the overall distance covered has been advertised at about 6-7miles... it will take me within spitting distance... will it be tonight with two days to spare? We shall see soon enough.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Running Fuel Super Booster!

Yesterday was the first day of my Christmas break where I woke up in my own bed, without a house full of guests and was able to spend the morning just chilling out. Today I am back in the office.
So I considered going for a run in the morning but instead I settled for catching up with the sky+ planner and eating some delicious (even if I do say so myself) homemade Christmas cake, with bubble and squeak for lunch....yummmy! For those of you that are unaware:
"Bubble and squeak is a traditional English dish made with the shallow-fried leftover vegetables from a roast dinner. The main ingredients are potato and cabbage, but carrots, peas, brussels sprouts, and other vegetables can be added."
In the evening I arrived earlier for running club and had time for a chat as Jerry played, spot the shiny Christmas gifts, jumpers, trainers, jackets, GPS watches galore! It was a pretty good turnout with around 40 runners showing for the post Christmas extravagance run to get the weight loss off to a flying start. Peter led the group and after about 4 miles decided we should do some fartleks, great idea until he started shouting behind me, first frightening me then sending me into fits of laughter. But the lesson I learnt today - and one that should not surprise me - is that eating a brussel sprout heavy lunch and running is doable quite safely, doing fartleks after a brussel sprout heavy lunch, well.... the name says it all.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

All I want for Christmas is a PB

Christmas morning and the alarm sounds, I can already hear my mum pootling about downstairs and my brother stirring next door. I get ready quickly and start prep work on the turkey, stuffing and creating a rather beautiful streaky bacon lattice on the top. We arrived at Norman park to join the other parkrunners (125 in total) and lined up at the start. It was nice to see lots of familiar faces and several PWRs flying the flag - Richard in a Santa suit!
Based on our times earlier in the week I offered to pace my brother at 9min/miles which he readily accepted. Little did I know he had his own goal of hitting a PB and getting sub-27 mins for his second ever parkrun (or indeed timed event). My pacing as ever was like a metronome, although slightly faster than I had advertised at around 8:50min/mile. 
Throughout my brother was asking for time checks and pace checks but was holding out well, valiantly he he told me to go faster if I wanted to... but I declined, it was Christmas Day and I was sticking with my big brother!
We could see our mum at various points on the course, and if in doubt we saw her high-viz glove waving manically at us!
As we entered the last half mile, I learned that my brothers target had been for a sub-27 minute and he was asking if it was still possible, I gradually upped the pace and as we hit the final stretch on the concrete I let him loose to sprint to the finish. He crossed the line in 26:37 (exactly 7 minutes faster than his time last Christmas Day) and proceeded to fling himself to the muddy floor, exhausted but very happy!
I crossed about 25 seconds behind - I do not have the capacity or the leg length to sprint like my 6"4' brother! We scanned our barcodes and went back to the finish line to cheer on our Mum as she approached the finish.
What a fantastic start to Christmas Day and now hopefully a secured tradition for all of us - the question is can we get hubby to join us next year!

Twas the night before Christmas...

...and we had been in the car for about 4 hours returning from up t'north. Although in all honesty I had napped for the majority of the journey - saving my energy for the feast I would be cooking on Christmas Day!
Looking at my running log the target of 1,000 seems both attainable and unattainable. I do not want to risk myself by pushing too hard for the next week to reach my goal but at the same time it is so close I can almost tough it. A longer run (well longer than the 3miles I have been running since being poorly) was in order, I had no route planned but just the goal to reach between 6 and 8 miles.... I arrived at my front door after 6.8, perfectly acceptable. 
The run left me with under 20miles to complete by New Years Eve and also the boost I needed to get cracking on some veg peeling and cake decorating.

Nice one Bruva!

As we approached Christmas my brother arrived from Belgium, aware that I was planning to make a tradition of running at Parkrun on Christmas day we decided to take an outing into the locals woods for a lap and to make sure he was able to run for 5km. As a frequent gym goer my brother is fairly fit although running does not feature heavily in his routine, his usual to run about 2-3km on a treadmill at the end of a workout. Something I was about to change.
We woke early on Thursday morning, donned our running kit and set off, chatting and reminiscing all the way around Scadbury on a lovely morning we passed walkers, joggers, runners, one tough looking fella who was doing hill reps up the hill for which I had chosen the opposite direction so we only had to descend!  
My brother did well, running just shy of 3.5miles and up and down the hills with no complaints... now for a little recovery before I put him through his paces at Parkrun. 

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Hello Liz!

I set off this morning a little later than planned with with intentions of running around 7-8 miles. Still a little below par I was concerned that I could even make this distance but you don't know until you try and I could always walk if necessary.
It was pretty cold when I left the house so I was glad for my hat and jacket, but still missing both pairs of running gloves....doh!
After planning a pretty boring road based route I detoured almost immediately into Scadbury Park - if anything could keep me going it is running in the woods, so much nicer than pounding the tarmac. I found a comfortable pace after a couple of miles and was pretty much in my own world with the occasional dog walker crossing my path. Then before I knew if about 20 runners were coming towards me... the PWR Sunday morning group... hello Liz they all chimed as I passed their masses! I look forward to getting out with them again soon but for the moment I am happy to be better and out running again... maybe the 1,000 miles in 2011 is still just within reach.

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

...and my friends say I am organised!

My plan was simple, I would work late, get changed and head straight to running club so that no wind, rain, cold or cosy sofa could stop me from running tonight.
Arriving early I found everyone was huddled together indoors to avoid the freezing cold, with no gloves I was started to doubt my decision and my thoughts drifted to a warm living room, fleecy blanket, cup of tea and a cat purring on my lap!
Before long we were ushered outside for the announcements, group 1...fine.... then "Group 2 will be led tonight by Liz"
Well the shock on my face must have said it all, I had forgotten to plan a route.... I confirmed how far and what pace and confidently agreed that is indeed what I would be doing (but no specifics as to where that would take place).
With a small group of 5 (the only ones who seemed confident I could do this) we set off on our magical mystery tour! The group therefore was very friendly and I was pleased to find two of the runners had graduated the latest PWR beginners group in November so it was great to see them doing so well with big smiles on their faces.
Trying to keep the route fairly flat as requested we ran the quieter roads of Petts Wood, taking in some rather fantastical Christmas lights and heading down towards Orpington only pausing for the occasional road crossing. A small short sharp hill made us all work a little harder less than a mile before the end. We arrived back at the meeting point a little early with both pace and distance absolutely spot on... who needs to plan when you have the internal geography of a Petts Wood Runner! 

Monday, 12 December 2011

Maidstone Turkey Run 2011 - Simple Pleasures

Have you missed me? For almost 3 weeks I have barely been able to run, thanks to a variety of symptoms that have been hitting hard and fast and with a slight overlap which has prevented me from doing anything other than grumble about not running.
Yesterday was the annual Maidstone Turkey Run, a 6.5 mile race on country roads and through muddy fields and tracks. I was my first real attempt to run following my multi-sickness and as I lined up at the start in a light December drizzle I was sure I had made a mistake and should be tucked up in bed 'recovering' so I didn't make myself worse again. The event was packed with PWRs as this was the last Grand Prix event of the year, so with over 20 of us running I found a very friendly welcome when I arrived.
The race started and so did I, I decided to get round was enough for me and after tales of knee deep mud I was sure I may be able to walk a little at least without too much shame. The first few miles I found a struggle as I seemed unable to find my pace, I tried to keep my self going by following a man whom I shall name 'cake-head' (quite simply he had a Christmas Cake Hat on). As time passed he pulled away from me, I though I could catch him as I upped my pace and overtook a reindeer with his head tucked under his arm.
Now around 4 miles in I was on a very tricky, slippery, mud and slime laden path so following the lead of a lady in front I scrambled around the edges through some thickets. At the end of the trouble area we fell into pace with one another and started chatting, Lorna - my new found friend - it seems runs this race with her sister each year and usually beats her but was suffering a hangover and the leftovers of a cold like myself. We stuck together and our pace picked up gradually. As we approached the finish - both flagging - we bolstered each other on and begin to pick off those in front of us one by one managing a decent pace for the last half mile and crossing the line together... and a few people behind Lorna's sister.
I crossed the line much happier than the at the start, simply pleased to have run, pleased to have finished, pleased to have found a nice new running pal and then later, pleased to have won a prize in the post-race Christmas raffle! Good times!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

Mo running

Today was day one return to running after a 5 day enforced rest thanks to a mean old cold taking over my head and filling me with snot all week. A special training session was being held as part of the Kent London Athletics Network (of which Petts Wood Runners are now a part) by experienced endurance running coach Neville . 
I prepared by volunteering at parkrun in my stick on moustache in a Movember special - extra special because the attendance record was broken with 292 runners!
We arrived for the special training and set off on a warm-up run. this was followed by 10mins at a 5km pace, 5 x 3mins at a 3k pace although I'm not sure I was maintaining that one, it was getting tough. Maybe special training is not the best idea after a week of cold. We finished with some 30second sprints and headed back to the clubhouse for a talk about training. This would have been much better had the room not have been like a freezer but cups of tea and a couple of party rings did the trick to cheer me up! 
I have a feeling my legs will be sore tomorrow.

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Fog and Chips in Brighton

I signed up to this race so long ago that I got number 60... uh oh.... luckily I was not confused with an elite athlete! 
As I departed my friends place I was immediately submerged in rolling fog making it difficult to see the road ahead, it continued like this on and off for the journey through to Brighton. A near miss was had when a car nearly pulled out in front of me but luckily my brum was lit up and he spotted me in time. 
I arrived early and got a great parking spot just a short walk from the start line. After a few toilet breaks and a catch up with a variety of PWR's I made my way optimistically to the 50min point. Last year I has got my PB on this course and have since beaten it during the summer. I wasn't feeling race ready today, my body was just in a world of its own and not a super fit and fast world.
The first mile went well with a good fast pace and feeling comfortable, due to the hairpins on the course I was able to see lots of PWRs so I offered my encouragement with shouts and clapping as the speedy ones passed me by. By the halfway point my pace was dropping ever so slightly. By the time I got to around 5 miles I started to feel quite queasy and despite trying to dig deep my pace had begun to slow. Doing some quick maths I knew I would be hard pushed to break 50mins but I did what I could and came in at 50:26 so despite everything a pretty good performance and a third 10k at this sort of pace does signal a sort of consistency now rather than a fluke! Lets hope I can continue like this. 
After the race we reconvened and went down onto Brighton pier for fish, chips and mushy peas, well deserved although probably more calories than we burned!

John Travolta and the magic toadstools

Saturday morning and I went with my Mum to walk/run a route a route for her walking group next Saturday. The car park we had planned to start from was blocked off so we went to Saint Hill Manor. As we parked up I was reliably informed that this was the HQ for Scientology and that everyone was welcome - oh good but at least it was free parking. we set off on the circular route and before long my Mum shared with me a recent celebrity based local happening. So it goes, one of John Travolta's peoplel from the Scientolgy HQ called up KFC and tried to reserve a table for him and some friends as he was away on a conference/event and fancied some finger lickin' goodness. Not even dubious that this could be a crank call, the Colonels finest told them that they would have to queue up like everyone else as they don't book tables, whoever they are! so it seems that JT and his crew went to a cafe up the road - it is unclear whether he ordered the chicken. 
The next part of the run was slightly less celebrity based and a bit more magic toadstool like. It seems that all sorts of wild mushrooms and toadstools were popping up all along this lovely, trail based run. The most spectacular finding was a cluster of red toadstools, they almost didn't look real but they most certainly were. Bounding through the woods, toadstools everywhere, when a horse trotted over to us I almost expected it to start talking to me... instead it saw that I had no food for it and made a swift exit!

Friday, 18 November 2011

Faster than a car

So for the second Friday on the trot I replaced my Thursday evening run with a pre-work easy run in the morning. I started on the roads and as I ran up the A20 overtaking traffic I noticed that some drivers were deliberately driving at the pace I was running (I guess there is not much else to do when the traffic keeps backing up). This then made me more wary of my speed as I tried to beat them along
Old Perry Street
towards Chislehurst. I was winning overall I reckon but it was getting a bit silly!
I decided to detour into Scadbury to escape the traffic (before the traffic started to clear too much) and relax my pace a little. Much better, the ground was damp but firm and the trees were golden with their leaves scattered on the ground. Surprisingly I didn't see another soul in the woods, not even a dog walker which surprised me on such a lovely morning. Lovely way to start the day.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

Technique application

Tuesday night runs are never the easiest after a race on Sunday, this week was no exception although as we ascended hill after hill I felt fairly strong and was able to maintain a good consistent pace. I tried to put into practise some of the techniques I had learned at the track on Saturday, so I pumped my arms and focussed on breathing out and who knows if it helped or not but I suspect it did especially on those hills. 
It feels rather odd trying to change things about my running and to focus so much and things like my breathing or the movement of my arms but I'm sure soon enough it will become second nature to me if it works.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Swanley XC Race (5 Miles)

With an 11am start and a race so local an early morning was not required (except to be up and eat my porridge 3 hours pre-race). I was collected by John and Hannah and we set off to Swanley ready to run in the latest PWR grand prix event. I was expecting a pretty tough and muddy race today and following the track session yesterday it was anybody's guess as to how my legs might behave themselves. I had sort of given myself the target of 9min/miles for the course knowing that it would be tough and ultimately I wasn't far off (well a minute under). 
The race started after a 2minute silence for Remembrance Sunday and it was immediately tough with a quickly narrowing route and a huge number of runners still clustered together. After the first lap the field had thinned somewhat but this seemed to make little difference as we entered the woods and a single file trail, my pace soon dropped to over 11min/miles as the runners jammed up and no space for overtaking. I took the opportunity to catch my breath and prepare for the next opening when I could step it up. Before long we were out into open ground again and I was able to pick up my pace. Despite the course feeling tough I tried to concentrate on breathing out and pumping my arms as we had been practising yesterday at the track. It started to work and managed to pass a few runners, gradually increasing my speed again. It was great to see support around the course and as there were a few double backs I spotted several other PWRs and tried to shout encouragement as they did to me too. The second lap through the woods the field had thinned sufficiently that I could maintain a decent pace and emerged pretty shot with a little over a mile to go still. breathe out, pump arms, breathe out, pump arms I continued and then I could see the finish, I wasn't sure how close anyone was behind me but they wouldn't pass me now. I dug deep for the sprint finish, made it over the line and promptly started to heave, it was done, and so was I.
I didn't have much time to chat with the other PWRs as I had to shoot off pretty sharpish but glad I went along and great to have so many familiar faces and support around the course and running - feels good to be part of the club. 

Breathing, stride length and pump those arms

Saturday morning was our bi-weekly Petts Wood Runners track training session. This week led by super coach Peter B. With 10 of us turning out we were ready to run, following Peter with some techniques to improve our speed.

The new techniques we practised were in summary: 
1. Work on breathing out.
2. Working on using your arms to drive your legs remember, forwards and back and not across the body.
3. Extending the stride at the end of a race.
Sometimes it is hard to pinpoint something that is improving your speed but as we added these techniques we ran 400m timed laps, I managed to knock 10 seconds off the first lap time when adding the new techniques so I was pretty pleased and will do as advised and start trying to bring them into my other runs during the week. Hopefully in two weeks when we are back at the track I may even know a few seconds off my 1km timed run.
The track sessions are so good, I really feel the benefits and as a few of us discussed many of us hadn't run on a tracks since we were at school. In my case I think that was perhaps a one off at the Don valley Stadium (Sheffield) when it first opened so it still feels a bit special and it makes you want to perform. For £3.50 and improved times I am certainly not complaining! 

Anyone got jumper cables?

And so begins the first in a little round up of the last few days, on Friday morning I was up and out early doors for an easy run. This included checking out what was going on at 'The Bridge' (which incidentally has it's own twitter page now)... mostly lots of workmen getting ready to start for the day. A good 5 mile circuit at a decent pace. I was pretty pleased and hoped that after a tiring week this would give me the boost I needed to get me through Friday - a kick start to my system, it seemed to work although by 6pm I had well and truly flagged and was looking forward to getting home and chilling out!

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Keeping regular

For the first time in almost a month (for a variety of reasons) I made it back out with Petts Wood Runners tonight, and so glad I did, it was definitely what I needed. Whilst I have been out and about running in the meantime, Tuesday have just been a bit tricky of late.
Arriving early - I was pessimistic about the bridge closure and allowed far too much time for the alternate route - I had a little time for my recruitment drive for next years Thunder Run 24 hour relay. There is now a team of 5 from Petts Wood and I will get the entry off this week. The event isn't until next Summer but I am pretty excited already!
I was unsure whether to drop down a group after my poor run on Sunday but I decided to stick with my regular group and was glad I did. About half way through I dropped to the rear to catch up with the sweep and a couple of others. having a lovely chatter - mostly myself and Chris T - we trotted away the miles without really noticing them as they clocked up. I did feel sorry for one point for Ruth, sandwiched between two chatty northerners for so long, but it must have kept her going if only to get to the end and away from our incessant jibber jabber!
Great run tonight and I must try and make sure to get along more often on a Tuesday night, it really is good to run with the club and have a natter.

Monday, 7 November 2011

8 mile

Yesterday morning I sort of realised that whilst I have been doing regular long runs they have been of a different sort which has meant a bit of stop starting and not so much of a continuous long run. So I decided to go for a nice 8 miler and lose myself into a bit of distance running, long enough for a long run but not too long if I struggled and struggled I did.
Less than a mile in and my legs felt like they had syrup running through the veins it was tough going and my route included a long slog uphill from just over 1 mile to 3 miles into the run. I decided to change my route slightly to try and inspire myself and my legs from stopping, still on an incline but just a different route I hadn't run before. I made it to the top of the hill and with only a momentary walk break as I slowed to cross a road I managed to keep going for the full 8 miles. When I returned home I saw that my pace was pretty good for a long run but it had felt tough. It's strange how a sometimes a pace can feel so natural and another day it feels so much slower and more painful but looking at the numbers it could be exactly the same.
Today I woke with aching calves and to be honest I was more than a little disappointed with myself. This run shouldn’t have beaten me but I feel as though it might have done as I certainly didn't feel satisfied when I had finished.

Saturday, 5 November 2011

Lucky Number 7

This morning I was back at the Petts Wood Runners beginners running group, after being volunteered to lead one of the groups in their first outings from Willet Rec into the roads of Petts Wood I decided to arrive early to test out my route.... tasking with a 2.5 miles route to lead I measured this perfectly taking in some gradual inclines, flats and a couple of good downhills.
Just before 9am the runners began to assemble, ready for the group warm up and dynamic stretching led by Emma and Richard. Then we spilt into 3 smaller groups to walk 1min, run 9 mins (and repeat). I was paired with Mike R to take out a group and off we went.. but much to my dismay not on the planned route I had tested this morning! Instead we headed towards Jubilee Park over the railway bridge with the 1 minute walking coming a just the right time for most so we could walk over the bridge without disrupting our plan. The runners are progressing really well, now 7 weeks into the plan and with only one more training week before the 5k parkrun to end the course. I look forward to seeing them all achieve their first 5km run.

Friday, 4 November 2011

Getting the cross back into training

Not sure where the week has gone... cannot believe it's Friday already. I have managed 2 swims, 2 treadmill runs, a bit of gym work and a body pump class between Tuesday and Thursday so I think today will be a day of rest. That and the fact that it has been raining for about the last 24hours at a ridiculous level and I don't fancy running in it after work.
Running on the treadmill is (as I have probably mentioned before) great for pacing or intervals but using for a hilly workout was pretty tough. In normal conditions when running up a hill you would naturally slow your pace a little as you go up but on the treadmill the pace remains the same - pretty tough! Still I gave it a good go and got through the session doing my warm up on the cross trainer and cool down a 10km cycle on the exercise bikes. Just trying to shake things up a bit, as marathon season is fast approaching I have remembered how much my speed and endurance benefitted from cross training last year so I am making a conscious effort to keep up with these activities.
So far I am managing 2-3 swims per week, mostly doing about 1km in breast stroke. Throwing in the odd length of my questionable front crawl. The next step is to reintroduce regular classes, at the moment I am trying to get Body pump back into my routine and then when that’s settled I intend to go back to pump.
On top of that I am hoping to get my mileage to average about 25 miles per week as I reach Christmas to put me in good stead for the increased mileage that a Spring marathon requires. Wish me luck!

Sunday, 30 October 2011

What does the First Lady do in the woods at night?

Well you'll be pleased to hear that unlike bears, the First Lady did not sh*t in the woods this evening! And before any confusion strikes I am not talking about Mrs Obama but myself, the official First Lady of Jerry's night runs... the first Lady of the Night.... wait that can't be right either.

Start of the Night Run
The meeting point was 8pm in Shoreham car park, it was already dark and we'd seen many a trick or treater out and about as we departed Orpington. There were 8 of us in total with an arrangement to meet Richard at a slightly later point a couple of miles into the run.
Leaving the car park, it seemed like the men had (and I'm sure it was coincidental) a protective circle around me, I'm sure this is what the real first lady would have should she go out for a run, a bunch a security types surrounding her as she ran although perhaps not all in high vis with torches on their foreheads. This slight feeling of celebrity status to the running style made me feel more confident about the run. I knew these guys wouldn't leave me behind.
Jerry [pointed to some fireworks that seemed miles away and declared that's where we're going. It always seems impossible but we always make it!

Halfway Point and Pub Break
A mix of Orpies and PWRs we wound our way through fields, over styles, past the sleeping 'Badgers' in the field and on towards our first stop at about 5 miles. The pub that time forgot...'Rising Sun' in Kemsing. From the outside a lovely picturesque country pub. On the inside a peculiar murky cave like dwelling for two odd horders , with a parrot and kittens for sales (all of them pure black no doubt). We bought out drinks, no doubt doubling their takings for the month, we chatted and stared at our surroundings in awe and bemusement. Before we left I though a trip to the 'LOOS' as is order, I walked through the bar which then seemed to turn into a living room where a 'hills have eyes' type man was watching a 14" very fuzzy TV which I had just walked in front of. Lucky I had my head torch on as there were no lights or switches anywhere, I made it back alive to the others. I noticed on the bar a notepad with all their takings written down, Wednesday's taking were poor at under £9 with 3 drinks served - how do they stay open. It may the pub that not only time but the tax man and health inspectors forgot!

The Return Journey
After leaving the pub I started to feel a little queasy, seemingly the landlady with may have slipped me some witches brew before we departed. after about a mile or so into the true I dropped behind and was a little bit poorly sick in the bushes. I caught back up with the group and Jerry instructed everyone to take it easy - having a lady along is not all its cracked up to be. Feeling a little better and getting up some pace on the downhills I started to improve, this didn't last for long as we reached Otford I was feeling iffy again. We said good bye to Richard and then the group were hotfooting it back to Shoreham before last orders. Duncan then became my personal saviour as I soldiered on as he stuck with me offering me fruit pastilles intermittently. We had a slighlty scary moment as a bunch of cows started running frantically in a field as one got spooked by us, then leapt on another which was laying down then they all started galloping (as cows are known for). Duncan reassured me they weren't coming in our direction but it was enough f0r me to put in a momentary sprint towards the next style.

Last Orders
We made it to Shoreham and with puppy dog eyes they all looked at me and said if you are feeling poorly we don't have to go to the pub we could go straight back. It was time to man up, so off to the pub we went. As we entered a girl spotted Duncan's Petts Wood Runners vest and declared that she too was from Petts Wood! We all had a drink and lots of crisps before heading home. We passed crazy Orpie Brian as he ran back home again (making his run this evening at least a marathon distance!
Jerry dropped me home just before midnight avoiding the fatal pumpkin transformation and I was soon sparko. What a great night, lets hope I can make the next one without being ill - maybe I should avoid taking poisoned apples from wizened old ladies?!

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Jelly legs and skeletons

Not running makes me feel sad. After a visit to the hospital on Tuesday to have a tooth removed I have been feeling sick as a dog for most of the week. After the extraction the dentist said 'no sports for 3 days' I was gobsmacked.... for a tooth, really? this couldn't be right. But sure enough 3 days later and I still felt like I'd been punched in the face and pretty sick most of the time. By Friday I was clawing at the walls to get out if only I could hold down the nausea for long enough. Still, my running fix for these days of enforced rest has been coming in the form of my reading, presently it is the story of Ghost Runner, John Tarrant.
Today is Saturday and I had agreed to go to Bromley Parkrun with my mum today and though this would be as good a test as any to see if I was up to running again... it also coincided with a track training sessions with PWR at Norman Track. My thoughts were I should not just turn up and start running hard at the track so I had to do Bromley Parkrun first as a test really. It was do both or none at all, or potentially just do Parkrun and go home (like I would do that!).
I ran very evenly paced as ever, tried not to push to hard but just focussed on  getting round, feeling comfortable which I did and the time wasn't too bad either. The run today was Halloween themed with lots of pumpkins marking the route and some great costumes as ever - the team at Bromley really do put the effort in! After a drink, some chat and a gingerbread skeleton we made our way over to the track.
Track training led by Mark this week and was tough as ever with the 1km time trial, and various, pyramids and intervals. I thought about dropping out a couple of times as my legs felt like jelly and I worried I may just tumble over at one stage unable to keep going, then before I knew it the session was over and we were being put through our stretches... at one point I think we must have looked like a hippy commune waving our arms and swaying from side to side. Arrived back home feeling good and had a lovely scrambled egg brunch!
Now to rest before tonight's night run!

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Villains in the Sun (& some poetry)

Over the hills and far away, 
As Jerry leads us along the North Downs Way!
He can't be stopped with his constant chatter, 
As we follow along... pitter patter!
For me and Duncan, we'd have it no other way, because with Jerry we will stay!

I was mildly surprised this morning as I turned into Willet Rec at 7am to meet Jerry and Duncan to find Jerry a little less than his usual enthusiastic self. I on the other hand was bouncing off the walls firstly at being on time and secondly the prospect of getting out to run in the countryside.
We departed an drove in convoy to Shoreham where we parked up and headed out towards the North Downs Way. Passed through a farm and along well trodden paths we stopped intermittently to look at the solar system, reaching Otford we detoured into a sports field to look at the Sun (and the rest of the Solar system). Staring directly into the sun as you are not meant to do we took a photo which strangely reminded me of Superman 2 where the villains are trapped in a prism and floating in space - are me, Jerry and Duncan super villains encapsulated in the Otford sun?
Before long we were heading up the long slog just past the train station - our only option was to walk here as it is so steep. On the next gate was a sign - Beware Bull in Field - which immediately struck fear to the core of me, which soon dissipated as there was no field in sight and merely some badger tracks (maybe).
Onwards and upwards the next major viewpoint took us to a cross on the hill where we could overlook the valley. Jerry was hugely and quite rightly pleased with himself for having us arrive here at precisely 5 miles on his Garmin, perfect route planning!
5 miles - perfect planning
We returned mostly on the same route out although on route stopped by another runner who introduced himself as a lone ultra runner, at which Jerry perked up and declared "me too" which was perhaps somewhat unbelievable as he had emerged onto the road with myself and Duncan on his heels!
We strolled back towards the field containing bull, further along the road as they compared races and found they were both going to be at a race together soon. We left this runner knowing the best way to locate Jerry is by his shorts!
This time around the bull was in the field and right by the gate, slightly nerving for me as there were also young calves in the field. About halfway across Duncan put on a burst of speed and shouted, "run the Bull's coming!" Fearful and with my heart in my throat I turned to see the bull was still happily grazing at the other side of the field. 
Some miles more and we reached our start point, where we stretched, ate bananas and drank nesquick before me and Duncan headed back and Jerry set off for round 2.
As always a fantastic and pressure free way to spend a Sunday morning, a vague distance in mind, lots of random local facts and good company. I look forward to the next one already - which as Jerry would agree will be in the future!

Saturday, 22 October 2011

Racing to the start line

Bromley Parkrun #111
I awoke early (arm still hurting) and turned over for a short snooze, little did I realise that I had pressed stop and not snooze. I woke again at 8.30am and immediately jumped into action - I would normally be getting in the car at this time to go to parkrun. I dressed, fed the cats, brushed my teeth and downed a slimfast before running to the car - nearly forgetting my house keys in the process.
Disaster, the windscreen was covered in frost... back out again and gave it a quick scrape, time now at 8.46am, should I pack it in and just run locally. Spilt second decision made, I leapt back in and hot footed it down to Norman Park. dashboard clock said 8.59am as I pulled up. Parking pretty badly I made a dash to the start line (and noticed two late comers sauntering up the path with no sense of urgency - pah!). I got to the start line as Martin started his announcements and then started us off. I made it!
It was a beautiful October morning. Johnny Gill was pacing for a 25 minute finish so I decided to try and stick with him, about half way around I crept ahead - but only because mentally I find it easier to keep pushing if I feel I am being chased than to chase someone down. Not a great strategy but it keeps me moving. In the home straight, Johnny and his squad started sprinted and I couldn't keep it up, I did manage a sprint finish but came in about 5 seconds behind them.
It was a wonder I even made it to Bromley Parkrun this morning but I'm glad | did, my arm hurts buit at least my legs still work.
Bromley results for event #111. Your time was 24:30

Congratulations on completing your 13th parkrun and your 12th at Bromley today. You finished in 103rd place and were the 18th lady out of a field of 245 parkrunners and you came 3rd in your age category SW30-34. 

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Time to man up!

After days of grumbling every time I moved, following a tough track session on Saturday and my return to Body Pump on Monday evening I finally decide it was time to man up and get back out for a run.
You could argue I was being sensible, listening to my body but after 3 days without a run I get the inevitable guilt and agitation associated with missed runs.
I laid my kit out before hitting the sack last night, which I knew from experience would give me one less opportunity to bail.
Out of my warm bed I struggled into the cold morning air and got into my kit, grabbed a drink and walked out the front door… seconds later I was back to pick up another top (long sleeved this time) and a pair of gloves and out I went again.
My sources tell me it was 1 degree outside, brrrrrrrr it felt like it! After about 1.5 miles the gloves came off and almost the long sleeves too but then I thought better of it.
Taking the run at an easy pace I returned home after a circuit of just under 5 miles, legs felt good but the muscles across my chest and in my arms were still sore. Looks good for a decent run at the weekend, thank goodness I have a weeks break before the next track session!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Pump and slump!

Yesterday I made my brave return to Body Pump after a 2month+ break.
At first it felt good and I was managing my weights well, taking it a little easy on the squats (nothing worse than not being able to left the weight back over my head - this has happened several times before).
By round two of arms they were shaking and struggling to keep up with the reps but holding strong I battled through.
The members of this class seem a little different to my last class (at a different gym) where it seemed to have a clique going on and quite male dominated - competing for the heaviest weight. I'd argue, not really the point of pump.
By the end of the hour I was both relived and pleased with myself, I'll definitely be back and I know it will get easier. It was tough but I found it easier than I thought I would after such a long break. When I got home I ceremoniously slumped into the sofa with a big bowl of pasta.
Just need to get back into the routine of going once a week to supplement the running - sure it helps my speed!

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Track & Trail Double Header

Round 1: Saturday morning started early when the cats woke me, I managed to get back to sleep for a while before heading over to Norman Track for special training led by Peter B. I arrived by the skin of my teeth at 10am to find the track filled with young 'uns so no need to worry and a few minutes to shoot the breeze while they packed up and moved on.
With 12 of us in attendance it was the perfect number for a series of sprints, intervals, group relays and the timed 1km (my first of these). Peter was very organised with his wipe clean clip board (for those that know me, you will understand my jealousy of this - please add to Christmas list!). By 11.30am we were stretching, while Paul quipped mercilessly unable to control his mischievous tongue - for which I can't complain as it's very entertaining and draws out the cheeky in me too!
Got hope and made a lovely Chocana cake for a visit to some friends later in the day.
Round 2:
Arrived at my friends house at around 4pm and already in kit and ready to run again. We headed out - the first time for her in a while due to an injury - for a take it easy trail run. It was a beautiful day to be running on the South Downs with plenty of lovely views to behold along the way.

NB: It is now Sunday evening and my legs ache... I think it was the track session but it goes to show how hard I worked! Ready for more in two weeks time - hopefully I will have recovered by then...

Friday, 14 October 2011

Sweaty Betty: Like Father like Daughter

Every so often running on the treadmill seems like a brilliant idea, which gnerally it can be if only I wasn't so used to running outdoors with a nice natural breeze. Running inside just makes me sweat!
The treadmill is fantastic for pacing yourself, for speed work and interval training but can become a little boring if you are just running so my limit (newly set this morning) is 5 miles.
The first half was easier as I had someone on the treadmill next to me which made me not want to give up as the sweat dripped into my eyes - where does it all come from?
During a previous gym session my Mum looked over at me and stated very matter of factly that 'all this sweating doesn't come from her'! So looks like my Dad may be to blame for my sweaty disposition... this makes sense as generally eating a hot meal can set off a dampening of his brow. Or perhaps its just that we both work really hard... maybe?

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Trotting along without a care in the world

Yesterday was a long day in the office, when I got home I was mentally drained and had missed running club and was too hungry to go out and run first so I made the sensible choice to eat and get an early night. I set my alarm to but up early so I could run in the morning instead, laying out my kit in preperation.
I had a vague route in mind and decided to run without checking my garmin for my stats but just to enjoy the run instead... this lasted for almost two miles when I looked down and was in fact pretty disappointed as I thought I had gone further but then strangely (the inner metronome again) I only looked every mile, exactly 1 mile between glances - and before you say it I don't have the volume on so I wasn't given an audio heads up to check.
I trotted along happily in my own world and listening to music - another unusual trait for me - and just kept going, now aware of distance but I removed pacing from my screen.
I arrived at my front door bang on 8 miles and checked my pace, 9:13 min/miles which I was please with as it had felt quite a comfortable pace. I was also please to have got a long run in finally, the last proper long run has to be the Nottingham Half over a month ago (can't really count my stop start at the Sittingbourne 10).
I am generally of the view that when going for a run you should have a traget in mind, whether it be time or distance and for me it is usually a combination of both. But there is a lot to be said for just getting out and going for a run. Today's run was a good run.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Bin Bag Lady

It has taken me all weekend to find my mojo for running. Usually I would run both Saturday and Sunday, early morning runs or maybe parkrun or the beginners group but this weekend I just couldn't drag myself out. Not sure why it was so tough, maybe it was my body telling me to have a break. Even after marshaling at today's Petts Wood 10k race I still came straight home and had a nap rather than a run despite being in my kit.
But finally I found it, my mojo was back and I hit the streets before I lost it again. I soon found my pace a had a lovely steady run, in fact I was considering adding on a few miles to take it up to about 8 or 9 but I decided it was getting late so I'd better head home.
As I rounded the corner I saw a bin had been tipped out all over the road, metal bin inner as well with bags all over the place... I hesitated for merely a second before crossing over to deal with this potential hazzard (excuse me while I polish my halo). I placed the bin back together and popped all the nasty bags into it feeling once again lucky that I have no sense of smell as it looked rancid. Soon some scallys came down the road, I suspect they may have been the ones to tip the bins by their semi-sheepish / semi-cocky behaviour. I ignored them and set back off towards home, at which point a car and a van seemed to get into a drag race down the road, had the bin still been there next call would have probably been an ambulance. Lucky I'm in the world to pick up the rubbish that others leave! 

Guest Blogger: Woody the Gorilla @ Petts Wood 10k

Today's blog features a special guest blogger in the form of Petts Wood Runners mascot, Woody the Gorilla!
An early start this morning for me out with the marshal's at the Petts Wood annual 10k race, I dragged myself from my tree and made my way down to Race HQ in Willet Rec. A pretty warm day for October and a little hotter than I like, generally I prefer the shade of the trees in Petts Wood and Jubilee Park.
The families and kids were very friendly, I was slightly hurt that some children seemed terrified of my appearance but luckily most of them seemed to love me and enjoyed lots of cuddles, tickles and running around.
After the main race started I headed over to watch the young 'uns line up for the kids races - the first year to do this and was lucky enough to get a cuddle from Children's race Director Emma. I handed out the chocolate medals to all the finishers and those kids were quick so lets hope we see them in the future as new additions to Petts Wood Runners.
Soon the runners started coming through the finish line where I was on hand to share out my banana's, I must admit I ate a few as I went along but this is only to be expected, I am a gorilla after all!
One little girl in a spotty jumper kept coming over to cuddle me which was very sweet so I shared a banana with her too. A group of runners I recall from previous years came over for their traditional photo with me - I look forward to seeing them every year! 
Looking forward to next years race already, what a great day out - normally I am quite shy - but for the Petts Wood 10k I will always make an exception!

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Peas in a Pod

Last night my mum popped over, I got the call when she was 15 minutes away saying there was to be no hanging around, she was in her running kit and ready to run!
On arrival we laced up our runners and hit the streets. We choose a route that stuck to well lit main roads and had a nice flat stretch couple will a few inclines. The pacing was very consistent which impressed me, maybe this is where I get my metronome like attributes!? 
Although my mum used to run years ago she has only taken it up again over the last year. Partially so that she is able to join in some of my many dull running conversation and also I think because she loves medals as much as I do!
We completed 3.5 miles with no stops and a well paced run, all in all in was lovely until... we approached home and passed a local youth club some kids were running up and down the road except for two who were ominously close leaning up against some railings. As we approached the boys shuffled away and seemed to be tucking his... ahem... back into his trousers and zipping up his fly. The girl then proceeded to run behind us trying to provoke a reaction which she didn't get but clearly running has a bigger draw than giving some kid a hand job on the street! The youth of today, humph!