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!

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Just keep going

All the good intentions in the world can not make a group 4 runner I discovered last night with the running club. After the semi-disasterous race on Sunday I figured as I hadn't run flat out it would make sense to go for round 2 in Group 4 as I hadn't depleted all my reserves. I was feeling pretty confident but soon it was evidient that I wasn't ready. the space between me and the group widened with sweep Emma loyally sticking with me and encouraging me all the way.
It doesn't stop the feeling you get a s a group pulls away and leaves you struggling to keep them in sight. Dissappointed in myself I was, I really should be able to do this. The group were great and spot on pace but tonight I just didn't have it in me no matter how hard I pushed... the plus side though is that I did manage to run the entire incline of Old Hill without walking or stopping at all.
What have I learnt? Nothing, something, who knows... it seems that inconsistency is inherent in a runners body or at least this runners body. So from now on post race Tuesday I should drop down a group.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Too hot to handle

Today was too hot to run, it was too hot for an easy run, it was too hot for a hard run and it was most certainly too hot for a grand prix event that started at 10.45am and was 10miles long.
I spent much of yesterday wondering what is wrong with me that I was preparing to take myself down along with about 15 other crazy PWR's to Sittingbourne to run in the 10mile road race. I had run the course before two years ago so knew what to expect... quiet country lanes, lots of hills, the last two miles were pretty much all downhill though - result.   

As the horn sounded, we were off on a circuit round the sports field, the first couple of miles felt pretty comfortable and I was going at a decent pace despite the 29 degree heat. Then as I was approaching 3 miles I started to feel light-headed and a little nauseous. I stepped into the shade my a farm house and dry heaved for a while, at which point Richard came trotting past (remarkably spritely for someone still holding the best part of 3 bottles of red in his system from last night!) asking if I needed help, martyr that I am and most other runners are I, waved him on. Shortly afterwards Emma G passed me by as well. 
A worried looking marshall approached me (Richard had given him the heads up) and let me have some water after which I was on my way again. I started now into a tough few miles of walk/run before I got to the water station, rehydrated and set off again at a decent pace. Before long my legs were ceasing up, probably from the many stop starts. After mile 5 I tried to convince myself it was a new race and that 5 is an easy distance. This didn't work, then I began hallucinating that Emma D was shouting at me to pump my arms and keep going... I could do this.
A bike marshall, my knight is shining hi-vis arrived alongside me and offered me water which I gladly accepted, this was not to be the last I saw of my water mule and saviour!Not long before mile 8 I spotted Mark walking with a struggling Sittingbourne Strider, I walked with them for a while before finding y pace again and setting off for the final stretch.
The bike marshal appeared again and checked that I was okay, I nodded that I was good. I saw several runners started to zig zag across the road and soon realised some kind local had put their sprinkler on for us... amazing and very refreshing!
Knowing that a pb was lost a long time ago I still wanted to get my average pace down just a little more and managed to keep going, as I rounded the last corner back into the sports field I was faced with many cheering PWRs and I spotted Emma G up ahead, I confirmed it was her and dug deep to try and catch her. As I caught her up I said hello and then the lady just ahead started pulling away from us, it was too much to resist, I sucked it up and put in all I had and pipped her to the line, proud of my strong finish!
We waited for the remaining runners and then shared some homemade coconut chews before heading back home. I was exhausted and pretty much fell straight asleep.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Barefoot beginner

Disclaimer: not my feet!
Today was week 3 of the PWR beginners running group, I decided to tag along and support but I had an ulterior motive!
My vibram five-finger bikila's have been waiting patiently now for weeks to be tested out... I initially wanted to get the Robin Hood half out of the way before I begin my transition into the barefoot running community and also having start to read 'Born to Run' I am even more inspired.
The beginners group seemed a great place to start, knowing that the terrain would be fairly easy going - a grassy field, and that the distance would be manageable - under 3 miles of walk/run combo. 
So I arrived early, coaxed my toes into their own individual toe holes... with a bit of persuasion required for my little toe which seems to be a bit dependant on its neighbour and unwilling to be separated. I found myself running on the forefront much more than I usually would and tending not to heel strike at all, I have been quite heavy footed in the past so hoping this doesn't cause too much grief to start with. After the sub 3 mile run, I could feel my calves had been working a little harder than usual but all in all I felt good, my feet didn't hurt and I'm willing to keep trying.... little by little!