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!