Tuesday, 31 July 2012

#TR24 2012 - Race Report

After lap 2, still smiling, but for how long?
Such a special event and before last year I had never heard of it - after a last minute substitution I joined a team of 6 other women and together to raced and bonded. After that there was no doubt in my mind I would be back in 2012. I started to scout for a team amongst the Petts Wood Runners immediately ready for registration to open for this years event. Volunteers signed up and we had the 5 required and the team was entered.

As the weekend grew closer we had changes to the team with a few personnel changes. Momentarily we were down to 4 runners but knowing that we needed the full contingent we had first registered my Dad - originally coming along to support - was invited to join us. It was clear where my team and slightly competitive spirit comes from when he promptly agreed and a t-shirt was ordered!

Three of the team arrived on the Friday evening, Myself and Mike suffering from a long long traffic filled journey, only made better when we stopped for an ice cream and a road atlas. By the time we had arrived my Dad had followed instructions, secured us a superb camp HQ and started the set up for our team... Pimp My Stride.

Once the tents were up we headed to race HQ to register, collect t-shirts and watch the Olympics opening ceremony on the big screen near the start line. When we headed back to the tents for a good nights sleep we were subjected to the unwelcome musical styling’s of a cover band or really bad karaoke - we could not determine which but relief was short-lived at the final song played at midnight when they announced their return for Saturday night... noooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

On Saturday morning the rest of the team arrived along with more support and our official catering manager for the weekend, Karien's hubby - without the tea and kebabs we might have never made it through! I also spotted both Anne-Marie and Karen from my team last year getting ready to take on the challenge solo along with Karen's hubby Tim, I was quite envious at this point and a seed was sown.

Before long it was time for the briefing and we made our way to the start line. Soon we lost track of Mike R and panic ensued as we realised we did not have a team photo and as soon as one team member was on the course we wouldn't have another chance until the end..... emergency!!!! We scanned the crowds, I finally found him, reprimanded him accordingly and dragged him to the others for a photo two mins before the gun went off to start the race!

Lap 1 - In the Summertime
I was second up and set up on my first lap in the sweltering heat but determined and excited to get off. The course had changed a little since last year although so much was familiar and I was so enjoying being out in the sunshine and enjoying the woods and the enthusiasm of all the runners and marshals that it was incidental. This was my quickest lap and I knew if I was going to get in more than my 4 last year I would need to rein it in a little so I could keep going.

Lap 2 - Continental Challenge
Most runners were now in their stride and on their first, second or third laps. I chatted amicably to a variety of runners throughout my lap as we fell in and out of pace with one another and shared our stories of what had led us to sign up to this event.

The continental challenge happened upon my lap, oh dear. It was offering a prize to the fastest male and female to run up a rather long steep hill. I gave it my all even though I knew it wouldn't be enough I tried my damnedest!

After my lap I thought I'd better freshen up so headed for the shower blocks. I came out looking for food and as I turned a corner there was my husband... making a surprise visit to support me. What a lovely surprise, we picked up a baked potato after a long potato based saga in the food tent and headed back to camp for a while.

Lap 3 & 4 - Tree hugger and the light brigade
Night time had arrived as I set out on my double at just after midnight. With head torch in place, a spare dangling from my wrist I was impatiently hopping around in the change over area getting chilly. I knew once I started running again I would be fine but right now I was cold! The runners waiting all seemed to have gone a little loopy by this point and we all started heckling when runners came in, nothing bad just mostly shouting 'get naked' the new runner would pass their layers to the runner coming back from their lap or shouting the name of the person who seemed to have failed to show up to run.

The first lap went by with a few stumbles and a little caution but I was hot, too many layers, I knew it! As I passed our camp at just after 9km I detoured and de-layered, grabbed my powerade and carried off on my way along with the other bobbing lights in the darkness. Passing through the start and onto lap two I wondered if I doing the right thing but it was too late now. I was getting pretty tired now, the band had been playing again so I didn't have any sleep prior to the run.

Onto the second lap and I was really feeling the pressure now, my pace had slowed and I was getting nervous. I started chatting to a man whose torch seemed to be dimming and he was on his first of a double lap, I gave him my little spare as it would have been pretty awful in the dark alone, we continued to run together for a while before hitting a hill that I needed to power walk up and he was off. The questions of why started to enter my mind, was this really a sensible thing to be doing... running through the night, hmmm not so sure.

I found a nice running buddy, a lady whose name I will probably never know but we kept each other company. I moved to the side to let a runner pass and went flying through the air and collided with a tree, lucky it was there I think as I would have landed on my face... as it was I stubbed my toes, bumped my arm and felt a bit silly. The other runners stopped and checked I was oaky, reassuring them I was I sent them on their merry way through the woods at night!

Lap 5 - Nectarine Rolling Contest
Like the infamous cheese rolling that takes place... this was of no such scale. Quite simply a solo runner looking exhausted and using sticks went to eat a nectarine from his supplies, it fell in slow motion at the top of a steep and grassy hill. I leapt into action seeing the look on his face that had written on the delectable piece of fruit. I managed to prevent it's tumbling and hand it back to him so he could enjoy it's sweet if slightly dented flesh. He thanked me and I was on my way again... good running Samaritan act number two!

Lap 6 & 7 - Anyone for a double?
As I started my 6th and what was meant to be my final lap I was once again struck by the feeling that maybe I could do this solo and all the tough parts had faded away. I was happily trotting along and chatting to people as I approached the 8km mark I started to think that there was plenty of time for a final lap but I don't think anyone from the team wanted to do it. I hollered words to that effect as I passed the camp and then with their confirmation they were happy for me to continue I set my mind to the task... another double was coming my way!

Just after the 5km mark where the water and sponge station was I took a moment to douse myself once again stating that that was possibley the greatest moment of the last 24hours, feeling that cold water cool me down before the final few miles. I crossed the line for the final time around 12:17pm on Sunday 29th July and I knew I would be back again next year.

The results:
  • The other runners and marshals were so support, this really is an all inclusive event that welcomes everyone from tortoise through hare and everything in between.
  • The team were fantastic in spirit, effort and support of each other.
  • Pimp my Stride came 50 out of 70 Mixed teams of 5
  • We ran 210km in total (21 laps)
  • I ran 70km (7 laps which included 3 singles and 2 doubles)
  • I might just sign up for a solo run next year!

Monday, 30 July 2012

Pimp My Stride #TR24 2012

Pimp My Stride at the beginning!
This weekend was the weekend on the Adidas Thunder Run, a 24hour event that could be run in a team of between 2-8 runners or solo. From PWR we entered a team of 5, through the many changes we still had 5 runners (although only 2 of the original registered) and a late substitute in the shape of my Dad (an honorary PWR for the day, and night).
The event lasts for 24hours and consists of completing multiple laps of a 10km off road, hilly, muddy trail.... it was awesome! Each team member has to do at least 1 lap and there must be someone from the team on the course at all times. 
We finished with 21 laps... 210km between us and it was fantastic. Right now I am still a little tired so a full race report will follow but this is just the jist of things to whet your whistle for the main read.... be warned it could be a long one!

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Do I qualify for a taper?

Now into the 2nd week of the new beginners running group and still at 33 newbies (although I think a few of the faces have changed). I arrived ready for the warm-up, the weather was very warm indeed and I think we even lost a few as they felt it was too hot to run! The session had progressed this week to 4 mins wlaking and 2 mins jogging and the group all seemed to find their own pace the the field spread out to encompass the recreation ground. for about the first hal we were subject to whoops and hollers form the lcoal teens in the park. Funny this is only two days into the school holidays and they hear a whistle and they want to react... I could hear them challeneging each other to different distances each time the whistle blew - now whoever said kids of today are lazy!
The session ended and I joined up in Group 3 with the rest of the Thunder Run team (Mike, Emma, Karien) as we started to talk logistics and tactics for the weekend. Then cam the question of a taper... did I qualitfy, did any of us? although the distance we will cover will be around if not more than the distance of a marathon it isn;t all in one go and the event is not the sort we will be racing hard but more about endurnace... hmmm did my recent mileage qualify for a taper this week. I think If I am honest it does not, I am prepared and excited I have done multiple runs on one day but maybe not quite the mileage I had hoped for so maybe I will have a little leg freshening run on Thursday and then rest for the big day on Saturday.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Work communte (this time my own)

After running with Kate on her work commute last week I thought why the hey not, if I can run to someone else's work, I can certainly run to my own and that is exactly what I did. I packed light having sometime ago stocked up my work draw with wash bag and towels (Plus emergency work clothing) and headed out into a lovely sunny morning.
Trotting happily along I noticed once again the strange running style inflicted on those running with a back back as my arms flailed in my shadow. I made it up to the top of Summer Hill, a nice little achivement as I don't often run that way anymore and kept going along towards Bromley. Soon enough I was getting work work, hot, sweaty but happy and satisfied with my achievement. I cooled off a little before taking a shower and proceeding with my day.
The return home was not so smooth, the temp had soared to around 28 degrees and the sun was blazing down on me making me very hot indeed. My back pack, perfectly comforatble this morning was now hurting a little and it felt as though my shoulders were bruised - not pleasant at all. A few times I needed to slow to a walk in this incredible heat - I don't know how people who run in this heat all the time do it. By the time I had reached home I had only run 1 of the 4 mile route which was better than I thought so I rewarded myself with a mini twister and then set about reaxing for the evening!

Friday, 20 July 2012

Unfamiliar boomerang

We were on route to a wedding and it seemed a sensible idea to break the journey up and get some quality friend time by stopping off and staying overnight with some pals in Nottingham. A massive advantage to this, in addition to the fantastic home-made lasagne and rhubarb crumble is that my good friend Kate is also a runner! I had sent text a few minutes away advising her to choose between putting the kettle on or her kit.... we arriving and the rain was lashing down, shortly afterwards her husband arrived back having cycled home and look like he has been washed up on the beach after a pretty terrible storm which seemed to have turned his shorts back to front! We opted for the kettle and thought we would run the next morning.
The plan was simple, I would run with Kate to work and then return to start to get ready for the wedding. Kate forewarned me that running with a backpack makes her running style a little odd - she was not wrong, her arms seem to poke outwards like some meathead at the gym who is all roided up! Along the route Kate was quick to point out any tricky areas where I might get lost or miss the turning on the way back luckily we have some good landmarks like the start of the Nottingham Half, the Games Workshop head office, a church a big red cow to name a few. We arrived at Kate's swish workplace after 3.5 miles where I had a quick nosey around... very swish and she even has her picture on the wall now! We were offered complimentary fruit, I declined and headed back out the door to retrace my steps. I made it back without a wrong turn and forcing the commuters of Nottingham to say hello to me as I trotted cheerfully along wishing them good morning!
If only Kate and I lived closer, very pleasant commute that would be each day.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012

seems like a good idea

Why oh why do I choose to run to club... this is all well and good but I never want to run home again afterwards and certainly not after a beginners group, followed by a group run meaning I would have been on my feet for something like two and a half hours before I even start for home. Silly silly sillly Liz!
On the plus side, this was the first week of the new beginners group, and what a group it was... 33 participants rocked up to try out their legs and they all did great. Many had come from recommendation from our first batch of completer's and a couple were coming back after not managing the whole course last time but so encouraging to see all their eager faces as we began with our first session.
As we bid farewell to the beginners it was time for group runs and it was great to see some of the aforementioned completer's joining the club to run further than they had before. I went out with group 3 but the run was not easy as we negotiated the mud and roots in the woods taking in a practise run of the mob match route. On arrival back at HQ I waited to see how my beginners had got on, I spotted Allan come sprinting across the field at the end utterly thrilled with himself, really makes me proud.

Monday, 16 July 2012

Treadmill torture

Fear has struck, the Thunder Run is less than two weeks away and I have not run for 3 days... my back has been in such ridiculous pain I haven't known what to do with myself. But a combination of hot/cold compresses and enforced rest seems to have eased the pain.
The plan therefore was to try and run again today, but to hit the gym and stick to the treadmill instead so that should the pain return or my back give me any gip I could just press stop and retire defeated!

I started running, it was incredibly hot, I choose my treadmill poorly as I wasn't near any air vents. To my left a lady walk/running and to my right another lady who seemed to be keeping a good pace and going for a 5km run. I set the workout for hills at a middle difficulty rating of 10 (this soon dropped!) and my pace something that seemed sustainable for a hilly workout.

Overlooking the pool I tried not to watch the details too much and instead observe the swimming lessons taking place, I was most impressed when the students had to balance a beaker on their forehead whilst doing back stroke!

Soon the lady to my left departed and to my right left and was replaced with a very slow walker playing solitaire on the treadmill screen as I sweated and huffed and puffed next to her. My body temp must be dangerously high by now and I'm sure I could have friend an egg on my skin! Soon enough I had completed 10km of treadmill hills - killer!

I broke for refreshment, water and lucozade then back to the treadmill, selecting more carefully this time and changing the view to the gymnastics taking place in the sports hall. This time I stuck to a fairly flat run and pumped out another 5km. That was enough. I was hot, my clothes were soaked but at least I had finally got a bit of distance in my legs and my back seemed not to be rebelling so far!

Thursday, 12 July 2012

Three times a charm

My other hobby...
When I signed up again to run the Thunder Run 24hour challenge I decided this year I would tailor my training carefully and ensure that one aspect that needed to be included would be multiple laps in one day. So far this is not something I have really managed. I won't bore my readers with the reasons or indeed excuses but know that today I bucked the trend and carefully broke my day up with 3 runs (interspersed with approx. 3.5 hour breaks).
Lap 1: My back was sore but the sun was bright even if the ground was soft and muddy. the route I chose that I falt most replicated one I would be running in a few short weeks time was around Scadbury Park Nature reserve. Including getting there from my front door it is a lap of 3.5miles. A good distance I felt for my planned multi running. This first lap was pre breakfast but alraedy very warm and I was soon flushed and sweating as I nodded to early morning dog walkers and tried to escape school kids causing mischief to remain unscathed by their smart comments - maybe it was too early for shoing off?!

Lap 2: This one immediately felt easier, the ground had firmed up somewhat since the first lap and they paths were quiet as now everyone was at work or school. I pounded the trails and enjoyed the sun as it broke through the leaves but the sahde was more welcommed after a longer exposed stretch under the bright sun. I arrived back having knocked around 2 mins off my first lap time and a bit more satisfied with my off-road efforts.

Lap 3: The final of my planned laps and with 7 miles already in the bank I felt as though I should be feeling a little more wearly than I was. Again I set off strong knowing that this would be an improvement on Lap 1 and maybe even lap 2 but less than a mile in it is easy to be so ambitious. Towards my final mile the rain started to gently fall cooling me off a little in the humid conditions. I reached home a little faster than 2 and made it indoors just before the heavens opened. All good runs but my back was started to feel off again... let's hope I haven't made it worse.

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Beginners take it all

Pre Run Tweet: looking forward to Bromley parkrun with the Petts Wood Runners beginners group this morning! Eight weeks of hard work and they are ready to fly!

On the morning of 7th July 2012 the completers of my first beginners group gathered in Norman Park. Slightly nervous at this their first event but I was confident that they were all ready to run the entire 5km course and cross that finish line with smiles on their faces. This was after all what we had promised them merely 8 weeks ago when they first joined us and begin their journey to become runners.

Flitting between some runners on the course myself and fellow coach Mike managed to run substantial amounts of the course with each of the runners. It was fantastic, nobody walked, they all had their family and friends to cheer them on in this massive achievement and afterwards whilst enjoying a cuppa and some of the famous homemade cakes they were discussing their next runs and joining the club. What a great success!

Post run Tweet: So proud of my runners this morning.