Sunday, 29 September 2013

Sweet Sixteen

Sometime in the week I had sent a message to Jerry, a 14-16 mile run was required at a slow pace and an early start. He answered promptly as ever saying he was up for it and would start planning a route. A few days later a message appeared on my facebook page stating the following:

"Liz, Sunday's run involves llamas, sandpits and moaning parishioners! It will be an out and back to guarantee mileage but will be tough but gently paced. Coach Maisy has instructed me to get you on the trails with hills in prep for BHM."

The first mile was purely downhill and knowing that the route of the day would be an out and back this would not be fun on the return journey! From the advertised run, there certainly were sandpits and parishioners but no sign of the llamas, I must ask Jerry about that. But we did have copious amounts of cows and a bull all within the first few miles. Imagine my alarm when the first field we approached had a sign stating, DON'T RUN, JUST WALK - BULL. Holy Cow, this was not the sort of field I would approach alone

The field was full of cows and you could not see the Bull but who knew if he was out there. I wasn't going to risk running and setting off a stampeded so I sort of speed walk through the field, the cows scattering left and right as we passed through. There was much relief to reach the other side.

Then came the cornfield before we crossed a bridge over the M25 just near Clacket Lane Services - traffic looked pretty good considering the road works.We soon moved on from Jerry's ramblings on an IT program and we had moved onto ice cream, an ice-cream submarine and the apples from his garden, delighted I was to find I could get a fresh supply of cooking apples - an autumn of Apple Pie, Crumble, Cake, Tart and pork chops with apple sauce awaits.

There were several other runners out and about, a couple of maniacs driving on the road, one of who came speeding towards us with his car door open, shut it and gave us the thumbs up...nice one bruvva! We crossed the paths of many longer routes like the London to Brighton trail race, The Vanguard Way and the Green Sands Marathon. The route was very hilly but as advised by Coach Maisy this would all come in handy as part of my training for the Beachy Head Marathon next month.  

I have mentioned before and I will say it again, my favourite runs are those on the trails, and especially when led by my good running buddy Jerry. I feel no pressure when running with Jerry as we trot along, chatting away, laughing and conspiring, always keeping moving but walking if we must. He is full of local knowledge and routes so that every run is different and definitely a new experience.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Motherly Motivation

Some days a run seems like the hardest thing you could possibly do, even as an experienced runner and even one who enjoys it so much. This morning was one of those mornings. I had had less sleep than I would normally require following a festival/staff party which left me a little worse for wear come morning time. I had in anticipation only packed sports kit for the morning so that it would guilt me into running should I have an inclination to just head home and get back into bed. 
So laying in bed, I wasn't sure this would be enough. I needed a commitment and some motivation. I texted 'The Mother' - did she fancy cycling along by my side along the Forest Way whilst I tried to get in about 14 miles. She was keen for a distraction herself I think as the prospect of painted a fence loomed heavy over her. I gave her my eta and immediately felt I'd better get my act together and head for some breakfast pre-run.
It was a muggy day, very humid and running was not comfortable. However, the added bonus of my cycling support crew spurred me on and together we made it to the turnaround point passing many other runners, cyclists and dog walkers making the most of this Sunday September morn without the threat of rain.
About 9 miles into the run I had begun to struggle, the heat was getting too much and I was starting to feel dehydrated the last few miles would be tough. I had a walk break which seemed to help and put some strength back into my legs. The Mother encouraging me along the way and as we chatted and caught up on the latest news in our lives the run soon came to an end at a respectable 12 miles.
I hopped back in my car leaving The Mother to cycle the remaining mile to the house while I drove - after having a big drink of water! We had a lovely homemade soup for lunch and then I headed home again. 
Much need motivation was provided today as without that support I may have given up long before the 12 mile mark.

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Zombie Field & Old Friends

Question: There are 4 runners wanting a long run, Jerry wants to do 20 miles, Robert 16 miles, Liz 12 miles and Emma 10 miles. How could they do this?

Answer: Let Jerry just tell us what to do, we trust him to take care of business!

The preamble to the run began like this and was supported by a 20 message thread on Facebook which attempted to solve a quandary not dissimilar to that of a 1940s math book. 

I met Jerry at my allotted time and place (in fact 3 minutes early) and we headed through Jerry's secret path through Petts Woods and onto a path with a steep edge where we encountered an overly excited and high dog who was determined to bound along with us and perhaps wanted to flee his owners and join us for the rest of the run, apparently still a pup but huge and wolf like all the same. This path would later become known to us and forever more as Wolf Ravine. 

Meet up point 2 where both Emma and Rob would meet us having come separately  one by foot, one by car all part of the mathematical and geographical equation Jerry had devised to ensure everyone hit their mileage targets and we headed off on pavement and trail towards High Elms. Not dissimilar to my recent run at Eridge Jerry is prone to naming routes and runs, sometimes I delight in coming up with such a route naming as each has its very own story that sits being it just begging to be told to future runners on the route.

Mouse Alley (AKA Flying Squirrel Alley) - named for the dead mouse that was found along the alleyway but can also been know as Flying Squirrel Alley as often the trees rattle with overhead flying rodents much to the alarm of runners passing through this narrow channel. We emerged with no mice and just one squirrel sighting today and headed out towards an open field, as we emerged though the gate and looked across the wide expanse there were figures dotted around in the mist and without the dogs this could well have been the start so the field was named the only thing we could rightly name it, Zombie Field.

The out of the out and back completed we passed through Zombie Field once again but the herd seemed to have moved on and the danger had passed for now. that was until leaping from the bushes a cat flew out ninja style, promptly fluffed up and departed again giving us all, particularly Jerry who was in front quite a surprise. 

Almost back at the departure points for Rob and Emma we each got a bit soppy stating just how lovely it had been. But it was. I was a great run, lovely route, great company and catching up with some faces from the club I hadn't seen and certainly hadn't run with in far too long. Must not leave it that long again I miss my running buddies... Sunday long runs are making a comeback in my life! 

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Tempo & Kettlebells

So with my new found mojo, and the anticipation of a late notice entry to a marathon - only 7 weeks away I was determined to get straight into my training plan and start building up my miles and working sensibly towards a goal for the first time this year. (not that I haven't had goals but have been unable to train as I normally would thanks to the dreaded whiplash).

I arrived early to the gym for my personal training session and proceeded to get in a 5km tempo run - key run in all training plans, not to be omitted - thanks #xempoday for reminding me! Running hard for longer than I had for a while felt great, I was pleased with my pace and to get the blood flowing.

By the time Emma arrived for our session the sweat was pooring off me but I was feeling amazing. Today's session was to be a full hours kettlebell work out. In a slight state of being zoned out I looked around the room and started to wonder which gym equipment would be the best in a Zombie attack (I am getting dangerously obsessed with the The Walking Dead). I thought it best to open up with question and we thought a Kettlebell with be good in close quarters as you could do a good skull crushing swing but with a handle for a grip.

It was very tough but amazing, for the last part we pumped up the music and as I felt that strange quiver in my top lip as the reps became tougher and tougher I knew I would be sore tomorrow!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Salomons circuits

New job and a new running buddy for me, after a long day in the office we headed out in the light drizzle to run a circuit of the perimeter of the grounds of the Salomons Estate. parts of the route were known but we opted to take the lesser known tracks as we departed to test the mettle of my new found running prodigy.

Lap 1 was good and cutting some corners and taking in a pretty steep old hill we have gone just over a mile with a few walk breaks. The second lap we knew what was coming and progressed further up the hill this time with a more measure pace and working on uphill running techniques. 

Two miles was a good start point, my new friend is strong, willing and I reckon I'll have her signed up to a race in no time!!!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Race Report: Eridge 10 - September 2013

Yesterday I attended the Xempo Performance Day, getting back the remainder of my mental running mojo. Last night I received a text from my trainer and friend, Emma... would I be running the Eridge 10 mile cross country tomorrow. 

No preparation. No target. No pace monitoring. No sunglasses (I left them in the car). I said Yes.

The horror stories ensued very wuickly from fellow runners and the familar Orpies, including Dave B who assured me my shoes would be sucked from my feet in the boggy mud, the hills were so steep they were near vertical and that never to get impatient, wait for the easy root or you may be lost forever! Hmmm, could this have been a mistake? As we lined up to start the race starter reminded us that it was indeed 10 miles and not 10k and then off we went. 

Apart from being cross-country which I find altogether, much nicer to run, more interesting and less pressure on times I was glad to have made the effort especially when I discovered that parts of the route had names which were signposted throughout which only increased my enjoyment. The first lake we ran past was just beautiful, bathed in sunlight the water glistened and I knew I would enjoy today regardless of time, speed or pace. I had opted not to use my garmin but just to run to how I felt. After a couple of miles and when I was starting to gasp from the hills we reached Heavenly Hill, some water beforehand and then off we went downwards and ever downwards (possible about a mile) gradually picking off few runners - this would change later as I am much stronger on a downhill then uphill (this seems an obvious thing to say but it is surprising how many runners can be very hesitant on the downhill stretch).

A couple of miles on, through open fields and sheltered woodland we passed through a gate where a marshall called out 45th lady to me... oooh that was interesting and kept me entertained for some time as I eeked my way to 39th and then a massive hill saw me fall to about 50th where I stopped concentrating and had no idea of my placement. Kept my mind busy though! We ran onwards... running where we could and walking where necessary, up to Coronation Clump and the to Watership Up all the time with great encouragement from all the very friendly marshals. 

Some rather worrying signs came up soon enough, the Leap of Death and the Tomb of the unknown Harrier were a little concerning to say the least. More hills accosted us the weary runners 'before the long (and we mean long!) climb to the delightful 'damsel-in distress' tower at Saxonbury 659 (the highest point of the race)'. Where we were delighted to see another water station and jelly sweets to give us some extra umph! 

Up and down we went for the meaning 4 miles, up up up and a very steep up before some meandering down through a wood lined gully. Onwards and ever onwards, by now I was wondering about my time, with no great concern just interested to know. soon eneough there was a sign for 400m and then 200m and then the finish line was in sight, my fellow PWRs called my name and shouting encouragement as I put in what was left and ran across the line to where beer and cake awaited me. Declined a pint after the race I grabbed some coffee cake and went to congratualte the rest of the team and get a picture with them. 

Great news followed later that day when we discovered that our ladies had come 3rd in the team placings!! Hooray!!

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Xempo Performance Day 2013 #xempoday

Congratulations, you and Jacqueline are in!!! As soon as the email entered my inbox with those words in the subject line I was over the moon. Some weeks ago I had nominated my second cousin Jacqueline in the 'Hype A Runner' competition being run by Xempo. At the time I was unaware that should she get one of the winning slots that I too would get to participate in the prize - a Performance Day so double delight ensured when our place was secured and a huge thank you once again to everyone who voted for us.

It seems to create some level of embarrassment for Jacqui when reading my words so I will refrain from publishing them with the blog but needless to say I felt she was a very worthy winner as someone who came to running late and has embraced it for the same reasons that I love it.

We arrived very early and chatted in the car park for a while before going into the athletics centre, very nice it was too with an indoor and outdoor track. Signing in we were handed out goody bags, selected our new socks by size, a coconut water and heading over to collect our t-shirts. Once again, super delighted to fit in the orange category for sub 1:55 half marathoners as I love some bright kit so orange will be great for the winter. We had out pics taken, chatted to some other runners and then settled in our seats to hear the guest speakers. 

First up some of the nominators and nominees of the competition stood up and told their stories, all of which had an abundance of inspiration, admiration and emotion. It was so great to hear these stories of selflessness and determination from so many. Running, although a solo sport has brought together so many in friendship it is truly very inspiring. I could feel myself getting drawn back into the love of running and was determined I would be back on track and up to speed soon enough.

Then we were hit with words of wisdom and heaps of useful advice from experienced and world renowned (I think) coach Nick Anderson follwed by Scott Mitchell, Physiotherapist at his public speaking debut - the nerves were evident but he broke through the other side to give us some really useful information re training and avoiding injury.

Running hero - Steve Way
The delightful and highly entertaining Steve Way told us his story from overweight, 40 a day smoker, to amazing 2:19 marathon runner who has worn the GB vest. Although brooding and moody on his picture in the backdrop, he was such an effervescent character with a big childlike grin on his face throughout the day. He is making the step change into ultra running and I think he may well be my new running hero. Following Steve - possible a hard act to follow-  was Paul Martelletti, with a similar story to Steve. A man who lived hard and had little idea of his running ability who went on to run a 2:16 marathon... awesome!

We had a break for lunch where there were cheese rolls or geek that I am took a quinoa salad. Later in the afternoon we went out and hit the track while Nick and Scott took us through some mobilisation exercises and stretched before some running drills. Great to see that both Paul and Steve were also learning from the session and goodness knows what they could do with more work on technique when they are such strong runners already... the mind boggles.

We left the day, fully motivated, full of information and I was excited to get out and run and getting back to a plan I felt I could now stick to. A huge thank you to the organisers who were great, the day went off without a hitch and was a great prize. 
A short video has been put together of the day and can be seen here. A nice write up can also be found on the Xempo website blog page.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Looking for my running mojo...

Since January and my back injury I have been so frustrated wanting to run and not being able. I had worked hard to strengthen my core to support and speed up my recovery. So whilst doing exercise it has been hugely restricted and am still suffering. The worst being that I stopped wanting to run because it caused such discomfort. Gradually it came back but I am still wary of overdoing it.  

After an intensive week of exercise last week where I attended a 3 day fitness bootcamp in the Cotswolds, then followed this with the Great Swim London (1 mile open water). I seemed to have rediscovered my running mojo or at least some of it. For the first time in weeks I was in fact excited to come home and get into my kit. So much so that I couldn't wait for running club at 8pm instead opting to run when I returned from work.

In, changed and out running, the way it used to be and where I wanted to get back to. Mentally I was ready to run but knowing what my body had gone through and the heat I opted for a shorter run taking in the woods for some shade.

The first mile my legs were leaden, not an unusual feeling for me these days as I do take a while to loosen up and get moving. By mile 2 my legs were improving but I was hot, really really hot. Grateful I had filled the water bottles on my running 'utility' belt despite the length of the run. Entering the woods I was much happier as the trees afforded me some shade, trotting away I saw many dog walkers and another couple of runners. A lovely evening for a run and glad I seem to be collected up my running mojo - it may not be fully back but there was certainly a big lump of it picked up in the woods of Scadbury. Over the next week or two I hope to up my running again and gather up the rest of the mojo.