Celebrating 10 years of running – by starting again

I suddenly realised today that it s round about  10 years since I started running. Not continuously, obviously, have you read my last post?!)

Back in 2008 myself and my family travelled to Alberta, in Canada. We were visiting our very good friends who had emigrated there the year before. We also managed to fit in some skiing (we were in driving dstance of the Rocky mountains – we couldn’t not!)

As with every other time I’ve been skiing, for a few weeks beforehand I made a desperate attempt to gain even a little fitness before I had to encase my feet in the plastic prison of ski boots again. This usually involved very short runs which were swiftly abandoned when my face turned puce and I could no longer breathe.

Our holiday was amazing  It was so good to catch up with our friends again, and the wide, open beautifully groomed pistes were a joy to ski on.

When we returned home and recovered from our jetlag, my husband and myself bth comented on how fit we felt. It was obviously all of the high altitude training we’d been doing. Buoyed up by the rush of oxygen to the head, I decided to pop out for a little trot around the block.

I was amazed. It didn’t feel quite as had as I remembered, I didn’t feel like I was dying, and I actually quite enjoyed it. I started popping out several times a week, making sure I was avoiding neighbours and the bin men as much as possible. I should point out that at this point I was running in a T-shirt and jeans, so as not to look like I was actually running. I had a cheap pair of trainers bought from a high street sports shop, and a pedometer. All the gear!

It was only when a neighbour commented that she’d seen me “dressed so I didn’t look like I was going running” that I realised my cover was blown, comfort would win out over shame, and I bought my first lycra.

Sore knees nearly brought me to a halt, but online advice took me to my local running shop to get some “proper” trainers. I felt like a total fraud, compounded by the fact that I nearly fell off the treadmill (I’d never been on one before) and the assistant had to stand with her arm behind my back to stop me doing it again. Red faced, I left the shop with a large bag of the most expensive shoes I’d ever bought, and life was never the same again.

10 years on, I have lost count of the number of races I’ve run , except for the marathons – there was definitely 3 of those. I’ve been awarded a County award (I might have mentioned that once or twice), and I’ve had weeks when I simply haven’t made it out of the door with running shoes on. I’ve been bought a road bike, and learnt to swim proper front crawl (face in the water and everything!).

I am a runner!

Starting Over

A few months ago I realised that I simply wasn’t getting out running (or cycling, or swimming  for that matter). A combination of bad weather, dark evenings, and simply feeling like I’d had enough by the time I arrived home after a day at work meant that it just wasn’t happening.

I consulted the oracle (A.K.A. my running friends on Facebook) who gave me various ideas of how to fit exercise into my day. They also wisely told me not to beat myself up if I didn’t manage it – life is too short for any extra stress.

Now I may have taken this advice a little too much to heart, to the extent that I rarely seemed to make it out.  The weather warmed up, the days lengthened, but still I found excuses not to run (usually that hungry teenage boy who greeted me as I arrive home with a look that said “Hi Mum, how was your day, what’s for tea and how long will it be?”)

Last weekend I decided that enough was enough. Work is menial but stressful, and I need my exercise as something positive to help my mental health and to feel good about myself. I needed to pull my finger out, give myself a good talking to, and not take any nonsense. Tough self-love!

Duly admonished, over the next week I managed to fit in a swim (600m of gasping and flailing), a cycle (20 miles of whinging and moaning) and a run (4 1/2 miles of gasping, flailing, whinging and moaning.  I’m nothing if not a multi-tasker).

I felt ridiculously stiff after each of these, it was really quite depressing. I suddenly realised it felt like being a beginner again, and there’s no shame in that. I just need to remember to take it slowly, and Keep Going!

End of Janathon 2018

So it suddenly struck me, I never did write up my last two days of Janathon. Seeing as this means I’ve now failed at Janathon I shouldn’t worry about it, but I’ve already failed once and continued on so here goes.

After Slaughterford 9 I was worried my legs wouldn’t be speaking to me. However I managed to keep moving and on both evening completed Janathon by performing “tooth brushing squats ” thus doing my daily exercise whilst demonstrating superb multitasking skills.

Okay, so my last 2 days weren’t as exciting as I might have hoped (and have proved that good things don’t necessarily come to those who wait), but at least I’ve proved I’m a completer/ finisher.

Roll on February!

Janathon Day 29. Slaughterford 9 Race

Slaughterford 9 is a hard off-road race. I’ve run it twice, but as it’s organised by my running club in the last few years I’ve had to volunteer to marshal instead.

This year the race is part of the Wiltshire Off-Road League. The club runners who have run the previous four races in the league this year were allowed to run it, as a very special honour. And to gain points for the club in the Club championship, of course.

We still had to help out, so all of us Harriers racers were out bright and early on car park duty. The weather was cold, it was faintly drizzly, and it was very soggy underfoot. At about quarter past nine we escaped in order to strip our many layers off, collect our race number, assemble for the team photo and to try not to shiver too much.

The race has a mass jog down to the start line, because everyone has to cross the very busy A4 to get there. After shuffling myself towards the back, with very little ceremony we were off. The early part of the race is practically on home turf for me, so I knew exactly where to walk and where to push on. I looked longingly up the footpath which leads 1mile to home, and resolutely followed the racing line.

I don’t want to describe every muddy, sticky, squelchy step of this race, take it as read it was hard. Instead I’ll let the pictures speak a thousand words:-

I finished. I surprised myself, I had genuinely been dreading it. It was my slowest time, but in fairness it was the worst conditions I’ve seen on the course and I was in the worst condition to run it as well.

The best bit (slight exaggeration ) was getting ready for bed and realising I didn’t still have to perform a random exercise whilst cleaning my teeth for Janathon.

Janathon Day 27. Squat!

Day 27. The day before a big race. A day to be spent resting up, hydrating, and eating well. Probably not a day to spent at the annual awards evening at our local cycling club. It had to be done though, as my husband was being presented with a clutch (well, armful) of awards.

I did leave early, and I was the driver so wasn’t drinking, so it wasn’t all bad. Unfortunately I left before the dancing started, so tonight’s activity was toothpaste flavoured squats again.

Janathon Day 22. The swamp

After the ignominy of forgetting Janathon yesterday*, and with an up coming race at the weekend, AND with having a day off, I thought I’d better get myself out for a run.

A lack of enthusiasm, along with a huge list of jobs to do (on my “day off”) meant I decided I just get out for a shorter run, but with some hills in it. Off I set down towards Slaughterford, with the sim of repeating the short but steep hill 3 times. Around a bend I was confronted with a puddle. An enormous puddle. In face, let’s not mince words, it was so large and so brown it was definitely a lake. I cannot tell a lie I did briefly consider turning around, but the effort of thinking of another route seemed worse than the effort of ploughing on through,so ploughing on it was. It was cold, it was muddy, it was over my ankles grimness.

I completed my 3 hill repeat. Yes there was walking, yes there was topping to give directions to a motorist who didn’t trust their satnav, yes there were puzzled looks from the workmen at the bottom who saw me three times, but I did it.

As I headed back towards the swamp, I stopped to take a photograph to prove just how horrible and huge it was. I was heading back through it, right in the middle, just as the bow wave was coming back over my ankles, I saw two other runners come round the corner. They stopped, watched me wading through, then told me they weren’t going through it and they were going to turn around.

“Did you run up that hill?” they asked admiringly. “Oh yes” I modestly replied. “And walked a bit” I honestly added.

“Are you training for Tough Mudder?” they asked.

“Oh no”, I replied. “Much worse – Slaughterford 9”!

Swamp puddle
Swamp puddle

*I know, I know – surely it consumes my every waking moment? It’s totally inconceivable as to how I might have forgotten?!