Slaughterford 9 January 29th 2012

I had been dreading this race for weeks, ever since I entered it in fact. I had wussed out of entering it for the past 2 years, and in December 2011 decided this was the year I would do it. It is, after all, the closest race to my home. In fact I regularly run part of the route of the race as one of my ‘short’ routes. 
So why so scared? 
Well, this race has a formidable reputation. Just beyond where I live is a very steep valley which I avoid when I run because its just too steep. And muddy. And I’m sure wild animals live out there. In fact the stretch of the route that I run is the track where I was attacked by a ‘psycho pheasant’ last year. Proof! The route of the race goes right down to the bottom of the valley, back up part way, even further down then practically vertically up to the finish. An uphill finish – how cruel! In between all these hills the route is mostly off-road, which at this time of year means lots of mud. Oh, and the 100 metres along the over-knee-height By Brook is, erm, refreshing to say the least.
So, it was with very mixed feelings I arrived at race HQ, and parked in a muddy field, with the temperature at 1C and gazed around at the fog. Not so much of the view-admiring to day then!

See – I did make it there – and I have a rather cool race number to show for it!

The race went as I’d expected. My family had cycled from home and cheered me on around 2 miles, complete with my hat which I’d inadvertently left at home, but which I no longer felt the need for. At about 3 miles we ran through Slaughterford itself, and on seeing my friend who lives there I managed to drop off my gloves as amazingly even my hands were warm by that point. After that, the hills started. My trail shoes were rubbish – I slipped and slithered up (and down) the muddy hills (although to be fair – everyone else was as well, so maybe it was just too muddy even for trail shoes!)

Although I was running on my own, there was a group of about 6 of us running at around the same pace so we did chat a little when we had the breath to do so. I was glad of the company, as the fog meant I completely lost my sense of direction and after Slaughterford had no idea where I was. I was extremely appreciative of the marshals. I’ve never been so pleased to see a hi-viz vest appearing on the far side of a field through the fog. They must have been freezing standing still for so long, but were all cheering and encouraging. Hoorah for them!

The stream-wading was breath taking. Literally. I’m not good at cold water, and the gasps I emitted as I got in must have been highly amusing for everyone else. It was a mud slide down to the brook, but fortunately the stream bed was stony so no chance of slipping once I was in. The limbo under the over hanging tree branch was a nice touch, but the quagmire as we got out of the stream was shoe-suckingly-tastic.

The final hill was nearly too much for me. Even walking up it I had to stop for a second to catch my breath. It was lovely to see my family again at the top, waiting to accompany me up the final hill to the finish line. I even managed to run this last bit (just in case there was a photographer at the finish line!)

So it is with pride that I am (still) wearing the T-shirt that I really did feel I earned. However I think I need to make an addition with a permanent pen under it, saying


Is this Hilly enough?

So Week 4 Run 3 in my schedule said “40 Mins Hilly”. I chose this route – do you think that is hilly enough??

Pleased with 3.13 Miles in 33:50, as it really is a steep hill on the way back up. No more runs now until Sunday, when I face the notorious ‘Slaughterford 9’ race. That’s going to count as my Long Slow Run for the week, as although 9 miles probably isn’t quite long enough, I can guarantee it will be slow! Looking at the amount of rain we’ve had this week so far (coming down again now as I type) I’m thinking snorkel & flippers might be appropriate gear.

Still, keep thinking life’s all about new experiences so really have to do this race. Its certainly the race that’s closest to home, and will certainly be an experience. Not necessarily an enjoyable one, however. Another new experience I’ve volunteered for is writing a race report for Women’s Running magazine. Not for the Slaughterford 9 (don’t want to put anyone off) but for the Bath Half Marathon in March. Sounds less muddy and less tiring than Slaughterford 9!

I will return after the race and let you know I’ve survived … hopefully!

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

Rain, Rain, Go Away!
Come again another day.

Unfortunately I think that ‘other day’ was today, because it was pouring down this morning. Really heavy, “soaked-in-2-minutes” type rain. I did wobble briefly and wonder about switching my schedule around, but my new shoes were desperate to get out for a run so who was I to deny them?

Also, at the back of my mind was the thought “what if its raining like this on April 22nd?” I guess its better to know what its like to run in!

So off I set. It was wet. Roads were full of puddles. Not too many cars about, but huge thumbs up to the driver who waited for me to run past the ginourmous puddle before driving though. I think I would have drowned otherwise.

Whilst taking the photo of my new trainers on the edge of the road-spanning puddle, thought I’d do a quick self-portrait of myself. Particularly love the rain drops on my chin and nose – most attractive I thought! Still had 2.5M to go at this point, you can see how much I’m enjoying it.

Anyway, lots more ‘hardcore’ points for me, and another tick on my schedule. Week 4, Run 2  6M Steady DONE!

Noo Shooooooes!

Nothing quite like new shoes! I braved the treadmill in the Running shop, am pleased to say I didn’t fall off however I was told I have a ‘very odd’ running style. Somehow that doesn’t surprise me!
Despite this, I came home with a lovely shiny white pair of running shoes which will help support my feet (and legs!) as my runs become progressively longer. I though I’d better post a photo of them now before they set foot outside. Rain is forecast tomorrow for their maiden voyage …..

What a beautiful place to run. Week 3 Complete!

Well if you have to run a Long Slow Run every week you might as well run it somewhere beautiful, I say!After a frosty start to the week, I am pleased to report I managed all of this week’s scheduled runs, including today’s Long Slow (their words, not mine) Run. Schedule said 1 hour 30 minutes of running, actually ran for 1 hour 54 minutes (but I took the Slow bit to heart!). Covered 9.24 miles, including running through Corsham Court. Camera on my phone is not brilliant, but hopefully you can see what a beautiful place it is. There is a lake you can just see in the distance, with a huge flock of scary Canadian Geese which I gave a very wide berth to. Plenty of mud and hills to slog through, which will all be good practice for next week’s scary race, the Slaughterford 9. More on that next week!Good news is that despite this being the furthest run I think I’ve done since the Chippenham Half back in September, everything felt fine if a little tired. My shins behaved themselves, a combination of a soft surface (positively squelchy in places!) and running with a short stride. Feels like trotting rather than running, but my legs seem to like it which is the main thing.

So this week’s runs went as follows:-
Monday – 3 miles Speedy. I talked about this in my last blog, so won’t again!
Tuesday – 4.9 Miles. Even COLDER this morning! Was supposed to be 50 minutes Steady run, but ended up being 57 minutes as when I got to the big bridge over the by-pass I couldn’t resist running up & over it and then back again just to see the pattern it would make on Garmin Connect
Thursday 2.66 Miles (30 minutes) Hilly – I thought I’d run about a mile to a steep hill, then down & up a few time, then back home. Turned out to be a bit further downhill to the steep bit, and the steep bit was steeper than I’d remembered, so just ran to the bottom and then turned and ran back. Hard work, but hopefully all good practice for the Slaughterford 9 hills next Sunday!
Friday 9.24M Slooooooooow, but beautiful.

Roll on Friday night now, and Week 4’s training next week!

In the Bleak Mid Winter ….

In the Bleak Mid Winter 
Tum ti tum ti tum
Earth as hard as Iron
Water like a stone

No, not snow on my trainers, but very heavy frost. Brrr – a very cold 30 minutes this morning. As I ran past a friendly dog walker this morning he said, as though stating a fact “You’re mad”. “Yup” was all I could reply.

So that’s Week 3 Run 1 ticked off. Schedule said “30 min FR” which means ‘Fartlek run’ which means ‘Speed play’ apparently. Still makes me snigger – very childish!
I had set off in search of grass & fields to run on, to save my legs after my diagnosis over the weekend (with Dr Google) of the start of Shin Splints. However, the weather was against me, and the ‘Earth as hard as iron’ part of the carol above was particularly appropriate. The good news is despite this minor set back, my shins felt fine. However the cold did mean my gloves stayed on for the entire run, and the zip of my gilet stayed right up to the top until I was safely back indoors.
Off to build up my courage and phone the local running shop about gait analysis for a new pair of shoes (my & Dr Google’s prescription for my shin splints). The last time I was in there, getting my very first ever pair of running shoes, was also the first time I’d ever run on a treadmill. Not a good experience, and the fact that the lady was nearly holding onto my arm to stop me falling off was somewhat embarrassing. I’m sure it will be fine this time. Won’t it????
Wish me luck!

Week 2 – Completed! (and ticked off of course!)

Phew – week 2 of my Marathon training is complete, and ticked off. Literally ticked off by the way. Strangely, for someone who spends so much of her life surrounded by technology, there is nothing quite so satisfying as a good ol’ tick on a paper schedule.

This week has been hugely helped by the arrival of my new toy, a lovely shiny Garmin 405 GPS watch. Now not only can I pore over my run when I get back home, I can also keep an eye on everything whilst I run as well.

To Black and Tabby
Merry Christmas! 
Lots of love, 
Black and Tabby

2012 – Here I come! On your marks ….

Much as I love having a training schedule, I don’t think I’ve ever anticipated actually starting one as much as this one! I have studied so many different schedules over the last month, most being rejected for not enough running / too scary times and distances / too much walking. Finally settled on the Plan 2 “Getting Better” (!) schedule published in the official VLM magazine. This involves running 4 times a week, which is what I’ve been trying to do since September last year. I figure even if I miss a run, then 3 is still fine for a week.

First run was Monday 2nd January. “30 mins Easy” – not a bad start – even I could manage that! However, thanks to the time off over Christmas even this had me puffing and panting. Tried to run realllllyyyyyyyy sloooooooowly so my heart rate would stay low. I say tried, but there’s only so much walking you can do in a 3 mile loop.

Couldn’t run on Tuesday as the children were still at home, so then had to pack in 3 runs in 3 days. This is not recommended, and by Friday (“60 mins Long Run”) I was shattered. probably didn’t help that I actually ran “60 mins Hilly” as I’ve entered the Slaughterford 9 on 29th January, and reckon hill training might just come in handy!

But anyway – Week 1 DONE! And Ticked off. Roll on week 2!