Juneathon Day 9. With a scone as big as my head. And a PB

Whenever my brother visits from the North (land of pies) he always comments on how many more uncomfortably large people he sees here in Wiltshire compared with at home. I’ve lived here for too long to notice either way, but I think I might have found the reason why. My brother was popping over today with my Mum and Dad for a quick cup of tea, and I realised I didn’t have any cake or nice biscuits to offer. Fortunately our local pub has the loveliest owners and they happily agreed to package me up what was basically a takeaway cream tea. They even popped the scones into the oven so they were warm and included cartons of jam and cream. These were delicious, but what was amazing was the scones were as big as my head.* I’m thinking maybe this explains the size of people in Wiltshire?!

After such an enormous elevenses I couldn’t manage my lunch until about 4pm, but this was perfect pre-race food timing so actually worked out very well. I then headed out to the first in this year’s series of the Heddington 5K races. These races are quite informal, you can only enter on the night, you park and finish opposite a pub, they have chip timing and only ¬£3. Last night was full of club runners because it’s basically a downhill, PB course. At one time this would have been intimidating, but for the first time ever I too was a club runner, proudly sporting my (borrowed) Chippenham Harriers shirt. ** It was so different to my usual race experiences to be with a big group of people, and to have lots of runners to chat to both before and after the race. *** It was also a novelty to hear people shout “go Chippenham!” and realise they were shouting at me!

That's my PB face, that is
That’s my PB face, that is

A scary downhill charge of a start**** led to a fast race and a new 5k PB of 25:27. There are two more races in this series so with a warm up, and less wind on the night, my goal of going sub-25 looks like it could be achievable. I think eating a pre-race scone-as-big-as-my-head is going on my list of ideal race prep as this was obviously what made the difference.

Whilst I’m talking about weight, a top tip. If you have any concerns about your own size, hide them by making your brother look like he’s heavier than he actually is by ‘helping’ with the scale.

A helping paw

*There is no photographic evidence of this because I didn’t want to let the scones go cold.

**Thank you for the loan of the shirt, Lucy!

***To quote Luna Lovegood “It was like having friends” ūüėČ

**** I’ve never had a mile split beginning with a 7 before which is amazing

Juneathon Day 6. Parkrun

It’s Saturday so it must be parkrun day, yes? Erm, actually I had told a friend I probably wouldn’t make it to parkrun as I was thinking of having a lie in. However Juneathon laughs in the face of lying in, and I was wide awake at 8am. What’s a girl to do, but to get up and parkrunning.

So 5k done and back home in time for second breakfast. Juneathon lives (as does the smug feeling) which lasts most of the day).

Today’s Kitten News. Big cat has been trying to hide. Unsuccessfully.

You ain't seen me, right?

Getting closer...

You really don’t want to see what happened shortly after this second photo, but I can promise no kittens were harmed. Just a little bit biffed.

I’m Back! And I’m a WINNER!

Phew, well that’s been a busy time. Our building work is really nearly finished, which has meant much last minute ordering of stuff, lots of snap decisions and a fair bit of painting. Our daughter is sliding towards her GCSEs so needs plenty of poking, gently reminding to work (i.e. nagging), and general supporting. Husband is spending more and more time cycling, and my son requires regular winkling out of his room and away from his computer before he becomes a totally stereotypical teenaged boy. So, all in all, busy times in the B&T household.

Despite all this I have been getting out running, just not as far or as often as I would have liked. Nothing spectacular, and no interesting photos hence no blogging. I did spend a happy few hours writing out a list of upcoming races, and am still dithering over which to enter.

It was pointed out to me this week that it was my local parkrun’s first birthday on Saturday, so as husband was getting up at stupid o’clock to cycle a ridiculous distance* I thought I’d set my alarm as well and go along to parkrun for a short and hopefully speedy 5K.

Conscious that only first timers and tourists get to parkrun early, I managed to get there rather late, just as the run director was giving his pre run talk. Yes, I was the one still tying my shoe laces as everyone else was applauding the first timers and visitors. (Sorry!) I was also the one who had to run back to my jacket to grab my bar code just as the run director mentioned not forgetting your bar code. Sigh.

These hiccups aside, I enjoyed my third official parkrun. I pushed when I could, but did find myself just trotting along behind a couple of blokes for a while rather than over taking them straight away. (It’s not a race, you see). Anyway I was very pleased when I stopped my Garmin to see I had a new parkrun PB of 26:26. I was impressed when I got home and saw this was actually a new all time 5K PB, and I was delighted when I got my official email from parkrun confirming my time, and telling me I was position 1 in my age category**. If it’s not a race, I can still be a winner, can’t I?***

*300K is a ridiculous distance to cycle in one day. Fact.

** on telling him I was first in my age category, my son promptly asked if I was the only one in my age category.

*** the correct answer to this is YES. It’s the first time I’ve ever come first in anything that didn’t involve sitting exams, so I’m pinning an unofficial winner’s badge on myself.

Chippenham 5K River Run 2014. Data wrangling.

It had been another beautiful day, and the weather was just perfect for racing in the evening. After last week’s 10K disappointment I felt like everything was riding on tonight’s 5K. No pressure then.

I wrote last year’s time and pace onto my hand, put my running kit on, cooked dinner for my children, raced around looking for car parking money and shot out of the door with about 45 minutes before the start time. Fortunately I don’t live far from Chippenham, and even more fortunately as I crawled around the packed car park I managed to nab a space. I bumped into a good friend at the start, so was feeling in high spirits.

The Start

From the off all went well. I survived the usual crush at the start, I kept an eye on my pace to keep it close to last year’s. I overtook when I could (not easy on this course) and tried not to hold anyone up when I could hear them coming up behind me. I crossed the line and my Garmin said 26:47. Checking my smudged hand, last years time was 26:46 – so close! I was aware that in non-chip timed races it’s vitally important to keep in the same order in the finish ‘funnel’ as you crossed the line in. Just after I’d crossed the line, two guys were racing hard over the line, and shot past me. I got one of them to move behind me in the funnel but I wasn’t 100% certain that the other chap had crossed after me so I left him where he was.

Provisional results were out the next day, and gave me a time of 26:49 – 3 seconds slower than last year. I was a little¬†disappointed, but to be honest I still felt very happy with my race as I’d run the best I could on the night. To be that close to last year’s time (when I had trained really well for it) was actually pretty amazing. Looking closely at the time of the chap recorded as finishing in front of me (in case he had ‘pinched’ my place) then¬†my time would have been 26:48 – shaving a whole extra second off.¬†

I uploaded my data to Strava and was pleased to see some good results on segments on the route. Various friends gave me kudos and one (who had also run this race last year and this) made a very interesting observation. He pointed out that the course we ran this year was actually slightly longer than last year. On coming off the riverside path last year we cut straight up onto the road whereas this year we ran a little longer by the river before angling up to the road. For last year’s race my Garmin recorded 3.09 miles, whereas this year’s was 3:11. Now, here comes the data wrangling bit! If I look at this year’s data and stop it at 3:09 miles, it gives me a time of 26:40 ¬†Woot woot!!

Anyway, even without funnel line pushers-in, and slightly longer routes, I am very pleased with this year’s time. Even with my data wrangling I can’t really¬†claim it as a new PB but I am still very pleased with my time and not at all disappointed.

I received proof positive that I’d worked really hard in the race when I returned home. My teenaged daughter proclaimed that I ‘stank’ and I was leaving a ‘trail of stink’ as I walked around the house. Lovely!

Juneathon day 30. A Grand Finale

At last – the final day of Juneathon. Made it, with just a few skin of my teeth moments, no failures and with my sanity intact. I was planning a long run today, after I realised I’ve just been popping out for short runs rather than anything over about 4 miles. Then I remember the challenge I set myself on day 1 of Juneathon, all those blogs ago:- to try and beat my time to run a particular 5K route. This out and back route has a big dip down and back up again near the turning around point, so of course you have to run it twice. It’s not the fastest route but I reckon the ‘dips’ are a good fitness builder.

On day 1 I ran this route in ¬†29:30. I remember the day felt unexpectedly warm (mind you, the month has got hotter since then). Today the temperature was fine, warm but not hot, and I ran it in ¬†27:10 ¬†After my race disappointment last week¬†¬†I was delighted with this time, and as long as I haven’t using up my week’s supply of speedy running it bodes well for the 5K River Run on Wednesday.




Juneathon Day 18. A quick blast

After my epic rant earlier, I thought I’d better write a calmer post about the day’s Juneathon activity.

I’d put my running gear on first thing hoping to sneak out before any of the day’s deliveries, but as I waved the children off to school my son shouted “there’s a big lorry coming up the lane!” I made the newly arrived scaffolder a cup of tea, rang the builders to say he was already here, and went and got changed back out of my running kit. A hectic day followed, with many deliveries (including nearly two tonnes of steel), lots of people, much noise, and a great deal of tea and coffee made.

When they’d all finally left, I felt the need to escape. I put my running kit back on and speed of for a 5K blast. Despite the heat I was delighted to receive a new Course Record on Strava for the route and I believe it was the fastest I’ve ever run it.

Who knew builders could make you run faster?

Juneathon Day 1, A Good Start

June dawned, bright and sunny. As I seem to have done more cycling than running recently I decided I’d better start Juneathon off with a run. Just a short run, only 5K, but along a route I haven’t been down for a few months. It’s an out and back route, with a short but steep dip in the middle. A few years ago I decided I wanted to break 30 minutes for 5K, so I ran along this lane regularly until I finally managed it.

Today I ran it in 29 minutes 40, so not a world record but at least it was still under 30 minutes. I was wondering how low I could get this time, when I realised that should be my aim for Juneathon – to see how much time I can take off this route. Roll on the rest of the month!

“May the Force be with you”

So a race that took me several times longer to get dressed for than to actually run it. A race that I was more nervous about what I, and everybody else, would be wearing than usual. A race where the safety briefing ends with “and may the Force be with you. 3 2 1 GO!”

Yes it was May the Fourth, and it was the Sci-fi 5k. Fortunately the race didn’t start until 11.30am so I had plenty of time to get ready. A whole packet of hair pins, a can of hair spray and my carefully made costume later, I dragged my photographer (teenaged son) out with me and off we went. I suddenly realised as I was driving that I was getting some funny looks from drivers in other cars, but maybe they didn’t realise Princess Leia drove a large muddy Toyota.

We reached the car park, and I was expecting to see streams of runners in fancy dress heading to Race HQ. No, only families going to the park. Just as I was silently wondering if I’d come to the right place and at the right time, my normally unflappable son asked if we’d come on the right day. “Well, what’s the date?” I asked him. “May the Fourth!” he replied, smiling.

Race HQ was in a Wetherspoon’s pub and add I collected my number I was assured there were other people in costume. As we moved outside to the start area, in the park, we did finally see another couple of Leias, a rebel pilot, Obi Wan Kenobi (who seemed to have come in his dressing gown), and someone that I though was Captain Jack from Doctor Who & Torchwood, but who apparently was Han Solo.

Exterminate! Photo – John Sidaway
Han Solo, Obi Wan and a Rebel Pilot
Han Solo, Obi Wan and a Rebel Pilot. Photo by John Sidaway
Princess Leia – me! – at the start

As we set off, the weather had warmed up and It was beautifully sunny. I was already feeling warm in my long sleeved top and long skirt, but I kept thinking I couldn’t be as hot as the Dalek!

The course wound through some housing estates and then back through some parkland. It was all pretty flat and on another day, in a galaxy far, far away, in another outfit this would be a great PB race. I ran with a lady in a red Star Trek dress for a while and we consoled each other about running in a dress.

Photo by Warren Wade
Photo by John Sidaway

My blaster hand was sticky and slippy now and I was seriously considering ditching it. However my son had had his eye on it so I tried passing it from hand to hand just for a change.

Eventually we headed back into the park and could hear people applauding and see the finish line. I looked out for my son, the official photographer, but couldn’t see him anywhere. I received my medal and a bottle of water and found a shady area by a tree to wait for him. He sauntered over 5 minutes later having waited back at the car and underestimating how long it would take him to walk back. Sigh. Fortunately there were plenty of other people with cameras who then shared their photos on Facebook. Thanks John and Warren.


At the End. Still holding that blaster!

I almost forgot to mention the race super was Darth Vader. Well if he was behind me, I’d run too!

It was a good race, the organisers had obviously enjoyed branding it as a ‘Sci fi’ 5k, the weather was beautiful and the support was great. It was just a shame there were so few people in costume. My only regret (and I feel a little grumpy saying this) was that I didn’t win the award for the best fancy dress. I know it was for fun, and that as long as I was happy with my outfit that’s what matters. but I really would have liked to win!

Is that okay to say that??

If a thing’s worth doing …

… it’s worth doing properly. That’s what I thought when I entered the 5k race on May the 4th, in Trowbridge, called the ‘Sci-fi 5k’*. I talked about entering it here.

If I was going to do this race ‘properly’ then of course I had to do it in fancy dress. Being old school (or just old) I always think of films 4, 5 and 6 as the real Star Wars, so I decided to chose a character from these films. Hmm – a recognisable female from these films? Of course, Princess Leia.

The iconic Princess Leia pose

It’ll be easy to make and run in a Princess Leia costume, I thought. I ignored the many people who suggested Princess Leia in her bikini, and also my children’s many helpful suggestions which included Jar Jar Binks.

Jar Jar Binks. Thanks, kids

Several weeks later (and only a week until the race) this arrived in the post :-

Piles of white and silver fabric
Piles of white and silver fabric

After several days of pondering about quite how I was make the costume, I finally dived in.

Going for it

I then went shopping for ‘accessories’.

Water gun ‘blaster’, blaster paint, ‘boots’ (football socks) and lots of hair accessories

Of course, the most iconic feature of Princess Leia’s appearance is her hair. Her ‘space buns’ as I like to call them. Unfortunately I don’t have long, dark brown hair so the pile of stuff above includes brown wool and I also bought matching hair dye. Yes, I was the mad woman in Superdry matching the hair colours to a ball of wool.**

First attempt at ‘Space Buns’

I just about have a costume now, and I need to have a dress rehersal. Mr B&T won’t be at the race on Sunday so has told me that I need to have a trial run (literally) so that he can laugh see me running in my costume. I just can’t bring myself to step outside my front door wearing this outfit and run. I live in a small village. Word would get around.

Anyone else think I should have a trial run?

* as in ‘May the Fourth be with you’

** I have since seen that Carrie Fisher is to appear in the new Star Wars film, so maybe I should skip the hair dye and just say I’m Princess Leia from film 7, when she’s old and grey?

Running for the Empire, or the Rebel Alliance?

In a fit of enthusiasm I’ve just entered the Trowbridge “Sci-Fi” 5K to be held next month.


Sci-Fi_bannerWhy is it the Sci-Fi 5K? Well, apart from the hopefully ace medal, it’s held on May the 4th, of course. I’m already loving this race – of all the questions I’ve been asked on previous race entry forms (age, address, medical details etc) I have never¬†before¬†been asked if I want to run for The Empire, or the Rebel Alliance. Tough decision, eh?

I’ve also noticed there’s a prize for the runner with the best fancy dress. I’m feeling inspired after watching the Great British Sewing Bee so am off to search for technical fabrics by the metre. I may be some time …