Juneathon 2021 Days 7-13

Whoops – knew I’d forgotten to do something! A quick catch up of my Juneathon activities from the last week.

Monday 7th June – work, so a round trip bike commute of 5.5 miles.

Tuesday 8th June – run with my friend of 3.75 miles (although Garmin had a blip and reckons it was 3.94 miles).

Wednesday 9th June – an hours tai chi lesson.

Thursday 10th June – running again – just over 7 hot, hilly, mainly off road miles. Within the first mile I met overly-interested cows and decided to retreat, retrace my footsteps, and go round by the road. Not a great start, but the rest of the route was bovine-free and enjoyable despite the heat and hills.

Interested cows beyond a stile
Absolutely no way!

Friday 11th June was back to work, and so another cycle-commute.

Saturday 12th June I nearly ran out of time but just managed to squeak in 20 minutes of tai chi practice before midnight.

Sunday 13th June – knowing this day was bound to go the same as yesterday, I enthusiastically took myself off for a short walk before going out for the day. As I left the shady shelter of the trees I realised I should have applied sun cream and worn at least my sun glasses, if not a sun hat as well. 2 1/4 miles walked down and up a hill in 40 minutes.

Juneathon 2021 Day 6. Run for Frank

A lovely, sunny Sunday stretched ahead me and before I could slope off and simply potter the day away I decided to go for a run. As a change from my usual plods I thought I’d see how close I could get to a 30 minute 5K (just in case parkrun ever returns).

Despite stopping to take photos along the way, I was impressed that my “moving” time was 30:29. Much faster than I’d hoped.

One of my running club colleagues, Frank, was taking part today in an Ultra race, the Suffolk backyard ultra. In this unique race, entrants have to run 4.16 miles every hour as many times as they can. Winner is the last runner still going. The course record is 41 laps – do the maths! Why 4.16 miles? Well it’s the distance to cover every hour in order to complete 100 miles in 24 hours. The day was warm and humid, and I was tired after 5K but in a nod of appreciation to Frank’s amazing challenge I decided to run on a bit further. I ran past my house, and ran another 1.2 miles (I had mis-remembered the distance).

Frank did so well, and finally stopped after 116 miles. He had struggled with the temperature, and eating and drinking. To think I was tired after 1 lap!

Sign I spotted today.

Juneathon 2021 Day 3. A run at last

At last – a run! Nothing too adventurous as my running buddy has a sore knee which hurts going uphill. She lives down the valley from me, so we currently start every run with her run/walking up the hill to mine, and then we run round and back down another hill to take her home.

Today we did well, and after I’d dropped her off at home I struggled back up the steep hill (running all the way) and then realised I was trotting along again quite nicely – the hill hadn’t finished me off.

Pleased with this, I ran past my house (we all know how difficult that is!) and added on a little loop across the fields.

In all about 5.5 miles (watch didn’t start at the start), and it was my first run in shorts of the year. Very pleasant!

Buttercup fields

Mad March Mile – March 2021 – here we go

Spiky ball, not a virus

The world is a strange place at the moment. We are currently in our third coronavirus lockdown, although dates have been given for possible easing of restrictions. My children have both flown the nest again so it’s just me, husband and the cats at home. Children have finally gone back to school, so hopefully things are moving back towards normality.

I haven’t wanted to blog over the previous 12 months because it just didn’t seem appropriate to write about jolly japes running through the countryside, whilst all around people were catching the virus and struggling with lockdown. A document of how I coped might have been interesting in future years, but I suspect anything I wrote would have been full of false optimism rather than insightful glimpses into how I was truly feeling behind the mask.

I have been running over this last year though, and walking when I could (no more than one form of exercise a day mind!). Flipping piriformis problems flared up once again after walking in wellies, but I’ve been pretty good with stretching and sitting on a spiky ball and it’s feeling much better. (Spiky ball – it’s a thing – honestly. I would say Google it, but um maybe best not to!)

In line with the current coronavirus restrictions I have been running twice a week with my good friend. We have both been struggling to get “race fit” again without any races to train for (because we are both slackers and need the threat of public humiliation to goad us into lycra and out of the door). As the weather has dried out a little we’ve ventured out along footpaths and into fields, woods and fresh air. We’ve both got ridiculously muddy on occasions but have felt all the better for it ( once we’ve finished).

In lieu of a race, we’ve signed up for the Mad March Mile where the aim is to run a minimum of a mile a day throughout March. The entry fee covers a donation to RMH Bristol which provides free accommodation for families whose children are having to stay in the Bristol Children’s Hospital. Website is here https://www.rmhbristol.com/ – have a look, it’s a very worthwhile cause (and has no ongoing involvement with Ronald Macdonald, despite its name). Obviously we’re very smug about what a good cause we’re supporting, and that would be enough for some saintly people. I cannot lie, we were also persuaded by the personalised handmade mug we’ll receive if we complete the challenge.

With my ongoing piriformis problems I wasn’t keen to run everyday. I was therefore relieved to see you can walk your mile, or do another form of exercise for at least 15-20 minutes. Suddenly this challenge seemed doable, and very much like Janathon/Juneathon. (However I suspect that bar push-ups aren’t allowed as part of my daily ‘mile’, not least because pubs still aren’t open).

I’ll try and keep a note of what I get up to, and maybe this will kickstart my blogging as well as my running.

May you live in interesting times (or not)

So that was an “interesting” Summer.

We survived moving my daughter out of her student house and back home for a month, and then re-moving her and all of her stuff back into her next house. We managed to rearrange furniture so that her room could be described as “cosy” rather than tiny (it is very small).

We survived my son receiving his excellent A level grades, confirming his place at Exeter and then panicking to get ready to move out. We’ve seen a LOT of Ikea this summer -2 different Ikeas in 2 days was a new high. I feel partly Swedish.

We survived moving my son and his mountains of stuff down to Exeter. Helpfully, his room is huge, with plenty of space for everything. That’s the difference between what the same amount of money buys you in Oxford and in Exeter!

I then survived a week of coming home to an empty house (well, the cats were there and hungry so they were pleased to see me) and life was settling down as myself and Mr B&T embraced our newfound empty-nest freedom. All was going well. Right up until the moment on Tuesday afternoon when I was called down to the Finance Director’s office and abruptly told that due to cost savings my job was now redundant, and I would have a meeting with my manager in the morning to discuss the situation.

Oh – and I could go home for the rest of the afternoon if I wanted.

Redundant?

Now?

ME?

Shocked doesn’t cover how I felt. Shocked, shaking, unable to speak, slightly teary is probably closer, but still doesn’t cover quite how stunned I was. Imagine being unexpectedly slapped hard in the face – that was basically how it felt.

When I stopped shaking long enough to drive safely I collected my belongings and drove home. Walking into the house mid-afternoon didn’t stop the ever-hungry cats from greeting me expectantly, but I just felt empty and unable to breathe. Instinctively I changed into running gear, found running shoes in the garage and left the house. Because I hadn’t run for nearly 3 months my Garmin took ages to find any satellites. I wore my oldest, saggiest leggings so I didn’t look too keen, and I set off walking. I chose my most runned-route because it heads out towards the woods on lanes, byways and footpaths but is still fairly even, hard packed trail. I might need a run, but I didn’t need to twist my foot again. I walked for 5 minutes or so as a warmup and then tentatively started running. I continued tentatively running for 10 minutes, then walked again. Each step was a mindful monologue of “is my ankle okay? Yes, it’s okay. Is it okay now? Yes – still okay”. At the furthest point from the village I did indulge myself with a short but heartfelt face-screwed-up-proper-ugly-crying-wail. Thank God I didn’t meet any dog walkers at this point. My husband called at the precise moment I hit the hill so chatting to him gave me the perfect excuse to walk back up the hill.

I did manage another 10 minutes of running and then another 5 of walking, and I had just enough road left for a short trot to finish. I was actually pretty pleased with 40 minutes for 3 miles – and my head felt so much clearer (although my face and eyes were much puffier). My foot felt fine afterwards but a little tender the next day, but to be honest the entirety of both my legs felt pretty stiff by then. I felt a little guilty for running, and did call my run on Strava “Don’t tell the physio!” Hopefully no long term damage done, but immense short term therapy achieved.

I had another meeting on Friday, another trot out, and then a day of tentatively poking my foot and ankle. I’ve just had my final ‘consultation’ meeting and am officially redundant with 4 weeks notice which thankfully I don’t have to work. Just a short handover meeting on Monday to come and I’m done.

What a strange feeling. Might go for a run this afternoon…

Two pictures worth a thousand words

I was going to write a post about how pleased I was that I got out for a run. I was mentally drafting a paragraph where I described how chuffed I was that after 5 miles I chose an extra 3 miles rather than a 2 minute trot home. I was even thinking how best to describe the weather (four seasons in a day, sunshine, all accompanied by incredibly gusty wind).

However, I think two pictures I took sum this run up better than any words.

Photo of dark sky over lane
Dark clouds over a deserted lane

And as I squinted through the wind and hail, this was the amazing sight that greeted me:-

Complete Rainbow
Beautiful

It’s a “No” to Janathon, but “Yay!” to Veganuary

So after posting a very short activity for New Year’s Day, I also managed a swim on the 2nd (to test out one of my Christmas presents – more on this another time!). After a strong(?) start, I then returned to work on the 3rd and Janathon went awol. PAH.

On a more positive note, I volunteered to run as a 33 minute pacer at parkrun on Saturday 5th, and I am pretty pleased to say I managed to achieve a run time of … 33:00 minutes. I may have peaked at pacing just 5 days into the year.

Proof!

Another success so far this year has been my participation in Veganuary. My attempts at being vegan again, after a break of about 23 years, came a cropper in December when a work colleague gave me a milk chocolate advent calendar and I couldn’t hurt his feelings by not eating it. (I was also delighted to finally feel like part of the team. I’m so needy!) Veganuary was just the push I needed to start again, and with my daughter accompanying me, I think I’m doing pretty well this time. Well – apart from *those* crisps – who in hell puts milk in Thai Sweet Chilli Crisps? Walkers Sensations- that’s who. Double PAH!!

I’ve also decided that as well as trying to get more sleep, I need to start feeling generally “well” again. So many odd symptoms, including bad sleep, are really starting to get me down. I’m certain they’re all just menopausal “it’s my age” stuff, but I’ll likely punch anyone who says that to my face. (PMT-type rage is just another symptom). So – I’ve purchased a box of horse tablets for “women of a certain age” and I’ll try and remember to force one down every night. Worth a try I reckon.

I’ve found that when I’ve dragged myself out for a cold, dark run after work then I sleep much, much better that night. I’m using this as a successful prod to get myself out there after work. (I can do it as long as I don’t sit down when I get in. If I sit down, I’m done for). As an added bonus, I feel like superhero running in the dark on my own, wearing my extremely bright chest torch. Who doesn’t want that!

Does anyone have any top tips that might help with sleeping, or with coping increasing age? Please share if you do!

I wasn’t lost …

… I just didn’t know where I was. Well, I knew roughly where I was but I couldn’t see how to get back home. Right – excuses out of the way, I’d like to describe my run this week (yes there’s only been one. So far).

I grumbled home from work, in a foul mood and telling myself I’d feel better after a run. In my running gear I decided I’d go out of the front door, turn left at the end and do my usual loop. I ran down the drive, turned right, and realised I was already going the wrong way. Ah well, never mind, I’ll run down to the green, then up between the houses to the village hall, turn left and go round that way, I thought. Brilliant. I made it to the footpath by the village hall, and was struck an inexplicable desire to see where the footpath that went straight over went to.

It went across many fields and through gateways (with me peering through each one to see if I could spot the local cows before I ran into it). It ended up near the local long barrow which was approached through armpit high grass.

Ah – there’s the stile

What an adventure! Now I just had to turn around and heard back the way I came. Um- just needed to find the path. Then I just needed to remember how I got into that field. Then I realised that where I thought I could squeeze through onto a footpath I actually couldn’t, and ended up squeezing over and through a very rickety gate.

Ah – there’s the path!

Safely back to the village hall and I simply had to get out of one field, across the cricket pitch and home. Easy peasy, except I couldn’t get out of the field. Up and down along the electric fence I finally gave in and clambered over. I managed not to snag my Lycra, but just at the point of no return I realised the barbed wire had caught my trainer lace. I managed to wrestle it free just as I crashed over the top, then had to slink past the village kids at cricket practice.

Still, I’d made it back home safely. I wasn’t too badly nettle-stung (only both legs from ankle to knee), and I felt like I’d had a real adventure.

Roll on the next run!

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!