Confidence

is a preference for the habitual voyeur of what is known as

.

.

.

parkrun *

After my stunning ** race last week, where I had a goal pace which I managed to stick to (below 9:30 minute miles) and even managed a sprint finish, AND felt strong going up the hill, I decided this morning was the day to try and chip away at this year’s parkrun times.

My parkrun PB is 25:52, which sounds a pie*** in the sky target at the moment and actually dates from May 2015, but if I can keep on chipping away at this year’s times who knows how close I’ll get. Current parkrun times have been around the 29 – 30 minute mark, but with my recent race times I thought SURELY I could run faster than that? Yes the course has been muddy, yes I’ve been doing a lot of chatting, but come on Lucy!

In February I finally managed to get a time under 30 minutes again. Two seconds under, but hey it all counts. 3 weeks ago, I hauled myself under 29 minutes. Three seconds under, but again, who’s counting (apart from the timekeepers and my Garmin). Last night I calculated that if I ran under 9 minutes per mile I should be able to scrape in under 28 minutes. Anything’s possible the night before parkrun!

This morning I told my friend Valerie about my plan, and she immediately said she’d run with me as she’d also love to dip under 28 minutes again. With the pride of the VW50-54 age group resting on our shoulders, we sprinted off from the start with the best of them.

Continually glancing at my pace meant I consciously overtook people when I would usually just drop in behind them (it feels like pushing in – I’m much too British to enjoy this).  Valerie stuck with me, and we even picked up her husband on the way round. Ignore all tales that this meant we forced Valerie down the middle of the path and through the splashy puddles. It was unintentional, but she definitely had the muddiest legs at the end.

As we made it to the straight that leads to the finish, Valerie told me that she was done, and to push on without her. I gasped “okay” and proceeded to overtake another couple of runners. Being so British, and disliking people who actually manage a sprint finish (despite last week’s effort), I shouted “sorry!” as I ran past.   One of them said “You look like you’ve got plenty left in the tank. Go for it!” which has to be one of the most pleasing things anyone has ever said to me when I’m running.

I was overtaken just before the line by a small child, who was being accompanied and coached by a lovely young man called Luke****. The encouragement Luke was giving him was marvellous to hear, particularly as Luke is an amazing runner who was going much more slowly than he usually would in order to pace the boy. I was trying to use some of his advice myself, but as they charged past me I felt like applauding them both! This was heart-warming, parkrun at its best, stuff.

I finally crossed the line in 27:45, with Valerie only 7 seconds behind me, as 1st and 2nd in our age group. Yay – go us! Although I was tired at the end, I was in no way completely shattered. As the nice man said, I think I did have something left in my tank after all. Just maybe this running lark just needs some confidence in your own abilities, as well as training, practise, good shoes and fab running partners (not much to ask for, really).

I was wondering what to aim for next, and then I remembered that next week is a “naked” parkrun (??!!!!!) where you have to predict what time you’ll finish in, and then run technologically naked (i.e. no Garmin!) to see who can finish closest to their predicted time. That could be very interesting!

* Apologies to Blur
** hem hem
*** mmmmm pie
**** yes I know that makes me sound SO old

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to you all! Hopefully everyone is happy and healthy, and raring to go in 2017. Now don’t worry, I’m not going to do a long “Review of 2016” (I think the moment for that has passed), but I am going to have a quick backward glance over my shouder, and then blow my own trumpet just briefly.

I started the year injured and grumpy. I spent half the year still injured and grumpy. By the autumn I began entering off road races because I love them (and they’re easier on my foot), met up with lots of other Chippenham Harriers and rediscovered my love of running. I learnt how to swim front crawl, and now need to work on completing more than a length at a time. I got out more on my road bike, and completed the Coffeeneuring Challenge of 2016.

My coffeeneuring patch. Very proud of this

Brace yourself – here comes the trumpet blowing.

As at the end of 2016, after running in 4 races in the Wiltshire Athletic Association Off Road League I found myself currently 3rd in the ladies league (out of 90 runners), and first in my age group! This is glossing over the fact I actually came last in the tri-counties XC race – that was a hard slog! Just two more races in the league to go, so keep your fingers crossed for me. I’m dreaming of trophies (no idea if they actually give out trophies, but don’t shatter my dreams just yet). Oh, and Chippenham Harriers are leading both the Mens and Ladies Team competitions as well. Toot toot!

The last day of 2016 started with parkrun. A lovely atmosphere there, despite the drizzle and slippy mud. The new year started with volunteering at the same parkrun, not easy in torrential rain and with more runners than I’ve ever seen there (but not quite a record apparently!) My first lesson of 2017 was that the bar code scanners don’t work well in the cold and wet. My second was that some people don’t deserve a free run totally staffed by volunteers. I mean, we were all getting cold, wet and frustrated that the scanners weren’t working, but to throw your soggy paper bar code and finisher’s token at me shouting “Oh just take it then!” isn’t on really, is it?

Anyway, enough wandering down memory lane. Today I’ve run* my first parkrun of the year, last week I made it to my first ‘Efforts’ session of the year (probably my first since 2015), and I’m planning on going to my first swimming lesson of 2017 on Monday. Bring it on, 2017, I’m ready for you!

* staggered, slipped, wobbled

Getting better all the time*

Another few weeks of trying to get out for some exercise, repeatedly telling myself that just like when I first started running, it WILL feel better eventually. Suddenly, just maybe, I might be there…

To recap, I’ve been going to my swimming lesson every Monday and still haven’t drowned (although this week it was pretty close – I thought I could do breast stroke!) I’ve been mostly managing my two runs a week but haven’t been on my bike so much**. Fantastically soggy parkrun on Saturday 1st October, which reminded me how much fun running in the rain is. Makes you feel so much more hardcore than a hot and sweaty run, that’s for sure.

parkrun011020162
Soggy parkrun. Mud and everything – including a smile

Buoyed up by that run, I entered the Marshfield Mudlark, an 11k race that consists of hills, beautiful countryside, sometimes bulls, oh yes and mud. And hills. I have run this race several (3?) times before, so I do know the course and I may have been a little too keen as the race is this Sunday.

How much hill work have I done this year? Erm – does the tiny slope at parkrun count?***
Is my longest run anywhere near 11K? Even allowing for the metric / imperial conversion I don’t think 5 miles is that close to 11K.
Oh well. It’ll be a lovely day out in the countryside anyway. A full day maybe, but lovely.

Just as I was feeling like I’d definitely bitten off more that I could chew, I popped out for a 3 mile trot around the village this morning. After the chilly mornings of the last few days, today looked sunny and beautiful. It was. This was the view looking down over the field I was running around.

Beautiful view over field
Wiltshire looking stunning in the autumn sunshine

I returned home feeling happy and satisfied. And a little smug if I’m honest. Bring it on Sunday – I’m ready for you!

*  another earworm, anyone?

** repeat after me “buying winter cycling gear from Aldi does NOT count as a cycle ride”

*** no it doesn’t

Three runs, one swim and a triathlon.  What a week!

I’d like to just leave it at that, but in the interests of full disclosure I’d better elaborate. 

Monday was my swimming lesson,  and I enjoyed it as much as ever. Only negative was getting home,  putting my costume into the washing machine,  and realising the costume fabric was now so thin it resembled a string vest. I  immediately shamefacedly added “swimming costume” to my shopping list. 

The three runs were a short race (the Lacock relay), a long run (4 whole miles!) and a parkrun (with cake – bonus). It’s been a fair few months still I’ve managed that many runs in a week,  and my foot felt fine, if a little stiff afterwards. 

And the triathlon?  Well it’s true I was at the Bowood Triathlon on Sunday. However I wasn’t competing,  I was helping out. If you were there I probably gave you your registration pack, along with some supposedly helpful advice and a smile. I also took the chance to go down to the Lake and have a look at the swim stage. Oh my word. How scary did it look?! I watched the start of a Super Sprint swim (400m) and how far did it look?!! Think I need to keep going to my swimming lessons….in my new costume of course. 

Shoot me now – but first, Merry Christmas!

I feel like a broken woman. My left foot hurts, my right knee hurts and it’s really hard to limp on both legs. My left eye is horrendously bloodshot and my left elbow is sore. I’m tired from working in retail right up to Christmas Eve, and sad because I’ve not been able to run for weeks. Truth be told, it’s been painful to even walk. If I was a race horse, they’d shoot me.

My last run was a few weeks ago, on a rare trip to my local parkrun. The weather forecast was disgusting, and to be honest if I hadn’t been meeting someone there I’d have stayed in bed on a precious Saturday off. So thank you very much Louise (abradypus) for making me get out there and for a very enjoyable (if muddy) run. We had a lovely chat and my right knee felt great after my recent physio session.

Since then, standing for 8 and a half hours a day has taken its toll on my legs / eye / elbow, and if I hadn’t finally made it to Christmas I’d be very sad at this point. But Christmas it is, and I’ve spent a very lovely day with my family relaxing and eating good food. So I’m sat now with my feet up on the sofa, an ice pack alternating between my foot and knee, and a glass of wine in my hand. There’s always next year to run again. So with that optimistic thought, may I wish you all a Merry Christmas, and a run filled New Year.

image
Cheers!

Ready for a Taper

After my massive 22 mile run on Wednesday, I was slightly nervous about how my legs would feel standing or sitting all day at work. (This was a day’s work being an “Extra” – hardly hard work, but it does involve sitting or standing around for many hours, just waiting for someone to tell you to go somewhere). There were no period costumes involved, so thankfully so fear of another corset or wig, but even so I chose my comfiest ‘smart’ shoes to take and hoped they would be acceptable.

It was an early start, but luckily only 3 minutes drive to set. I felt very guilty later on when people were saying “No, I didn’t come far, only about an hour and a half’s drive. How long did it take you to get here?” Amazingly, my legs felt fine. After sitting for a couple of hours I did creak just a little when I got up, but honestly nothing like I thought I would be. I could feel my piriformis muscles needed stretching, but go and google what those exercises look like and then appreciate how, dressed as a “posh business woman” I couldn’t really do them in public.

On the next day, Friday, it seemed like a good idea to go and find a big hill to run up whilst my legs were tired. (It’s not as mad as it sounds – the marathon course has two big hills, one at 14 miles and one at 20, so this is exactly what I need to be doing). One hilly 7 mile run later my legs were still feeling pretty good (but yes, tired) and I was feeling quite smug.

I was ready for a nice restful weekend starting with a lie in on Saturday morning, but my legs had other ideas and had me wide awake with twitching legs. “Oh all right” I told my legs “we’ll just have an easy trot round parkrun, to stretch you out”. * There was obviously a breakdown in communication, because I actually ran my 3rd ever fastest time at Chippenham parkrun.

See how happy I am?
See how happy I am? Photo thanks to Valerie Light
Not smiling - but flying!
Not smiling – but flying! Photo thanks to Valerie Light

NOW can I taper please???

 

Lanhydrock parkrun

I am feeling very smug, as I’m on holiday and I still got up for parkrun. Truth be told if I’d known it was quite such a hilly course I might not have bothered.

Lanhydrock parkrun is set in the grounds of a very fine National Trust house in mid Cornwall. It was a warm sunny morning as I arrived and used my time honoured technique of ‘following the crowd’ in order to find the excellent National Trust toilets, and then the start. Chatting with some locals I learnt that the second half of the course is all uphill, including the final climb they referred to as “heart attack hill”. Fortunately I also learnt it was a one lap course.

A blast of vuvuzelas sent us thundering down the grassy slope towards Lanhydrock house. With a brief sideways glance at the house we entered the woods and started climbing.

The course is beautiful. Partly on tarmac, and mostly on trails with some grass, it winds through the woods down to the river. This was my favourite part, but sadly it didn’t last long before we were heading uphill again. I was determined not to walk, and succeeding, until the final hill when a man in front of me started walking. It was impossible not to stop at that point. The spur to run again came when I realised that the cows I thought I could see in the field next to the path were actually on the side of the path – no fence!

There was a great downhill sprint to the finish, but most people seemed too shattered for much speed at this point. I staggered over the line in 29:34 which isn’t a parkrun PW but is pretty close.

image
Harriers Vest on tour

I then decided that seeing as the National Trust tearooms open especially early on a Saturday I really ought to go and sample their wares. Mmmmm. Happy holidays all!

Juneathon Day 27. Never too late to parkrun

After last night’s fantastic gig in Bristol, followed by sitting on a comfy sofa watching Glastonbury for far too long, of course the sensible thing to do is to get up for parkrun. Naturally I’m a very sensible person so that’s what I did.

I did have trouble getting up, so I was a little late setting off, and a little late arriving. As I headed down the slope from the car park I could see runners already coming to the end of the first lap of the first loop. (Chippenham parkrun is two laps of two loops in Monkton Park down by the river). I dropped my water, headed over to the start area and started running whilst declaring to the marshalls ‘I’m late. I’ll still run all the laps!”
I confused at least one marshall (sorry!) and spent my entire parkrun catching and overtaking runners. A Harriers friend said on Strava it would be good practice for the next Lacock relay!

image
I look like I'm speed walking, but I have both feet off the ground

P.S. There has been a delay in processing the official parkrun times, so I don’t know yet how late I was starting.

P.P.S. Times now in, official parkrun time is 30:32, my Strava time is 26:25 so I was officially over 4 minutes late. Whoops. Annoyingly that would have been my second fastest parkrun time ever. Impressively I finished in position 126, the last finisher was position 177, meaning I overtook 51 runners. Definitely good practice for Lacock!

Juneathon Day 20. Delayed Parkrun

So I was intending to go to parkrun. I really was. But a brilliant meal out with my best friends that ended quite late put paid to that. I want to bed thinking “I’ll see what time I wake up…” and promptly woke up at ten to nine.

To give me some credit, I did feel guilty about it, so a little later I decided to do a delayed parkrun. This was over my own route, it had no marshals, I could happily forget my bar code, it wasn’t in a park but it WAS 5K. It’s down and back a small lane that can be busy during the week but I reckoned would be safe on a Saturday. As I set off, true to parkrun form I briefly thought I should have had a warm up, then I carried on anyway. I also suddenly remembered that last Juneathon I ran this route at the start and end to see if I could improve my time.

It was really hot and muggy and I remembered using that excuse last Juneathon on this route as well. The route has an enormous dip that you run down and up twice, once in each direction (I always use this as an excuse on this route – even when I’m on my bike). Anyway I stopped my Garmin at 3.11 miles and dripped the remaining short distance home. I was so sticky I am sure I left a slug trail behind me. Attractive.

On checking the data, I was delighted to see the following times and dates:-

29:40 June 1st 2014
27:10 June 30th 2014

26:37 20th June 2015

Go me! Looks like the “Killer Tuesday” sessions (as we affectionately call the club “Efforts” evening) are working.

On a slightly more relaxed note, here are some sleeping kittens. Anyone remember a song from the 70s by Terry Scott called “my brother” (pronounced bruver”). It has a classic lyric that is so apt for these bruvers: “I know he’s good when he’s asleep … But you don’t know what he’s dreaming about, do you?!”
image

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.

image
You ain't seen me, right?

image
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.