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

Two runs (one race), one swim and a cycle ride. Boom!

So I finally did it. In one week I managed a swim, two runs AND a cycle ride. Never mind that, one of the runs was a race. I know – get me, eh?

The bike ride went surprisingly well. I enjoyed it, especially as it just *happened* to include one of my favourite cafes* as a stop to warm up.

Mmmm

Unfortunately it was also a chance for me to prove as true the old saying “pride comes before a fall” by also including a stationary “couldn’t unclip in time” tumble off the bike in front of an admiring audience.

The swimming lesson went well, the first (short) run was fine and I was feeling quite enthusiastic for the Marshfield Mudlark on the Sunday.

Finally got to wear my club vest again
Finally got to wear my club vest again

First real race for nearly a year, so I was feeling nervous, and glad I would be meeting up with other runners from my running club – the race to be “last harrier home” was on! It was only as I stepped out of the car, I realised I’d left my trail shoes at home. Sigh. The recently-retired road running shoes I was wearing to drive in would have to suffice.

Fortunately it wasn’t very muddy at all this year, and there were zero cattle on the course (woo hoo!) it was just a lovely run through the countryside. Wearing a number. With a bunch of other people. In old road shoes.

Felt so good afterwards I was persuaded to enter another trail race. I’ve just noticed it’s described as “quad burning”. What have I done??!

* Merkin’s Farm, Bradford Leigh, Bradford-on-Avon, Wiltshire, BA15 2RW   GO!

Juneathon Day 7. A race not run

Yesterday was the Chippenham Harriers 5 mile race. I was there, bright and early, but I wasn’t running. Oh no, for the first time I was shouldering my new found responsibilities as a club member and I had volunteered to help.

It was a beautiful hot sunny day, but I was helping give out running numbers and chips so I was inside the cool of the rugby club. It was a busy morning, I didn’t see any of the race, but I saw the red faced runners returning saying what a good race it was and how hot it was.

Much later on, husband asked if I fancied going to the pub. I’d seen runners supping on cold pints of lager after the race and had fancied one since then. Then I remembered I hadn’t yet run for the day, so I snuck in a quick run with a small hill, and then really enjoyed my beer.

Cheers!

image
Kittens eating in the same room as big cat. Progress!

Random kitten update.

Juneathon Day 4. Club ‘social’ run

So a run isn’t very sociable when you run 6.5 of the 7 miles on your own. However I did chat to several people beforehand, and afterwards which was definitely sociable. I also found I ran faster, and for longer, knowing I had people to catch up with (I didn’t). I also surprised myself with how well I ran in the heat (yesterday was summer). Therefore I’m declaring this run a success, sociable or not. (I chatted to a guy at the end who said guiltily “we do all tend to get a bit competitive on Thursday runs”. I’ll not argue with that).

In Kitten News, the boys have been showing they have no concept of gender sterotyping by both squeaking girl-ily whilst running around with, respectively, a small pink fabric mouse and a pink fabric ball in their mouths.

image
It's the paws that slay me everytime
image
Exhausted

Corsham St George’s 10K and The Hunt for Lucy

What can I say about the Corsham St George’s 10K race? The simple fact that the numbers running it are increasing year on year says everything. It was my third time running it and I was looking forward to it.

As well as running a good race, my aim was to meet up with another Lucy. This lady is a-friend-of-a-friend who had kindly offered to change her routine and come to my first Harriers session with me. I was brave, went on my own and didn’t take her up on her offer. However I still wanted to meet up as apparently we run at very similar paces, are similarly keen on our running, and I gather she’s a lovely person. I looked all over for her at the start but couldn’t see her anywhere. I had seen a blurry photo of her on Facebook, and I knew her race number, but it’s not surprising I couldn’t find her, as there was over 800 runners. I told you this race was becoming popular.

Aeroplane arms - how happy do I look?
Aeroplane arms – how happy do I look?

The organiser called us out onto the road to line up for the start, so I abandoned my search and lined up somewhere near the 55 minute pacer. A man enthusiastically called the start, we shuffled forward and were off. I do confess I had forgotten the course was quite as undulating as it was. No serious inclines (apart from the last hill with 1 Km to go) but enough to keep you on your toes. We wove out of Corsham and through small lanes beyond. It is a pretty route and even when out in the countryside there were people supporting the race. Kudos to the lady in her dressing gown and slippers out on the pavement clapping everyone as they ran past. I loved the orange segments that were handed out at the 6K mark – they helped me get up that last hill and along the final straight that seems to go on for miles.

My chip time was 55:16, which isn’t a PB but considering at the start I said I was hoping for around 55 minutes I’m very pleased with it. I was a little sad that I hadn’t met Lucy so thought I’d have a look at the official photos from the event.*

I found a great photo from the start, where I was looking happy and smiling. Then I looked closely … and spotted the elusive ‘Other Lucy’ … running right next to me. Never mind “Where’s Wally”, this has been “Locate Lucy”!

At the start - how many Lucys can you see? Hint - I'm the one in the amazing socks
At the start – how many Lucys can you see? Hint – I’m the one in the amazing socks

* I might not have found the Lucy I was looking for, but I did find another Lucy that I met at one of the Bath Skyline 10K races, along with some other ladies from the Run Mummy Run group. Another lovely lady (she’s a Lucy – say no more!), it was only a shame she’d just sold the last of the cakes on the stall she was running at the end.

Hooray!

I did it! I did it! Go me!

If you haven’t read my last post you won’t know what I’m talking about, so go back and read it here.

Right -welcome back. Now you’ve seen how nervous I was on Thursday you’ll appreciate my current delight. Yes I went. Yes I survived. Yes it was all okay. In fact it was good. As promised, everyone was very friendly and when I made the effort to speak to people they were happy to chat. We set off for a run, and despite not being able to keep up with the ladies who were running the route I wanted to run, I found a lovely lady called Sue to run with.

Was I glad I’d gone? Yes. Was I proud of overcoming my shyness? Definitely. Will I go again? Watch this space!

Harder than a marathon

I’ve been running for 6 years, slowly improving, but now I think I’d like some help, advice, support, and yes running friends. So what does everyone recommend? Joining a running club of course. Simple.

However, for this runner, not so simple. You see, I’m shy. Yes I know shyness is only cute in small children so I’m around 40 year too late for that. I know I probably don’t come across as shy, but that’s years of managing to act a part when I need to. Acting the clown is a brilliant disguise for shyness (although I draw the line at the face paint and red nose). For things like job interviews I can put on self confidence with my suit jacket, but it’s such a relief to shrug it off again several hours later. I love to tell a good story (and if it’s not good it doesn’t necessarily stop me) and it just happens to be a way to fill air space to stop me dithering about if I should be talking, or what I should say, and what was the other person’s name again??

I keep being told how friendly running clubs are, how I’ll really enjoy being a part of a club and running with club mates on runs and at races. My husband joined our local cycling club a few years ago and just loves it. He has made so many new friends that I worry a party we’re hoping to hold later on in the year will be swamped by Wheelers. With this in mind, I have been a little bit brave, and e-mailed the running club about going along to try a session to see what it’s like. After my original e-mail was retrieved from the Spam (not a good start), I’ve been told to come along tonight and

If you come along we will try and pair you up with some runners of similar speed.

Just ask for a committee member.

So I need to approach a big group of runners, who will all know each other and “Just ask for a committee member”. I can feel my shyness spilling out, threatening to swamp me like a heavy blanket, muffling my thoughts and rendering me unable to move or act. I’m in danger of inventing an excuse and simply not going.

And now I feel angry at myself. I WANT to join a running club! If they’re horrible and unwelcoming, I can always try a different club. I’ve had an offer to go with a lady to next week’s session, and she seems really lovely, but I don’t know her either and I think I should try and go tonight because I’m too old to feel like this.

Running has taught me many things. It’s shown me that I can do so much more than I would ever have imagined. It’s shown me I’m much tougher and more resilient than I believe I am, and that I’m incredibly stubborn at times. I’m good at just keeping on going, which is more of a life skill than I ever would have believed. I can go out in public in tight lycra and (mostly) not care, (although I do sometimes catch sight of myself in a mirror and mentally raise my eyes heavenwards with a sigh). It’s also taught me what a great group of people runnners are, how supportive of each other we can be and how encouraging.

If you’re reading this as a runner, or as a fellow “shy-be” or simply as a nice human being please send me some support and encouragement to put my self-confident face on (along with my lycra and trainers) tonight and get myself along to running club. It can’t be any harder than running a marathon, can it?