Orienteering A.K.A “how to get lost running round somewhere you know”

Tonight I thought I’d try orienteering, seeing as there was an event starting at my children’s school. I obviously knew the area, so what could possibly go wrong?

On a very hot evening the day after a 5K race I went to Chippenham, I got a map and a dibber, and a very nice man explained how it all works. I had to get myself from control point to control point, finding my own way, and blip* my dibber at each control. Easy peasy, right? Erm, no.  I got lost, I got hot, I got thirsty, and I managed to make the 4K route into 5.5 miles. I obviously took the scenic route. 

Photo of orienteering map
Apparently this is a map of Chippenham. I think they lied.

It WAS fun, but I hadn’t appreciated that orienteering maps are a little different to OS maps. On studying the map safely back at home, I realise that a couple of the footpaths I was trying to follow were actually contour lines. Sigh!

* blipping isn’t an official technical term, but dibber is. 

Still here!

I was very tempted to entitle this post “Still Ill” as a Smiths’ reference and truthful statement, but it’s rather downbeat so I didn’t. Last time I wrote, I was preparing for my first ever triathlon with a combination of nerves and excitement. 

5 weeks on, and I’m sorry to say I never made it to my triathlon. I’ve also missed a 10K race, and a 5K race. The reason? I’ve either been ill or working. Or both. Pah. Nothing serious by the way, just a cold that won’t clear up. And the working wasn’t serious, more “extra” work over in Wales, involving dressing up for hours on end and standing, walking, sitting and even dancing all hours of the day and night. Lots of hanging around, but lots of fun as well. Have a sneaky peak here …

Going forward I’m still recovering from this cold and have moved onto invigilating for work. This still involves lots of waiting and walking, but fortunately not so many costumes. Sticking to the movie theme, I’ll get over this cold, I’ll get running again, and … “I’ll be back”!

“What could possibly go wrong?”

So in my last blog post,  I tempted fate by writing the following :-
” Time for an emergency training plan which looks like 9 days torturing my legs until they remember how to run,  3 days taper followed by race day. What could possibly go wrong?

What indeed! That very evening my son was taking part in a kids’ time trial on his new road bike.  Desperate to beat his previous time he was flying, until the double chicane where he unfortunately had an ‘off’. He walked back to the start, limping, bleeding, holding his arm and trying not to cry.

We took him home and patched him up.  He went to bed after taking Calpol with promises that if his arm was still sore in the morning we’d go to the local hospital to get him checked out. Sadly he appeared by my bedside at 3.00am asking for more Calpol, and pointing out that his arm probably shouldn’t be bent in the way it was. (It was distinctly curved – something I’d put down to swelling the previous evening).

Wednesday was spent taking him to two hospitals,  having two different casts put on,  having two x-rays taken, having his arm referred to as a ‘banana arm’. Seeing him all giggly after having gas and air was a lighter moment in the day,  but it was heart breaking watching my boy wincing and trying not to cry as the doctor manipulated his arm to get the bones to lie straight.  I was trying not to cry as well, and it was incredibly hard trying to stay positive, reassuring and comforting.

Thursday, today, has been spent helping him get used to his very heavy cast. Working out what he could do by himself (go to the toilet, put pants on, fasten a seat belt) and what he needed help with (getting a t-shirt on,  putting socks on,  opening a can of coke). Tomorrow hopefully he’ll go back to school, until his appointment at the Fracture Clinic on Wednesday. We’ll know then if his bones are healing straight. Keep your fingers crossed.

One amazing thing happened as a result of all of this. To try and cheer my son up,  I tweeted Jens Voigt, professional cyclist, Tour de France regular, hero of our family and all-round nice guy. I told him about my son’s accident and asked if he’d retweet my tweet to cheer my son up.  I was amazed later on to see I had a tweet from Jens, with a special message for my son.  He said :-

“@thejensie: @BandTRuns hi there, sorry to hear about your crash, hope its ok now and you are back home!! I keep fingers crossed forna quick recovery!!!”

Tweet to my son, from Jens Voigt, officially the nicest man in pro-cycling

Tweet to my son, from Jens Voigt, officially the nicest man in pro-cycling

What a star! Jens is definitely the nicest man in pro-cycling. I wonder if, when celebrities and sports stars spend a few seconds writing a tweet or a message, they realise quite how much it’s appreciated? I hope so, because the smile this message brought to my son’s face was fantastic. He is still mentioning it several days later!

Sore legs, vague feeling of panic, it must be September

Sore legs – Check!
Slight panicky feeling in the pit of the stomach – Check!
Have run more in the last two days than in the whole of the previous month – Check!

Okay – it must be September.

Every year the same, summer holidays rule out any chance of running. A few snatched runs to keep the guilt at bay, whilst the September half marathon inches ever closer. This summer we managed to fit in a trip to see the in-laws, a trip to London to see the Olympics (Women’s basketball – I am now a fan!), 10 days in Italy, bedroom redecorating (my son’s – now red, orange and green. Honestly) and a general house clearout. I also managed to squeeze in 3 runs, a total of 10 miles.

I ran yesterday and today, a total of 10.2 miles and my first half Marathon is in 11 days. My second is in 18 days. I think ideas of smashing my PB should be ruled out …..

Chippenham River Run 5K Race Report

Its no good, I couldn’t leave my race report as just a few words. So here’s a few more.

Well the day was sunny and warm all day, which was a little worrying. However, clouds gathered as the day wore on. I arrived at around 6.45 and was perturbed to realise I actually had to pay to park. Was very pleased to spot my race partner also at the Pay machine.

We walked down to the start area, which was really busy. For a little race, there were apparently 367 entrants, so maybe not so little. I saw my running group and went to say hello.

Me & RP (race partner) sauntered towards the start line, and proceeded to set off for our ‘little jogette’ warm-up. We discovered at this point that the grass had obviously been very long and wet, and had recently been cut so it was rough, bumpy and covered with the grass clippings. We arranged ourselves in the start-up melee, and made our plans for the start. The course crosses a field to start towards the river, and then goes onto a fairly narrow path (you have to run single file). We discovered last year that if you get stuck behind slower runners, you stay stuck as it’s hard to overtake. So this year’s plan was to make sure we didn’t get manouevered to the back before the race even started, and then as soon as the fog horn sounded, to sprint as fast as we could to the path.

The plan was working fine, RP pointed out to me a couple of people who were squeezing in front of us at the start so we could reclaim our places. However when the starting horn sounded, it was obvious that everyone else had the same plan as us, as it was a mad stampede! Not easy on the rough surface. A man stopped in front of us to look around, obviously for a running partner, so we had to skip around him, and then on our left a lady fell over, face first. Hope she didn’t get trampled!

We made it safely to the first corner, running way faster than either of our plans, so settled in there for the race. There was some over-taking as people sorted themselves out, and as I glanced behind I could see Mel was a couple of people behind me. He waved at me, so I carried on. I was feeling good at this point, although looking at the Garmin had me worried that I was going too fast. Still, I thought I could always slow down at the end.

Mile 2 has some uphill bits in it – up from the river bank to the road side, and then up a zig zag ramp to the cycle path. As I zagged, I could see Mel was zigging. He waved again, so I hoped that meant he was fine, and felt a bit guilty as I pressed on. Even with these slopes I felt great, and overtook a few more people on the wider cyclepath. As we climbed up off the cyclepath, I knew it was all downhill through a housing estate back to the river bank.

Determined ‘Sprint’ Finish

The third mile is back along the river bank on the single file path, mostly retracing our steps. By now I was starting to feel a little tired, breathing was a little more ragged, but to be honest not nearly as bad as I would have thought. I passed a few people, and nearly ran into the back of a couple of girls who stopped right in front of me. As we reached the corner with just the field to cross to the finish line, one helpful marshal shouted “Only 400 metres to go. Time to turn it on now!” I thought “I HAVE turned it on!!!!!” I chased a lady across the field but as she heard me come up behind her she put on a spurt to cross the line just in front of me. As I ran to the finish ‘funnel’, 2 of my running club were there shouting me in. That was lovely, as for a change I hadn’t dragged my family there with me.

As I shuffled through the finish area, I could just see RP coming in behind me.

Finish time – 27:46 Splits were 9:03, 9:12, 8:51 and 8 seconds to finish. (don’t think I’ve EVER had a split starting with an 8 before!!!)

By comparison, last years’ time was 30:20, so I took 2 minutes 34 off my previous PB. Still VERY pleased – It felt fast, *I* felt fast! It was hard work, but it never felt uncomfortable. Yes I was tired at the end and desperate for a drink of water, but I wasn’t gasping or falling to the floor with exhaustion.

Overall, very VERY pleased – and amazed that a schedule designed to speed up my longer races is having such a great effect on shorter ones too (thanks AH!)  3M recovery run the next morning, and apart from legs feeling generally tired, I had no aches or pains which really in amazing.

Roll  on the next one!

10K Tonight – already nervous

Having convinced myself that I was quite capable of running this sub-60, just need a little help from the conditions. That would be why it was 26C when I stepped out of the car then

However, the sunshine does mean I can wear my lovely new Cebe sunglasses which I won in a competition from Sport Pursuit. Maybe I should pose round for a bit longer in than to help take my mind off tonight!

All back to normal. New goals, new gear :-)

For the first time in a long time, last week I ran 4 times. Two easy runs, one short tempo run, and a long run. I have new gear, new goals, a new group and nothing else beginning with ‘G’ I can think of.

A new running group has started in our neighbouring village so I felt very brave going along. We ran 2.7 miles, there were just 5 of us, and I was haring along determined not to hold everyone up. Felt pretty fast so I was mentally telling myself this would count as my Tempo run for the week. I was very relieved when the group leader said she was glad we hadn’t run any further at that pace – it wasn’t just me that found it hard then!

My lovely new kit arrived as well – a bright Purple running bra from Sugoi, and a pale blue long sleeved top from Ron Hill. Its very light, so perfect for the current temperature where you know you’ll be warm by the end, but don’t quite dare to start off in short sleeves.

I’ve entered 2 half marathons both in September (just a week apart actually) which probably isn’t very clever, but I want to run them for different reasons. One because its a local race, its the first year its been run, and it should be a lovely mix of country roads and Wiltshire small town roads. The other is a big city race where I’ll hopefully get to meet some of the runners I was talking online to before we ran the marathon.

There’s a lovely sounding little 10K race at the end of June as well. Very pretty route, a Thursday evening (which would be a first!), supporting the local Scout group. Sounds perfect? Well, looking at last year’s results at my current pace I come round about last. I think I need to give myself a talking to again.. “Someone has to come last” “its not the end of the world”, “it won’t be the first time you’ve come last..”

Its the Final Countdown!

So its officially less than a week to go.
I can now say “When I run the London Marathon this week“.
It really is too late to worry about it now – I just have to get my self organised (adds that to giant To Do list).

Short run today, hopefully with son as bicycling attendant. Collect my number on Wednesday. Last Physio session on Thursday to get taped up again (if she thinks its needed). Maybe another little run on Thursday. Friday for last minute dithering, then OFF on Saturday!

Must try and iron my name onto my charity vest today. Just in case I melt my top, the theory is I would still have time to get hold of another one.

Obsessing about the weather forecast for Sunday, and what the appropriate amount of clothing is. Shorts or capris? Vest, or vest with top underneath, or vest with top over the top that can be removed if it warms up? Bin bag if its raining, or running gilet?

Oh such angst!