Black and Tabby Runs – as featured in ‘Runners World’

At last, my literary prowess and sporting knowledge has been recognised, and I can proudly tell you I’ve been featured in Runner’s World.

Before I get too carried away, here’s a shot of the full page:-

Runners World page
Fame at last!

Before anyone makes any rude remarks, I’m not the wonderful OAP running their 100th marathon. I’m not even the Ninja runner. Look closer at the “I wish I’d known” section…

Runners World page Close Up
My Top Tip – number 4

Yup – there’s me – in at number 4. “Close your mouth when running past a large puddle with a car approaching at speed”.

Sadly I had to learn this the hard way, but I am passing this on to you all , so that you can be spared the nastiness of spitting gritty water out for the last mile of your run.

Happy running!

A sad tale of young lives wasted


On a run through our local Stately home grounds, the path goes over a little old stone sided bridge. As you get closer to this bridge, you can see lots of carved names, and initials in the stone.

“Pah!” You might say, “what are people like? Almost as bad as the litter in the lanes I’ve seen this morning.”

Before you get too huffy (and before you start me off about fast food littering – that’s a whole post in itself!), let me tell you the story behind the carvings.

During the First World War, Corsham Town Hall  was used as a hospital for soldiers. As part of their recuperation they were encouraged to walk in the grounds of Corsham Court. Apparently, if they were well enough to reach the little bridge (about a mile away) then they were well enough to be shipped back out to the front line. The carved names and initials were made by these young men.

After running over the bridge and looking at the carvings (as I do every time I run this way) within 2 miles I ran past the town’s War Memorial. The thought that stuck in my mind was wondering how many of the names from the bridge ended up on the memorial?

What a waste. Let’s make sure we live our lives fully as a mark of respect.

Fame at Last!

If you haven’t seen the Seriously Ugly Race Pics website, then I highly recommend you pop over and have a look. And a giggle. This is a site for anyone who has run a race, then seen the race photos and winced.

Funnily enough, a couple of my own photos have just appeared on the website. Have a look, and a giggle, and then dig out some of your own amazing race pics and send them in. And give us all a giggle!

Seriously Ugly Race Pics

Week 11 – getting a bit scary!

So week 11 – the first of the scary weeks of my marathon schedule. The 4 miles with my outrider was fun. The 8 miler was done wearing my compression socks whilst the children (allegedly) did their homework. It went well, my shins felt fine (hooray!) and some homework was even done (not by me).

Plans for the 18 miles had to be more complicated, as the children hadn’t been given that much homework to keep them out of mischief for the amount of time it would take me to run 18 miles. Final scheme involved the children going to be spoilt at their grandparents whilst I ran from their house.

This was a fine plan, except I hadn’t considered how this would confuse my subconscious. My longer runs have often gone out towards where my parents live as the half way point, and then turned back. So as I set out on my long run my subconscious was telling me I must be at least half way through, whilst my brain and Garmin were telling me I still had quite some way to go. The run was therefore hard right from the start. Reaching mile 6, which should now feel like a short run, and having to reassure myself that I’d made it through a third of my distance (woo!) was sobering.

To cut a long run (and story) short, I eventually made it back to my parents’ house, after 18.7 miles and over 3 and a half hours. My shoes and legs were filthy again (surprise surprise, the river bank was still extremely muddy) but my shins were no more sore than any other party of my body. A couple of photos I took as an excuse to stop and have a little breather.

At the end of the canal. An ‘Arfur Boat’ safely in a ‘dry’ lock. My kids would have loved this a few years ago!
Scary bridge over the River Avon
Cycle Trail signpost. ‘Only’ 5 miles back to Calne from here. Sigh.

After such an exhausting run, I decided to swap the last 4 mile ‘easy’ run for a lovely bike ride, in the Forest of Dean, with my gorgeous family. A good change, good to spend some time as a family doing ‘stuff’, and we still got muddy. Roll on week 12 – an easier week!

Week 11 Marathon Training. Sounds a bit proper

Week 11. Sounds incredibly like proper training, a decent amount of training already done, not too long to go until the big day.

Does it feel like that? Erm – no. It does feel like a great achievement if I look back at my well scribbled schedule, but if I look ahead I still feel slightly sick.

This week’s training called for runs of 4, 8, 4 and 18. When I was choosing a schedule I examined lots of different plans. It was weeks like this that made me go pale around the gills. Last week’s 16 mile long run does sound like an impressive long run, but 18 sounds like Proper Marathon Training (with capital letters!)

The week has started well, despite it being half term. On my 4 miles this morning I was accompanied by an outrider (it’s half term here, just to really make training difficult) who encouraged me to speed up because he was cold, and then kept me talking the whole way which was a real test of my apparently low heart rate. It was good to have some cheerful company, and made a change from talking to the horses in the fields I pass. As a bonus it started snowing whilst we were out, so we awarded ourselves bonus hardcore points.

I wore my new knee high compression socks, but it wasn’t really brave as I was also wearing my long tights. Not sure if they helped or not, as I could ‘feel’ my shins as I ran, but then I had been poking, prodding and rollering my shins before I set off.

Guess they’ll have their first real test tomorrow!

16 miles, go me!

Route planned and map printed out? Check!

Cats unimpressed by smell of Deep Heat? Check!

Compression calf guards stretched onto calves? Check!

Golf ball and foam roller used? Ow! (I mean Check!)

The weather was perfect, cool enough to need my lovely jacket but not so cold that I was worried about cold muscles. I set off feeling positive. The miles ticked off easily enough, the traffic was light and well behaved, and my shins were feeling fine.

After about 3 miles I could hear runners behind me. A pair of running ladies overtook me with a friendly ‘hello’. I resisted the urge to speed up, as I knew I still had a fair way to go. Shortly after that, another lady runner came towards me, and about 10 minutes after that there were another 2 lady runners just ahead of me. It was the day to be a lady runner – didn’t see a single man out running! All of the other ladies turned off before me, and I noticed none of them were carrying water so I presumed they were running for a much shorter distance than I had planned. Running to Lacock not only means running through a beautiful village, but the more practical advantage of a National Trust toilet on the route. Bet the Brighton Marathon course can’t boast that!

Up the canal towpath which was thankfully open this time, accompanied by a very muddy dog who seemed to be all on her own. She was running up and down, and barking, and I was just thinking I’d have to try and catch her to see if she had a number on her collar, when her owners finally caught up with her. I had to stop and consult my map as I headed back into town, as what I thought was a straight road into town turned out to be a small path that wiggled along between the backs of houses.

So what’s this stuff?
Similarly unimpressed

The rest of the run went well. The long hill up to the top of town felt hard, but I was expecting that. I started chewing some Shot Bloks after 9 miles. I had forgotten how hard it is to chew when you’re tired!

As I crossed the big road bridge I knew it was only 3 miles to get home. I even subconsciously picked the pace up a little. Maybe that was a mistake, because with 2 miles to go I got the most awful stitch. I tried running with an arm stretched up in the air to stretch it out, I tried pushing my fist in hard where it was sore, I tried ignoring it, but nothing helped. Made it home only to see I hadn’t quite made it to 16 miles so I had to run past the house and then back up again.

Finally made it home with just over 16 miles on the watch. So yet again, I have run the longest training run. I am tired, have a date with my golf ball and the foam roller, but I’m happy.

Week 10 – getting there, and dreaded shin splints

Just realised, haven’t blogged all week. Not that I couldn’t think what to say – most of my runs are spent mentally composing blog posts. Unfortunately most of these literary gems seem to dissolve in the hot water of my post run shower. It’s not that I haven’t been running this week – no, 3 out of my 3 runs done so far.

Is it that I haven’t had any photos to post? Possibly – I’ve been determined to post NO MORE photos of muddy lanes, large puddles or splashed legs. However that seems to have been mostly what I’ve seen on my runs this week, so no photos.

Is it that my runs haven’t gone well this week? Well my easy 3 miler was replaced with a 3 mile ‘blast’ because I was getting sick of sloooow plodding runs. Very good it felt too! My 7 mile medium length run went so well it felt like a short run. 4 miles in the cold yesterday and my heart rate barely wobbled above 70%.

So is there another reason I’m not telling you? Hmm – you’ve got me there. Its that awful, boring cliché known as shin splints. I have been congratulating myself this week on getting further in my training than I managed last year. However I have been doing so whilst trying to ignore that annoying twinge in my lower leg. Maybe that 3 mile blast wasn’t such a good idea I thought, as I came home and reached for the ice pack. Mind you, Tuesday’s 7 miles went okay, but then I did prepare thoroughly. There was the Googling for appropriate stretches, then rolling a golf ball under my foot (ow), followed by foam rollering my calves (OW!) Just as the cats were becoming quite amused by all this palaver, I went and spoilt it by smothering my lower limbs in Deep Heat. The sight of two disgusted feline noses turned up at the smell was a sight to behold, and I made a mental note not to stop and chat with anyone en route whilst smelling so medicinal.  These preparations seemed to do the trick, and the run went well.

Didn’t bother with such extensive preparations on Wednesday, and I had to stop and have a little stretch at the half way point. I was ignoring the ignominy of stretching after only 2 miles by telling myself anyone passing wouldn’t know I hadn’t gone very far. Then I spoilt my calm demeanour by slipping off the kerb I was balancing on the edge of. Sigh.

Lots of rollering and icing later (sadly not of the baking variety) and I’m getting ready to plan my long run for tomorrow. Deep Heat is on standby (sorry cats), compression calf guards are ready and waiting, positive thoughts are lined up. Just need to check the weather forecast (Arctic winds, anyone?!) and plan a route. Wish me luck!