Juneathon Day 9 – Race day!

My first ever 5 mile race, a strange distance, but a good one. The race is so local to me that the route is one I run regularly. The top part of the course is my default “I just need to get out somewhere flattish and put a few miles in” route, and is also where I’ve been running my intervals. Probably because its so local, and I hadn’t managed to pre-register in time, it was only late last night I realised I needed to get myself organised for it. I piled up running cap, sun glasses, shorts and t-shirt, in anticipation of another warm, sunny day.

Mr B&T was up and out early, for a 175Km ‘Audax’ ride (think orienteering on bikes), so I stayed in bed for a bit longer after he’d gone. I didn’t manage to get any more sleep though, because the ol’ pre-race nerves were kicking in BIG TIME. I’d foolishly looked up last year’s results and seen how speedy most of the runners were. It was looking like I would be right at the back of the pack. Not a new experience by any means, but it doesn’t give you much leeway before you end up AT the back.

I finally got myself organised and out of the house, and off to collect daughter from her sleepover. I had to drive along part of the course and was a little confused to see runners already out. Had I got the time wrong I nervously asked myself??!! Quick check – no! I saw exactly where the water station was going to be, which is always good to know. It was cloudy and a bit chilly at this time, with a cold wind, so I was laughing at myself for picking up my running cap and sun glasses, and for applying sun cream before I set off.

Daughter finally collected and dropped back home, I sped back to the race HQ and was very relieved to find there was sill time to register, and still places (phew!) I completed the paperwork and pinned on my number at high speed, and then realised I had nearly an hour to kill before the race started. After (another) trip to the loo (I hate race mornings!) I found a quiet corner to see what the runners I follow on Twitter were up to. My timeline was full of lots of other people getting ready for races, and after I tweeted how nervous I was, a few good luck messages as well. Thanks Tweeps – it really helped!

Finally we were called for the pre-race briefing, and then told to assemble. It was still overcast and a tad chilly at this point, so I didn’t bother going and getting my sunglasses or cap from the car. 11 o’clock arrived, we shuffled forward towards the line (which was quite a long way away in my case – I always like to start near the back), and we waited and shivered in the chill breeze. Suddenly the air horn blasted, the sun sprung out from behind the clouds, the wind dropped, and we were off. I started my Garmin as the horn sounded rather than as I crossed the start line so my time would be consistent with the officially recorded race time. Down the drive from the rugby club, then a quick loop through a field to make the distance up, then back down the drive and onto the course proper. The field of runners were already well strung out, and I was delighted to see the normally deserted country lanes full of colourful running tops and club vests.

In a fit of runner’s logic, I had managed to convince myself to run at around last year’s 5K PB pace, because obviously 5 miles is only a tiny bit longer than 3.1 miles, and nowhere near as long as a 10K race. This pace was 8:56 minute miles, so I figured if I could keep to under 9 minute miles I’d be doing well. My secret ‘Gold medal’ result would be to come in under 45 minutes, with Silver being less than 50 minutes and Bronze being just conquering my nerves! The course has a very gradual incline for the first couple of miles so I knew it would feel hard and I should just hold on for the downhill bits.

Close to the end of this long incline one runner I’d been following had slowed to a walk. Ever helpful, I pointed out the tree that marked the top of the slope, and the start of the downhill and flat section. He gasped he’d been hoping the water station was along this section, so I also told him where the water station actually was (just call me Mrs Tourist Information!) He started running again, and we chatted in between gasps and puffs. He told me he had a muscle problem so was actually running a minute per mile slower than usual. I told him I was flat out hoping to stay under 9 minute miles. We laughed that both of our Garmins were ‘beeping’ quite a way before the official mile markers, just to confuse pace setting. We moaned in unison about the headwind which appeared as we came up the last uphill section. We ran together right up to the very last section, pacing each other along. I could see my average pace was around 9 so I was getting quite excited. Along the last section I had to pull in behind him as a car passed us, and I couldn’t catch him back up after that. I pushed onto the finish line, crossing (according to my Garmin) in 45:09

First thought – damn, missed my Gold medal by 9 seconds! Second thought – oh a medal and goody bag! (Like a magpie – easily distracted by something shiny). After a drink, a banana, a ‘thank you’ to my pacer and some stretches, my third thought was “well if I started well back from the start line, I actually ran further than most people, so I wonder what time  I actually passed the 5 mile mark, according to my Garmin?” Statistics and technology are wonderful things – with a quick shufty through my Garmin data I can see I hit 5 miles in 44:32, and my average pace over the whole distance was 8:54 – quicker than last year’s 5K PB pace.

Hooray – I have awarded myself an honorary Gold medal for this, as with the heat and the nerves I think I ran a pretty fine race. It also looks good for a new 10K PB later in the month, if I can keep near to that pace for another mile.

Race Bling
Race Bling

Back home, here’s my finisher’s swag. Not sure what a ‘Titan’ bar is, but it looks chocolatey, it says its suitable for vegetarians so I think I’ve earned it. I just wish I could do something about those pre-race nerves – can anyone offer any tips?

Juneathon Day 8 – struggling with weekends

I usually run in the mornings, when everyone else has left the house and I get some time on my own. I always knew therefore that weekends were going to be tricky for Juneathon.

After a lazy Saturday morning, where the only activity was popping into town dropping daughter off for her ‘stay awake over’ and a spot of shopping, I made the mistake of sitting on the sofa.  I was promptly pinned down by a very large tabby.


Apparently sitting with your feet on a copy of Runner’s World doesn’t count for #Juneathon.

After a nap with a lovely warm lap, me and the boy (son not cat) headed outside to assemble our new bench. This didn’t take long so I still couldn’t kid myself I’d done my Juneathon activity for the day.

So I got off the sofa and dug the Abs DVD out again.  My stomach was still sore from Thursday’s session, but I stuck it out (the workout, not my stomach).

I even didn’t mind the annoying lady’s voice as much this time, as each time she said something like “keep this up and you’ll soon have your six pack”, my son would say “she really wants her beer!”

Race day tomorrow – better drink some water and get my stuff sorted!

Juneathon Day 7 – Easy Race Recce

So yesterday’s Abs workout felt like a bit of a cop-out for Juneathon, but as I got out of bed and stretched this morning my stomach muscles were begging to disagree. Back to running today – an easy run (rather than my usual Friday long run) as I’m hoping to race on Sunday. Its a 5 mile race which I’ve never done before (so I’m guaranteed a PB – yay!), and is very local to me, so local I was considering cycling there. I ran most of the route today as a recce (although I know the roads round here very well) so I’d know where the hill flattened out (I always think of it as going on and on – what a pessimist!)

So why aren’t I definitely doing it? Well Mr B&T got to the calendar before me and is already cycling in a 175KM Audax ride on Sunday. Then daughter wants to go to a sleepover on Saturday night, and will need picking up on Sunday morning. All do-able so far, but it hinges on daughter being ready to be collected at about 9.30am, after a “sleep” over, and then walking home from the race start (only about 2 1/2 miles).

Knowing how great my daughter is at getting up and out in the morning, and her keenness on any type of exercise, I can only cross my fingers that I make it to the start line on Sunday, on time!

In happier news, my shoes survived the washing machine after Wednesday’s mudbath and are now clean and sparkly again. Top tip for getting shoes clean? Put in washing machine, add a bit of every type of washing powder / pre clean treatment / magic ‘whitening’ crystals you can find, and cross your fingers!

Clean running shoes

Juneathon Day 6 – Tired

After yesterday’s exciting exploits I headed off to bed early, full of antihistamine tablets to try and stop my legs from itching. The nettle stings were kicking in big time.

Sadly, despite being tired, I had an awful night’s sleep. It felt as though I was awake all night as I saw each hour on the clock but I’m sure I dozed in between times. 

Come the morning I had to be up to make sure everyone else got up and out, and then I simply went back to bed.  Good job I wasn’t planning on running today or that would have been the end of my Juneathon!

Instead, when I finally got up, I did what I’d planned to do anyway -a 10 minute workout for my abs.


I’d forgotten how irritating the woman’s voice was though, still hopefully all good for my core muscles!

Juneathon day 5 – An easy run plus Geocaching. What could possibly go wrong ….

I felt really tired this morning, a combination of 4 consecutive days at the allotment, hard intervals yesterday plus a bad nights sleep last night. I didn’t feel like running, but I thought of Juneathon, sighed, and planned an easy run. I guess that’s the trouble with beauty of a challenge like Juneathon – it gets you off your backside when you’d otherwise slack off for the day.

To make my run more interesting I decided to head out and do a new ring of Geocaches that recently appeared close to home. Just an overgrown bridleway to struggle down and then a lovely 2 mile ring of treasure seeking. What could possibly go wrong?

As a precaution against nettles I wore my running capris rather than my shorts*, strapped on my water bottle, applied sun cream, made sure I had old socks on in case it was muddy, printed off a little map to help with navigation, and off I set. I felt like I was orienteering!

Thick, oozy mud
Thick, oozy mud

The overgrown bridleway was okay, a few scratches and stings but not too bad. I found the lovely footpath leading to the first geocache, and quickly found the cache. I signed the log, re-hid the box, and retraced my steps. I checked the directions on my phone, checked my little map, looked around me, but couldn’t see a footpath sign anywhere. I set off along the track which looked most likely, but soon came across one of those huge muddy puddles which completely fill the track with no chance of easing my way around the edge. “Well, it did say it was a bit muddy!” I brightly told myself, and started tip toeing into the mud. Over the (new) shoes, ah well, bit of mud never hurt anyone. Up to the ankles – ewwwww – its very green mud and there are lots of cows round here. Mid shin – there’s lots of flies here as well – best keep my mouth shut. Slip – upto knees – I think I’m about to lose a trainer!!! I made it to the other side, but realised that nothing here looked like it should on the map, or the directions, and no one else had mentioned knee high mud. So I did what any right minded wuss would do, and turned around and waded my way back through.

I hear its very good for the skin
I hear its very good for the skin

Having come so far and got so muddy it was a shame to head back home already, so I decided to try and complete the ring in reverse order. I headed past the cache I’d just done and carried on along this promising track. Then the nettles started. Knee high, thigh high, waist high, by the time they reached chest high I’d had enough. I turned round and  headed out of there.

I made it home by a circular route so I could still get a few miles in (I did), and so hopefully the mud would have dried a little by the time I got home (it did). Looking at my Garmin route and the Geocaching website I can now see which path I should have taken (it wasn’t the muddy one so good job I turned around).

So 3.65 miles, in 58:35 minutes (mile 2 took over 27 minutes – that’s mud wading for you!) Still have to tackle the trainers, and if anyone knows anything to stop the awful itch of nettle sting which is currently crawling up both legs and arms I’d be eternally grateful.

* Running capris offer zero protection against nettle stings – just ask my knees and thighs 

Juneathon Day 4. Intervals in the Sun

Intervals in the sunshine for me today – 7 lots of 400m with 90 seconds recovery. Add on a mile warmup,  and a mile or so to get back home makes it into a respectable 4.87M in 52:51

Seeing how sunny it was, I took my little handheld water bottle with me.  I haven’t used this for many months as it feels very strange to carry it whilst running.  I’ve been trying to think about my ‘form’ whilst running recently, and today I could feel how off balance out made me feel.  My solution? Find a hedge to hide it in until I’d finished the intervals.

Spot the Bottle
Spot the Bottle

On my way back home, sipping my tree-cooled water, I couldn’t resist stopping by the village pond to take some photos of the oh-so-cute ducklings. So fluffy, and so used to people feeding them that they run towards you as you approach, cheeping piteously. Don’t be fooled – these ducks are some of the best fed in Wiltshire!


As well as the intervals, another couple of hours were spent up at the allotment, and I managed a 1 minute plank whilst waiting for the shower water to heat up. Go me!

Juneathon Day 3 – A Run at last!

After 2 days of ‘allotmenteering’ I though I’d better make it out for a run. I’ve not run for about 10 days, so thought I’d just do a short 3 miles and enjoy the sun. Sunny it was for sure! Beautiful out there, and I was out early enough that it wasn’t hot. I ran my usual 3 mile loop, which is a very handy loop from my driveway, out of the village, down a little lane, down through a field, then back up along a by-way, back up along a tiny lane, and along a different lane back to my house. A completely circular route that measures exactly 3 miles.

Funnily enough, its the route I used to aim to be able to run when I started running, 4 years ago. I used to dress in jeans, baggy t-shirt and cheap trainers and walk until I was far enough away from the village that no one would see me. Then I would run for as far as I could (not very!), then walk until I got my breath back. I’d repeat this until I was back into the village again when I would walk (in case anyone saw me). Not sure why I was so worried about anyone seeing me – this morning I was out in my tight lycra shorts and top. I have obviously passed the age of caring!

Other things that have changed – at the top of the field was an old stile that I had to climb over. I used to puff and pant (walking) my way up the field, looking out for this stile which was the sign the hill had ended and it was flat all the way back. Now I run this route the other way round, the stile is often where I pause for a view down over the valley (and occasionally some hares in the fields). This stile is where I first saw some badger tracks in the snow in January. It is also where I demonstrated how clumsy I can be trying to copy someone who niftily climbed through the stile rather than over it. I managed to fall through instead – I never tried that one again!

Here is the stile I used to climb over, back in January:-

Winter Stile
Winter Stile

And here is the stile today. No snow, and a boring gate has been put in its place:-

Summer Stile
Summer Stile

At least I’ll struggle to fall through this one ….?!

Just discovered Juneathon – days 1 and 2

So in my blog meanderings over the weekend I noticed a few running bloggers (or is it blogging runners?) talking about Juneathon. They all had a natty badge on their blogs, and being a sucker for a natty badge I had to investigate further.

It turns out that Juneathon is a challenge for a month, to “run every day, blog every day, log every day”. However, the rules are flexible so it doesn’t have to be running every day (can you hear my shins breathing a huge sigh of relief?) but you should do some sort of exercise every day.

I only signed up today, so I’m taking the liberty of posting about the first 2 days in one post.

Juneathon Day 1

After a week away doing busy family stuff, I didn’t manage to run but I did spend a very busy hour at my allotment, weeding the onions. My back was aching when I finished, so it was obviously exercising weak muscles!

Juneathon Day 2

A beautiful sunny Sunday, perfect for a run you might think. However as my husband was out all day cycling in a local Sportive, and as the allotment was still surrounded by knee high weeds I decided to spend an hour and a half back up there tackling the jungle.

My back was sore again when I finished, so obviously still some work needed on those muscles.

Definitely will run tomorrow, as all my responsibilities will be back at school and work, and my time is my own to organise.