Celebrations and Achievements

It’s taken a long time (like all my running does ) but I finally achieved it. My first parkrun milestone of 50 parkruns, in just over 5 years. parkrun wouldn’t run out of t-shirts if everyone took this long.

Anyway on Easter Saturday, a beautiful sunny morning, I popped on my apricot Chippenham parkrun vest and trotted around our local park having a lovely chat with a friend. parkrun done right. The only strange thing is how my hand has apparently turned into a claw?!

Okay – now to wait to be able to order my beautiful red milestone t-shirt …

It’s a “No” to Janathon, but “Yay!” to Veganuary

So after posting a very short activity for New Year’s Day, I also managed a swim on the 2nd (to test out one of my Christmas presents – more on this another time!). After a strong(?) start, I then returned to work on the 3rd and Janathon went awol. PAH.

On a more positive note, I volunteered to run as a 33 minute pacer at parkrun on Saturday 5th, and I am pretty pleased to say I managed to achieve a run time of … 33:00 minutes. I may have peaked at pacing just 5 days into the year.

Proof!

Another success so far this year has been my participation in Veganuary. My attempts at being vegan again, after a break of about 23 years, came a cropper in December when a work colleague gave me a milk chocolate advent calendar and I couldn’t hurt his feelings by not eating it. (I was also delighted to finally feel like part of the team. I’m so needy!) Veganuary was just the push I needed to start again, and with my daughter accompanying me, I think I’m doing pretty well this time. Well – apart from *those* crisps – who in hell puts milk in Thai Sweet Chilli Crisps? Walkers Sensations- that’s who. Double PAH!!

I’ve also decided that as well as trying to get more sleep, I need to start feeling generally “well” again. So many odd symptoms, including bad sleep, are really starting to get me down. I’m certain they’re all just menopausal “it’s my age” stuff, but I’ll likely punch anyone who says that to my face. (PMT-type rage is just another symptom). So – I’ve purchased a box of horse tablets for “women of a certain age” and I’ll try and remember to force one down every night. Worth a try I reckon.

I’ve found that when I’ve dragged myself out for a cold, dark run after work then I sleep much, much better that night. I’m using this as a successful prod to get myself out there after work. (I can do it as long as I don’t sit down when I get in. If I sit down, I’m done for). As an added bonus, I feel like superhero running in the dark on my own, wearing my extremely bright chest torch. Who doesn’t want that!

Does anyone have any top tips that might help with sleeping, or with coping increasing age? Please share if you do!

What’s better than parkrun?

What could be better than parkrun? Actually, what could be better than attending your friend’s 100th parkrun? No, no, what could be better than attending your friend’s 100th parkrun, in the sunshine?

I’ll tell you. What’s better is persuading your daughter to come along and marshal at parkrun whilst you run, before dropping her at the station to go back to university.

Well done us, and well done Lucy (another Lucy!) on your parkrun milestone!

parkrun pacing – try anything once!

After my local parkrun recently invested in some lovely pacing tabards, they requested volunteers to wear them for the first time. Ever keen to try new things, I said I’d give it a go and put my name down as the 32 minute pacer.

Thinking I probably ought to practice running to a certain time, I popped out for on local 3 mile route and ran it in 32 minutes and 1 second (this did include a stop to retie my lace). Not bad I thought!

Full of confidence I rocked up on Saturday 1st September.

How smart do we look? And just in case you don’t recognise me, here we are again:-

So did I manage to get even closer to my target 32 minutes and win the box of chocolates? Not quite, my official time was 31:30. Obviously I needed to stop and tie my shoelace again!

What a Week!

It’s been a week of superhuman effort on one hand, and a very human effort on the other. My husband spent 4 and a half days cycling 1,400 kilometres from London up to Edinburgh and then back again. Wow. With 1,499 other cyclists. Incredible.

I did running, a bit of swimming, and a lot of driving. Not so impressive.
On Saturday we had both volunteered to help at registration for LEL (as it’s known).

Ready to register!
Ready to register!

This was an amazing experience, meeting riders from 53 countries who were due to set off on this amazing event the next day. We saw excitement and nerves, extreme preparation and last minute holdups (a strike in Calais and gridlocked M25 must have been nerve jangling for those stuck). I worried about the Indian  riders who were already feeling cold on what was quite a nice day, loved the noisy camaraderie of the Spanish riders, and was amazed by the man from Leeds who ridden down for the start.

On Sunday I waved my husband off, with prayers that he would be safe. I drove back home to Wiltshire and ran (and walked) a very slow 4 miles on Monday. I went swimming with my Mum on Wednesday morning and apart from the splashy kids I was the youngest by quite a few years. (Apart from the kids I was also the only one that got my face and hair wet!). I then raced 5 miles on Wednesday evening in a race I’d forgotten I’d entered. This was the Stripped Back Bustard 5, a great little race on a night with horizontal rain.

Stripped Back Bustard 5
Final corner

Despite just aiming to finish, I hung onto Dawn’s shirt tails the whole way round and was delighted to finish in under 50 minutes in 49:44. I was also delighted with my cup of tea and two hobnobs. (I’m very easily pleased).

Clutching tea and hobnobs
Spot me still clutching my tea and hobnobs

On Friday I drove up and back from London to bring an exhausted husband and his bike back home. M25 on a Friday. Twice. Lovely!

You might have guessed by now which of us was the superhuman! I’m only human, so can I have a rest now? Oh hang on, I’ve promised to take my son to parkrun so he can raise funds for his NCS charity of choice, Pets as Therapy. I’ll just leave his fund raising link here… Rest after parkrun then please?

Confidence

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

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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.

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Cheers!