Going back to slay some demons!

If I have a bad race I wont go back to the event again. The “bad race” could be in the form of poor organisation but more often than not it is because I have hated the run. I must say that its often no fault of the organisers, they could put on the best most organised race ever but if I struggle or don’t enjoy it than I wont be going back. There is two 20 mile events that are local to me, I ran both of these back in 2014, well I say ran the truth is probably that I walked most of them, every mile seemed to go on forever and if it was not for the fact you got a fab hoodie on crossing the finish line I probably would have pulled out of both on the 1st lap. Despite both events being amazingly well organised I have not been back and I have no intention of returning. But my no going back to a bad race is about to change. I am going back to do Milton Keynes half in May.

Due to injury the beginning of 2016 was a write off in terms of running, a few limped miles here and there but no regular training. I was swayed by the fab cow medal on offer for running the 5km on the Sunday and the Half on the Monday so I signed up, this despite the fact I could not run more than a few miles before having to stop due to pain.

I went into the race knowing it would not be a fun event, my longest continuous run had been only 4 miles and my longest run walk was 6 miles. Most sensible people would have given up the race as a bad job and not shown up but there was a 3 hour time limit and after months of injury I kinda wanted to feel like a runner again. Fortunately Mary offered to run with me otherwise there could have been points where I might just has sat on the kerb and cried.

In the event I needed almost every one of those 3 hours, I had to walk….alot,  a personal worst by about 40 mins! And whilst I hated the run, I really enjoyed running and chatting to Mary, I loved the route and the organisation was fab so I feel I owe it to the race to go back and give it another go.

So here I am 54 days out from the run and if I am honest I am not in a much better place than I was this time last year in terms of fitness. My longest run is still only around 4 miles and most weeks the only run I do is parkrun, BUT I am able to run without a limp, I have some muscle weakness but I am not injured as such. So I have  53 days for me to do everything I can to come out of MK half with a much happier memory than I did last year.

Oh and if I am honest the fab medal helped sway it, look at these beauts!!

MK

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Thames Trotting from the marshals side

Last Saturday I was stood at 5:30am on my door step waiting for me lift to arrive. It was pitch black with frost on the cars but with my many layers of clothing on I was toasty warm. I was heading off to help marshal the Go Beyond Thames Trot 50 mile race where competitiors run from Oxford to Henley.

We arrived at the start location at just after 6:30am, the venue is a pretty swish location for the start of an ultra. The race uses a hotel in Iffley so we had hand cream and sofas in the toilets rather than a smelly port-a-loo! I started the day on registration and the first runners started to drift in to register just before 7am. The next 75 mins was spent, handing out t-shirts, race numbers and map books, checking phone numbers and answering questions. I dashed outside at 8:30am to see the runners heading off down the road to pick up the Thames path that they would be following for many hours to come.

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The early start meant I had not had time for breakfast so I was super pleased to see bacon sandwiches and tea available to marshals before they headed of to the next checkpoints. I had not seen lots of the other marshals for a few months so it was great to have a few minutes to catch up with them before we had to all separate off to take up our next positions.

My next job was working on Checkpoint 2. Its a checkpoint I have often marshaled at over the years, its one of the nice checkpoints as its in a small park on the banks of the Thames and with a cafe next door should warm tea be required. We arrived at the checkpoint nice and early so popped into the cafe where I grabbed a hot chocolate. We was half way through our drinks when we got the news that the first runners had made it to checkpoint 1. The runners were slightly slower than they had been in previous years so we guessed the going must be tough and we was proved right when lots of muddy runners later came through our checkpoint.20170204_101440

We set the checkpoint up with gels, jelly babies and the lovely fruit cake and then spent some time peering down the towpath to try to see the first runners coming through. My job was making sure every one scanned in their chips and noting down their numbers so we could keep a track of who had been through. Over the next 2 and a half hours we had a steady stream of runners coming through, all saying how tough the mud was.

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Despite being covered in mud most runners were still cheerfully chatting away to each other, offering up encouragement and generally trying to help each other get to the finish. I do love the camaraderie of ultras!

It was early afternoon when we packed up the checkpoint and headed home, I was planning to spend the afternoon watching the last of the six nations rugby, but on curling up on the sofa I promptly feel asleep. Guess the early start had caught up with me!

Northampton parkrun no. 53 on tailrunner duties

I finally achieved my 50 parkrun t-shirt as part of my new years day double so I figured that my next target should be to get my purple volunteer t-shirt (whilst of course still working towards my 100!). With all the tourism that I was doing last year I let my volunteering slide but I am looking to change that this year.

Due to an operation I was unable to run but still liked the idea of completing a parkrun so offered up my services as tailrunner. Northampton regularly has people finishing in just under an hour so I was hopeful of still being able to keep up despite my limp.

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Mary was pushing the pram so was unable to run as well so we used the time as an opportunity to have a good catch up. At the start everyone seemed to speed off and left us behind but as everyone settled into their pace we ended up walking just behind a couple of women. They were using a run/walk strategy as every time we got close to them they broke into a run and left us behind again. I would not have been able to keep up with them if I tried but I was happier walking a little bit further behind them. It allowed them to carry on with their run walk strategy without feeling as if I was putting pressure on them to run more or go faster. If it had been a single person I would definitely tried to keep up with them more to keep them company and offer encouragement.

I always knew how friendly and supportive is but was surprised by how many of the faster runners offered up words of encouragement as they ran past. I had the marshals vest on so they probably presumed that I was keeping Mary company at the back, whereas it was the other way around and if she had walked at her normal pace so would have been some way ahead of me even with a buggy!! I ended up crossing the line in just over 53 minutes, but with a volunteer and run credit towards my t-shirts.

After scanning in we headed off for our usual post parkrun cake. This weeks cake choice being peanut butter flapjack. The hot chocolate certainly helped warm me up again after parkrun.

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I realise that the last parkrun I wrote about was number 20 just over a year ago, so I have missed out writing about 32 parkruns. Don’t worry I wont be recapping them all, but I might try to have a think back to some of the fun tourism that completed last year.

Not doing resolutions

I am not a huge fan of news years resolutions and all this new year new me stuff that goes around at the start of a new year primarily because I tend to break them all within a week. But this year I do have a couple of aims, to run more regularly and to blog more regularly.

2016 was a rubbish running year for me, injury and life got in the way and my total mileage for the whole year was only 186 miles. A total that I would have previously completed in a couple of months.

2016-mileage

I only got to the 186 miles because I was attending parkrun regularly. In 2016 I managed to finish 28 parkruns, I had hoped to make my 50th parkrun in 2016 but missed it by a day completing my 50th parkrun on New Years Day as part of my double parkrun day. Making 100 parkruns this year would be a bit of a push especially as I have already missed a week but I would like to finish a similar number of parkruns as I did last year.

Oh and one more little target, to get on this list… http://www.parkrun.org.uk/results/mostevents/

I so far have 14 different parkruns so hoping to make the 20 this year!

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2017 has already started better than 2016 in terms of mileage, but to be honest it could not have been worse than last year where I completed precisely zero mileage. So fingers firmly crossed for a better year!!

Return of the running mojo??

I don’t want to get carried away and say my love for running is back, but tonight for the first time in a long time there was a faint glimmer of mojo returning. In my last post I wrote about how I was hating running and avoiding it. But tonight I actually WANTED!! to run!!! I will say now I did not actually run but just having the desire to run is something that has been missing for so long it came as a shock.

Something in my mind set has changed over the last couple of weeks as last weekend I actually sat down and created a training plan for the whole of November and December building back up to around 8 miles just after Christmas. Three days into the training plan I have followed it to the letter, which was the reason I did not run tonight. I need to build up slowly to prevent my injury returning and my legs were already sore from my 2 mile run on Tuesday.

I have drafted up a plan that includes lots of strength work so the reason I was at the gym was to do my leg set and as much as I wanted to run tonight, I need to keep up my strength work to prevent my injuries flaring up. The plan includes three strength sessions a week, a legs, arms and full body session. I also try to include some stretching after every session. The plan includes three runs a week unless I parkrun which would make it four. At present I have no plans to do hill/speed/tempo sessions I just want to enjoy running without trying to hit pace targets.

So fingers firmly crossed that I actually want to do my 3 mile run tomorrow!

What next….

In my last post was back in May, I was riding high after completing the Rocket Run 5km and the half marathon the next day. It was my slowest ever time but I completed it. But rather than carry on with the running, I pretty much turned my back on it.

Since May I have not completed any more races and most weeks the only run I have done is at parkrun. Don’t get me wrong I have loved travelling to all the local parkruns carrying out tourism with no time pressures but the rest of the running, well quite frankly I have been hating it. I tried a little running steak but only got to day 14 before I was bored with it all, heading out on a Sunday morning for a “long” run well I just could not bring myself to get out of bed to head out. My highest monthly mileage has only reach the grand total of 31 and that was thanks to the 5km and half marathon bumping up the total. It hurts me to say it but I think I might have fallen out of love with running.

It certainly does not help that I am still having problems with my back and the nerve pains, they are certainly much better but I am often still aware of them. I still have regular physio to get myself sorted and I have been trying to do more in the gym to regain so of my fitness, but it constantly seems to be one step forward and then two steps back. And obviously the sensible thing to do during this time was sulk and stop reading running blogs, yep mature adult me!

So what next…. although I am not enjoying running at all I have a couple of little targets that I am working towards. I am now just a few runs short of claiming my 50 parkrun t-shirt so hopefully I can get that ticked off before Christmas. The other target that has been the reason for all my parkrun tourism is that I am aiming to get on tourism leader board, to join the leader bored you need to have run 20 different parkruns in the uk. I am now up to 12 but have exhausted most of my local runs so am now having to travel further afield, but I am loving heading out on a Saturday morning to run with different people at different locations. It something I will certainly carry on even when I get my 20 runs.

I had hoped to target a marathon next year with the aim of sub 4 but not sure I am anywhere near capable of that any time soon. So I am mixing it up! I am now signed up for two century rides next year and will probably add a couple of training events in there as well. I am completely taking the focus off running and the targets that I still want to achieve and moving on to cycling in the hope that my running mojo is somewhere hidden out on the country roads and that I locate it whilst out on my bike.

I wont be changing my name to cycle faster see the world sooner but with two century ride coming up next year and with me being very unfit, cycling will be featuring heavily in the coming months. And you never know should I be lucky in the VLM ballot, these plans could all be changed again.

A rocket run and a half marathon (part 1)

Back at the beginning of the year I was killing time on social media when I came across this picture.

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These fantastic bits of bling would be awarded to you if you completed the 5km rocket run on the Sunday morning and either the half marathon or marathon on bank holiday Monday. Despite at this point not being able to even run for 5 minutes and still walking with a limp I of course signed up!

My training leading into the run would at best be described as poor, my back and hip were still giving me lots of troubles, and my longest continuous run was only 4 miles and longest run/walk was 6 miles. I did not go into either run with much confidence but I was determined to finish both races and get that lovely cow medal.

The rocket run was described as a downhill 5km and was a point to point race. The bling had convinced Mary to sign up for the races so we arranged to meet at the finish where we would leave a car and then travel in the other car to the start location. I had already collected our numbers so the only queue we faced was for the loo’s. We arrived early so got in before the queues got really bad and jumped back in the car to keep warm before the start. With about 5 mins to go we joined the other 1000 runners on the start line, we did not hear the start but kept slowly moving forward until we hit the start line and we set off…uphill!  So much for the race being downhill!

rocket profile

My only faster runs recently had been at parkrun where I had taken to setting off at pace and then just gradually slowing down, not the most ideal way to run but my times are slowly coming down so its working for me. So I used the same strategy at the rocket run. The start was very congested as runners of different paces were all mixed together so I had to weave about a bit to find space, but after the first half mile it seemed to spread out enough that. My first mile came and went in 9:10 mins, quicker than I had run the first mile at any recent parkruns so I knew if I could hold on a might get a post injury PB. As expected I did slow in the second mile this time it was 9:35, this meant I was trying to do maths in my head to work out how quickly I would need to run the last 1.1 miles to get my dream target of sub 30 but I was so tired my brain just could not work it out so just pressed on as much as I could and hoped the end would come.

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The third mile was mostly a challenge to try to keep it sub 10mm which I just achieved with a 9.51 mile. My legs were completely dead at this point so was not able to lift the pace much to finish and if the race was another half a mile I am not sure I would have made the line. But I was so pleased to cross the line and stop the watch with it showing 29:34!! Another huge post injury PB! This gave me an average pace of 9:30 meaning I achieved my dream target of sub 30

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It was as she crossed the line that Mary realised she had left her car keys in my car which was parked at the start. So we dashed about trying to find other members from the running club to see if anyone could drop me back to the start to collect my car and Mary’s keys but we could not find anyone we knew so I ended up approaching people I recognised from a local jog group and they fortunately had a spare space so kindly dropped me back at the start where I then drove back to the finish to give Mary her keys. Now we could access both cars again we grabbed a McDonalds milkshake (for the protein obviously!) before heading home to prepare for the half marathon the next day.