On borrowed time…

Due to a combination of holidays (more on that to follow), recovering from holidays and (if I’m honest) just generally slacking a bit, I hadn’t run since the Liverpool 10k. That’s two and a bit weeks of postponing my glorious return to action because I wasn’t sure just how glorious it would be. I’m now halfway through this pregnancy lark, finally starting to show a bit, but also noticing a general change in my fitness. It might just be that I haven’t been doing enough exercise, but I’ve skived off plenty of times in the past and not noticed this big a change.

It really hit home on holiday in Boston. We walked for miles (which was fine) but I started to notice that climbing stairs was starting to leave me feeling out of breath and a bit wonky. Deciding to climb the Bunker Hill Monument (294 steps…) probably wasn’t my best idea. To be fair, initially I did say that Ginge should go up on his own and I’d look at the photos, but I hate the idea of missing out on something exciting. So I climbed it, eventually reaching the top red-faced and glowing like a shire horse.

What I climbed.

What I climbed.

I was not a happy bunny. “You wouldn’t believe I ran a half-marathon last month” I muttered, “look at me”. The realisation dawned that I might be on borrowed time as far as running is concerned.

Today’s effort confirmed that run-walking is now the order of the day.  Ginge joined me on a canal run on which I chose the route (up hill through a series of locks) and then announced “I’m not very good with hills. Or inclines. Or slopes. Or bridges”.  There was a lot of run-walking on the way out, but I was chuffed to discover that on the return downhill, I managed it all in one go (albeit at a much slower pace and with a much redder face than normal). My plan is to stop running when it’s either too uncomfortable or I don’t enjoy it (and presumably, if it’s too uncomfortable I won’t enjoy it anyway…). I suppose technically I have had my Last Run (managing any kind of distance without walking) but if you don’t mind, I’ll keep calling my run-walking ‘running’ because it’s easier and makes me feel better.

In the meantime, I have renewed my gym membership (with an option to take a break for a few months) and I’ve (foolishly) signed up for Juneathon so that’s some more motivation to keep myself active.

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Liverpool Spring 10k

Today I ran the Liverpool Spring 10k. I decided to run this at about 8.30 this morning (about half an hour before we’d planned to leave) after a week of umming and ahhing. My running hasn’t been particularly consistent recently – the cold that stalked me in the run up to Blackpool decided to hang around for a couple more weeks and although I’ve now hit the second trimester when I should be blooming and full of energy, I’m still blooming tired at times. The runs that I’ve done have been enjoyable, but harder work than ever. Having said all that, I know what I’m like and if I’d weaselled out of it and didn’t finished what I’d started I would have been sulky and miserable all day.

We set off and halfway down the M6 I realised that I’d forgotten my Garmin (which had been specially charged the night before). Slightly further down the M6 I realised that I’d forgotten my shuffle. By the time we reached Sephton Park and I totted up everything I’d forgotten, I realised that I was quite pleased that I had managed to be fully dressed. We timed our arrival well for the queue for the loos and had time for a quick hello with Runningman856 before I headed off to the start line and Ginge headed off to find food (unfortunately for Ginge, my last minute decision meant that he was ripped from his bed with little or no warning. Sorry Ginge).

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I had no plan for the race other than getting round in one piece. I had no Garmin so I had no idea what pace I was running and I had no shuffle so I had nothing to distract me. I did have a bottle of water and my camera though, both of which turned out to be quite essential. Even when I’m well hydrated, I’m finding that I’m quite thirsty at the start of a run and today was unexpectedly warm. Having been promised overcast and cool, the sun was shining and I set off wondering if Hels (who has a knack of bringing sunshine and high temperatures to every race she attends) had snuck up North.

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I’m rubbish at running in the warm at the best of times and was sensible enough to realise that today was a day to just take it easy and enjoy myself. Which is just what I did.

I had time to take in the scenery and watch a small dog debate the wisdom of chasing a large football into a river (sadly I missed the final outcome).

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I smiled and “thank you-ed” all of the lovely marshalls who lined the course cheering us on.

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I didn’t feel my heart sink as I was overtaken by the front-running gazelles peeling off to the finish line as I hit the 5k mark, instead I let the cheers that were clearly not meant for me carry me through. I did a lot of run/walking and didn’t stress about it. I enjoyed a short-lived second wind at the 6k mark.

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I didn’t worry that I didn’t have a cap for my water bottle, but I did take the opportunity to decant my water station bottle into the bottle I had set off with.

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I bounced past the official drummers and the chap who was beating out some skillful tunes on what looked like pots and pans…

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I also enjoyed spotting Ginge as he popped up unexpectedly around the course.

If you look closely, you can see a blurry figure lounging in the tree like an over-grown squirred. This is Ginge.

If you look closely, you can see a blurry figure lounging in a tree like an over-grown squirrel. This is Ginge.

The race was organised by the same people as last year’s Port Sunlight 10k which I loved and I had high expectations about the organisation of the race. I wasn’t disappointed. Everything ran like clockwork, there were pens based on finishing time, the course was well signposted and well marshalled, my time was texted to me within minutes of crossing the finish and (probably most importantly) there the bling was splendid. So splendid that I had the back engraved to mark my last race until bump becomes baby. There’s actually quite a nice symmetry to today. A few years ago, when I wasn’t bothered about racing (basically before I discovered my inner Muttley) I ran the Liverpool Women’s 10k as my first ever race and today’s race has replaced the Women’s 10k in the Merseyside race calendar.

So this is it for me and racing for a bit, I’ve finished today with a few more aches and pains than I would usually have after a 10k and I think my ligaments are telling me that I should keep the distance down from now on. From this point on, I will run my races vicariously on twitter, plot my comeback for 2014 and cast longing looks at medal monkey and his hoard of bling.

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