Juneathon 13/30 – the hills are alive

After the ups and downs of the Badger 10k I decided that I need to do some hill training. Admittedly I had the same thought after the Bolton 10k. And the Folkestone half. And the Pennington Flash Parkrun. And in fact I have this thought any time that I am faced with anything steeper than say, the Norfolk Broads. This rarely turns into actual hill training though. I say rarely, what I actually mean is never.

Badger 10k elevation – it felt worse than this looks. Especially at the end.

This time I stalled for as long as I could (by reading Everything You Need to Know About Hill Training) but realised that thinking had to turn into doing at some point. Even though I could have already ticked @torsparkle’s suggestion of hill off my treasure list, I’ve been saving it in the knowledge that I will have to do some early morning runs and these would be made easier with some convenient treasure.

Luckily we’re spoilt for choice with hills round here. I had a gentle pootle down to one of my nemesis hills (there has just been the once where I’ve managed to run the whole way up it) and did a set of five 30 second repeats up the hill, aiming at around my 5k race pace as fast as my little legs could carry me. I might have done more, but my early morning insides hadn’t got the memo and a run/walk home was called for…

I’m not quite sure where to go from here, either increasing the number of reps that I do or the length of each interval, especially as this article suggests that a short, sharp 10 second burst can be really effective in improving strength and speed (incidentially, The Guardian recently reported how High-intensity Interval Training helps all sorts of people, but we take that sort of article with a pinch of salt don’t we?). In the meantime, I shall go to yoga, work on my core strength and emerge with a bikini body – results not actually guaranteed.

I may or may not be a weasel.

Viceathon. Yes. Um. Well… If I’m completely honest, I’m not sure whether or not I’m still aboard the Viceathon bus and if so, for how much debt. Last week, I introduced the concept of ‘time shifting’ – this is an ethically grey area in which I weaselled out of time shifted two runs from the time that I was supposed to do them to the next morning. So technically I didn’t weasel. The run was still done (in fact maybe I should apply for bonus points for getting up early in the morning AND ending up doing a hat trick of run, yoga, weights on Wednesday) just not at the allotted time.

Whether or not time shifting is acceptable to the Viceathon gods, I’m not sure, but I suspect that the second half of my excuses will be dismissed without thought. Basically, I haven’t weaselled from Saturday to Tuesday because although I haven’t done any exercise in that time, I didn’t plan on doing any. Alright, so I may have had a misguided idea about going to the gym on the Saturday after my friend’s wedding but that’s only one weasel, the other three days were exercise-free because that’s what I chose to do. So there.

Since coming back from our yarntastic weekend (did I mention the crab sandwich knitted from elastic bands on the pic-knit blog? No? I am an idiot) I have yogaed (Wednesday), done treadmill intervals and weights (Thursday), ran a very heavy legged 6 miles today and declared tomorrow a rest day. I’m hoping that the heavy leggedness is because of Wednesday and Thursday’s exertions because on Sunday I will be doing the Bolton 10k. I signed up for this in what can best be described as a fit of foot stamping. Basically, I went for a run in the morning and was spotted by a friend. Later in the day, Ginge was on the phone to that friend and I suspected that my running efforts were being mocked. Unfortunately, I was looking at the Bolton 10k at the time so I entered it in a “ha, that’ll show you” frame of mind. Even more unfortunately, it turned out that at worst my friend was guilty of affectionate teasing and was actually being quite positive about the sight of me lumbering along the main road, but by this time I was fully paid up.

I did consider ignoring the race (it’s also the first one that I will run without Ginge there as my cheerleader) but have been shamed into it by all the London Marathon talk on twitter. If so many people are going to run 26.2 miles, I can hardly sulk about doing 10k (even if it is a bit hilly) at the same time.

Good luck to everyone running London on Sunday, but in particular these lovely and inspiring people; Mark, Jay, Carla, Julie and Jo who have all worked bloody hard and deserve to have a fantastic race. Incidentally, I am equally in awe of everyone who I know who has run/is running marathons whether they are in Brighton, Liverpool, Manchester, Lochaber or wherever. A marathon is a marathon is a marathon and 26.2 miles is 13.1 miles more than I ever want to run – I salute you all.

Parklife round two

Amidst much excited tweeting, I ran my first Parkrun back in July. Unfortunately the week after saw the start of my hip/knee issues and I hadn’t been back since. However, last week, I was tweeted by Abradypus (who is part of the tribe of nomadic Parkrunners who travel near and far, visiting as many different events as they can) as she was up north and offering a bit of company on a Saturday morning. Both of my nearest runs are about a 40 minute drive away from my house, which is a bit of a contributing factor to my Parkrun laziness. What Abradypus was proposing was driving from London to Leeds on Friday night, and then crossing the Pennines to be at Leverhulme Park in Bolton for a 9.00 start. Phew.

Bolton Parkrun includes an incline described in the route instructions as That Hill. Normally, the route takes you up That Hill twice, but this week the running track was being refurbished and so we would have to run That Hill not once, not twice, but three times. At the start of the race we were informed that we would know when we were on the third lap because “our legs would be screaming”. Yay.

Initially I managed to keep up with Louise whilst still being able to make conversation (albeit slightly gasping conversation at times), but halfway up the first hill I realised that my lack of hill training (oh alright, my lack of much training) would scupper any chance I had of maintaining my early pace. At this point, I released Louise from her supervisory role and off she went while I strolled up the last part of the hill. At this point, I was overtaken by a woman running with a child and a dog. Soon I would overtake them because I am a finely tuned athlete.

Oh alright, her dog stopped to drink from a puddle.

The hill came around again far too quickly and I hate to admit it but I wussed out of running it, deciding to put more effort into the flat bits and try again with the hill on the next loop. I’m not sure who I was trying to kid – I walked most of the third hill as well. Ooops.

I finished in the aesthetically pleasing time of 33.33 and once again was the first woman to finish in my age group. I say first, it would be more accurate to say ‘only’, but I take accolades wherever I can. Looking at the results of the regular Levehulme Park runners, the change of route put about 2 or 3 minutes on people’s PBs, so I was quite happy with my time given how much I had walked. Conditions-wise, it was slightly odd that my July run was completed in the cold and wet, whereas October’s was done under blue skies and sunshine. It was lovely to meet with another Athoner and I’ll definitely be running Bolton again in the future, but maybe I’ll wait until the normal route is resumed.

My very first half marathon – 6th Folkestone Half

I have completed my first half marathon and lived to tell the tale.

SATURDAY
The weekend started with some last minute list crossing off and minor panicking before marvelling (again) at how easy it is to get from Wigan to London on the train. This was followed by a short mooch around St Pancras (posher than most shopping centres I’ve ever been to) then hopping on the high speed train down to Folkestone. Before we knew it, we were sitting outside the hotel in the sunshine drinking a pint (Ginge) and drinking squash but looking longingly at a pint (me). We had left grey, cloudy Lancashire behind and enjoyed the novelty of basking in unseasonal warmth. It was so sunny, I even showed a bit of ankle. After a spot of lunch with my aunt and uncle, we wandered into town, sized up The Hill (bloody big), wandered back to the hotel, neatly laid out all of my race gubbins (nothing had been forgotten, phew), had a bit of a snooze and met up for tea with Helsie, JogBlog, I like to count and Helsie’s mate Helen 1, where we gorged ourselves senseless on carbs (surely creme brulee counts? No? Really?).

SUNDAY
Race day. More carbs (including my shameful little bag of homemade muesli rather than hotel variety pack cereal). Plenty of fluids. Lots of nervous excitement. Emptying bladder. Sock knitting to take my mind off the nervous aspect of the excitement. Lots of tweeting – I really enjoyed being part of the nationwide pre-race nerves instead of just watching from the side lines. Emptying bladder again. Slight panic that I’d forgotten my socks, despite knowing full well that I had packed my socks. Looking out of the window trying to convince myself that it was about to cloud over. Attempting to empty already empty bladder. Race number pinned on. Jelly babies crammed in back pocket, despite the fact that my pocket suddenly seemed half the size it normally is. Off to the start line.

Best good luck message ever

It is a matter of public record that I do not like running in the heat. I live in the damp and mild north of England, we mainly get drizzle. Unfortunately, I had forgotten to account for the fact that I was running with Helen “Bring Me Sunshine” Tamblyn. It turns out that Hels’s superpower is the ability to make races unseasonably and uncomfortably sunny. If you’re getting married, I would suggest that you encourage her to race in the vicinity of the ceremony to guarantee that you have decent weather.

I do love a bandstand

Anyway, the race. I set off well… And then spent the first three miles wishing that I’d worn my hat. When I saw Ginge on the sidelines proffering my hat, it was snatched gratefully from him with a cry of “I think I love you…” over my shoulderas I lumbered past.
At 4.3 miles, I overtook a man on a mobility scooter. He wasn’t part of the race and I shouldn’t really have been as pleased as I was with this.
After an alarmingly short time had elapsed, the front runner passed us (he finished in a course record of 1:08:00, 8 min 55 sec before the second placed runner) and not long after that, Shaun (I like to count) also bounded past followed by Hels’s mate Jimmy.
Around 5 miles, I started to feel sick. I know the feeling from previous attempts to run in the heat and I realised that I was faced with a choice. Keep running, inevitably feeling worse (and increasingly miserable) and possibly not making it around the course, or walk for a bit, take it easy and – as everyone had told me to – just enjoy it. Who am I to ignore the advice of wiser, more experienced runners eh?

Despite the run-walking, it was still bloody hard work. I was immensely grateful to the applause and encouragement of all of the spectators (particularly the lad showering runners with a garden hose and Ginge who just threw water over me) and marshalls around the course  – I just hope they all realised that my response to their cheers was a smile and not a grimace. I also had some wonderful psychic Shuffle random playlist action – starting the race with my motivational tune (Trinity Roots, All We Be), being told Don’t Worry Be Happy at mile 10 and singing along to Jolene (in my head you’ll be relieved to know) with the blessed Dolly as I plodded up The Hill.

Beach huts around the ten mile mark

On another day, I may have managed to own The Hill, but it was not to be and I managed about 30 seconds before resorting to walking. After that, I was determined to finish on a run and with gritted teeth, I ploughed on to the finish where I was cheered over the line in a time of exactly 2:33:00 before collapsing on the grass.

Before the day, I had set three levels of goal in my head: It would be acceptable to get round but…I would be pleased with finishing under 2:30 but… I would be ecstatic with somewhere around 2:15.

So am I happy with that result? Yes and no. Given the conditions, I was pleased to finish and in an acceptable and not too shabby time. I knew that my training hadn’t been at its best, I did everything I could to enjoy the day and the sobering sight of a runner receiving ambulance treatment near mile 10 (I hope that he was ok) reminded me that it’s more than possible to come to grief. However… I know that I can do better.

In summary – I had a fantastic weekend and it was lovely to meet up with my Southern running mates (especially as Cathy brought us homemade jam). The race was well organised and friendly, but I was undone by the general heat and lack of shade throughout the course (there really was no respite from the sun along the sea front). However, I keep referring to Folkestone as my first half marathon – this suggests that there will be more of them, so I must have enjoyed myself.

Day 7/30 – one week done

Another early morning one today. Made a kind of attempt at doing something structured up a hill with not entirely successful results, oddly I went a bit faster after I’d tried it (I think I was trying to make up for my embarrassment). I think I need more grading with both the hill and the reps. 3 miles altogether.

Day seven means we’re a quarter of the way there folks!

Count: 7 Activities
Distance: 22.02 mi
Time: 04:04:53 h:m:s
Elevation Gain: 1,586 ft
Avg Speed: 5.4 mph
Calories: 2,742 C

This also makes a very satisfying blue stripe across the garmin connect calendar!