Wrap Up and Run

I feel that there been a lovely symmetry to this week. On Friday, I finished a spectacular piece of knitting, namely my Scarf of Doom. The Scarf of Doom is the work of graffiti knitter Deadly Knitshade who was invited onto BBC Breakfast to talk about knitting a few weeks ago. She was asked to knit a bright, chunky scarf while she talked, which she did, only for elements of the online knitting community to be hypercritical of, well, pretty much every aspect of her telly appearance. Her response was one of the most graceful, humorous and quite frankly bloody marvellous things that I’ve ever read (you can read the full story here, please do – my summary doesn’t do it justice).

Knitted with two strands of double-knit on 15mm needles. The wool is from my stash (from the top it was bought for a tea cosy, the same tea cosy, pizza bases, various vegetables, flower petals and beaks, grapes/aubergine)

As someone who responds to the question “So what kind of things do you knit?” with some slightly embarrassed foot shuffling and “Um. Dinosaurs. And um, chickens. And peas. And tiny hats. And stuff….”, I was liberated by Deadly Knitshade’s definition of ‘squeeeee knitting’ (it might be made out of scratchy, fluorescent acrylic yarn, but people look at it, want it and go ‘squeeeeee’). In the spirit of solidarity, it seemed only fitting that I should knit a Scarf of Doom. Also, Deadly Knitshade promised a medal for those who made one. As Ginge will testify, I have a Muttley-like love of medals and the lure of something shiny is all that I need to motivate me for a lot of things.

Monkey's disappointment at not getting another medal was soothed by his new scarf.

Sadly there was no medal on offer on Sunday’s Wrap Up and Run 10K in Southport. This was organised by Age UK to raise awareness and funds to help keep older people warm during the winter months. I entered on a whim this Wednesday, when the weather was balmy and spring-like and I couldn’t help but think that maybe Age UK’s campaign was a little mistimed. Ha. The Met Office promised heavy or light rain and temperatures of around 5˚C (which would feel like 1˚C). When we arrived in Southport, there was a bitter wind that chilled the steady drizzle and resulted in me looking spectacularly grumpy (there is photographic evidence of this. I won’t be sharing it with you).

I was cold enough to consider joining in with the warm up. At my only previous race where there has been a pre-race warm up (Liverpool Women’s 10K) I avoided it because it looked like it required far too much coordination for my paltry skills. Today I muttered darkly about not being here to jump up and down, I like running and if I wanted to do jumping, I would go to…jumping practise (I said I was grumpy). My grudging participation was rewarded by the friendliest, most laid back, random warm up (given that the chap who did it didn’t look like the ‘Camilla’ who had previously been introduced, I suspect he was a last minute replacement) that ended up with him accepting heckled exercise suggestions from the crowd.

The only downside of the warm up was that I landed slightly awkwardly when we were jumping (typical, it turns out that I need that jumping practise after all) and twanged my ankle. As I lined up at the start, I tried to ignore the fact that it felt like a slight sprain (twelve hours later, I had a dull ache and some slight swelling in my right ankle) and concentrated on the task in hand. I haven’t been following a training plan, in fact my running has been a little erratic of late, so I was intrigued to see how I would get on in my pursuit of a sub-60 10K.

Setting off, I was very,very cold. My feet were numb, my hands were freezing. As we ran along the coastal path into the wind, I really started to doubt my sanity. For those of you who don’t know Southport, it is extremely flat and there is a dearth of tropical palm trees to act as a windbreak from the breezes off the Irish Sea. If I’m honest, there’s a lack of anything to act as a windbreak. If I’m completely honest, there’s usually a lack of sea as well. Anyway, I abandoned being able to consult Miles in favour of pulling my sleeves down over my hands in a pathetic attempt to retain some heat. This led to a breakdown in communication between me and Miles as I managed to press his stop button and didn’t realise for what turned out to be about half a mile (when I realised that I had been running 0.69 miles for ages).

I can only apologise to the poor woman with the lovely knitted ear-warmer who I sidled up to and stalked for a bit so that I could get a proper look. And also the very tall man who ran with his feet turned out and I followed because he looked like a hi-vis emperor penguin. Apart from the soul destroying part at 3K where you could see the marker for 4K just to your right, but had to run around the boating lake to get to, the KMs seemed to pass fairly quickly. I felt strong and comfortable and we didn’t always have to run into the wind. At 8K, I ended up grinning like an idiot at the sight and sound of the drummers who welcomed the runners into the home stretch. My legs, trained to keep my feet to the beat with AudioFuel, took on a life of their own and my pace ramped up to 8.34min/mile as I bounced cheerily past them.

The finish line in sight, I managed a bit of a sprint at the end, collected my water, t-shirt and mars bar, was reunited with a well wrapped up Ginge and risked charges of indecent exposure as I changed tops in the car park. I was very pleased to get cosy with my woolly hat, a flask of tea and my Scarf of Doom and within minutes of arriving home, I’d had a text to confirm my chip time as 1.00.31. All in all, it was a rather good morning.

UPDATE: I forgot to credit Ginge with the Southport photography. He definitely manage to capture the bleakness of the day. Though he didn’t manage to capture me flicking the Vs at him during the bouncy warm up.

Throughout March, there are some more Wrap Up and Run races coming up in Coventry, Exeter, Cheshire and Yorkshire – if Southport is anything to go by, I would heartily recommend them no matter what your running experience.

Fears and lists

Anyone reading my blog late last night (hi Carla!) will have been treated to an untitled post that consisted of stuff that was in my head and I wanted to get rid of before bed. I was tired and could only paw randomly at my phone meaning that the following was published instead of being kept in a holding pattern overnight: –

  • Loo
  • Lost
  • Late
  • Breakfast

It’s a fairly self-explanatory list of all  (at the time) my fears and worries about Sunday.

I have solved two of them (loo and breakfast) and realised that the other two  (late and lost) are silly.

Our hotel is near the race start so I can nip back to the room for a sneaky wee if the race HQ and portaloos are too busy and I’ve read the race brochure enough times to have remembered where emergency loos are en route.

Breakfast has been packed.

I am not going to get lost. The directions for the race are comprehensive and a bit scary for someone who is (a) not local and (b) appalling with directions. I like my out and back routes to be from A to B and back to A. I do not like them to include twiddly little bits on each end to make them the necessary length. However, it is highly unlikely that I will be leading the race at any point and hopefully I will be able to keep someone in sight.

I am also not going to be late. I will undoubtably dream about being late over the next two nights (or possibly even on the train), but Ginge will not let me be late. And Hels is staying in the same hotel and I doubt she would let me be late either.

So the bag is packed, the lists ticked off (when things were located) and crossed off (when things went in the bag), the shuffle is full of happy tunes, gizmos are all fully charged, panic  has been tweeted about, positive messages have been read (thank you all!) and I’m running out of things to worry about. I am now trying to procrastinate for as long as I can so I don’t have to go to bed.

Yes. Well. Hmmmm.

My first 10k race

Well it had to happen one day… Way back in December, when I was full of the same giddiness that made me apply for a new job, I closed my eyes and posted off my entry to Run Liverpool for the Women’s 10k. I then spent 4 months trying to forget what I’d done, especially when my runs became increasingly sparce and even a month ago I doubted that I could do more than a few miles.

After a  few words of wisdom and encouragement, I had a boost of enthusiasm and when my race number finally arrived, I was strangely excited. I knew I wasn’t going to produce a world beating time, but had done my research looking at last year’s results and, in my heart of hearts, knew that I wasn’t going to come last. Having said that, even on the day I was still muttering darkly about the whole enterprise.

I think I heard that Liverpool is the second biggest women’s only event and it’s certainly one of the longest running (25 years in 2011), however  there’s been some debate over the future value of women only events, especially with the massive growth of the Race for Life events. Can a women’s only race survive whilst attracting elite runners and still being completely inclusive? Some of the pink girliness leaves me a bit cold (but then I’m a miserable bugger) – especially when I rummaged in my goodie bag to find it full of Ladies Things (fabric softener, sweeteners, teabags and, ahem, feminine hygiene products – well that’s my life as a woman summed up in 4 freebies). And despite all the reminders to go at our own pace and enjoy it, I found it a bit disconcerting to run past people walking before the 1k marker.  Although I’d not specifically chosen this race because it was a women’s event, I do think the absence of wiry men in tiny shorts helped my nerves on the day and it was pretty ace to see over a thousand women of all different shapes, sizes, ages and abilities all running together.

In the end, I didn’t finish last (hurrah!) and had a time of 1.06.07 – I’d have been content with 1hr 10min, so I was more than chuffed with this! The only problem is now I’d quite like to get my time down to under an hour and I’m disturbing myself with my conviction that I can actually do this.

T-shirt and medal

Liverpool Women's 10k - proof!