Archive for January 2013

Why is it so hard to be sensible?   2 comments

Quick update on Lido 4 results. I was 10th lady out of a field of 199 women. I was 70th out of 504 overall and my time was officially 26.40, so it was a 12 second pb. We decided that the conditions added 30 seconds so I was near my dream 26 minutes really…

Anyway, moving on. On Monday it was rather wet but relatively mild so track was on! Perhaps I should really have rested after Sunday but track must be grasped whenever the opportunity arises so off I went in the thrashing wind and rain. Due to the inclemency off the weather and the strong wind Bob set us 6 x 1200 split into 3 x 300 with 100 jogs between (the jogs being completely into the wind so the faster were not totally ruined by the gale) with one minute rest between sets. As I had raced the day before and because my pacing is still suspect I used the tried and tested method of sticking with Duncan even though he said he was counting on me to push him (which I surely didn’t). I’ve no idea how fast our 300s were but they felt comfortable enough and I think I managed to complete them all consistently. In the end I covered 5 miles with the warm up and cool down and felt pretty good so I was glad that I went and battled the elements.

On Tuesday I knew I really had to be sensible after all these weeks of long running and racing every weekend since Christmas. I went to Core & Stretch as it must never be missed as that would mean no stretching at all. I found it hard as always and had to bow out of the bridge/hip extension things as my hip flexors are too knackered. I felt my core was getting a good thrashing though so that is good. I managed not to go to kettlebells in the evening even though it was really hard. I still feel anxious if I have to miss something but am getting better at it and keep remembering I HAVE to miss some things from time to time otherwise I will make myself ill (again) by doing too much with no rest. Next week I will go to kettlebells but will have to miss something else. Perhaps spin as I’ve been to that solidly for a few months I think. Damn the fact I really like all the things I do and hate missing any of it!

Today I went to spin with an idea I would do my long run afterwards on the treadmill as I couldn’t face running along the seafront for 5 miles home into a howling gale (again). Then I couldn’t face running for an hour and a half at 9 minute miles on the treadmill so I hatched a plan to do a tempo (perhaps, if I knew what that actually meant) 8 miler at 7.30 minute miles. Naturally this meant that spin was especially hard and finished on a 5 minute hover. Thus all the rest I may gathered from not doing kettlebells was squandered into spin. This did not deter me from getting on the treadmill afterwards for the attempt at 8 miles at 13kmph/7.30 minute miling on a 2% incline. It was hard. Not really much more to be said. I managed it but it was not pleasant. Another 8 miles for the bank and good to know I can sustain 7.30 pace for an hour (albeit on a treadmill with enforced pacing) after 45 minutes of spin. I am now utterly knackered though and almost had a little snooze on my laptop. Must post this then perhaps a nap is in order.

A month of 2013 down already?   2 comments

The fleece was nice and warm but once I had sweated in it it rubbed my neck rather with its high collar so I now look like I have been saved from hanging. I only ran 7.5 miles too as the lure of getting a lift home was too great and I knew I’d make up for it at my first Rat Run on Friday.

First however there was Thursday night Hove Park intervals to contend with. I hadn’t done one for a while as was being sensible and missing it when I had a race on Saturday (though last week’s was called off so I missed Thursday for no reason). As part of my new regime I must try hard on Thursday’s after having taken Wednesday evening steadily. Although where I live it was totally clear and not at all icy the mile or so inland was still a bit snowy and icy in patches. Luckily the main drag was clear and it was well enough lit that we could negotiate any slushy and slippery bits relatively easily. The session comprised all the usual elements. Hills, tempo bits, slower bits. I managed to stick with Rick for the whole session which I haven’t been able to do for a long time and he commented on my improved endurance. Hopefully, no DEFINITELY, this obvious and noticeable improvement will spur me on to keep up the two easy 9 mile runs I have added to my weekly repertoire as these are responsible for this major improvement.

On Friday it was my first dabble in Trevor’s Rat Run. This is a run around and about Brighton incorporating car parks, a pub, roads, hills and whatever else he wants to throw in. This incarnation included Bear Road (a very long, pretty steep hill). I was a little worried about this as hills aren’t (weren’t) my strong point but as I have learnt taking anything slowly and steadily makes it doable so I made it to the top with relative ease surprising myself mightily in the process. It was interesting how it was totally clear until around halfway up when suddenly the whole area was covered in snow and ice. Such a distinct divide. This made the top section a bit treacherous but we all managed to crest the summit without incident. We had to run in the road a bit to avoid the icy pavements and on the long downhill I mainly stuck to the grass verge of the pavement as it was a little less slippery. Trevor then tried to kill us by taking us down the no pedestrians area of the road by the Marina but we survived and sped down many levels of the car park (flouting the 5mph speed limit – tsk) as we did so. A quick stop off at the Wetherspoons in the Marina (scary at the best of times, worse on a Friday night). I think the men were a little more uncomfortable being clad in lycra in such a place but we soon downed our drinks and set off once more. More hills and icy patches and surprisingly quickly we were back at the start having covered 10 miles. We then had a bargain mini carvery in the pub.

Chowing down on a well deserved mini carvery with my fellow Rat Runners

Chowing down on a well deserved mini carvery with my fellow Rat Runners

All in all I am very glad I did this run having been worried I’d be too slow. The 10 miles sped by and included lots of sizeable hills which I would never have tackled on my own. Good company in the form of Danny, Trevor, Daz and Ivan. Now I know how it works I will definitely be back for the next one (weekend races permitting).

On Saturday I went to help at parkrun as it was a rest day in preparation for Worthing Lido 4 mile race on Sunday. The day dawned windily and gloomily. The wind did not fill me with confidence for a pb (26.52 in 2010) and also knowing that the grassy section in the middle would be really muddy and wet after an almighty storm overnight. I had a plan in mind for the race and tried to keep it in mind as we warmed up.

A little chilly pre race

A little chilly pre race

I had written some motivational words on my arms.

I was pleased with my left handed writing. No one else cared.

I was pleased with my left handed writing. No one else cared.

Less neat even though written right handed.

Less neat even though written right handed.

Thanks Danny for the suggestions and the photography!

I often forget when racing that I am in a race thus should be giving it everything at all times. As we were running into the wind for the first mile or so I was happy to reach mile 1 in 6.53. My dream was to complete the race in around 26 minutes (6.30 minute miling) but would be happy with a pb. Given the conditions I knew it would be tight just for the pb. The grassy section at around 2 miles was as muddy and wet as I feared and really slowed everyone down with its bollards and slippery narrow pathways. I hoped that the last mile or so home on the prom with the wind behind would allow me to catch up some of the lost time. I really tried to keep pushing on the home stretch rather than subconsciously saving something for a sprint finish. I felt that I was upping the pace sensibly over the last mile. I then remembered I was wearing a watch and glanced down to see I only had a few minutes in which to reach the end in a pb time. Looking to the finish I seriously thought I had blown it as it seemed much more than 2 minutes away but I continued battling against myself and found myself crossing the line in 26.40 (my watch) which was a pb by 12 seconds.

Naturally instead of being happy with the pb in the conditions I was a bit gutted I wasn’t closer to 26 minutes but I pulled myself together. A pb is a pb and I ran as well as I could in the circumstances and stuck to my plan without giving up which is a great improvement over most of last year’s races. I now await the official results. Perhaps a 26.39? It’s that extra second that makes all the difference! Hopefully I might even be top 10 lady.

All in all this was a good week. Another 26 miles for the bank, good consistency of training over the past 6 weeks, managing to be sensible and no major negativity. Wowzers. Am I even the same me from 2012? No. Thankfully.

No running to report. What the?   Leave a comment

Having pre-empted the frozen-off track by completing the treadmill run on Sunday, Monday was now a rest day. Hurrah! Everything was thawing fast but I was glad I didn’t have to get frozen once more.

On Tuesday it was back to the routine so off I set for Core & Stretch in the morning. It was the usual combination of yoga moves and core strengthening. Thankfully there were no bridges this week. My hip flexors and upper thighs can’t take it. There were a lot of good core moves though that I could really feel working. My poor inflexible shoulders are still unamused with all the downward dogging and planking and I really can’t get my arm where everyone else’s are in the various warrior-type lunge thingies. They just don’t move that way. Ho hum. This class is possibly the hardest because it is doing things I don’t do at any other time and on tired legs from all the running. No doubt it is good for me even though it feels really difficult at the time.

In the evening it was back to the gym in the soaking and freezing sleet for kettlebells. As it was so wet I wore my waterproof (not so waterproof these days) shoes which meant I did the class shoeless which I don’t usually though Matt encourages it. It was good to get my whole foot involved in flexing during the exercises but it was also blinking freezing and my toenails were an attractive shade of blue. All my swinging blisters returned with a vengeance which means normality is restored. Who would I be without kettlebell-callused hands? After collecting all my soaked clothes from on and under various radiators I zoomed home (wind behind for once), thankful to return to the warmth of my flat and hopeful that Wednesday would be a drier day.

Lo! It is. It is still infernally freezing and cycling into the frigid wind to spin I did wonder a little at my insanity in continuously going out in such inclement conditions but I know if I didn’t I would go mad without exercise. Anyway I arrived with minutes to spare (left a bit later as I’m usually far too early, but didn’t factor in wind resistance) and leapt on a bike. The class was the fullest I’ve seen it which was good. We set off on the usual mixture of climbs, sprints and hovers. As always it was hardcore and my poor flimsy legs got yet another battering but I definitely reaped the cardio benefit which is what I am mainly there for. My bike was a little temperamental insofar as turning the resistance knob didn’t seem to correlate with the actual resistance on the bike so there was much twiddling to be done to find suitable resistance and it seemed to go from a little bit too easy to impossible to pedal in the tiniest twitch of the dial. No matter. I must get there earlier next time so I choose a bike I am familiar with and that hopefully is a little more consistent in its resistance.

I shall be off out for the usual easy 9 this evening wearing my second new fleece from H&M. Tres excitement.

Whether to weather the weather…   2 comments

It was rather cold on Wednesday so I wore my earflaps for a group run for the first time this winter. Luckily I have no fear of looking foolish in front of my fellow runners, none of us look that stylish (sorry Arena colleagues if you were under the impression you look stunning). Again I wanted to take the run steadily so set out with Anne, Michelle and Emily a little before the speedier folk. They hurtled past us a few hundred metres later. Oddly (but thankfully) it wasn’t windy in either direction so the whole run was very pleasant. Another 9 for the bank.

I had planned Thursday as a rest day in preparation for Bexhill Masters xc on Saturday so didn’t go to Hove Park for hills and intervals. Unfortunately on Friday it was snowing rather hard so I decided against going out for an easy 4 as a leg loosener for Saturday as I felt it was likely to be called off anyway due to the inevitable traffic disruption. I could have gone out as fresh snow is fine to run on but basically I couldn’t face having to get all the gear on and get blinded by snow, frostbite of the face etc, so another day off! Once it was official that Bexhill had been postponed (until February 9th) I relaxed and decided I would attempt parkrun instead on Saturday morning. It has never been called off but in the past it has been so icy I have been unable to get there. This time I was determined to get there. I swapped the spikes in my xc shoes for short blunt ones (having destroyed spikes in the past by walking in ice with too long spikes in) in case it was really frozen over but in fact when I set off in my trail shoes it wasn’t frozen just snowy and slushy underfoot. When I reached the park Caroline had just completed a tester lap and declared it fine for trail shoes, in fact it wasn’t frozen or snowy enough for spikes. This meant I kept my massive, thick hiking socks on thus adding another layer of style to my ensemble.

Hiking socks: Essential snowy parkrun wear

Hiking socks: Essential snowy parkrun wear

I set off on a warm up lap with Danny and Trevor and found the surface to be surprisingly runnable. Of course no records were going to be broken but as we toed the line I was looking forward to the run. As there was no expectation I was relaxed and actually found myself running fast (it seemed) and enjoying it. It was rather noisy with all the feet crunching on the snow and ice and a little blinding what with everywhere being mainly white. Interesting running when you couldn’t see the edges of the paths. I would have thought by now I would know where the paths are but I think I may have strayed onto the grass a few times. An added element of jeopardy were the children sledging down the hills and potentially across the paths. A few marshalls had been stationed to warn us, or perhaps the sledgers, of the presence of the other and there were no mishaps that I could see. In fact it was a rather jolly, snowy scene. I think this is my favourite ever parkrun. I’m glad I got up at 6.30 to go and do it. My time was 23.18 which probably less than a year ago I couldn’t have run anyway what with being (unknowingly) in the grips of anaemia. There were 120 hardy souls out there enjoying the run along with the volunteers who make the run possible. Thanks to everyone! I think everyone had a good time whether running or helping. Something about running in this sort of weather brings people together. Dear God, listen to me. Soppy git.

 

Giant mittens adding to the stylish eskimo look

Giant mittens adding to the stylish eskimo look

Both feet off the ground!

Both feet off the ground!

Thanks to Danny for letting me steal his photos, Trevor for letting me put my many layers and bags in his car and Kevin for giving me a lift home. Speech over.

Today I was once again going to be lazy as it was snowing but then I pulled myself together. The snow wasn’t settling and the road looked completely cycleable so I decided to go to the gym and give the treadmill a whirl. As I now have full membership I thought I should make the most of it. I haven’t run on a treadmill for ages and would prefer to run outside but also realise that they can be handy when you don’t wish your face to be flayed of by horizontal snow and also when you want to run at a specific pace without the option of (purposefully or accidentally) slowing down. I had it in my mind I would do 3k warm up at 12kmph then see how long I could last at 15kmph/20 minute 5k pace. If I couldn’t last the full 5k I would do a sort of fartlek/interval session of bursts of 15kmph for as long as I could interspersed with 12kmph until I reached a total of 10k. After a few minutes I remembered that when treadmill running time doesn’t seem to pass. Undeterred I continued hoping once I hit 15kmph I’d be too worried about trying not to fly off the treadmill that time would pass more quickly. Unexpectedly I discovered myself cruising (sort of) relatively comfortably through the first few kilometres at 15kmph! Amazing. I dismissed my mind telling me this could not possibly be true and I must be about to spontaneously combust and continued onwards… to 6k!!!! I could have conceivably carried on but as I had done much more than I could have imagined I decided to be sensible so backed down to 12kmph and trundled on to 12k, a good solid 7 miles. Now I realise a treadmill is not the same as running on actual ground outside (I had the incline set at 2% to counteract this a bit) but the fact my legs and lungs got on with it without too much trouble must give me confidence to get out and replicate this in a race. #smashinitin2013 is ON!

Keeping up the good work   Leave a comment

I suspected that track would be frozen off on Monday as it becomes an ice rink even in not-absolutely-freezing temperatures so I decided to go out in the daylight and do a slow 9 along the seafront. It was a bright, clear but freezing day so I made sure I wore earflaps, hat, gloves, 2 pairs of leggings, long socks etc etc. I also had my phone tucked into my double layer sports bra that works perfectly as a music transportation device. I look a bit odd with a big square sticking out of my chest which I press from time to time to change the volume but no odder really than any other time I’m running. I had the music on quietly until the last mile when an excellent song came on so I cranked it up high and practically sprinted home. I had never before experienced the effect of music on running! I now understand why people might want to use it in races (though I don’t agree with headphones in races). Alas Coldplay came on next thus everything was ruined but at least I was almost home by then. I may now add a music fartlek to my repertoire. Go fast when a good song comes on, then slow for the not so good ones (I downloaded a running playlist so some things on it aren’t my cup of tea but, I assume, have the right beat for running). Thankfully only a couple of the songs are worth turning up the volume and pace for. I have made a short playlist of my favourites to play pre-race to try and get me in the mood. It will get tested on Saturday morning pre Masters Bexhill xc.

On Tuesday it was the first Core & Stretch I’ve been to for ages what with Christmas Day and New Year’s Day being on a Tuesday and going out for a belated birthday lunch on Tuesday last week. I discovered I was no better or worse than usual, probably because all the usual runnings and exercisings have been the same around it. I have found that my stomach can feel it today though. I was flagging a little by kettlebells in the evening. There were so many people there it was a little difficult to get to all my usual weights but I actually found slightly lighter ones for some exercises were fine as I was feeling quite tired after a few hard weeks of extra running and weekends racing. Kettlebells for me is mainly for the arms so I adapted some of the harder jumping squats etc to static ones as my legs were pretty frazzled. I am getting my hand blisters back so it cant be all bad.

This morning I set off my spin in the freezing sunshine. I took my inhaler this time so as to (hopefully) stave off a fainty-feeling like last week. The class was the busiest I’ve seen it which made a nice change and I managed to find a bike with no discernible wobbly bits (unlike myself). We did quite a bit of hovering and climbing which my legs weren’t happy about. Poor things, I really need to rest them more. They just need to get through an easy 9 this evening and then it’s a day off tomorrow (yes!) and then an easy 4 on Friday just to get the legs ready for Saturday.

Getting on with it   2 comments

Having run 9 miles on Tuesday morning I thought it best to take Wednesday night’s 9 miler steadily. I went off with Chris, Anne and Michelle a little bit early. Even with this lead the speedies came zooming past after about half a mile. It doesn’t matter though as I know what I wanted to do and did it. Paul and Charlton joined us by the Peace Statue having just completed a 5 mile tempo run so were happy to run slowly back with me chatting all the way. For once it wasn’t windy so the run was quite pleasant. We saw the first Pebbledash 10k taking place on the seafront and the only place we coincided was when I was running back home towards the lagoon and the racers were running up the cycle path. Trevor and Kevin escorted me almost-home in a cavalier fashion.

On Thursday I felt that my hard week’s running was catching up with me and I was developing a cold so I decided to miss the Hove Park session in the evening. This turned out to be a good move as on Friday I felt completely fine so took myself out for an easy 4 miler in preparation for going for a pb at parkrun on Saturday … but I’m getting ahead of myself. On Friday morning I had a sports massage with Becky from rawtherapy. She brought her sturdy fold-out massage table to me and proceeded to pummel my legs into submission. As I have been foam rolling relatively regularly and doing the weekly Core & Stretch class my legs didn’t actually feel too bad and Becky said my hamstrings were in excellent shape and didn’t require “stripping” which was a relief as it sounds painful! My lower calves were a bit tight but I blame the uneven and muddy surface at Stanmer and wearing flimsy spikes for that.

I discovered on twitter that I was to paced to sub 20 by Danny and Trevor on Saturday. Instead of telling them it wasn’t enough warning and I didn’t want to (my 2012 response) I decided that I must just do it. I was utterly cacking it on Saturday morning. I am still very worried about disappointing people and myself and was full of anxiety that Trevor and Danny would hate me if I couldn’t do it. This is something I must get sorted in 2013. However I was a blithering, weeping wreck on the start line which is not good preparation for a pb attempt. Must learn to remain calm. It is only a run for goodness sake and as Danny pointed out I’d either do it or not but as long as I gave it my all I shouldn’t be disappointed. Anyway finally we were off! Trevor stuck with me as Danny accidentally shot off into the distance though he did return moments later. We passed 1k in 4.04 which was on pace for sub 20.30 and a pb (current pb 20.35) as I felt sub 20 was a bit of a leap at this stage. Trevor and Danny were excellent at keeping me going and did a lot of encouraging shouting. Trevor even recruited an old man with a long grey beard who was walking his dog to shout me out on my way round! The pacing was excellent and even though I felt I might die I managed to keep going although I lost a bit of time on the hills. This was most definitely the most even paced parkrun I have ever done and I passed the last time check point 2 seconds quicker than on my last pb run. Danny tried in vain to get me to unleash my sprint finish by the train track but once again I feared it was too early and I wouldn’t get to the end so I saved it (it wasn’t much of a sprint either this time) until the basketball court which was too late. Grr. I crossed the line finally in a Trevor-time of 20.32, a new pb by 3 seconds but of course now I had to wait for the official result. Later on in the café Dave managed to see my result being fed into the computer and it was indeed 20.32. Whoop whoop! A new pb by 3 seconds!!! It was incredibly hard and all credit must go to Danny and Trevor. I feel that there are some areas for improvement for next time. Must try even harder on the uphills to keep the pace consistent and believe that I am not going to die (of course I’m not but I need to get over this and keep pushing) and must start upping the pace for home from the 4k mark and get the sprint for home out earlier at the train a la Danny. I must also remember that I ran this after a hard week of exercise including Stanmer cross country, two 9 mile runs and the first kettlebell class after a few weeks. As part of #smashingitin2013 I must look at the positives and believe that I will finally reach the holy grail of sub 20 this year. Belief and confidence is key so these are the elements I must work hardest on.

Phew. Now I must go and check on the chicken I am roasting. See y’all on Wednesday.

Still running…   Leave a comment

On Monday it was the first track session of the year and also the first for a while as the track was shut on Christmas and New year’s Eve. Bob was away so it fell to Steve (again) to take the session. He plumped for short stuff as the weather was quite balmy for the time of year. We set off on 4 x 600 with 1 minute recovery where we had to run the same time but from lanes 1, 2, 3 and 4. We took the first rep sensibly (I was not leading) and finished in 2.28. The next three reps went pretty well although we were ever slightly too fast on them. Better than my traditional style of doing the first one way too fast then the next too slowly. We then did the same with 400s with 30s rest. These we managed in 1.35. We then finished with a 6 x 200 parlauf. This went a bit haywire with people going off at the wrong time but we just concentrated on going when Mark got to us and ignoring the carnage around us. I didn’t time these but they were quite quick I think. Thus knackering! As Steve had told us we were doing 8 we were pleased when he stopped us at 6. I very much enjoyed this session as I love the shorter stuff and I felt surprisingly fine after Sunday’s race.

On Tuesday I couldn’t go to Core & Stretch as I was going out for a belated birthday lunch so I decided to get my long run in in the morning. I set out as usual along the seafront. For once it wasn’t windy in either direction but I still think I may have gone too fast as I was quite tired on the way back but perhaps that is only to be expected after the race on Sunday and Monday’s hard track session. I think I was running around 9 minute miling but as we know I have no idea of pacing. It was somewhere between 8.30 and 9 though. I then had a lasagne for lunch and a piece of lemon drizzle cake and felt mightily stuffed all afternoon. Thankfully I knew kettlebells would burn off some of the excess. So off I trundled once more. The class was pretty full what with it being January and it got pretty hot but I went straight back in with my normal weights. My calluses had softened over Christmas so I developed some nice new blisters. Think my grip has got worse too as I was a bit worried I was going to hurl the bell into the person opposite’s face when swinging. Thankfully this did not happen and I survived the class though my legs were shot for the various types of squats we had to do. This class is mainly for my upper body strength as I know my legs get enough exercise what with everything else I do.

This morning I set off on my unhappy legs to spin. Joe had decided on The Prodigy as his music theme for the day. This was fine by me. We set off on the usual mix of sprints, hill climbs and hovers. I was struggling a bit after three days of hard running but tried to keep the intensity high. My legs definitely felt it but I kept them wibbling forever onwards. I had decided to try not taking my inhaler to give my lungs an extra work out. This was possibly foolish as around half way through I suddenly got massively hot and from then on felt a bit odd and faint. Red and green blobs in front of the eyes are usually a sign of working hard so at least I couldn’t accuse myself of not working hard enough unlike last week. On the final climb I think I put my resistance up too high too early as I couldn’t increase it any more towards the end but I definitely didn’t feel like I had taken it easy at any stage so was happy when we finally dismounted and I was able to cycle home and scoff a relatively healthy lunch of steak, bacon, potatoes and spinach. I then ruined it slightly by eating two crème eggs but I’m sure I’ll run them off later along the seafront with the Wednesday posse.

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