Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Fowlmead...........well was it a challenge

It sure was......it was pouring with rain before we even left home, Two hours of driving and although the rain had stopped and started many times the day was looking grey and grim.

The week before I had been on antibiotics to try and clear a touch of Tonsillitis and a head cold, I had made up my mind that if I didn't wake up coughing or spluttering I would run, I had been feeling better since the Thursday, but looking out the car at the rain lashing at the windows I did begin to wonder if maybe I was suffering with a fever for considering that this was a good day to attempt my longest ever run. 

As we pulled into the car park at Fowlmead Country Park it became obvious this was not going to be quite as flat as we thought, The challenge information had said 19 metres of elavation, not hilly but undulating........ I had joked with Mark that I hoped this wasn't going to turn out to be just one big hill.......We could see the park cafe and then this steep slope up to the starting line/base station. Mark went and collected our numbers while I struggled to change into my running tights in the front of the car...*.note to self get dressed at home no matter how long the journey*

My strategy was still to use a run/walk ratio right from the start, I didn't care if everyone went off like a bullet. I was going to stick to my plan and just take it steady, after all 6 hours is nearly three hours longer than my longest run ever. 
We listened to the event briefing, I set my trusty Gymboss to gently bleep and vibrate at each change of run/walk and my Garmin so I could keep a check on the elapsed time, then we were off. Lap 1 was pretty uneventful just trying to get my pace right and not freak out when everyone vanished and I was all alone trying to make sure I stayed to the route. I tried to register landmarks so I would know how I was doing on future laps. 

Laps 2 & 3 were very wet the heavens opened and the trail was starting to get very churned up 64 runners sploshing over the same 3ft wide path led to some pretty quick sand type tracks not the ideal surface for Luna sandals even with injini socks........it was close to the end of lap 3 that I did my first of 2 spectacular Dawn French moments straight out of the Vicar of Dibley.......I'm sure you all know the scence where she jumps in a puddle only to find it comes up to her head............well I slipped and landed sideways up to my armpits in lovely muck.....as Fowlmead is an old coal mine the mud isn't really mud it's Black coal dust tiny tiny bits of grit that get everywhere like sand.........

My second fall came just a few yards further up the same part of the route on lap 4 and it was at this point I decided I was going to quit at the end of lap 5 a half marathon would be just fine............then the sun came out for the first time...........Mark caught up with me (well lapped me really) for a quick chat and that encouraged me to set a new plan, finish the 5 laps in the Luna sandals and then change into my trail shoes and just plod out whatever I could manage till the time was up.

After a change of shoes and a lump of cake I headed back out and finished a further 3 laps, On that last lap I tried to take in all the scenery and soak up the feelings of what for me was an amazing event, all those weeks and months of plodding along on training runs to increase my distance. All those nights where Mark had encouraged me to go faster or push myself harder. All the support from my husband who patiently puts up with my moaning and groaning. Just as I was off daydreaming in a world of my own I looked up to see Barry my husband coming along the path to cheer me on, we had a quick chat and he said Jaime (my future daughter in law) had gone on to the finish to get some photos of me crossing the line. By this time Mark had already finished an Ultra distance of 29 + miles but when he found out that I was going to be the last runner he ran back to run the last 100 meters with me to the finish.......

Yes I was last ....64th place......but I had also completed a fantastic 21.6 miles in 6 hours 9 mins and 27 seconds which put me in 42nd place for distance covered. I know it's slow and I may never be speedy but I will also never forget the fact that 15 months ago I could not run for 30 seconds........I am not disappointed with the result, but there is a little nagging voice that wants to know if I hadn't had two toilet stops (which you had to walk 100 yards downhill then go into the cafe to the loos) maybe just maybe I could of squeezed in another lap or 2 in the time allowed.......................guess we will find out next year  

Before I sign off I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone that made this event possible - the organisers and volunteers were amazing but also my hubby Barry for putting up with me and driving us to and from the event, Jaime for putting up with my cranky mood and last but not least my son and running buddy Mark  who tries his best to bring out the best in me. 

Friday, 10 October 2014

Can You Hear That Banging Sound?...........................

Well can you hear that banging sound?.........that would be my heart!

I keep asking myself.....Are you scared yet? but a little whisper of a voice 
comes back saying......................Nope but I am nervously excited, if I can just stop my knees from making that knocking sound, I might even be able to run...for a while

16 months ago I hadn't even gone for a gentle jog let alone thought about trying to run, so I really can't quite believe I am saying this, but in 24 hours I will be lining up at the start of the Fowlmead Challenge 6 hours to run as many 2.67 mile laps of the beautiful country park as you can run in the time limit.

When I chucked caution to the wind many months ago and entered this event, secretly I thought, oh well even I can manage a couple of laps, then grab a coffee and watch Mark finish (whatever insane distance he achieves), but it wasn't long before it dawned on me that Mark was, how can I put this, encouraging me to complete the whole thing and stay out there for 6 hours. 

My first reaction was 'No way' then as the weeks have gone by and my long run has increased in distance, that little voice has been starting to say things like, 'If you really tried you might be able to go for 3 laps' or 'With a bit of a push, you could do 5 laps, that would be a half marathon' by this point if you have a good imagination, you should be able to hear manic laughter.........Stop....just be quiet, this madness has to stop!!!!! I knew I was in serious trouble when I found myself consulting pace calculators to see if there was anyway I could increase my pace to be able to squeeze in enough laps (10) to do a marathon! 

Well the simple answer is No.....No way, I am just not fit enough or fast enough (this year) After finally coming to my senses, it's time to make a sensible plan.......... I know that no matter how slowly I go, I am just not able to run continuously for 6 hours, so the only way I can stay on my feet and moving is to set out with a Run/Walk strategy right from the first mile. So that is what I am going to do......will I manage 3 laps? a half marathon or more? Your guess right now is as good as mine.................but I am sure looking forward to the journey......................see you on the flip side!

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

I'm Really Not Much Good At This Blogging Lark !!!

Well here we are again..........it's August and this is only my second update for the year!!! I really am not good at this blogging lark. Maybe it's more because I don't think anyone else is really that interested in anything I have to say...............

I may not of been a prolific blogger, but I have still been out running and so I guess that is really the important thing. So what have I achieved so far this year? 

March saw me reaching my 55th birthday so to celebrate that milestone I went for a 5.5 mile run, at the end my son Mark presented me with my very own set of tags, if you follow the link to Mark's blog you will see that I brought him tags in December when he did 34 miles for his 34th birthday.

My next challenge began at the end of March, I signed up for the 5x50 
this challenge is to do 5k or 30 minutes exercise everyday for 50 days, you can run, walk, jog or crosstrain. This was great fun and really made a difference to my fitness levels. This took me till nearly the end of May to complete and then it was time to focus on the Race for Life, the event that had been the reason for me to start running in the first place (more on that later)

Nearly forgot there was one more special event, My one year anniversary of running, Mark and I were due to go out for our weekly run anyway but Mark suggested we go back to the Parkrun course that we had used for my graduation run. It was a really warm evening and I was struggling to breathe in the humid conditions, Mark was pushing me hard, it was only towards the end when he was really trying to keep me going that he confessed that he was trying to get me to beat my PB (personal best) I can honestly say it's the first time since starting that I came really close to throwing up......which Mark seemed to find hilarious..........But thanks to his well lets just call it encouragement I did beat my PB when we got back to the car Mark presented me with this:
The compass is my new Monkey Tag Monkey Tag Running is a group that Mark has started on Facebook for runners to get together and arrange local runs just for fun.

So back to the Race for Life..........The big day arrived and off we went, to be honest I was a little nervous, I had built this up in my head as being the run that I had to complete non-stop as fast as I could, however on the day this was not to be. There was so many people that finding a clear space to run was harder than I had imagined. I found myself constantly getting stuck behind groups of people holding hands as they ran blocking most of the path or mums with their kids in buggies, at first I was really frustrated but then after having to stop and walk to allow myself to find a gap between people I knew that I needed to just chill out and enjoy the run no matter what, otherwise it was going to be such a dissapointment. There will be other days for me to run fast or slow run/walk or just run, but the most important part of the Race for Life day was to be part of the great experience of running with nearly 3,000 others all trying to support the fight against Cancer.

So there you have it, almost caught up to the present day. I could promise to post more often, but do you know what? sometimes life just gets in the way.....

Plans for the future...........
9th & 10th August - Volunteering at CP11 - NDW100 by Centurion Running
20th September - Crew for Mark at Tooting 24 - 24hrs to run round a track as many times as possible 
11th October Fowlmead Challenge - 6 hours running round 2.67 mile laps

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Goodbye 2013

Well It's been a while since my last post, but thought I should really do a bit of a round up just to finish off the year. 

When 2013 began I had no idea just how much it would change my life, and in such a positive way

I was due to graduate at the end of November from the C25K (couch to 5k) but during the last few weeks of the plan I had been invited to join a 'Run for Fun' group on Facebook they had organised a Christmas Challenge 5k run on the 1st December, the idea was that all the members that wanted to take part would all run 5k anywhere they wanted but at the same time as everyone else, this seemed like a great way to do my graduation run and commemorate 5 months from starting my running adventure. I knew that my 30 minute graduation run would not get me to the full distance, but I figured that I could run/walk the rest.

As always my wonderful supportive son said he would do the run with me, we agreed we would use a local Parkrun course, my husband, my other son and his partner and Mark's partner Jaime all came along to cheer us on. It was a cold but dry day, we arrived at the park only to find the car park full, so ended up having to park right at the other end of the park leaving us a good walk to our starting point, we used this as our warm up, waved goodbye to our supporters and off we went, 

Our course was to include 3 laps of the lake, the first lap I was still trying to settle into a steady pace and get my breathing under control, by the second lap I was feeling good and apart from having to run around people with pushchairs and avoiding the swans and geese we were doing ok. As we headed into the Third lap I was starting to get a bit tired but I knew I must of almost covered my 30 minute run, within a few mins Mark congratulated me on graduating with a quick high five. I asked how much distance was left for the 5k and he said maybe once more around the lake would do it, I had to stop and stretch for about 30 seconds as my calf muscle was starting to cramp, but I didn't walk we just went straight back to running, about half way round the lake I was really getting slow but Mark kept encouraging me on, he ran ahead and stopped at the 5k distance so I had a finish line to aim for which thankfully was less than a quarter of the way round the lap, I had to dig really deep to keep going but soon enough it was over and I had done it, I had run the whole 5k and that's when Mark told me I had also beaten my personal best by over 7 minutes.........we celebrated with hot chocolate and coffee walnut cake from the park cafe and Mark presented me with my Christmas Challenge medal. All in all a day I will remember for the rest of my life.
Run for Fun 5k Christmas Challenge
I have really enjoyed my running journey so far but I have a lot of people to thank for keeping me motivated, the support from Mark has been amazing and I would of given up long ago without his encouragement, but I must also say that I have found great support from a forum on Runners World in a thread called Starting Again From Then Beginning, also the Run for Fun group on Facebook and the Couch to 5k community on Health Unlocked. I have made so many new online friends, people that I have never met but who have been there for me on the low days when I have needed a virtual hug. Thank You One and all xxx 

Well I have made it, my original plan was to be able to run a 5k so that I could run the Race For Life so what now? I hadn't really thought about that when I started but I am now hooked, I am a runner and I am loving it, so now to plan what 2014 will be about, certainly the promised Race for Life in July, maybe some Parkruns and well who knows I may even look at a race or two.

My first challenge for 2014 I have signed up for is called Run the World which is organised by the Run for Fun Facebook group I will be trying to run a total of 400 miles this year........so I guess it will be watch this space......will I do it!!!!! I sure hope so 

Happy 2014

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Not Today Punk

How my day began, Let me set the scene.........

It's 4.15am I haven't slept, hubby has been snoring almost non-stop I say 4.15am but it 
may have been later it's just that was the last time I remember looking at my watch and
thinking.........I could put that pillow more comfortably round his head!  

I had an important project at work to do today and was feeling more than a little stressed. This was not helped by knowing that before I could even go to work, the dog needed to go to the vets for some blood tests oh joy.........the vet was delayed and so by the time I got to work I was running very late, tired and to cap it all when I dropped the dog off at home,  I had forgotten to change out of my jeans into my office clothes.

As the day dragged on I was really ready to just go home and curl up in front of the TV but I knew I needed to go out and run the week 6 repeat 2 session or I wouldn't get the last run of 25 minutes in for week 6 this weekend. I didn't want to run in the dark on my own, so headed to the gym, the treadmill would have to do. 

Arrived only to find that the gym was full of 14-15 year olds  It must of been some school fitness incentive. I almost turned around to leave, but groaned inside and headed to the treadmills. Most were already being used so I ended up over by several young lads messing around trying to walk backwards, or get two of them on the same treadmill. After a quick glare at them as only a mother can, I set my ipod to the highest volume and started my warm up walk, out of the corner of my eye I could see the lads taking the mickey out of me they were obviously feeling a bit put out that I had taken their treadmill. Laura (the podcast voice) told me I was going to be running for 10 minutes then walk for 3 mins then run for another 10 mins. After last weeks 20 minute non-stop run I knew I had this in the bag, no problem

As Laura said it's now time to run, The lad on the next treadmill broke into a run at the same time with a sideways smirk in my direction, his mates were making some kind of gesture that I only caught a glimpse of in the reflection in window infront of me, but it made the lad giggle and just for a moment I knew that it was game on!

I had been running for just over 8 mins and feeling really good, the lad along side was starting to sweat, so when Laura announced that I had 60 seconds left to run before walking for 3 mins, I just answered her in my head "Not today Missy" and just kept on running, she soon announced that it was time to run again for another 10 mins, but I was still going strong and now I could see the lad was really starting to struggle. A quick calculation in my head I knew if I could run till Laura said I had finished and then still run for another two minutes I would of run for a full 25 minutes which is what I would need to do for the next week 6 session anyway, so I just kept going. 

The minutes ticked by and as I looked at the lap counter and distance on the treadmill, the lad gave up at just under 3km sweating buckets and gasping for breath, his mates now had another reason for mickey taking..........Laura announced that I was done for the day, So I ran for another two minutes picking up the pace just a little and then finished with a walk.  As I sipped my water I casually stepped down from the treadmill and walked past the group of lads, I had a big smile on my face and a voice in my head saying "Not Today Punk"

And for those of you who already know me, you will be pleased to know that I returned to the changing room, opened my locker and guess what I found? that's where I had left my Tiara!

Friday, 1 November 2013

From There To Here

Ok I know it has been a while since I last updated my blog, but life sometimes just gets busy!

Have I been sitting around doing nothing? certainly not! 
The Color Run was great fun
No record breaking times, but that really wasn't what it was all about. 

Tomorrow it will be 4 months since I started my running journey.
After that first night out with Mark, only being able to run for just about 30 seconds with lungs screaming and legs like lead, I had no idea if I would survive this long. But we kept on going out each week and slowly I could run just that bit further before having to take a short walk break. 

Although I was making progress, by August I knew that If I ever wanted to really be a runner I needed to increase the amount of times I ran each week. So I started doing some extra sessions using the NHS podcasts, I haven't always been able to complete the three  runs required in the same week, but have taken my rest days and then fitted them in around my runs with Mark. By doing this I quickly saw the benefit of these extra sessions, I was able to keep running further each time Mark and I went out, not much faster, but he assured me that speed will come with time and not to worry about it, that just time on my feet and miles on my legs was all that I needed to do. 

And so to today where I had to face a really big challenge on my journey, a milestone moment that is week 5 repeat 3 of the couch to 5k plan, just another podcast, just another run for the week.......but this one has been looming up for a while now, making me nervous with the words "Run for 20 mins" no walking......Hey where did that come from last week we were only running for 8 minutes then walk, then run again........gulp can I really do this, have I put in enough effort? when I am out with Mark we don't time my running or walking just the overall time it takes us to do 5k I run till I can't run anymore......walk till I get my breath back.......run some more.

All through my morning at work I kept thinking, it's just a number, your going to be on a treadmill, you can stop and walk if you need to. You can always try again next week or the week after. No one is going to be upset with you, but you. All these thoughts just kept going round in my head................Then just one thought as I changed into my running gear and headed to the gym.............

STOP being a bloody princess, get in there and DO IT! 

So I Did  

5 mins brisk warm up walk and then I ran for 20 minutes without stopping, 5 mins cool down walk and do you know what? I haven't stopped smiling since................It wasn't fast.......It may not have been pretty for spectators but today I feel like a runner!!!

One last thought before I sign off for today
A Thank You 
To Mark 
for changing my life forever
for the second time

Thursday, 22 August 2013

I Believe We Have A Winner

Before I get started on this weeks training (session 8) I have some really great news, well to be honest I have known for a couple of weeks but wanted to wait for the confirmation before announcing to the world.........drum roll please.....
I have won 2 places in the 5k Color Run at Brighton on the 14th September 2013.

This all came about because at the beginning of my training sessions, Mark said that it would be a good idea to enter for a race, this he said would keep me focused on my running.........well I did sign up for Park Run but that didn't really count in his book because I could go along any weekend so there was no real pressure. I was a bit scared to say the least at the idea of commiting to a dead line. Then one day back in July I was on the Womens Running UK website and saw a competition for 2 places in the Color Run. Yep you guessed I entered and won, and of course it will be Mark running with me. Now although this is a 5k run it isn't timed and the main idea is to have fun not try to beat your personal best, so all in all I think this is an excellent place for me to start (insert big grin)

With the Color Run now to focus on I was even more determined to do well this week with my training, I had also booked the week off of work fully intending to get all those niggling jobs done, you know all those things around the house that get pushed to the end of the "To Do list" because of work or late nights. I also fully intended to get some use out of my new gym membership. 

Well my timing couldn't have been more 'Off' the gym is CLOSED for 2 weeks for a complete refit, all new equipment is being installed Doh! not to be outdone, I went for a nice 4 mile steady paced walk with my sister on Tuesday,
Aqua Zumba on Wednesday and then running with Mark on Thurday night.

Training Session 8 (oops I seem to of run out of Dino pictures)
I wore my Brooks Puredrift, these are really an amazing pair of shoes and I promise I will get around to writing a full review one of these days.
We did our 5k through the woods and along the train track route, which really is pleasant, the evening was cooler and it had rained quite a lot during the day so the air was fresh and it felt easier to breathe, I am not sure if it was because of the exciting news (could also be read as panic) about the Color Run, the nice fresh air or the fact that I was feeling pretty stressed out over my dog being ill, but I just wanted to really push myself, I 'needed' to run. So run I did, then walked just long enough to catch my breath and then ran again as many times as I could, just random times not counting minutes or seconds just running till I couldn't run anymore, it felt wonderful. Before I even really noticed Mark was saying we had got to our half way point and we needed to turn around and head for home, so we chatted and ran and just for a few moments while we ran through the woods with the light of the day starting to fade, I felt free and at peace with the world, If this is how running can feel then I never want to give it up. As we approached our finishing point Mark was pushing me pretty hard to pick up the pace and bits like through the station car park that we would normally walk, he was egging me on to run. At the time I didn't know why he was in such a hurry, but all was soon revealed when he announced that we had finished our 5k and I had a new personal best time of......*another drum roll please*..........49 minutes and 41 seconds Yeeehaa!
Now I know this isn't exactly super speedy for some runners, but for me this is a major mile stone, I knew that I needed to get below 50 minutes for 5k so that I could enter at Park Run. Eight weeks ago I was doing 5k in 1 hour 11 mins.
Am I pleased............You bet your life, I am over the moon

Till the next time............