Wednesday, 29 June 2011

General catch up...

I forgot to mention, while ranting about Race for Life, that I was very adventurous on Saturday and went along to Frimley Lodge Parkrun. I do like a change of scene, especially when it means I can meet up with a friend for a coffee afterwards. It is a nice route to run at Frimley, partly along a canal towpath (I didn't even know there was a canal in Frimley) and through the Frimley Lodge Park. It was a hot, humid day, and the ground was slippery after the rain the night before, but I managed a fairly respectable time, and my friend managed a new PB! Running along the towpath was hairy in places as it is need of repair. It could be quite risky to overtake at times as there are huge chunks of path that have fallen into the canal! I've volunteered to help out at my regular Parkrun on 9th July - not sure what will be asked of me, probably standing at a bend and pointing in (hopefully) the right direction!

I had a nice run on Monday - one of my favourite routes, but couldn't go as far as I wanted (only 4.5 miles) due to commitments at home. It has been a while since I have run any meaningfully long run, to the extent that I am worrying about completing 10k! I must get a couple of long runs in before 10th July. Life is just so busy at the moment. I will try to fit an 8 mile run in on Sunday, but am going to have to get up very early to do so, as I am due at a friend's ordination no later than 9.45am. I suppose I could run in the evening, but the midges will be out in force by then!

Tuesday was a bad day for running and, for the first time since doing C25k, I had to stop and walk for a while. Not long, just 100m, but my ankle was a bit sore (the one I twisted while drunk in high heels in France) and I'd landed badly coming off a kerb. That combined with too large a lunch, a few glasses of wine and hot, humid weather made running an ordeal rather than a pleasure.

Today's run was better. Again time constraints meant I couldn't run as far as I wanted (only 3.5miles) but the weather wasn't as oppressive and the sun was shining! Husbando is still not able to run, as he has injured his knee - this makes him very sad. He is worried about not being able to run in the Paris to Versailles race in September and I have to admit that I will be a bit sad if he can't run it with me.

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Race for Life

It takes 15 minutes to get from my house to the Basingstoke Race for life venue at Down Grange Sports Complex. Normally. Number one daughter and I left the house just before 10am leaving ourselves plenty of time to get to the carpark, pin on our race numbers, and get to the start line. This is the third year we've run this race, so we thought we knew what to expect in terms of making sure we got there on time.

We were doing fine until about a mile and a half from the venue, when the traffic virtually ground to a halt. We were inching forwards, being overtaken by pedestrians. The clock was inching towards 10.30am, and I was tempted to boot my daughter out of the car and get her to walk so that at least one of us would be there at the start, but I didn't like the idea of abandoning her and there were still a few dangerous roads to cross. It suddenly dawned on me that the Race for Life that was supposed to be on yesterday had been cancelled, and it seems that a lot of people who were supposed to run then decided to turn up today. We eventually drove all the way into the ground, only to be turned back as the car park was full! At this point I did boot my passenger out - I had no idea how far away the nearest alternative car park was, and a lot of the marshals were equally clueless. It was 'only' quarter of a mile away, but by the time I arrived in the carpark it was about five to eleven. I parked, locked the car and ran! Fast! As I approached the venue I heard the countdown to the start of the race over the tannoy.... '10, 9, 8, 7...etc.' I dashed through a gap in a hedge and ducked under the tape at the edge of the starting pen - praying I was fairly near the front just as the race started. I guess I crossed the start line about a minute after the start. Still amongst the 'runners' group, but with no idea where my daughter was!

The start of Race for Life is always hellish! It is a fairly safe bet that if you are in cut off jeans and flip flops with a pink afro wig on your head then you are not going to be able to run terribly fast, so don't start with a group of similarly attired friends at the very front of the race and then walk 6 abreast so that no one can get past you! Similarly, this is not really a great race to bring your Yorkshire terrier too, and 'run' with him! I know people do run with dogs, but there are several common sense things to observe, e.g. keep your dog close to you on a tight rein, have a lead that is visible, run near the back of the race and keep to one side of the main body of runners etc. Had one runner observed these simple rules I would not have tripped over her dog's lead and ended up kicking her dog! I am afraid to say I swore quite fluently as it was not much fun for me (and probably not for the dog either) as I crashed to the ground! The owner was not at all apologetic - and looked like she was about to have a go at me, so I did the only thing I could think of and ran like mad! As I turned a corner I did look back and the dog seemed to be OK, trotting along quite nicely!

As an aside, I did think that as marshalling jobs go, the guys at this race got to see an awful lot of badly supported women bouncing around the course! Get yourselves a sports bra ladies!!!

The weather took its toll on a lot of people today, it was 29C and a lot of the run was in blazing sunlight. I took advantage of as much of the available shade as possible and had a fairly enjoyable run once I had got past the melee at the start! As I got to the last kilometre I passed a young girl who was really flagging, so I slowed down to encourage her - she'd run a fast time to that point, and I knew how gutted I'd be if I'd run that well and then slowed down. She had no water with her, and was looking really hot - so I gave her some of my water - we ran together for a while - me telling her that she couldn't let an old bird like me beat her! She was only 14! She did finish just in front of me, but then I felt awful because I realised how awful she looked! The first aiders grabbed her just before she fell down, gave her water, found her some shade etc.

As we ran down towards the finish someone shouted my name! No idea who it was and there were only about 4 of us in the last 100m at that point. I finished in 22.10 minutes by my Garmin - which sounds good, but my Garmin also tells me that the route is only 4.59km long! It then took me ages to find my daughter! She finished in just under 29 minutes, but we missed each other at the end, and I couldn't see her amongst the sea of pink! I did spot the dog and its owner crossing the finishing line - the dog was being carried as it was too tired to walk any further!

We bought ice cream and cold drinks, then spotted the special race T-shirts which had our names on them (very small along with all the other runners' names), my persuasive daughter managed to get me to buy her a hoodie too!

I know that these events are designed to raise money for charity, but I do come away from them in a bad mood! I have decided that, no matter what, I won't do it again next year! My daughter can do it with friends, and I will happily drive them there, buy ice creams, take photos and shout and cheer. But I will not run it!

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Oops! Long time no blog post!

It has been a while since I have updated my blog, we've had a visitor staying which means my access to my desk top has been restricted. I've thought of things I write here that would be witty and entertaining, but now that I am faced with a few moments to myself and a blank screen my brain has gone blank too!

I've been running a fair bit, I haven't managed any long runs as it seems rude to say to a visitor 'Sorry, I'm going out for a run - I'll be back in two hours!' I've kept the runs short but fairly fast and frequent. Diet has gone to hell in a handcart as we have been eating out most lunch times and cooking 'proper' (i.e. not 'just' a plate of roasted veg) meals every evening, oh, and enjoying the odd glass or three of wine...

Our visitor is the daughter of friends from San Francisco, who found herself at a loose end due to being let down by her traveling companion. It has been lovely having her here, although I do feel ancient, as I first met her when she was just a toddler and she is now 22 years old! We've been doing 'touristy things' that we wouldn't normally do. I have been into Winchester Cathedral for the first time! We went to Bletchley Park too. Although it can hardly be considered a 'local' attraction it is well worth the journey. So much history, so much to learn! I was left with a sense of overwhelming sadness about the way this country treated Alan Turing. I am grateful that most of society has moved on and the idea of chemical castration as a treatment for homosexuality now seems unbelievable.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

An up and down week!

This has been a strange week, with very little running.

On Tuesday I managed a 6.2 mile run, up Brockham Hill and back down through the edge of town. It was also the day I found out that I had an interview for a new job. As is the nature of job application/interview procedures in the teaching very little time passes between being asked for interview and the actual interview. I received the 'phone call at Tuesday lunchtime asking me to attend interview at 8.30am on Thursday 9th June! When you consider that the deadline for applications was 10th June I thought that the school was even speedier than normal! The rest of Tuesday and most of Wednesday were spent planning, scrapping and re planning the dreaded interview lesson. Teaching an unknown group of pupils in an unfamiliar space is daunting, especially when one teaches a practical subject like science! Nothing goes to plan, everything takes longer than anticipated. I'd learnt from my one previous teaching interview though, and ditched group practical work in favour of some interesting little demos (that I got pupils to help with) and group tasks. It seemed to work, and although I spent Thursday late afternoon and early evening jumping every time the 'phone rang and decided not to go for a run because answering the 'phone and heavy breathing to a head teacher is not a good thing, I got the job! I start in September!

Friday saw me up at 5am to take husbando and a car full of books up to London for the bookfairs. I also managed to find a few moments to set up a Facebook page for the shop, what he does with it is up to him!

My older daughter did her first Parkrun on Saturday. She did very well, considering she shouldn't really be running because she has a sore throat, and she had to stop for a nose bleed mid run! Bad mummy wasn't there to help her! I felt as though I was running very slowly, but was only about 30 secs slower than last time. She finished in 35mins. I know she can run it faster than that - and she is looking forward to running it again and getting a better time.

Saturday also brought the disappointing news that my oldest son has not got into the school we were looking at for him. His maths paper seems to have been the sticking point. We are gutted for him. He had been asking his maths teacher to help him catch up on the work he missed when he was so ill (off school for a term and a half), and she was as much use as a chocolate teapot! She'd say to us that he had to tell her what he had missed! We said that he didn't know what he had missed as he wasn't there, and she had the cheek to say that she had no way of knowing what had been covered in the classes she taught in that time frame! To say I was gobsmacked is an understatement! However, onwards and upwards.... we are looking at another school, it is very small, and delivers very individualised education. I was lucky enough to spend a couple of days there when I was looking for a placement school, and remember thinking how great it would be for my biggest boy. I truly believe that he needs to move schools. He is demoralised, bullied and under motivated where he is now. He comes home nearly every day to tell us that he has had yet another substitute teacher who has taught them nothing, that he has been picked on again and that only he and one other boy contribute in Mrs M's lesson - the rest just muck about. And this is the teacher who is so unaware of who my son is that she wrote a school report that bears no resemblance to him - and which she could not substantiate when called upon to do so. The comment 'I have 32 children in that class, I can't be expected to know who they all are!' should never cross a teacher's lips in front of parents!

Today seems to mark the end of the drought we have been enjoying in the South East. It really has been weather for ducks today! I normally get up early on a Sunday morning to get my long run out of the way, but there is no fun in getting up
at sparrow fart if it is ghastly weather outside, so I rolled over and had an extra hour in bed instead, thinking that it was bound to clear up later. I was wrong. We took the children to Wisley to meet up with some friends who were visiting from Texas. My oldest son came under duress. I told him that not coming was not an option, and that under no circumstances was he to enjoy himself at any time! Our children and the visiting children had a whale of a time. They were fairly unbearable while we were having coffee (eight children waiting for grownups to drink coffee can be like that!), but once we finished coffee and they could run about they were fine! We made excellent use of the lovely glass houses, the children played hide and seek and tag, and while they may have annoyed some of the other visitors they had a blast! It was 3.30pm before we got home - not bad for a day out to a garden in the rain!

When it was obvious that the weather was not going to improve I decided I'd just have to get on with it. I set off up Brockham Hill but only got about halfway up before deciding that running uphill in a river was not a good idea! Passing cars didn't seem to understand that if you drive at full speed through puddles you will soak the poor runner cowering at the side of the road. Rude words were shouted at cars as they went past! I came down the hill and decided to stick to pavements. I must have looked like a drunkard as I weaved my way around puddles! It really was miserable. I don't mind a bit of rain, but is was very wet, and the wind was bitter. I only stuck it out for 5.6 miles. I was disappointed as I'd been looking forward to a lovely long run. Ah well, tomorrow is another week...

Monday, 6 June 2011

A few days in the Dordogne

This is the sight that began my morning runs on Saturday and Sunday! I was staying at a lovely B&B as I needed to be in Gageac-et-Rouillac at 2.30pm on Saturday for the wedding of an old friend to his lovely young bride. Given that his roots are in God's own county and the bride's parents are Oxfordshire residents, it was a long way from home until you factor in the fact that the groom's parents own a gorgeous property in the area.

This was my first trip to the Dordogne, and I fell in love with the area! Stunning views across the valley, beautiful weather, and hospitable hosts! A group of us were staying at the B&B for the weekend, which made a great weekend extra special. Meeting up with old friends I hadn't seen for too long and making new friends. I am grateful to the kindness everyone showed me. I was travelling alone and decided not to hire a car - so was reliant on friends for lifts. The wedding, and the festivities that accompanied it were wonderful! Much laughter, a few tears, plenty of Champagne and excellent food, lots of dancing.

Because I tried to eat my own weight every day and despite drinking far more of the fantastic local wines than is healthy (and I do mean local, at our B&B we drank wine from the vineyards we could see from the window, and in the Salle des Fetes the vineyard was just over the road) I decided a run on both mornings was a necessity as much as a pleasure.

Breakfast wasn't served until 9am and while this gave me ample time for a run it meant that I was running on an empty stomach! I wasn't organised enough to have any pre run snacks in my room. A combination of low energy levels, a hangover, a big hill and, on the second morning, a twisted ankle following a trip the night before, meant that my runs were slow. At least I made the effort! And I was rewarded with some spectacular views.

I haven't been running today. I figured that I'd give my ankle a rest. To be honest, if I'd been in a fit state to realise that I'd hurt it yesterday morning I wouldn't have run then either, but I was about a mile and a half out before I realised that this wasn't just cold muscles protesting, and then I put two and two together and remembered that I'd gone over on that ankle as I'd clambered into the car the night before!

Plans this week include housework, I want to have a massive clear out of all the accumulated clutter. I have minimalist dreams and a pack rat mentality and we are running out of space. I will see how my ankle feels tomorrow and make decisions about running based on that.

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

So, cycling....

Last week, one of the dads at school kindly offered to lend me his wife's mountain bike. They both adore cycling, taking part in mad events like the 'Coast to Coast Challenge,' and both have road bikes as well as mountain bikes.

The bike that arrived in my hallway a couple of days later looked HUGE! I didn't worry too much as I had no intention of riding it until after Monday's race. I procrastinated yesterday and went for a run instead of tackling the beast (that currently lurks in my shed). Today I could delay no longer. I knew that I shouldn't really run again, the old knees need a rest now and then. So I lowered the seat as far as it would go, my friend is not only generous and gorgeous - she is also taller than me - most people are, but she is much taller than I am! I grabbed a water bottle and a gel seat (from spinning classes at the gym) and set off on a bike for the first time in 22 years.

It seems that riding a bike is almost but not entirely like riding a bike! You don't forget the basics. That is, you can pedal and balance well enough. Gears have changed a lot though, no need to pedal backwards as you change gear any more, and I feel my mortality a lot more than I did as a 19 year old, cycling in the Canadian Rockies with C Battery RHA! There was no way I felt confident enough to remove my hands from the handlebars to signal, or push my sunglasses up my nose! No worries, I was going on a route that wouldn't have a huge amount of traffic, and where most of my turns would be left not right!

I cycled to 'loopy bit' of the Alton 10mile route. That gave me a ride of nearly 8.5 miles - which took me 44 minutes. I have no idea if that is good or bad. It didn't feel like hard work, but I felt I was going as fast as I felt happy with. The hills weren't too bad on the way up, but they were terrifying on the way down! I spent most of the
down hill sections with the my hand on the brake - this was not the joyous free wheeling that I see cyclists enjoying while I am slogging up the hills on my Sunday morning run!

One thing that surprised me was how little I could hear as I pedalled along. When I run, I listen to my iPod. If I am running on country roads I have the volume set quite low, but it is by no means quiet. That said, I have never been surprised by a car. I have always heard them before I see them (and before they see me too!) Today I had no iPod. My bone dome doesn't cover my ears, but all I could hear was the wind rushing by. Twice cars 'crept up' behind me without me realising they were there until the last minute.

My shoulders were stiff when I got home, from tension and from holding on to the handlebars for dear life. I don't mind going up hill, but down hill is going to take some getting used to - as is the thought of taking my hands of the handle bars to signal! No aches and pains are evident - yet! I hope I don't wake up with aches in muscles I didn't know I had tomorrow morning!

Tomorrow I will run. Ideally I'd like to do this before I go to the hairdressers, but I have a busy timetable of things to sort out before heading to Bergerac for a wedding. Running kit will be packed, and I'll have another go on the bike when I get back next week!