Monday, 30 January 2017

Chilly Hilly rebooted

The weather couldn't possibly be as biblical as last year could it?  The rain last January came down pretty much for the whole time we were running and, as we drove towards QECP this morning it looked as though we were on for a repeat performance.   It was a relief to get out of the car to find that the rain had eased off and there was barely a spit of rain while we were running.

But, oh my word, the conditions under foot were... interesting!  I knew it was going to be hilly (there's a clue in the name) and I knew, from our Wednesday evening runs in QECP, that it would be muddy, but this was mud on another level.  Slippery, slidey mud that had only 2 objectives; to try to steal your trainers and to make you look silly when you fell over!

As to my run... my snazzy Garmin has a 'performance condition indicator.'  This pops up in the first few minutes of an activity with a number that rates my current performance relative to my general fitness levels (or something like that).  Normally it varies between 0, when I feel rough, and +5.  Today the number that popped up was -9.   Minus 9!  Maybe the cold I had been suffering form all week had taken its toll.... Given that I was halfway up the first hill by then it made very little difference - I had to go on.

There were loads of marshals on the course - so lots of encouragement and warnings about taking care on the sharp bends.  Lots of banter amongst the runners, we all agreed that it felt a lot more challenging than last year.  Part of this was due to the paths being churned up by logging vehicles, in fact part of the course had to be rerouted due to logging activity.  This was nice because it meant we had an out and back - so more opportunities for banter!

Just after half way I confidently planted my foot on what looked like solid ground, only to have the ground vanish from under me!  I ended up sitting cross-legged in the mud - I think it  must have been quite a graceful tumble, but there was no one there to see!  I took it even easier after that, I just kept going with the thought of a steaming bowl of chilli keeping me going.

The chilli was great, as was the cup of tea I had with it.  This is a lovely race, with the added benefit of a raffle.  I'll be back for more next year, but will be hoping that we have dry weather!

(My Garmin also gives me a recovery time at the end of each run.  The longest I have seen so far is 48hrs after a marathon.  Today is told me I should wait 3.5 days before exercising again!  I think my cold may actually have been man 'flu!)
Best sign of the day!

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Make a plan and then stick to it!

Today was my first visit to Hayling Island.  It is always slightly worrying not to be able to see anything at the other end of a bridge, and this was exactly what happened as I drove onto the bridge over to Hayling Island.  It wasn't even a long bridge - but all I could see in front of me was mist!  I hadn't thought too much about where this race was located when I booked it.  The guys at On the Whistle put on great events, and that is all I really need to know, this meant that I didn't realise that it was to be a trip to the seaside!  The run was on the Billy Line, consisting of out and backs, as many or as few as you fancied completing.

My training plan, aimed at the Paris marathon, required me to run 9 miles today, which would have been a smidge over 2 laps, so obviously a new plan was required.  I decided that I would run 9 miles and then adopt a run/walk strategy until I felt like giving up.  The tough thing was to stop running at 9 miles when I still felt as though I could go on for ever!  But I did.  I also managed to stay relatively on track with my run/walk breaks - they sometimes varied a bit when I stopped or slowed down to talk to another runner.  I think I finished in about 4hrs 30mins, maybe 4hrs 3mins - I was feeling so ropey that I was concentrating on staying upright rather than important things like stopping my Garmin!

The run itself was much tougher than I'd anticipated!  This was a very flat course, but also, due to the rain, very muddy.  We ran the first couple of laps with very limited visibility, the mist and/or rain ensured that we were pretty soggy pretty quickly, and the lack of obvious landmarks on the route made it somewhat soul destroying!  The fact that I was pleased to see a white fertiliser bag in a puddle is an indication of how desperate I was for familiar points to judge how far I had to go!  The visibility remained poor throughout the time I was running - I didn't get to see the sea!   Who'd of thought that I might actually welcome a couple of hills to break up the monotony?! And I decided very early on that a marathon distance would be enough for today.  The idea of setting out for a 7th lap made me want to weep!  During my 5th and 6th laps it was only the thought of McDonalds that kept me going.  I can only have McDs if I have run a full marathon, so I had to keep on going!

It was lovely to see old friends and speak to new people, but the weather was a huge negative today.  Not epically bad enough to inspire a blitz spirit, just a constant drizzle and limited visibility.  I can't fault the organisation, or the enthusiasm of the On The Whistle team - it isn't every race you go to where one of the organisers comes up to you with your own personal bag of Tangfastics -surely the crack cocaine of the sweetie world!   The medals and aid station were fabulous, the marshals friendly and enthusiastic, I just wasn't enjoying the rain! Still as a training run for Paris and London, it is all good! Hoping to get to my Treloar's Trust/London fundraising total before I run the race!

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Doing the double.

My New Year's resolution is not to run while hungover or drunk in 2017.  There is a subsidiary resolution, that might not be practical, and that is that I will not enter races while under the influence of alcohol.  Not sure how long these resolutions will last, but so far at 7.10pm on 1st January everything is going well!  I've do two parkruns without even a wiff of a hangover.  

I did have tired legs.... legs that were so tired (after yesterday's Gutbuster 10miles) that I was really quite happy with our decision to stay in, plans for an early night were scuppered by teenage children phoning to say 'Happy New Year' and 'Can you send me some cash?' at midnight!   

Husbando and I had been plotting which two parkruns we'd run.  At first we thought Basingstoke and Alice Holt, but Basingstoke quite often start a little after 9am, which meant that we could be cutting it fine to get to Alice Holt, so we decided to go to Rushmoor instead.  As we drove over I complained that we wouldn't know anyone, only to park our car, walk to the start and bump into a parkrun friend from Abingdon who I hadn't seen for ages.  He was there with a group from Abingdon and Didcot who were planning to go on to Frimley Lodge, but we persuaded them to come with us instead!  

So, to the running part of parkrun.... my legs felt heavy, and I couldn't be bothered to warm up as I had no great expectations, Husbando and I were aiming to 'just get round.'  Turned out that my tired legs wanted to move a bit faster than I'd anticipated.  Husbando and I jogged around chatting away until I realised that I was on for a PB - which happened as we got to the finish straight - I was thrilled to go home with a 45second PB!  

Then it was into the car and off to Alice Holt.  Whereas Rushmoor is flat and fast, Alice Holt most definitely is not!  We arrived in plenty of time, which was lovely as it meant we got to see loads of people I hadn't expected to see.  There was a huge contingent from Basingstoke and more from Guildford, including my ex head of department - who I hadn't seen for ages.   Alice Holt is a lovely run, but it is not one that you can do quickly on tired legs, so I was happy to plod around.
parkrun is really all about the people, the volunteers, the other runners - the whole community aspect is why parkrun is so successful, so it was wonderful to sit in the cafe drinking coffee, eating bacon rolls and chatting with friends.  I'm looking forward to many more in 2017!  

I hope you all have a fantastic 2017 and that I'll see some of you in parkrun land soon.  In the meantime, if anyone fees like sponsoring me for the London Marathon, which I am running for a local charity, Treloars, please click on THIS LINK