Thursday, 30 December 2010


Missed training... too much chatting with my friends; not that anyone who knows me would believe that could be true!!

Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud!

Well, that's what my dog thought... my trainers have a different opinion!

Doris also enjoyed the run a lot more than me... as you can see from her facial expression... actually, she always looks like that!

Anyhoo that's another run done in the magathon training... just need to shift this cold and chocolate weight and I'll be all on track! (Oooo... that was almost a pun - on track - running track- get it! No, you're right... shhhhhh!)

Distance: 2.5 miles
Feeling: like an elephant who has the lurgy
Weather: wet and muddy but +7(!!!!!!)

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

On Closer inspection...

Good job I'm not a celebrity... this is how the front page would look tomorrow if I was!
I should have eaten less this Christmas! All my good intentions, to run over the Christmas period, failed miserably when I just couldn't shake the cough hanging around on my chest; best not to run and make it worse, I thought.

Then I ate... and ate... and ate... and just for good measure, ate a little more.

Today I ran.  Sorry, let me start that again. Today, I waddled around the streets of Manchester; barely able to shift the weight of turkey, peanuts and pringles, that have now become a part of me, along the road.

On closer inspection and in hind-sight, I should have eaten less; I should have run more.

Day one of Official 16 week magathon training... done. Eating like an elephant... done!

Distance: 5.11 miles
Feeling: ENORMOUS!
Weather: slushy, drizzley, wet, cold and miserable!

Friday, 24 December 2010

Diane Chapman's 'Night Before Christmas'

Diane’s Final Festive Run… An Imagining!

Read Diane's blog of her challenge here

‘'TWAS THE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, when all through the house
Not creature was stirring, not even a mouse.
By Noah’s bed, the stocking was hung with care
In hopes that St Nicholas soon would be there.
And Noah was nestled all snug in his bed,
While visions of ‘Ben 10’ danced in his head.
Chris was watching some Christmas Eve’ crap
And Diane was striving to keep from a nap.

When the clock came to midnight, they both stopped their chatter,
Diane sprang from the couch to deal with the matter;
She tied up her laces as quick as a flash,
Thinking of all the sponsorship cash.

Out her front door, she stepped onto the snow,
Looking out at the lights of the houses below.
Clad in a red suit, with orange t-shirt beneath,
Her neighbours looked on in pure disbelief.

Bidding farewell to her husband and child
Diane was grateful the weather was mild;
Not nearly as frozen as the days gone before
As the thermometer read a warm minus four.

Starting her Nike+, so lively and quick,
She ran through the street dressed just like St Nick.
More rapid than Rudolf the reindeer was she,
As Diane set off for a final PB.

When at the end of the road, there did suddenly appear,
A miniature sleigh, and eight tiny reindeer,
With a little old driver, so lively and quick,
She knew in a moment that it was St Nic.

He was chubby and plump, a right jolly old elf,
And Diane laughed when she saw him, in spite of herself.
A wink of his eye and a twist of his head,
Let Diane know she had nothing to dred.

“Is that Dasher, Dancer, Prancer and Vixen?
Oh… and Comet, Cupid and Donner and Blitzen?”
The man dressed in rouge, stepped down from his sleigh;
He stood in front of Diane, laughing away
“Ho, Ho, Ho, Ho”, he chuckled with glee
“I see that you do recognise me.
Why Diane, I am the real Santa Claus
And I’m here to help you with your festive Cause.”

Winking at Di, his eyes gave a twinkle,
He smiled big and wide, showing his dimple.
Then, speaking not a word, he went straight to his work,
Pulling a laptop free from his sleigh with a jerk.

And he sponsored Diane as much as he had,
Now Santa’s work is voluntary as we know,
But even the smallest amount has far to go.

Diane thanked him so much and wished him the best
As he sprang back on his sleigh and set off to the west.
Di finished her 24th run for the children in need
At Martin House Hospice on that cold Christmas Eve.

Meanwhile, Santa continued the rest of his rounds
Feeling glad he could help with just a few pounds;
And he bellowed from his sleigh as he flew out of sight:
 “Happy Christmas to all, and to all a goodnight!”

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Christmas Hats again...

... but no run for me!


To put it bluntly! In the wrong place of course! I think everyone has phlegm, it's just not supposed to be on your chest, or coughed up spontaneously, every 10 minutes!

That really is a horrid word isn't it - in sound, appearance and meaning - phlegm. Eugh!

So instead of running, I went along to club tonight to pass on Christmas cards, say a Merry Christmas and take the all important photo!... however, not so many people there tonight. Maybe everyone else has phlegm problems.... Is that even a thing?!

Anyway... Here they are, the happy Christmas runners in their festive attire... I would say hats, but as you can see, that would be a loose term!

Oldham and Royton Harriers, Christmas Hats Run #2
From left to right: Pete, Chris, Dom, Sara and Helen
 I hope they had loads of fun, I'm looking forward to reading Pete's blog to see how they got on.

As for me, I've been sensible (for once!); Heeding the advice of not running with any illness that manifests below the neck, I have abstained... so it better pay off now! Plan is to get a long run in on Boxing Day up in Bradford, like I did last year; I've been looking forward to it so my Christmas wish will be to be phlegm free.

One more time... PHLEGM!  Sorry, hope you weren't eating!

Monday, 20 December 2010

You know it's nearly Christmas when...

...ten of you run around Chadderton in Christmas hats!

Much fun was had at running club tonight when we all donned our festive santa hats - some with flashing lights, some pink and some sparkly - and set off  for a seasonable, sociable and jocund jaunt!

Knowing what festive mirth and joys this run would bring, I was fully prepared with my camera... unfortunately the batteries were less prepared! So there are no pictures. Instead, here is a snapshot in words... a haiku...

Run in Christmas hats;
Gaggle of geese on canal;
snowy and such fun!

Pretty much sums it up really. As did Liz's words: "This is why I run". I agree.

Here's to the next one on Thursday; with better prepared batteries, there may even be a snapshot in pixels!

Distance: 4 miles
Weather: -7, frozen and snowy, with a really bright moon!
Feeling: relief from my cold when I run!

Sunday, 19 December 2010

From across the Pennines...

Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow! It won't stop us running! Today, I was supposed to joing my friend, and fellow blogger, Diane on one of her festive runs for a good 'claus'. However, the weather had other ideas and the heavy snowfall meant that her, and her family, were unable to join us on Saturday (meaning they also missed out on tasty pork, stuffing and apple sauce sarnies at the Christmas Markets... I honestly don't know what was more disappointing... yum, yum!). We'd both been looking forward to this run for a while, and with Di only having 5 more runs left, to complete her sponsored challenge, it seemed a real shame to have missed out on it.

So, we decided to do the next best thing: run together, but on opposite sides of the Pennines! At 1.30pm(ish) the two of us simultaneously set off from our respective homes to brave 10k in 4" of snow.

Slow going is the only way to describe this run; the snow presented a formidable challenge, and after just 1 mile, I started questioning what I was doing... this was going to be hard work! But no! What was I thinking? This was ONE run in the snow of only 10k, Diane has already completed 190km, much of which she has had to do in the snow. "Shut up and get a wriggle on you wimp" I so kindly told myself. So motivated, I pushed on, accepting that this would just have to be the slowest 10k I'd run in years!

Once I stopped worrying about the speed (or lack of) that I was travelling at, I actually had a very pleasent run. Knowing that Di would be running with her carefully selected choice of toons... I too chose, for the first time in ages, to run with my ears plugged into the ipod. I also took pictures along the way and so here is the story, and soundtrack, of my run:

Mile 1: Heading up through the delightful sights of Moston, I pass the fittingly titled businesses of 'Wuff Cuts' and 'Tan Ya Hide'; bet you can't guess what services they offer (don't get them confused!).
The memorable sound of this mile definitely goes to KC and the Sunshine Band, only I'm certain that 'Walking on Sunshine' is much more preferable to running on snow.

Mile 2: Takes me over the motorway bridge, whilst listening to Green Day 'Long Way'
and down Greengate. At this point, the looooong road ahead of me and the snow beneath my feet, makes me wonder about my song choice!

Mile 3: I pass the Lees Brewery to the sounds of Propellerheads 'Spy Break'; and as I do so, I wonder to myself, as I always do with this song (naturally), if I too could be a spy... 'Probably', I think.
Which distracts me as I continue through the industrial estate - it's very picturesque this run - and onto Oldham Broadway. Here I indulge in two pictures. One of myself looking particularly lovely - I'm always at my best wearing no make-up and  having run almost 4 miles - nonetheless, I am still going to subject you to the photo:
and one of the 'Boat and Horses' above the frozen canal. This is mainly because I have decided I could be a spy, and so no longer need to wonder, and have started to become more aware of my surroundings. 'Diane will have lots of beautiful pictures of countryside running' I think to myself. Aha... there's something countryside-ish... hence picture:
hmmm... it looks a little less picturesque on the photo. Anyway, good news is I'm so distracted, I've not realised I've run 4 miles! Yay! 
Mile 5: I run up yet another looong, straight, road:
However, I am spurred on by the sounds of Ben Folds who's 'Rockin the Suburbs' (while I'm running them!), and Scouting for Girls who believe that 'Elvis isn't Dead'. I also catch myself singing along to this before someone else does!

Mile 6: and I'm on the home straight. Back on Moston Lane, back past 'Tan-ya's' hide tanning business, back listening to Ben Folds (Zack and Sara have joined me now), and I notice that the local park is looking... what's that?... looking decidedly picturesque! Perfect.
6.2 miles and I'm home. Well, I'm at the top of the street, but I end the run, as I should, with the person who has been alongside me the whole way. So, as Diane and I chat (on the phone) about our respective runs I shake the snow off my trainers and give myself a pat on the back.

Diane of course deserves an even bigger, belting pat on the back. I ran 10k today; she ran her 190th kilometre in just 19 days. I found the running tough: tough on my legs, tough on my feet and tough because it was so cold; add to that the mental toughness of forcing myself out the door for the 19th day on the run (no pun intended... but quite good all the same!) and I'm not sure I would have achieved it.
Diane, on the other hand did, and you can read about her run (with me!) here.

Distance: 6.2 miles (10k)
Weather: Full of snow and -6 degrees!
Feeling: Motivated by my friend

Friday, 17 December 2010

2 birds with 1 stone...

I did it! I went for a run! As Pete commented yesterday, once I say I'm going to... I have to... and in fact it worked as that's what got me out! I also took your advice though Pete, and took it easy as I decided to kill two birds with one stone (not literally of course)! I took Doris for a well deserved run. Should point out at this point, for anyone who doesn't know, that Doris is my dog not some random elderly lady... I think one of those birds would have been literally killed if that had been the case!
Doris, relaxing after our run.
This means I now have a VERY relaxing night ahead of me as I can now indulge in Di's advice of feeding a cold, guilt free... and my dog will be fast asleep! Excellent.

Now I just have to decide what to do tomorrow; this time I think the weather will be the decider. Technically I'll be taking part in a cross-country race, however it's in Blackburn and the weather is looking decidedly dodgy out there! Fingers crossed that the snow holds off meaning I can run cross-country on Saturday and enjoy a 'festive clause' 10k with Diane on Sunday.

Distance: 2.2 miles
Weather: minus something!
Feeling: guilt-free!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

'Tis the season to be...

COLD! It's bloody cold! AGAIN! And to top it off... I've got a cold! Although good 'cold management' has meant that it's now disappearing. I put this down to blueberries in my porridge - Suuuperfruuuuit! - 8 hours sleep for the last two nights - for once! - and chocolate! Ah... you thought I was going to say running didn't you! But no... I think chocolate must take precedence. And there's no denying the evidence: I have been runinng far fewer times than I have eaten chocolate, over the last couple of days, and my cold is now on the way out! I have found a new way to live. Actually, that's not new is it? I've always eaten too much chocolate; that's why I run!

That's why I went running today, despite the cold and 'The Cold', as I managed to eat about 4 meals, plus snacks, yesterday; which is impressive even by my standards. Everything aches again of course; but there's something familiar about that which I also quite like these days... it's a comfortable, noble, self-satisfyingly smug ache of goodness! I am good. I am fit (almost). I am... really tired!

Anyway, having had two days off from running after I convinced myself I needed the rest, it was club tonight and we did hill loops. I did 3 and 1/4... the 1/4 was my idea, I was contemplating wimping out from a last one all together but thought I'd feel more noble if I did at least a little bit of one. I did!

As I didn't run Tuesday as planned, I'm going to run tomorrow. I am. No, I am. I am. Okay... I am. This is a very extreme version of talking to yourself isn't it! I think the cold... either one... has gone to my head. Time for bed!

Distance: 4.4 miles
Weather: cold (-1) again!
Feeling: cold!

Monday, 13 December 2010

A Running Friend

I've been walking around like I'm 82 today, making fittingly appropriate, age-related noises everytime I go up or down stairs, or stand from a sitting position! Obviously, I haven't magically aged 50 years overnight, but instead have been hit with the aforementioned affliction because of the ridiculous hills, I thought it would be a good idea to run stagger plod up, in the 10 mile race yesterday!

As a result, I began this evening convincing myself I didn't need to go to running club, then...


'Mince Pie' Guilt...
'Christmas Cake' Guilt...
'HOW MUCH have you eaten today?!' Guilt...

Call it what you like, all that guilt leads to is me looking like this:
Mince pies + no running = Homer Simpson belly!
 in my next race... so out I went.

However, a good thing happened; we were given an out-and-back session: out for 20, then back along the same route but in 18. This was a good thing because I was able to give myself a nice recovery run, whilst also feeling guilt-free, as I paced Natalie out and back.

Natalie is not only my very close friend - which obviously also made for a convenient gossip confab on the way out - but is also the newest member of our running club, having joined only a couple of months ago.
The thing is, I really enjoyed running with Natalie today... and no, not just because I got to take it easy! but because supporting someone else through their running, made me more aware of my own. The nature of the out-and-back is that the effort increases on the 'back' element due to the attempt to return in less time, the route we took is also on a slight incline on the way back, so that adds to the increase in effort also. Running a strong 1.5 miles 'out', we stayed equally strong for the first half mile back again, picking the pace up just enough to warrant the end of the gossiping! As the final mile loomed upon us, Natalie started losing a little bit of confidence, but kept pushing on, taking us into the final 1/2 mile. All of this is on an incline, and as Natalie started to lose a little confidence, and I inevitably ignored her, I began to think how much our ability to push ourselves is more about what's in our heads than what's in our legs!

The thing about running is, as we all know, that so much of it is a mental challenge as much as a physical one; we have to teach our brains how to win in the battle against our legs. Running with Natalie, it was clear to me that she could continue running - she had the strength, and the ability, to do so - but despite this, she truly felt like she may not be able to do it. As I encouraged her to keep going despite this, as so many others have done for me, I was struck by the thought that, for me, running is not a solitary activity at all; but quite the opposite.

When there is someone alongside for encouragment, support and company, the act of running not only becomes more enjoyable, but it also becomes more achievable. If it hadn't been for my friend Paula tricking coaxing me into running with her two years ago, I never would have started; if it hadn't been for the fantastic atmosphere at the Great North Run, six months after that, I never would have kept it up; and if wasn't for my running club, I wouldn't be addicted to running now!

Natalie and I -
but a lot less sweaty!

Today, Natalie was my running friend. Her company (and pace) was exactly what I needed; and, although she didn't realise it, she was as much as support to me as, she claims, I was to her. In fact what's more, apparently we're both going to be brainier (as well as braunier - true word!) as a result of running together, as Princeton University scientists have 'determined that running with friends, rather than alone, produces better results and is better for the brain'. Now, you can't get better than that!

Of course, sometimes it's nice to get out there alone, and sometimes, for whatever reason, we just don't have the luxury of an encouraging partner... but then that's where you come in, isn't it?

Distance: 3.2 miles
Weather: Just right for running: dry and +3 degrees.
Feeling: achey, but better for running it out

Sunday, 12 December 2010

The Stockport 10

Brrrrrrrrrrrrrr... someone turned the heating off again today! After two rest days in preparation for my race, during which the pavements were frost-free and running would have been easy-breezy, I opened my curtains this morning to find that Jack Frost had paid a visit, and he'd been making up for lost time!

So, with layers back on, I headed off with Pete and Sara, from Running Club, to Stockport to take part in their annual 10 miler.

This race has a rather infamous goody bag attached to it, that is hilariously marketed by the club in the weeks running up to the race with a variety of videos showcased on the club's own website, Run Britain and Marathon Talk. Obviously, with all this exctitement and mystery surrounding it, I was very much looking forward to my very own Stockport 10 goody bag at the end of the race... and I wasn't disappointed!

As you can see, the goody bag contains everything a modern, running, girl could ever need:
1. A lollypop
2. A Puma transfer tattoo (that makes you dead hard and scares little plastic men away...see)
3. One (yes, just the one) blue, plastic glove.
4. 3 months reduced membership at a local gym
5. A sticker which reads 'I've just run the STOCKPORT 10 and p***ed off a load of motorists (which is very accurate!)
6. A little bag of salt, pepper and brown sauce
7. A dog biscuit
8.A penguin biscuit (not pictured because I ate it in the car on the way back! and mine wasn't magic, like the one in their video - unfortunately for Macvities, who would sell a lot more if they transported you to New York when you ate one!)
9. A meal worm... no, you read that right... well, to be fair, 2 meal worms! Look...

10. And a technical T-shirt... Which is fab as I can actually run in it - I have a lot of 'pyjama tops' after running many Bupa races and receiving the heavy cotton t-shirts as rewards!

As you can see, there is also some lo-salt, heel balm, a Sweatshop voucher and a banana and bottle of water - which, any good race organiser will know, are essentials at the end of a race!

"That's great Maggie, what a fantastic goody bag" I can hear you saying, "But what about the race itself, how did you do?". Well, that is a very good question my friends. And the answer is - Great! I was really pleased with the race... My time (90 mins) was good for the icy conditions; I was only 4 minutes off my previous 10 mile race at Swinton, which wasn't half as hilly. I also really enjoyed it; it's a lovely route that takes you through some nice estates - certainly nicer than Moston! - and even through some beautiful countryside trails at one point.

I should also mention there were a couple of MASSIVE hills - hills are NOT a friend! In the warm up, we'd run up half of the one at the end, however no-one had informed me of the very steep hill that followed a long, slow incline after 5 miles... in fact, running along alone did not deter me from exclaiming, out loud "Oh my word!" ... I am a polite, lonesome runner, even when in shock! Of course, there's nothing for it, I assume the hill-ready position - head down, arms straight in front, big, deep, belly breath, jelly baby in - and run! On the plus side, there was a great down-hill at the end of it!
Before I go, I must mention the Marshalls, who were fab; I always find they can really make a race, especially one as long as 10 miles, as it's not like the big, over-priced subscribed Bupa races where you're constantly surrounded by people, it can be quite lonely. Having the Marshalls cheer you on as they... well...'marshall' can really help boost you at certain points; so thank you Stockport Marshalls!

All in all, I had a throughly enjoyable morning and all achieved after a night dancing (a lot) at my work's Christmas Party,  and a rude awakening from my drunken other-half at 3.30am in the morning because he'd forgotten his house keys!

It's alright... I'm typing with one hand now... the other is already giving me a big pat on the back!!

Distance: 10 mile race, 13 miles (including the warm-up)
Weather: Icy and frosty
Feeling: Great!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

A stitch in time

What is a stitch? Painful? Yes. Annoying? Yes. Pointless? Yes! I spent the whole of training today with a pesty little blighter that gained its painful, torturous enjoyment from working its way around the vicinity of my abdomen... Very unfair I think!
A running Stitch!
As it moved itself from left, to right, back to left again... refusing to budge despite my implementation of all the different ways I've heard you can rid yourself of a stitch... I was wondering why it had decided to plague me today. Was I breathing wrong? Did I eat my porridge too late? Was it really appendicitis? Well, I was looking for excuses to stop running with it by this point! Having spent 40 minutes with this affliction, it is obviously still on my mind now I have returned home, so I have done the obvious thing... I have googled it! Many different sites obviously appear with this, so if you too are interested in knowing what causes a stitch and how (apparently) to cure yourself of the dreaded affliction, I have found out from '' that: they are common amongst camel riders(!) as well as a host of other athletes;  they can stop even the toughest athelete (that would be me of course!); scientists are at a loss as to what causes them or how to prevent them - oh!

Despite this, it does then go on to suggest many reasons they may occur - I very likely did eat my porridge too late -  and a HUGE number of ways in which they may be prevented. So not at a complete loss then Mr Scientist?!

Well, I've not discussed stitches for nothing... I have now established a convenient excuse as to why I didn't run as fast as I could have in the club training session! Yep... convenient! Although saying that, I also didn't run as slow as I thought I was at the time. The session was speed intervals of 1 min fast, followed by 1 min recovery jog, 2 mins fast, followed by 2 mins recovery, then... yep, you've guessed it... 3 mins fast, followed by recovery of the same time. REPEAT...

I know, little chimp... that's how I felt!  Still... you'd be forgiven for thinking I'm moaning, and I'm not, honestly! Despite the stictch, it felt good to run fast (it's been a while with all the ice about) and it'll be really good preparation for the Stockport 10 on Sunday. And look... I actually didn't do as bad as it felt at the time, those fast intervals were actually quite fast for me... the garmin never lies:
Oooh... nearly forgot as well. I've done it! I've signed up to the Janathon challenge (hence the logo on the left). You see Diane, you really have inspired me! In case you are not au fait with what this is, the challenge is to run (or exercise) every day of January; I figure this will be the perfect way to help me raise my mileage in this unforgiving month. And it sounds like fun!

Distance: 3.94
Weather: Positively balmy at 6 celcius!
Feeling: Speedy, but in pain!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Ice Ice Baby...

Much loved 90's rapper, Vanilla Ice, would be impressed with the amount of ice out there today... or maybe not, I don't think he was singing about icy pavements! Although, on the subject of Vanilla Ice, apparantly he's still rapping! Yeah, I know... it seems he's an actual, proper celebrity... well according to his official site anyway.

He's touring, has his own TV show on the DIY Network... obviously!? and has a new album coming out. Although why I'm surprised, I have no idea! He was clearly never going to be just a one-hit wonder with such quality hits such as 'Ice Ice Baby'... and ... ... ...

Anyway... I ran on an ice rink today. Literal, not metaphorical! There really is an actual ice rink outside my door. The ironic thing is that it was on my return from my run, whilst I was putting the bin out, that I nearly slipped and broke my neck (too extreme? leg then!). Running on it wasn't as hard, as I thought it might be, and I figure I got a lot of practice in for the next race I run, that's rammed with people, with all the dodging of icy obstacles along the way!

Despite having to force myself to leave the house, I actually managed 4.11 miles in total; this did require a slight change of tactic after a mile of running though. Intending to stay around the area of the main high street, thinking there would be less ice here, I had planned to run a loop which would take me a mile away from my house, then a mile back, followed by a mile in the other direction and back again. However, after a mile of running, I was battling a little with myself to keep running and didn't trust my will-power to keep running past the house. Only one thing for it... run two miles away from home and there's no choice but to run back again. Well, either that or stay out in the cold and, despite the fetching lilac fleece and leg-warmers I was sporting, that was never going to be an option!

For some bizarre reason I had also chosen to go for a run in rush-hour, so there wasn't much option of running on the road. Still, I managed a 9.45min mile average - not bad considering I was wearing trainers rather than ice-skates - and won a battle with myself... a good thing too, as I can be very stubborn - I should know!  And, as it was rush-hour, I saw a lot of sights to keep me occupied along the way, including: someone else running (we nodded and smiled), a lady running for a bus, two teenage girls 'skating' their way home, two hooded youths young men smoking (and looking, dare I say, slightly suspicious), a group of school girls performing a street dance (actually on the street - how appropriate!), an old man trying to navigate the ice with a walking stick (that looked perilous), and 15 buses (Yes, I actually counted them!).

So, run done... I'm off to watch Hollyoaks catch up on serious worldly happenings on the 6 O'clock news.

Distance: 4.11
Weather: An actual ice rink, although slightly warmer, than it has been, at 0 degrees.
Feeling: Glad I ran.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Diane's Good 'Claus' hits the BBC airwaves!

Look: She's running through Blizzards! You've just GOT to sponsor her!
If you've been checking out 'Festive Runs for a good 'claus', you'll know that my friend Diane is still running strong. On day 7 now, she hit the BBC airwaves yesterday on Radio Leeds.

Her achievement is proving so inspriational to people she's gone from a sponsorship target of £500 to £2000; receiving at least two donations (One of whom donated £50 - Beat that!!) as a result of her radio appearance! Tune in to to her interview online, which begins and at 1:13:17, and I defy you not to then click on her Virgin money giving site and give generously to the worthy cause she's running for.

Even Scrooge (before he met all those ghosts) would have been impressed by what Diane's doing!

Monday, 6 December 2010

It's colder in Scotland!

Everyone at work knows I run, so when they asked me today if I'd gone out running this weekend, they knew the answer would be yes, and I knew their response would be 'You're mad!'. But am I?

Before I went out running this evening, I found this audio, on the Run Britain Website, which is an interview with Steve Wall who coaches a running club up in the North East corner of Scotland. Obviously, running in the snow is the norm for them in the winter; in fact, he even says they had snow as early as August this year!

A lot of what he says is really interesting and also inspriring to get out there and have a go; if they didn't run in the snow, they couldn't run at all. He also makes a point though of the added benefits to your fitness of running in snowy and icy conditions; as anyone who has tried will know, a lot more muscles are impacted as a result of keeping your balance and your overall running style needs to adapt slightly too.  In the same way that cross-country is a great way to strengthen and improve your running for the spring, it seems so to is running in these conditions. Great! Working more muscles + running in freezing temeratures / burning more calories = more mince pies for Maggie!

So that is what got me out the door, to running club, in the -3 temperatures tonight!

Running was tough though. My Garmin registered 5.69 miles but my legs registered at least double that; the hills from yesterday had certainly taken their toll on me and I felt like I was dragging lead weights around on the bottom of my feet, rather than trainers.  Saying that, Pete ran with me and helped me keep the pace a little higher than I would have done on my own; pushing on at 8.54 minute miles until the last mile where a hill slowed me to a 9.08 average overall.

Not bad... but tomorrow is definitely going to be a well deserved rest day!

Distance: 5.69
Feeling: Tired... ZZZzzzzzzzz
Weather: very icy and cold.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

hills... hills... hills... and then a mountain!

Misty, cold and frosty... pathetic fallacy? possibly! Meeting up with Pete, Paula and Lee, we went for a 10 mile 11 mile run which took us through the sights of Chadderton, Tandle Hills, Springhill, Crompton and Shaw, then back through to Chadderton again. Pete had kindly worked out a route for us that 'kindly' included 4 hills. This information, we knew before setting off. What he didn't reveal that one of these hills was actually a mountain in disguise!

The first hill was more than achievable and I managed to keep up with everyone on this. It's a friend of running club and therefore one I know I can acomplish without any problems. So with Chadderton Park Road done, we ran on to meet the second hill.

Still doing well, I didn't fall too far behind the others on our second climb; anyone who knows the area will be au fait with it as Haggate. A tough little hill... but you notice I am calling it little... gives you an idea of what was to come!

The third hill appeared in front of us after about 3 miles. The mist obscured it's full evilness (real word!) for a bit, but soon it loomed before us in its full glory. "When we get to the end of the run" said Pete, as we reached the foot of the hill, "I'll ask you if you think the hills got progressively harder!". Hmmmm... I've run with Pete long enough to know that the answer to this was going to be a resounding "YES!". So, bracing myself I followed the others up Tandle Hill. And yes, I was following by this point; equal effort, steady pace, looking slightly down and gritting my teeth, I accomplished the third hill.

The following couple of miles were now all down hill. However, as you can imagine this enjoyment was tainted by the thought of the fourth, and thankfully final hill! In my mind, all I could think of was that the further we ran down, the further we would have to run up.

And so we did!

At  just over 5 miles, we reached the fourth, and final hill. This hill was not a hill at all. It was a mountain. Or, at least, that's what it felt like! At 1.2 miles long, it kept going, and going, and going. Then, when you thought you'd reached the top, it carried on going! In fact it tricked me at least twice! The hill was so long, I was getting altitude sickness! In all honesty, it's a good job I was with other people (and falling rapidly behind them) as if I had been on my own, I would have definitely walked some of it! Of course, turns out I didn't need to and there was certainly a rush of euphoria that passed through me as I finally saw the other three runners stationery at the summit! Broad Lane, from Springhill to Crompton... Done!

Of course, after such an enormous hill, the only way was down, from that point on; and as our run turned from 10 miles to 11, I felt surprisingly good. So good as to do the run again? What's the saying... you fool me once...!

So, all in all, this was a very good training run for the Stockport 10 next week. Fingers crossed there will be less ice and slush around by that point... but whatever, at least I'll be prepared for those hills!

Distance: 11.1 miles
Feeling: really great!
Weather: slushy, icy and misty

Oooh... how clever... this is a picture of our hills... see, hard!!!

Saturday, 4 December 2010

The Call of the Helpful Cabbie

The Cabbie... always willing to impart helpful advice to runners
Should you ever have found yourself in the unfortunate situation of running around Harpurhey in Manchester, as I did this morning, you may also have heard the call of the Cabbie.

The Cabbie has the reputation of being one of the noisiest and most gregarious drivers on the urban roads. Generally a plump breed, with characteristic red cheeks and nose, they are easily recognised by most people. However, it is the call of the Cabbie that will be familiar to many runners. It is this call I experienced today. A helpful breed, with a desire to pass their wealth of worldy knowledge on to others, their call is loud, yet advisory. They will slow their speed and lower their window in order to deliver their well-versed words to their recipient, with maximum impact and a cheeky wink: 'Go on Love... Get them [sic] knees up'.

Careful study of the Cabbie has shown that the best way to deal with this demonstration of male bravado is to simply continue running, turn your head slightly towards them and give a brief, but friendly smile; the Cabbie, satisfied with the attention gained from his verbal exhibitionism, will simply continue on his way.

Also worth keeping an eye out for, is the more frequently spotted Cabbie-in-Training. The young of this breed are great at mimacry; examples include the Wolf-Whistle, the 'Hey Sexy!' shout and of course, the more commonly heard 'Get your knees up'. Specialists in the field of the Cabbie have noted that this common call is certainly being passed down through the generations; consequently their song will continue to be heard by runners for many years to come.

Distance: 1.5 miles
Feeling: great! I only ran 1.5 miles!
Weather: snowy, slushy, icy and raining!

A Right, Proper (Christmas) Do!

Our running club Christmas Do tonight... a chance to catch up with each other without conversation being interrupted by another hill or fast sprint! So important in fact that we braved a blizzard and safaried the snowy conditions!

And all worth it too... I think it's fair to say that a great night was had by all; with much food, drinking and merriment. It was also an opportunity for us to say a thank you to Pete. I've mentioned him before; he's our coach at Oldham and Royton Road Runners. He's also very, very much appreciated by all of us. I hope that everyone is lucky enough to know someone like Pete, but just in case you're not... and just to embarass him briefly, as I know he'll be reading this!... here's a quick biog:

Pete has been running for YEARS! Yep... YEARS! I think I was just crawling (and not back from the pub at this stage) when he was first running! In fact, photographic evidence shows that he used to run dressed like a 118 guy... and not in an ironic way! He's always run, loves running and knows running; so as far as coaches go he's the perfect person to have around! But more than that anyone who's met him, ran with him, or been coached by him will know how encouraging and inspirational he can be. Needless to say that all fo us, at club, really appreciate everything he does and think he is a truly great guy!  Which is why he is now the proud owner of a 'Coach of the Year 2010' T-shirt...

'Cos that's what you are to us Pete... you can wear your T-shirt with pride! :-)

Thursday, 2 December 2010

How to run in the snow

Step one: Get the layers on... from bottom to top, today's attire required: trail running shoes (extra grip for that extra confidence in the snow), thick socks, leggings, skort, long sleeve top, short sleeve top, wind cheater, fleece (for before and after the run), headband to cover my delicate ears, and cap!  I was warm... snow joke! (sorry!).
Please note... this is NOT suitable attire for snow running... This is what happens if you begin at step two!

Step two: Be confident! No point going out there with feeble, fragile footsteps... be bold... be brave... be balmy?! and just get out there and go for it! The sound of tonight was definitely the 'crunch' of freshly trodden snow... love it!

Step three: Make the snow your friend! I was one of 5 at running club tonight: Sara, Pete, Dom, Chris and I... we're the die-hard runners clearly; there was snow stopping us... we were made of true grit... definitely the white stuff! (okay, okay, sorry!). But seriously, running in snow is FUN! and if you haven't tried it yet, then you definitely should; it has the way of making you feel like a kid again - especially when you're all bundled up - in fact, I think running tonight was the first time I'd felt warm all day!

Step four: Well it's not really a step... but I tell you what, girls (and guys if you like), if you're looking for that J-Lo bum, snow running is the way forward! In fact, running in snow offers a full body workout that is cheaper than the gym, cheaper even than Davina's DVD, and very definitely cheaper than buttock boosting botox!

I'm definitely not going to let the 'big freeze' give me an icy reception(!) and neither should you... get out there and enjoy it... at least it's soft if you fall over!

Have an ice day (last one... had to be done!) :-)

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Diane's 240k Advent Challenge begins

My friend, Diane, is putting me to shame this month! Beginning today, she is running 10k every day of advent; that's 24 days: 240k! Crazy? Yes... of course! But much more than that she could be described as alturistic, benevolent and noble! Not that Diane would ever describe herself in that way, she's far to modest... but the reason I would is because her sole purpose behind all this is to raise money for the children, and their families, of Martin House Hospice.

And she's thrown herself whole-heartedly behind the cause having already appeared in the local paper; and today, if you live in the Yorkshire area, you'd have heard her dolcet northern tones on Pulse Radio - she was the speed-talking Birstall mother who sounded very broad (her words, not mine!); and she's even due for another appearance in the local paper after being photographed prancing running around a park in Leeds in a particularly cheesy fetching Santa outfit!

I am already exceptionally proud of Diane and the efforts she is going to for such a worthy cause.

In fact, why listen to me banging on about it... you can follow Di, and find out how her augural Advent 10k went here. And most importantly, you can sponsor her here... there's even a possibility you could win a prize by guessing how many hours in total it will take her to run the challenge... what more could you want?

And if you live in the West Yorkshire area, this is who you're looking out for:

shirt creatively customised by Mik Seery!

As for me... best left at little said really! I wasn't put off by the snow today - no really, I wasn't... don't look at me like that! I actually like the snow! But I did let work get the better of me and missed the opportunity for a run. Finger's crossed it's a snow day tomorrow... a nice midday, bright sunny snow run is definitely something I could live with!