Sunday, 27 February 2011

A Race Against the Wind

Blackpool: 'Kiss Me Quick' hats, Pleasure Beach, Drunken Brits and the scene of the Great North West Half Marathon 2011. The windiest day on record - my records that is - and throroughly enjoyable!

The wind speed may have broken records, but I certainly didn't. However, that wasn't what I set out to do. Injuring myself 3 weeks ago has meant that I've run a lot less than I had intended to over the last few weeks and my training plan has had to undergo a number of small tweeks. So today wasn't about time; it was about finishing the race (in one piece!). Which I did. The fact that I had a whale of a time whilst doing is the icing, so to speak, on the cake... actually, I'm not a massive fan of icing, so it's probably more the buttercream!

The race starts at the Norbreck Castle. I had never seen this hotel before and therefore did not expect it to actually look like a castle; I don't know why as despite never having visited this particular hotel, I have been to Blackpool several times and am well aquianted with the tacky, vulgar, cheap, nasty, tawdry ostentatious nature of the town. However, at the cost of only 14 English pounds a night it is, perhaps, well worth checking out if you ever find yourself needing to stay a night in the Great British seaside resort of the North West... what? It could happen!

The picture doesn't do it justice... it's nowhere near as swish as this!
Chip acquired, Sara and I sneaked headed upstairs to see if we could find a toilet that didn't have another 100 women stood outside of it. We found a very lovely housekeeper who let us into one of the rooms - thank you lovely housekeeper (though why I think you may be reading this, I have no idea!). It was at this point that we realised we only had 10 minutes until the race started - so much for a warm-up! - so found our way very quickly back to the others and out to the start line. It's a good job the race is chip timed as I failed to start my Garmin when I crossed the start line and didn't realise until 2 miles into the race that I was not recording my times. Still, as I wasn't 'racing' I quickly put it out of my mind and concentrated on keeping good form and a steady pace.

Taking Chad along for the ride, I used the Audiofuel tracks to keep a steady rhythm, but also motivate me throughout the race; I find the music highly stimulating whilst I'm running and Chad's little pick-me-ups along the way are great for PRB too... 'You're doing well, keep a steady pace and move your feet to the rhythm' he told me, 'one two three four, one two three four...' brilliant! And particularly useful when I turned the corner at the 3 mile mark and found myself hitting a brick wall... of wind! Seriously, there is no overexaggeration here; I'm not employing hyperbole to add drama or excitement. The wind was ferocious. Pushing, knocking, whipping me as I battled with all my might against it. I was just beginning to wonder how much longer we'd have to run in that direction, when I started running towards people coming back the other way. 'Wow,' I thought to myself, 'I'm only 5 1/2 miles in, they must be running fast to be there... and then I saw Dom: 'DOM! DOM! WELL DONE!!!' I yelled across the cones, waving madly; I found out later my cheerleading skills had done their job and cheered him right up! I, however, had another 4 miles in my fight against the gale, until respite came as we turned the corner onto the promenade. With the sea, once again, on our right the wind subsided.

Feeling good, I picked up my pace and enjoyed the sights of the seaside as I ran to the beat for miles 7 to 10.5. A feeling of déjà vu hit as I turned the same corner onto the top promenade as I had at mile 3 earlier on, but someone had added a hill... How rude! I swear it hadn't been there before. It was at this point I realised I was now running alongside a group of women and a man with a bright pink 2.11 sign. Assuming that this wasn't some secret running cult called the 2.11's, and was rather a group of runners aiming to finish in 2 hours 11 minutes, I fell in beside them. Well, actually if I'm brutally honest, I ran past them on the down and they ran past me on the up... up, down, up, down, whip, push, whip, push... and then I saw Pete. 'Yay!' I thought as he fell into step beside me 'I must be near the end!'. A little more battling with the wind and I turned onto the lower promenade again. With the sea now back on my right, the wind behind me, and the finish line in sight, I thought it best to pick up the pace: 'Just 3 minutes left to go' I heard the Pacer tell his ladies. 'Not on your nelly' I thought 'I can run faster than that.' So I did. Making my final pace to the finish line a very respectable 7 minute miler (obviously that was for a fraction of a mile, not the whole thing, but very respectable all the same!).

Receiving my medal with pride, we headed back up to 'The Castle', where I diligently carried out my physio 'bum' exercises and attempted to run just about managed a mile cool down.

All in all, the Great North West Half Marathon is a great race. Granted, it doesn't offer the most inspiring scenery, and there is a fair bit of to-ing and fro-ing along the sea front, but it's very well managed and has a great atmosphere about it. The times were even posted on a wall in the hotel before we left; an added bonus due to my Garmin neglection at the start line. My time was 2:10:14; like I said, I didn't break any records, but I did run the whole way, my knee didn't hurt and I feel Grrrrreat!

Distance: 14 miles (including cool down)
Feeling: Grrrrrrreat!
Weather: sunny and ferociously windy!

Thursday, 24 February 2011

Darkness, Dogs and Zombies...

With the Great North West Half Marathon, the first club race of 2011, looming on Sunday morning it was an easy run around the sights of Chadderton tonight. Pete had the novel idea of picking different people to choose where we went on each mile of our run, but then the people he picked didn't choose a novel route and we ended up stomping the same streets we always do... what I can I say, we're creatures of habit!

In Pete's attempt to take us somewhere different in mile 4, we ended up down a darkened road, that could have been the beginning of a horror movie, with a vicious barking dog on the other side (thankfully) of an adjoining fence; at which point Paula's off-hand comment from the start of the run was ringing in my ears...

Passing another group of runners coming in the opposite direction, we met just as the road narrowed; sidling past each other, nodding our 'hellos', Paula said 'Ooooh, it's like that scene in 'Shaun of the Dead, when they meet that other gang in the alley'...

Shaun's gang meet Jessica's gang... just like passing other runners!

Thankfully there were no Zombie encounters on the run. But I am well prepared in case some turn up in my garden tonight...

Distance: 5.26 miles
Feeling: good
Weather: quite warm.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

My first bike ride... in Manchester!

I went out on my new toy today for the first time...

My new bike: Raleigh Folda

I've had it a little over a week but, other than in Centre Parcs, I haven't ridden a bike since I was about 14 years old and I've been a little apprehensive about taking it out in the 'Big City'. Funnily enough it was a little folding bike that I had back then. The difference is that when I was the difficult age of 14 I was fully embarassed by my shameful folding bike and the stupid helmet that my dad made me wear; 18 years on and I donned my incrediably cute white and pink helmet with pride, as I set off on my adorable, teeny, folding bike which fits neatly in the cupboard under the stairs so no nasty chavs can steal it!

So much so, that when I (obviously) ran into (metaphorically speaking!) the 3 biggest tearaways 3 young students, from my happy place of work, I responded to their raucous laughter and with an enormous cheesy grin and over exaggerated wave. Apparantly, this is highly embarassing for a teenager:
'Do you know her?' I heard one of their aquintances ask
'Eugh, no, ummmm, no... she's a teacher...' was the hasty reply.
Which made me glow greater with pride at my accomplishment - I am officially an embarassing adult and unlike my Dad, I didn't have to start Morris Dancing to achieve it!

The reason for my outing on the bike was two-fold:
1. To check out the route to work, as when the mornings become lighter I will be taking the opportunity to embarass even more teenagers en-route in the mornings;
2. To get in some cardiovascular exercise as my calves were bruised this morning, and the physio had said I shouldn't run if they were. I have to admit, I am a little proud of the bruising as it is proof that it really did hurt!!

Unfortunately, the heavens opened on my return jouney, which I was not adequately dressed for - lesson learned - and consequently soaked me through! However, all in all, it was a successfuly outing as it seems  that cycling is great relief for sore calf muscles - who'd have thought it - and I've spent the rest of the day pain free... wonderful.

Bike Distance: 6.76 miles
Feeling: helped relieve my aches and pains, particularly my bruised calves... yes! bruised!!!!
Weather: dry on the way out, bloody wet on the way back!

Tuesday, 22 February 2011


I'm in pain. Suffering. Barely able to walk. Why? 'Oh no, not another injury?' I hear you cry. No, thankfully I will not be out of action for another 2 weeks, but I will be cursing the word 'Physio' for another few days I'm sure; two words: sports massage.

Oh my! I have not felt pain like it. The last time she got her hands on my, she must have been holding back; maybe it's a cunning ploy to make sure you return again, after all if she'd inflicted a similar amount of pain on me the first time, I may have been less inclined to book an appointment for today! Although she gave all of my major muscle groups a torturous pummelling massage, it is my calves that have born the brunt of it: 'You've very tight calves, especially the left.' she observed.
'Yes, it does hurt a bit.' I attempted to reply through gritted teeth.
'I'm sorry' she faux apologised, 'I am spending quite a bit of time on them, as I'm concerned that they're overtight and could too easily sustain an injury so I really want to get into them.'
'It's okay' I gasped as my foot quivered from the pain inflicted above it, 'I know it's for the best.'

Which of course, is true. However, I am now unable to sit down as whenever I do I'm unable to start walking again. As a consequence I have been incrediably active this afternoon, walking everywhere I usually would have driven; which can only be a good thing. Saying that, I'm now clearly going to be stuck in the spare room for the rest of the night as I'm never going to be able to move from this computer!

Good news though... my bum mantra works! I've already started firing my glutes first after only 2 weeks of practise! I told Jo (evil physio) about my mantra and, after she'd finished laughing, she said that theoretically it makes perfect sense; technically the muscles should be firing subconsciously, but as mine weren't, consciously thinking about them should cause them to fire... which it does. So my bum mantra doesn't seem so silly after all now!

I also told her about my disintegrated shoe, the common overwear on all my left running shoes and the way my running coach has noticed that I run higher up on my right foot than my left even when I'm consciously trying to stay off my toes on both. She has suggested that I see a podiatrist as it could be that I have one leg slightly shorter than the other; it's unlikely to be much more than millimetres but with the increase in running activity, it would explain some of the musculoskeletal issues I am having. Unfortunately, a short research spell on the internet has revealed that podiatrists are a tad on the expensive side;  my friend has pointed me in the direction of University of Salford who run a clinic at a fraction of the cost so it's fingers crossed I can get an appointment with them, or I think I might be asking my friendly local doctor for a referral.

So, things I have learnt today are:
1. Sports massage is good for you... but oh my it is sooooooo painful.
2. I may have to cut a little bit off my left leg to make it the same length as my right.
3. My bum mantra totally works.
4. If a physio gives you exercises to do... do them... they work!
5. If I tell myself 'I'm not going to eat chocolate today', it's all I think about... Mmmmmmm chocolate...

Monday, 21 February 2011

New Shooooooes!

Well, new shoes have been purchased. I went to Road and Fell Running in Stockport, which is just a tiny shop, but stocks quite a few different brands of shoes and is run by a guy who has been running for years himself. My reasoning was that this would be the best place to get some knowledgable advice, rather than say JJB (other massive chain sports stores are available!). Despite thinking I didn't really know what I was looking for, when I started speaking to the guy about what I wanted from my trainer, it became clear that I actually had some very specific thoughts about what I wanted... very specific!

Thanks to the advice Gary left in his comment, I had turned over all of my old road running shoes and discovered that all of them were worn in exactly the same places. Contrary to previous belief, my shoes suggest that I am quite a neutral runner, although definitely a forefoot, and the wear on my left foot is slightly different to that on my right; the left wearing more prominently than the right and towards the outside of the sole, whereas the wear on the right is much more central. I relayed this information, to the nice running shop owner, and also my desire for a lightweight trainer, not too cushioned or too stable that would enable me greater propreoception with the ground (look at me with my big jargony words!). Paying heed to Gary's advice again, which I thought made perfect sense, I also noted that I didn't want anything too pricey as that was I'll be able to afford new ones more often. Finally, I told him I would need it to run a marathon, which prompted a very intersting conversations about marathons - he's run around 50... 50!! and consequently has moved onto the greater challenge of Ultras. It has yet to be seen whether I'll cope with this one marathon at the moment, so I am in great awe of people who can accomplish the Ultra distances! Anyway, moving back to the shoes, he suggested the lightest trainer he stocked: the Brooks Defyance 3.

Size size 6... yes... laced up... feeling good... treadmill run... still feeling good... speed up a bit... like the feel... light...not too clunky... holds the foot well... am I running properly?... yes... do I like these trainers?... a lot actually!... slow treadmill... off.

Nice running shop owner showed me some Asics, the next lightweight ones, but not as lightweight as the others. Size 6 straight away this time - why are trainers different sizes to normal shoes? - and back to the treadmill; only this time, I didn't bother getting on because they felt uncomfortable to stand in, especially when compared to the Brooks I'd just been wearing. A little further discussion with the nice running shop owner, another wear of the Brooks and it was clear my decision was made; they felt good. Really good. And that's got to be one of the most important factors hasn't it?

So I am now the proud owner of a new pair of Brooks Defyance 3 - Oh, and I got a 10% discount as I'm a member of a running club... bonus! - and very much looking forward to our first outing together at running club; it's fingers crossed the new shoes and I are still loving each other by the end of tonight's first date!

My new shoes: Brooks Defyance 3

So far, so good! My new shoes have caused me no bother whatsoever, in fact they're positively comfortable - something I've never experienced from a pair of brand new shoes before - so I don't think they're going to take much 'breaking in' which is great.

Another positive is I completed a full session at club - fast hill intervals, up and down - with no pain in my knee; a few niggles here and there in the muscles on my right leg, but when isn't there?!

And finally, I've adapted my mantra to account for the need to sit back off my toes a little more so now, whilst running, I say this: 'bum, bum engage my bum, heels, heels, softly, softly... bum, bum, engage my bum, heels, heels, softly, softly...'. Only this time it wasn't restricted to inside my own head as I shared with Paula, so now she has also adopted my 'bum, bum, engage my bum' mantra. We also had a good five minutes of marvelling over the pure genius of being able to think about your bum and ergo it's engaged... the human body is a wondrous thing!

Distance: 4.42 miles.
Feeling: like it's all a lot of hard work at the moment, but good all the same!
Weather: milder than before and wet in the air - but not raining!

Saturday, 19 February 2011

I think I need new shoes...

I have been complaining of a 'squelching' sound coming from my left foot, when running in the rain, for some time now. For some reason, I had not connected this with a need to check the sole of my trainers. In fact, it was not even this that lead me to eventually lift my trainers up and check their undercarriage; rather it was reading around various forums on Real Buzz and Runner's World looking for general views as to whether I should change my trainers now, with only 8 weeks to go before the Marathon.

You see, I realised that I've been running in the same shoes since August, and although I alternate at times with my Asics, I tend to stick with my Newtons for most of my runs. Injury, as mentioned in a previous post, has caused me to think about my bum more when running: 'Where is your ass?' I now ask myself when running (obviously not out loud as that would be weird and would probably cause other members of the public to run very quickly in the opposite direction) with the aim of engaging my more efficient glutes instead of overusing my weedy hamstrings as I have been.

All of this then got me to thinking as to whether my trainers are even suitable for my running gait; which lead me to wonder what my running gait even is. I think I over-pronate, previous treadmill gait analysis would confirm this, however I also know it's possible to tell from looking at the wear of old trainers. Hence, this is what lead me to place my trusty trainers on the table in front of me where I 'analysed' the tread of six months' pavement pounding. It's not rocket science... I need new trainers:

Hmmm... are trainers supposed to have bits of rubber flapping around on the sole?!

The 'actuator lugs' on the underneath of the foot have actually worn away so much, all that is left is a little bit of flappy rubber! No wonder they're squelching! It's also obvious that I'm running too high up on my toes - which confirms why I've felt I'm sitting back more over my centre of gravity since I started thinking about my ass more - causing my hamstrings and calves to take on the task of propelling me forwards, rather than my glutes! All confirmation of what the physio had told me. It also confirms that I definitely do over-pronate, predominantly on my left foot.

The question is, what do I do about it? Should I buy another pair of Newton trainers? Has this proven that they're not right for my running gait or have they worn in this manner simply because I've run so far in them? If I don't buy Newtons, what do I go for? My Asics feel heavy and clumsy compared to these trainers, which is why I chose not to wear them so often. Also, I have a very narrow foot which places even greater difficultly on finding a pair that fits well.

Who knew that choosing trainers could be such a conundrum?

I'm going to have a further read of the internet to see if any solutions present themselves; but whatever the outcome, I'm afraid this particular pair of trainers have seen their day... fairwell old friends!

Can't stop long...

Well this is going to be the shortest post ever...

Ran today!

I'd tell you more, but my boyfriend and his brother are teasing me with their enjoyment of his new birthday present downstairs. All I can hear is uncontrollable laughter... and the word 'boosh'!? it's too intriguing!


I'm going to play!

Distance: 3.77 miles
Feeling: a few niggles in places but nothing painful.
Weather: cold, wet underfoot.

Friday, 18 February 2011

The Ministry of Silly Runs

I've invented a new run. It occured like this:

'Bum, bum, bum, bum... think of your bum, engage your bum, work your bum, bum, bum, bum, bum...'

These thoughts were combined with some physical changes in my running style:

- A more pronounced lifting of the knee
- A shift of balance in the body
- A more upright torso
I imagine this all looked a little John Cleese-esque. That's not a good look! But it is a look that seemed to work.

However, I've got to admit it was a bit of a pain in the bum!

Distance: 2.3 miles
Feeling: good - first run after Monday's. Exercises after helped to ease any tightness.
Weather: cold.

Monday, 14 February 2011

To my Valentine...

My trainers are yellow, my T-shirt is blue,
I only wear them when at one with you.
Today is so special I wanted to say:
I love you so much in many a way;
And although we’ve spent a week now apart,
You never left me, you're there in my heart;
So on Valentine’s Day, I went for a run:
Running, I love you; you're my Number One!
First run in a week was back at club today and Pete wisely suggested that I run with Candice, who is a beginner at running club, rather than doing the speed work with the others. I say wisely, as it was definitely the best thing for me; running with Candice meant that I had to take it easy and we even had a couple of walk breaks. I think if I'd gone out on my own, I would have been tempted to run too fast, and possibly even push to go further. As it is, my hip flexors are still really tight and very stiff and although it is a feeling of stiffness, rather than pain, now Pete noticed, when I joined them on the warm down, that I was limping slightly, favouring my left leg over my right, so I called it a day there and returned to the track.

If I'm honest, I was hoping that I would be feeling 100% better by now (having had a week off) and am more than a little disappointed that I'm still not right. I really want to be back up to the mileage on my training plan by the end of next week, and am also hoping to still take part in the Great North West Half Marathon at the end of Feb, which will not only be an excellent VLM training race, but will also be the first race of 2011. Unfortunately, I also know what the answer to that is... I've just got to see how it goes. I know that pushing my body past the boundaries it's capable of will only be detrimental so I'm doing the right thing and taking it easy; for the time being, I'll keep up with the strength and flexibility exercises the physio set me and keep my fingers crossed that I'm back to full steam sooner, rather than later.

Distance: 3.2 miles easy running, with walk breaks.
Feeling: no pain but still in the upper quads and hip flexors.
Weather: cold and clear.

Sunday, 13 February 2011

From EES to EEE?!

Although it may seem so, I haven't actually disappeared off the face of the planet and am still here! Apart from a run/walk with Doris on Friday however - of which there was more walk than run - I haven't subjected my imbalanced muscles to running.

Happy Birthday Mum!

Instead, I have consoled treated myself with copious amounts of food and enjoyed a very fun Saturday in my home town of Letchworth where we helped my Mum celebrate her 60th birthday. Delicious food, great company and no running have meant I am now more than rested and prepared for Running Club tomorrow night.

However, with a 400 mile round trip in the car, and a pile of marking this evening, I've spent the whole day sat on my back-side! I'm now experiencing something exceptionally rare for me; a week without exercise is unheard of and, as I don't count the strengthening exercises I've been doing and walking the dog as 'exercise', that's essentially what it's been. Add on today's inactivity and there's no doubt - I'm suffering from EES: Excess Energy Syndrome. Which has left me worried about two things tomorrow:

1. My silly imbalanced legs hold out on a run.
2. My EES doesn't turn into EEE: Excess Energy Explosion!

EEE - Excess Energy Explosion!

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

Big G's Lesson

"I can't be bothered with all of this hard work!" Big G. stated to his close friend Hammy, "Can't you do it instead?"
"Why me? Why should I do all of your hard work?" queried his perplexed neighbour, "I'm not any stronger than you."
"No, but you could be..." suggested Big G, "Imagine it now, you could be the strongest of us all... you could have all the control... you could be a dictator of everything we all do. How about that? You know you want it... don't you?" he coaxed.

Hammy considered his friends' proposition. It was very tempting; after all, who doesn't want to be all powerful? Then again, it wasn't really in his nature; he wasn't designed, so to speak, to be the strong, controlling one; that was Big G's job. But Big G didn't want it; moreover, Big G was liberally dangling the offer of power and control in front of him on a string... he could do it! A little bit of effort would be all it would require; he just needed to work harder.

So Hammy accepted the position and worked and worked to be the best of all of them. He built himself up until he was so strong and powerful, that none of the others stood a chance. Unfortunately, as he became stronger and more powerful, he also became blind and ignorant to the plight of others around him. The suppression of his (previously) fellow comrades caused them pain, as he stole their jobs, weakened them, then forced them to carry out tasks that left them feeling fraught and frustrated.

Ruling the roost, Hammy thought himself to be invincible.

But he wasn't. One day, when he was least expecting it, Hammy came face to face with a specialist. Having seen this kind of behaviour before, the specialist was well prepared and immediately began to remedy the situation. Pushing, kneading, cajoling Hammy back from his superior status; the specialist strung him up in front of the others and demanded that things would change. Berating Big G, she made the situation clear and forced him to face his responsibilities: "Big G, this team needs leadership, not dictatorship" She explained, "Hammy is not, and never will be, capable of this. You, on the other hand, are. Already you are in a more favourable position to lead the others: Leading from the top, you are capable of taking the helm, strengthening yourself and your team and offering them a pain-free life where each and every muscle is able to work in happy harmony with the other. You can do this. Now, get to it!"

And so, with the inspiration he needed, Big G got to work building himself and balancing his team. Getting his younger brother, Little G, involved they worked and worked and worked until eventually, every muscle in Maggie's body was working together to create a lean, mean, running machine lead by the great and mighty Gluteus Maximus!

Distance: 0
Physio Appointment with Sports Massage: 1
Strengthening Exercises: done
M&S Apple Pies Eaten: 1 - with custard! Mmmmmm... yum, yum!
Appetite: strong!
Feeling: hopeful
Weather: doesn't really matter when you're curled up on the sofa scoffing apple pie!

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

The bitter taste of hindsight...

Freedom, escapism, enjoyment… running provides me with all of these things, and more; so when I am faced with the possibility of having to stop running, if only for a while, I’m instantly feeling fed-up. Which is why, right now, blogging is great! Reading over the comments you’ve left me has boosted me today and made me feel a lot more positive. Whether, you’ve been able to share your own wisdom and experience, shared your own positivity and encouragement, or simply made me laugh, I’ve used that today to metaphorically pull myself together!

I mention today in particular as when I attempted to leap from my bed, I had the fleeting thought that It’s a shame I’m not a robot; if I was I would have simply replaced my poorly knee, which stabbed me with pain when I heaved myself up this morning, with a new one. In fact, no… scrap that… if I was a robot, I wouldn’t have had a poorly knee in the first place – or any pain! Sigh… it must be nice to be a robot!

Hindsight of course, just like After Eight mints, is a wondrous event but one that only ever occurs after the main course; I now have the bitter taste of hindsight but it was during yesterday’s club run that I served myself this rather distasteful, painful knee. Yes, I know, I ran 18 miles on Sunday, perhaps a rest day would have been in order… but seriously, who really does that?! Ok, you do… and I should… I might have learned a lesson!

As it is, I’ve had to suffice with a heated compression wrap around my knee instead (Amazing what you discover in previously run race packs!). The wrap has been interesting as I don’t own any smart trousers, only skirts and dresses (an insight into the rather feminine character that I am there) and as such, even despite the thickest, blackest tights I could find, have been sporting the rather fetching white bandage look today. My mean colleagues have laughed at me – quite rightly!!

So, to cut to the chase, in short the full story stands as this:
1.    I ran when I shouldn’t have and made it less than a mile (0.96 to be precise!)
2.    I walked back (disproportionately upset to the actual event that had occurred)
3.    I returned home, and treated my leg to a Queen of Sheba pose on some cushions, whilst smothering them in frozen peas!
4.    I spent today wearing an heated compression wrap and elevating my leg whenever possible (obviously not mid-teaching, that would be a bit weird!)
5.    The pain has subsided and is now only a dull ache – This must be a good thing… yes? YES!
6.    I have booked an appointment with a Physio tomorrow who will hopefully either fix my knee, or provide me with a new one! (either is good!!), and then I will run again!

So, things are looking up. I’ve still not eaten that apple pie… but I will… oh yes, I will!

Distance: not worth mentioning!
Feeling: pain and rest
Weather: cold and windy!

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Ruined by running!

At some point, I decided to run a marathon... why? I'm not sure. But I did. So today I ran 18 miles!
I'll be honest, it wasn't the best 18 miles of my life, and I was disappointed with the time it took, we were much slower than the intended 11 minute mile pace we were supposed to be hitting; and once again, it was me running slow, not Paula. And although I'm pleased I ran 18 miles, as it's the furthest I've ever run, now everything hurts. Everything!

If I'm honest, I feel a little down right now, but not because of the pain; No, the worst thing in all of this is...

I - CAN'T - EAT!

My appetite has been ruined by running!! This is unheard of! I am the one whom people watch eat and say "How do you put all that away?" or "No wonder you have to run, eating all that food!" or "Seriously, where do you put it?"
I'm proud of these accolades to my eating ability... it's a talent... a skill... and I'm proud of it! But this evening, I've given half of my M&S dinner to Mik... not just any old dinner... an M&S dinner! and I've been unable to eat my apple pie and custard... it's still in the fridge, giving me woeful eyes: "Why don't you eat me Maggie? Am I not good enough for you? I'm not any old apple pie you know... I'm an M&S apple pie... smother me in custard and eat me... pleeeeeeease!"
But I can't. He's still there. Sad.

I better feel better tomorrow, or I'm quitting this running lark... some things in life are more important! What's the point in running, if you can't reward yourself by eating!!!!!!

In hindsight, maybe I'd have been better off employing Abradypus' rule 3!

Actually, as I write this, I'm having a Facebook conversation with Pete, and thinking of my earlier conversation with Paula,  both of whom have reassured me and made me feel much better, so maybe I am glad I completed the run... maybe! I'll let you know when I've managed to eat that apple pie!!!!

Distance: 18 miles - a weakened 'Woop'!
Weather: windy all the way. partly dry, partly rainy!
Feeling: like I've lost my mojo... it's really my appetite... but they're one and the same thing aren't they!
PRB: Level -2 when Paula had to make me keep running; -1 as I neared home; 0 on arriving home; building towards +1 as I slowly realise that I have run 18 miles and that's quite an accomplishment!

See my run here.

Friday, 4 February 2011


Rest Assured, I've taken the rest of the day to rest...

Today I've had to take a rest day. Not because I want to, because rest assured what I'd rather be doing is running round the rest of the block. No, I've had to take a rest day because since taking a rest day 2 days ago, the mind is willing but the rest of my body wants to continue to rest.

My feet are fine and the bottom of my legs, but the rest of my legs want a rest; it's the same with my arms "Run as much as you want Maggie, we don't need a rest" They say to me, but the rest of my torso from my shoulders through my chest, they want a rest. I don't get it. A change is as good as a rest; so I offered them a change: "Let's run a different route" I told them "Have a rest from the same old scenery; you've run the rest of 2011 without a rest, why rest now? No need to rest!".

But, sigh... Only my brain, feet and arms don't want to rest, the rest want a rest so what can I do but rest? So I've had to lay my argument to rest: "Fine" I said, "I'll rest today, and if I have to, I'll rest tomorrow but only if after the rest, the rest of you, body, will promise me I can get on with the rest of my training!"
"You can rest easy Maggie; the rest of us will be ready for the rest of your training with 18 long miles on Sunday... if we rest!" they've reassured.

So with a little luck, the rest of the day will progress and because I've had a relaxing rest, I'll no longer need to rest and the rest of the weekend will continue without any further rest.

I embrace you rest. I do. Honest...

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Wind, Rain and Hippos!

Yesterday was:

Today was back to it.

And what a nice surprise Pete had in store for us. "Tonight is just a run" he announced in the car park! What, no hills? No fast speediness? No killing me slowly with intervals? Just a run?... Yipeeee!  with a choice of routes of either just over 6 or just under 5 miles, we set off.

Pinch, punch, stretch, nick, pull, poke, pick, pinch... my muscles were torturing me! How is it even remotely possible that I manage to hurt more after a day of rest, than I ever hurt when running every day? I'm beginning to understand why Ron Hill does it! Anyway, ignoring my sadistic muscles I pushed on. With a choice of two routes to choose from, Paula and I naturally chose the 'proper' one: "6 miles... we can run 6 miles in an hour" Paula confirmed for me. Yes, we can. However, as the other 6 runners pulled further and further away from us in the first mile, we realised that perhaps we weren't going to achieve that goal tonight. Not wanting to do the 'wimp-out' route either though, we quickly re-calculated and devised a medium length 'not-quite-so-tough-but-not-too-wimpish-either' route.

As predicted, superspeedy raceters Karl and Dom whizzed past us about 2 miles from the end, despite their longer route, and the others caught us up on the final hill before the home straight. There was a lot more whizzing and whipping going on around us throughout the night -though thankfully not from other runners! - the wind was in a foul mood, attacking us from all angles during our run, and towards the end the rain decided to join in with a supersized sulk too; the weather was miserable!

Stop dancing on my legs hippos!!

Still, despite the aches and pains of my muscles and the woes of the weather, it was a very satisfying run. I'm also confident that today's 'I've had several heavy hippopotamuses dancing on my legs syndrome' will not occur again as my legs have since been severely reprimanded for trying to sneak in a double rest day... they have promised it will not happen again, and will be back to their spritely and receptive selves tomorrow. Excellent.

Distance: 5.7 miles
Feeling: achey but glad I ran
Weather: a frenzy of whippy wind and rain!
See my run here.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

And on the 32nd day she...


No, really! I know... "Loon!" I hear you cry! And I might just have to concede this time that I actually am.  However, this looney behaviour, lead to a new discovery:

PRB:  Level 2!

And this is how it happened...

Having arranged a very complicated non-specific, yet definitely running at some point meeting with Paula, I arrived home feeling distinctly dispirited; I did not want to go out running. After all, why did I have to? I'd run every day in January, that's 31 days, 151.6 miles, more than I'd ever run (all in one go) before, surely I deserved a rest? Surely? Well, no because it may be the end of Janathon, but it's only the beginning of my Magathon Marathon training and although my training plan very kindly allows me a rest day today, I know I'm going to crave it tommorrow, with a late finish from work and a long drive home. So, I texted Paula, apologising that if I waited to run with her, I'd never leave the house and promptly forced myself to lace up my trainers, don my cap and fire up the Garmin.

This is the beginning of Level 2 - in order to achieve this superior level of PRB, you have to begin with a mental mountain; it begins with the hard climb to the top. Oh, and it was a hard climb! Everything hurt: my legs, feet, hips, bum, arms, neck, shoulders, little finger (though more to do with an earlier paper cut than running!), everything! I slogged on, willing wobbly jelly legs to at least support my knackered frame, let alone push me along! At mile 2 I was still struggling and I nearly turned for home but I employed PRB: "You can do this, you are strong, you are fit, you are a runner" I told myself, and so I kept going.

At mile 3 I turned into the park, and this is where I reached the top of my mental mountain. It wasn't that my body stopped aching, or that I necessarily felt any better, but I felt different somehow... I had started to believe. As if by magic, my Ipod started to encourage me and as the Libertines told me not to look back into [Janathon] I picked up my pace with the beat of the music. By the time the Ceasars were advising me: "you can't stop now / it's already begun / you feel it  / running through your bones", I really was feeling it. My runner's high was getting greater and greater so that as I hit a steep downhill section in the park, steeped in the semi-darkness of the increasing twilight, I was well and truly throwing myself down my mental mountain. In literal terms it looked something like this:

PRB: Level 2
The uplifting sounds of 'Hey Soul Sister' by Train blasting through my earphones;
Me: "I can be myself now finally, in fact there's nothing I can't be"... aloud... pelting down the hill...
"Hey soul sister, ain't that Mr. Mister on the radio, stereo, the way you move ain't fair, you know!"...
Arms stretched horizontal to my body like a small child running free... louder... faster... smiling... loving it!

When a dog walker emerged from the bushes!

He looked at me. I looked at him. The expression on his face read: 'What a complete Loon!'. And he was right; but I am a PRB Level 2 Loon... so there!

Distance: 5 miles
Weather: warmer as it had been raining earlier.
Feeling: Great because I ran!
See my run here

MagathonTraining Mileage: 164.46