Wednesday, 30 March 2011

My 'perfect legs' go to Littleborough

Yesterday, I learnt that I have ‘perfect legs’. Yep, that’s right… ‘perfect’.  It was Jo, the lovely Physio, who told me this, and needless to say I was dead chuffed! Of course, the compliment is entirely related to my muscles and also, I have to say, largely attributed to her! Aside of the exercises I’ve been doing, I can take very little credit for the way in which my legs have improved over the past month or so. Since I first fell injured (pulled up with a severe pain and stiffness in my knee) I’ve been visiting Jo regularly for sports massage. After the first visit where she diagnosed the overall problem – a muscular imbalance and poorly firing glutes -  she has been elbowing and poking the various muscles in my legs pretty much weekly. It was also Jo who suggested that I might want to visit a podiatrist, after I had explained to her the strange lopsided wear of my incredibly worn out running shoes, thinking that I may have one leg shorter than the other.
After two visits to some exceptionally enthusiastic students at the podiatry clinic at the University of Salford, it has emerged that my right leg is shorter than my left - by millimeters, I mean, we’re not talking drastic, pirate style limping here – which was causing my left leg to take more of the strain when running. They also, very excitedly, discovered that there were all sorts of other bizarre things going on with my feet and lower legs all of which, I’m afraid, have whizzed by over the top of my head completely; but what I did come away with was a pair of orthotics with 8 and 4 millimeter heel raises designed to counter the imbalance and stop my right leg from pronating (quite severely) inwards. They also gave me some exercises to do, in order to stretch my calves, plantar fasciitis and Achilles, all of which are shorter than they should be.
So, since I began this marathon training I’ve been prodded, poked, elbowed, flexed, studied and investigated all of which have had the desired outcome of ‘perfect legs’! Brilliant!
Well, perfect they may be, but one thing they are not at the moment is fast; thus, despite it being the Vera Hirst Littleborough 5k this evening -  a race on the club calendar that despite being very hard is a lot of fun – I didn’t choose to run it. My PB on this course is 24.57, when I was pushed by Pete who was pacing me to reach under 25 minutes. Even before this, my next best time was just under 26. I am very aware that I am not running fast at the moment, and moreover I don’t have the confidence that I can run fast at the moment; knowing that if I tried the race and failed to achieve anything close to under 26 minutes I’d be disappointed and frustrated, I chose not to run it at all. To some, this may seem like a bit of a cop-out, and it is, but it’s one that will ensure that my confidence, at least, doesn’t take yet another knock.
I love Littleborough though, it’s such a friendly, fun race and so many of the club members were running it, that I decided to go down and support them. Needless to say, I had a great time! Taking Doris with me for company, before the race started, we ran out up the road and found a spot to watch the runners come past on their way out, then once they’d passed us, we headed back to the start and ran up and down the road for a little bit until the leaders, very quickly, appeared in front of us, with Chris from our club finishing in just over 16 minutes and taking 5th place – amazing! Rapidly, the others from club started coming down the hill and it wasn’t long before I saw Paula, who got the full benefit of my cheerleading skills from across the other side of the road, she picked up a PB of 24.59… so close to my own PB, in a couple of years’ time I reckon we’ll have forgotten we never actually ran it together!
Joining the others for a short cool down at the end, Doris and I had ended up running about 2.5 miles, just bobbing up and down Littleborough during the course of the evening, and I think it’s fair to say that we both had a thoroughly good time doing so too… I’ll be back - without Doris - to take on that Littleborough PB after the marathon!
Distance: 2.5(ish) miles
Feeling: great
Weather: A really lovely, sunny evening.

Sunday, 27 March 2011

Wilmslow 1/2 +

Wilmslow 1/2 Marathon is sponsored by Asics, not Nike; the + is there because I ran an extra few miles today so I was able to do my final 'long run' before the marathon. In fact, if I add up the hours, rather than just the miles, I realised that I was on my feet continuously for just over 4 hours, either walking or running so figure that even though I didn't quite tot up the 20, I've done enough.

The bonus is that my legs feel great. After struggling with injury for a number of weeks, then trying to rebuild my fitness from that, whilst still trying to keep building the training in my legs, I've really felt the pain of races in the hours afterwards, however today I'm walking around without a hobble in sight! Well, except the slight muscle seizure I felt swapping cars from Sara's to mine after she gave me a lift home... that funny waddle I did give her and Dom a good laugh! Unfortunately, I seem to have been plagued with another problem, one that has been visiting me more and more frequently and that I am still suffering from now, despite having finished the race over 4 hours ago: stomach cramps. I've no idea what is causing them (other than running), whether it's the lucozade body fuel I was drinking, the one sachet of gel I tried, or just the running as it's occurring more and more  frequently when I run, stopping me short and causing a lot of discomfort. I've tried changing what I eat and drink before, during and after but to no avail so far. Obviously I have been to the great guru, Google, and have determined that I'm going to experiment with taking some over-the-counter drugs before my mid-length run next Saturday and see if that helps; but there's one thing for sure, this can't continue!

That aside, Wilmslow is a fantastic 1/2 marathon and if you live in the North West, I would highly recommend trying it out. Exceptionally well run, there are marshalls throughout the course, and friendly families who come out of their houses, populate the gardens of the local eateries, and line the pavements outside the expensive shops to cheer the runners on... The area is very 'upper class darling', but I like it! Until I started training for this marathon, the only 1/2 marathon I'd ever done was The Great North Run, which I ran once a year... and that was it! I still love the atmosphere of that and don't think it has yet been rivalled, but Wilmslow came close in a different way. The route is nothing short of beautiful, the people so friendly and encouraging and at least I was able to distract myself from the running with thoughts of one day winning the lottery (which I never enter) and being able to purchase one of the stunning properties I passed. Ah... one can dream!

A modest effort meant that this was the slowest 1/2 marathon I have completed yet, but then I intended it to be; running Wilmslow today was more about getting added distance in my legs than breaking any records and I'm pleased with how I did. I'm now looking forward to training this week, and then hitting the taper that lies ahead of me prior to the Marathon. I think I'm going to enjoy the taper!

Edit - Despite what I said above, I had 20 mile guilt, so I have just gone out and ran another 2.5 miles taking my total for the day to 20! I figure that as my legs were tired from earlier, and it's still the same day, this would count! And boy, were they tired!! Anyway... 20 miles: done.

Distance: Including +miles 18 miles  20 miles
Feeling: except for the dodgy stomach - good.
Weather: lovely - quite warm whilst running!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Easy does it!

My week has just got better and better! With my fingers crossed, I headed off to training last night and the good luck followed me... it was an easy session!

Not that I don't like hard work... no, you know me - I relish it! (ur-hum) - However, after working so hard yesterday and with Sunday on the horizon, an easy session was just what the doctor ordered... and very likely the physio too!

With the jog around the block done, I've decided to rest now; I also appear to have added eating a large amount of cake into my rest day too which was not at all in the plan, but has been most enjoyable! The plan was actually supposed to be not to eat any cake, chocolate and biscuits until after the marathon... what can I say, I have ZERO will power! I have justified it to myself thusly: 'Well you are training for a marathon - which hurts a lot! - you deserve to treat yourself, it's not like you eat badly the rest of the time, in fact your diet is the healthiest it's ever been... there's got to be some incentive to all this training! It's just one day... it's fine... it's all good...' There's still a little bit of chocolate guilt, but that's to be expected... I am female after all!

Sunday plans are all in place: I'm driving over with 3 of the others from Club, we're arriving an hour, or so, earlier than the start so we can fit in a good 3-4 mile jog before hand. My intention is to keep my legs moving before the race, during the race (obviously), and then for another few miles after so Sunday ultimately hits around 19-20 miles in total... my final long run before the marathon.

Thanks to those of you who left messages of good luck on my previous post... I'll let you know how it goes!

Thursday Distance: 4.42 miles
Feeling: tired from the Yasso's
Weather: very warm for March!

Thursday, 24 March 2011

Yasso Yay!

And up another step on the running success ladder... my Yasso 800's session was a great success for the following reasons:

1. I ran all 10 of the 800's;
2. I felt really good as I ran... none of the heavy lead legs nonsense I've been getting lately;
3. I felt like I was running really fast... and at times I (relatively) was;
4. It was fun!

So Yasso Yay! Thanks Bob (lol!) Bart Yasso for coming up with the idea, and thanks Pete for organising it on the track for us!

Another session at club tonight (hopefully easy)... did I say that? I didn't say that!!

And then I'm ready for the Wilmslow Half Marathon on Sunday... a slightly out of the ordinary approach to the race which will see me parking 3 miles from the event to include a run there and back, taking my total number of miles to 19 for the day and quite handily slipping my final massive marathon training run into the equation!

Thursday Distance: 8.46 miles
Feeling: Great again!
Weather: lovely.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Getting (marginally) better

Well yesterday's run was a little more successful... not a successful, but more successful. Here is an equation to demonstrate said level of success:

(running slowly + additional effort) x (up hill on way out - down hill on way back) + (listening to good toons- snotty nose) = marginally better running but still not great!

Tonight I'm off to do Yasso 800's on the track. The aim is to do 10; judging by my recent inability to run any faster than 9.30 minute miles, this may not work out but at least there will be a baked potato with tuna and sweetcorn waiting at home to offer condolences once I've finished!

Wish me luck!

Tuesday Distance: 3.68 miles
Feeling: snotty
Weather: b-e-a-youtiful!

Monday, 21 March 2011


Q = Where am I?

A = At home writing on a blog about my running training.

Q = Where should I be?

A = At Running Club!!

It's not just me that sees the irony in that is it?!

My running has not been going great recently. I think that may be the biggest understatement of the year, but I'm trying to look on a more positive side of things!

The downturn was with my 'long run' last week; I write in the inverted commas as it was not the 2 hour jaunt it was supposed to be. I managed only 8 miles, and even that took me 1.5 hours. The problem was stomach related and all that goes along with that; whereas at the time, I put it down to an extreme case of the RT's, it turns out that a few people around me have had similar experiences since, and none of them have been running, so I'm now inclined to believe that it was actually a stomach bug. This soothes me slightly as I was mighty worried about running if there was ever going to be a chance that such an infliction should occur again!

As it was my brother's wedding at the weekend, with family visiting from Friday, I knew I wouldn't be running over the weekend period and had factored that in. What I hadn't factored in was falling asleep tonight and missing running club!

A clear indication that I'm not as young as I was, and a weekend of partying now seriously takes its toll; ah well, I'm not going to moan and groan about it. The week is young and I intend to make up for it. On the bright side, the extra sleep was clearly needed and at least I didn't nod off whilst running... that could have been dangerous! The plan now is to do a quality session of some sort tomorrow (maybe an Audiofuel Pyramid run), a 2 - 2.5 hour run on Wednesday, Club on Thursday and a short recovery on Friday. This will leave me with a complete rest day on Saturday, then the Wilmslow Half on Sunday which I will be using as a marathon training run, tagging a few extra miles onto the beginning and end. Sorted.

Now, to indulge in some pasta and pretend I made it to running club!

Distance: Thursday = 8 miles, Today = 2 hours sleep!
Feeling: sleepy!!
Weather: would have been nice for running but apparently better for sleeping!!

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Short but sweet!

Long run sidelined as life takes over... still taking over... a short post for a short run... short, but longer than yesterday!

And... yipeeee!... I enjoyed my run... why would you run if you're not enjoying it? You ask... because I have a marathon to complete in one month's time! Aggghhhh! One month?! Ok... calm...and, breathe!

But today was fun; a fun 3.22 miles whilst listening to Marathon Talk and (some of) an interview with Ron Hill MBE... Inspiring.

Watch this space for tomorrow's long run!

Distance: 3.22 miles
Feeling: joyful!
Weather: warmer than it looked, I was wrapped up way too warm!

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Free Running

Don't worry. I've not been scaling heady heights or leaping acrobatically from buildings...

No, today I ran sans Garmin. Not far as my aim was simply to keep my legs moving prior to a planned long run tomorrow; so Doris and I took a little jaunt around the block, Janathon stylee. Moreover, I wanted to run free... free from the shackles of my seemingly ongoing battle against average minute miles; I wanted to just run...

So today, I was Freedom Running.

Distance: 2.5 miles
Feeling: heavy to begin with which eased off as I ran.
Weather: grey but quite mild.

Sunday, 13 March 2011

All Aboard the Slow Coach!

Slowcoach, friend of Bill and Ben (The Flowerpot men!)

Trafford 10k is billed as 'fast and flat'; flat it may have been (ish - though there were some very definite climbs in there... okay, so they were over humped back bridges, but that's technically speaking not flat... so a more accurate definition would be flat except for a few humback bridges and a couple of slight inclines... but that's just pendantics.

'Fast', however, was completely inaccurate; to be honest I'm considering placing a complaint as I'm sure it breaches false advertising laws: The Trafford 10k was my SLOOOOOWEST 10k in a VERY long time (I would say ever but in 2004 I ran the Great Manchester Run for the first time, didn't train, almost threw up, nearly died and finished in 1 hour 10 minutes!).

Today, my 10k time was: 57:58.

My fastest 10k time is still Leeds Abbey Dash 2009: 49:49, a time I am so impressed with, I still don't accept that it was me that ran it; the repeat performance in 2010 was a much slower 51:26. By far, my most consistent performance has got to be the Great Manchester Run, which I ran in 50:16 in both 2009 and 2010 - no kidding, precise to the second!

So today is most definitely the slowest of recent times. However, I'm still proud of my performance as I gave it everything I had...I'm just no Duracell Bunny! At the start of the race, I found a very reasonable 8.30 minute mile pace and felt quite good. However, as the race wore on, the same effort was producing less and less; no matter how much I pushed forward, my body seemed to be pushing back. By the end of the race, I had dropped to a 9.22 average pace and my breathing was short and heavy; what was odd was that my legs didn't feel tired, rather than feeling heavy, achey or lead like, as they have in recent days, my legs felt strong unfortunately the rest of my body was nowhere near!

As I said, I feel proud that I ran flat out for the full 6 miles (and even pulled a final sprint off at the end) but I can't help be a little disappointed at how slow I've become. I'm struggling a little to understand why all this training seems to be having the opposite effect on me as it is on everyone else; as the people around me get faster and stronger, I feel more exhausted and heavy but moreover, I am getting slower and slower. And it's not so much that I find this a problem - It's not like I used to be at the front of the pack winning prizes! - It's just the feeling of going backwards does, inevitably, feel a little demotivating at times.

Still, It's important to think positive: Fingers crossed I'll find my ability to run at some kind of speed again once this is all over, and for the time being, the 26.2 goal is edging ever nearer and I'm now starting to feel like I may just be able to complete the distance... even if the man in the 1920's diving suit does overtake me!

On the plus side... I saw Running Legend Sir Ron Hill MBE warming up today and we exchanged a little nod and a smile... he's 71... he beat me! But... don't worry there is a but... he has run every day of his life for about 50 years, he's never given up and neither will I!

Sir Ron Hill... Running Legend and Inspiration

Distance: Race - 6.2 miles. Total - 9 miles
Feeling: SLOW and exhausted
Weather: Just stopped raining, slightly windy, beginning to brighten.

Thursday, 10 March 2011

Out and Back

Out and Back Session: Run out slow fast for 18 minutes, run back fast faster to the starting point in 16.

I ran out in 18 minutes. I ran back in 16.15... not bad on tired legs.

And my lucky legs get a well-earned couple of rest days now before the Trafford 10k on Sunday. Seeing as any ability to run faster than 9 minute miles seems to have escaped me at the moment, I'm not planning on breaking any records, personal or otherwise, but I am looking forward to only running 6 miles! Listen to me... only 6 miles... unbelievable!

PS... thanks for all your kind words of encouragement and congratulations lately. On a side note...

Abradypus - When I replace my Impressive Muscles with even more impressive ones, I will happily pass the old ones on... we'll arrange details closer to the time!

Fortnightflo and Jensruns2011 - I am LOVING your adjectives... superhuman and hardcore... and am currently contemplating how I can drop them into daily conversation with people... 'Well, yes, you know... I am quite a hardcore person, some might say 'superhuman', but I wouldn't like to brag...'

Shazruns - bruises definitely help the Other Half understand that you are not visiting Champneys (Other equally relaxing Spa's are available) every week and rather are being tortured half to death... I hope your eyes are feeling better :-)

Fairweatherrunner - do it... do it... do it... I am proof (in training) that you don't need to be a seasoned runner to meet the challenge of a marathon.

Pete - Thanks for all the encouragement and support in my running recently... I couldn't have done it without you!

Distance: 3.5 miles
Feeling: Tired
Weather: windy and showers.

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

My Impressive Muscles

Tuesday: 3.20pm

'Your muscles are feeling really good' Lovely Jo, the physio, tells me as she grinds her elbow into my thigh.
'Really?' I grimace through (less) gritted (than usual) teeth.
'Yeah.' She confirms, 'they're really impressive'.

I've got impressive muscles! Yay! (Except the calves... the calves are still a bit knotty and tight... naughty calves!).

We agreed that it must be all the good Sports Massage work I've been having with my incrediably talented and wonderful Physio, Lovely Jo. But seriously, I have to say I was dreading how I'd feel following my epic race on Sunday. Yet, except for having to walk downstairs backwards on Sunday and a little John Wayne-esque walking on Monday (to be expected), I feel really good; so there must be something in it!


I find yet another bruise on my left calf. It is looking a lovely shade of purple; I now have a matching pair on each leg. Evil Physio and stupid Sports Massage!

Wednesday 7.20pm

I'm at Running Club and My Impressive Muscles are letting me down. Someone has replaced them for lead weights. My 1/2 mile interval reps are feeling slow and sluggish. But I complete three and jog back to the track.


I arrive back at the track and realise that my Slow and Sluggish, Impressive Muscles have carried me 6 miles! 6 miles which included 'speed' work in the middle. I am once again impressed with my Impressive Muscles. Well done muscles! Well done super talented and wonderful Physio, Lovely Jo!


I am treating my Impressive Muscles to a rest, some pasta and proven recovery food: Cherry juice... maybe they'll become even more impressive...

Maybe with a little more work...

Distance: 6 miles
Feeling: heavy and tired... but impressive!
Weather: cold with about 3 (literally) spots of rain.

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Trimpell 20 - Achieved!

Even when you have gone as far as you can, and everything hurts, and you are staring at the specter of self-doubt, you can find a bit more strength deep inside you, if you look closely enough. ~Hal Higdon

A real achievement comes from completing something that is challenging. There are many times in my life I've felt achieved, but none so much as today. For a while, a little part of me felt that perhaps I shouldn't feel this way because I wasn't far off the back of the pack (that's a slight understatement) and it took me 3 hours and 41 minutes to complete the race. But I put all that I had into it. I pushed and pushed to keep going. And when I reached 15 miles and started to doubt that I could even complete the full 20 miles, I looked deep and found there was more. 20 miles is the furthest I've ever run; but I can say that with pride because I ran it.

"In running, it doesn't matter whether you come in first, in the middle of the pack, or last. You can say, 'I have finished.' There is a lot of satisfaction in that."
~ Fred Lebow, New York City Marathon co-founder
The first 6 miles of the race absolutely flew by. I was running with Paula and we were keeping a steady 10 minute mile pace. The day was absolutely beautiful and the scenery was rather lovely too. About 99% of the race is run on cycle tracks alongside the river, which means that not only is it a rather pleasant route, but it's really pretty flat as well. I could feel my muscles pulling a little even as it felt easy, yet this is something I've become accustomed to over the past few weeks - it seems long gone are the days when running was a pain free activity! - Still I persevered and was surprised to see the 6 mile mark. However, this carefree attitude was not to last and at about the 7 mile mark the back of my knee started pulling tight and began to really let me know it was there. Still, ignoring it as best I could, I pushed on. At around about the 8 mile mark I realised that Paula's 3 paces in front of me were extending to about 8. It was time...
'Paula, run on ahead, I'm not keeping your pace anymore.' I suggested to her.
'No, you are' she reassured with a big 'it's all good, you're doing great' grin on her face.
'Really though, I'm fine and I know it would be nice to run together but I'm not keeping up with you, I need to run at my own pace.' I persisted.
'This pace is fine though.' she assured once more, looking sincerely in my direction so I knew she was being honest.
'Yes... but this pace is your pace, not mine.' I revealed, dropping my pace to one I felt more comfortable at.
'Oh.' She replied, stretching 3 paces ahead again 'but I...' she began but I knew I had her; one more prompt with a slightly firmer teacher tone was all it would take:
'Really... Go On. I'll be fine. I'll finish it, I just need to take it at a slower pace.'
As she slowly - actually quite comically slowly - pulled away from me she gave me a final little wave and I plugged myself back into my headphones. Right. Here we go!

At mile 9, I saw Dom coming back in the opposite direction (about his mile 15?!!) - 'Wooooooh! Dom... Go Dom!' I squealed; who was closely followed by Pete - 'Go Pete... Great running!' I shouted and we shared a high five! About 40 minutes later, I saw Sara, who also received the mighty high of five. Oh, and I also saw some upside down tress... no kidding... really; the figment of my imagination was the pixies, leaping amongst them... but everyone (except Paula) saw the trees!
Reaching mile 12, my knee was in agony causing me to constantly reassess my options. Promising myself I would run to at least mile 14 I kept on.

At mile 14, the cheeriest Marshalls in the world kept me running to mile 15. All they needed were some pom poms and they'd have been the real deal; if that was you... thank you, you kept me smiling until mile 16. Ah! Mile 16: Need the toilet. There are no toilets. Mile 16.3: Still need the toilet. Getting painful. Mile 16.5: bush. tree. toilet. Say no more, but I popped out the trees feeling much lighter and used the new burst of energy to see me into mile 17.

Mile 17 was perhaps the hardest. Suddenly the beautiful cycle paths were just empty, long stretches of miles ahead of me. 'I am soooooo bored.' I thought, 'Why am I even doing this? There's no one around, I could even be the last person.' I snuck a look backwards. Phew, I wasn't... there were still at least 3 people behind me! 'Maybe I'll just run to the next water point.' I told myself as two of the people behind me passed me by.
An elderly woman asked the man as he passed me how far we'd gone. He informed her we'd run 17 miles, 'How far in total? she questioned.
'20 miles' he replied.
'Wow' she should have responded, but she didn't... instead she yelled 'Oh, well you've miles to go yet then!' What???!!!! Thanks Lady... just what I needed to hear! My felt my heart starting to sink; but then... cheery marshalls again! Woop! I could have nearly cried (I hasten to add I didn't!!) at the personal round of applause one of them gave me as I passed by. 'Well done!' he cheered 'You're doing brilliantly.'
'Just a little jog to the end now' one of the others promised.
Of course... a little jog to the end; no problems and as the 18 mile sign appeared on the horizon, I realised that I may have been shuffling along at 12 minute miles, but I had run 18 miles, I only had 2 to go, and most importantly I was going to complete this.

As I neared the 18.5 mile mark, Dom appeared to my left giving me an encouraging wave and grin. I gave him what I thought was a little grin back again, but was quite aware that the muscles in my face by this point seemed to have joined the ones in my legs in the tiredness stakes. not to worry, only a mile and a half left. And turning the corner, there was Pete. Yay! He dropped in alongside me and we ran along together. Chatting about his race experience, took my mind off the pain of my muscles and the exhaustion I was feeling. He talked me through the last mile, kept me going as I passed Dom, Sara  and Paula- who, quite hilariously tried to jog alongside for a split second, before she realised she couldn't move! - and onto the track. Setting me my final challenge of overtaking the people in front of me, I set off on my final lap. From somewhere - and don't ask me where, I haven't a clue - I managed to find a little speed. Gaining now on the people in front, I realised I really could over take them. The guy behind me was also gaining speed and I realised I could beat all of them... I wouldn't be last!!!!! On the last hundred metres I opened up to reveal something akin to the Pheobe run in Friends; veritably skipping my way through the finish line. But hey, it worked! I had run 20 miles and was rewarded by a minute young toddler ceremoniously attempting to place the medal over my head, a T-shirt and a Mars Bar. What more could one want?... The glass of water that Dom had gone to fetch me!

So was it tough? Yes
Would I do it again? Well, I'm going to have to add 6 on... but technically, no!
Am I glad I did it? Yes.

It's hard to explain what running a race like this is like. I really didn't enjoy all of it and it took all the mental strength I had, at times, to keep running especially when everything hurt so much. Certainly, speaking to my Other Half about it, he can't comprehend at all why I would even do it, particularly when it's not something I excel at or, truth be told, am even particularly good at. If you've done it yourself, you'll know why and if not the only explanation I can offer is this: The sense of achievement that comes from the pain, the physical difficulty and the mental challenge. If running 20 miles was easy, everyone would do it. It's not, it's bloody hard work. And I may have finished at the back of the pack but I was at the back of a pack of people running 20 miles; there were a whole heap of people who never even turned up at the start line and never will - I finished ahead of them!

You're running on guts. On fumes. Your muscles twitch. You throw up. You're delirious. But you keep running because there's no way out of this hell you're in, because there's no way you're not crossing the finish line. It's a misery that non-runners don't understand. ~Martine Costello

I completed 20 miles for the first time. It was a challenge. I overcame it.

"You have to wonder at times what you're doing out there. Over the years, I've given myself a thousand reasons to keep running, but it always comes back to where it started. It comes down to self-satisfaction and a sense of achievement." ~ Steve Prefontaine

Distance: 20 miles
Feeling: Exhausted but certainly achieved.
Weather: beautiful! - sunny skies with a nice chill in the air.

Friday, 4 March 2011

I can do this...

I can, I can, I can, I can, I can...

I - Can - Do - This!

What is this? It's the big 2-0. Unfortunately I am not referring to my age, although I completely understand why you would think that; it's the running, it keeps me young! No this is an even bigger 20: The Trimpell 20. 20 miles!

I have never before run 20 miles, but on Sunday I will. I WILL!

I will...
1. Prepare my race number and everything I need the night before;
2. Eat well and sleep well the night before;
3. Eat a good, but normal, breakfast of porridge and blueberries on the morning of the race;
4. Think positively;
5. Take it steady and not go out too fast aiming to run at 'marathon pace' of around 10 minute miles;
6. Think positively ;
7. Use music, jelly beans and water to energise me around the course;
8. Warm up and cool down effectively and properly;
9. Think positively;
10. Enjoy myself.

And why shouldn't I do well? I am well prepared for this: I did well last weekend in the GNW 1/2 marathon, the sports massage on Tuesday sorted out my overtight muscles, and I felt really good after a steady run at club yesterday.

20 miles? Bring it on!

Distance: 4.90 miles (3rd March)
Feeling: Much better than Monday!
Weather: Cold but clear.

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

Recovery Road

It is, once again, with the help of Captain Hindsight that I write this post! Yesterday (in hindsight) I should have had a rest day. 'What? But you've made the same 'in hindsight mistake' before Maggie!' I hear you exclaim. And yes... I know. I have.

This time wasn't quite the same as the last though, and thankfully doesn't seem () to have been as disruptive. I set off for club feeling good; a little stiff, granted, but good. The session started with a mile warm-up and I felt good. We set off on our first hard interval - the session (courtesy of Sara) being an interval pyramid of 1-2-3-4 minutes hard, with 1 minute recovery between, then back down - and I still felt relatively good. My knee twinged, so I stopped, reminded myself about my bum, readjusted my posture and running gait, set off again, and felt fine. It soon became clear though that however 'fine' I felt (or had convinced myself I felt?), I wasn't. My legs felt as though they were running through treacle; they were very stiff and as much as I tried, I couldn't maintain a speed anywhere close to the rest of the group. Steadily I was falling behind.

Right. Time for a new approach. The others were doing an interval session, with hard runs and jog/walk recoveries between, which meant that if I simply maintained a steady pace, by the end of their pyramid, I wouldn't be that far behind them. My legs still felt stiff but nothing hurt, so drawing on a little PRB, I began my own session - a steady run! Meeting the others at the end, still recovering from their last interval, it was clear that my strategy had worked and I was now back with the rest of the group for the cool down run.

With just under 2 miles back to the track, this shouldn't have been a problem. Except, of course, it was. All of a sudden, the back of my left knee (which has never caused me any problems in the past) started to pull so tight, I could barely get any range of movement out of it. I persevered but the more I did the tighter it became. Eventually a pain started, in the back of my knee where it felt taught, and I had no option but to stop and walk; unlike last time, walking didn't hurt but I was still about half a mile from the home base and it  was a slow return back. Pete very kindly walked with me, for which I am very grateful - thanks Pete - but needless to say, I have now learnt my lesson: no running the day after a 'hard' / 'long' run, my legs just aren't up to it and I will only ruin someone elses session!!

Thankfully, I'd had the foresight to think that I may be in need of a sports massage following the half marathon yesterday, and had a session already booked for after work today. Evil Lovely Jo, squidged and squashed, poked and pummeled my muscles once again, whilst I lay on the table with gritted teeth and curled toes. Acually, It's testament to how good a job she does that I went back today, as whilst lay on the table it's the last place I want to be; however, last week once all the pain had subsided from the torture massage, I'd felt better than I have in ages and I truly believe I wouldn't have managed that 13.1 miles without her... and to be fair, she is also really rather lovely which (almost) makes up for the pain she inflicts... alright, I did say almost!

So now I wait to see what tomorrow brings which will hopefully be a run, though I am going to be boringly (actual made up word) sensible as I've the Trimpell 20 on the training plan for Sunday; my first 20 mile race. The word 'race' being a loose term. However, I would like to try and maintain the 10 minute mile pace I managed on the half this weekend. I'm also hoping that by Sunday, I will have actually gone to the bother of finding out where Trimpell actually is... as currently I've no idea... it sounds rather nice though: Trim-pell, just trips off the tongue and conjures images of a little wooded nook full of peaceful pixies and impish elves and... well, runners I guess.

Distance: 5 miles
Feeling: good... until I broke!
Weather: nice.