Sunday, 27 November 2011

Happy Birthday Blog!

'I'm sure I blogged about this race last year' I mused to Coach Pete as we drove back from Preston to Manchester, having earned our latest medals in the Best Preston 5k. 'Hang on, I'll have a look and see...'.

tap... tap... tap onto the Iphone and within seconds minutes I had discovered that I had indeed blogged about the Best Preston 5k last year - 28th November: a very, very frozen -4 degree experience!! Thankfully, today had been a very balmy 13 degrees warmer! - But I made another, even more exciting, discovery: that the chilly Best Preston blog post had been only the second in my blogging history... and therefore today... the 27th November 2011 is the official birthday of The Magathon blog! And I nearly missed it!

The Magathon blog began when my training started for the London Marathon last year. With 20 weeks to go, I decided that the added motivation added by airing my successes and failures in public might just do something to spur me on in my training. Little did I know then that blogging would become such a wonderful world to live in! This time last year, if you'd suggested to me that I'd be meeting up with people I'd only ever met on the internet, I would have suggested that you were a complete nutter and that I, on the other hand, was not! 

However, nutter I am it seems as the experiences of the last year have taught me the errors of my ways.  My Magathon Marathon training offered many difficulties along the way, yet whenever I wrote about them on here, there was always someone, often many, offering advice, sympathy and encouragement to keep me going. When I thought about giving up, I also thought about the shame of having to admit it on here; the guilt associated with possible failure is enough to get anyone going again! In January, I discovered the joys of running and blogging with a group of like-minded crazy people around the world when I signed up to Janathon. In April, I shared the success of completing the London Marathon with all those who'd been mad kind enough to read my ramblings and motivate me along the way. In June I shared my new found love of car dancing and supermarket aerobics as I attempted, and failed, to complete Juneathon. When I found myself unable to run in August, I submersed myself in running by reading the blogs of my online friends, and just last week, I met with 'Abradypus' to take part in a local (for me) parkrun. All this in one year. All via the internet. Who'd have thought it?

And it's not over yet. Just today, I've arranged to join Fortnightflo and a whole other host of 'athoners' for the Regent's Park 10k in January; and in doing so, I seem to have inadvertently signed myself up for another month of poor excuses disguised as running every day! 

A year ago,  this blog started life as a record of my running. Today, The Magathon and I are a part of a community of people who love running, sharing experiences and motivating others. Now who could ask for a better birthday gift than that? 

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Finale of The Festival of Running

And so, the Magathon's Weekend Festival of Running saw closure today in the form of the Leeds Abbey Dash. A 10k race and the first of the 2011-2012 club championship races. As a special extra twist, it was also the second of my Countyathon* races; and a very good race it was too.

The fact that it ended up as a 'good'- one might even be as bold as to use the word 'enjoyable' - race is interesting as when I woke up this morning, the last thing I was wanted to do was run. Warming up in Leeds, the last thing I wanted to do was run. Standing at the start line.. Yep, you've got it! But... And it's a big, huge but of a BUT, just 1 mile into the race, I was having a whale of a time. At 5k, I was feeling strong, despite feeling like I wanted to die at the exact same distance yesterday. And, with 2 miles to go, I realised I was definitely going to achieve my 10k pb of 2011!

Now, whilst most people don't court yearly personal best times, preferring to see them as cumulative across a running 'career', those of you who've been following my Magathon antics since the beginning, will be aware of my record of declining times this year; in fact, the last 10k race I ran was the Great Manchester Run which took me the grand old time of 1 hour and 2 minutes! Follow this with a summer of injury and no running and I'm not silly enough to be thinking I can chase previous bests of sub 50 minutes! No. Today was about running and finishing.

So, when I ran a time of 58.11, I was incredibly chuffed! In fact, I think it's fair to say, I still am! So chuffed that the festival of running was rounded off with a yummy - and moderately 'Diet for Crimbo Because Oh My Word Nothing Fits' friendly - skinny muffin in Starbucks! Mmmmmmm...

*Countyathon... The name given to my ongoing challenge where I aim to run a race in every county in England.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Festival of Running Part 2...

I'm the Oldham and Royton Harriers and AC Ladies Cross Country Champion 2011!

I know... It's a little unbelievable isn't it! Don't worry though. Everything you thought you knew about me hasn't been completely upturned and overthrown; as the old adage goes, you've gotta be in it to win it... And being the only one 'in it' does help too!!! Tee hee... Still, that's another trophy for effort, and you'll never hear me knock that - especially when I have a (not so) secret sneaky plan to win the Ladies Road Running championship with exactly that next year!!

Accepting my shiny new trophy has very nicely rounded off part 2 in The Magathon's Weekend Festival of Running... Watch this space tomorrow for part 3: The Leeds Abbey Dash!

Magathon's Festival of Running

Welcome to the Magathon's Weekend Festival of Running!

Or that's what this weekend feels like anyway! Part 1 of my running 'festival' began at 8.45 this morning, when I  met another 'Athoner and Blogger, Abradypus. A nomadic park runner, Abradypus has run over 40 different park runs; and not just in this country, her park run experiences stretch as far as Reykjavik; so much so that, at my local Parkrun, it was Abradypus who knew the most runners, bumping into another Reykjaviker also!

As if he knew of the festival of running, we were also graced with a local celebrity, Ron Hill, who was handing out the 50 t-shirts as well as running his fourth Parkrun at Heaton Park.

Dr Ron Hill... who even in his 70's is faster than me 
Unfortunately, I was unable to keep up with Dr. Ron in the race... no, don't be fooled by his age!!... however, thanks to the self-confessed sloth... no, don't be fooled by her name!... I achieved a very respectable time of 28.44.

Though, to be honest I could have waddled around in 40 minutes and still have had a great time, as it was truly a great morning: great to finally meet my first 'Athoner, great conversation, and a great morning for running.

The Magathon and Abradypus!

Part 2 of the festival begins at 7.30pm this evening: Club Presentation Evening. Apparently, I've won an award, no idea what... I'll let you know!  And then it's off to the festival finale tomorrow for the Leeds' Abbey Dash 10k for which my current PB stands at 49:49...

Ha ha... I'll let you know!!!!

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Skechers ProSpeed SRR Review

'I believe in pink'. said Audrey Hepburn.

And do you know what? So do I.

More specifically, I believe in my pink trainers.

I've had my Skecher's ProSpeed Resistance trainers, that Skechers sent me as part of their seeding project, for a good few weeks now and have been wearing them for the majority of my running; so, I thought it was probably about time to give you a little more info on them and let you know what they're like.

Fit and Facade:

These bright pink little beauties do offer themselves up in colours other than the eye-popping bubblegum, however, I have to admit that this was one of the first things I liked about them. Making an appearance in other colours including silver, blue, black and white also, the ProSpeed trainers offer quite a wide fit so, unlike most other trainers, a normal shoe size will probably suffice. Despite fitting a feminine size 5 beauty on a night out, I always have to size-up to a 6 in my running shoes. However, the Skechers are very roomy trainers and I am having to pull the laces on my size 6's a little too tight in order to stop them slipping; with the virtue of hindsight a 5 would have been more than enough.  Saying that, this has not proved too much of a problem, and I should add that I do have quite narrow feet generally, however if  there was one thing I'd definitely offer as a suggestion to Skechers it would be to consider producing a narrow fit trainer also - I can't be the only runner out here with narrow feet and it does often prove a problem when choosing trainers.

Feel and Fleetness:    

One definite pro for the ProSpeed is the feel of them. Again, a little background information on me will help with this. Whilst running, my heel is rather lazy. In fact, where possible it tries to avoid all contact with the ground whatsoever. What this does mean is I have a nasty habit of running high on my forefoot; unfortunately, this eventually caused me injury and, consequently, I have had to adapt my style to land much more on the mid-foot than the fore. The Skechers trainers are designed to promote mid-foot running and give maximum return through here, rather than the heel. For me, as a mid-foot runner, this is perfect. The ride the trainer provides not only feels cushioned and smooth but it also feels energetic and fast.

Additionally, Skechers promote the trainer as a lightweight running shoe. At first, I was a little judgemental on this, whilst holding them in my hands, weighing one Skecher's ProSpeed against my normal trainers, I came to the conclusion that my current trainers were lighter; a very scientific approach, I think you'll agree. However, having run in them, I would agree with Skechers: whilst the trainers are on my feet, and I am running, they do in fact feel very light - offering a soft slipper-like quality... and of course, on my feet whilst I'm running is really the only place I should be judging these!

So, so far so good, I was enjoying running in the Skechers' ProSpeed and felt like I'd really bonded with my trainers; Surely, I was ready to write my review? Well, almost. Whilst reflecting on the trainers, I realised I'd been running in the ProSpeeds almost exclusively for the past month, and perhaps, for purposes of objectivity, I should be able to draw comparisons back to my (now long forgotten) 'favourite' trainers. So, swapping back to my Brooks Glycerin for Thursday's run, to give me a better sense of comparison, I put them through their paces on a hill training session. Whilst I still like the feel of the Brooks, one thing I did miss was the slipper-like feel of the Skecher's and the mid-foot energy return, which was particularly noticeable in it's absence. On reflection, I must admit that I was pleasantly surprised by the comfort of the ProSpeed, however for me, this would be improved further by a narrower fit.

Fumbs up or Fumbs down?

I don't know where my obsession with the letter F has come from in this review, however I've started, so I'll finish...

In summary, I have found the Skechers' Pro-Speed Resistance trainers to be:

Soft and cushioned slipper-like feel
Supportive yet light-weight
Good for mid-foot striking
Hardy in wet weather

Of course, these were gratis, so the big question is, would I hand over my hard-earned cash for a pair? Yes... I would.

Which all in all, gives them a 'fumbs up' and I believe in pink!

If Only I could have said that the trainers made me look like svelte, skinny woman in their banner... but they didn't... so I can't... maybe that's still to come!!

Sunday, 6 November 2011

I am a tortoise... And proud!

I had my best run for 6 months on Thursday at club when I ran out in 20 mins and ran back in 17.30 mins; technically I was aiming to arrive back in 18 but as I haven't managed to get back in under 19 recently, I'm not quibbling over 30 seconds!

I have to say, after being out of running for so many weeks, with my back, I'm enjoying being back now and as such, the times I'm getting are neither here nor there to me. In fact, with my garmin broken, I'm having to rely on other people to tell me what time I've run once we've finished anyway, which is quite refreshing! Running is purely pleasurable again and I think I've finally come to accept that I don't need to run fast: I am a tortoise, but I enjoy running so who cares if it's slow?!

That doesn't mean I've given up though, in fact quite to the contrary as in two weeks I have my first race since May coming up - Leeds Abbey Dash. This will be the second race on my Countyathon challenge (closely followed by Preston the week after) and will also be the first race on the club calendar for the 'new' year. Which leads me up to my very exciting second challenge I have set myself this year...

To run every race on the club calendar!

There are 25 races altogether ranging from 5k to 20 miles! This year, the club championship for the women was won, by Sara, with 25 points. Now, I had resigned myself to the idea that I would never have ANY chance of winning - I'm just not fast enough and to be quite honest have no interest in trying to be! No, as previously discussed, what I am is a plodder... But a plodder with determination! And a plodder who enjoys running... In fact, I love running races. In the past, I've missed races because I wasn't up to speed or thought I wouldn't do well in them; I've regretted that. However, in this plan, I only have to run. I don't have to run fast, I don't have to get a pb and I certainly don't have to win. All I need to do is turn up, run, and enjoy it!

And you never know, maybe the tortoise, with a little determination, could just well be holding the Ladies' championship trophy next year!