Sunday, 22 October 2017

A Hat Trick of Marathon Debuts – Part 2 – Rachel.

The one that (nearly) got away.

There is a saying – “anyone fool can run, but it takes a special kind of idiot to run a marathon!”  So, how crazy does that make someone who books their first marathon, and then books their second marathon for the week after?  Well, that’s exactly what Rachel did – signed up to Mablethorpe Marathon, scheduled for 1st October and Hull Marathon on 24th September.  I was already entered in both – to support Jo-Mo at Hull and Cheryl at Mablethorpe.  Cheryl decided to defer her entry to next year so Rach and I decided to train for and run Mablethorpe together. 

As it goes, Mablethorpe marathon was cancelled, due to illness of one of the organisers.  You’d have thought that we would have breathed a sigh of relief, wouldn’t you?  But, oh no!  With help from Chris and Andrew, we immediately started planning how we might run the marathon route regardless, after all, it would be a shame to waste all that training!  Initially, we thought we would run it on the day the actual marathon was scheduled, but eventually decided to run it sooner.  We kept it quiet, continued the training and over a few weeks, it grew into .....

The Genuine Fake Mablethorpe Marathon – 15th September 2017.

REady to embark onf Rachel's first Marathon
So, there was one secret going on, in that we told hardly anyone of our plans.  And then there were other plans afoot in the background, to make this experience as good as possible and as much like a real race as possible, for Rachel.  Andrew organised medals, I made race numbers and goodie bags and Chris got some boozy prizes to present at the end.   On top of this, Andrew secretly let Laura in on the secret, so that she could appear near the finish as a surprise!  I’m feeling quite emotional thinking about this.

A big thank you to RaceDirector, Andrew and Official Starter, Chris
We arrived in Mablethorpe to start our race at the same time that the actual race was due to start on the day, 9.00am, with Rach and I ready to run, and Chris and Andrew with bikes to be our marshals, route planners, water / fuel carriers and general all round supporters!  Andrew had the route – from Steve Green’s Strava map when he was the official course measurer, so we were all good to go.

Andrew was Race Director and Chris was the Official Starter. Three, two, one, go ... and we’re off!  Our plan, as in training was to run the first 3 miles and then go over to 3 minutes run, one minute walk strategy.  Initially the weather seemed perfect as we did a little loop of Mablethorpe including the high street and then headed down the sea front towards Sutton-on-Sea.  We have run in some baking hot weather in training, and had some difficult runs because of the heat, so we were pleased for a cooler, more comfortable day. 

We had an early route change when we realised we would be heading down a main road and that this might be dangerous for 2 runners and 2 cyclists close together on a busy Friday.  It would have been different on the official race day as the road would have been closed


As we turned to come back towards Mablethorpe for the first time (the marathon is a two lapper), we turned into a light head-wind and realised why it was so easy-going the other way.  Rachel was going really well and we had a chat at that point about how to deal with the wind. We decided to try to walk really briskly on the walk sections so that we didn’t have to stress about trying to run hard against the wind on our run sections.  Chris and Andrew were absolute superstars, managing to get a few photos, constantly checking we were ok and giving us drinks / gels / jelly sweets so that we didn’t have to think very much.
I think we were all relieved to turn back towards Sutton to get the wind behind us again.  We were fascinated by the chalets – some basic and some very up-market, and on the second lap out I jabbered to Rach about them to help take her mind off the inevitable fatigue that was beginning. 

Bloody Wind!

We could tell that the wind was getting up more because with it behind us we were being pushed along – but when we turned around for the second time, it was horrendous.  Then at some point, it started to rain, and come down quite heavy.  I didn’t feel too bad but I really felt for Chris and Andrew on the bikes.  It’s difficult enough to keep warm on a bike whist pedalling fast, but cycling at our running pace must have been awful.
We knew we had to extend the run along the prom for a few more miles (because of detouring away from the main road) and at one point, I thought we could just run up and down the prom.  However, the wind was just making it extremely difficult – it’s a wonder Rach didn’t get blown away!  It was hard to even keep moving forward at all.  So Andrew re-routed us back into the town, adding a loop here and a street there to keep us about of the wind and at one point riding off ahead to see how far back to the car park so that we would hit 26.2 miles at the right point. 

The moment that Rach saw Laura.

Rach can’t manage energy gels and shot blocks, and can only take a limited number of jelly sweets.  With about 5 miles to go, I could see she was tiring and she couldn’t manage any more jelly sweets as she was feeling a bit sick. It had now stopped raining and the sun came out  a blessing for our dedicated bike marshals, but making it suddenly hot for us, and sapping Rachel’s energy.   I jabbered and chatted to try to keep her distracted, but even as I said, at the 23 mile point, “only a parkrun to go”, I knew that it would still seem a very long way to go.   I can’t express enough what a big deal anyone’s first marathon is.  It’s so true when seasoned marathoners tell us, “you have to respect the distance.”    I talked to her about who would be the first person she would tell when we were finished.  She said that she was calling to see Laura on the way home so would tell her.  I secretly sniggered, knowing that Laura was already somewhere in Mablethorpe!  

Surprise, surprise.

As we ran up Mablethorpe High street for the final time, we had about a mile and a half to go.  We had mooted the idea, when training, of running the last mile but at this point we decided to keep up the run-walk strategy as it was getting really tough.  But as we got to the end of the High Street, there was Laura!  PERFECT timing – absolutely perfect.  I was using Strava Beacon and Laura was tracking so she knew roughly where to find us.  Bless Rach – she said, in total shock, and said, between sobs,  “there’s Laura! – How did..?” then turned to us and said, “... did you know?”.  Awww, bless her – proper runner’s brain.  But how this perked her up!  FANTASTIC!  She ran all the rest of the way and had a smile on her face.  Chris and Andrew rode on ahead once they knew we knew our way back, and as we turned into the car park, there they were with a finish tape of Lincolnshire flag bunting.

I can’t tell you how proud I felt at the end and how emotional it was as we crossed that line hand in hand and as Rachel’s Garmin ticked over to show 26.2 for the first time ever.

Lots of hugs all round followed..... and then medals and prize-giving.  Rach was overall winner and I won my age category J  We popped into the cafe on the car park for a drink and a bite to eat and further post-race chat.  Rachel looked tired but pleased and I was really happy that we’d managed to make an occasion out of it, following the disappointment of the official race being cancelled.

I have to end by thanking Chris and Andrew once again for supporting us both in this.  The weather was awful for you and you just got your heads down and got on with it.  Thanks for the medals and prizes.  Thank you Laura for coming out to support Rach, on your birthday, no less – it really made that last mile and the finish extra special.

Having completed her first marathon, Rach would go on to complete her second one, just nine days later – see ‘A hat trick of marathon debuts – part 3 – Jo Mo.

Monday, 2 October 2017

A Hat Trick of Marathon Debuts – Part 1 – Chris.

Pleasure by Proxy

I make no secret of the fact that I get a kick out of seeing other people succeed in their running, whether this is one of our fast club runners achieving a new PB or someone completing their first parkrun.  More than anything though, I like it when I can be involved – for example, just being on a run with someone who is completing their longest distance to date. It’s a great feeling to experience their delight at their achievement.
This year, I have had the privilege of running alongside 3 people as they completed their first marathons.  These were 3 very different experiences and I wouldn’t have missed any of them.

Boston (UK) Marathon – 17th April 2017 - with Chris.

This happened by accident really. I had signed up the Blackpool marathon and Chris decided to do the training with me with a view to entering the marathon if the training went ok.  I had the idea that Chris might bring my pace along (he is a bit quicker than me) and I might be able to encourage him on the distance, having already had the experience of 26.2 miles.  In the event, by the time Chris decided he’s enter, Blackpool was full!  So I deferred my entry to 2018 and we both entered Boston, which was a week earlier.

The Training

We initially started our training running all the way, but became fascinated by the run-walk (3 mins run, 1 min walk) strategy when we noticed that on a 16 mile run, Sarah had completed it on a run-walk strategy in about the same time that we ran the whole thing.  Sarah was training for Rotterdam marathon.  We did a walk-run with Sarah and Mike (about 18 miles as I recall) and it felt so much better – not easy, but easier.  You still have to cover the miles, but there’s something helpful about the legs having a different motion every 3 minutes.  In addition, psychologically, it breaks it up.  We decided to have one more 16 mile run and then decide whether to switch.  At that point, Chris’s thinking was that running another ten miles on top of that seemed pretty daunting, but run-walking it seemed much more manageable.
So we completed the training on the run-walk plan, helped along by being able to join Sarah on some of her runs and by having other people join us for part of some of the longer runs. This helped to break the runs up a bit.  Running 4 miles with just the two of us, then meeting Jo-Mo for 6 miles, then a couple of miles on our own, followed by the rest of the run with Nadine helped the miles fly by on one of the longest runs.

Throughout the training really, he was plagued with some niggles and bits of pain that came and went.  I think this was simply a product of increasing the mileage but it probably  wasn’t helped by some of the training routes I planned.  On a 22 mile run, perhaps running uphill from the Salutation at Nettleton to Caistor Top at about 15 miles in wasn’t the best idea!  Fuelling was difficult too and the whole process was a learning curve. Chris already knew from experience that he didn’t’ get on with energy gels and even shot blocks gave him upset stomach. Eventually he settled on jelly babies and some soft jelly sweets from the Spar shop.

The Marathon

Boston (UK) is a marathon, a half marathon and a fun run (3k).  Jo-Mo told us quite near to race day that she had entered the HM, which would mean that she could run with us for about the first 6 or 7 miles (after this, the route split so we would have to part company).  Strangely, although the Marathon and HM started at the same time, the start point for the half, was about 500m behind the start point for the marathon.  This was bad enough for fast runners, such as Andrew, who had entered the HM, trained for a good time and then found himself quickly catching and then having to weave through the slower marathoners before finding any open space to effectively start his race.  For poor Jo, it was possibly even worse.  Although Chris and I were doing a run-walk strategy, we had decided to run the first mile.  We planned to do this steadily, but you know how it is when you get carried along with others!  Jo could very soon see us, but catching us was a different matter – she got her mile PB that day, just trying to meet up with us.  She said that by the time we’d done a mile and were on run-walk, she would just about reach us when we were walking and then we’d start running again!

Things went quite well while we were with Jo although I could tell by Chris’s face that something wasn’t quite right.  As it happened a familiar niggle in his knee had surfaced at mile 2, so this was a bit worrying.  By the time we reached the point where Jo would leave us, he was in considerable pain, but reported that it didn’t hurt whilst he was running, only when he was walking.  Jo reported afterwards that when he said that, a look of horror appeared across my face as it dawned on me that I was going to be running  a lot more of this thing than I had planned to.

We said our goodbyes to Jo-Mo and I asked Chris what he wanted to do.  “It’s OK while I’m running. Shall we just run?”  I said, “OK then” and probably managed a smile, but was thinking, “oh shit”, because this would mean I was going to be pushing myself to keep up with his ‘steady’ pace.   After running a couple of miles I was relieved to see Team Bates and get some encouragement; “you’re making good time, aren’t you?” from Claire ... Ian taking photos and getting some hugs and smiles from Martha and Edith. 

Then we ploughed on.  We ran some more miles.  And then ran some more.  It was too fast for me, but Chris was going well.  He was able to talk, I could just about grunt.  I asked him to talk about something to distract me and he told me a story about when ‘a sixteen year old girl met a seventeen year boy’ and how they got together... and got married... and what happened after that.... leading to how we ended up running a marathon together.  Well that was it! I was in floods!
This was at about the halfway point. I still had the energy to muck about at this point. Not for much longer!

It was good to see Chris going so well, but I was at the end of myself.  Thank goodness for seeing Team Bates and John Rainsforth on several occasions for some more distraction.  Lots of me was aching, I knew a blister was forming.  “Just focus on your elbow”, I told myself. “It doesn’t hurt!”

We reached a water station with about 5 or 6 miles to go and I just had to have a little break to take on a gel and have a drink.  I had a little breather, thanking the marshals and getting ready to dig in again. Unfortunately that stop was Chris’s undoing and I regret it now. On reflection, when he was going well, I should have just told him to carry on by himself and then slowed down to a more comfortable pace for me.  But hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it?  We had always planned to run it together so that’s what we did.  When I stopped, Chris stopped to a walk and just paced there until I was ready to go (less than a couple of minutes – maybe only a minute) but then when he tried to start running again, the pain was severe.  The rest of the race was a combination of his knee seizing up or giving him pain depended on whether he tried to run or walk. We had to walk most of the last 4 or 5 miles with the odd run interspersed.  The last couple of miles were never-ending and his head started getting in the way, especially once he realised we wouldn’t crack 5 hours, which had been what we hoped to achieve fairly easily.  He’d be the first to admit that he saw his arse!  I, on the other hand, was feeling full of energy now I’d had a rest.  What a bizarre run!

With about a mile to go, we came out into a kind of village green area.  There were no marshals, not signage and 3 possible ways we could have gone.  That was a miserable moment. We looked at the few other runners around us and everyone was shrugging their shoulders (so it wasn’t just me with my total lack of a sense of direction!).  Luckily, there was a chap with his family, spectating and eating ice cream (I always remember the were eating ice cream)  who pointed and shouted “that way.”   Chris kept trying to run, but was now also out of energy and to be frank, quite fed up.  He was already saying, “I’m not doing another one and I’m pulling out of Dukeries”.

Eventually, after what seemed like hours, we turned a corner and could see the familiar sea of blue CRC hoodies - such a welcome sight at the end of any race.  I said something like, “look, look, here the all are, come on, let’s run this last bit....” and we came in to shouts cheers and cameras from our running buddies and friends .... Jo-Mo and Chris, Sarah and Mike, Rach, Laura, Andrew, Baz and Cheryl, and Team Bates (Claire, Ian, Martha and Edith).

After the finish, Chris was still insistent that he wasn’t doing another marathon and was pulling out of Dukeries, but this was a knee-jerk reaction (no pun intended) to having dealt with quite a degree of pain, as well as feeling quite faint at the finish (I’m not going to harp on about this bit as he doesn’t like a fuss about it and these issues are now resolved).
The day after, he went out and bought a Lay-Z-Spa and as we chilled out in the tub a few days later, he started to come round.  A month later, he ran his first Ultra – Dukeries 30 with Sarah and me and declared it much easier and much more fun than a road marathon.

Dukeries Selfie - a month after Chris's first marathon.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Don't Bring Me Down - Bruce!

Externalising the Negative Inner Voice

Self doubt - we've all had a portion of it from time to time.  It's that negative inner voice that periodically rears its head and could shatter our confidence if we let it.  It is probably more of an enemy than illness or injury.  Sometimes it can help to externalise the inner voice - it makes it easier to argue with!  It can also help to give it a name!

Do you know the ELO song, "Don't bring me down"?   The lyrics are actually, "Don't bring me down ..... grooss" - whatever the heck 'grooss' is (click here to find out what grooss is!).  I prefer the misheard Lyric, "Don't bring me down - Bruce!" especially since hearing the song one day on a run with Cheryl and Jo Mo - we decided that the negative inner voice is someone called Bruce!

And then, of course, the song lends itself to a bit of modification .........

When I’m out runnin' you keep filling my mind
Some of the things you say are not very kind,
(Don't bring me down, no no no no no)
I'll tell you once more as I run out of the door
(Don't bring me down)

You said I’d never even run a mile
I’ve run much further and it makes me smile
(Don't bring me down, no no no no no)
I'll tell you once more as I run out of the door
(Don't bring me down)

Don't bring me down, Bruce!!
Don't bring me down, Bruce!!
Don't bring me down, Bruce!!
Don't bring me down

You said that running wouldn’t be my thing,
The last laugh’s on you ‘cause I’m running The Sting
(Don't bring me down, no no no no no)
I'll tell you once more as I run out of the door
(Don't bring me down)

I’ve now done 10ks and half marathons too
It’s just as well I didn’t listen to you
(Don't bring me down, no no no no no no no)
I'll tell you once more as I run out of the door
(Don't bring me down)

Don't bring me down, Bruce!!
Don't bring me down, Bruce!!
Don't bring me down, Bruce!!
Don't bring me down

It’s not about the speed - I’m running for fun
As well as flapjack and a cake and a bun,
(Don't bring me down, no no no no no no no)
I'll tell you once more as I run out of the door
(Don't bring me down)

You say my parkrun is a tortoise pace,
I’m telling you that it’s a run, not a race
(Don't bring me down, no no no no no)
I'll tell you once more as I run out of the door,
Don't bring me down, down, down

Wednesday, 22 February 2017

A Weekend of Two Halves

On the surface, this post is about 2 events. But actually it's more about two other running related subjects - Support / Friends and 'Head Stuff'.......

When Sarah suggested that we run
 Dukeries 10 (an 11 mile trail run) this year, I was up for it. After all, we ran Dukeries 30 last May (and have entered again for this year), so, yeah, why not. It will be good training.  How difficult could it be?

When she suggested we muster up a team of 4 for the Caythorpe Dash (half-marathon, mainly off-road), I was slightly more dubious as I've seen photos from previous years
 - mostly very muddy!  But I said yes.  Again, it would be another good training run for Dukeries.

Then Sarah just casually mentioned these two events are on the same weekend and that
 Mike said that back to back runs would be beneficial in preparing for Dukeries.  OK then.......

Dukeries 10 - Saturday 11th February 2017

As we approached the weekend, I was unusually unexcited and unusually apprehensive.  I know why.  I've had a couple or three weeks where every run has felt quite tough.  Even taking it steady, I've felt tired easily, unable to motivate myself to push hard on hill / interval sessions and struggling to get to the end of the long runs (I'm currently training for a spring marathon).  There could be a number of reasons for this - I generally lack energy at this time of year; I've had a gum infection and been on some hard core anti-biotics (the type they use for sepsis!) so I might be a little run down; I'm half a stone heavier than my most comfortable running weight.  But for whatever reason,  any running has felt difficult, so the prospect of 24 muddy miles over 2 days felt a bit daunting.

We had an early start, getting up before 6am to eat and get there before 8am to park and pick up our numbers.  It was dark, there were a few flurries of snow along the way.  When we arrived, it was very cold and we all wrapped up well for the start - not heading out of the hall until the last minute!

Despite my reservations, the run started well.  The four of us - Chris, Sarah, Emma and I set off at a nice steady pace.  Once we got away from the start and into the woods, I felt good. The smell of the woods brought back memories of Dukeries recces last year and of
 Dukeries 30, 2016. Emma and Chris were mainly running a few paces in front and Sarah and I were chatting along the way.  In the early miles, I was still feeling like it was a bit of a struggle - my legs felt heavy and I felt like my breathing was more puffy-panty than it should be for the pace.

Chris is running well since coming back from a broken bone in his foot last year and although he hasn't done much off road, he seems to have taken to it better than this time last year. Emma is a bit quicker than Sarah and I.  Sarah is the mud-queen and runs really well off road and enjoys it better than road running so I was in good company in terms of keeping jollied along.

I ate a couple of jelly sweets but forgot to take an energy gel - partly because it was in a belt inside my coat, so a bit out of sight, out of mind.  As we approached mile 6, I was really struggling.  It was really slippery underfoot and everywhere I put my feet they seemed to slide. There were areas where we were running on narrow bits of grass between ruts created by farm vehicle wheels but even the grass bits had become churned up. I only lost my footing completely once, and even then, managed to save myself from a total face-plant by getting my hands down.  

I admitted to Sarah that I was struggling and of course, she was an absolute diamond.  I hate to whinge, and I don't like to ask for help.  I'm more used to supporting other people than needing support myself, but it would have been pointless to say I felt OK when I didn't.  Sarah stayed with me, encouraging, chatting, reminding me I'm awesome

As we approached the 7 mile marker, another runner shouted to her friend, "come on - only a parkrun to go!"  I automatically let out a cheer just at the mention of parkrun (I'm a big fan) but at exactly the same time realised that we actually had 4 miles to go, not three. The other runner clearly didn't know about the bonus mile.** I think psychologically, this messed with my head a bit.  A parkrun to go, means 'not far' in my head, and yet 4 miles suddenly seemed a long way.  My legs felt like lead and even in my lungs I just felt really unfit.

we officially declared ourselves awesome after completing Dukeries 30 last year!
** I've learned that off-road runs are difficult to measure accurately so often an extra bit is added in order to make sure the course isn't short. Hence Dukeries 10 is about 11 miles.  Dukeries 30 is 31 miles (or, to put it another way, ten parkruns!) These little extras seem to be known as bonus miles - I'm not sure if that is a Mike-ism or whether it's a technical term!

With just over a mile to go, I told Sarah I just wanted her to go on ahead and I just needed to take a little minute. When I said it, I didn't know whether I would walk for a minute or for the rest of the route.  Sarah was having none of it.  "It's fine" she said. "We'll both take a little minute together...... we're in this together, remember. You walked this with me last year!" (she was injured)  So we just walked up the tiny slope and that gave me chance to recover.  I just didn't feel myself.  Not in a 'feeling ill' way.  Just that my usual determination, focus and motivation was eluding me.  

During the last mile, my head was filled with very negative thoughts:  if I'm struggling with 11 miles today, how on earth will I do 13 miles tomorrow; I'll let the others down (Sarah, Chris, Paul C and I entered as a team); I'm 'the weakest link';
is it better to not start or to start and not finish?; come on stop being such a wimp, you've only run 10 miles.  As I write this now, it seems ridiculous, but I'm sharing it because from what I have learned from speaking to other runners, these doubts can just get a hold on you from time to time.  It's the head stuff!  Cheryl and I call the negative inner voice Bruce! ....... Think of the Electric Light Orchestra Song, Don't Bring Me Down.  The lyrics to the chorus are, "Don't bring me down .... grrroooos" but often misheard as "Don't bring me down, Bruce!"  So when Cheryl has her doubts, we talk about telling Bruce to p*** off!   It's funny at the time - you probably had to be there!  It's difficult to fight Bruce on your own sometimes, but with the help and support of friends he cannot get the better of you - it's just a question of being prepared to ask for help - whatever that help might be.  I didn't share all of my negative thoughts with Sarah, but she said all the right things anyway - tomorrow is just another training run, time doesn't matter, we can walk as much as you need to, think of the apple crumble!

As we approached the finish-line, Mike was there with his phone at the ready to capture us coming in.  He had done parkrun and come over to cheer us in at the end and to pick Sarah up.
Thanks Mike for the finishing photo.
All smiles now. Thanks for this pic Emma (taken by Mike with Emma's phone.

Caythorpe Dash - Saturday 12th February 2017

What a difference a day makes.  The Caythorpe Dash HM was a different kettle of fish altogether.  For a start, it was a much more civilised start time – 11am, so we didn’t have to be up at the crack of dawn. Initially, when I woke up, I wasn’t quite feeling it.  However, I had Sarah’s pep talk in my ears from yesterday and didn’t feel under pressure.  I’d also had a message from Cheryl, telling me to remember all the things I say to encourage other people and say it to myself. Half marathon is my favourite distance so I kept reminding myself of that too.

We were running as a team, the only CRC team at the Dash this year, comprising Sarah, Chris, Paul C and me.  We arrived in good time and waited in the village hall to keep warm. Once again it was a very cold day, but not initially windy.  As we left the hall to go to the start-line, we could already smell the pudding cooking – this was something to look forward to on our return. 

As we set off, I was pleasantly surprised to find myself running on the flat and downhill for the first few miles.  There were muddy slippery bits, but I seemed to be keeping my feet much better than the day before.  I was much more relaxed and although I knew (let’s face facts) that I was the slowest of the 4 of us, I really didn’t mind, and certainly didn’t have that ‘weakest link’ feeling that kept plaguing me on Saturday.

I decided to run mindfully and just stay in the present, enjoy the current flats and down hills and not let myself think of what fresh hell might be ahead!  This run felt more like a normal run. I felt more myself.  I got a tight calf and it eased off after a few miles. Just normal stuff. 

I just want to pause here to take my hat off to the marshals and volunteers at both events.  It was a bitterly cold weekend and they were, without exception, cheerful and helpful.  I never cease to be grateful to the people who give their time to stand in the cold so that we can enjoy our events safely.

Inevitably, the hills made their appearance.  We were warned by a friendly marshal telling us that the really pretty hilly bit was ahead!  Well, the first big hill was bonkers!  Across a field, no real track to speak of and really sticky mud.  Seriously, it stuck and stuck and stuck.  We were all walking up – it was impossible to run as we were sinking ankle deep with every step!  I kept thinking that eventually no more mud would stick – it would have reached its mud volume maximum capacity!  But it just kept on gathering!  I had to knock it off a few times and start again, because it just got so heavy!  On Saturday, this would have probably finished me off, but on Sunday, I just found it hilarious.

I kept my energy up ok. I put my gels in my jacket pocket, remembered to take one after an hour and Sarah reminded me to take another a bit later. I also had jelly sweets whenever Chris had one.

The miles seemed to pass by and very soon there was ‘just a parkrun to go’ and then only a mile to go.  A mile to go seemed so much easier than the mile to go on Saturday!  There was another hill shortly before the finish, which looked innocent enough but had odd terraces rolling through it so our feet kept hitting the ground at different angles. It was harder than it looked and we soon declared another walk break.

I’m not saying it wasn’t challenging, because it was. The terrain constantly changed: sloppy mud, sticky mud, slightly firmer grassy mud, a few bits on road, up hill, down hill, flat, stiles to climb with legs that felt heavy.  Mud mud mud and mud .... it's a bit like Python's Spam sketch but with mud with everything instead of Spam with everything!  There was even a steep short down bit where the mud was so slippery we had to hang on to tree branches to prevent ourselves just sliding down on our bums. The weather was cold and there was a biting wind whenever we were on high ground.  But despite the challenges, it just didn’t seem as difficult as the Saturday run. 

Soon we were back in the village hall feasting on hot soup, sandwiches, cups of strong tea and the famous crumble. I felt tired in a good way. Sarah and Chris fared well too. Paul was suffering with his knee a bit from mile 10, perhaps partly because he was sliding about more than the rest of us, as he chose road shoes. 

We were all delighted to receive a medal at the finish.  Emma and Sarah had mentioned that it is usually a certificate, so a bit of bling was a welcome bonus.

I was in touch with Claire later in the evening talking about the contrast between these two events. She was saying that her brother says most of running is in the head so perhaps my outlook was different the second day.  It’s so true. I’d had a word with myself, listened to the support and encouragement from my friends and beaten Bruce! Among other things, one of my favourite sayings is, "The body achieves what the mind believes."  The body has its genuine ups and downs and therefore running can have ups and downs.  A whole load of factors can make a difference - rest / sleep, any life stresses, illness, medication, diet, alcohol, twinges.  Any or a combination of these can lead to a period where running feels tough.  Sometimes there's a tough phase with no apparent cause. But one of the most important things is attitude.  The head stuff. Very often a strong mind can keep your body going, even when it feels tired and would really just like to sit down!   

There is a lot of technical and detailed and complicated running advice out there, relating to the body and training and adaptations. It is all valid.  In addition my two main pieces of advice to anyone taking up running or stepping outside of their running comfort zone would be -

* Believe in yourself.  If you believe you can do it, you will do it.
* Value your running buddies. You'll be in good company and they will believe in you and encourage you when your self-belief is weakening.  You will also do the same for them.

Keep on Running.....

Friday, 16 December 2016

Now She Thinks She's a Song Writer :-D

I won't give up my day job!

Since my teens, I've occasionally amused myself by re-writing the words to popular songs.  I'm no lyricist; the words very often don't fit the tune easily or precisely but can usually be sung through with a bit of vocal juggling!

Caistor Lights. Photo by Chris Ramsay
Setting off on our run today 

I've spent much of last weekend, and will spend much of this weekend and some of Christmas weekend with runners and we have been, and will be dressed as a snowman or Santa or elves or fairies.  We had Christmas music on our run today and  When I heard Eartha Kitt singing 'Santa Baby' it got me to thinking....... we runners don't want a sable, or a yacht or a duplex or cheques.  We are much more easily pleased.  All we want is to run, with friends, possibly with some cake, breakfast a cup of tea or a beer follow.  And sometimes prosecco! 

No, we don't ask for much, us runners, do we?  Well, not very much!  I give you -

Santa Baby - For Runners

Santa baby, slip a Garmin under the tree for me
Really need to upgrade,
Santa baby, so hurry down to Wiggle tonight

Santa baby, an entry to the Dukeries 10, and then
I'll run the bonus mile too, 
Santa baby, so fill the entry form in tonight

Think of the late nights I've missed,
To volunteer at parkrun, sunshine rain or mist
Next year I will be just as good
And get my name up high on the volunteer list

Santa honey, I want sports socks and really I need a lot
Baliga or Karrimor
Santa baby, and get down to Sports Direct tonight

Santa cutie, a lovely jacket made by Pro-Viz, it’s bliss
So I’m seen in the dark
Santa cutie, and hurry down to Metres to Miles

Santa baby, fill my stocking with some sports bras, and jars
Of tasty energy gels
Santa baby, from Amazon or Wiggle tonight

Come and trim my Christmas tree
With the blingy medals that were, won by me
I really do believe in you
If you make sure I get my next PB

Santa baby, forgot to mention that I need shoes, in twos
Some for on and off road
Santa baby, so hurry back to Metres to Miles
Hurry to Sports Direct tonight
Hurry,..... tonight

All joking aside and stripping away all the stuff, it's the company of friends that keeps running fun.
Running with friends.