Thursday, 30 July 2009

Killer K's

Yes, it rained again. And, in usual fashion, it chucked it down and blew a gale as we drove over to a rather grey old Nelson for our track work this week. I'd moved plans for the session to Thursday to allow these old legs some recovery time from Sunday's race but was still feeling a wee bit daunted by the prospect of the session planned; 8x1km reps.
On arriving at the track the planned 8 reps in my head shrank to 6, and then again to a diddly 5 as the warm up around the park found out the stiffness and sore spots in my quads still grumbling from Sunday. A warm up in the surprise company of Mr. Complete Runner followed by a few sprint strides set us up nicely for the session. I had the usual nervy tummy these sessions always seem to give me; I think its the anticipation of the basic hard physical work ahead. Anyway, M set off at a hare's pace and I sat back, looking a bit lazy but sticking to my planned pacing; trying to be steadfast and consistent at each 200m split. After rep #3 my quads started to tire but I stuck to my guns and by rep #5 I was beginning to reconsider things and return to my original plan of 8 intervals. M finished with an impressive sprint finish at #6 but I repressed the urge to finish with him and stuck to doing the extra 2, albeit a bit tougher battling the windy bends alone.
Anyway, I was chuffed to finish the full 8 all with pretty consistent times which is usually a sign of good pace judgement for me. I think Garmin kit is a great tool but has a risk of diminshing my awareness of pacing. Track work is one of the few training disciplines I think is essential to help me understand how pace feels as well as improving my form. It was a really good sesh today and a timely reminder of why I do this stuff. In a virtuous frame of mind then, we ambled home via a nice pub for lunch. We finally met the sun who came out to greet us - she must have been on her hols, somewhere nice I expect.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

Chuckin' Buckets

Plans for a day out to make the most of our jollies were again foiled today by the seriously poor weather. I don't mind rain too much, and I'm even happy to run in it. But a trip to the seaside is not much fun. So we have been again stuck indoors much of the day. I did enjoy a couple of guilty hours watching some old Six Feet Under repeats. In my bored googling this afternoon I happened upon this cool site called Panoramio. The pic is courtesy of a local talent who has captured the current weather beautifully.

In my virtual wandering online I became quite drunk on the fantasy of a career as a freelance photographer, travelling around the world earning my living to fill the pages of National Geographic [sigh]. Trips to Patagonia featured heavily. I think a bit more practice might be needed first though. I keep toying with the idea of a weekend course learning the craft but they always seem so ridiculously expensive. I've also the good fortune of beautiful scenes right on my doorstep. Anyway, have cheered up a bit after running a steady but satisfying 7m out to Ilkley and back. We found a window in the torrential rain and managed a whole run without seeing a drop. Legs are also much better today. Next stop, Nelson.

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Rainy Holidays

Clearly our timing was perfect to plan our fortnight of running bliss in the late July sunshine. Where did it all go? Having spent several weeks moping about the office as the sun burned outside to then finally get time off and have it p*** down the whole time really takes the biscuit. The training hasn't suffered much but it'd be good to catch a few rays and be able to think smugly to myself about everyone stuck in the office.
After the efforts of the Pudsey 10k on Sunday I managed to lug my tired body around the Strid on Monday though the quads are suffering a bit; it's been a while since they've had to work hard on any steep climbs or descents. We ran a longer one today on the canal (in the rain) but again with very tired legs so an easy day or two to follow before any more hard sessions. Today was so gloomy we ventured to Keighley Picture House for a bit of a distraction but all we could find to see was the latest Harry Potter (in the school holidays). The cinema is an old style picture house with tiled and neon frontage. Were it anywhere else it would be well loved inside too but sadly this is Keighley. You could smell the toilets from the 3rd row. Still, the popcorn was good.

Sunday, 26 July 2009


Well, relaxing seems to help. After feeling pretty chilled about the race last night and in the absence of the usual pre-race butterflies in my tummy this morning, we drove over to Pudsey for the 10k trail challenge under grey skies, anticipating a muddy and slow race today. We weren't far wrong though the drizzle sort of helped to keep us reasonably cool in the muggy conditions.
Pudsey Pacers do a great job of organising this pretty tough road & trail event, attracting over 400 runners and some real quality amongst them. You even get a fresh banana with your T-shirt at the finish.
Both M and I were feeling a bit rubbish in the warm up after a heavy training week & decided it should be approached as nothing more than a solid threshold run. We lined up next to an army of P & B boys; they all looked tough and very fast and led out the race at a blistering pace. I managed to run my own race at least, easing off the pace in the first mile, (I've made that mistake before; running a sub 5.30 first mile and never recovering). Anyway I stayed relaxed & ran cautiously for the first half to then push on for the second. This course has two stinker climbs and lots of mud and trail so felt pleased with my strength and came back first lady by a good margin. M also ran great, just a minute or so behind me and taking some good scalps. He's definitely back to his pre-op form.
Anyway, I picked up some more goodies for my efforts. The prize giving was a bit embarrassing as I won 3 different categories and ended up like a Crackerjack contestant with arms full of trophies, bottles of wine and a rather nice trainer token. A good morning's work. Now then, time for the post-race refueling...

Saturday, 25 July 2009

The Legend of the Rombalds Romp

After the last five days of cultivating my impressive pot belly (having now indulged in 5 slap up dinners in a row!) I managed to squeeze through the front door this morning & pop up to Ilkley Moor to watch friends and club mates in a new local race, the Rombalds Romp. The race involved a 7 mile loop climbing up along the moor ridge path, taking in an anti-clockwise loop via deep bogs and bone-rattling descents. I was very impressed by the sights of thigh-high mud which only added to the dramatic backdrop of the gorgeous Wharfedale valley views. I also got to meet running legend Ron Hill MBE. Ron was sporting a new go-faster haircut and looking very sprightly despite this less familiar fell terrain. He was also very friendly and posed for some pics ...

Training this week has remained pretty full-on, in line with my plans to train hard through Summer races and use events as threshold sessions in preparation for the Autumn. I ran a tidy 12m on the road with M on Thursday, followed by a few speedy strides on the hockey pitches on Friday (before dining out #5 with the lovely John & Anita in a local Vietnamese that evening - a real treat). M & I ran an easy 4 today to loosen our legs for the Pudsey Challenge 10k in the morning. The course is a mixture of road and muddy trails with some (well lots) of hills. The terrain makes times pretty meaningless which feels quite liberating. I'm feeling a bit too relaxed though as M noted tonight. I'll have to work on getting nervous in the morning.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

Mrs Blobby's Blog Hols

You might be picking up that I'm feeling a tad guilty after neglecting my blog this week. Life has just been too hectic! How do I find the time to work!? After a nice and easy ramble around Riffa Woods and a spot of lunch chez Jamil P on Monday, M & I made the trip to Nelson for our weekly VO2 session on Tuesday. The session was 8x800m and felt tough in the usual Lancs wind and rain but we stuck to the plan and managed to squeeze out pretty even times; all the reps were nicely within a couple of seconds of each other despite the painfully short 90 secs recovery. By the evening I felt I'd earned the massive blow-out curry, our second social in as many days in the charming company of Mark I. I ate enough for the three of us but then well and truly paid for it all evening with birthing pains into the wee hours.
So today, an easy 5 near home helped to quieten the curry hangover before a trip to Maggie for a (not very relaxing but much needed) leg massage and then coffee and cake with another running pal in Guiseley, Julian M. A lovely couple of hours spent it was too. But where will my gluttony end...? We have two more dinners lined up with friends before this weekend. I'm gonna have to diet like crazy from Saturday if I've any hope of squeezing into my running shorts without cutting off a blood supply. I've grown a second chin and third belly in 72 hours. Lots of running next week is my only chance.

Monday, 20 July 2009

Mushroom Roulette

We had a treat of an away run on this fine, summery, non-work filled Monday morning. M & I called over to Jamil P's house for a catch-up and amble out; an undulating trail route around the hills of Otley, looping through Riffa Wood and back to the river. The pace was easy and the company relaxed for this smell-the-roses type excursion. We happened upon a giant field mushroom which I dutifully picked and attempted to tote back with us for the remaining half of the run only to find its flesh drilled like Swiss cheese, rampant with wriggling things. So much for the mushroom soup JP promised. We totalled just under 9 miles and returned via Waitrose for a top lunch and chat in fine & handsome company, (I know you're reading JP). A track session tomorrow back at Nelson; 800s this time with a hope of building on the improving form in time for a strong XC season.

Sunday, 19 July 2009

Lazy Sunday

Ran a nice and steady 14 today, starting from the Fisherman's Pub in Bingley, taking in some canal towpath out to Apperley Bridge before looping back through Esholt, home of Emmerdale Farm and back to Bingley. The run felt relaxed and easy today except for the mid-way belly crawl under the waterworks barriers - Yorkshire Water seem to have suddenly decided to turn the water treatment works into Fort Knox; the four of us had to crawl on our bellies in mud to pass through the usual route or face a rather long and annoying detour back to base. Despite the muddy tummies the pace was very civilised and it felt nice not to be wasted for a change after my long run. Saying that I still enjoyed a minor nap on the couch this afternoon in front of the telly. It's blissful knowing I'm work free for a bit at least. If only all Sunday nights could feel like this.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

Rainy Relays & A Slighty Soggy Saturday

Well, we did it again. We are the mixed team champions of Washburn Valley Relay 2009. Woo hoo! For the second year we entered a work team comprising of Me, Nigel A from Pudsey Pacers and M. Our triumphant trio took the gold, coming 4th overall and running away with the Mixed team cup and a nice bottle of wine each. Frankly, I'd have been crushed if we hadn't after all the hanging around on the most miserable Summer's eve since time began.

I ran first leg through a route that had ceased to be trail and can only be fairly described as a cesspit to hand over to Nigel on leg #2 in close 4th. Nigel ran a storming run on his leg(s), catching some fierce male competition and bringing the team in 2nd place overall. M had the joys of hanging around in the continuous p***ing rain before eventually getting his run, leading the team home on leg #3, bringing us home well clear of the next mixed team and 4th place overall in a quality field of fast blokes. He had a stormer! Shame about the weather but we have another lovely, shiny thing to polish - no pics of my own as I didn't risk the lovely Canon toy getting all damp but hope to find some on the Otley site soon.

I'd managed to dry out enough by this morning to consider a trip over to Nelson for a short and sweet track session of 300m strides. It was nice to have the company of Josie H and Justin P who had planned a full speed session with local super-coach Terry L. I trotted around chasing their tails in an decrepit fashion to get the post-race legs turning over. A visit to Lidl on the way home has topped up our Choco Softie or 'VIPF', (very important performance fuel) supply. A nice and easy long one tomorrow and then 2 weeks off work! LIFE IS GOOD.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

A Certain Yearning

Am truly pooped after two hefty nights of training this week. After my heavenly hill session on Tuesday night I then joined M for a steady 10 miles on an old route fondly named the Beamsley Bash. My heart rate was a bit high confirming my instincts that I'd bitten off a bit much and should really have stuck to my plans. Anyway have been extra good tonight and kept to a very easy 5m on the grass in the refreshing rain whilst a bunch of lady cricketers cowered under the pavilion porch. Legs feel heavy and tired (serves me right & will I ever learn I hear you sigh) so will have a good stretch tonight in preparation for the relay tomorrow.

Aside from grimacing as these old pins grumbled into action I spent the remaining 4.95 miles of tonight's run fantasising about a revelation in gadgets. Yesterday a friend at work loaned me his gorgeous toy to help me cope with my entire day of desk work, glued to my computer doing all that work I promise to do in all those meetings I go to. The awesome Cowon D2 is an amazing little box of tricks. For any music lover this is an incredible piece of kit. I've managed to avoid the pull of Apple marketing and abstained from any 'i' purchases but have been truly taken by this little machine. It has an incredible sound so deep & fruity that it puts my home system to shame. I'm now sitting on my hands to stop any naughty mouse clicks on that well known Internet shopping site. My basket is overflowing already. On other hand, if music be the food [cake] of love...I want a big piece.

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Hill Heaven

Just a quickie as I'm so in need of a good kip. Did good tonight and managed 7 x 3mins on the steep bit of Ben Rhydding drive. The session was less hell & more heaven tonight; just managed to finish the full set in reasonable shape and am feeling like I'm getting my teeth back into some quality sessions. My legs were burning a bit after Sunday's race but I managed a pretty consistent effort I think. Total run was 9.5 miles all in. No more tough stuff now until the relay on Friday. 3 more days to holidays. Yay.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Seeing Stars

Nope, I've not been pestering any of our resident Emmerdale soap stars or stalking the local Look North weatherman. Poor M came home with a rather sore head tonight. He's being a very brave soldier sporting a rather impressive gash to the nut. He nearly knocked himself out getting up from his desk today and finding a book shelf strategically placed above his seat. Ouch. Note the helpful reconstruction to the left to assist the mental picture.
So, once we were confident that the circling bluebirds and stars had cleared we set out for our steady Monday run tonight, opting for the reservoir figure of 8 for a bit. This was partly in preparation for another friendly local race this Friday; the Washburn Valley Relay organised by another fine local club, Otley AC. We'll be running in a mixed work team with me taking us out on leg #1; a muddy and hilly affair complete with clouds of midges totalling 5k (ish). These regular short races are getting me in the mood for the X country season which kicks off in September with the British Masters relays in Mansfield - I'm already dusting off the trusty spikes. Tonight's run totalled 7m at 7.29 pace over trail terrain. It's good to be feeling strong and race hungry again.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Defying Demons

I did good today readers. I've been quaking at the thought all week of this wretched race and had been developing a less than good mindset for today. Though I'd been telling myself it was only a training race I still felt a bit niggled that it was the 5k Northern Champs and I'm not in the greatest shape. Anyway, this pretty small but high quality field, (including a Kenyan contingent) meant that I could run very anonymously - some great names were there which allowed me to run with no pressure or expectation and just try to focus on a good race.
The course was a 3 lapper around Blackburn town centre with a surprising amount of undulation for this reputedly fast course. This proved to be a bit of treat for me though, as the eye-balls-out-pancake-flat style event is not my thing. Anyway, I lined up near the middle of the pack and set off with the gun, with a fairly relaxed smile on my face. The course seemed to fly by; the 3 laps winding and undulating frequently to make the run interesting, with the exception of some of the heavy winds catching anyone not huddled in a pack. I started well, with the leading ladies in touching distance, and maintained this for the first 2 laps, overtaking a couple of ladies and moving into 4th position. By the final lap these old legs were tiring and with a final push I managed to secure 5th place with a young Chester-le-Street lady overtaking me on the last quarter of the final lap.

I can say with some surprise that I actually enjoyed this race today and those that know me well will understand what a transformation it is for Runningbear to enjoy a 5k. I think I've developed a bit of a taste for the distance and am already planning my sub 17 for next Spring! The time was reasonable in the conditions and a PB at 17.37; enough to secure me bronze medal position in the Northern Champs. There. Demons slayed and a medal to polish too. Now off to tea at Tricky's for a good end to a productive day.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

Running Machine

Skipped a blog post last night after feeling a bit Friday-night-reckless. I managed to overcome the tummy bug no problem and suspect it was a Choco-Softie hang over. We popped over to the hockey pitches last night only to find lots of matches on so I squeezed in 12x100m strides on the small grass track. The session felt OK though I was lacking a bit of spring; I'm still aware of the lack of speed in my legs and seem to be running very flat footed at the moment. Will have to be patient and trust that the speed will be back by the end of the Summer.
I kept M company at Nelson track this morning and watched him thrash out 10x600m efforts. I was sunning myself on the sidelines as any girl should after running a few easy miles around the park and some half hearted stretching of my knotty old calves. I looked quite at home, sat on the trackside with my cardy for comfort, my coffee flask and a copy of AW for company. Have just watched a well deserved win by our local gal, Charlene Thomas on the telly. She was over the moon to have qualified for the Worlds in Berlin. It was a nice moment to see the Yorkshire lass out kick the Twell machine. Go girl!

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Pretty Ugly Bugs

Thought this was a startlingly beautiful pic of the bad bug that has upset my tummy tonight. Had planned to run a good steady 8 on the road and get the legs moving a bit quicker for Sunday when a rather unnerving cramping feeling changed those plans pretty swiftly. I set out from home feeling a bit under the weather but stayed with the plan, running along the quiet country roads out to Ilkley. Fortunately for me there were plenty of bushes and gaps in the trees when it all became a bit too much. The run was rather interrupted and only managed to do 7 at a fairly pedestrian pace. I suspect the panicked stops for relief did little to add to the training effect tonight. Must be something I ate. So, speed work tomorrow all being well.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

We Are The Champions

I was so glad we made it to the relay in the end. I'd not felt in much of a mood for racing after a busy day at work but our tricky trio came together in the end for a mixed team entry in this friendly local event organised by Abbey Runners. We were all a bit heavy legged after recent training but the evening was pleasantly cool and the event low key and welcoming.
From the start Tricky ran at a blistering pace, leading the field looking very comfortable for much of the first leg until the final sprint to the hand over to me (eek! no pressure!), where I picked up the baton in close second position. I had a chasing start and took the lead again after the first half mile around the undulating course but again was out sprinted by a very nice Horsforth chap. I handed over to M for leg 3 back to second place. We knew we had a strong lead over the next mixed team but could only keep all our pinkies crossed that M could bring the team home to victory and work hard to maintain our overall position. M ran a strong final leg maintaining our second place until a last dash to the line edged us into 3rd team overall but still first mixed team by a good margin of 1'40". An exciting night's running with lots of friendly faces, old and new. Only topped by the Choco Softie celebrations back at the car park. We have all resolved to work on our finishing kick for next year.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Rebuilding Walls

I was thinking today about the psychological challenges of running. More specifically, how I manage the internal tensions of my limited progress (real or imagined), rebuilding my confidence and how I reconnect with my love and enjoyment of the sport. I had decided I'd let go a bit and let the competitive focus slide to just get back to basics. I realised tonight that walls are my key.
I've got a bit of a passion for walls. I sometimes fantasise that I might escape the rat race and just earn my living reassembling ancient, lichen & moss wrapped stones from all those random piles I've carefully picked my way through during running adventures, (that's when I'm not busy in the bakery). So, walls were my inspiring comfort today. They highlight the value of patience and investing in laying strong foundations. I'm carefully rebuilding and trying to remember that enjoying this process, stone by stone is just as important as the end result.
In my search for a fine visual treat by way of illustration I came across this intriguing site: Walls.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

5 Rise x 2 = Tired Bear

Eee. Am feeling pretty good in a post-long-run-tired-glow sort of way. Ran on my lonesome this morning for another long Sunday session totalling 16 miles as I continue to try and build up the distance. It wasn't the most sensible session to have planned after a pretty tough VO2 track session on Saturday (breach of rule #1 of the Lonergan running bible) but the mile efforts were run slower than I would have ordinarily paced them so am hoping I've got away with the two hard sessions back to back this time.
The run did feel a bit tougher on the legs this week, especially negotiating the hills on the world famous 5 Rise Locks but I expect that this was also partly pacing - I averaged 7.09 for the 16m including my warm up miles as I'm always a bit faster on my own when I get in zone and run as I feel. I was good and regularly checked the heart rate to avoid working too hard and also opted for a cold soak when I got home; partly for pleasure as the second half was scorching hot but it might help the legs recover after the tough weekend.
Next week will be a bit interrupted again with a couple of short races so no more track work for a week or so. I'm likely to avoid racing the 5k distance unless I have M and club mates recruiting me for relays. I've a bit of a mental block about the short stuff so being encouraged to do a few of these can only be a good thing. A very relaxed evening stretches ahead with a big bowl of Spag Bol to reward my efforts earlier today. Only 12 more days and counting before holidays.

Saturday, 4 July 2009

Old Times

Another trip over to Nelson track today for an attempt at a longer VO2 session after an interrupted week with the relay and tired old legs. I'd planned for longer efforts today and after a bit of procrastination managed to squeeze out 4x1m reps. The pacing was slower than I'd hoped but the weather continues to challenge me (like the spin?) and I'm feeling a bit blobby legged. The session was still great quality and I definitely worked in the right HR zone for the full 4 reps despite my Garmin losing the plot half way through. I've been missing a few of these tougher longer efforts in recent weeks so felt really chuffed to have got another one in the old bag. The trip to Lidl was productive too; I can properly relax now with my Choco Softie supply fully stocked up once again.

Have since spent this afternoon in a thoughtful mood, looking through old snaps and reflecting on life, the universe & everything, (including my past as a Michael Jackson fanatic and those enthusiastic dance routines I assembled to the Thriller album in my tender years). I happened on this snap of my old street on Silver Jubilee day 1977. Its funny to see so many faces I'd forgotten. A special prize to anyone who can spot Runningbear.

Friday, 3 July 2009

Wrecked Recce Legs

It was a nice change to run out on away terrain tonight. M & I planned for an early finish at work & managed to get out of the office by 5pm for a guided recce with Nigel A again around the Pudsey 10k Challenge route.

This is a bit of an anniversary run, being my first ever 10k race as a newcomer to running in 2005. This is a pretty challenging course with some killer hills and tough trail sections. Not one for a time which only adds to the fun; setting pacing aside and forcing you to focus on just running a good race. Though we've not entered yet this is likely to feature as a July fixure along with revisiting one or two other local favourites on and off road this Summer. The tame pace was welcome tonight with pretty tired legs from earlier in the week and a track session to try and pull off tomorrow. Haven't decided what reps to do yet but will be something longer to build in a bit of strength work. I need to burn off a fair bit to warrant a very overdue visit to Lidl. I've been choco softie free for two days now. Its starting to hurt.

Thursday, 2 July 2009

Shimmer Me Timbers

I managed to slot in a medium long run tonight, braving the shimmering heat to give these old pins a bit of a stretch out. After two races in the last 3 days it seemed wise to stick to a steady run rather than attempt anything too heavy so opted for a 10 miler at an even pace; a circular route from home, out to Ben Rhydding bridge and back. I was lucky to have company in M and old club mate Justin P who then peeled off to do their extra 2 to make it 12 on this rather hot and bothered road route. The old legs felt some minor effects of the last couple of races but nothing too sore so I should be up for the track this Saturday and another long run on the canal Sunday. I'm still working on building up my long run distance and hope to manage 16m for a second week with a plan to eventually manage 18m with ease on non race weeks. My mind wandered to the Harrogate Road League fixture in Otley tonight. I can't wait to see the results as some good mates will be hoping for a good run and perhaps shake up the usual finishing order at the front end of the race series. Tricky was on fantastic form last night so he should be setting the course alight. Watch out Otley boys, Tricky's on the up!

Wednesday, 1 July 2009

Roastin' Relay

Thought I'd better post after causing a frisson of panic for my health and well being amongst my loyal readership out there these last two days. Thanks to those who expressed their concerns for my dental health. Actually, panic was not a wholly universal reaction, I've also had 'constructive' feedback (you know who you are) to stop being so miserable and moaning. I might remind readers that its my birthright to be miserable and moaning, I'm a proper Yorkshire lass.

Anyway the tooth is sorted, I'm alive and well though marginally bushed after a long evening in Danefield Forest for the relays tonight. I turned out with great Bingley blokes Tricky and M for a fine club trio to set the course ablaze; a 3 mile sprint around forest tracks, muddy pits and stony climbs. After registering I then had to bin the boys and swap to a ladies team, (sorry boys). We had a good night, catching up with loads of club mates, new and old and saw some extra friendly faces in Kevin O and Jamil P who offered their support around this sod of a course. They cheered me up despite the clouds of midges and steamy atmosphere.
My run was off my best but a great training session after the rigours of that evil race on Sunday. We won the first ladies team prize and I got fastest ladies leg of the evening which provided two bottles of wine. Result. Just some lovely training left this weekend to enjoy and hopefully a bit of a quieter couple of days at work. Also just over two weeks of work left to go before a fortnight's holidays. Oh yes. Two whole lovely weeks. Can't wait.