Wednesday, 30 September 2009

No Knickers Please

Cheeky title I know but have just got the squad info through for this weekend's HM race and have read rather happily that I'm getting a bit of new kit as part of the deal. This includes the Puma England outfit for the race itself. However, as M helpfully joked, I might be required to wear those skimpy running pants that all the elite girls wear. I've not been asked to request my preferred style of shorts and fear that I'm gonna be running in what are effectively bright red knickers. I know its a bit of a girly thing to fret. I'm just a bit disconcerted at the idea of.. well.. running in my pants basically. I'm sure girls will understand. But boys out there, just imagine having to race in your undies. Not a nice thought is it? It has a bit of a whiff of school days and P.E. teacher cruelties to me. It might detract from this girl's performance too. Or perhaps I'm just a very shallow person.
I ran out the anxiety about pants with a nice and easy 5 miles on the grass tonight. These legs are really feeling the change in season and the switch to road miles rather than trail during the week. I'm eager to build in a softer option (underfoot that is) when I can. So a few rather dull but nicely soft and springy loops around the hockey pitches tonight gave me chance to calm those panicked thoughts about pants and think nice calming thoughts about shorts, capri pants, leggings and other longer leg coverings.

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Scaley Horrors

M discovered something very disturbing this morning. We've been smugly celebrating the shedding of the pounds as we scoffed our way with unbridled fervour through endless tubs of B & J's ice cream, giant home-made pizzas, plate-loads of post-race cake whilst that flashing digital display has pretended to be more friend than foe, announcing how light and lean we are each morning with its reassuring LCD blinks. We'd even talked ourselves into feeling slim.
Oh what fools we've been! I am gutted to say that it's all been a complete sham! JUST ONE BIG LIE. We'd even been getting a bit worried as M seemed to be losing the pounds at an alarming rate. An unhealthy rate at that. This morning was just a step too far, that evil spin doctor of bathroom scales tried to pass off that yet another kilo had been lost overnight. M stepped back on to double check and yes, another kilo in the space of 20 seconds! Suddenly the shared delusion came crashing down around our ears. We were horrified at the deception. Since purchasing a replacement this afternoon I've discovered that I am in fact 5kg heavier than I thought and M has gained 8kg. Imagine the horror. We are now counselling one another to cope with the news. More of a blow is the realisation that I can't continue to scoff my way through 4 tubs of B & J's every week unchecked.
Tonight we punished ourselves with a semi VO2max session, some 400s at the track with short 45 sec jog recoveries. Times were good again and M, continuing to build up his speed and strength, ran well. We're both ready for a racing weekend, M in the BMAF XC relays and then a trip to Warrington for me on Sunday. An easy week until then, holding off on both the miles and calories.

Sunday, 27 September 2009

M's Big Day

A big day today for the club and for M as we fielded some of our best road runners in the Yorkshire Vets Road Relays. It was also a big day attending our first event hosted by our club of old, Ilkley Harriers who did a fine job with a brilliant venue and much posh nosh for post-run refuelling. This included more types of cake than I have digits and lots of cocktail sausages that I know M very much appreciated (though I don't think they were solely intended for him as he might have hoped). Anyway, important food report complete, back to the running... Bingley were unstoppable today, I was so proud of all our runners, the boys had a storming run on the medals winning gold in the M40, M50 and M60 categories, and silver in the M35s close behind an awesome Otley team. However, I must make special of M who was pretty keyed up for today's race in our M40 team, being a non-fan of this short and sharp stuff (sound familiar?), but with his new Fastwitch racers (tied with three lucky knots) and a kiss from me he flew through the start, clocking 5.30 in his first mile then charging past those foolish enough to have burned up the first hill section (M is V good at hills). It sounds like the painful descent caught out everyone with a weird sharp drop back to the Lido, just to kick you in the shins after the gruelling mile of climb. M came sprinting round into the finishing funnel clear of the Ilkley boys and looking like he was just on the warm up. He did good. Fellow mates Tricky & Twinkle (my new name for Kevin O) also did Bingley proud, making mincemeat of the hills and showing off their superior racing form. There's no stopping 'em. Well done to all the Bingley boys and girls...

Saturday, 26 September 2009

The Northerns

Well, I'm feeling a bit hung-over after a session with Maggie the mauler last night. My legs needed a real good sports massage after a return to lots of tarmac and autumn training. Breakfast this morning was a bit of a chore, I struggle with my stomach on race days and always get a nervy, butterflies in my tummy feeling, even at the lower key, training races.
I'm still waiting for my England race info for next weekend and am checking my email like an obsessive compulsive person but time zones etc. all make things happen at strange times and its only just become the weekend technically. Relay racing will distract me nicely, starting with a short and painfully sharp 5k with Bingley Ladies today for the Northern Road Relays. I think we've now got a team sorted, but which leg to do? Decisions, decisions. Report to follow...

Home safe and sound and nicely refuelled having survived another frightening fast race without injury. A lovely day was had in blazing sun at the Carnegie track for the ladies 4 stage relays. As always the field was high quality with many of the track babes out in skimpy pants showing off their abs of steel. I wore my lunarettes with slightly awkward pride and felt like Zebedee, bouncing around the two lap course, taking in all sorts of terrain, including laps of the track and adventures through woodland trails. Bingley ladies ran hard and weren't far off a medal in the end but we weren't quite fast enough, finishing 5th overall with gutsy runs all round. We were chuffed to be out as a team though and I was reminded again how good it is to run for a great club sporting the magic Bingley colours. Well done to our boys who also ran their socks off. An easy long run tomorrow once M has his turn at the hard stuff. It should be a good 'un.

Thursday, 24 September 2009


Hello everyone, had to post as I'm gonna burst with excitement. Just had a chat with an England Athletics man... I've gonna have a proper England vest! Yes. A real one. A HM race in two weeks time. Still not sure if I'm dreaming but am pinching myself and I'm definitely awake. M keeps reassuring me its all real. Woohoo!

Relay Recce

A bit of a funny one tonight. I was a bit stuck for what to do training wise, having intended to run a long one but then feeling I should ease off a bit for the team event on Saturday. But then half of the ladies team have dropped out and I'm wondering why I've been worried at all. I compromised a bit by inviting myself to join M's run tonight - a 10 miler to Ilkley and back taking in this Sunday's Yorkshire Vets Road Relay Champs route to help M prepare for his star turn.
The run felt a bit of a killer, both of us tired from the track on Tuesday and then taking in the relay course, a 3 mile triangle of hilly hell in the middle. I opted out of this team event thinking 2 days racing in a row was asking for trouble and boy am I relieved. The course is the same as the loop for the Ilkley Triathlon run and bike stages, a fast and flat first mile, a straight vertical climb for mile 2 and then a straight vertical descent for the final mile. This is not a route for the meek or more fragile veteran runner me thinks. I'm just hoping all wrinkly mates survive the hamstring snapping final descent on Sunday. No fear though, I'll be there as professional coat holder, coffee & cake monitor and poised with my trainee masseur super-hands ready for business

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Tasty Polar Bears

We just crawled through the door after a tough 48 hours of work, training, college, work, training, and I've kinda flopped in front of the laptop with my tub of B&J's Baked Alaska to keep me fuelled for this brief update. The legs are feeling heavy and tired after the return of the long run on Sunday though being the guinea pig massage client for fellow students last night was most welcome if a bit painful for the quads and ITB. I'm expecting the adjustment to this gradual increase in training volume to be challenging and the usual freshness for a session has gone for now, but it'll pay off in the coming months I'm sure. Just finished a track session tonight - a new and refreshing approach to track work for me - compound sets. I thought I'd give this approach to interval training a bit of a go after some interesting reading covered in my marathon research. Tonight was 4 x 2k efforts comprising of 400m at 5k pace, 1600m at 10k pace then a jog recovery for 2mins before repeating. It was very tough and more so because of the particularly short recovery. M's tum didn't survive the long thrashing around the track so after the first two sets and a couple of dashes to the loo he switched to 800m reps and I ran the rest of my own session alone, churning the 5 lap intervals under the Nelson night sky. The volume felt tough after Sunday's return to a longer run so I didn't worry about my alarmingly slow times. The shift in pace is the interesting bit and it will hopefully pay off with increased physical and mental strength in future races. We are gonna be so hard core when we get used to all this, you'll see... Now, back to the ice cream and those chocolate polar bears...

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Before & After

The more shrewd readers amongst you might have noticed the recurrence of naughty home baked treats featuring in my posts of late. Well, I've been at it again. This time bread shots (little buttons of dough filled with tasty treats like pesto, melted cheese & salsa..mmm) and Figgy tarts with a yummy marzipan centre. They've not gone in the oven yet but they look quite pretty in their pre-baked state...
The onset of my baking fever might 'bear' some relationship to a return to proper running after an easy summertime and a couple of weeks ease down. Today marked the return of the long run and with it the excuse to get my rolling pin out. After the track visit yesterday I stayed with a sensible plan today and ran the nearly 17m at a very steady pace, and was glad I had when faced with the rather long hill from miles 5-7. Felt good despite it being quite a few weeks since I ran this distance though I'm ready for my massage tomorrow night; a role play as client for fellow masseurs-to-be.

Saturday, 19 September 2009

Frankenstein Pizza

A few tough days are finding out this fair weather blogger. The working to pay for stuff lark is also demanding more than its fair share of Runningbear's time. So, what a relief to be weekending and with that a return to some some proper training and track work. The running week has been a cautious and steady one after the HM race last weekend. I still remember what happened to my legs the last time I attempted hills reps after only four days recovery. M-A-S-H-E-D.
So, lots of easy and steady runs until a trip to Seedhill track this morning for a half session to inject some speed for the large number of short and scary races coming up, starting with the Northern Road Relays next weekend. M & I planned 8x400m efforts with 45s recovery, sandwiched between an easy paced jog around the local park. The reps were pleasingly a bit faster than a month ago. I'm keen to maintain the track work in the coming months as it serves as such a reliable measure of fitness, both endurance and speed and is one of the few objective ways of gauging development.
So, I feel I've earned a slap up treat tonight and have been kneading my way through some home-made pizza dough this afternoon. Not only that but I'm going for a deluxe stuffed crust to please M's cheesy tastebuds. This is purely a home-made experimental effort so is likely to come out as some terrible mess in the oven. Anyway, toppings will include; tomato sauce, lots of meat for M, spinach, mozzarella, Portabello mushrooms and a lovely eggie on top. Mmm. Am droolling at the thought as I type. Great fuel for tomorrow's return to the long Sunday run in what feels like yonks. Will be thinking of our mates Tricky & Kevin O at the Sutton 6 - go get 'em boys ;]

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Toe Tickling

A late night in from college on Monday made a chore of the easy run in the first morning light today. I’m trying to build regular doubles into the week to help me cope with the building mileage needed for solid marathon training in readiness for the final programme in the New Year. Its gonna be hard in the dark.
College started with an hour of mind-numbing health and safety but we then progressed to the 'salon' where all the magic happens. It was my first massage of a stranger last night. Yes, they let me loose on a real living person. It was initially tense as I encountered a near-naked stranger under a thin and frayed peach towel. But, ever the professional I effleuraged my way through the evening, providing a not-too-bad-though-I-say-so-myself leg massage. We learned all sorts of moves including a weird cupping technique that I clearly need to work on before I’m set loose on a member of the public again. It was fun despite my own longing to have a leg rub as I worked away happily in my scratchy navy uniform.
So, back to the land of work and running. A steady 8 or 9 miles planned for tonight. The legs are stiff but not too sore though I’m sure that fatigue sits in wait. I’ll possibly attempt something a bit more taxing on Thursday but will wait and see what the legs feel like. Recovery is just as important as the hard work as I keep being reminded. It’s great to be back to full training though.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Hibernation Calls

I’ve been a very dozy & tired Runningbear today; hibernation would be a nice option right now. The excitement of the weekend is catching up with me and I’m a bit shattered after a a hard race and then curry and thrills with running mates last night. A lovely meal was had with M and good mates Kevin O and Richard B (Tricky) as we put the running world to rights over our chapattis. It was a most welcome curry to this girl’s tummy.

I over ordered as usual and was still getting the tummy cramps I’d had in the race - some kind of lurgy was still lurking but I pressed on like a brave soldier working through my fish massala and concentrating on the refuelling task at hand ; ) I enjoyed news of the Yorkshire road relays and of Tricky’s part in the fine Bingley team performances. I’m convinced he’s going to leave his PB in tatters at the Sutton 6 next weekend.

For us it’s some enforced rest today with college tonight and the first outing of the new dreaded navy uniform. We start on the front of the leg for this first chance to get all handsy. I’ll be pleading for a more thorough going over to ease these post-race legs when the massage tutor’s back is turned. Training wise I’ll see how I go. We enjoyed an easy 5m early before work and though the race legs were evident it wasn’t quite as bad as expected. No tough sessions until later this week to ensure proper recovery then maybe something like efforts later on with a nice long run on Sunday to get us back on track with the miles for this new winter programme.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Yorkshire Rules

So, excuses first, best to get 'em out of the way. I slept badly in a strange hotel room. I ate dinner very late and it didn't sit well on my tummy. Breakfast was too close to the race start and I thought I was gonna vomit for the first 7 miles. The course was more than merely 'undulating'. It was pretty windy even on the flat. I felt sick (did I mention that already?!). I wasn't quite HM ready. There. Loads of 'em. But, the Nottingham Half Marathon was absolutely fab!

I had a great time last night with fellow team mates, a nice and relaxed pre-race meal, lots of laughs, running stories and awesome tales from those around the table with team GB vests to boast of. Team Manager Darran was a star; very organised, and a sparkling host at dinner. After a bit of a stressy drive from the hotel, negotiating the thousands of cars for this massive event, we had just under an hour to pick up our kit and numbers and get warmed up. My brekkie was threatening to return - I think I got carried away with the 'free' food, I can never quite hold back in 'all you can eat' situations...

The race had a rousing start as we strutted our stuff in our regional vests, with drumming on the sidelines to kick off the race. I felt like a Yorkshire warrior and a tear filled my eye. We were soon off and after the first mile I knew quickly this wasn't a day for a PB. The course seemed to go up, then even more up with a bit of down and more up. The wheelchair racers were rolling backwards struggling on the climbs. It was windy on the flats and with very few runners to draft behind I found myself running alone as second lady behind a Kenyan who was nowhere in sight. Though this course was a toughie the race was amazing with the crowds providing fantastic support - I felt like a celebrity and was lifted by every cheer. I think I snuck under 80mins though only just but was first domestic lady home and first for the Inter Regional Champs.
Team mates also had great runs with Robyn having a stormer in preparation for the Snowdon Marathon in a few weeks time and Erika bringing the team home all under the 90 minute mark. I think we might have team silver but need to confirm as the presentation organisation was a shambles - I heard it on the tannoy as we ran frantically from tent to tent only to hear my name and prize and no me there to enjoy it. The Yorkshire boys also did good, Darran Bilton 4th, Ian Fisher 7th and Mike Burrett 11th, also picking up team gold. It was a great team effort for the region and impressive runs for our poorly soldiers Ian and Mike, one with a dodgy tum the other with the sniffles. A proud day to be a Yorkshire lass. Official report here. More pics to follow...Oh, and did I mention I won 500 smackaroonies? Second lady and quids in. Woohoo!

P.s. More good news, M had a great run today, taking a whopping 10mins off his time at the Yorkshireman off-road HM (which is actually 14.8 miles - yes, don't ask!). A better quality field this year by the sounds but he still scooped a top 10 spot. I think this might deserve a curry treat tonight. My treat of course ; )

Saturday, 12 September 2009

Championship Countdown

Its good to be through this last week of work and get my head into something else, its been a bit too full on and work just seems to be getting to both of us at the moment. A less than relaxing but no doubt enjoyable weekend ahead. I'm making good ground already with fuelling for my race tomorrow, the inter regional HM champs at Nottingham. I'm due to set off in a couple of hours to travel down with a a couple of the regional squad members and then a team dinner is planned tonight. I'll be making the most of the carbo loading before a sound night's sleep in the hotel. M will be staying at home all alone to race the Yorkshire HM; a race we'd both entered and had been looking forward to. M will be towing the sizeable trophy back for someone else to win this year and I'm a bit sad it won't be me. Anyway I can't grumble except that I'll be missing out on the post race cake table - am hoping M remembers to bring me some of those leftovers.

Anyway, I'm trying to focus, stay positive and not get too stressed about this unexpected development. I'll be racing in the Yorkshire & Humberside team which will be fine and I'll be in very experienced company with Ian Fisher and Darran Bilton as fellow team mates. Though I've not really prepared myself for this race I think I'm in reasonable shape and so hope to run a confident race - an estimation of a time is tough as its been a while since I've done anything flat on the road. If I can match my best HM time this year I'll be happy and I'm not sure what the course is like. The hard work is still to come and hopefully tomorrow will provide me with the baseline measure of what I've got to do. A demain.

Thursday, 10 September 2009

One Big Knot

This week has been something of a demented haze, scurrying around to meet unrealistic deadlines. Bidding for government funds can only be likened to hours and hours of unravelling a massively knotty ball of string. I'm not quite sure how we did it all but it got sent off into electronic oblivion tonight though this may be some kind of caffeine induced delusion. Why does all this stuff seems to land at the same time? With massage courses to get started, ugly uniforms to be purchased and half marathons to train for, this poor little blog has been a bit neglected.
A bit of a breather for the next couple of weeks is now due as normal service resumes at the office. This week has been easy peasy training-wise as I'm avoiding taking too much out of the tank for the race this weekend. On the other hand I'm not feeling the bounce & zip I would have hoped for after two weeks easing down though M sharply reminded me that this is what I always say (moaning me off on one again). So, I'll not read too much into it and instead try to rehearse a strong and confident run in my mind's eye. I managed to squeeze a few strides into my easy 6m tonight - am getting used to my spikes for the too numerous to mention XC races planned up to Xmas. I think I'm down to race 12 out of the next 16 weeks but will have to train through most of these or I'll get no training done at all. If I manage to avoid injury I'll be one hell of a fit yorkshire lass for the New Year.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Wake Me Up Before You Go Go...

Just a short one, offering my excuses again. Had college Monday night and got in very late. Work is also crazy busy this week with bid submission deadlines looming and then track work tonight got me in after 9pm. This bear is shattered. The running is still curtailed with the HM this weekend and I'm kinda glad or I'd be in danger of falling asleep at my desk. Bonne Nuit.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Fungi Foraging

Felt truly autumnal today with a spell of fungi foraging in the woods. We picked at least 18 varieties and quite a few more we have no idea about. This foraging lark is a dodgy business with the risk of a long slow death or a very colourful & surreal evening by the look of some of the little 'uns. I might just stick to the uniformly beige looking selection at Tesco. Did you know there was a jelly baby variety!? Don't taste as good as the real thing though. Anyway, it turned out to be a fine afternoon for a bit of Sunday afternoon fresh air, working up an appetite and pondering the start of training next week.
This easing off seems to tire me out. I've felt a bit achy and niggly in my legs these last two weeks - it just can't be good for you. Here's hoping its just the body complaining that it wants to get back into action. A pretty tame first week back is planned now with the team event at the weekend. It wouldn't do to be worn out now would it...

Saturday, 5 September 2009

The Final Countdown

Its nearly time. Yikes... I've been chomping at the bit for this ease down to be over but now its finally sinking in that all that racing I've planned is just around the corner. I'm almost at it every week until Xmas with the odd week off and much of that without an ease off from full training. If all goes well I'll be superfit for Ribble 10k, hopefully to dip comfortably under the 35min mark and kick off my approach to marathon training in the New Year. Will keep listening to these old legs though and back off if it all gets a bit much.
Also celebrated the start of Autumn today with great running mates, including one very brave & poorly soldier, from the club. We retraced our steps around the mud from last week; 12x1 mins following a fave XC course circuit. After M's near lobotomy (a freak car key accident up the nose), we drank too much coffee again and enjoyed lots of nice chat before home and attacking the spikes with the scrubbing brush. They've waited far too long for a good clean up. I'd forgotten they had pink bits!

Friday, 4 September 2009


So, I've had a little skive from blogging; I've plenty of excuses for missing a day or two of posts, most of them work related. Last night's was an interesting one, it was enrolment night for Runningbear's massage course. Yes, I'm definitely going for it and am due to get started next Monday night. It was all going well. The anticipation was building - learning karate chop massage moves at lightning speed, inflicting physical pain on strangers with no fear of arrest - when the tutor mentioned the uniform. It pains me to say that I've actually got to wear a standard issue, navy blue tunic, matching polyester pants and...wait for clogs. Yes, you've read it right. I'm too embarrassed to write it down any bigger. I've actually got to pay for the experience of looking like a complete t*t every Monday for 24 weeks. I'm trying not to think about that bit. My only comfort is that Navy is better than pink. I have resorted to some shopping therapy to help me cope with the situation...regardez mes lunarettes...
Aren't they pretty!? I was in dire need of some new racers and thought I'd log on for a bargain when I came across these beauties; I found a pair in my exact size on Ebay with £25 off! Readers, it was clearly meant to be.
They arrived with the postie yesterday and at first I thought the box was empty; Nike Lunars are so light! They seem too good to be true so we got them out for a test drive tonight; an easy 4m loop around the village. They are spectacularly wonderful and fantastic. What a truly amazing design innovation they are. They are airy-light and as snug a fit as any racer but with a great cushioned feel, especially in the forefoot area. These are well worth putting up with the flashy outer appearance (soles have a sort of spangly glitter in the rubber). Of course it what's inside that counts ; ) Runningbear is getting ready to race!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Churning & Curtailing

Back to the office today after a nice long weekend. I say nice; its definitely less nice when the running is curtailed. Instead I've eaten everything in sight and mourned the passing of the last summer bank holiday, comforted only by the satisfying sensation of even more B & J's ice-cream in my belly. Cheerful soul aren’t I. Tonight will probably be the first run out on a winter favourite, the 'big dipper' 8.
It’s a little bit sad to think those dark mornings will soon be upon us. Though the mouldy aroma of unwashed XC spikes and clear blue skies promise a fresh and cool autumn. It’ll be good to be free of those pesky flies that seem intent on blinding me and a change over to those snuggly woollies for cosy nights in front of the fire. I was also cheered up by Jumbly’s comment yesterday that I might make infinite amounts of Cherry Garcia ice-cream for myself by purchasing a Ben & Jerry’s book and an ice-cream churner; something else to keep me occupied in the winter months. I wonder if my appetite for the cold stuff will wane as the winter sets in…

I’ve also been a bit panicked at the thought of running in Nottingham in two weeks time after all this self-indulgence. But, I’m relieved to say the scales were kind to me this morning; a pleasant shock after over a week of scoffing any pudding in sight. I’m also struggling to resist the temptation to get back to full training with this regional team thing on the horizon. I know fellow bloggers will be eternally grateful when my resumption of full training begins; marking a sweet end to my constant moaning. Ee, a true Yorkshire lass that I am. Just need to keep going for 5 more days. I will not be distracted. I will not risk a repeat of the spring that was burn-out, big style. Focus Runningbear, Focus.