Wednesday, 30 December 2009

You Fat Rascal

To continue an easy week of running and resting these old pins before THE PLAN kicks in next week I bobbed over to Ilkley this morning for a run and chat with Mr Complete Runner. Conversation of course turned to VLM and race plans ahead, Terry's 47 years of racing make him something of an expert on all things road running and I reckon he's competed in most local events at least a dozen times to know what's what racing wise around these parts.
I'm still toying with the 'to do' or 'not to do' of a 20 miler in the coming weeks. This distance seems all the rage after checking out a few well seasoned marathoners on the Power of 10 site. I'm now exploring the Bramley 20m in February, which is nearish to M's folks or the Stafford 20m in early March. Both are a safe distance from the taper and afford plenty of time to recover and revise the training if necessary. I'm probably driving M up the wall with my race planning too, having already had a mini tantrum upon finding that the Salford 10k is a week earlier than thought, thereby destroying my deft plan for a tune up 10k after the HM at Wilmslow. It's now crunch time and I'm finalising those key dates though the race plan is looking strangely bare. A stark contrast to 2009 which saw me compete 34 times or so; it'll be 4 races in as many months before London. Something for me to chew over. My pootle to Ilkley today also required a pit stop at Bettys. An easy week includes lots of food recovery and fat rascals are a favourite treat. The cherry eyes are particularly good saved till last.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

On Top of the World

Having taken a few unexpected days off whilst the office is quiet I've been basking in the luxury of lazy days whilst poor M has had to traipse to work. I'm trying to soften the cruel blow by getting up with the alarm and seeing him off as well as providing special cake treats for when he comes home like any good Stepford Wife should. I'm feeling particularly bad about getting a daylight run in this morning as M has just had to venture out on his lonesome in the cold and soggy night for a slippy slide around town. We're both happily taking things easy this next week or two, a blessing given the continued presence of the glacier outside the front door.

Today's run was a playful and very easy 6 mile bimble in the snow up to Barden reservoir. In my unique style I timed things perfectly to catch the howling winds and sleet showers. I don't half pick 'em. As the odd rambler gazed on from their cosy car seat at my nuttiness, I forged on with pocket camera in one hand, grasping for anything in my wake to stay upright with the other. It was cold and a bit bleak but it wasn't work and I thought of M as I got some fresh air.

The afternoon passed quickly with a bit of eating, bubble bathing and blog fiddling (not all at once). I'm revelling in this easy week and enjoying some princess RB time as the days count down to THE PLAN. Only 5 days to go before VLM training starts proper. OMG, its nearly here. WOo HoOoOOoOoO. I'm officially a bit scared. It'll soon be an end to all this talking and finally a start to the long awaited doing.

Sunday, 27 December 2009

Ribble Trouble

The funny feeling that race day wasn't to be my day had been kicking about in my head all week. The last couple of weeks I've felt a bit stale and tired of racing. But, Ribble Valley 10k is such a high quality race it couldn't be missed and there was no pressure to be up there with the likes of Helen Clitheroe leading the ladies out, followed by all-stars Katie Ingram and Rebecca Robinson! I'd been thinking that my Thirsk 10m time was an indicator that I should at least match my PB, 35.20 on this course and so hoped I'd be feeling up for it on the day.
Somehow I just wasn't. This is such a great race too with some great names from the international running scene and lots of mates turning out including a healthy number of Bingley vests. Even Kevin O kindly made the trip over, chauffeuring our Bingley trio and more than ably supporting us around the course with the most excellent hand clapping and bag management.

Needless to say the race got off to a flying start and careful not to burn it too early I held back thinking my strength would bring me through the field. On that basis I had a reasonable start clocking 5.42 for my first mile, a bit slow but at least within reach of what I needed to do. Pleased with myself for holding back I gradually passed many of those who'd overcooked their first mile but feeling less comfortable than would be expected and the race just unravelled from there. As the miles clocked by I seemed unable to find my usual pace and by mile 3 knew it wasn't to be my day with a feeble 5.53 split and mashed legs. My heart sank, knowing it was just a matter of hanging on. I was then lifted in a small way by the sight of Rebecca Robinson just ahead. I worked for the remainder of the course slowly catching her and nearly made it until she seemed to recover in the last descent and maintained her few seconds lead. I dragged myself over the line in 35.51, rather displeased and feeling like I'd run a marathon.
Great runs for many though, including M who had a storming performance coming in with a PB of 35.57 (only 6 seconds behind me - eek!). Results here. Tricky managed to run strong with no knee trouble this time and Mark H who had run 20 miles on Tuesday still made it over the line in a respectable time. I clocked Anthony B of Chasing Pavements who was a little way in front returning to form, running near to but not quite matching his own best. Fellow club mates all did great, including M, Stewart M & John C who won another prize for Male Vets Team and special mention of course to Vic Wilkinson, club mate and incredible athlete. Vic managed a sub 35 10k after a major injury earlier this year and secured the bronze champs medal, well deserved for an awesome run. I finished 5th overall & 1st V35. I didn't come home empty handed at least but I was a bit fed up with myself. Its an easy rest week now to give the body and mind a break before marathon training kicks off. No more sulks now, there's a new training year to think about.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Chevin Chase 2009

Its come around quick this year, our annual jaunt over the hill to watch the nutty lot doing the Chevin Chase on Boxing Day, made even more nutty given the icy, snowy descents. We saw the leading Brownlee brother (and ahem, clubmate as well as new world triathlon champion) perform some particularly impressive stunt rolls whilst the chasing pack were still nowhere to be seen at the two mile marker. The race drama was only enhanced by the wealth of silly costume antics, hope you enjoy the pics below.
M & I smuggled in an easy 4 miles this morning though it was treacherous and slightly mad trying to run across the naturally formed ice rink in front of the house. I gave up and walked the worst sections so not much of training session and certainly no fat burning was going on. That Christmas curry will no doubt come back to haunt these rapidly growing hips...

Tomorrow is another day and I'm now fully defrosted after all digits became painfully cold whilst taking snaps of today's race. I've just checked out the entry list for tomorrow and what an awesome line up it is for this fast 10k. Its good not to have any pressure to be up there, a top 10 placing would be good, top 5 would be awesome though the saddlebags might weigh me down. I'll be watching my back of course as M certainly fancies his chances, and so do I.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Sprouts an' all

Well now, ho, ho, ho to my fellow bloggers. Merry Christmas and all that. Hope those of you who partake in the gift giving and sprout munching are having fun and haven't overdone things already? Its been a low output week blogging wise so thought I'd make a special effort for readers - I hope you appreciate the festive flavour, (I promise I'll remove the Xmas mix tape before it drives you all insane).

I trust Santa was very generous and brought you all that you were hoping for, including some top kit. As a non festive person generally we have avoided the gift giving. M's Germanic routes would normally see him doing it all yesterday anyway. We had a rather comical Xmas video call with M's clan last night after discovering Skype. This wonder of the modern world is free and takes literally 5 mins to set up free video calls to anywhere in the world. And in case you missed it, I said free. Skype rocks as some old fella said. Much recommended if you've not discovered this yet.
Anyway, plans today include a run on this gorgeous and clear sunny day before tucking in to a Christmas curry. I also bought a bag of sprouts for a festive touch. This week and next are rest weeks from hard training as a ploy to be fresh for the marathon plans starting in January. The fact that Ribble Valley 10k falls right in the middle is a bit inconvenient, particularly so because I've been eating everything in sight and seem to have already grown by several pounds in the last week. Needless to say I'm not at my preferred race weight. In fact I look a bit of a porker and might need to ease off the cake. I'm not worried. Do I seem worried? No doubt the miles I'll soon be belting out will see to that. But enough chatter from me. Have a good one today and we might see some of you shivering at the Chevin Chase tomorrow.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Get Your Skates On

We awoke to a glorious blue sky and plans were made for a nice off road adventure this morning. M & I plan to race fresh next week so long runs are banished for a bit and fun stuff is on the menu. We did get a bit of quality in yesterday though it was a bit compromised - efforts in the snow made for a sort of pseudo dunes session, 1min efforts around a snowy field was exhausting and slow. I've generally felt shattered after the trials at work this week so I forgave myself my sluggishness and instead am focused on how good I should feel after the ease down next week.
Today was an icy trip up to Blubberhouses to visit a running mate's new mansion overlooking gorgeous views of the Washburn Valley. We took a loopy 8 mile route up to Thruscross reservoir which, despite being off road and pretty boggy the rest of the year was sheet ice for large sections and hairy on the descents. The last few miles around Fewston were sheet ice and not an option for me as I struggled to stay upright. Today felt too short a run in relative terms but I'm hoping I'll be chomping at the bit to race next week. A festive feeling kind of a day if you like that kind of thing. M & I try and ignore Xmas and bask in how quiet it is at the office. Bah, humbug. We've got the curry in for Xmas dinner though, you can't say we don't make an effort. Santa's already been to visit anyway.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Wakey Wakey

After a night of tossing, turning and balancing cats on my back (the little blighters) I decided to give in at 5.30 and get up to face the day. The weather though very pretty is a complete pain in the a** to run in. Last night we settled for a steady 9 miles into Ilkley and back as a speed session was clearly off the menu.
Its my big day today, an assessment centre for a big promotion. 5 hours of tests, interviews and presentations including a financial case study that I'm dreading (I don't do sums very well). Sleeping has been a rare treat so an easy 5 around the village this morning has helped settle the nerves, if a little bit slow in the snow. All fingers, toes and any other spare digits crossed.

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Top Kit

The winnings from Thirsk have been burning a hole in my pocket. Before spending the whole lot on Xmas and bills I thought I'd go for some special kit treat to remember my victory properly. I've had my eye on a fine waterproof for over a year now but couldn't bring myself to cough up the cost of a Haglofs Oz pullover. I daren't even type how much these things cost in case my laptop implodes. I overcame the guilt and shame of the massive spend and pressed the checkout button (with my eyes squeezed shut) on Pete Bland's site, probably whilst still woozy from my relay run on Sunday night. That's my excuse anyway. It must have been the lack of pie 'n' peas that brought on my dizzy, spending spell.
These guilty justifications include the fact that I haven't bought running kit in a while and such a treat might make running in the rain 'fun', especially with a marathon plan to kick off in the New Year. The beauty arrived this morning... I'm now a proud owner of a piece of true kit-art.
I cannot believe how gorgeous and fantastic this piece of kit is. I know that sounds very sad & is all materialistic of me but I have never loved a waterproof quite as much as this. Its a perfect fit, a girly 8 is wonderfully loose for 'high pulse' running and still slim enough a cut to not feel like I'm wearing a bin bag with arm holes. The things is truly wonderful and tissue-light, like a vest of the angels. Santa won't be coming to visit for another ten years mind but its worth the sacrifice. I've been out in Oz for a bit, a test of 9 miles in the rainy dark. I came back dry as a bone as well as feeling very stylish. Its a fantastic fit, with great breathability and very weather resistant. Best decision I've made all year. Lucky me. Important note to Haglofs reps, I love your kit. Any running kit donations in exchange for reviews would be very happily received ;)

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Relay Rampage

A much more civilised start to racing today with a fine sleep in and a pootle about until 11am, breakfasting on porridge and then a drive over to Shelf for the handover to leg 6. The Calderdale Way Relay is an annual club favourite taking in 50 miles around the Calder Valley over 6 paired legs. This seems to be a reasonably competitive event on the fell calendar though I'm a bit dubious of its true fell status given that my experience of racing leg 6 comprises of mostly tarmac and canal towpath (except for two very mucky fields). Shoe choice is always a bit of a dilemma. Anyway, Bingley had several teams in the mix, including me in the Ladies A and M in the Vets team. M's handover came quicker and off he sprinted with his pair Richard S. They made mincemeat of the immediate competition and went on to have a storming run coming in 3rd vets team overall.
The ladies A team ran good too giving us a nice lead to get off before the mass start on leg 6. We ran a pretty strong and steady final leg with no competition in sight and finished 1st ladies team. Results show we accumulated a 16 min lead overall. It was far too chilly to hang about for the free pie 'n' peas and team trophy but we all came away having had nice muddy runs and the hot bath at home felt extra special as a result. No more racing for ooh, at least 2 whole weeks. Results here.

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Every Second Counts

After a steady week back to quality training I ventured over to Leeds before sunrise to have another crack at the 5k time trial. The 9am start around this bendy and muddy course is well worth the early start - you can be bathed & bacon buttied all by 10.30am if you're quick. Justin P and Josie H also turned out for the Santa strewn event, some festive 'fun', though I worried for the park whilst picking my way through discarded false beards on the warm down.

I ran pretty good, very evenly paced in fact with only 1 second between each of the three mile splits. Hope you're all impressed. I felt strong, though background fatigue remained from the efforts of Tuesday and Thursday night . I slipped and slithered over the muddy finish with 17.29 on my watch. Gutted to see it is 17.30 on the official records! Pleased to have a PB on a pretty slow course though and I reckon might push to a sub 17 on a fast course with fresh legs. Maybe not just yet, but perhaps a target for the spring. I wore my very fine Brooks T6 racers - they're kind of super light and bendy and tilt you forward to perch on your toes even when stood still. These are great events & I missed regular Mark H (where were you?!), it didn't seem quite the same without his friendly face or Marc S from Horsforth to chase. I'll definitely try and return once a month for these in the New Year and hopefully keep some spring in these legs during the marathon build up.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Hot Chestnuts!

Ee by 'eck, its a lovely foggy 'n' cosy night and I've just got in from a chilly run at quite a lick. M and I ran together tonight & after feeling pretty tired the last day or two expected another slow slog. Bodies are funny things aren't they. After some weird spiky business with the heart rate again it then plummeted and we found ourselves clipping along at 6.30mm on the flat and barely dipping into zone 3 of heart rate (aerobic training pace). Not sure what's going on but we felt much fresher and easier running at what isn't even a a minute above 10k race pace for both of us. It must be the super powers of roast chestnuts. I've bunged some more in the oven for blog afters. They're a must on foggy nights.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009


A short and easy 5 miles at darkest dawn on Monday left space for college again last night and my first full body massage routine. These Monday night classes are starting to feel a bit of a bind in these seemingly endless dark and drizzly winter nights. The only perk is the subsidised canteen where mountains of bargain priced cake can be purchased; spoils from the patisserie & bakery students. The standard issue navy massage trousers could do with an elasticated waistband though, the squeeze being most noticeable post tea break.
We put together our first full body routine to the stopwatch last night - tutor bloke John shouted with a stopwatch in hand, (in a very relaxing and therapeutic way of course), when we needed to switch legs, swap arms, hack or knead, ... a whole dizzying hour of massage it was, from head to toe. The plain physical effort of it all made me realise what a pathetic wimp I really am. I'm often heard complaining about my now rather sizeable and manly calf muscles but these arms are a pair of spindly albino twigs in comparison. So, I'm thinking free weights. This could help reduce the embarrassment of my huge legs and tiny arms dilemma. It might even enhance the running a bit...

Tonight saw a return to some roughtie-toughtie stuff. I'd planned mile efforts but this reduced to 1k efforts as M & I were turned off at the thought of a track trip. Instead we opted for road reps over an uphill course to build up leg power as well as speed. We both did good with a long one from Sunday in our legs. The 20 miler was still lingering but I still felt strong and ran the 6 reps pretty evenly. A proper rest tomorrow and then a medium long run on Thursday should set me up nicely for a weekend of racing. Yep, its that time again. The Calderdale Way is calling.

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Mud Soup

It was the long one today, the last long one for a few weeks in fact. M planned 18 and I'd planned 20 though both were rather tentative plans as the weather became wilder and rainy as the miles clocked by (surprise surprise). We had unexpected company with Josie H joining us for the undulating and pretty taxing loops out from home, out to Bolton Abbey and then a returning loop, dropping M off before a final detour to make up the miles via Ilkley. The slog home for the final 3 with the usual 'tormentor' head wind left my plan to push the final miles in tatters. I managed a 6.29 but then slowed to 7 minute miles as I surrendered to my tired and achy glutes. Average pace was just nicely on 7.20, perhaps a bit brisk given the trail terrain along the way but a rest for the next weeks should allow for some decent recovery before the marathon plan kicks in proper in 2010.
After a whirlwind wallow to wash away the mud we were out again to cheer club mates at the last of the XC series up at Nunroyd park. Future premiership footballer Catherine modelled the muddy scene nicely as our Bingley boys and girls slipped and slid their way around the gruelling race course. I'd like to say I was sad to miss out, but that would be a big fat fib. Not many out today in the ladies race but the men's' race was a classy field and Bingley had a stormer, finishing first team for today's event and for the full series, beating Leeds City AC by only 7 points. Bingley Rules! Well done boys.

Saturday, 5 December 2009


Since Wednesday I've been putting in a few miles again with a steady 10m on Thursday night and then a bit of a speed workout today. I seem to have lost a bit of my mojo this week and in particular the need to be entirely brutal in my training. I'm not sure whether I'm a bit demotivated or am just trying to juggle too much right now. I'm partly feeling more comfortable with giving myself a more realistic recovery too. The prospect of applying for a new job at the moment (& a very gruelling assessment centre) is also floating in the background & taking up far too much head space.

Today was a session on the grass. M & felt a wee bit lazy and wanted to avoid a drive over to Nelson. Even the lure of a visit to Lidl wasn't enough of a pull. We managed 12x300m but it felt tough with slightly race tired legs still. The real test will be tomorrow with the final long long run planned for this year. Though I've not really started the marathon training as yet, this dipping my toe in the water for these longer ones gives me a bit of confidence in what I'll be able to cope with in terms of marathon training come the New Year. Not long now... P.s. I had to share this clip, forgive me but its the cutest thing I've ever seen.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Choco Bliss

Oh yes. No need to rub your eyes readers. This really is a choco softie stall. You read that right. Its a real life shop dedicated to the heavenly, chocolately goodness of those fluffy light & delicious domes. Santa has come early to Leeds & decided to plonk a choco softie dedicated stall (especially for me) at the German Market in Millenium Square.
My trips back and forth to the adjoining Civic Hall for meetings are becoming mysteriously more frequent. Colleagues are beginning to comment on my virtually permanent marshmallow moustache as I return to the office on softie highs, attempting to mask my guilty secret and smuggle in my softie stash. The eye popping range of these domed delights is incredible with all sorts of gorgeous flavours, milky coffee and cherry almond being my top two favourites (for this week). I would urge you to visit Leeds if only for a taste of these German wonders. It'll be well worth the trip, I promise.
After snaffling these luscious lovelies all week I've been keen to get back to some decent mileage whilst ensuring my body gets a good recovery from Sunday's race. Tonight was a return to a slightly more taxing training run, a cautious but steadily paced 10m along a pretty flat and hill free route to get the pace back a bit. I made a conscious decision to keep any tough stuff to a minimum until this weekend to ensure I make space for adaptation. I'm reckoning this is something I've forgotten to do for much of this year and it can so easily undo the efforts of tough training by not allowing the body time to rebuild and bounce back from those big withdrawals. I'm convinced this will be a key ingredient for marathon success in the Spring. My excitement continues to build as I read more and more marathon training stuff. I'm mid way through another excellent marathon text and am starting to get my head around a much more race specific training approach, including the reduced emphasis on V02 work. I can't wait to get started, only another month to go!

Tuesday, 1 December 2009


My moans & groans about the seemingly constant rain have been silenced after the last few buckets of rain fell over our house on Sunday. Since then we've been greeted with sharp, icy and clear blue days, perfect for those bracing, great-to-be-alive, first light kind of runs. An easy 5 at dawn on Monday morning was a welcome if rather bracing start to the week and left me feeling zingy and glad to be a runner. Today was again another slice of frosty heaven, as M & I bundled ourselves out the door, complete with hats and gloves to run a fresh and sharp 7 miles around Ilkley.
The legs knew they'd raced but were happily stretching out those post race creases and all feels well and healthy, something I always feel grateful for after the punishment of a hard road race. In my efforts to become a faster, more competitive and better racer I often take for granted the simple fact that I can run when I want with very little body trouble to speak of. So, this week is about remembering how lucky I am to be fit & well and just trying to keep it that way. A few more easy days and then maybe a return to endurance training at the weekend.