Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Ducky Couples

I've been enjoying a few very pleasant easy days after feeling so pooped this last week. The race on Sunday left my legs squeezed dry of bounce so training has been much more relaxed. The last three days have featured some nice 'n' easy trail jaunts in the main, taking advantage of the daylight. The extra hour's window at the end of the day transforms training possibilities with countless trail runs on our doorstep. The break from the road training is music to the legs and running soul too. Whilst enjoying these 'smell the roses' type runs I've been looking for the signs of spring, the vistas here still look wintery with very few signs of budding new growth. The abundance of lambs fizzing around the fields and countless ducky couples waddling around the village is confirmation enough that mother nature is still on track. The weather on the other hand has other ideas. Looking forward to my first coached track session tomorrow night and then a lovely long weekend, full of spring running and Easter bunnies. Chocolate ones that is.

Sunday, 28 March 2010

Racing Rituals

I'm just nicely home after a far too early start to a Sunday. I have just survived the horriblest race I can remember. No offence to Wilmslow mind, the course and event were race organisation at its best; with loads of loos and shiny bunches of bright balloons tied to the lampposts along the start and finishing miles. There were loads of supporters around the undulating course too, including quite a few mad villagers clanging pots and pans in a frenzy. It certainly worked as I managed to muster the odd spurt just to escape the racket.

Today was the English Half Marathon Champs so I’d been questioning my sanity entering this whilst so training tired. The timing of the event is great though and quite a nice course too. I set out this morning framing the day as a chance for a strong training run with a hope I’d come away with a great quality threshold session under my belt and a bit of a taste for racing again.

The line up was impressive with the likes of Michelle Ross-Cope and Rebecca Robinson; stars of English distance running and out for great times at London this year. I tried not to freak out at the other fantastic looking ladies around me; all small pants, rippling lady muscles and long socks. I quivered inside.

I’ve been keeping quiet about this but I’ve been enjoying some expert training advice of late from a very long established athletics coach. A new experience for me as I’ve never worked with a formal coach before. We’d discussed my strategy for race day over coffee last week. The idea was to let rip at the start and see how long I could hang on. So, let rip I did. 5.30 for mile one. The pace continued to be pretty frightening until mile 8 when things started to decline; the howling wind tunnel that met with every turn spat me out of the other side like an empty husk. Unfortunately, the recent training miles started to shout out at my legs to slow down and I gradually dropped off pace. The final miles slowing to over 6 minute miles and worse on some of the final climbs. Wilmslow is NOT a flat course!

Wilmslow is supposed to be fast. I reckon that’s more about the types that turn up to race than the course itself. I hit miles 9-12 with dead legs but in 5th place. Just as I recovered to run the final mile home I then got gazumped by two young and far too fresh looking lasses, leaving me dead in 7th place. I finished. Just. The time clocked 77.43 and I was so glad it was over. The race felt tough from start to finish and I felt desperate for home and a hot bubble bath. All in all though it was a great session on the back of what will be nearly 100 miles running this week. M drove home with a yawning and snoring RB in the passenger seat. Where would I be without him...? Race results here.

Saturday, 27 March 2010


I know I shouldn't be too focused on tomorrow but the significantly reduced racing diary this year means that any competition feels a bit more exciting and I've already got big butterflies in my tummy.

Last year saw me racing on average every other week, this year I've squeezed out a couple in nearly four months; I'm just getting out of practice.

The legs held me up for an easy 5 miles this morning; my 'ease down' for the HM. They're a bit tired and niggly and will need some persuading to to the business tomorrow. An early start should see me in bed extra early tonight especially as the clocks spring forward. One more hour of daylight! Those evening runs are gonna be fab. All things crossed nothing falls off tomorrow. Good luck at Hull MH.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

Train Tales

Just thought I'd grab a 'window of opportunity' and blog about how tired I am! After the highs of track sessions and 24 at the weekend I then pressed on to run a brisk 10 on Monday too. Am I daft or what. (Don't answer that).
It caught up with me on Tuesday; 600m reps never felt so 'ard. I was a pathetic and tired mush by the end. So, learning from this I'm gonna be little miss sensible for a bit and do only fun and easy stuff, including a nice 'n' easy off road jaunt tomorrow. Hand slap for me for getting carried away again... It's just so easy to forget though.

Sunday, 21 March 2010


No, I'm not blogging about any action packed TV series. That was exactly how long my long run was today; I ran 24 miles! (Yes, I'm showing off). I felt steady and strong for the most part but pretty pooped by the end as yesterday's intervals were still lingering in the old legs. The route took in 11 miles of fairly muddy towpath and then the hellish Hollins hill climb yet again. I was encouragingly a tad quicker than last time too with an average of 6.50 minute miles for the whole run, slowing a bit in the final 8 running into the usual brutish headwind that always seems to lay in wait on the home straight.

I felt pretty spent but in a good and buzzy way and after a tough training week I'm feeling the strength of this marathon training malarkey. Another hefty week of mileage is planned but with a slight ease down for Friday and Saturday to give me some reprieve before the Wilmslow English Half Marathon Champs race this Sunday. Though I've been fantasising about a medal the half marathon will strictly be a 'training race' so little chance of bringing any shiny stuff home. I'll still want to run hard and fast but these heavy legs will no doubt struggle; some mental gymnastics will therefore need to be done before race day so I don't give myself too hard a time. For now though it's time for pasta and pudding and the all important task of refuelling and recovery.

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Running Demons

The tough 15 miler on Thursday and my resulting noodled legs enjoyed a very easy Friday; lots of sitting down in a darkened room wearing silly glasses. A trip to Bradford Imax for the matinee showing of Alice in Wonderland 3D felt like a real holiday treat, complete with an overfilled bag of pick 'n' mix though sadly without popcorn, which frankly just felt all wrong. A pair of easy 5 milers sandwiched an otherwise pottering about type of day. I was bracing myself for the killer session this morning; a wet and windy track session over at Seedhill. The drive to Lancashire was met with the usual rainy downpour and generally blustery weather but M & I were unphased and committed to the task; 6x1k efforts on heavy legs with a long run planned for tomorrow morning.

It was great to be running in daylight and so enjoyed a rainy 3 mile warm up around the local park complete with some hissing geese and chirpy Moorhens as we splashed our way through newly formed puddles and an occasional miniature lake. There was limited stripping off as we got to track side and after a few strides to get the sodden old legs moving we were off. M led the first rep and we alternated pacing duty which also ensured some intermittent relief from the windy straights.

The reps proved quite tough but manageable, just about. M looked very strong, more so than me. We squeezed out the full 6 with 90 second recoveries and it felt great to be working it and doing our thing at the track again. I felt a passing guilty pang to not manage the 8 reps of my pre-Xmas form. M was quick to remind me that I hadn't been running 20 mile races pre-Xmas either. The 6 were even and run at sub 35 min 10k pace so fit for our purposes and I couldn't have done any more. A really long and steady one tomorrow then, legs allowing.

Thursday, 18 March 2010


The week off work has turned into something of an overeating haze. After the Ritzy tea and then a very long race I seem to have done nothing but feed and sleep and go out for the odd run. Monday's easy 5 miles was a restful post race effort as was Tuesday, with a long and easy trail run to ease the sore ITB and give the body time to recover. Today has been my first quality session after the 20 miler on Sunday and what a tough effort it proved to be.

A steady 15 miles was the planned return to a proper session and with it a few threshold miles thrown in. The plan was 6 miles at tempo pace with a rider that I'd ease off if it felt too much. I took the usual lollipop route from home and clipped along with much improved quads and at a healthy steady pace. My first couple of threshold miles felt taxing but manageable; a good pace despite the wind picking up along the route. The turn back to Ilkley saw me hit high winds for the next couple of miles and by tempo mile 4 I was spent! The legs turned to noodle and it took most of my energy to run in a straight line into the wind. I finished the final miles at steady pace, a bit disappointed not to have completed the 6 but reassuring myself of the need to be sensible. The run clocked a 6.38 average so not bad despite the race fatigue. The weekend has more in store including intervals and a long run so best not to overdo things today. Tonight, more fuel; a long awaited curry with running mates.

Monday, 15 March 2010

A Ritzy Weekend

The weekend kicked off in great style with the arrival of my fab new kit from Brooks. A boxful of running goodies included new trainers, track spikes, some very cool training gear and my extra spangly Brooks race outfit. I've even got some podium wear; a rather fetching Brooks retro bomber jacket, made for looking one's best at those all important presentations. Feeling super stylish I laid out my neatly folded running goodies ready for the early start on Sunday.
Saturday was also treat filled; a belated birthday trip for M to the Ritz for afternoon tea provided a much needed carbo-loading opportunity. The short journey via Waterloo Station was followed by a suspenseful cab ride for M. We arrived at the Ritz in our best frocks for a proper afternoon tea. The outing promised unlimited supplies of perfectly cut sandwiches, fresh cream scones and the most beautiful cakes my eyes have ever seen; all of this in the most sumptuous Art Deco surroundings.
I sipped my Assam from lovely bone china tea cups whilst M attacked the cream scones. It was surprisingly filling; the four of us only making it through three tea stands before we were well and truly beaten! I was secretly wishing I'd prove to have better endurance on race day. A walk via Trafalgar Square burned off a bit of cake before we turned back for home and some pre-race resting up.
At 6am on Sunday the alarm sounded and we wolfed down our improvised and unappealing hotel room breakfast; I never fancy eating with a nervy race tummy but the race made it all the more important to force down the fuel. We set off early with Old Man Teasey as our support and arrived at the race start in plenty of time.
The Tempest 10m and Spitfire 20m are combined races sharing a 10 mile loop starting from Dunsfold Aerodrome. The course loops through undulating country road before turning back onto pancake flat airfield at miles 8 and 18. I wasn't quite sure what kind of warm-up to do on my first 20 miler but it was nippy and breezy and my ultra sleek Brooks kit lacked any cosy feel. After some delay we were off to a fast start but the advertised course was unexpectedly undulating and windy, making pacing tricky, particularly with a mix of 10m racers in the pack to add to the racing confusion.
There were no ladies to be seen as I settled in with a couple of blokes; a brief chat reassured me their plans for sub 2.45 marathon pace was about right. I'd spotted M up ahead and tried to avoid any chasing. The race pace was surprisingly laid back and relaxing, very different to the usual experience of lung-bursting and eyeball-popping hard work over 10k. I ran strong as the miles ticked by eagerly until mile 8 and the turn back onto the airfield; the windy blast nearly ground me to a halt.
A battle over the next mile or two saw me eventually wave a big 'well done' to M on his fantastic second place position at the 10-mile finish. I ran on to start my second lap and was by this time feeling a wee bit lonely, having left my racing company behind. I pressed on into the wind and kept on clocking my miles; the pacing was all over the place. The going was good but getting noticeably harder as the wind still blew and my legs remembered all the hard work they'd done this week. By mile 17 I was starting to tire and braced myself for the final windy blasts up to the finish. The wind seemed to have gained in strength or else I was that bit weaker, but once again my pace plummeted as I battled against the tormentor, focused and determined on the final push.
I came to the finish having run the last 12 alone, placing 9th overall and winning as first lady by a healthy margin. I was chuffed to have survived my first 20M race relatively unscathed and enjoyed the comfort of being met by M and his Old Man over the line. A good race result I think. The final time of 2:06:21 saw me average 6.18 over a fairly tough course. I'm happy with that, as was M with his run after a tough training week; our first and second places got us both in the prizes, though sadly no presentation was to be had on the day. I'll have to save the new outfit for another time. Results here.

Friday, 12 March 2010


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M1 Musings

It's Friday morning and the first day of holidays after a grueling last few days. The legs had not forgotten the 23 as M and I set out for a sandwich track session on Tuesday night; a 3 mile threshold run then straight into 400m reps with reducing recoveries (60,50,40) followed by 3 miles threshold at the other side.

The sessions are getting faster each week, a sure sign the structure is working but rep 12 brought with it a haunting of the 23; I don't think I could've squeezed another single one out.

Legs mashed and self flagellation over, Wednesday was a new day. A sleep in to recover brought me round just enough for the last tough session before the ease down; a steady 15 and another big endurance credit in the bank. My balance is starting to look pretty healthy.

Since then its been easy running in anticipation of Sunday's race. I'm feeling quite excited about it now though a bit scared at the thought of 20 miles of racing. It'll be a good test.

I also received a call from a kit fairy whilst packing my bags this morning.. It feels like Xmas is back; I've a box brimming with Brooks goodies! It's gonna be torture to keep my hands off during the 4 hour+ drive. I feel like the luckiest person ever. A weekend with family, food and running fun to come, what more could a girl ask :]
P.s. Good luck MH.

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Tuesday, 9 March 2010

8.28 From Keighley

The old legs seem to have survived the sunny 23 without too much grumbling. I'm left wondering how they'll feel racing 20 on Sunday so the plan is to ease down a bit after my medium long one this Wednesday.

I've run a steady 5 early this morning, mostly to clear out any debris and unpleasant gubbins from the muscles (technical term there). This might just smooth the way for a good track workout tonight; a tempo sandwich with some 400 reps for the filling. All pinkies crossed these old legs feel up to the business.

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Sunday, 7 March 2010

23 Sunny Miles

A tough week of training this week culminated in my longest ever long run. I ran 23 miles. Yes, 23 MILES. You read that right. I'm very proud. That's the longest distance I have ever run. Ever in my life. I was struggling to find an interesting route, the long flat 22 last week was mind numbing and not so scenic. Today I opted for something a bit prettier in the hope it would distract me from the potential slog. Starting out from Silsden with a few miles on the canal down to Shipley, it was then a left turn for the long haul up the dreaded climb on Hollins Hill (or more aptly named Hollins Hell), before a swift descent down through Guiseley to Burley and on to the Skipton Road home.
It was a great route choice, a bit tough, a bit muddy and some challenging hills but some fast miles in between. I felt surprisingly good after yesterday's time trial and think I'm building good strength after putting in all these road miles over the last few weeks. Average pace was 6.48/mile for the 23 which was a surprise after a couple of very slow miles on the climbs and muddy bits. I felt pretty human until 22 then had to work a bit on the final push home. M was very impressed and I was very happily fussed over for finishing my longest run ever. It was a great boost to the confidence that I can do this long stuff after all.

Saturday, 6 March 2010

A Good Reminder

Yuck. Getting out of bed this morning was really horrid. A very late night out (for us anyway) meant what felt like zero sleep before the alarm sounded at 7am this morning. A hurried breakfast and a frantic drive into Leeds got us there just in time for a reasonable warm up. This 5k course is not so quick; full of bends and muddy bits it's probably 30 seconds too slow for a 5k PB. But it's a welcoming and low key event and great for those wanting to squeeze a bit of speed work into the weekend.
M & I were less than optimistic about our likely performance; we played 'who's got the best excuse for a bad run' Snap around the warm up route as the weather turned a bit nasty. It was even Stevens on who would be slowest as we stripped at the car and got ready to race. It was freezing, a bit windy and then it started to rain. I was by then feeling very grumpy and had come completely unprepared; you might say I wasn't feeling terribly up for it...
After our 3 mile warm up wiggle we lined up with the crowd. The event attracts a healthy number each week of all shapes and sizes, including the odd star. This week we were joined by superb runner Sarah Tunstall, who was herself racing for the first time after recent injury woes.
M & I braced ourselves ready for the pain, joined by Mark H, (hi MH), who was also looking for a bit of a lift and a good speed session in preparation for his VLM. We were soon off and I somehow forgot how to run fast and hung back a bit too much at the start; hordes of runners whooshed past me and forced me to wake up and respond. After the initial shock of the speed the race went quickly, with a handful of blokes and Sarah T in my eye line. I gradually worked through the course, feeling strong if a bit tired but running with a flowing rhythm, something I never thought I'd write about running a 5k! I'm not sure if I pushed it enough but was mindful of the major mileage this week and the 23 miles planned for the morning. I paced it evenly and worked through to finish second overall, results due to be published here. It was a good speed session and a nice reminder of why we should come more often.

M came in soon after, running strong despite his recent glute problems as well as the sniffles and heavy mileage this week. Mark H was also right behind him, looking fresh despite his 20 mile run on Thursday. Well done boys. It was then a nice easy warm down; 3 more miles at a chatty pace and time to catch up. MH has his first 20m race next weekend, same day as me, (good luck MH). We shared a plan of attack before parting; we're just gonna race flippin' hard. Nice to see the Brooms from Holmfirth too who were as friendly as always, like so many of the helpers and supporters today. What a nice and friendly lot.

Friday, 5 March 2010

Frosty Friday

Thank crunchie it's Friday. My sleep deprived and increasingly haggard body will be grateful for a proper sleep and some chill out time this weekend. I managed to drag myself around the Big Dipper route last night, partly for some company with M on his long run. The hilly 8 wasn't my best decision, particularly on an 'easy' day. So, it's a proper easy night tonight with a short jog before a night out in Leeds and our first gig in months, a belated B'day treat for M. No booze allowed though as we'll be time trialing early doors. Yikes.
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Thursday, 4 March 2010

Chilly Calves

It felt unusually early when the alarm cockadoodled me awake this morning; a sure sign I'm over cooking things a bit. Once I'd peeled myself out of bed I was glad to be up though; trainers on and out into the frost for a morning jog and a chance to wake up the legs the morning after the night before.

I've been a bit lazy with the chores lately and am rapidly running out of fresh kit. I optimistically pulled on capri pants and immediately regretted the decision as the morning's icy fingers wrapped themselves around my calves. Lovely though to be greeted by dawn light on these early runs after a long, dark winter.

The jog was an easy one after squeezing a steady 15 in last night. It was a perfectly still and clear night so pacing was a comfy 6.50s average, with my heart rate a bit lower again than last week. My new improved spreadsheet is definitely a winner; I can now monitor improvements in my average pacing and heart rate each week and identify shifts in aerobic
fitness. Interesting aren't I. Yes, I am a geek and proud of it :)

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Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Anytime. Anywhere.

Just thought I'd try the novelty of posting from the train on my commute this productive am I!? I've even attached a splendid pic of a fine train platform for you to enjoy...
It's perhaps a bit too early in the day for my fat thumbs to cope with the tiny BB kyes (oops) and there'll no doubt be lots of spelling to correct later so apols in advance. Track session was good last night but epic; after 12 miles they turned out the lights and M and I could only finish up in the dark for a cool down. I felt fresh for the 12, alternating MRP and threshold miles and now wonder how good a session it was. Only time will tell I suppose and I'm still learning. Tonight's a steady 14 though I might push it up a mile and see how that feels. This marathon training is very time consuming...
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Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Blackberry Test

I'll spare you the excuses from my longest ever blog skive, other than to say that I think I can safely confirm that I'm earning my new salary. That's all I'm saying on the matter for fear of being a bit moany when I should be glad of such a nice job, or even having one at all. I've been putting in the miles alright this last week and the dodgy foot is happy as long as it's road bound. The long runs are making a noticeable dfference to fitness; an easy 5 this morning saw me running 6.30 pace for the middle miles on the flat with a fairly low heart rate. That, or I've a big problem with my Garmin.

Sunday was my first 22 and run at a bit easier pace, (the fast running pal has broken his collar bone!), so it has left more juice in the legs than usual for the quality Tues night session. A trip to Seedhill for some alternating MRP and threshold miles should stretch me nicely. M's back too with a return to V02 work with his new improved bum cheek in all its glory. Oh, and one week to go before we'll become fully fledged masseurs too.

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