Portsmouth Race for Life 10k!


I’m back!

Although I haven’t been blogging for a while (OK, OK, 4 months), I have actually been running. As I wasn’t really following any sort of training plan and I was pretty busy doing other things, I didn’t really feel like blogging about my runs.

When the weather got a bit warmer, I finally got out of the gym
and onto the roads. After a chat with one of my sportier neighbours, I switched to running along the embankment on the River Trent. It’s so much more interesting as there’s always canoeists, cyclists and other runners about. I could also add distance more easily by going one bridge further, which was important as I was getting ready for my first 10k, which I did on Sunday.

I hadn’t done the Race for Life since it was only a 5k in 2005, but my mum and sister do it every year and I thought it was high time I got back in the game. The RFL supports Cancer Research UK, which made it particularly important for me as in the past year alone Rob lost his Nan to cancer and my mum has been diagnosed with and subsequently got the all-clear from skin cancer. At the time of writing, we have raised an amazing £406, with collections still ongoing here.

I started off my race day with a cup of tea and a banana slathered with peanut butter before we all (me, Mum, Dad, youngest sister Anna and Rob) packed in the car and headed on down to meet my other sister, Jen and her fiancé Chris. I left my second banana with Rob and me, Mum and Jen headed to the start.

Mum and Jen were going to run the whole way, but I wasn’t at that stage so my aim was just to keep going with them as far as I could before reverting to my run-walk strategy. I was really surprised that I managed to keep running until around the 2km point and then keep them in my sights, occasionally catching up with them, until around 6km.

By that point I was starting to die a bit and my walk breaks were becoming more frequent, but I didn’t stop or slow down to slower than a brisk walk. There was a point between 8 and 9km where the route doubled back on itself along the seafront so I was able to give flying high fives to Mum and Jen as we passed each other. They both complained that their hands were still hurting later.

Just after 9km, I needed a real boost to get me round and luckily the exact song I wanted started playing on my phone:

That got me round most of the rest of the way, through the horrible bubble machines and towards the finishing straight. As did thinking of my blogging friends and the encouragement I had drawn from their posts over recent months. I saw some kids with their hands stuck out and high fived them as I went past (not as hard as earlier) which got me a massive cheer from them to get over the line. Jen and Mum were waiting for me there, having only finished about a minute before. My final time? 1:11:52. I was really pleased as my target was 1:15 and my “would-be-great” time was 1:10.

We then gathered up our race bling, chocolate chip brioche, apples, water and lemonade before meeting up with the others and taking some photos. I’m the one in the middle.

 

RfL

During our little sit on Castle Field, I ate/drank all of that stuff and my banana. I didn’t actually stop eating until mid-afternoon, devouring a massive cheese twist pastry, Pringles, a crumpet with Marmite and then a massive buffet-style lunch. Awesome. Not so awesome was having to drive the 3 hours back to Nottingham, but luckily Rob offered to do the honours and we stopped by his parents in Birmingham for a couple of hours on the way.

All in all, I’d definitely recommend the Portsmouth RFL. The route itself was nice and flat, except for a slight hill round the back of Southsea Castle. The grassy sections did throw me more than I though they would, though. It was a double loop of the 5k course so on the second lap you could judge how far was left. I’ll more than likely do it again next year, and might even throw in the Nottingham one as well.

Virtual Running February 5k

Long time no blog (as usual)!

It’s been pretty mental round here lately. I’ve been down to Portsmouth to see the family a couple of times, for reasons I’ll probably explain later. Last weekend I ended up staying on my parents’ dining room floor as my Uncle and Auntie and my 4 and 8 year old cousins were staying too! We had a great time, walking along the seafront and going to the Blue Reef Aquarium. My youngest cousin got a balloon there that I ended up carrying most of the day, not a great look for a 26 year old, especially when the kids kept running off! I also bunked along for brunch with my sister and her boyfriend and best friend at Coast to Coast, a new American-style restaurant by the sea. I had eggs Benedict which was absolutely delicious, with a massive hash brown on the side. Yummers!

We also went out for drinks with our neighbours last week at a pub down the road we’d only ever been to for breakfast (best fried bread ever!). It’s so nice to finally have some friends up here! They told us they’ve just got kittens, so Rob’s already got plans to make our home, their home. He loves cats, that boy! I’m also going out for lunch tomorrow with a new translator friend. My resolution to make more effort establishing a proper social network in Nottingham is going pretty well.

But I guess a lot of people are after a running update, so here it is!

I entered Kirsten’s new Virtual Running challenge this month where you simply run 5k at some point over the month, submit your time and then compete against others to gain points over the year and win prizes.

I decided to try my first 5k on February 1st, as good a day as any! I finished in 38.07, way off the 32.30 I did at the Run with Richard 5k last September, but considering I hadn’t actually run since then, I didn’t think it was all that bad. And I don’t think that course was actually a full 5k, Runkeeper didn’t think so and that time is too good to be true for me.  I was already getting better, though, and I took it down to 37.49 a week later.

To try to work on my speed and endurance a bit, I then decided to go for faster 3k runs. I did these quite a few times, varying my pace up and trying to walk shorter distances each time. I also implemented a new plan of running the last 250-300 metres or so at 10.5 km/h, which is pretty fast for me. I like doing this now as it makes me feel like I’ve really earned the rest at the end and I can pretend I’m sprint finishing a race like Mo Farah!

Another change I’ve made is my shoes! I’ve been running on off-the-shelf Nikes since I first joined a gym back in 2011. Needless to say, they weren’t doing me much good, so I headed off to Up and Running to get my gait analysed and get some proper running shoes. The guy stuck me in some normal shoes to start with, then filmed me as I ran on their treadmill. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing when he showed me the tape! My left foot is fine, but my right foot not only overpronates, but also flails like nothing the bloke had seen before. It’s hard to describe, but basically it crosses behind my left calf on a diagonal instead of coming straight back. I reckon it’s because that foot turns out naturally when I walk, but there’s not much shoes can do about it. I did get some running shoes, however, and what a difference. I never realised my shoes were the reason my right shoulder always ached during running. I’m so much more comfortable now!

Yesterday I was feeling really good in the afternoon, not too tired and I’d been drinking plenty of water, so I thought to myself “tonight’s the night” and headed off to the gym. You can only submit one time per month for the 5k, so I really wanted to do well. I ran for longer periods, I walked less, I only took little sips of my drink to stop myself from getting stitch and…..I smashed my time! Right down to:

February 5KI was so proud of myself! I can’t wait to see how much I can speed it up over the next few weeks. I’m not expecting to cut another three minutes off, but I’m sure I can take it down further. If anyone wants to friend me on Runkeeper btw, just drop me a message!

See you soon for next month’s training!

Streaking (No, Not Like That)

I’m not sure what’s come over me.

A week ago, I was doing one yoga session a week and barely getting out of the house.

Today will now be my eighth day of an activity streak! Here’s what it’s looked like:

Friday: Gym – treadmill, bike and cross-trainer for a total of about 40 minutes

Saturday: Gym – treadmill, bike and cross-trainer for a total of about 45 minutes

Sunday: Yoga video at home (about an hour)

Monday: Yoga class (an hour)

Tuesday: Gym – cross-trainer and treadmill for a total of about 40 minutes

Wednesday: Yoga video at home (about an hour)

Thursday: Gym – all treadmill, 40 minutes in total but with much more running

Today: Planning on another hour long yoga video.

I’ve also got gym/yoga plans going up to Monday – this ish is bananas.

I’m really surprised with how well my lungs are coping with starting to run again. I thought I’d be coughing and spluttering all over the show, but it’s more my stamina in general that’s the problem. It’ll come back though. I’m trying to do different kinds of  runs to get me back up to speeds and distances I used to be capable of. I started off with trying to start at 8 km/h and running for a minute before adding 0.1 km/h until I got to 9 km/h or thereabouts and then coming back down, but couldn’t manage it and ended up doing some really haphazard speeds, running fast and walking slow whenever I felt I needed it.

I then figured that the problem with that was also partially mental: I was trying to run faster every minute and didn’t think I could do it. So yesterday I tried running two minutes at 9, then took off 0.1 every two minutes – same thing overall, just in a more mind-friendly order. It worked! Yeah, I had to walk for between 1 and 3 minutes every now and again because I had stitch (and am pretty unfit at the moment), but I did every rep I set out to do. I even got the Runner’s High at the end and wanted to keep going!

So I think I’ll be sticking with a routine like that for a bit, switching it up when I’m starting to master it. Probably the best part is that in that 40 minutes (which also included a 5 minute warm up walk and a 5 minute cool down walk), I got to nearly 5K, so I’m pretty hopeful that I can put in a respectable time for the Virtual Run coming up next month.

Any bets on how long I can keep this streak going?

New Gym Member Right Here!

Yep, I’m officially a gym member once again!

We live between two gyms here, so as I had a bit of free time at the beginning of the week (work was still pretty slow coming in – assuming nobody wrote anything over Christmas that needed translating), I decided to look into them.

The nearest one is literally over the road, but it’s a national chain that’s notorious for being expensive. They don’t even put a price on their website, kind of like the old “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it” saying, but I decided to ask anyway. A very enthusiastic sales guy tried to sell me on all their facilities, but all we wanted are the basics. Eventually I got the price out of him, and it was of course stupidly high!

So I checked in with the gym at the hotel down the road my parents sometimes stay at when they come to visit. I called up on Wednesday and the instructor invited me in for a look on Thursday. I’d had a look on the website and it seemed quite little (it’s only a small hotel), but it turns out it’s just what we need. There are treadmills and bikes, crosstrainers, rowing machines and all sorts of weight stuff, and a pool. OK, so the pool is tiny, but I can see myself going for a cool-down dip after a workout. Rob and I went back in last night to have a free trial and decided to sign up on the spot. This gym also has the benefit of paying month to month instead of by direct debit so we can have some time off if *touch wood* we injure ourselves or get sick.

I had my first proper session today and decided to see just how unfit I am. Surprisingly enough, not running for four months has really affected my stamina, but I did around 35 or so minutes on the treadmill, changing up the speeds to what I used to do at my old gym (pre C25K) and what I managed during C25K, with a fair amount of fast walking. I wouldn’t say it’s comfortable by any stretch, but I don’t think it’ll take me too long to get right back into it. I then had a wander around doing 5 minutes or so each on the bike and crosstrainer. We’ve also booked in for an induction on the weight stuff for next week as I’ve never done that before. I’m figuring at the moment that multiple shorter bursts in the gym are better for me than a couple of big ones a week – I don’t have the attention span or the stamina!

Atmosphere-wise, it’s so much nicer than my old gym back in Birmingham. It’s properly quiet, over the three times I’ve been there (mid-morning Thursday, mid-evening Friday and early Saturday afternoon), I’ve never seen more than three people in at once. You don’t have the big hulking guys showing off or instructors buzzing around trying to get you to come to classes, the music is quiet so you can just stick your headphones in and go. The only thing I miss is being able to plug my headphones into the machines and get the feed from the TV – I’ll tell ya, watching Embarrassing Fat Bodies really gets you going on the treadmill!

So there you go, my first gym wrap-up! I’ve also got another goal to add to my ones from last week! I’m going to take part in Kirsten’s Virtual Run Fundraiser. I’ve been following Kirsten as she’s gone through the C25K programme and now she’s going for her first 10K. She’s asking people to sponsor her while completing a 5K or 10K of their own, and she’s giving out medals! I’ll probably go for a 5K as the event is next month, but who knows!

This has gone on a bit now, so I’ll just say that yoga was great this week! My instructor has managed to start the Yoga Flow class, which I really enjoyed! I’m still going to try and do yoga at home tomorrow too to make up my 2 a week goal.

Happy running!

Run with Richard 5K Completed!

My first race has been and gone!

After a couple more training runs, we headed over to Victoria Embankment for 9am, with the race due to start at 10. At that point, I looked like this (apols for the squinting, it was proper bright out!):

Pre-Run

We wandered around the event village for a while, surprised how many people were there. We got interviewed and photographed by a few journalists, and we’re at the front of this group shot on the Nottingham Post’s website (that’s Rob in the green in front of me)!

Run With Richard 5K

We got a little bit caught up in the all the excitement, so when RunKeeper told me we were on 6 min/km pace after 5 minutes when we normally run just over 7, I started to slow down a bit.  I don’t think I would have been able to keep that up much longer! My aim was to finish in around 35 minutes with anything under being a bonus.

It was just after the 2km point I slowed down to a brisk walk. I’d simply taken it too hard and wasn’t coping well with it being so warm. I gestured to Rob to carry on without me. I was gutted that I’d had to walk but I realised later on in the day that I DIDN’T STOP. I kept going, I didn’t collapse in a ball and give up. I had a quick chat with a lady who told me to pour some water over my head. I kept the guy dressed as Mike from Monsters Inc firmly in my sights. I got waved on by Becky Adlington the former GB swimmer who’d come down to support the race, and the mayor, and Robin Hood (this is Nottingham after all).

When the finish line finally came into view, I got another wind and practically sprinted home. My time? 32:30. I was so impressed with myself that I’d managed to keep some semblance of that early pace up to the finish. Rob finished in 28:49. Jammy git.

Just as we left, I saw a couple of the other Olympic champions who’d come down to support Richard Whitehead – Tim Baillie and Etienne Stott, the slalom canoists. Couldn’t resist grabbing a picture, and Etienne’s medal And apols again for the massively red face, I don’t think my Flickr filters helped much!

Meeting Tim Baillie and Etienne Stott

 

The one downside of the day is that I’ve pulled some muscles in my chest that are going to put me out of running for a couple of weeks or more. It was hurting before the race but I was determined to take part. Getting my first injury is tough, especially when I was planning to start taking part in our local parkrun this week, but I’ll get over it. Rob’s gutted too as he hasn’t run without me before and says he needs the motivation of me going with him to actually get him out.

Oh well, best to let it heal now than making it worse and being out for longer. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Back in the Groove

I feel like I’m finally getting back into running.

After that god-awful run the other week, I picked up a cheap armband for my phone and downloaded Runkeeper. I’m a bit of a stat nerd and after just 3 runs with it, I’m considering purchasing the full version. £13.99 for a year isn’t that big of a deal for me. You can program it to run a certain distance, intervals or time, and it tells you all different stats as you’re running along.

We haven’t done any more really early runs like the one I wrote about before. Rob hasn’t got the motivation at the moment, but I’m sure he will once the 5K gets a bit closer. I went out on my own to just do a 20 minute run a few days after the run-of-death, just to prove to myself I could do it. And I did. I felt so much better – I paced myself a lot better, had some music I knew and could just zone out to and my asthma didn’t play up quite as badly. I still felt a bit sick, though. I think this time I drank too much water, so I’ve now started drinking less beforehand and got a little running bottle to bring with me. My hands are too small to handle a 500ml one, but luckily the 300ml one is just right. I seriously have tiny hands. My family refer to them as my “paws”.

Rob then came out with me on Saturday morning for another 20 minutes. I kept us at a slower pace again and felt even better than last time. Also got Rob to carry the water bottle for the second half of the run, so that was a bonus! Rob’s running with his iPod shuffle so it was me calling the times out for him. At the end he’d thought I’d stopped for a break rather than because we’d finished, so he’s probably in pretty good shape from all the cycling he does.

Which brings me to today. I woke up feeling pretty good, so I thought I’d try 30 minutes for the first time since I finished Couch to 5K. The weather was cool but not too cold, the wind wasn’t too brisk and my lungs weren’t too grumpy. I stopped for a total of about 4 seconds when I choked a bit, and when a dog was trying to sniff my butt, but I completed it and felt so much better about my running. Looking at Runkeeper, I’m keeping my pace really steady and my aim for the 5K of about 35 minutes seems doable. I reckon having more people to chase might spur me on to go a bit faster too, plus I’ve got a couple more weeks of training left.

We’re spending the Bank Holiday in Wales, and I’m not sure whether I fancy running up the hills, but I might get another run in before we leave. We’re doing Go Ape on Sunday though, so that’ll need a bit of fitness!

Happy running!

First Race Sign-Up!

We’ve done it!

This evening I signed me and my boyfriend Rob up for the Run Nottingham with Richard 5k next month.

As I said in my last post, Rob cycles a lot but hasn’t run in months. So he dragged me out of bed at 6am this morning so he could get a run in before work.

I didn’t have time to get my iPod or apps together to do a 20 minute run like we planned, so we were just running to the point I know is roughly 10 minutes’ run away and then turning back. Despite this relatively short distance, it was the worst run I’ve done since I started C25K!

As with all things running, a lot was probably psychological. I was expecting him to struggle so I was doubting myself when he didn’t. When we started, he asked whether I always ran at that speed (implying slowly) so I think I pushed myself harder. It was earlier than I’m used to so the air was colder and it affected my asthma more. I stopped at 10 minutes and started walking. Throughout the whole C25K plan I never stopped when I was supposed to be running. This then made me more down for the last part. Running with no music meant I could only hear my breathing, which made me focus on it more, which made it worse!

To top it all off, I choked on some phlegm near the end and nearly chundered.

All in all, not a brilliant start to my day.

But what have I learned from it?

  • Run with music – I’ll definitely sort that out before our next run.
  • Don’t push myself too hard – Just because I’m running with someone, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a good idea to try to keep up, but….
  • Push myself an appropriate amount – If I’m feeling good, I’ll make the most of it.
  • Drink more water – Water good, phlegm bad.
  • (Somewhat) slow and steady wins the race – Rob said afterwards that he was glad I paced it slower than he was expecting, he thinks he would have burnt himself out. He also said he would have stopped far earlier if I hadn’t been there.

We’re planning on running again on Thursday. Really hoping it’ll be better, but I’ll keep in mind something Laura says at the end of the Stepping Stones podcast – A bad run is better than no run at all.