Saturday, 15 December 2012

One week done...

Right, that is the first week ticked off, a total of 23 miles run this week. A mix of running with Holly, the running club, friends and Millie.

Today Millie came out on her longest run ever; 6 miles cross country over the South Downs. For people that know the Steyning area I ran the Round Hill Romp route but took a slightly different way at the end to avoid the roads.

Millie had to learn a few new tricks..... how to get over/through a few different stiles and gates and how to push through branches that were blocking her path. We both ended up very wet and muddy but it was great fun. We stopped to chat to a few other dog walkers and people out walking, some people out walking just look at you as though you are mad. I don't think they realise quite how hot you can get when running; they are all wrapped up and I'm in a short sleeved t-shirt !

One good thing is that I managed to run up most of the very steep section, I still can't run up the whole thing but I'm now at a point where I can run far more of it than walk.... I can still remember the time when I struggled walking up it and had to stop quite often to get my breath...

So, just over a week until Christmas and not much of this year left.... it is that time of year when you look back at the highs and lows of the previous 12 months but I will save that for another post :)

Sunday, 9 December 2012

8 miles done...

Well, that is the first 8 miles of the marathon training done... Only 457 to go until the finish line ! The temptation to do too much too soon is quite high, but I do remember what happened last year and would like to try and avoid injury if possible. At this stage it is getting in to the routine of the regular runs without getting carried away (if it says 3 miles then stick to 3 miles !)

Just doubled checked the training plan to make sure I hadn't accidentally scheduled a long run on Christmas Day... I haven't, just a 3 mile run !

Running makes me feel good and it makes me feel as though I'm achieving something and this helps me be more positive with the rest of life.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to more runs with Millie this week. I'm going to need to find some slightly longer routes that we can do together. While I'm marathon training I'm planning on taking Millie with me on the short 3-5 mile runs and doing these all off road. No doubt she will come back full of energy and I will be the knackered one....

So, this is a photo taken on one of our daily dog walks......

Monday, 3 December 2012

Yay ! I have a plan :)

Well, after much debate and writing / re-writing I have a marathon training plan.... the scary thing is that it starts next week... and I need to follow it religiously until next April.

It involves running a total of 465 miles.... now that is a long way..... it is about the distance from here to Edinburgh. If someone suggested that I run to Edinburgh then I would think they are mad. But I'm not just doing this for fun, I'm doing it to raise money for a cause that I really believe in, for an organisation that stand up for people whose voices may not be heard otherwise, for people that may stay imprisioned and forgotten. So, for each mile that I run I will be glad that I am free to run; and glad that we still live in a country that has free speech.

If you would like to see how I'm doing then click on the Brighton Marathon 2013 link at the top of this site; if you would like to sponsor me then click here :)

Sunday, 25 November 2012


Well, it is that time of year when I begin thinking about marathon training.

Thinking back last year I found the last 6 miles really hard work. The one thing that kept me going was knowing I had already covered the bulk of the course.

If I want to find it a bit easier this year then I need to do more long distances. Due to injury last year I only ran one 18 mile run, that was the furthest that I managed in training. This year I want to run more 16 and 18 mile runs and possibly even a couple of 20 mile runs.

I also need to get used to running on tired legs.....

So, I'm looking online and planning.... and when I have worked out what I'm doing I'll let you know !

Sent from my iPhone

Monday, 19 November 2012

My love/hate relationship with the Brooks 10k

Well, yesterday was the Brooks Brighton 10k.

I have a love/hate relationship with this race....

I think it will always be a bit special because it was the first ever 10k that I ran, this year was the third year that I ran it.

The things it has going in its favour are:

1. It is local
2. It is flat

But, I always find it hard running races where you have to run back past the finish line part way through the race, I also don't enjoy out and back races...... Especially when you are running more or less a straight line in each direction, it just seems to take forever to get there !

With nearly 3,000 people it is quite a busy race, but that is fun. I guess the biggest thing wrong with it is me, I just don't enjoy running 10k as much as I do a half marathon, especially if it is off road. For a 10k you know you need to pick the pace up a bit and I hate that lung burning feeling you get.... and I always end up feeling sick for the last couple of miles, trying not to throw up can be quite hard work at times !

I also lack the killer racing instinct, I'm quite happy to move over and let other people through... and if I'm finding it really hard work I'm more inclined to slow down a bit rather than keep pushing as hard as I can, you see I want to enjoy every run that I do :)

Yesterday, knowing I hadn't done the training needed, I went out with the aim of keeping a more comfortable pace.... The weather was perfect, dry, sunny, not too hot and not windy.... I met up with a group of running friends (they deserve their own post) and enjoyed it.

The result, 52:58, just a bit slower than my PB of 52:25 so I was quite happy with that. What it does tell me is that I have managed to maintain my fitness level on a fraction of the running I had been planning.

So, that was the last race that I have planned before the Brighton Marathon next year. I'm sure there will be others but I have nothing in the diary at the moment.

I'll keep running, and smiling and enjoying life. It is precious.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Some people take their children to the park...

Some people take their children to the park. I take mine to run up and down hills and through icy cold water.... And it is FUN !

On Sunday we took part in Hell Runner. I must admit I was quite apprehensive before the start, especially after seeing some of the water features but I loved every minute of it.

It was ideal running weather, dry, sunny and quite cool. I knew it would be an "interesting" run but I didn't realise quite how many hills could be fitted in to the distance. Some you could run up and down others you were scrambling up on your hands and knees and sliding down on your bum.

For some of it I was out of my depth in muddy water, it wasn't just a quick splash in and out either.. It went on long enough to tire you out.... Followed by yet more hills and scrambling down sandy banks into a chest deep lake....

Did I say this was fun ??

Holly and I ran this together, I wasn't out racing anyone, I just wanted to enjoy it.....

Today I have a few bruises (the biggest from a submerged log colliding with my shin) and ache in places that I didn't think I would, mainly from pulling myself up and out of things..

Would I do it again ? Yes !

Anyway, here are a few photos from yesterday..

Sunday, 28 October 2012


Do you ever feel that sometimes life is conspiring against you ??

After having a gentle 7.5 mile run on Monday, the longest since Barns Green Half Marathon I then go down with a buggy thing. If I was male it would have been called man flu ;) so no more running for me for the week.

So, all in all it doesn't look good for Hell Runner. I have this week to get some training in and, hopefully, a 10/11 mile run next weekend. I am then working away for a week and I know I won't get the chance to go running, I get home on the Friday and Hell Runner is on the Sunday.......

I know I can do the distance and that isn't the bit that concerns me... What is more worrying is the hills and water... I had hoped to be running hills on pretty much every training session for the last two weeks and that just hasn't happened. So, I guess it will be a case of watch this space....

Anyway, this is a photo of me with Millie :) she has been enjoying the runs we have done together, I need to increase the distance that she walks with me before increasing the distance we run together......

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Millie's first run

Well, this morning I took Millie out for her first ever run. It had rained very heavily overnight so we were splashing through mud and puddles (some of the water seemed to be flowing quite fast) but it had also warmed up overnight so it was really good fun.

I ran the route that we have been walking Millie each day so it was very familiar for her. I had to stop at one point just to pop her back on the lead because one of the horses that we run past had got out of its enclosure in to the main field and I didn't want her scaring it.

It took Millie a short while to get used to me running but then she started tearing on ahead and waiting for me with a "can't you keep up?" look about her !

Anyway, this is a photo from this mornings run :)

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Just one person....

This isn't a running related post but something that has really made me think...

Quite often in life we see things that are wrong, or that we disagree strongly with but end up doing nothing about because, after all, what difference can one person make.

A 14 year old girl in Pakistan has shown us how wrong we all are. Malala wrote a blog about life under the Taliban. Just one voice.

The Taliban saw her as such a threat that they have tried to murder her; all she wanted was for girls to be able to go to school and she was strong enough to stand up and say so.

What do we do when we see something that we know is wrong ? We turn away, pretend we haven't seen it and pretend it hasn't happened.

I wonder what would happen in the world if we ALL stood up for what was right, between us could we make a difference ? I really believe that we could but we all end up thinking that as individuals what we do won't make a difference.

Malala has just proved us all wrong.

Wednesday, 10 October 2012


In Africa , when the sun rises the lion knows he must run faster than the slowest gazelle if he is to eat and survive another day.

The gazelle knows that when the sun rises he must run faster than the lions if he is to survive another day.

So, it doesn't matter if you are a lion or gazelle, when the sun comes up you need to be running.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Postcard from afar

Well, I have done it and been getting out running ! The temperature during the day here is well over 30C so I've been getting up at the crack of dawn when it is cooler.

I have found a 3 mile circuit I can run on dirt tracks through the olive groves, it really is a beautiful feeling to be out running and watching the sunrise with the Andalucian mountains in the distance.

Again, I get to see far more of the area because I run :)

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Leaving on a jet plane.....

Well, this time tomorrow I will be on a plane heading somewhere hot and sunny.... Not on holiday but for work. I still haven't packed, need to take my car to the garage to leave it with them to repair and have a whole host of other things to do...

I'm not sure if I will get any running done while I'm away ( I hurt my shoulder yesterday so moving my right arm much is a bit painful ) and also it will be HOT and I have never been a great fan of running in very hot conditions. I will take my trainers and running gear (and sneak in a head torch because my only free time is likely to be when it is dark...)

I'll try and post a few iPhone photos because it is such a beautiful area that I will be visiting but I know I will be very busy. I've been looking forward to this trip for a while but when I get back I need to get back in to training for Hell Down South ( please someone remind me why I entered it !)

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Barns Green Half Marathon

Well, yesterday I ran the Barns Green half marathon. I wasn't expecting a brilliant time because I haven't put the training miles in that I would have liked to but I really enjoyed the race :)

I followed my normal pattern of walking through the water stations to make sure I drank properly, after a very long day at work the day before I knew I was a bit dehydrated before I started the race so I really didn't want to make it worse.... Because I didn't plan to run and race to get a PB I slowed down to high five the children at the side of the road who had turned out to cheer us on and chatted to other runners on the way round; on the whole runners are a very friendly bunch, it doesn't matter how fast or how slow you are we have all turned up to do the same thing. When you look at a bunch of runners together you see a real assortment of sizes, shapes and ages.... Along with a real mix of clothing, I think Gok and the other fashion gurus would have their work cut out to make runners look fashionable, we all end up with our favourite or lucky items of clothing that we wear in to the ground....

I was one of the lucky ones whose chip time actually worked (note to sports systems, don't keep screwing up the timings, if you get my marathon times wrong I really won't be a happy bunny) and I finished in 2:01:34 which is only about 2 mins slower than my PB from earlier this year that was after a lot more training on a flat course !

Could I have pushed myself harder and got a PB ? Quite possibly, but I wouldn't have had as much fun and for me the enjoyment of running is a very major part, if that isn't there then one of the main reasons I run has gone...

Anyway, at the end of it I got a nice shiny medal for my collection :)

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Somewhere over the rainbow.....

Well, it has been a real mix lately, in more ways than one !

The weather has turned back to being quite unpredictable even though it isn't really that cold and I'm still struggling to fit in as much running as I would like !

Tomorrow is my next half marathon, I don't doubt that I can run the distance but I haven't done the volume of training that I had planned to do a few months ago. But a few months ago I didn't know that I would be quite this busy with work or have a dog !

I'm still getting out walking with Millie every day and I'm really looking forward to when she can start running with me. We had some friends come and stay this week with their two Cockapoos and if they are anything to go by then Millie is really going to enjoy running :)

With the rain we have had lots of fantastic rainbows, I've taken a few photos on my phone but somehow I can't quite capture how beautiful it really looks from the top of the Downs..

Anyway, wish me luck for tomorrow and enjoy these photos.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Be Yourself....

Although I haven't been running as much as I would like I have been walking about 3 miles every day with Millie.

It was really lovely to be able to get out for a long run on Sunday over the South Downs. I'm still really enjoying running without music and tuning in to myself and my surroundings.

It is easy to compare yourself to others; look at how fast other people run, how far they run and how it seems effortless... But all we actually see of people is the little bit on the surface, not everything else underneath.

We are not all going to break records like Paula Radcliffe or Mo Farah but you can't have a winner if there is only one person in a race. I love taking part in some of the larger races and seeing the wide variety of people that run for just as wide a variety of reasons. People who want to beat their own times, people that want to beat their own daemons and people that run for a cause.... The people that look like they've stepped off the cover of a glossy magazine at the finish, the people in fancy dress and the people that look REALLY glad to finish.

We are all different :)

I have stopped chasing times and I'm just enjoying the running, savouring the scenery and enjoying the conversations with other runners, cyclists, dog walkers...... and the pigs. I have found myself starting to chat to the pigs that I run past, and the sheep, and the cows. I don't know if this is a habit I should worry about (or maybe I should only start worrying when they reply !) but the pigs in particular always look so chilled....

Anyway, these are the pigs on Sundays run :)

Friday, 7 September 2012

Go placidly.....

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there
may be in silence....

I'm back to running without music, just to enjoy the scenery and
sounds around me. We all live busy noisy lives and it is easy to miss
the beauty of silence; just the sound of your own feet and breathing
is, somehow, therapeutic. It gives you a chance to sort out this mad
world in your head and appreciate what you have in life.

This is a photo from one of my evening runs....

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Good to be back running....

After a weeks break for one reason and another it was really good to be back running this morning.

A gentle 6 miles along the river not long after sun rise :) for the first part of the run the fields were still full of mist and you could feel the coolness of it against your skin countered by the warmth of the sun as it started to burn through.

The river route is always a popular one with other walkers, cyclists and runners... I love the friendliness of people and quite often end up stopping to chat.

Anyway, this is a photo from this mornings run, taken from the footbridge across the river...

Monday, 20 August 2012

Running in shorts is not always wise !

Well, in between work and looking after (playing with) Millie I have been out running, I just haven't had the time to update my blog quite as much as I would have liked....
Last week I ran a route I haven't been along for awhile, last time it was knee deep in water and with the ongoing rain I thought it may all still be a bit soggy.
But, I went out on a lovely evening, hoping I may see the barn owl that lives in the area. The route I run up the Adur isn't as popular with people as the southern section and I think less people have been that way since the heavy rain for the same reason as me. The river bank path was knee high in grass, not too much of a problem but it does slow you down a bit... The bit that was a problem was when I turned inland. The path was almost completely overgrown with a mix of cow parsley, brambles and nettles and I was in shorts !
The other thing that was missing from this area are all the rabbits that used to be here, they used to keep the paths quite well trimmed and you would see loads of them out early evening but the were all gone. I wonder if their burrows were flooded and they all moved to higher/less flooded ground.
Anyway, seeing as I didn't have a machete with me I did a strange mix of running, hopping and a kind of skipping over the brambles and nettles, as well as stopping at times to see if there was an easier way the end of it I was wishing I had worn some longer trousers...
Anyway, these are a couple of photos from that run..

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Friday, 10 August 2012

Quick update....

Millie is settling in well, we have had a few nights with very little sleep but hopefully she is getting past the howling all night stage.

It really is like having a small child again although I know it won't take her 18 years to grow up.

I'm really looking forward to when she has had all her vaccinations and I can take her out more with me :)

Anyway, this is Millie in the garden with her pheasant.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

The heritage of the Olympics

Well, it has been quite a week for sports with the UK team taking more medals than ever...

Hopefully this will have some long term effects :

1. We live in a great country, let's celebrate it !

2. Stop selling off school sports fields, the next generation won't get involved in sports to the same degree because they can't. This will lead to more of a class divide in the top end of sports because it is the public schools that still have their sports fields.

3. Stop the non-competitive sports days. We need to teach children what it feels like to win and that you need to put the effort in to do so. BUT we also need to find the time to encourage personal development and get children used to competing against their own PBs and recognise the achievements that each child makes. At the end of the day there is only one Gold medal in each event, that means only one winner, it really is no different in the rest of life after all each job vacancy only has one successful applicant !

4. Encourage more people in to a wide range of sports; I really do believe that there is something for everyone, it is just finding it that can take the time...

5. Positive role models - lets get rid of the pseudo celebrities and start celebrating REAL people who have REAL achievements ! Watching some of the Olympics on tv you realise that many of our athletes also have full time jobs that they will go back to when this is over. They are real people who work hard at what they do, they are not all paid £10k plus a week, they don't do it for the money or the celebrity status but for the true sense of achievement.

In a country with growing obesity levels we need to harness this opportunity and interest in sport to make a difference.

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Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Life, the universe and everything.....

Well, the last week (and this one) has been very hectic with work meaning that I haven't been out running quite as much as I would like...

Sometimes though a break is good... It has certainly given me time to look back and think a bit.

I was listening to some of the Olympic coverage and heard a previous medal winner describe how he felt when he realised he had won.... It was exactly the same as I felt when I crossed the finish line of the marathon this year, it made me realise that it doesn't matter what your ultimate goal is, the feelings when you achieve it are the same. I certainly wasn't anywhere near the first person to cross the line and I know I never will be, but we all have our own goals and ambitions.

I then started thinking about how I have changed since I started running and I have changed. It's not just losing the weight but my whole mental attitude has changed. Being fitter has made work easier ( I have perfected my climbing out of windows on to a roof technique ! ) and I'm no where near as tired all the time as I used to be.

I also know that the apart from any unforeseen accidents or injuries the only thing stopping me from achieving anything I want is me... I just have to want to do it enough !

There has been a knock on effect on the people close to me. By changing my diet I have also changed that of my family (anyone else want to do the cooking ??? ) and both my husband and children have also started running, hopefully this will mean they all have healthier lives and will reduce the risk of illnesses that lack of exercise and ending overweight can bring.

By running more I have ended up drinking less alcohol and this helps save money as well as being better for me so all in all what started as a short term thing that I hated doing but did to help shift a few pounds has turned in to something I love doing that has had some really positive effects on me and my family.

Anyway, this week I managed to get out for a 10 mile run along the river. One short stop to help reunite a lost dog with its owners ( did I mention that carrying a mobile is a good idea ??) and also stopped to take a few photos of the flowers, it looks really lovely with all the colour around at the moment. This week is another busy one so I will have to see what running I can fit in :)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, 23 July 2012

Why you should carry a mobile....

Well, after a very busy week at work (and another one coming up) I was really looking forward to getting out on the South Downs for my long run yesterday.

I was a bit pushed for time, trying to fit it in between working and family coming over but I had worked out that I had enough time for about 10 miles. The beauty of running over the Downs is that there are so many different routes that you can take depending on quite how many hills you would like to run up and how far you would like to run :)

I haven't actually been up on the Downs for a few weeks, the sheer amount of mud in some sections has put me off a bit, when it gets to the point that you can't run large sections of it then maybe it is time to change the route a bit....

Anyway I set off in the wonderful sunshine we had with plenty of water because I know I get thirsty...

Not far in to my run I came across a mountain biker who had come off his bike. He had been over a low jump, got it wrong and landed on his face. It was obvious he needed an ambulance. Luckily he had been wearing a helmet, it was badly smashed but I hate to think what would have happened if it hadn't been wearing it, he was in a lot of pain and wasn't a pretty sight.

I had my mobile with me so I was able to phone for an ambulance and direct the paramedics to where we were. Luckily I know the area very well and knew where we were.

This brings me to my main point for this post. I am always amazed by the number of lost people I find on the South Downs who don't have maps or phones etc with them. To me this is irresponsible, you never know who or what you may find, and if you get lost you could end up walking for hours before finding a road or people to direct you.

Maybe it was my upbringing, and years spent in the Girl Guides, Air Cadets and then the TA but you should go out prepared. I don't mean taking a full emergency first aid kit with you but adequate and suitable clothing ( white ugg boots don't look so good after a walk over the downs in winter), a map or navigation device so you know where you are (not just a sketch on the back of a bit of paper that covers Eastbourne to Winchester on half an A4 sheet). Depending on how far you are going/how long you plan to be out then water is a good idea, and in our modern society when everyone has their mobiles with them all day don't leave it at home when you go out in to the country, by all means turn it off so you can enjoy the peace and quiet but one day you may be very grateful that you have it with you..

Anyway, instead of 10 miles I ran 7 but enjoyed it, not the fastest I have ever run but it was beautiful up there :)

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Monday, 16 July 2012

Meet Millie

I would like to introduce Millie, she will be coming home with us on the 5th August and when she is old enough she will be coming out running with me :)

We have spent months considering if we should get a dog. As well as the general looking after it considerations we also have a daughter who is asthmatic and allergic to dogs.

What I didn't realise is that you can be allergic to different breeds of dog in different ways. Millie is a rather gorgeous chocolate Cockapoo. Her mum is a working gun dog and her dad an apricot poodle.

Before looking for a dog Holly spent some time with a friends Cockapoo to make sure it didn't trigger her asthma, even though she doesn't live at home anymore I don't want us having a dog to make it difficult for her to pop round...

Anyway, I'm now busy looking at dog beds, bowls, leads etc and getting just a bit excited !

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Monday, 9 July 2012

Without a smile you are not properly dressed....

Well, yesterday was the Wivesfield Wobble. A lovely 4.5 mile run through dabbled woods... Ideal for July..... Except this has not been an ideal summer so far so instead of the slightly dusty trails we were wadding through mud, that horrible trainer grabbing mud that means you go home and need to scrub your toenails to get it out !

It was however almost ideal running weather, warm but not too hot, a slight breeze but not blowing a gale... and when it started raining just after I finished it felt quite pleasant.

The start of the run is round a sports field. This was very squelchy with standing water in places and people were slipping all over the place before we got out to the muddy bits. I must admit I really don't like running round fields in circles but I can see the advantage in starting the race this way because it spreads the field out and avoids the bottlenecks on the narrower parts of the trails. It was always going to be one of those days when you couldn't avoid the mud. So I didn't try. Instead of going round it I went straight through it and managed to overtake a few of the more careful people in the process :) I did see a few people lose a trainer or two (glad I double knotted my laces tightly) and I did see a few people slip over, but no lasting damage was done except maybe to pride...

The last race that I ran that was quite this muddy was the Steyning Stinger in March, I ran that race in road shoes...this one I ran in trail shoes and yes, the difference is worth buying them for. I didn't have that sliding all over the place feeling and was able to run through the mud.

On the last section back round the sports field there were three women in front of me so I increased my pace a bit to overtake them, it is always hard to gauge how fast I can run and keep the same pace going until the finish line ! I overtook the last woman in front with less than 100 yards to the finish, I could here everyone shouting so I knew she was trying to catch me and overtake again but I didn't look back, I just kept going and crossed the finish line a second before her :) yes, it felt good and for the first time ever got a spot prize, quite useful after this run some shower gel !

It is funny how soon you lose inhibitions when running, when I got back to the car I fished out my black bin bag and stripped off to my underwear in the middle of Wivesfield Green so I could put clean dry clothes on for the drive home.

So, 4.5 very muddy miles in 44:24 and 6 points for the club. Not bad for someone who hated all sports as a teenager and just over two years ago couldn't run to the corner :)

PS the socks started out pale blue.... Not sure they ever will be again !

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Sunday, 1 July 2012


Well, I have spent the last couple of weeks trying to get some structure in to my running.... Please note the word trying.

I know that if I want to race faster I need to run faster. That, dear friends, is the root of the issue.... I actually don't like running so fast it makes me want to throw up, I don't like the lung burning feeling that I get and the pink "blob" loom at the end is quite unattractive; but it needs to be done.

Also, because of my workload and the number of evenings I'm working at the moment I have switched most of my running to the early mornings. I'm not naturally a morning person and in general I'm not pleasant to know until at least after the first cup of coffee so getting myself straight out of bed, into running gear and running intervals has proved somewhat challenging but I have been doing it. I'm using my heart rate to judge effort so if I am particularly tired and my heart rate is unusually high for the speed I'm running at then I have switched the session to a general tempo session.

I think it is beginning to work, my slow running pace is gradually getting a bit faster for the same amount of effort but my real goals are two particular races towards the end of the year where I will see if a few months of effort have paid off.

I have also started to up the distance of my long run after cutting right back after the marathon, I need to be running 13 miles at least once a fortnight to keep my legs used to the distance and (hopefully) make it easier to run the autumn half marathon a bit faster, it would be fabulous if I could get a PB !

The other thing I haven't done much about is my weight.... I have still been eating the chocolate and buns and know that they now have to go, I don't have too much to shift but have been a bit lax about what I've been eating ;)

So, quite a bit of running going on, I just wish we could lose these strong winds and have some nice gentle summer breezes :)

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Thursday, 21 June 2012

The Dream Team !

Last Sunday I met up with some friends for the Race for Life. This race will always remind me of how far I have come. It was the first race I ever entered and at the time it was my goal just to complete it.

On Sunday I was running just for fun. I had offered to run with my friends youngest granddaughter (the shortest one in the photo) who also had her friend with her. This would be the furthest they had ever run.....

They both did amazingly well and we crossed the finish line in 27:09, a time that most people would be quite happy with.

Luckily the sun was shining and it wasn't too hot so it made it a very pleasant run.....

Anyway, this is the "Dream Team", just in case you are wondering I'm number 6606 :)

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Thursday, 14 June 2012

Our mercurial weather

Well, Sunday was dry and sunny and then it rained.....

It wasn't just a little shower here but constant heavy rain for hours on end. The problem is that when the fields are dry the water just runs off rather than soaks in.

I went for a short run Monday evening along Mouse Lane; this is well known locally because it does end up looking like a river somedays so it was no surprise to be running through ankle deep water and to see people blocking their doorways with sandbags. The South Downs looked wonderful with low cloud and mist....

The following morning I was up early for a slightly longer run; the dilemma was whether to run over the Downs knowing I would have very wet feet from the start or run down towards the river where I know I will have dry feet for the first two miles and then see what it looked like.

Because I was also still recovering from Sundays half marathon I opted for the slightly easier river route. When I got to the river the water level didn't look too bad and the fields nearby looked relatively free from flooding so I carried on, even at the first bridge it still looked fine !

It was only when I left the river banks and headed inland to go home that I started finding the deeper water blocking my path. This is an area that I know well and I am also well aware of the power of fast flowing water, even if it is only relatively shallow so when my path was blocked by flood water I did stop to see if I thought it would be safe to go through or if I should turn round.. I could see the path emerging from the water ahead of me and the water was still rather than flowing so I continued on my way and was soon up to my knees in it (there goes the dry feet !) once out the overside I continued up hill.

There were loads of little baby bunnies, about the size of my hand :) with the rain and warmth everything, including the nettles, had grown up to about waist height so the next section of the run was quite hard work. But, I thought I was through the worst of the water and would soon be on a road heading home...

I joined the road but had forgotten how low lying it is, went round a corner and as far as I could see was water. At this point I had a decision, to go through it or to take a 4 mile detour..... I opted for the "go through it" option :) luckily although the water was more than knee deep it didn't come up to my waist, I stayed in the middle of the road (normally the highest point) and did actually manage to "run" through it. If I'm honest I quite enjoyed it, maybe there is a child in everyone that likes splashing in BIG puddles knowing you won't get told off !

So, I made it home, rather slow and rather soggy but boy what a great run :)

And for tomorrow ?? I have the Downs / River decision to make again.....

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Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Sunday's Half Marathon

Well, what can I say about Sunday.... Luckily the wind had dropped a bit and the sun was shining, but boy it was hilly !

It also looks like the shortest half marathon I have ever run...... chatting to the people I was running with and comparing our Garmin data afterwards it has come up short for everyone; I haven't heard back from the organisers yet but it looks at least half a mile short.... Of course there may be some logical explanation regarding the way Garmins calculate distance with hills but I'm not sure it would make that much difference... We will just have to wait and see.

I think I can honestly say that was the hilliest race I have ever run, the views from the top were amazing but none of it was flat ! One slight down point was the length of time that we had to queue to get through some of the gates and over some of the stiles, especially in the first few miles before people had spread out a bit.

Overall I was quite happy with my time, I had been aiming for between 2 hrs and 2:30 so coming in at 2:20 was ok considering the lack of training I put in for this one !

This is a photo from the start... It doesn't really give justice to the steepness of the hill....

But the medals were good !

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Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Cunning Plan - Stage 1

Well, I have been doing quite a bit of research on different training methods and have opted to use heart rate training to help me improve my running without (hopefully) injuring myself. The first thing to do is to find your max heart rate... I have been reading a very interesting book about this and followed their method of measuring it; this is something that I will need to repeat every few months..

Anyway, I now know my max HR that I will be using for "input" to work out my training zones... All I have left to do is to put together the rest of the training plan !

The next one looks hilly !

Well, next weekend is my next half marathon. This is more for fun than a PB, partly because I haven't been training properly for it but primarily because it looks VERY hilly !

You know it is going to be tough when the race instructions say " the route starts with a difficult climb " normally race instructions describe hills as "undulating"..... To have the start described as a "difficult climb" is slightly worrying because I'm still not very good at running up hills.... I also find I'm not that quick at running down near vertical hills either so all in all it isn't going to be a quick one.

I have, however, been putting together a cunning plan to help me run faster but more on that another day :)

Thursday, 31 May 2012

Decisions, decisions.....

Well, after my fairly uninspiring performances racing recently I really need to get back on track and start training for a specific race. My problem is I can't decide which one !

I want to target a half marathon either late September / October time. This should give me enough time to train properly and look to improve my times... It should also act as good training for a particularly difficult 10 mile race that I have booked for November.

I've started running hills again ( I stopped on the lead up to the marathon ) and I'm certainly feeling it in my legs.

All I need to do is put together a coherent training plan and get started :)

Sunday, 27 May 2012

That was a hot one !

I have to be honest I really struggled at times during today's race. It was in central London in 28 degrees. Last week it was still winter here; too cold to sit outside in the evenings, then, within a week, it is like the height of summer !

I knew quite early on that I wasn't going to get a PB or even match last years time so I just settled down to enjoy the race :)

This meant that I got to spot some of the London landmarks that I missed last year, like Nelsons column, Mansion House and the Bank of England.... It also meant that as I was running back down the Mall towards the finish I was joining in the with arm movements to YMCA that was blaring out of the speakers ! So, time wise it was my worst 10k for about 18 months (official times not available yet but my watch said 60 mins) but I enjoyed myself :)

It was also great seeing Mo Farah as he ran past in the opposite direction, those guys are FAST !

I really must put together a training plan for the next few months to improve my 10k time, I would like to get it under 50 mins by the end of this year...

Anyway, this is me after I had cooled down a bit (honest !) and Buckingham Palace in the sunshine... Seems like a world away from where I live, not sure that I could ever get used to the crowds....

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Friday, 25 May 2012

And for my next trick !

It is strange all the things that you have never done in life, quite often because someone has always done them for you. So, yesterday, I got my bike out of the shed where it has stood unused for the last 15 years and changed the tyres. Believe it or not I have never changed the tyre on a bike before.

A few things that I learnt:

1. After 15 years everything seizes up....
2. There is a right way and wrong way to fit tyres...
3. You shouldn't inflate the tyre fully until it is back on the bike..

So, what I thought was going to be a quick task took a bit longer but it is now done. Phill also gave me a hand greasing the bearings inside the wheels (I didn't even know they were there !)

All that is left to do is to sort the brakes and gears and I will have a working Bike again :)

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Thursday, 24 May 2012

Sun, sea, sand......... And cake !

Well, last night was a lovely race, I don't know my time yet because I did my normal trick of forgetting to stop my Garmin when I finished. It was an out and back route along Littlehampton beach.... Luckily the tide was out but there were still some ankle deep bits and some very soft sinking sand to run through.... As well as the up and down the shingle sections.

The heat certainly makes a difference. Two weeks ago it was only 8 or 9 degrees, last night it was about 20 degrees and I'm certainly not used to it !

The best bit has to be the homemade cake at the finish :) there is something really lovely about the smaller local races, you get to meet and start to know the other runners from the local clubs and it is always a really friendly atmosphere.

On Sunday I'm racing in London..... I can honestly say that I doubt that I will be as fast as last year, I just haven't trained properly for it, I'm also running again tonight so a proper taper is out the window. I'm just planning on going along and enjoying it, after all that is why I run !

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Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Beware of the pigs !

On Sunday I went for lovely 13.3 "gentle" run that included some whopping great hills. This is the furthest that I have run since the marathon and if I'm honest I was a bit nervous about it, I wasn't sure quite how much fitness I have lost in the last 6 weeks of "recovery" running.... The last time I ran anything similar was last October and despite stopping to take some photos and admire the views from the top of the hills (aka feeling like you just can't breath anymore !) I was less than a minute slower than last time...

One thing that has changed has been the introduction of free range pigs..... These pigs are big, but gorgeous and they looked so chilled sleeping in the sun on top of the straw.... It certainly makes a change from the cows, sheep and occasional rather large bull !

So, eating wise.. I have found it hard work cutting down, I hate that hungry feeling but know that it will pass in a couple of weeks. Cutting down on the alcohol really hasn't been a problem and I feel so much better for it.

Glasses of wine since last post : 4 (this really is a reduction on the previous few weeks !)
Big iced buns since last post : 0 - result !

Anyway, this is another photo from last Sundays run :)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Friday, 18 May 2012

The scales don't lie....

Well, after my time away and generally having taken it easy after the marathon I thought it was about time I stood on the scales..... Funny, but breathing in doesn't make you weigh less ! Neither does trying to pull everything in or blame it on the mouthful of coffee just before standing on the scales.

The truth is I have put on weight. I don't know why that was a surprise, it really shouldn't have been. I have been "recovering" from the marathon on a diet that consisted of buns mid morning.... And a bit more with a meal to "make up" for the energy lost during the marathon. Throw in to the mix a lack of running and I think you can see as well as I can where the extra weight has come from.

So, I'm now getting back in to a routine of running 4 times a week, cutting out the mid morning buns.... cutting down on the alcohol and eating a bit more healthily.

So, two photos for this blog post.... The first is my favourite sort of bun (yes, you can see where the weight gain has come from !)

And the second from a lovely evening run over the South Downs....

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Monday, 14 May 2012

Cardiac screening...

Well, this year has really highlighted how exercise can highlight underlying heart problems. It looks like Micah True died from a heart condition as did Claire Squires during the London Marathon.

If you are aged 18-35 then you may be able to get free cardiac screening, click on this link for more info from UK Athletics.

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Perfect Preparation Prevents....

I think we all have things in our lives that we plan for.... and then we have those things that we pop in the diary and conveniently forget about because something bigger/better/more exciting is happening...

This weekend has been one of those "pop in the diary and forget about" moments. I have been racing both days this weekend. Yesterday was a lovely 10k trail race through a forest, I had booked it before the marathon to give myself a reason to keep on running. It is a race I have run before, quite hilly and all off road :) what I hadn't taken in to consideration was quite what a marathon would take out of me.... My marathon training had all been geared to distance rather than speed and with my knee problems I had slowed right down... Then, if you put in to the mix a week on the road with work (and a few glasses of wine more than normal) followed by a few days in Devon staying with some very good friends, sampling some of the great food at the Victoria Inn, Salcombe, and some wonderful home cooking all with plenty of wine to accompany it then you start to get the picture regarding my race training for this weekend !

Oh, and did I mention the Devon cream teas ??

As you can see, absolutely delicious but not too sure that they are part of Paula Radcliffes diet !

So, after a muddy, hilly trail 10k race yesterday I had entered a 5 mile cross country run over the South Downs today..

I think it is fair to say that maybe I should have known better than to have a couple of glasses of wine last night but hey, I knew I wouldn't be breaking any records today...

Today's race seemed to be uphill for an awful long time, one good thing was that this weekend, for the first time for a long time, it was sunny so the view from the top of the South Downs were stunning.

This weekend has seen me breaking any PBs but I was only a few seconds slower on Saturday than last year and it was a lot muddier this year... I could carry on making excuses but the reality is that I didn't train for these races and it showed. So, I have 2 weeks to get my butt in to gear before my next 10k race; I have a feeling that I won't be getting a PB but hopefully my time will be a tadge better than last year, if it isn't I won't be broken hearted, as I said near the start of this post I didn't realise quite what running the marathon would take out of me....

I have a target 10k towards the end of this year that I am working towards so apart from the odd half marathon my training is going to be geared to improving my PB in that :)

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Optimal training paces..

Well, now I've just about recovered from the Marathon I want to look at improving my 10K time so I have been looking at my optimal training paces. I put everything in to a pace calculator and came up with this..

Your Optimal Training Paces

Endurance Workouts Pace/Mi
Recovery Jogs 10:54 to 11:24
Long Runs 9:54 to 10:54
Easy Runs 9:54 to 10:24
Stamina Workouts Pace/Mi
Steady-State Runs 8:55 to 9:10
Tempo Runs 8:32 to 8:55
Tempo Intervals 8:25 to 8:43

Now, I don't have a problem with the endurance workouts, that seems to fit my pace quite well... BUT the stamina workouts ??? Not sure that I have consistently run at these speeds for quite a while (if ever) so the next stage is to put all this data in and come up with a very cunning training plan.... so watch this space !

Mud, mud.... and more mud !

Well, after being away with work for most of last week and not having any time to run (on my feet for 8 hrs a day though !) it was good to get back and fit in a couple of runs over the South Downs with Holly.

We went out the Sunday before I went away in torrential rain and almost gale force winds for an 8 mile run across the Downs in a circular route from her house. I think that has to be the wettest run I have done so far and I certainly haven't seen that much water on the Downs before.

This week was a bit better, it didn't start raining until half way round and the wind wasn't quite as strong. Also, a lot of what had just been running water had now turned to mud.....

On the plus side my new trail trainers have been well and truly broken in and certainly don't look new any more !

I will be racing at the weekend (I'm away again for most of this week with work) I haven't tried running "fast" for quite a while.. all my training so far this year has been geared at distance. I have also been taking it easy for the last few weeks to give my body a chance to recover from the marathon so I guess now is the time to start to step it up a gear :)

This photo is the very nice Lincolnshire fire brigade that turned up when out hotel was evacuated at 3:30am one morning last week.... not running related but finding your clothes in the dark and getting out quick must be good training for something !

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Mental attitude

One thing that I read quite a bit about, and put in to practise, was the mental training needed for marathon running.

26.2 miles is a long way.... and running for over 5 hours is a long time !

The marathon course in Brighton doubles back on itself a few times so if, like me, you are not one of the faster people you will have people passing you coming the other way and you KNOW they are miles in front of you !

This may sound slightly arrogant but from the moment I got to Preston Park for the start I didn't ever doubt that I would finish the marathon.

This is the first important point - You have to believe in yourself that you can do this. If you start out thinking that you are not sure then, as soon as it starts to get tough or hurt (and it will hurt) you will lose all faith in your ability to complete the marathon.

When you first enter a marathon you may not be sure that you can do it... but you have entered, so something inside you obviously thinks that you can :) What you need to do is to develop positive self talk, look in the mirror every morning and say out loud "I am a marathon runner" this may seem totally out of place to start with but over the weeks and months you will begin to believe it....

This brings me on to the second point - Realistic expectations. I had never run a marathon before, I didn't know how I would feel, how I would cope with the fatigue or how I would cope with the pain. My goal was to complete the marathon, if I managed it under 5 hours that would have been a bonus. My other goal was to enjoy the race. After all, I was spending 4 months training for this day, running in all weathers, quite often on my own..... for me this was going to be a 26.2 mile lap of honour. This was the public recognition of the months of training and boy was I going to enjoy it ! I wasn't aiming to beat anyone, or the clock, I just wanted to go out and have fun :)

If you set time goals then you set yourself up for possible failure BUT it does depend on your mental attitude as to how you deal with it. Last November I had been aiming for a sub 2 hr half marathon. It didn't happen, afterwards you always think of the bits where "maybe" you could have gone faster but in general I just think that it wasn't meant to happen that day.... and there is always another day..... If I enjoy the run then it is a success :)

During the marathon when I saw the people in front coming back the other way I didn't think "I'm so slow, they are miles in front...." I thought "Wow, look at them go, aren't they great !"

I also thought about all the spectators standing there for hours on end... I'm sure they were colder than I was and no-one gave them a medal... so the least I could do was smile and wave back when they cheered me on and shouted my name.

I met some lovely people on the way and chatted to them for a while....

The last few miles were difficult, but I knew I was going to finish this marathon and I could picture crossing the finish line in my head. In fact I have finished so many marathons in my head you would be amazed ! I had also split the run in to sections; a jog round the park to warm up, a run through the streets of Brighton, a run up past the marina to Ovingdean and back, a run through Hove, a run to the power station and then the final stretch back past the pier to the finish. I had pictured me running each of these sections over and over again...

I am a great believer in a positive mental attitude and that you make your own reality. I don't know who first said it but "If you think you most probably can, or if you think you most probably can't, you are most probably right".

Monday, 23 April 2012

It's good to be back !

I went out for a very gentle 5 mile run over the South Downs yesterday evening with Holly. It felt really good to be back running on the Downs again. It was rather muddy in places but not impassable....

I know I still haven't fully recovered from the marathon, I think that will take a couple of weeks....

It was great to see the bluebells in the woods and the lambs in the fields :)

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Saturday, 21 April 2012

So what did I learn....

It is now nearly a week ago since I ran the Brighton Marathon, there is so much that I want to say about it so it may need to be over several posts...

Running a marathon is almost a surreal experience. I spent over 4 months of my life training for this one race. I went out in the pouring rain, freezing cold, wind and sunshine and ran literally hundreds of miles.

The training brings its highs and lows. Some of the highs are the feeling that you get after a really good run, you know when everything just comes together and you feel invincible as though you could run forever. The low point for me was the 19th Feb when the injury to my knee really surfaced, mixed with tiredness and feeling a bit emotional and I though I was going to have to pull out of the marathon.

Running the actual marathon is an amazing high, yes, it is painful, but I loved every minute of it. I have met people that I wouldn't have met any other way and made friends with a group of runners whose only aim is to support each other, no matter how fast (or slow!) each person is. I think it is this that has restored some of my faith in the basic goodness in everyone that took a bit of a battering last year.

I know everyone says the stretch by the power station is hard, not that many supporters, a long "stretch" and coming at 20 miles... but I found the quite sound of everyone running quite reassuring, people in front of me, people behind me and people coming the other way. I used this time to collect my thoughts and have a few miles of "quiet" time before returning to the crowds cheering along the seafront.

I can't get over how many people cheered for me, people I've never met, including the guys outside the pub in Hove, pints in hand shouting encouragement; above all I think it is the support from the crowd that made the marathon such fun.

About mile 25.5 I saw my son Ollie who was a marshal for the marathon; It was great to see him, I was beginning to think I had missed him completely. After that I did begin to cry, I suddenly realised I was doing this, I was actually running a marathon and I WAS going to finish ! I had a sudden surge of energy and my legs seemed to come back to life and want to run faster.

I was sobbing as they gave me my medal and then someone asked me what size t-shirt I wanted; all I remember is thinking "How do I know, I've just run 26.2 miles, I don't know anything about t-shirts !"

I carried on walking for a while so I didn't seize up completely and thats when I realised quite how much my knee was hurting so I took some ibuprofen, had a banana and drink, collected my bag and got changed.

For me it was quite a slow hobble back to the station, bending my right leg was quite painful although I did make it round with only one little blister on my feet :)

Would I do it again ? Yes. Maybe not next year but 2014 I hope to be back running a marathon again. I have some other things I still want to achieve but they will be separate posts...

Important lessons learnt

1. I drank too much, it cost me 20 mins queuing for the loos....

2. When queuing for the loo choose the que with no/very few men in it... If they need a wee they normally use the bushes. Enough said.

3. Have your name on your shirt. Just do it !

4. The mental preparation is as important as the physical

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