Thursday, 31 July 2014

Runstreak Day #243 - last Scottish run... and knee feeling better!

You can't beat a run where you see more horses than cars, can you?  Even if the weather is spitting fine rain at you, it's not enough to stop the feeling of lucky as you pootle along the lanes.

In fact, as I set out, I had no twinges from my knee and at 6am this morning I felt flipping fabulous! It feels almost like a miracle not to have that pain at all after a couple of weeks of misery. And I know I've gone on about it a fair bit but I'd almost become used to hop-running for the first mile or so and today really is the first time it's felt fine from the outset. Hooray!

So... Day 243... a nice gentle run along by the river and up to the nearby hamlet. I sat for a while on the steps at the top, partly getting my breath back after running up the hill, but also to look at the hills and savour the moment a bit. Just me, the birds, the sheep and the quiet. This is why I run every day. This feeling. That I got somewhere under my own steam. That I got to experience a calm and peace just for me. And that I get to stash away that cool quiet memory.

I ran back to the campsite where we've been staying and said hello to the horse and rider I've seen regularly when I've been running. She probably thinks I'm crackers for running every day. But she rides every day, so we share a little outdoors crazy, I guess!

My daughter asked me later on what was the shortest distance I'd ever run. I said it was the very first day I attempted running. 45 seconds of gasping struggle. I never realised where those first painful steps could take me.  Or how much joy they might eventually bring.  Yup, definitely feeling the running love at the mo!

No knee pain.  No traffic.  No stress.  No worries.

No question that I'll run again tomorrow!

Or that I'll have a cuppa when I finish my run!

Runstreak Day #239 - 'just running'

All is right with the world! Am on holiday in the Scottish Borders... have just done my first holiday run and the rain overnight has turned the world all sparkly and fresh.  Yum, yum!

The last week or so of avoiding hills has now come to an end as it's decidedly 'undulating' here! So, I undulated my way up and down the lanes near the camp site where we're staying.  Not very far this morning because of the pesky knee thing, but far enough to have got out there. Wooooo hooooo!  Didn't see anyone else other than a couple of bleary campers making their way to the shower block and got the 'you must be slightly crackers face from them', which at 6:30 in the morning is probably fair enough!

It's a bit weird running while you're away from home.  You realise just how familiar all of your routes have become. You know what a three mile run is.  You know your four, five and beyond runs.  But when you're away you just run.

'Just running' is fabulous.  All sparkly happy shades of fabulous.

And now I have tea. Mmmmmm mmmm!

Geeky stats stuff

Time: 22:27 mins
Dist: 2.68 miles
Pace: 8.23 mins / mile

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Runstreak Day #240 - infernal running logic

So... You know you're losing the plot slightly when you actually consider re-running a section of your run because you paused your Garmin and forgot to start it again, right?

Well, I am definitely losing the plot.

There I was, happily tootling down a rather pretty lane in the quiet of the morning when I see a horse up ahead.  The horse and rider are both still in the road and it's obviously a moment of uncertainty.  The horse doesn't like me running towards it, so I slow down to let it go past.  It's kinda skittish, but eventually we pass one another and I carry on running. Down the slight hill and around the corner, then up the next lane... high hedgerows either side with glimpses of golden wheat swishing in the breeze. It's lovely.  The road wafts gradually upwards. My knee isn't too painful and it's lovely.  I think to myself 'I'm sure this was about a mile yesterday and glance down at my Garmin.  It says 0.25 miles. Damn it! I haven't restarted it since the horse encounter.

I restart it and run some more, finish climbing the hill and head down towards the main road.  My brain is doing the calculations.  If yesterday's run was just shy of three miles and this has missed out three quarters of a mile, I won't have done my two mile minimum.  Well, I will... but the evidence won't be there.  Which means I didn't do it (runner's logic is a-maz-ing!).  Which means I must extend my route because then it will be over the minimum and will count.  Right.  That makes sense.  I run back up the hill and wobble and wobble the rise and fall of the downward section and instead of returning to the campsite run towards the nearest hamlet three quarters of a mile away.  Say hello to the sheep.  Wave at the horses (obviously) and congratulate myself on defeating the mistaken missing distance.

I loop back, having now done nearly three miles.  Past the winding river, past the sheep, past the horses, back up the hill.  

Oh look! There's the horse and rider again! This time I stop and chat.  And pause my Garmin.  Naturally.  We chat more.  The horse has no name but he's very handsome.  The rider asks about my run, it's nice. I boing my way back up the lane, doing my best 'I'm being watched I'd better make it look like I'm a competent runner' running.

I've done at least half a mile since I saw the horse and rider I think.  I glance down at my watch to check.

DAMN IT, I forgot to restart it.  Again!!!

And I wonder whether or not I should run back down the lane to fill in the missing bit of my run.  Again.

So... Day 240.  The day I had no idea how far I ran other than it was further than I recorded and more baffling illogical than could ever make sense.

And then I drank tea.  

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Runstreak Day #238 - pre-holiday running

A-a-a-a-a-a-a-a-and... that's my 238th day of running a-a-a-a-a-all done.  LOVE it when I get my run done before 7am.  Not only do I get to wear the smug pants that say 'yeah world... I got out there and ran before you even woke up!!!'... but I get to do that with a sweaty red face as well.  Glam.  *pulls smug pants up super high*

And today, it means that I get to go on holiday knowing that my run is done and I don't have to wind my husband up later on by arriving in Scotland and going 'and now I'm going for a run... laters!'.  :o)

So... stuff about today's run?  It wasn't that far - a shade over 3 miles.  I'm still taking it REALLY steady so that my knee stands a chance of recovering.  But I did brave my first hill in over a week.  I did the 'stupidly steep hill' - and ran up it with no problems.  Well, none other than thinking I was going to die by the time I got to the top.  And I did develop a slight hill potty mouth (the words 'for f*ck's sake don't stop' might have been uttered a few times).  And then I did something unheard of for me.  I ran really gingerly down the other side.  No aeroplane arms.  No running so fast I think I'm going to fall over.  None of that stuff.  Even debating which was the gentlest gradient to tackle going downwards.

Which was probably quite sensible!  But it is driving me mad that I can't just run the way I want, the pace I want, the routes I want at the moment!  At least my knee is getting better though.  The pain is loads less and since I couldn't even walk down a hill after last Saturday's WR10k... the fact that I can run slowly down one without hopping in pain is brilliant.

Right.  Better pack for holiday.  So that's... running shorts, running tops, running socks, trainers, sports bras, Garmin, sunblock... all the essentials.  :o)

But first?  Time for tea.  And peanut butter on toast.  And happy dancing.

*happy dances*

Geeky stats stuff

Distance:3.02 mi
Avg Pace:8:47 min/mi
Elevation Gain:197 ft

Friday, 25 July 2014

Runstreak Day #237 - another kneesaving flat slow run

Day 'whatever it is' of the 'running sensible slow flat routes' thing in a bid to get my knee feeling better.  And 237 days of running every day in normal counting mode!

Boy oh boy was it warm out tonight.  Even running near the river didn't produce any kind of cooling breeze and by the time I finished my run, I was leaving a little drippy trail behind me.  Still managing to bellow 'hello!!' or 'evening!!' at the walkers I ran past... but when I got back to the car and looked in the mirror at my beetroot face, I realised that I must have been yelling my greetings like a mad thing... whilst wearing what appeared to be a necklace of sweaty dead flies.  Mmmm mmmmm!  It's the height of fashion on a Friday night, don'cha know!

Actually, running this evening, knee pain aside, was a happy way to round off a good day.  I'm on leave as of today and not back at work until the 4th of August - wooo hooo!  Plus, I found out I got a new job today - which is an even bigger WOOOO HOOOOO!!  And now all that's left is to pack for going on holiday to Scotland tomorrow.  So, the holiday checklist so far...

1.  Pack trainers
2.  Get sports bras sorted
3.  Find enough running tops
4.  Ditto running shorts
5.  Make sure there are plenty of running socks
6.  Charge Garmin
7.  Consider taking a spare pair of trainers
8.  Wash running kit from this evening and hang out on the line overnight so it can be packed in the morning
9.  Have a little look to see what running routes I might try.
10. Vaguely recall that other 'normal' stuff should be packed...

I'm not addicted to running.  I could stop anytime I wanted...

*whispers to Garmin 'that's a lie, I love you, we will never be parted'*  ^_^

Did I hear someone say they were putting the kettle on?  Super dooper!

Geeky stats stuff

Distance:3.48 mi
Avg Pace:8:38 min/mi
Elevation Gain:12 ft

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Runstreak Day #236 - relaxing into it

In the last 6 months my running has really changed.  And not necessarily just in terms of pace or distance either.  Okay, so I can run faster... and I have increased from a 10k being the furthest I've run to managing a half marathon with no problems and feeling comfortable running 7 to 8 miles regularly.  But what's really changed is how much more relaxed I feel about my running now.

It's not like I'm running along going 'this is sooooo easy'.  Nope.  I still find running hard work in lots of ways.  There's always a point where I'm either sweating so much I think I'm going to dissolve or I'm breathing so heavily I worry someone will dial 999.  But the mechanics of it I understand.  I know what's involved in running a hilly route.  I know how to handle a longer run.  I don't actually care about pace so much any more - and tonight's run where I was with some running friends, taking it steady because of my dodgy knee, and it was coming in at 10 minute miles... that didn't bother me in the slightest.  I don't need to prove anything to anyone.  And I don't need to prove anything to myself any more.  I was just enjoying the breeze coming off the River Trent, chatting to the others and feeling the space and freedom that always comes with running.

The fact that I'm now able to run with others without worrying about it is also a complete revelation.  I was so panicked about it just 6 months ago.  I felt such a fraud.  Like someone would spot that I wasn't a 'proper runner'.  Now I *know* that I can run and that it doesn't matter if that running is faster or slower than anyone else... I get what it is to run, and I know that other runners get it too.  And I've met so many lovely people through my running, it's definitely taken the edge off the fear I felt about it all.

I guess what's changed more than anything is my confidence.  I kept on pushing myself to do things like parkrun even when I was scared rigid by them.  Thanks to a running friend, I've run a couple more races after the one that almost put me off running any more races at all.  I've met up with others.  I've stopped listening to music when I run (I don't feel like I need it any more some how).  I've started to regularly go to the Sweatshop Running Community runs.  And every so often I catch myself and go 'blimey... haven't things changed!'

Well, they really have changed.  Tonight I ran with friends which was lovely.  Plus, I met someone who was starting out with their very first C25K run tonight.  And I realised a) how far I'd come and b) what an amazing gift that new runner was giving themselves by giving it a go.

Day 236.  236 days of running.  Happy days.  :o)

Geeky stats stuff

Distance:4.21 mi
Avg Pace:10:00 min/mi
Elevation Gain:27 ft

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Runstreak Day #235 - decisions on the run

235 days all done and dusted.  Was today's run a) hot b) sweaty c) hurty or d) all of the above?

That's right!  It was d)!  Well done!!

This evening I ran with the Sweatshop Running Community again - although to be honest I didn't really run *with* anyone today.  No-one was going at my pace so I basically ran on my own, which was fine.  It is frustrating not being able to run at my normal pace, but I know I can't push it at all at the moment because of my stupid knee hurting.  There were a couple of points where I was doubting my sanity.  If I was going to end up running on my own, I could have just run a flatter route a bit later when it was cooler down by the river... rather than a route which meant that I had to compromise on my 'no hills and short routes' thing.


Anyway, I did it.  Just shy of 4 miles but not a drop of sweat on me wanted to run any further tonight.  I did quite enjoy it - and after a hard day at work, I definitely needed it!  I also made up my mind to run the Stroud Trail Half Marathon next year.  It's not because I want to run the crazy hills particularly, but it's in the area where I grew up... and it's taking place on the 5th anniversary of my Dad dying.  It's funny the things that go through your head while you're running, the decision to definitely do it happened while I was pattering along this evening.  I love that my head is clear and free to think about what I need to think about.  And I think that I want to give my time and space to my Dad on that particular date... and if I can run that in his memory and maybe raise some money along the way, that'd be a good way to mark the anniversary.

So... there you go.  I sweated my face off.  I ended up making a decision.  I got myself some space and freedom.  And, yet again, I don't regret going for my run.

Just gotta get my poxy knee feeling better.  Am doing stretching and strengthening exercises an' everything!  Which, for a lazy arse like me is a turn up for the books!

Am still doing my tea-arm strengthening exercises of course!  *slurps*

Geeky stats stuff

Distance:3.85 mi
Avg Pace:8:36 min/mi
Elevation Gain:122 ft

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Runstreak Day #234 - slow, short run with my daughter

Day 234... and... guess what?!  I BLOODY LOVE RUNNING!!!

You know why?  Because for the first time in absolutely ages I had a little running partner with me!  My 10 year old decided she really wanted to come running, so she did.  And *points at picture* look what she'd written on her t-shirt!  'I AM A GOOD RUNNER (like my mummy)'


She managed just over 2.5 miles on a really hot and sticky evening.  We ran along the River Trent, with a cooling breeze helping to keep things manageable as the evening put on its best golden outfit and looked beautiful.  It really was lovely.  We stopped every so often so that she could catch her breath, but she managed a decent pace of just over 9 minute miles and even when she was getting tired towards the end, didn't give up and managed to run the whole distance.  We raced a bit.  We ran holding hands.  She skipped and boinged.  It was fab!

I felt SO proud of her!  And I love that she likes running.  She says she likes seeing things when we're out and she just likes the feeling of running.  Well, I just like the feeling of running too!

Weirdly, my week of 'short, flat, slow running' is turning out to be kinda good for me generally.  Absolutely no pressure to go fast or tackle anything difficult.  Just finding my rhythm and being careful with *how* I'm running to make sure I don't aggravate my dodgy knee and resting it as much as it's going to get rested!  I'm really enjoying just ambling around.

And drinking tea.  I always enjoy my post-run cuppa cha.  :o)

Geeky stats stuff

Distance:2.56 mi
Avg Pace:9:27 min/mi
Elevation Gain:24 ft

Monday, 21 July 2014

Runstreak Day #233 - wanting to run vs needing to run

Day 233 - I needed today’s run.  I didn’t just want to run… I really REALLY needed it.  There’s nothing like a day full of minor irritations to make you crave space and shut down the noise of nonsense, is there?  And even with my knee still feeling dicky, I really wanted to get out.  

So, today’s run was a ‘no pressure, completely relaxed pace’ run.  I was extra careful about how I was running.  Making sure I wasn’t clomping (technical term!) and trying to stay as light on my feet as I could to not put any strain on my knee.  It twinges a bit but having chosen a flat trail to run, I was at least trying to minimise it get whacked or bashed too much.  Hard pavements and downhill zooming are out at the moment!

And guess what?  I enjoyed it.  Properly enjoyed it.  Stopped once to stretch a little bit, but otherwise kept to a really steady pace.  And let all the stress of the day pound its way out and get left in the ground behind me.  By the time I came home, the grumpy mood I’d found myself in had lifted and things were back in proportion again.  There really is something about going for a run with nothing other than the rhythm of your footsteps and the sound of your breathing to keep you company.  No, I can’t go for sparkly morning runs at the moment (as they’re always hilly and I can’t do hills until my knee’s feeling better)… but I did get the golden evening all to myself.  And that wasn’t bad either!

Knee now resting.  Head feeling much better.

Oh, and my smiley chops were in the local rag today from Saturday’s Women’s Running 10k!  Fame at last!  Well… my kids were impressed at least.  :o)

Geeky Stats stuff

Distance:2.79 mi
Avg Pace:8:48 min/mi
Elevation Gain:13 ft

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Runstreak Day #232 - when you're still glad you ran

Day 232 and yes... I went for a run.  What a surprise, huh?  ;)

Actually, I was a bit surprised later on when I came back from my run and uploaded it to Strava.  With today's run added in, I've run over 700 miles already this year.  And spent 100 hours running those miles.  I think my knee has every right to feel a bit twingy!

Anyway, I managed 7.5 miles this morning, which wasn't bad considering I did the WR10k yesterday.  It was an organised Sweatshop Running Community run - and after a little over 3 miles, the group stopped to decide whether or not people wanted to do 10 miles or do the shorter 7.5 mile route.  My brain required precisely no time at all to go '7.5.. we're doing 7.5... that's it.  7.5.  You say 10 and I will shut your legs down as of NOW'.  So 7.5 was plenty enough!  Didn't really run with anyone today. I just needed to run at a slow pace so as not to strain my knee any more and adjusting my pace to be faster / slower to suit others just wasn't going to happen!

To be honest, it was a kind of crappy run.  My stomach decided to do some crazy stuff while I was running (don't eat baked beans before running... *shudder*) and was so painful I had to stop and stretch a few times to help ease it off.  I'm not sorry I went though.  I got to see lots of damselflies doing their thing.  Ducklings and goslings getting bigger and braver, swimming down the river and canal.  Rowers being yelled at by their enthusiastic coaches who were cycling along on the banks.  Passed under cool shady bridges.  Ran past plenty of fishermen.  And despite not feeling 100%, was still happy to be out there, running.

700 miles so far this year.  Originally I'd aimed to do 500 for the whole year.  And I think I've already run 800 miles as part of my runstreak.  That's Lands End to John O'Groats stuff!!

Flip.  Ping.  Heck.

Let's not even talk about how many cups of tea I've had to fuel all of that running!!

Geeky stats stuff

Part 1 (before accidentally switching off my Garmin)
Distance:3.28 mi
Avg Pace:9:04 min/mi
Elevation Gain:47 ft
Part 2
Distance:4.21 mi
Avg Pace:9:04 min/mi
Elevation Gain:27 ft

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Runstreak Day #231 - Nottingham Women's Running 10k

I survived another race!

Another 10k race.  Which, after the last 10k I did, I had a BIG mental block about.  In fact, although I've run further than 10k, I haven't actually run that distance 'properly' since my dreadful Derby 10k effort.

So, rocking up today, complete with dodgy left knee, I really just wanted to finish.  But... y'know what?  I definitely wasn't as nervous as I have been in the past.  It really helps to know other runners - and through Facebook, I've managed to do just that - and they're brilliant.  We arrange to meet at parkruns.  We've met up at races.  We chat about running in the comfort of a Facebook group where no-one rolls their eyes and goes 'are you talking about bloody running... again?!' at us!  Yes, a race is still a fantastic laxative... but it doesn't terrify me as it did back in April.

And how was the race itself?  Well, it was raining.  And humid.  And it was laps.  Three of them.  Not the two they'd said... but they snuck in a cheeky first little lap before the slightly larger laps.  Which meant that by the time I was on lap three, the geese I was running past practically had me on their Christmas card list we were so well acquainted... and I was sick of the bloomin' sight of them!  I'd set off behind the 50 minute pacer.  Not because I wanted to get a sub-50 time, but because I figured I'd be quicker than 55 minutes, even taking it slowly, and I didn't want to get caught up in a panic-inducing scrum of women.  My twingy left knee did its thing... and even the slightest downward slope (and I mean REALLY slightly sloped) set off some pretty excruciating pain, causing me to run-hop for a few steps until it settled down into a tolerable twang of ouch again.

You can imagine it really wasn't the prettiest of races.  Twang, ouch, rain, sweat, ouch, geese, rain, lap, rain, sweat... nice.  And measuring in kilometres somehow makes it seem that bit further.  Mainly because my brain can't cope with km and I have no idea of how far that really is.  I swear the gap between 7 and 8 km was at least 5 miles.  ;o)

Snapped by the Nottingham Post before the race
with some of my lovely running buddies!
But, it was nice to be running a women-only race.  There's something brilliant about a sea of women being awesome together.  And although I really didn't like the laps, I did like the fact that I got to yell encouragement at my various running buddies as I went round, them heading one way, me the other.  Plus, at the end, I got to clap my hands off and yell really loudly for all the people I knew.  Which was also ace.

Would I do that race again?  I don't know!  The laps were dull and there weren't many people supporting on the way round (though that might have been down to the fact that it was so wet!).  Would I run another race?  Yup!

Oh, and I ended up finishing in 40th place.  Which made me squeal with excitement when I saw my name on the very first page of results!  In a mixed race that would NEVER happen!  No, it wasn't the best time ever... but I managed to haul myself around, got over my 10k fear and didn't walk.  Even when the urge to walk almost overcame me.

I definitely earned my cuppa cha!

Geeky stats stuff

Distance:6.23 mi
Avg Pace:8:20 min/mi
Elevation Gain:61 ft

Friday, 18 July 2014

Runstreak Day #230 - knee pain niggles

Where I'll be running tomorrow!
Day 230 done and dusted before 6am.  Bosh!  Done!

*puts on smug pants and dances around happily*

When I say 'dances', I kind of mean more of a hobble.  My stupid knee which has been a bit twingy lately has decided that every time I run down a hill it's going to make me go 'oooh!'... 'ow!'... 'that doesn't feel quite right'... 'ouch!' etc.  I have no idea what I've done to it other than it hurts.  To be honest, not as bad as yesterday evening - which was a bit of a disaster of a run - and I took it really REALLY steady today so as not to aggravate it any more.  But I hate that the nagging fear that I've properly hurt myself is now in my head.  Gah!

Anyway, at least today's run is run and I've got more than 24 hours of not running down hills to let it rest a bit!  Plus, I got out before the crazy temperature started to rear its ugly sweaty head.  Running when it's hot is just sheer hard work.  You feel like the sweat has nowhere to go and you're breathing warm soup.  Tomorrow I'm running the Women's Running 10k in Nottingham.  It's going to be a hobbling in the heat affair.  Y'know, I think I might be missing those cold crisp morning runs of Autumn!  If only you could combine a light morning with a cold one.  That'd be just about spot on!

Right... another day in the bag.  I need my cuppa cha!  And some iced water.  A bucket of iced water!!


Geeky stats stuff

Distance:2.47 mi
Avg Pace:8:51 min/mi
Elevation Gain:97 ft

Thursday, 17 July 2014

Runstreak Day #229 - the fear

It starts with a little niggle.  The fear.  A twinge as you take a stride or two.  You're sure you feel it, but you deny that it's there.  It's just your body warming up.  One of those things.  Could be anything.  Could be nothing.  The fear that you're about to injure yourself has lodged itself in your brain.

And it's there.  Niggling.  You try to adjust your running style.  If you just tread more carefully, it'll be okay.  Only it isn't.  The niggle still niggles.

For me, the niggle was in the centre of my left knee.  I felt it running up hills mostly.  So much so that it was all I could do to get myself to the top.  Have a breather and a stretch.  And then gently and gingerly run down the other side.  Obviously this doesn't bode at all well for the Women's Running 10k on Saturday... but with that, I really just want to finish.  Am pretty sure I won't beat my time from the Derby 10k.  It's hotter.  I'm more tired.  And I just don't feel the urge to push it that hard.  I want to enjoy myself, not loathe every painful second!  And I definitely don't want this niggly knee to get any worse.

I have plans, you see.  Things I want to do with my running.  And none of those plans involve stopping running!  I'm tempted to run the Edinburgh marathon.  There's a hilly trail marathon on the 5th anniversary of my Dad's death, in the area where we lived - and I think I'd like to do that in his memory too.  The niggle can sod off.  Tomorrow is a very very gentle run.  I just want to keep on with my running.  That's not too much to ask, is it?

Geeky stats stuff

Distance:3.25 mi
Avg Pace:8:26 min/mi
Elevation Gain:210 ft

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Runstreak Day #228 - the joys of the early

Okay, so right now, my running is as slow as an elephant sleepwalking through treacle, blindfolded... and backwards... on a bad day... but I *am* enjoying my early morning runs at the moment.  It is so nice to catch the day before it fully wakes up.  In fact, it feels like you're out and about doing something positive before just about anyone else wakes up.

Which is probably true when it's half past five in the morning and even the milkman looks at you like you're a little bit crazy.

But a little bit of crazy is good when you get to run along in the early morning sunshine through chill shadows and out into the growing warmth of the morning.  You feel completely alive when it's just you, just your breathing, just your footsteps... and nothing else.  No traffic.  No hustle.  No bustle.  If you're lucky, you get to see the mist rising off the land while it's still bathed in a blanket of golden light.  It's so perfect it's almost like being let into a secret that things could be that beautiful... but only if no-one else knows about it.  It's a fantastic time of day.

The thing is that you don't need to think about how lovely it might be when you get out there.  You just need to get out there.  Whether that's putting your running kit in the bathroom so that you see it when you go to the loo first thing (that might just be me who wakes up super early for a pee though!)... or whatever.  You just have to fool yourself into getting ready so quickly there's no choice *but* to run.

So, I ran at 5:30.  I ran almost 4 miles.  I ran pretty darned slowly.  But I savoured every delicious minute of it.  And then next time someone tells me they're not a morning person or they think I'm crazy for going out at that time, I'll make an 'mmm hmmm' noise... and know that they just haven't been let into the secret loveliness of really early mornings.

PS  And then I lost my Fitbit which was annoying...
PPS ... but then decided I didn't need it and that I was okay about it. That's how positive an early morning run can make you feel!!

Geeky stats stuff

Distance:3.75 mi
Avg Pace:8:46 min/mi
Elevation Gain:187 ft

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Runstreak Day #227 - I forgot I was running...

*canters in*


Why... do you like my ever-so-sparkly-aren't-they-lovely smug pants?  They're the extra special Day 227 variety.  They come with added 'hilly 5k goodness'.

Or some such nonsense.

Actually, talking of nonsense... do you know what I was thinking about when I was running this morning?  Bearing in mind I'd just run up a mile long bit of hill.  Was starting to sweat my face off and attempting not to sound like a 90-year old chain-smoker having an asthma attack.  Y'know... I'd been running.  My brain started to go 'so, when you get to go for your run today, you could go to that new country park this evening and run up the ziggy zaggy hill and see if you could beat the time you did that in last time'.

Yup.  As I was running, my brain had forgotten it was running and was planning a run for the evening.

I.  Actually.  Think.  I.  May.  Be.  Going.  Mad.

And no, I won't be going for a run this evening.  This evening I will mainly be drinking tea and slobbing about*.

So... there ya go.  Day 227.  The day I ran 5k at 5:30 in the morning and forgot I was running as I was actually running.

Send emergency tea supplies.  I am in desperate need!!  :o)

*  That's a lie, I want to go for a walk!

Geeky stats stuff

Distance:3.10 mi
Avg Pace:8:26 min/mi
Elevation Gain:205 ft

Monday, 14 July 2014

Runstreak Day #226 - how to force yourself to go for a run

Day 226... and... *sniffle*... today I ran on my... *weeps ever-so-dramatically* on my ownsome... *cries softly*

I can't believe I've gone from being Mrs 'always runs on her own' to Mrs 'I quite fancy some company actually'.  And I did fancy the company today because I broke myself ever so slightly over the weekend...

*pauses to reminisce happily for a moment*

... where was I?!  Oh, yeah... going for a run on my own.  So I hit upon the idea of running with other people by wearing my Run Mummy Run top... which meant I wasn't on my own and my misery about having to go on my own was no longer valid.  My logic is a fabulous thing, I think you'll agree.  Anyway, it was enough to con my brain into hauling me out of the door and off to the park for an easy plod around the pathways and through the woods.  Ta daaaa!  Run... run.  :D

I should write a list of 'ways to force yourself out of the house for a run when you don't really fancy it'.  Okay... let's do that...

1.  Don't plan a route, just go find somewhere to explore instead.  And make a point of being VERY nosey as you run!
2.  Imagine someone is literally shoving you out of the door.  Get outside as quickly as possible and shut the door behind you.  By the time you're stood there looking bewildered, you might as well just go for a run because the neighbours will be watching.
3.  Run a bath that's too hot.  You might as well go for a run while it's cooling down and enjoy it when you get back!
4.  Tell someone else that you're going for a run.  Telling people on here is particularly good because you've committed to it in public and you know you'll not be welcome back before your face has turned an appropriate shade of beetroot!  :D
5.  Run a mile in any direction.  Because by the time you've run that mile a) you've run a mile - yay! and b) you have a mile to run home again... and that counts as a proper run.  Ta daaaaa!
6.  Do a 'smile and wave' run.  Make a promise to smile and / or wave at everyone you pass.  You will feel slightly crackers.  They will think you're slightly crackers.  But in the end you feel ridiculously positive and some of the reactions you get are funny enough to have made the whole stupid thing worthwhile.
7.  Go very first thing in the morning.  You'll be barely conscious and will have run before your brain has woken up.  By the time it *has* woken up, it is full on gloaty smug 'I just did a run and it's crazy early' mode.  Which is massively satisfying!
8.  Find a hill to run down... do aeroplane arms... run so fast that your eyes water... make it fun.
9.  Run with someone else and make sure you run at a 'conversational pace'.  Some how chatting as you run makes the actual running bit disappear!  Doesn't matter if that's running with another runner... or running with your kids coming with you on their bikes.  Company is a great anaesthetic for those painful runs!
10. Just do it.  Don't think about it.  Go into autopilot mode.  Kit on.  Shoes on.  Out door.  Done.  The very worst bit is actually getting out there.  The rest of it will happen.  You can run slower, you can run shorter, you can run flatter, you can run a hill so steep you can think of nothing else but getting up it.  But you're out there running.  Result!

Sooooo... today's run was probably a 10.  With a smidge of 4 as I know I'll get yelled at by you guys if I cop out of running for no better reason that I'm feeling a bit tired!  :o)

And now... the post run cuppa commences...  *slurps*

Geek stats stuff

Distance:2.69 mi
Avg Pace:8:29 min/mi
Elevation Gain:38 ft

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Runstreak Day #225 - running at The Belfry with #RMRRetreat

Whaddya know... it was Day 225 today... and I got to run it with an Run Mummy Run-army of strong, amazing women at the RMR Retreat.  Aren't I just the luckiest bunny?

I am almost too tired to write anything up about today's run... other than I have to say that running on a jolly posh golf course where people don't ever run was flippin' fun!  I might have to drop that into a conversation with a golf nerd and watch their face as they realise that I've unceremoniously clomped my way across the hallowed greens of The Belfry.  :o)

Okay... soooo... if I'm too tired to write about running (I know!  What's *that* about?!)... and if you want to read about yesterday's pile of cack that was my parkrun effort, you can do (it's here: then what am I going to write about?

I think I really wanted to say what a fab weekend I've had.  I was completely and utterly inspired by the story from Tinu - a marathoner extraordinaire.  So much so that I'm going to attempt a marathon next year.  Life is too short for making excuses about why you shouldn't do something or trying to make the 'sensible' choice.  Sod it.  I want a challenge.  There.  I've said it.

Y'know, I was also struck by the fact that when we were listening to the speaker on Saturday afternoon, we ourselves were a room full of inspiration.  Every time we make a choice to go for a run, we make a difference to ourselves.  We make a difference to our children.  We make something positive happen.  We choose to take on a challenge.  A room full of amazing stories.  How special was it to be part of that?  As that realisation dawned, I felt very deeply privileged.  Any person in that room, on that afternoon, could have stood there and told a story that would inspire others.

We ran together.  We were nearly killed by the interval session together*.  We laughed together.  We were all in it together.  What a force to be reckoned with.

Thank you to all those behind RMR for your vision.  Thank you to every single member for telling amazing stories through your running.  I wish I could have spoken to all of you, but it was special to be amongst your energy for the past couple of days.  Thank you.

PS  For those who attended the Retreat... you all realise that you've already done 2 days of your own running streaks, right?  *naughty grin*
PPS  Day 3 tomorrow, my lovelies  :o)

* only a minor exaggeration  ;o)

Geeky stats stuff

Run 1:
Distance:2.57 mi
Avg Pace:9:12 min/mi
Elevation Gain:68 ft

Run 2:
Distance:1.75 mi
Avg Pace:8:59 min/mi
Elevation Gain:32 ft

Runstreak Day #224 - the worst ever parkrun

You know when something's not going well?  That was the parkrun I did at Kingsbury Water.

It was atrocious.  Actually, 'it' was lovely.  The volunteers were very welcome.  I was there with a load of Run Mummy Run women who are all fabulous.  And it was a beautiful day.  But *I* was rubbish.

The start was jam-packed... which, for a notorious parkrun-phobic, wasn't good.  I felt claustrophobic and could feel the panic rising.  Then, when it got going, I was hemmed in and panicked more.  I just couldn't run at a pace I felt comfortable with and I ended up going around a load of people, running on the grass, just to get a bit freer.  But, by this point, I could feel myself gasping and my breathing had gone completely to pot.


The first mile seemed to last forever.  It was hot, the route zig zagged and I couldn't get a sense of how far I'd gone at all.  The second mile my pace was all over the place... and by the time I got to 2.5 miles my stomach was flipping, I was wheezing, I was feeling faint... and I walked.

I actually walked.

Unbelievable.  I tried to start running again pretty quickly, but within a couple of hundred metres, I walked.  Again.  And looking at my watch I was trying to convince myself that it was *only* a maximum of five minutes more running to do.  But just shy of three miles and I walked again.  With hardly anything left to run!  And this time, people were passing me... and not a bit of me cared to try to get going again.  One person passed me.  Then another.  Then another.  I saw the '200m to go' sign and forced myself to run again.

And because I'd done such a dismal job of it, I felt no pleasure in having finished.  Only a frustrated relief that it was done.  Of all the parkruns and the couple of races I've done... I've managed to resist the urge to walk / stop.  But not today.

My time was 24:42.  Almost a minute slower than I know I can do.

Sometimes it flows.  Sometimes your head and body fight it.  Today was a fight day.  And the fight won.  For the first time, I let it win.

I'm not letting it win again.

PS  I did other runs today - I'm at the Run Mummy Run Running Retreat (that's hard to say!) and enjoying myself thoroughly... but I kinda wanted to document the parkrun as I've never experienced the whole 'feeling unable to do anything other than walk' thing before!

Geeky stats stuff

Distance:3.08 mi
Avg Pace:8:02 min/mi
Elevation Gain:38 ft

Friday, 11 July 2014

Runstreak Day #223 - laundry-motivated running!

... and... that's it! No more runs left to go until the RMR Retreat!!  A whole weekend of running and meeting other lovely runners awaits!
*almost explodes with excitement*
Plus, my smug pants are so high they're practically giving me a wedgie. Run done by 6am. Now showered and busy scoffing toast and supping a cuppa before heading off to work. And obviously washing all of my running kit ready for tomorrow!
Which, to be honest, was the main reason for going for a run at 5:30 this morning. Not because I'm dedicated. Not because I wanted to experience the gloom of a truly dreary Nottingham morning. But all because I wanted to make sure I had enough shorts, socks, sports bras and tops to take with me tomorrow. My brain was going 'run in the evening and they might not be dry for the morning... but you could tumble dry them... but you *shouldn't* tumble dry them... but how will they dry if they've only got overnight to do it in... they won't!!!... what can we do?!?!?!... could you run on the way home from work?!... still not enough time... hmmmm... I KNOW! Get up at stupid o'clock, do a very quick wash and they'll have all day to dry... and... RELAX' 
This morning's run was less run, more plod. Deliberately nice and steady as my run last night was very hilly and my hip's aching from 6+ hours of driving yesterday too. But, I did enjoy it. You feel like the streets belong to you in a morning. No traffic. No people. You could cartwheel down the middle of the road and no-one would notice!
Only I didn't cartwheel. I just ran. Then got home, did the laundry... and popped on my smug pants.
Day 223, all done. AND THE RETREAT TOMORROW!!!!
*jumps up and down happily* 

Geeky stats stuff
Distance:2.94 mi
Avg Pace:8:38 min/mi
Elevation Gain:103 ft

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Runstreak Day #222 - a day of running happiness

Day 222 - and I had a brilliant running day today.  Not that I was running all day - far from it.  I spent 3 hours of my day driving to London to go speak at an event... and then over 3 hours back home again.  Bleh!

But... at the event, they'd ordered me a vegan meal (because I'm vegan, not just because they randomly do that sorta thing!) and a conversation about plant-based diets and running ensued with two other women runners!  Which was great!  They sure had put in some miles between them - having done marathons and an ultra... and even though the distances they could run were far greater than I can manage, running is amazing for that instant connection you can forge.  Because *they* get what you know about running!  So that was fab.

On the way home, I detoured via the sports shop (obviously!) to pick up some new running socks because I've managed to get myself a stupidly painful blood blister on my big toe.  Then saw that the Nike Tempo shorts I love were in stock, in my size and in a colour I fancied.  So they fell into my shopping as well.

When I got home, my race number had arrived for the Nottingham Women's Running 10k a week on Saturday and rather than wetting myself with fear, I actually felt excited!  Which was another big yay!

And finally... on my day of running happiness... I went for a run in the new nearby country park with my littlest coming with me on his bike.  When I say 'new' I actually mean 'it hasn't opened yet' - and the only reason I know you can go there is because I've seen another Notts runner (who's done over 900 days on his runstreak - amazeballs!) on Strava going there.  I've never met him, just seen his daily runs appear on Strava - he comments on mine, I comment on his.  Anyway, I thought 'why not go for an explore?'... so I did.  And about a mile and a half into my run, there were two other runners coming down the hill towards me and my littlest.  And one of them pauses and goes 'are you Sarah?' - and it turns out he's the guy I've been following on Strava and coincidentally had decided to also go for a run at the 'not quite open yet' country park!  So we all three ran together... littlest raced them on his bike and we all had a blast.  What a weird but fantastic meeting!

And that... lovely people... was my happy day of running.  Which only involved a bit of running... but had lots of delicious runningy bits woven throughout.  Hooray!!

Too late for tea?  Nah. *raises pinkie*

Geeky stats stuff

Distance:3.25 mi
Avg Pace:7:56 min/mi
Elevation Gain:213 ft

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Runsteak Day #221 - chatty happy runny

I was brave again and went and joined in with the Sweatshop Running Community run... this time the evening run which takes place near where I live.  I didn't know anyone who was going but went along anyway.  Which officially makes me a big brave girl.  *puffs out chest bravely*  :o)

I'm definitely starting to feel less intimidated about running with other people.  I ended up running with a guy who was there for the first time and we ran and chatted the whole way round the 4 and a bit mile route.  Which was great.   But as we were finishing, the guy was saying 'I don't think I could keep up with you over a longer distance' etc...

... and the funny thing was, I get the impression these days that people think I'm better at running than I am because a) I run every day and b) I guess I look like people imagine a runner to look.  I've gone from being an obese puddin' in January last year to being a size 8... wearing running shorts and a vest... and I suppose that's what looks like a runner.

It just goes to show that you shouldn't judge anyone by what they look like.  I was so intimidated by the 'proper runners'.  Y'know... those wearing shorts... decent running shoes... a vest top... kinda wiry looking.  A bit like I look now!  When someone says to me 'I don't think I'll be able to keep up with you' without seeing me run, I know that they've thought 'she's a proper runner'!  When I'm not!  I'm barely off being a beginner.  I'm 18 months off the couch.  I've run two races.  Ever.  My times aren't particularly quick.  I still find running *really* hard (even though I love doing it).  And I still doubt whether I can run the distance I'm setting out to do!

But tonight, I put that insecurity to one side and just enjoyed my running.  And discovered, yet again, that runners are a lovely lot.  Nice way to spend a Wednesday evening!

Geeky stats stuff

Distance:4.29 mi
Avg Pace:8:29 min/mi
Elevation Gain:148 ft

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Runstreak Day #220 - early morning runs are ace!

*sings* Oh what a beautiful morning!

It is SO nice out.  Blue skies, hazy sunlight coming through the trees, mist rising off the River Trent in the distance... and just me and my trainers pattering along.  Yum, yum!!

Although there is the obvious benefit of getting to wear the smug pants after a nice early run, there is something pretty darned fabulous about getting out there first thing.  Everything is so fresh and yummy.  I feel a bit like a naughty kid, sneaking out while her parents are asleep.  Mentally it's much harder to do than physically.  But as long as you have your kit ready and have got your brain in 'I am going to do this' mode, it's ace.  <3

So... today's run... day 220 today (anyone fancy running my Day 225 run with me at the Retreat on Sunday?!) and one of those runs that reminded me why running is fab.  I ran up the long big hill from my house, cut across the park through sparkly dew-laden grass, ran down the 'you must be insane to run up this' hill... along near the railway line with only a couple of passing trains for company... and then back up the long slow hill to my house.

I love the fact that hills aren't a barrier to a route anymore.  Yes, they're still hard work, but they don't stop me from exploring.  18 months ago, I found them almost impossible to walk up without stopping for breath.  For all the treacle runs you might have, get a yumcious one and all is right with the world again!

Tea?  Don't mind if I do.

Geeky stats stuff

Distance:3.21 mi
Avg Pace:8:33 min/mi
Elevation Gain:230 ft

Monday, 7 July 2014

Runstreak Day #219 - early, hilly, sunny, slowly

Good morning early morning running crew!  Here I am already... reporting for duty for day 219!

And... all done by just gone 6am.  Today's run was brought to you care of the words 'hilly', 'short' and 'early'.  Special guest appearance by a small annoying stone in my shoe half way round.  And the huffing and puffing fairy decided to visit as I mistakenly ran up the steepest steep hill because I apparently don't know the difference between First and Second Avenues.  First Avenue = stupidly steep.  Second Avenue = make sure your will is up to date, this one could take you out.

I'd forgotten the difference and ran up Second Avenue.  With its lovely 15% gradient.  And all because as I ran down across the park opposite I thought 'I wonder what it's like to run up First Avenue'.  And then turned right instead of left and found myself running up the hill of death.

Anyhoo... it was all sparkly and delicious out.  I barely saw anyone and the streets were mine to play on.  Gotta love getting out nice 'n' early.  The 'putting my kit in the bathroom' technique definitely works for getting me to leave the house by 5:30 for my run.  When I (inevitably) go for my early morning pee, there it is, waiting for me.  And by the time I've gone into auto-pilot and shoved it on, I might as well go for my run anyway!

My smug pants are hitched nice 'n' high.  I have tea.  The rest of the day awaits.  And I've already done my run.

*happy dances*

Geeky stats stuff

Distance:2.49 mi
Avg Pace:8:48 min/mi
Elevation Gain:186 ft

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Runstreak Day #218 - sunny Sunday runday

Y'know, I had a bit of a realisation this morning.  Well, actually, I think it's been brewing a little while... I think it's more important to me to find ways to enjoy my running than get hung up over times.  I'm doing the Women's Running 10k in Nottingham in a couple of weeks' time, and the thought that I could, if I really really tried, get under 50 minutes has vaguely sloshed around in my head.  But... weirdly, I find that I'm not actually bothered to try.  My first 10k experience was a mess of panic and chaos.  My first half marathon was a delicious, happy experience.  And I'd rather have the latter every time.

Anyway, it came to me while I was on a long run with the Sweatshop Running Community this morning.  I'd run half my run with a friend, then she didn't feel well and ran slower with someone else and said for me to go on.  So I did.  And I ran at a nice comfortable pace... one that wouldn't have been anything special in terms of times... but which did leave me feeling fresh legged and happy at the end.  I was on my own for a fair bit of the time.  Caught up to a guy who'd not stopped to wait for the rest of the group at the halfway point and finished my run about 5 minutes ahead of him.  But while he was exhausted and unable to speak for a good few minutes after he'd stopped running, I realised that I preferred my version of feeling okay to that feeling you get when you've pushed yourself just a bit too far.

So... I'll never be Mrs Quick.  But I'll aim for Mrs Happy instead.  I'll run at a pace that doesn't exhaust me.  I'll say hello to the ducks as I run past them.  I'll smile at the cyclists.  And I'll enjoy the freedom of running.

And life will be the sweeter for it.

PS  Doesn't mean I wouldn't like to get faster times for my running - just means I'm not going to go killing myself to achieve them!

Geeky stats stuff

Distance:7.42 mi
Avg Pace:8:37 min/mi
Elevation Gain:46 ft

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Runstreak Day #217 - my least favourite things

Good grief, today's run was a nightmare... let me tell you about it...

*puts on best Julie Andrews voice*

Pains in my toesies and insects have bitten
Me on my arms, legs and bits that I sit on
Shorts up my bum crack like cheese wire or string
These are a few of my least favourite things

Dog muck and cow poo and crazy fat poodles
Humidity frizz turns my hair into noodles
Mozzies that buzz in the evening twilight
These are the things that make my runs shite

Battling with sports bras, with twisty strap scratches
Mascara that streams panda-like from eyelashes 
Stones in my trainers and leaking pee stings
These are a few of my least favourite things

When a dog bites
When my pants ping
When my run's quite sad
I stop and I start and I swear quite a lot
And then I don't feeeeeeel so baaaaad!!

And that, my lovelies, was my 217th day of running... done.  A bag of absolute cack.  Had to jump over nettles and dodge the brambles on a route which has suddenly got massively overgrown.  Ran through knee length poxy grass and then nearly snapped my ankle running along a stupidly lumpy track.  I even stopped and swore at myself going 'what the f*ck is wrong with you?!?!?!?!!'.  And then a mozzie bit me on my arm, sweat dribbled into my eyes, and I swore just a tad more.  And then ran home.  Still swearing at myself every so often for good measure.

Which didn't help at all.  But made me feel slightly less inclined to push the annoying yappy dog that wouldn't get out of the way into the nearby stream.

I fear I may have a touch of pre-menstrual running on the go...*  ;)

*looks slightly wild eyed*

MAKE ME TEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I NEED TEA!!!!


* this is officially the understatement of the year.

Geeky stats stuff

Distance:3.01 mi
Avg Pace:8:17 min/mi
Elevation Gain:25 ft