fairweatherrunner

running blog


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Royal Parks Half Marathon

Today was the second of my autumn races in the build up to my marathon (in 4 weeks time Eek!), my 9th Half Marathon (yes, my 10th will be a full marathon) and the 4th time I’ve run this race.

Running two half marathons only a week apart at a decent pace is pretty hard work! Especially when you’ve banked 3 miles on the way to the second one because you’re not supposed to be running a Half Marathon but bashing out 18 miles of marathon training. The original plan was to race Ealing last weekend and then treat today as an easy training run, enjoy the event and scenery and add a few miles to make up my long run. But I’m afraid I just can’t run a race without trying, whatever I tell myself! Last year I ran this one with friends taking it easy, enjoying the atmosphere and sights because I was just coming back from injury so there was no way I wasn’t going to have a good race this time.

So I started out with lofty ambitions of attacking my PB or beating last weeks pace. I was a bit miffed that I was in the blue start zone (having been in the one ahead before. Am I the only one who puts an honest expected finish time down?) and I was preparing myself to be cross about the overcrowding. It was a very busy race and I did have to do a fair bit of darting in between gaps and had to be patient a few times where the course narrowed to get round people running slower in pairs particularly on slight uphill stretches.

My first wobble came early, around 8 miles (more like 11 for us reminded my militant legs) and because my legs really did ache a bit I had to get realistic and think about adopting plan c, to finish sub 2 and for the next few miles just dug in to hold my average pace below 9 min miles. At 11 miles I manned up with only 2 miles to go helped by a lovely marshal shouting ‘ just think how you’ll feel when you cross the finish line!’ and started to push forward weaving past and overtaking people around me.

I tend to race these days without music. I can concentrate on pace better and enjoy it more without being plugged into my iPod. But I decided to run with music today, knowing it would be harder work on tried legs and because it’s a big busy race where most people are plugged into their own music. I was listening to audiofuel and their Run Wild 2 hour-long run mix for the first time in ages. The timing was perfect, I started it just before the start line and the last 10 mins of the track was fantastic coinciding perfectly with the 12 mile marker and had me sailing across the line on a high. Absolutley delighted to be ony 58 seconds slower than last week.

I was prepared not to enjoy today’s race. I prefer smaller less crowed races where everything takes less time (baggage, loos…) and less crowding gives a better stab at pb pace. I expected to be cross about the crowding and too many slower runners ahead and spectators pushing into the course and the scrum at water stations. Yes there was a bit of all that but it didn’t bother me. It was a lovely autumn day running in a great capital city and beautiful park with great marshalls, many having great fun and encouraging us all along, and a wonderful atmosphere.

So, hard as it is to get into this race via the ballot, its relative high cost, it’s still only 2 miles from home and I enjoy it so I will keep trying to come back for more.

My run today was in 3 parts. An easy run, a half marathon and then I planned to run 2 miles home to make it up to 18. Well I planned to. My militant legs had other ideas… I sent them the message to start running home and the message received back was Pi$$ off! So I walked home trying many times a few pick up ‘jog/shuffles’ but every bit of my legs was agony. All good practice for what it will feel like at mile 25 of the marathon I’m sure!

I was worried, having mainly walked the last 2 miles home, that maybe I hadn’t run my full 18 miles long run. But when I thought about it (I do walk a bit now and then on long runs and am quite ready to walk some of my marathon) I added the time and distances all together which still gives an overall pace which I’d be delighted to run for my marathon! So I am still logging today’s shuffle/walk home as part of my run! I’m sure its time on my feet that counts.

Run 1, ‘Warm up’. Easy 3.11 miles in 32.40

Run 2, Half Marathon. 13.2 miles in 1.57.58

Run 3, ‘Cool down’. 2.16 miles in 33.59

So put it all together and….. Marathon Long run of 18.47 miles in 3.04.45.

RPHM splits

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New motivation

After Janathon I really felt the lack of motivation once the need to run everyday had been removed. I know Janathon isn’t compulsory but I set myself the goal to run every day and something in my head clicks and I feel obliged to complete the challenge. Afterwards is hard. I miss the routine of running everyday.

This year I carried on the next day and went to British Miliary Fitness (because the 1st of Feb fell on a BMF day). The following day I had an urge to run, and should have, as it was a beautiful day, but thought I’d better have a rest day to avoid injury.

This was probably a mistake as having stopped I’ve struggled to get running again (apart from BMF classes) and then the snow came and I missed my long run at the weekend. My drop in motivation wasn’t helped by the fact that I am unable to make the Portsmouth Coastal Half Marathon this weekend due to family commitments (not because I’m fair-weather and its likely to be arctic – honestly!) which is a shame seeing as I’m ready and trained after all those Janathon miles.

I managed to get myself going again this week after signing up for another HM on 18th Feb, in place of Portsmouth, and receiving the news that I’ve got a place in the Royal Parks Half Marathon from the second chance ballot. So I went out and ran 10 miles in lieu of my weekend long run on Tuesday despite serious DOMS in my glutes and thighs! (At BMF on Monday we did rather too much lying down and too many situps in the wet slushy snow. When we complained about freezing wet bottoms we were given a warm up by way of the 150 squat challenge.) I recovered the ability to walk properly again today and then after smashing my to-do list I got out for an afternoon run (before the threatened snow).

The squats (or something) is paying off because everything felt good today and after a few easy warm up miles I ran miles at 8.45 and 8.24 pace and finished up on a mile at 8.20 without feeling I was having to put in much more effort! There is nothing like a good run to give you a boost and I actually find that running gives me more energy than resting!

10.07 miles in 1.38.55

6.21 miles in 55.39 mins


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Royal Parks Half Marathon

I made it! I was injury free, I ran it and I enjoyed it!

Weetabix and banana before dawn, (Why are races so early?) then off to meet fortnightflo, abradypus and plustenner at the tube station and a quick coffee before we made our way to the park. By the time I got to the station it was no longer raining and had warmed up so half my clothing was not required. I was relieved to find that I was not the only one who’d brought along the kitchen sink! We got to the park just after 8.30 and prioritized the loo queue over bag drop. We cleared bag drop just as it was time to head to the start pen.

My race plan was to get round and to enjoy it. I started with the others whose planned pace sounded ideal knowing, because of lack of recent mileage, I only had a few miles running in me at the sort of pace I manged last year. It was very enjoyable running with company and we chatted as we went along and the miles appeared to pass remarkably quickly. Abradypus pushed on ahead while we paused at the water stop at 4 miles and the rest of us carried on at a nice steady pace. I decided to check how I was at the half way or at 10 miles and whether to go on ahead at a faster pace. At half way I could feel my legs tiring and was very comfortable at the pace we were running and enjoying being free from the self pressure of clock watching and pushing myself on. Between 10 or 11 miles I probably could have upped my pace and gone on alone but was feeling a little lazy! Finally, just after 11 miles, when the others slowed for a brief walk break I decided to go on so plugged in my iPod and went ahead weaving through the slowing runners ahead. I pushed the pace for the last mile and ducked in just under 2 and a half hours at 2.29.45.

Thankyou plustenner and fortnight flo for the great company! A month ago you suggested I should come and run it with you if I could get back from injury and that became my goal. Mission accomplished, thankyou!

The beer afterwards tasted fantastic! Then it was on for pizza, another beer and post race catch up with Jogblog, helsbels and I like to count.

And for those intereted in the stats these are my mile split times…


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9.2 Miles!

It was hot, it wasn’t pretty, there was a bit too much wobble going on and far too much interference from my shorts riding up or falling down and sports bra rubbing in all the wrong places.  However,  I did it.  I managed to run 9 miles and by the end my legs began to feel like my own again and I think I can definitely say that I am finally back!

Big thanks to my young buddy who cycled all the way with me.   It was late afternoon/early evening and parts of the old railway line cycle path were narrow between overgrown weeds and quite deserted so I would have been a bit spooked running it alone.  He was good company we chatted, sang and whistled as we went along at an easy pace stopping every 2 miles or so for a brief water break.  It was strange running in the heat of a late summer evening with all the sights and smells of autumn.

At my last Physio appointment on Friday I was filmed running on the treadmill. The Physio was checking that my exercises were training me to keep my hips stable as I run and gave me some general feedback. I need to take longer strides so my front foot lands at a better angle and she also pointed out that my right foot curves as it comes forward because my toes are not pointing straight ahead.  I spent ages trying to correct my screw kick for breast stroke and now it seems I have to do the same for running!  Damn wayward right foot!

So while running my young buddy cycled behind me watching what my legs were doing and shouting out feedback!  Taking longer strides, engaging core and concentrating on brushing my right foot straight forward was hard work and results in me running at a faster pace.  Unfortunately I’m not fit enough to keep that up for too long yet!

I am now looking forward to the Royal Parks Half Marathon next weekend (beer and pizza afterwards with blogging buddies).  It won’t be a PB but I am certainly going to enjoy it!


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To Half Marathon or not to Half Marathon

This morning I warmed up for my run with a boogie round the kitchen to ‘Night Fever’ (its OK, the boys had gone to school so did not suffer the embarrassment of witnessing my full disco routine!).  The forecast for hot weather today focussed my mind to get my run done early and I was also keen to run and see how my hip is recovering and coping with increasing length runs.  So I was revved up and ready to go.  Basically it depends on how today and another longer run of 8 or 10 miles at the weekend go as to whether I can go the distance in the Royal Parks Half Marathon in 10 days time.

Last week I was exuberant to be running again and had a busy week doing 2 BMF classes, a 1km swim, a gym session, including 20 mins on the dreadmill, plus an outside run.  I found the run (my first decent run outside for 2 months)  hard work but after a tough couple of miles at the start things got easier and I was pleased to manage 4 miles.  I stretched well and was delighted to find my hip felt fine the next day and therefore bounced off to BMF where I got stuck in and enjoyed a bit too much sprinting! (You just can’t jog a race…  Well I can’t!)

The result was that by Saturday when I ran to the park my hip flexors were tight again and by the time I got there I was limping. On Monday after a day off I was frustrated to find running painful and limped through my BMF class.

A return to the Physio found that my hip flexors were slightly inflamed again, although not as bad and luckily the associated muscles are now OK.  On reviewing my weeks exercise we worked out that it is probably overdoing it and bursts of speed at BMF that are the culprit and if I want to get back to running half marathons I need to concentrate on strengthening and building up my running distance at an easy pace.  So no more sprinting 😦:(   (for a while).

The Physio stretched and loosened my hip out and the plan was to keep it slow and try another outside run, up to 5 miles, before my next visit to see how things are going.

Which brings me back to this mornings run.  All fired up with the Bee Gees I strutted my stuff out the door… I kept it slow, however the first 3 miles were horrible.  Really tough going, I just couldn’t get into a rhythm at a pace that didn’t strain my hip plus all the other bits of both legs were grumbling and aching after recent under use.  It didn’t help listening to ‘Tragedy’… “When the feelings gone, And you can’t go on its Tragedy…”   “With no-one beside you, Your goin’ nowhere”  Yes it was that bad! By 3 miles I had resigned myself to the fact that me running a Half Marathon in 10 days was impossible. I don’t know why   fortnightflo and plustenner  think I’ll need to go at a faster pace than them because on the basis of those 3 slow awkward miles I will have quite a struggle to maintain their pace!

The breakthrough came around 4 miles.  I upped my pace (It wasn’t sprinting, honest!), to clear a pedestrian crossing before the lights changed, which felt much more fluid and natural although I could feel a slight strain on my hip flexor.  I adjusted my stride and reduced my pace to slow again but then found that my running felt more natural and finally comfortable and enjoyable at the easy pace.  Typical!  I start enjoying my run just as I approach home, so I added an extra loop to savour the good running feeling and optimism about 13.1 miles in 10 days!

I started my run with ‘Tragedy’, but  finished on a high with my ‘Spirits Having Flown’! My favourite Bee Gees track.

“I am your hurricane, your fire in the sun.
How long must I live in the air?
You are my paradise, my angel on the run.
How long must I wait?
It’s the dawn of the feeling that starts
From the moment you’re there.
I’d like to take you where my spirit flies,
Through the empty skies we go alone,
Never before having flown.”

I reigned it in after 5 1/2 miles as promised making myself walk the half mile home to cool down.

5.6 miles,  64 mins,  average pace 11.30.

So the jury is still out on whether I’ll make my Half Marathon.  I’m going back to the Physio tomorrow and then will have to see how I cope with a longer run on Sunday or Monday.


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Whoop whoop!

At BMF yesterday I was delighted to find that I really can now run without limping and pain-free. What a wonderful feeling! I took it easy to start with (I was also a bit cautious about hurting myself again, not to mention my loss in stamina) but as the class went on and we continued to run I felt better and better. At one point the Instructor called for a race/sprint to try to catch him so I really put my foot down.

What a fabulous feeling to put on a burst of acceleration and sprint flat-out again – for me the best de-stressor there is. It felt so good that I was very happy to run again quickly afterwards and had to stop myself yelling out ‘whoop whoop yippee my new leg works!’

Exuberance over, I had a timely Physio appointment later to continue to ease my hip and glute muscles plus this time a few other poor bits of me by then feeling the strain from my earlier efforts.

Today I was very keen to run again and was beginning to think about what sort of long runs I could manage before the Royal Parks Half in 2 weeks. Fortunately my sensible side won over and I decided not to overdo it too soon. I went to the gym where I did an easy run on the treadmill doing Audiofuel pyramid 180 intervals (I jogged / ran the intervals rather than ran / sprinted them) for 20 minutes and then after a good stretch I continued on the bike for another 20 minutes to make sure my total calories burned were more than a glass of vino!


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I didn’t think I’d ever say this, but..

For an outdoors running preferring, BMF addicted person I was fairly impressed (by a gym)!

Having recently rejoined the gym I was invited for the usual quick-start session with a member the gym staff to familiarise me with the equipment and give me a personal programme. I have to admit I was sceptical because the last time I went to such a session at another gym brand I was very unimpressed by the spotty youth who gave me the speeal and appeared to understand a lot less than I did about fitness and was also in need of the gym for a little fat burning even more than me!

However I’ve joined up at Virgin Active for a couple of months while I get my hip problems sorted (so I can swim in a clean pool) and went along yesterday to see what they could offer. I also thought it would be a good ice breaker for me and give me confidence in the gym using the machines I’ve not used in years since I used to go there when my kids were toddlers (anything to get an hours peace while they went in the crèche!).

I was asked my motivation for joining (help I’m getting fat!), fitness goals and weighed (oops) and measured (am 1cm shorter than I’ve been claiming for the last x years). Emma asked informed questions about my injury and physio and took on board my need for maintaining my cardio fitness without impact, suggesting cycling and cross trainer intervals and the use of TRX training for strength work (to support my running). She tested how long it took to me to cycle 1km, how many bench squats and press ups I could do in one minute so I had something to gauge progress against as well as body measurements.

I thought TRX was brilliant! Using straps suspended from the ceiling you do the standard strength exercises for upper body, core and legs (triceps and chest pulls, plank, squats lunges etc) pulling against your body weight for resistance. It gives an intense workout and I certainly felt the one leg squats and the lunges the next day even after plenty of rolling and massaging.

I left looking forward to getting back to the gym and started on my programme.

Today I had another Physio session. This time it was not symptom relief (to ease the painful tight bits) but in the gym to learn exercises to strengthen and correct my body alignment. It was interesting that some of the exercises I need to do are some I was given at the gym (one leg squats and lunges) but with an emphasis on keeping my feet knees and hips in line and my pelvis horizontal. Ouch ouch! I also got to use the torture table (I think those in the know would call it a Pilates table) for lots of core and hip exercises and simulating running while using the mirror to keep my core locked straight and not twisting and turning). (Usain Bolt is apparently a perfect example of running keeping core perfectly still – need to go watch him slow motion on U tube).

This evening although my glutes, inner and outer thighs are screaming from all the hard work I am feeling very positive that’s it’s all working really well and hopeful that I really can run the Royal Parks Half Marathon. Just as well because my race pack arrived today!

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And.. when on my way out to the shops this afternoon I sprinted without thinking to catch the pedestrian crossing. And it DIDN’T HURT!!