Sunday, 20 June 2010

Ups and downs

After a hard 10K on Weds, I had a busy day on Thursday. I ran 3 miles in the morning, then took the car to the garage for its MOT, which meant I had to walk home, pushing Emma uphill all the way. I had an appointment at the physio too, so I then cycled with Emma in the childseat to the childminder's, then off to the physio. After a beautiful diversion on the way home past a lake, I'd clocked up 10 miles on the bike. Nice.

This weekend, I was really determined I had to get a long run done. Since the marathon (4 weeks ago today), my longest run has been 10K, and with an eye on improving my half time in September, I planned a 10 miler for today. I thought I should definitely be able to get under 2h05 for the half, and so I reckoned that I should aim for about 9.30 min/miles today (which would get a half time of 2h04m).

So I set off at about 10am in the sun - about 20 degrees C. It was my favourite route through the estate at first, then a bit of road running. I started off pretty fast, with my second mile at 8.54, but that's a big downhill. Anyway, I managed to keep it up, and had plenty left to speed up at the end. The last mile was the same speed as the first - 9.06 - which was pleasing. Overall I averaged 9.18 min/miles, which added up to 10 miles in 1h33m01s - woo-hoo! I think my fastest 10 miles before today was 1h37m-ish, so this was a good improvement, and that pace would get me well under 2h05 for the half - and I still have weeks of training to do! So maybe all that marathon training will benefit my speed over 10k and half marathon distance - I certainly hope so.

The off-road part

The bad news is that the car failed its MOT, and needed a part which the garage had to order. The supplier was out of stock, and so we were told that we couldn't have our car back until Monday. We were supposed to be going camping today! Driving down to Wales and then England for a couple of weeks! So we've had to postpone the holiday for a few days. Then our friends who we were going with called, and said they couldn't come after all due to family problems. This is a real shame as we were looking forward to seeing their kids, and the more adults around, the easier it is to share all the work of camping. So it'll just be the 4 of us this year. I just hope the weather stays as it's been this week - wonderful.

As we've had no car for 4 days, we've had to do a bit of cycling to the shops. Robbie's cycling has improved enormously since he got his bike, and I'm pleased to announce he can now go up hills as well as down (as long as they're not too steep). It's about 3 miles there and back to the local shop, and he managed it easily. Emma has no problems with hills, speed or anything else:

The other bad news this week was England's horrendous performance against Algeria in the World Cup. It was truly one of the worst matches I ever remember seeing them play (and that's up against a lot of terrible matches). At least we'll be camping on Wednesday when they play again, so hopefully we won't have to sit through anymore embarrassing rubbish.

So holiday here we come! I probably won't blog until we get back, but I'll be taking my garmin, trainers and running kit, and will try to fit in as much running as I can!

Pete celebrates the final whistle

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

No place like home

Although I live in Scotland, I'm actually English and so is my husband, and so are our kids, despite both having been born here. This means that during the current Football World Cup, we are not waving a St George flag or wearing Engerland shirts. After our team's less than perfect start, we also have to put up with some teasing, and many of our friends here are supporting ABE (Anyone But England).

In addition to this disharmony, one thing that really bugs me is the light here. Daylight hours are much longer here than in England, which means that we tend to wake up far too early in the mornings in summer, and we try to put the children to bed in bright daylight in the evenings. Weather conditions are generally not ideal for running either. It rains a lot, and the temperature is usually a few degrees lower than in the South of England, where we come from.

Soaking wet after a run in pouring rain last week!

So how do we manage? Well Scotland is absolutely beautiful. The climate means that gardens and wildlife flourish. There is some stunning scenery around, especially on the West coast and in the Highlands. Edinburgh is a picturesque and exciting city, and we are lucky enough to live in a very rural area, with great connections to the capital.

We are always considering the possibility of moving down to England - primarily to be nearer our families now we have the kids - but recently I've realised how lucky we are. We live in a gorgeous village with cycle paths and walks all around, and Robbie's nursery (and soon school!) are literally just over the road from our house.

On one of my favourite running routes

Yesterday I had a fantastic run in the sun (for once!) and I did 10k at race pace. I was only about 30 seconds outside my PB, despite running up a huge hill, which really slowed me down. The views were great through the country and past the little beaches, and I was a sweaty mess by the end! When the sun comes out, it would be difficult to find a nicer place to live than here.

sweaty mess

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Little and often

On the one hand, it seems I've done quite well this week as I've managed to either run or cycle everyday except Saturday (rest day), and also squeezed in a bit of swimming, walking and stretches. Closer inspection of the facts however, reveals a less athletic story - my longest run was 6 miles; I did 3 runs of less than 3 miles; the bike ride lasted only 40 mins and I did more playing with the kids in the pool than actual swimming.

Still, at least I'm getting my body used to exercise. Next week I'm planning a long run of about 10 miles and shorter runs of no less than 3 miles. The issue as always, is time. My diary's pretty full over the next few days with playdates for Robbie, a nursery meeting, the car's MOT etc etc...

Anyway, I now have a new motivation boost in the form of a new running skirt! I'd never heard of such a thing, ignorantly and boringly dressing in shorts and long running tights, until I started blogging and saw runners wearing these cool outfits. As a reward to myself after the marathon, I finally bought one online and it arrived last week. With my new t-shirt, it's the most stylish I've ever looked while running (that's not saying much though). Ok, so it's perhaps a tad too short, and I'd like to tone up my thighs a bit, but it's not as if I'll be wearing it to work. Not until I get a suntan, anyway.


Thursday, 10 June 2010

Getting back on track

Last week saw only 2 runs and a grand total of 6.6 miles. So at the start of this week I felt determined to get back into a running habit, and set myself a fairly modest but achievable target of 15 miles for the week. So far, it's been going ok. I ran just over 2 miles before 7am on Monday, then got drenched in pouring rain over 3 miles on Tuesday, and last night was Jog Scotland night.

We did the dreaded 'Diamond' session - this involves running downhill through the local country estate, then turning round and running back up the hill. The path has a number of diamond shaped signs spread fairly evenly along it, so we run up 2 signs, then turn and run back down 1, and so on back up to the top of the hill. It's a session that we all moan about, but I don't think I'm alone in secretly enjoying a bit of hill training. Last night I felt pretty good until the last couple of turns when I started flagging a bit. I think I'm nearly (but not quite) back to normal after the marathon.

This may well be the very first time I've run for 3 days in a row, so today I thought I'd give the knees a break. I had a bit of child-free time this afternoon though, and as the black clouds cleared and the sun made a tentative appearance, I decided to get the bike out. I wanted to go for an hour, but ran out of time, so I just managed about 40 mins. Needless to say, I'm feeling much more smug and virtuous this week than last.

As for running, I'm on 11.4 miles so far this week, and I'm hoping to fit a couple more runs in. Having decided to get into training for a half marathon PB, I've realised how tricky it'll be to fit everything in during the next few busy weeks. My sister and husband are coming to stay this weekend, then the following weekend we're off on holiday for 2 weeks. I'll have to be dedicated if I want to get some decent runs in. When we get back, I'll do 4 weeks of teaching, before we go away for a week with Pete's family.

So where are those long runs going to fit in??! Don't know, but I'll have to squash them in somewhere between work and fun, as usual. Luckily I bought a new running top today, which I'm sure will help.

Almost at the top of the hill we ran up on Wednesday

Sunday, 6 June 2010

A lazy week

After all the long runs in training for the marathon I've decided I should be able to improve quite a bit on my half marathon time from last year. When I ran the Great Scottish Run in Glasgow last September, it was the furthest run I'd ever done, and I found the last few miles almost as tough as I found the end of the marathon last month. These days 13.1 miles is a much more comfortable distance and recently I've been thinking about doing that same race again and trying to improve my time.

However, before I'd actually got round to signing myself up, last week I found out about some free charity places for 'the world's biggest half marathon' - the Great North Run. This is the second most famous mass participation race in the UK (after the London Marathon) and entry is usually through a ballot. This seemed too good an opportunity to miss so I emailed the charity, and on Friday got confirmation of my place!

With about 54,000 runners, this'll be by far the most crowded race I've ever done so the chances of doing the best time I can will be pretty small. Instead of going for a PB, I'm thinking I should treat this more as a fun experience. As I'm running for charity I might even dress up a bit!

I'm really excited about the Great North Run, but I'm left with a bit of a dilemma. If I'm not going to get a good time in this race, I'm wondering about doing another half as well. The GNR is 19th September, and this year's Glasgow half is 2 weeks before on the 5th. I could 'race' that, then saunter round the GNR for fun. Hmm, will have to think about this, and consult my long-suffering support crew, Pete and the kids.

Meanwhile I've had a very lazy week. After 2 miles on Tuesday, I managed 4.5 on Wednesday at Jog Scotland, where I jogged at the back with a pregnant runner - just my post-marathon pace! On Friday I was in my trainers and ready to go, but ended up just not having time on a busy evening. I hate it when that happens. I was working yesterday, and then last night I went out with a group of unleashed Mums, and got through a large amount of red wine.

I rarely drink much these days and hardly ever go out, but it felt pretty good to have a night off from being responsible and healthy, and I got back about 2am. Of course Emma woke me up at 6am this morning as usual, so today I've been too tired to do much at all. I also made a couple of cakes on Friday which I've helped to consume, so next week I really have to get stuck in to some good running again. I'm looking forward to getting back on track as my legs are still recovering from the marathon, and it feels like a long time since I had a good run. So there's a new goal - to increase my speed and look towards a half marathon PB!

A sleepy Sunday in front of the tv.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010


As with my preparation for the marathon, I did a bit of research about what to do in the days following it. Some books recommended one day's recovery for each mile run, i.e. 26 days. However, I think this means 26 days of easier running before returning to full training, rather than 26 days of lying on the sofa scoffing chocolate and waiting for fitness to return. Damn.

I read on another blog about a runner who decided to take a full month off running (doing other exercise instead), with the philosophy that if you plan to run for the rest of your life, a month off is nothing, and it's the kindest thing to do to a body you've pushed to the limits. I thought that was a nice idea.

It was Tuesday, 2 days after the marathon, when my legs felt most sore. By Wednesday I felt almost back to normal, and that was helped by a physio session. I asked the physio about the silly myth that you finish a marathon an inch or so shorter than you started it. To my amazement, she confirmed that it was true! Then she shoved down hard on my back, there was a loud CRACK, and she said 'There, you're back to your usual height now'! Ouch!

On Thursday I decided to test my legs with a little cycle. It was typical Scottish weather - I went out in the sun, and retur
ned 20 mins later in a heavy hailstorm! Hard little nuggets were pinging off my helmet as I rushed to put my bike in the shed and ran into the house. My legs felt tired again after that.

On Sunday I had another little bike ride - 6 miles through the countryside in the sun - gorgeous. I kept stopping to take photos, it was beautiful.

Monday included a bit of swimming with Pete and the kids, and some kite-flying by the beach. I felt really ready for a run, but later I had a bit of a cold and cough and felt really wiped out, so I decided to catch up on sleep instead.

So after 8 run-free days, I finally managed to lace up my ASICS and get out there this afternoon. I was home from work early, and had a
little window of opportunity before picking the kids up. It wasn't the best run - after about 1 minute I realised the Garmin was still set to 'Biking', so I stopped and fiddled about with it. Then 5 minutes later, I stopped to try to take off my jacket while not dropping my ipod, it was all very complicated. I felt pretty heavy-legged, but it was an ok run.

Now I can't wait to get stuck into it properly again, and focus on some new goals now the big one is out of the way. I hope that all that mileage will have had a positive effect on my running and I can get some good fast times at other distances.