Keeping it Real # 2

As it’s Thursday #ThrowbackThursday #tbt etc etc, I thought I’d share some of my not quite so flattering running photos. I put together a similar post way back in 2014, it was definitely time for an update.

Apparently, to be a successful blogger and to make money from my random thoughts, I need to fill my posts with professional photos. I think it’s safe to say that with the exception of a couple of official race photos, the photos in my blog are anything but professional.

I’ve been blogging for several years and have never made a penny. I have a full time job and blog as a hobby, so although it would be nice to cover the costs of running this blog, I don’t really mind if I don’t.

Enough waffle, here are some photos I found while I was sorting through all the random files I’ve got saved on my computer. I’m not completely sure why I actually paid for some of these beauties.

Don’t get injured

Since 2014, I have had more than my fair share of running injuries. I’ve tried to run through some of them – never a smart idea, rest is the only way forward.

My friend took this photo of me back in 2015. I’d been injured and hadn’t been able to run for several months. For once in my life, I’d listened to what my physio said, had done loads of strength and conditioning exercises, and hadn’t tried to rush back into running. I remember the excitement of being given the go ahead to run.

Injured runner

Unfortunately, although I managed to complete a 3000m run, during the final couple of laps my right knee was incredibly painful. I knew I was back to square one. As you can imagine I wasn’t exactly thrilled when I discovered my friend had captured me lying on the track sulking.

Fortunately, I recovered from my knee injury and was soon back gurning my way around races while impersonating a beetroot.

Don’t stop running

My friend took this delightful photo of me towards the end of the 2016 Great Midlands Fun Run. It was boiling hot and I’d made my usual mistake of wearing far too many layers.

GMFR 2

I remember spotting my friend at the side of the road, stopping and removing a couple of layers in front of quite a few slightly bemused spectators. I’m sure my friend really appreciated being handed a sweaty and rather smelly t-shirt. Although I wasted valuable time, stripping down to my club vest was definitely the right decision.

Also, don’t ever run with #1 on your race bib. The heckling when you aren’t actually in first place does get a little predicable after an hour.

At least I look reasonably awake and have my eyes open. Judging by the photos I sorted through, I seem to run with my eyes closed.

Strike a pose

I’m not sure what I was thinking when I tried to give the race photographer a ‘thumbs up’ as I approached the finish line of the 2016 Great Birmingham Run. After running for well over two hours, I was clearly feeling too tired to keep my eyes open.

Great Birmingham Run

Can someone explain to me why I paid for this delightful photo? It’s a dreadful photo. I’m also struggling to recall why I felt the need to wear a pair of shorts and a running skort. Oh well, at lease the male runner wearing bib #8328 looks happy.

At least I was pleased to be nearing the finish line, this isn’t always the case.

The grumpy runner

I think it’s safe to say I didn’t enjoy the final mile of the 2016 Lichfield 10k. I set out at a far too ambitious pace and found the second half of the race a struggle. As you can imagine, I wasn’t exactly thrilled when I realised that the finish line of the 10k was at the top of a grassy hill.

Lichfield 10k

I think this pose is a combination of “shit there’s a race photographer” combined with relief at crossing the finish line. I was so tired I couldn’t even find the strength to give the photographer a proper thumbs up.

The kick up the arse photo

This delightful photo was taken at the start of this year’s Great Midlands Fun Run. Although the rather random positioning of my running bag doesn’t help, I personally think that I look terrible.

Too many takeaways

The camera doesn’t (generally) lie and this photo was a bit of a wakeup call. I’d been eating far too much unhealthy food for far too long and it showed, I could almost see all the takeaway meals.

At least I nailed my standard thumbs up pose.

The beetroot faced runner

I’ll start with a confession, whenever the photographer has actually captured me; the photos of me running at my local parkrun haven’t been that bad recently. I think knowing what Ron looks like and where he usually ‘hides’ helps 😉 Unfortunately, the traditional post-parkrun photos I get my friend to take are generally pretty rubbish.

This particular photo is awesome as I’m doing my standard thumbs up pose while looking like a beetroot.

Strike a pose

I mean how red does my face look in this particular photo? The heat from my face could have powered the National Grid. I don’t think it was even that warm that morning!

Mine’s a double…chin

I loved every minute of the Cathedral to Castle Run earlier this year. The 10 miles felt relatively easy, and I crossed the finish line with a smile on my face. Although I love how focused I look in this photo, I’m not such a fan of my double chin.

Chin chin

I guess playing the violin for 30+ years hasn’t helped. Can anyone recommend some anti double chin exercises?

I can just about make out a hint of a double chin in the final photo I’m going to share.

The peaky selfie

I took the final photo I’m going to share myself, so I’ve only got myself to blame for this delight. I think I need to provide some background. I’d just completed a half marathon training run and was feeling incredibly nauseous.

Terrible selfie

It took me several attempts to take this half respectable selfie, and I still look pretty terrible. My usual bright bed beetroot face is nowhere to be seen. I remember it taking me ages to walk home as I felt so rough. I made it home and then spent several hours in bed feeling ill. At least I wasn’t actually sick.

Definitely not my finest moment as a runner.

So I hope you all enjoyed this #ThrowbackThursday post and my not quite so perfect running photos. Hopefully, you won’t have nightmares.

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Royal Parks Half Marathon training week 3

I hope that everyone had a great weekend, after spending all of last week in a far too warm office; I personally really appreciated the slightly cooler weather. I have a feeling that when this post is published, I’ll be experiencing a dose of Monday morning office related blues.Collage 10The third week of my half marathon training plan suggested that I completed an easy 30 minute jog on Monday, a steady 50 minute run on Thursday, a 20-25 minute speed session on Friday and a slightly longer 70-75 minute run on Sunday at a comfortable pace. Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday were meant to be rest days.

So how did I cope during the third week of my half marathon training? Did I manage to motivate myself to run after work? Did the mini heatwave on Monday have an impact? Did I complete all my training runs? Did I end the week injury free?

Monday – 30 mins easy jog

Before I talk about Monday, I need to rewind slightly to Sunday evening. After a slightly lengthy journey to Wallingford, I reached my house at 21:30, opened my bedroom door and discovered that my bedroom had been converted into a sauna. Seriously, it was so hot in there; I knew I’d struggle to get any much sleep. After spending what felt like all night trying to sleep, I woke up at 07:00 feeling shattered.

My first day back in the office was difficult. There’d been a desk move, I struggled to remember my password – luckily I wasn’t locked out after more than three incorrect attempts – and I had over 350 emails to wade through. I just about managed to get through my first day back without getting too stressed out. It was so hot during the walk back to my shared house, I decided to postpone my run until it got a little cooler.Collage 11After spending two hours catching up on emails and Casualty, I rather reluctantly got changed into my running gear, did some stretches and headed outside. It still felt pretty toasty so I started my run at a sensible pace. I’ve no idea why, but I decided to increase my pace. I felt great until the heat and humidity hit me and I wanted to stop. I think it’s safe to say the final 10 minutes of my run were anything but enjoyable. It took me about an hour to feel well enough to have a shower and to get ready for bed.

Tuesday – Rest

I definitely needed a rest day. By Tuesday afternoon, I was feeling mentally and physically exhausted. I emailed my mentor Geoff’s ex PA and unfortunately received some not so positive news. The post work pint (of coke) and meal with a colleague was just what this doctor ordered.

Wednesday – Rest

I had a bit of a scare midway through my morning walk into the office. I’ve no idea why, but my injury-prone right knee suddenly felt incredibly painful. Fortunately, it only lasted for a couple of seconds and Wednesday was a rest day.

The rest of the day went something like this; work, lunch break, work, afternoon snack, more work, walk home after work, nap, TV, shower and then bed. Not very exciting or blog worthy, but I suspect this is the reality for most people who work in an office 9-5.

Thursday – Relaxed run walk run with a colleague

Thursday was not a great day. The office was busy and I found the noise a touch overwhelming at times. Even listening to music didn’t help to drown out the noise. I’ve no idea how people manage to concentrate in large, open plan offices as I really seem to struggle. I escaped at a reasonable time and walked back to my shared house alone. Much as I enjoy walking back with my colleagues, I needed some peace and quiet and some time on my own.

I should have completed a 50 minute steady run, but made the decision to support a colleague who is just getting back into running on a run walk run session. I felt that missing one 50 minute training session would be acceptable, I also wanted to give my slightly niggly right knee a rest. If run walk run is good enough for Jeff Galloway, it’s good enough for me. There was more walking, and talking than running, but I really enjoyed our run along the River Thames and back into Wallingford.

Friday – Rest

My Friday was peaceful and productive to start with because I was quite literally the only person in from my team. I felt sorry for my two colleagues out doing fieldwork because the rain before lunch was quite epic. I got soaked walking the short distance to and from the canteen. Thanks to the wonders of flexible working, I left the office at 15:00 and arrived back home in Four Oaks three hours later. The training plan said “20-25 minutes speed session”, my head said “Chinese takeaway”. I’m a little ashamed to say that I let my head win and the speed session didn’t take place.

Although my Friday evening was quite dull, I enjoyed chilling out watching the athletics on the TV. I was thrilled to see local athlete Matthew Hudson-Smith grab gold in the 400m. I also loved watching KJT win silver in the heptathlon. How athletes can be virtually world-class in seven different events is a mystery to me. It’s so impressive. Once the athletics finished, I plucked up the courage to send an email to my mentor Geoff.

Saturday – Rest

As I lay in bed experiencing parkrun #FOMO, I reminded myself that Sutton Park parkrun is due to start next week. Although the course is so challenging there’s a danger it’ll take me longer than 30 minutes to complete the 5k, I’m going to make sure I attend the inaugural event.

My Saturday was productive but boring; I’m sure that other people have far more exciting weekends. Following a music lesson, I spent a couple of hours doing some presentation preparation for the hydrology conference I’m attending next month. I made myself iron my work clothes, picked loads of blackberries for mum, and then treated myself to an afternoon nap.

Once I’d tracked down my running coat and worked out where I was going to run, I spent the majority of the evening chilling out, watching the athletics. Dina Asher-Smith was amazing and Jakob Ingebrigsten completely blew my mind. How can someone be so talented at 17 years old?

Sunday – Rest

I’m a little ashamed to report that I didn’t even attempt my long run. After a terrible night – I hate the way I over think virtually everything – my alarm woke me at 05:00, I debated running, decided I didn’t feel like running for over an hour, and went back to sleep. I woke up again a couple of hours later feeling incredibly guilty.

Mum picked me up and we headed to the Chase Farm Cafe for a late breakfast – I opted for the Farmers Breakfast which tasted amazing but was a little small for what it cost. Sunday afternoon was a little soggy – we needed the rain – so I spent the time I had left catching up on some paperwork (and Holby City) before packing my gear together for the journey back down to Wallingford.  Collage 12So that’s the third week of my half marathon training not completed. I must do better this week. I need to sort my head out, at the moment I’m letting myself, my sponsors and Geoff down.

Week four of my half marathon training plan contains four runs. As I want to complete the inaugural Sutton Park parkrun, I might end up running five times if I squeeze in a run when I get home from work on Friday. I’ve got to complete a steady 45 minute run tomorrow, an hour long easy run on Wednesday, a steady 45 minute run on Friday and a longer 80 minute run at a comfortable pace on Sunday. I have a feeling that the reality will look slightly different.

Training totals

  • Runs: 9
  • Time: 6 hours 10 mins
  • Distance: 36.44 miles

Fundraising total

  • £300 (+£25 from last week)

Niggleometer

  • Right knee: 3/10
  • Left foot: 2/10

How do you bounce back from a not so successful week? If I don’t get my arse into gear next week, I may as well DNS the half marathon in October.

Do you watch much sport on the TV? I’m going to miss the athletics; there have been some amazing performances.

Royal Parks Half Marathon training Week 2

I’m aware that the start of my blogs are getting slightly predictable, but I hope that everyone had a great weekend. I suspect that when this post is published, I’ll be struggling to adapt to office life after spending two weeks in Four Oaks. Thanks to everyone who took the time to read and to comment on my review of the first week of my half marathon training. I’ve said it before, but I really do appreciate all your support.Collage 6The second week of my half marathon training plan recommended that I completed an easy 30 minute run on Monday, a steady 50 minute run on Tuesday, a steady 45 minute run on Thursday and a steady hour long run on Sunday. After struggling to complete five training runs during week one, I appreciated the extra rest day.

So how did I cope during the second week of my half marathon training? Did I manage to fit my training runs in around a training course? Did I manage to avoid picking up an injury?

Monday – 30 mins easy

I woke up feeling incredibly gloomy when I realised that my week and a bit of annual leave had almost come to an end. In typical Emma style I’d hardly made any progress with my ‘things to do’ list. I sometimes wonder how on earth I managed to complete my PhD thesis. I gave myself yet another talking to, got dressed and ready to run. Unfortunately, my Garmin had died, so I had to wear my ‘normal’ watch. I found the run quite difficult. My legs felt tired, I had no choice but to run at an easy pace.Collage 7I got home, did some stretches and then lay on my bed relaxing for a while. I’ve no idea why, but I felt exhausted. As I didn’t want to waste my last day, I asked my friend if he wanted to head into Sutton Coldfield for some lunch. He took a little bit of persuading, but I convinced him in the end. We left his car in Sutton Park, and walked the short distance into Sutton Coldfield. As neither of us wanted to eat loads, we headed to TGI Fridays where I picked a slightly random selection of appetizers. Unfortunately, we ended up having to rush our lunch a little; I think it’s safe to say the experience wasn’t very relaxing.

It was good to get week two of my half marathon training off to a somewhat calorific start!

Tuesday – Rest

I should have completed a 50 minute steady run on Tuesday but somehow managed to sleep through my 05:00 alarm. Although my running wasn’t up to scratch, I did manage to get myself back into hydrologist mode and had a reasonably productive day working from home. I did, however, find spending all day on my own quite mentally challenging. It reminded me just how isolated I felt throughout the final two years of my PhD.

Wednesday – 50 mins steady

I had to get up reasonably early as I had a two-day training course in Birmingham and hadn’t actually packed. A quick Google search informed me that I would have access to a gym – I love my priorities – so I packed my trainers and some running gear. For once the trains were running on time, and I did my usual trick of arriving at the location of the training course – Aston University – ridiculously early.

The first day of the course was quite informative – I won’t bore you all to tears with the details – the food was what I would call ‘interesting’. The conference centre provided a decent but not very filling lunch, and I may have overdosed on the snacks that were laid out during each coffee break.Collage 8We finished at 17:00 and headed to reception to check-in. My room was on the fifth floor and came with a nice view of not a lot. I got changed into my running gear and tracked down the gym. I was pleased to discover that university gyms have improved since my undergrad days; the swimming pool looked quite tempting on a warm Wednesday evening.

I think it’s safe to say that the 50 minute treadmill run reminded me why I avoid treadmills. I was bored after five minutes, wanted to stop running after 10 minutes and nearly lost the will to live after 20 minutes. I reminded myself why I was running and made it to 50 minutes.

Thursday – Rest

After spending slightly longer in the bar networking than I should have done, I found the first session of the second morning of the course a little challenging. When we stopped for a midmorning coffee break, I was pleased to discover that the conference centre had provided some fresh tea and a huge jar of cola bottles.

The food options at lunch were slightly unusual. I’m not sure cod and spicy chickpeas worked well as a combination, but I was so hungry I cleared my plate, a decision I would later on regret. Following a slightly uncomfortable afternoon session – my stomach didn’t feel quite right – the training course came to an end, and we went our separate ways. As my line manager had very kindly allowed me to work from home on Friday, I only had a short journey and arrived back home in Four Oaks at 17:30.

I’d originally planned on completing my 45 minute steady run when I got back from the training course. Unfortunately, my stomach wasn’t feeling great so I decided to postpone my run. I’m not going to go into too much detail but I definitely made the right decision.

Friday – Rest

My rest day on Friday was so incredibly mundane; I won’t bore you all to death with the details.

Saturday – Rest

I headed to bed on Friday night with ambitions of heading to Walsall Arboretum parkrun the following morning. For some reason, I didn’t wake up until 09:30; the time I’d usually be finishing parkrun. I spent an enjoyable couple of hours watching England beat India in the cricket, and although I didn’t run, I’d like to think the two hours I spent cleaning the house counted as a form of cross training.

The rest of Saturday passed by far too quickly. I caught up on some blog related emails, tackled a huge pile of ironing and packed my bags for my reluctant return to Wallingford and work. In the evening, I had arranged to meet up with Anna for a couple of pints in our local pub. After remembering how peaky I felt on Thursday morning, I was sensible and only had a couple of pints. I reluctantly left the pub at 22:30, walked home, laid out my running kit and set my alarm for 05:00.

Sunday – 60 mins steady

I woke up well before my alarm – I was dreaming someone had hacked into my iphone and I could see what they were doing, is that even a thing? I almost went back to sleep, but then I reminded myself of the voicemail Geoff left on my phone yesterday.

Once I’d warmed (it was actually pretty chilly at 05:00) and woken up, I enjoyed my hour long steady run and loved watching the sun make a gradual appearance. I spotted another runner in the distance running along Lichfield Road; he was unfortunately far too speedy for me. Mr Speedy was the only person I saw during the run. I can only assume most people are far too sensible to be out and about before 06:00 on a Sunday.

I got home, drank a pint of water, made myself cuppa, chilled out in the garden for a few minutes, took some terrible photos, and then headed back to bed for a snooze.  Collage 9So that’s the second week of my Royal Parks Half Marathon training more or less completed. Three out of four runs or a 75 per cent success rate isn’t too bad for me…

The third week of my half marathon training plan contains four runs – I have a feeling I may run with a work colleague so may end up running five times. I’ve got to complete a 30 minute easy jog when I finish work today, a 50 minute steady run on Thursday, a 20/25 minute fast run on Friday and a longer 70-75 minute run at a comfortable pace on Sunday. Hopefully nothing will go wrong and I’ll remain injury free.

Training totals

  • Runs: 8
  • Time: 5 hours 40 mins
  • Distance: 33.42 miles

Fundraising total

  • £275 (no change from last week)

Niggleometer

  • Right knee: 2/10
  • Left foot: 2/10

How do you motivate yourself to run? I’ve been struggling a little recently, I blame the heat.

Do you try to ‘race’ other runners? I’m not sure why I thought I’d be able to catch up with Mr Speedy but it was never going to happen.

Race Report: Abbott Trail 10k run

I hope that everyone is having an awesome week. I can’t believe it’s already Wednesday. As someone once said to me; time flies, whether you’re wasting it or not.

Anyway. Some of you know that I set myself the challenge of finishing 10 races in 2018. On Sunday I completed my fifth race; the Abbott Trail 10k run.Event flyerSo what did I think of the Abbott Trail 10k run? Would I enter it again? What was the course like? Would I recommend the race to other runners?

As always, I wasted quite a lot of time worrying about the weather. Would the heatwave of 2018 break before the race? Were the weather forecasts getting my hopes up? Happily when I opened my bedroom window on Sunday morning, I discovered that it was cool, wet and windy. A real contrast to the previous weekend.

I went through my usual pre-race routine and my friend collected me and drove me the short distance to Hopwas. The temperature was a cool 15°c, ideal for running in, not so great for the marshals and supporters. Race HQ was located in a marquee behind the social club. I was so early, number and race chip collection was quick and easy. I was then left with the task of keeping myself entertained (and out of the rain) for almost an hour. I managed to find loads of runners to talk to but failed to keep dry. Some you win, some you lose.

Following a brief warm-up and a short speech, I walked the short distance to the start area and watched the 5k runners begin their race at 10:00. I don’t think the photo I took quite captured the rain, by this stage it was pretty epic pissing it down.Start of 5kThe 10k should have started 15 minutes after the 5k. Fortunately, the race organisers used a bit of common sense and didn’t make us wait around in the rain. I positioned myself near the back of the 10k runners, checked my GPS was working and was so busy talking to another runner completely missed the start of the race.

The first section of the course ran alongside the Coventry Canal and was lovely and flat. We then turned left into Hopwas Wood and the fun and games started. I realised that we would be [running] scrambling up the hill that destroyed my right knee during the Cathedral to Castle Run earlier this year. If I thought running down Mount Hopwas was difficult, trying to run up it was even more challenging. I’m not ashamed to admit that I slowed to a walk when I realised walking was faster than ‘running’. The first mile took 11:21.

Mile two was far, far more enjoyable. The course was still challenging and I had to spend the whole time looking at the ground, but it was fun. Once I realised that this wasn’t a ‘fast’ course, I decided to slow down and to enjoy myself. I made sure that I thanked every marshal – even those taking potentially terrible photos – as far too many other runners were completely silent. It’s a shame the weather was so terrible; we would have had some amazing views across the Staffordshire countryside.

Abbott Trail 2 (2)

[Photo: Simon’s Heroes]

The third mile took us out of Hopwas Woods and around the edge of what felt like the largest field in history, back down towards the Coventry Canal, along the canal and then back towards where we started. I can’t recall exactly when I worked out I would have to navigate Mount Hopwas for a second time. i suspect I probably stopped smiling when I realised.

I think it’s safe to say that mile four was not very enjoyable. My legs did not appreciate having to negotiate Mount Hopwas a second time. Much to the horror of one of the race marshals, I actually stopped for a couple of seconds to take some slightly blurry photos of the halfway point of Mount Hopwas.

Nightmare hill 1

Nightmare hill 2

I was *very* pleased to reach the water station at the top of Mount Hopwas. The hardest part of the course was behind me, it was more or less downhill towards the finish.

The penultimate mile was quite eventful. I managed to get myself caught up in some brambles; fortunately my lucky Lululemon shorts survived. A male runner almost slipped over right in front of me. I checked to make sure he was OK, and then decided to run in front of him as he was clearly having some traction related issues. I’ve no idea what happened to him, but at one stage I couldn’t see any runners in front of me or behind me. A slightly surreal experience.

Abbott Trail 2

[Photo: Simon’s Heroes]

Mile six was great fun. I managed to safely navigate my way down a slightly tricky hill without landing on my arse, and onto the path that runs alongside the Coventry Canal. Have I mentioned how much I have an irrational phobia of canals before?

I used my canal phobia to my advantage, ignored my tired legs, increased my pace, and completed the final mile in a respectable for me 9:46.

I’m still waiting for the official results to be published, but I crossed the line in approximately 01:05:xx.

A friendly paramedic removed my timing chip from my ankle – a good job because I’d completely forgotten about it – and walked the short distance to the Race HQ to collect my medal and goody bag.

Medal

While the medal was quite impressive, I thought that the goody bag was pretty disappointing. To be completely honest, all I want after an organised race is a bottle of water and a banana or apple. I can live without flyers, healthy snacks and other bits of paper.

I hung around for a couple of minutes in the marquee trying to get my breath back, plucked up the courage to ask a random runner to take a photo of me posing with wearing my medal, and then headed back into the relative warmth of the social club.

Post run pose

Just as I was starting to get worried I’d been abandoned in Hopwas, my friend phoned asking where I was. Opps. I arranged to meet him in the car park of the Tame Otter pub and ran along the canal path to meet him.

Coventry Canal

As this race report has turned into a bit of an essay, I’ll stop waffling and will leave you with some Strava stats. I think it’s safe to say I found Mount Hopwas challenging. 

So would I recommend the Abbott Trail 10k run? Definitely, but I’d also recommend wearing trail shoes if it’s wet. Some of the downhill sections were a little ‘hairy’ in places. Advice I’ll follow myself if I enter the race again next year.

Race ratings:

  • Cost: 8/10 – £20 (plus £1 service charge) – all profits went to charity
  • Course: 9/10
  • Medal: 8/10
  • Race t-shirt: n/a
  • Goody Bag: 2/10

Do you have any tips for tackling really steep hills? I tried taking shorter strides, focusing on something in the distance, slowing my pace etc but still found myself walking.

How long do you think it should take race organisers to publish official race results? Judging some of the comments on social media, runners now expect chip times and race results to be published more or less instantly.

Royal Parks Half Marathon training Week 1

As always, I hope that everyone had an awesome weekend. I think the highlight of my weekend was completing a challenging 10k trail race. As a few people said that they enjoyed reading my training and life updates before my disappointing Cambridge Half DNS, I’ve decided to share my training and fundraising progress in the lead up to the Royal Parks Half Marathon in October.Collage 1I suspect I’m going to find my fundraising more challenging than my training. Last year, Geoff, one of my closest friends and PhD supervisor was diagnosed with an inoperable form of thyroid cancer. Geoff had originally planned on travelling across to London for the weekend of the Royal Parks half marathon. Unfortunately, this is now looking extremely unlikely. I’m more determined than ever to run the half marathon in a respectable time and to reach my £1000 fundraising target.

The first week of my 12-week half marathon training plan recommended that I completed a steady 30 minute run on Monday, a steady 50 minute run on Tuesday, an easy 30 minute run on Thursday, a brisk 25 minute run on Friday and a steady 60 minute run on Sunday. So much running!

So how did I cope during the first week of my half marathon training? Did I manage to avoid breaking myself and picking up a niggle? Did I avoid the 2018 heatwave?

Monday – 30 mins steady

After waking up a little later than originally intended, I decided to run to and from my 08:10 doctor’s appointment. I figured that two runs of 15 minutes would be sort of equivalent to one 30 minute run. Unfortunately I hadn’t counted on it being incredibly hot and humid at 07:45. I arrived at the surgery pouring with sweat and doing an awesome impression of a beetroot. At least people sat away from me in the waiting room. I’ve no idea how my blood pressure was fine after running in the heat, but my doctor seemed happy. Perhaps she just wanted to get me out of her consulting room. The 15 minute run back home felt really difficult. I’m blaming one of my nemesis hills.Collage 2Following a much needed shower and lie down, I headed into Birmingham for a music exam. Once I’d got the exam out of the way I returned home on what felt like the hottest train ever. I think it’s safe to say that a combination of the heat, my post-run and exam tiredness and my lack of motivation prevented me from doing very much.

After checking out the weather forecast, I set my alarm for the rather unsociable time of 05:00 and headed to bed at a sensible time.

Tuesday – 50 mins steady

My alarm went off and I debated the pros and cons of running. I seriously considered delaying my run until the evening. I reminded myself why I was running, gave myself a talking to and got up. I got dressed, went to the loo, drank some slightly dubious tasting tap water, did some stretches, went to the loo again and headed outside. Although it wasn’t as hot as I thought it would be, it was incredibly humid.

My training plan said ’50 minutes steady’ so I decided to follow my favourite 5-mile route. My stomach unfortunately didn’t feel great, and I was a little concerned I’d have an unfortunate incident. Thanks to the humidity and my lack of fitness, I had to walk twice on my nemesis hill. Predictably, the final mile or so of the run felt easy and I felt I could have carried on running for longer than 50 minutes.

As I felt incredibly thirsty, as soon as I got home I made myself drink a pint of water. Can someone remind me to buy some nuun tabs? I headed into the garden, sat down and took a couple of terrible post-run selfies.

The rest of my Tuesday was not as productive as it should have been. I spent a bit of time researching medal options for virtual runs, generated a queue at the Post Office, spent a couple of hours gardening and ate far too much.

Wednesday – Rest

After running four times in four days, everything ached. I definitely needed a rest day. I’ve said it before, but there’s no way my injury-prone body would cope with a running streak. After a not very productive start to the week, I decided it was time to sort through the pile of unread research papers in my office. I also tried and failed to respond to the comments a reviewer had made on a manuscript I submitted to a journal. As my mentor is far too unwell to help, I suspect the manuscript will unfortunately remain unpublished.   Collage 4Following a reasonably productive morning and afternoon, I decided to make the most of my leave, and treated myself to a nap. I woke several hours later feeling somewhat disorientated and dehydrated. My deluxe nap meant that I had left myself with only 20 minutes to walk to the pub to meet a friend. I was a few minutes late. Sorry Anna! As the pub was hot and noisy, we decided to risk sitting outside with the flying, biting things. We spent an enjoyable couple of hours putting the world to rights before Anna had to head back home.

Thursday – 30 mins easy

My alarm woke me at 05:00 and I rather reluctantly got out of bed, dressed and ready to run. As the training plan said 30 mins easy, I made an effort to slow my pace down and to maintain what felt like an ‘easy’ pace. Although the run felt pretty effortless, a combination of the heat and humidity meant that I was still doing an awesome impression of a beetroot when I got home. As my house felt like a sauna, I drank a pint of water and lay down in the garden in an attempt to cool down. I then headed back to bed.

Later that morning, I headed across to Lichfield to meet up with my dad and his wife for lunch. Dad wanted to treat me so he had booked us a table at one of his favourite pubs; The Swan at Walton. I can honestly say that the menu was huge; there was almost too much choice. As I wasn’t feeling very hungry, I opted for the fish and chips and a side of onion rings, followed by the chocolate fondant brownie.Collage 3The fish was so huge when it arrived – see the pint glass for scale – I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to squeeze everything in. I managed to eat all of the fish and most of the chips, however, the onion rings were a bit of a struggle. Main meals complete, we headed outside to get some air and to escape from the boiling hot restaurant. Our puddings made an appearance and didn’t last long. I think it’s safe to say the rest of Thursday was quite chilled out.

Friday – Rest

I should have completed a 25 minute brisk run. After two failed running attempts, I decided to listen to my body and to treat myself to a rest day. It’s always good to record a training run ‘fail’ in the first week of a training plan.

Saturday – 25 mins brisk

When I woke up, I briefly considered asking my friend Vic to drive me to Walsall Arboretum parkrun.  In the end I was sensible and decided that I’d probably run too fast and injure myself. After a reasonably productive morning, I headed the short distance to the Four Oaks Estate and attempted to run at a brisk pace for 25 minutes.

I quickly discovered that although it was quite cool, it was also incredibly windy. Not the best conditions for trying to run at a faster than usual pace. I think it’s safe to say that my attempts to increase my pace failed. I made my usual mistake of setting out at a slightly ambitious pace. At least I finished the run without any new niggles.

Sunday – Abbott Trail 10k

Yesterday, I should have completed an hour long run at a ‘comfortable’ pace. As I’d already entered the Abbott Trail 10k, I decided not to waste the £21 entry fee, and risked breaking myself in Hopwas Woods.

I’m not going to go into loads of detail about the Abbott Trail 10k as I’m going to write a review of the race. It was wet, cold, windy, muddy and hilly. Most importantly, I had loads of fun and managed to avoid destroying my right knee.Collage 5So that’s the first week of what I suspect may well be a slightly too challenging for me training plan completed. I have a feeling I’m going to end up adapting the training plan to suit my needs and fragile body. I also need to make sure I squeeze in the occasional parkrun. Only another 11 weeks to go.

The second week of my half marathon training plan contains four training runs and three rest days. I’ve already completed a 30 minute easy run. I’ve got to squeeze in a 50 minute steady run tomorrow, a 45 minute steady run on Thursday and an hour long steady run on Sunday. Just thinking about running four times is making me feel quite tired. I’m such a granny.

Training totals

  • Runs: 5
  • Time: 3 hours 20 mins
  • Distance: 19.69 miles

Fundraising total

  • £275

Niggleometer

  • Right knee: 2/10
  • Left foot: 2/10

Do you prefer running in 30+ degree heat or in cold, wet and windy conditions? I personally prefer running in cold, wet and windy conditions.

Do you have any slightly irrational phobias? I found yesterday’s race quite mentally challenging because I’m scared of canals. Not ideal given that I’m meant to be a hydrologist.   

A parkrun, some cupcakes and a chilled out run in Sutton Park

Good morning. As always, I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend. I’m feeling quite chirpy for a Monday morning, probably because I’m on annual leave this week. My half marathon training also started this morning.

I’ll rewind back to Friday evening. I’m not sure why, but I decided to treat myself to a curry from one of my favourite local restaurants; Chennai. My random free starter was quite spicy for me but edible, my chicken korma tasted amazing. After a pretty shitty week, chilling out in front of the TV with a couple of beers and a curry was just what I needed.

I woke well before my alarm on Saturday, went to the loo, had a shower and got ready for parkrun. My stomach felt a bit ‘off’ but I wasn’t overly concerned because I managed a successful loo visit. My friend tried and failed to convince me that parkrun would be cancelled due to the heat. I was determined to complete my tenth parkrun of 2018 so took no notice!

After a typically stressful journey to Walsall Arboretum, I jogged to the start, saw how many people were waiting to run and positioned myself quite near to the front. I was so near the start, I got a little carried away and made the fatal error of running mile one in a far too speedy for me 8:23.

Walsall parkrun 210718

[Photo: Ron Reynolds]

By mile two I felt incredibly nauseous and was concerned I was going to be reacquainted with the banana I’d eaten a couple of hours earlier. Evidently eating a curry the evening before, and a banana a couple of hours before a parkrun isn’t a winning combination. I’ve no idea how, but I somehow managed to run mile two in 9:06.

The third and final lap wasn’t pretty. Halfway round the final lap I thought I was going to be sick. So frustrating! I walked for about 10 seconds and then started to run again. Whenever I tried to increase my pace I felt sick, so I kind of slowed down and jogged to the finish.

I crossed the line in 27:52, collected a token and then spent a few minutes lying in the shade feeling incredibly nauseous. The walk back to the car for my traditional post parkrun photo wasn’t much fun. Could we have some rain ASAP please…

Traditional post parkrun pose

The journey home in a boiling hot car with no aircon was even less fun. It was definitely worth it because I managed to ‘tick off’ one of my 2018 running goals. I’m just a little disappointed that I completely failed to make myself run faster.

10 parkrunsAfter a quick lie-down, I nearly pulled a muscle removing my sweaty sports bra. My second shower of the morning made me feel a lot cooler but unfortunately did nothing to shift the nausea. I got dressed and headed into Sutton to collect a birthday presents for my niece Jessica Being the unorganised aunt that I am, I left this until the last minute. I got back from Sutton, wrapped Jessica’s presents and headed across to my brothers house. The journey in mum’s convertible was quite literally refreshing and helped to clear my head.

Bad hair day

My sister-in-law makes amazing cakes and the four cupcakes I consumed definitely aided my recovery. I’m not sure drinking two cans of cider was sensible, but I couldn’t face drinking wine after I accidentally consumed a bottle on Tuesday evening.

I think it’s safe to say that I slept quite well after parkrun, loads of fresh air, cupcakes and cider.

On Sunday morning I walked across to Ellen’s house and we headed into Sutton Park for a run and to catch-up. Although it didn’t feel too hot, it did feel incredibly humid. The first walking break to take some photos was definitely needed.

Sutton Park 1

As was the second…

Sutton Park 2

It was an incredibly relaxed and enjoyable run, just what we both needed. Sometimes I think it’s important to forget about pace and times and to run for fun. As you can imagine, I was over the moon when Ellen spotted an ice cream van near the Jamboree Stone. My emergency £10 – let’s face it buying a couple of ice creams was definitely an ’emergency’ – was put to very good use.

Sutton Park ice cream

I discovered that I can eat an ice-cream and run two miles without any issues, happy days.

The rest of Sunday was as chilled out as our run in Sutton Park and ‘may’ have involved a walk around the Four Oaks Estate, some thinking time, some tears, another curry and a couple of pints.

Four Oaks Estate

After receiving some devastating news on Thursday evening, a quiet, slightly boozy and calorific weekend was just what this doctor ordered.

As I know most of the people who read this blog are parkrunners, which parkrun did you do? Now that I’ve started my half marathon training, my Saturday mornings are going to feel a little empty.

Does the amount you eat ever surprise your family? I’m not convinced mum was overly  impressed when I ate cupcake number four. Never mind!

The Donor Run: come and run in Birmingham to support organ donation

Like all bloggers, I receive loads of press releases. Although most are not directly relevant to my blog and get deleted, very occasionally a press release will grab my attention.

I was recently asked if I could promote an event I must confess I hadn’t heard of before; the Donor Run, which this year is taking place in Birmingham.

The Donor Run will form part of the 2018 Westfield Health British Transplant Games’ sporting programme which takes place in Birmingham from 2-5th August.

Westfield Health British Transplant Games North Lanarkshire 2017.

The Games are organised by charity Transplant Sport and will bring hundreds of transplant recipients together through sport to demonstrate the live-saving potential of organ donation.

Although most events at the Games are open only to transplant recipients, the Donor Run is open to everyone with the desire to raise maximum awareness for organ donation. The Donor Run takes place each year, and is open to all transplant recipients, donor families and the general public.

The Donor Run is set to bring transplant recipients together with their donors, family, friends and the general public with over 1300 participants already signed up to run either 3km or 5km on Saturday 4th August.

Organised by Transplant Sport, this year’s Donor Run is being supported by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Charity and the Birmingham Children’s Hospital Charity. The run will take place on the University of Birmingham campus and will finish with a celebratory BBQ and Hog Roast for everyone.

More than 7,000 people in the UK are estimated to be waiting for an organ transplant, with three people dying each day while waiting to find a match.

James Neuberger, Chair of the British Transplant Games Local Organising Committee and Consultant Transplant Physician at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, wants as many people as possible to join the Donor Run and help raise awareness of organ donation.

He said: “The Donor Run is a fantastic opportunity for transplant recipients to celebrate their new lease of life with the people that helped them through a difficult time in their lives – family, friends and of course donors or their families.

“The Run has already been unbelievably popular this year but it’s not just for transplant recipients and their families. There is still plenty of time for people in and around Birmingham to join in the celebrations with some truly inspirational people. This is already going to be the biggest and best Transplant Games to date.”

The Donor Run will start at 6:30pm from The Vale, this year’s main accommodation area for the Games. Registration will be open from 5:30pm and costs £10 per person.

If I’m in Birmingham that weekend I’ll definitely be taking part in the Donor Run.

For more information or to sign up to the Donor Run, please visit or click.