A weekend in Wallingford and a spot of parkrun tourism

Good morning. As always, I hope that everyone had an awesome weekend. My weekend was a little different. Most of you know that I like to travel back home on a Friday. When I discovered that Oxford station would be closed due to engineering works, I decided to spend the weekend in Wallingford.

After arranging to meet up with a couple of colleagues on Saturday, I escaped from the office, walked back to my shared house, had a nap and researched my weekend running options.

My preferred option was to get up early enough to make it to Didcot for a spot of parkrun tourism. Unfortunately, thanks to the incredibly unreliable bus service between Wallingford and Didcot, this wasn’t guaranteed.  A Sunday morning run with the Run Wallingford group was another ‘safer’ option.

So what happened? Did I pop my parkrun tourism cherry? Did I join up with Run Wallingford for a longer Sunday run?

On Saturday, one of my house mates woke everyone up at 06:30. I’ve no idea what he was doing in the kitchen, but he was incredibly noisy. I wasn’t too fussed as I’d got 8 hours’ sleep. I’d set my alarm for 07:00 so could live with the loss of 30 minutes sleep.

I’m pleased to report that the 07:50 bus towards Oxford got me to Didcot in plenty of time for parkrun. We had to swap buses in Brightwell-cum-Sotwell – what an awesome name – but still reached Didcot at 08:30. I successfully navigated my way to the rather low key start area, took a terrible parkrun selfie, and got chatting to some local runners. I also met a few people who were collecting their ‘D’ as part of the parkrun alphabet challenge.

Didcot parkrun start

Didcot parkrun selfie

I was a good parkrun tourist and attended the pre-run briefing where we were informed we had to complete three laps around a small park and then a longer straight section to the finish. We were also asked to get into a group for a sensible group photo.

Didcot parkrun group 1

[Photo: Lewis Cousins]

We were then asked to strike a pose for a second group photo…

Didcot pakrun group 2

[Photo: Lewis Cousins]

It seems it was a case of different parkrun, same old Emma. I set out at a slightly ambitious pace and started to struggle with stitch during the first lap of the park. I slowed down and started to feel a bit better during the second lap of the park, and by the final lap, I finally started to enjoy myself. Three laps of the park complete, I left the park and headed into the unknown.

Didcot parkrun lap 2

[Photo: Lewis Cousins]

I thought we’d run a short distance along the perimeter of the housing estate and then finish. After what felt like several minutes heading in the wrong direction and away from the start, I started to feel a little concerned. Although by this stage it was incredibly warm, I could see goosebumps on my arms and felt cold. I knew I needed to stop running ASAP and to get myself in some shade. Let’s just say I was incredibly relieved when we finally turned right and started to head back towards where I assumed the finish was.

We were directed onto some energy sapping grass and I finally spotted the finish area. I’d like to say I put on an impressive sprint finish but I simply staggered across the line, collected a token, had my barcode and token scanned, and then found some shade. Most people didn’t appear to be hanging around – I’d timed my tourism with the one week the local football club wasn’t available for post-run drinks – so I found someone who knew where they were going, and walked with them back to Didcot station.

I made it back to Wallingford at 11:00, got back to my shared house, had a quick shower and then headed back to bed for a powernap as I didn’t feel quite right. Fortunately, a lengthy powernap seemed to do the trick, and I felt much better when I woke up.

I spent a couple of hours chilling out in my room and then walked into Wallingford to meet up with a work colleague. After a quick discussion, we decided to walk the shortish distance to the Waterfront Cafe located on the banks of the River Thames in Benson. The walk to Benson introduced me to what would be an amazing run through Wallingford Castle Gardens towards Benson Lock. I’m a little frustrated I was so busy talking I forgot to take any photos as the area around Benson Lock was stunning.

We reached the Waterfront Cafe and found a table outside close to the Thames. We ordered a couple of pints of draught beer and then spent ages checking out the menu. After debating the pros and cons of various options, I decided to order the rather grand sounding Waterfront Caesar salad and my colleague ordered the prawn and smoked salmon salad.

The Caesar salad looked amazing when it arrived but contained a little too much lettuce for my liking. It was very much a case of I wish that I’d ordered something else! We finished our salads, ordered a couple more pints of beer and waited for another work colleague to arrive.

Saturday evening

I think it’s safe to say we were both a little tipsy by this stage, so we were relieved when our colleague arrived and we could check out the dessert menu. The menu was a little limited so I decided to play it safe and ordered the luxury ice cream – the choice was either vanilla or vanilla ice cream – with strawberry sauce, and a fourth pint of beer. Our colleague unfortunately couldn’t stay for long so we chatted some more, drank some more, paid the bill and then walked back into Wallingford.

I’m not sure who suggested we stopped off at the Boathouse pub for pint number five but I didn’t say no. By the time I got back to my shared house it was almost midnight. I knew there was little chance of me feeling well enough or getting up in time to join up with Run Wallingford for a training run.

I think I’d describe Sunday as quiet and steady. When I woke up at 08:00 I felt far better than I probably deserved to. The hot weather had made an unwelcome reappearance so I decided not to join up with the Run Wallingford group. After a quick food shop in Wallingford, I spent most of the day inside reading and catching up on some blogmin. A slight waste of a Sunday but I needed some time to myself and to chill out.

So all things considered, I had a great second weekend in Wallingford.

Did you have a good weekend?

Do you think the heat wave is ever going to end?

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My top 5 posts

Good morning! I can’t believe its Monday again, what happened to the weekend? As always, I hope that everyone managed to make the most of the weather and had relaxing couple of days. How amazing was the football?

Anyway, I’ve got something a little different today; a look at my top five blog posts. I got the inspiration for this post from one of my favourite bloggers; Alana.

In order to find out my top five posts, I delved into my all-time stats. My most popular couple of posts were quite predictable; the rest, a little surprising.

1. My tips for completing the Couch to 5K (C25K)

This post has received five times as many views as any other post I’ve written. I personally don’t think that it’s one of my best posts. I wouldn’t even put it in my Top 20.

C25K Post

The post was published back in 2016 and is still read by 100+ people a day. Rubbish stats for most bloggers but pretty amazing stats for my small corner of the internet.

2. Mental tips and strategies for marathon runners  

I published this post the month before the 2017 London Marathon and made slightly more effort than usual to promote it on social media. Predictably, this post was really popular in the lead up to the 2018 London and Brighton Marathons. I’m guessing it will be popular again next March and April as nervous marathon runners get Googling.

3. How not to raise money for charity – my London Marathon experiences  

This is another example of a not very good blog post that for some reason gets a lot of views. I can only assume that quite a few runners struggle to reach their London Marathon fundraising targets. I most definitely did!

4. FLEXISEQ Active review

This is by far and away my most popular ‘product review’ post. I’ve written what I think are far, far more interesting product reviews but I guess that at the end of the day, it’s all about the product.

knee-pain

Or perhaps people just like this rather dodgy photo of me trying to avoid throwing up after a challenging training session? I’ve still got no idea why I included it in  the FLEXISEQ post.

5. Thriva Lifestyle test review

And finally, in fifth place is a review post I published last summer. Thriva are constantly promoting their products on social media. Although I did very little to promote this post, I think that it’s popular because people like to read unbiased reviews before taking out expensive subscriptions. Well that’s my theory.

If you’ve reached the end of this somewhat self-indulgent post then thanks. At some stage, I might take a look at my bottom five posts. It will be interesting to see which posts ‘flopped’ and are now gathering dust inside my blog.

I’m quite nosey so I’d love other bloggers to share similar posts. Please get writing!

Rants and raves #29

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post while watching the football. Apologies for the inevitable spelling mistakes and typos. As always, all moans and groans and rants and raves represent my own views. Other, less negative and far superior running and fitness blogs are available**

Rave: The Weather

After enduring a pretty disappointing first few months of the year, I’m making the most of the warmer weather. Walking to and from the office is no longer a chore, and I’m loving the sunshine and the blue skies.

Wallingford summer

I’m more fortune than most of my colleagues because although my office doesn’t have air conditioning, I have a window seat. This means that when I’m lucky, I get to sit in a breeze and don’t start to feel too warm until the afternoon. Thanks to my complete lack of ‘real-life’ commitments, I’m able to run when I want which really helps.

However, as a hydrologist, the lack of recent rainfall is getting a little concerning. If it doesn’t rain soon, work will be a nightmare so watch out for this rave cunningly turning into a rant.

Rave: Recognition as a blogger

I don’t like to blow my own trumpet but have been asked a couple of times to share this information so here goes. My blog was selected by Feedspot as one of the Top 10 UK Women Running Blogs on the web.

Blog awardHere’s the link to the Top 10. Although there are lots of amazing blogs on there, the site is a little confusing as unless I’m being really dense, there only appear to be seven blogs in the list.

So thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read and to comment on my running-related ramblings.

Rant: Flying and biting insets and nettles

I know I complained about this 12 months ago, but there is a downside to the warmer weather; flying insects, insects that bite and stinging nettles.Nasty things

[Source]

I’ve lost count of the number of insects I’ve swallowed. I’ve also discovered that tiny black bugs in Wallingford *really* like fluorescent yellow running tops. Not ideal last week when I realised that all of the running tops I had in Wallingford were fluorescent yellow.

Rave: Running

Another repeat rave but *touch wood* and *fingers and toes crossed* my fragile body is behaving itself at the moment. After a couple of disappointing races, I took a couple of weeks off from running and embraced the drinking scene in Wallingford.

The drinking didn’t suit me so I charged up my Garmin and pulled on my trainers. Although my run on Thursday evening felt quite challenging, my five mile run on Sunday morning felt effortless. Training for Royal Parks Half Marathon starts in three weeks time and I can’t wait

As an added incentive to run regularly, I signed up as a member of #TeamSouth – there wasn’t a #TeamMidlands or #TeamCentral option – for the Run Around the World Challenge  in July.

Run Around the World

Mind is an amazing charity and the medal looks awesome. If you haven’t already signed up, check out the website!

Rant: Fundraising

Apologies in advance for what I have a feeling is another repeat rant. A couple of weeks ago I spent the day with Geoff in the Royal Marsden Hospital in Chelsea. Witnessing firsthand the amazing work the hospital does and meeting some seriously unwell people left me feeling incredibly fortunate. I also came away feeling even more determined to reach my £1000 fundraising target.

I shared my experience in a post on Farcebook and my fundraising total increased by the grand total of zero English pounds. I emailed the link to my fundraising page to a family member in the hope they’d add a donation and they completely ignored me. This family member was cured by the Royal Marsden so they have a personal connection to the charity.

I guess I’ve got quite a few more months to encourage irritate my friends and family on social media. As I don’t want to irritate everyone, I’ve set up a dedicated page on Farcebook.

Rant: My sun repelling legs

My arms are nicely tanned but my legs seem to be determined to repel the sun. They now look so white I’ve been considering investing in some fake tan. I’m just a little concerned I’ll repeat the great fake tanning disaster of 1999.

Rave: Marathon Talk/Runr t-shirts

I’ll end with a bonus rave; the link to a Marathon Talk/Runr t-shirt  I treated myself to last week.Marathon Talk runr tee

So much for my ‘ban’ on buying unessential running gear. By the way, I’m not on commission and haven’t been asked to share the link to this t-shirt, I just thought I’d share it on here as a ‘rave’.

Once again, if you’ve managed to reach the end of my latest random selection of rants and raves, a massive thank-you. I’ve saved my major rant about Skimlinks and WordPress for another post. Anyway, I hope my rants and my raves were reasonable.

Have you been enjoying the heat wave or have you had enough of the hot weather? I love summer but wish my room in Wallingford wasn’t like a sauna.

Do you have any tops for cooling down after running when it’s hot? I seem to look like a beetroot for several hours after each run.

Running goals for 2018: Progress report

As always, I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend. As it’s now the beginning of July, I’ve decided to write a halfway(ish) through the year progress report on my 2018 running goals.

Raise £1000 for the Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust – at the beginning of the year, I highlighted this as my main running related goal of the year.

Thanks to the amazing support of my friends, family and the online running community I raised over £500 for the Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust. I’ve now switched my attention to raising £1000 for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. Fundraising is going quite well and I’m in the process of organising a couple of events at work.

Run 1000 km – I entered the 1000 km in 2018 challenge on Virtual Runner and was monitoring my progress online.

Thanks to a couple of niggles, I fear that this may well turn out to be one goal I fail to achieve. I ran 63km in January, 74km in February, 61km in March, 58km In April, 79km in May and 55km in June.

 I think it’s safe to say that at the moment, I’m a long, long way behind my target.

Complete 10 races – back in January, I was “quietly confident” I’d complete 10 races in 2018 and earn myself a few more running medals in the process.

Thanks to a badly timed dose of the lurgy and a race cancellation due to the ‘Beat from the East’ I’ve only managed to complete four races; the Cathedral to Castle Run, the Wallingford Thames Run 10k, the Great Midlands Fun Run and the Aldridge 10k. My Race Calendar looks quite full, so I’m confident that injury permitting, I’ll manage to complete another six races this year.

Complete 10 parkruns – After falling out of love with parkrun last year, I also set myself the target of completing 10 parkruns in 2018.

parkrun 2018 montage

I’m pleased to report that this is one running goal I’ll definitely achieve. So far I’ve completed eight parkruns, and as an added bonus, I’ve completed every one in under 30 minutes. I just need to learn how to push myself out of my comfort zone.

A sub 8 minute mile – I identified that my current mile PB of 9:09 is from way back in 2012 and wanted to lower my mile PB at the Vitality Westminster Mile at the end of May.

I didn’t travel down to London for the Vitality Westminster Mile so I’m yet to attempt to lower my mile PB.

A sub 25 minute 5k – I knew that I’d find running 5k in under 25 minutes “incredibly challenging” but I was determined to give it a go.

Although all of my parkruns have been completed in under 30 minutes, I’m yet to get anywhere near the elusive 25 minute barrier. I’ve just looked at my parkrun results and the nearest I’ve got is 27:10. I think it’s safe to say this is another running goal I may well fail to achieve.

A sub 55 minute 10k – when I shared my running goals at the start of the year, I suspected I’d find running 10k in under 55 minutes virtually impossible, but entered the Vitality London 10,000 so that I had a flat and fast target event.

After a couple of slightly disappointing 10k races, I think I’m going to have to be realistic and will adjust this running goal to running 10k in under 60 minutes.  

A sub 2:20 half marathon – at the beginning in the year my running mojo had returned and training for the Cambridge Half Marathon in March was going quite well.

Unfortunately, a work colleague very kindly shared her cough and cold with me and I didn’t travel to Cambridge. A couple of weeks later, I completed the inaugural Four Oaks Half Marathon with my running buddy Ellen in 2:27:32.

IMG_1028

Earlier this year, I discovered that I had ‘won’ a place in the Royal Parks Half Marathon and *fingers crossed* will run the 13.1 miles in a slightly more respectable time.

Listen to my niggles – as I’m such an injury-prone runner, I was determined to continue to listen to and to closely monitor my niggles.

Although I’ve already had a couple of niggles, I’ve been sensible and haven’t attempted to run through my injuries this year. Hopefully, *touch wood etc* this slightly more sensible approach will enable me to enjoy another six months of injury-free running.  

Make friends with strength and conditioning – I identified this as an area I’d neglected in the past. I was going to join the gym near my office and to “make friends” with strength and conditioning.

I think it’s safe to say that this is an area I still need to work on! After a bit of research, I decided not to join the gym near my office and have yet to make friends with strength and conditioning.  

Be slightly more sociable – after setting this as a running goal last year and failing miserably, I decided to set myself the same goal again.

I’m pleased to report that I have been what I call slightly more sociable. I’ve made more effort to talk to people before and after parkrun and now feel like a member of my local parkrun community. I’ve attended a few training sessions with Run Wallingford and have enjoyed (sort of) being pushed out of my comfort zone. I’ve also made a couple of awesome running friends. Thanks for all of your amazing support Ellen!  

Don’t buy any unessential running gear – after “smashing” this running goal in 2017, I decided to set myself the same goal.

I think it’s safe to say I’m not doing very well at not buying unessential running gear. While I can probably class the replacement Garmin and new trainers as essential running gear, I didn’t *need* the Lululemon skort and vest I bought last week. Unfortunately, the Lululemon sale was too good to ignore!  

Oh well, sometimes it’s good to fail…

How are you progressing with your running goals for 2018?

Do you adjust goals if you know they are too challenging?

Beginner’s guide to Mountain Biking with Halfords

I’ve always had a bit of a love-hate with cycling. I can still remember my first ‘proper’ bike; it was a pink Raleigh road bike and I covered the wheels in Kellogg’s bike reflectors.  My brother was horrified. I can also remember my first bike crash; I over-estimated my abilities a little and came to grief on a country lane in Dorset when I was 12.

Looking back, the accident in Dorset wasn’t that serious as I only suffered a couple of grazed knees. The handlebars of my bike came off worse and needed fixing. I returned from Dorset and abandoned my bike in the garden shed. It was very much a case of out of sight, out of mind. My focus shifted to other sports such as running and horse-riding; in my opinion riding a horse was a lot safer than riding a bike.

I didn’t go near a bike again until I travelled to New Zealand with my best friend in 2005. As you can imagine, I wasn’t very enthusiastic when my friend suggested we hired a couple of mountain bikes. Once I’d overcome my slightly irrational fear of failing off, I was thrilled to discover that I hadn’t forgotten how to actually ride a bike.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t find the photo of me looking terrified, so here’s another photo taken in New Zealand. My friend told me I looked a little reluctant.

New Zealand cycling

Although I enjoyed spending the day mountain biking in New Zealand, I returned to a wet and gloomy England, and immediately started training for a half marathon. I didn’t go near a bike for another three years.

In 2008 I completed the London Marathon with an injury and subsequently spent the second half of the year unable to run. I needed a running replacement, so borrowed my friend’s mountain bike, bought myself a cheap and cheerful bike helmet and started to explore some of the less popular trails in Sutton Park.

Sutton Park

I began to enjoy mountain biking so much, I asked for a mountain bike of my own for Christmas. I’m ashamed to admit that the mountain bike I was given almost 10 years ago remained untouched and unloved until the beginning of the year.

Regular readers of my blog will be aware that I’m nearly always injured. I should really rename my blog ‘The Frequently Injured Runner’. At the start of the year, as I wanted to mix up my training a little in an attempt to avoid injuries, I decided to give my mountain bike a second chance. As I’m still too afraid to cycle on roads, I decided to reacquaint myself with some of the trails in Sutton Park.

I made quite a few what I would call embarrassing, rookie errors.

What would be my number one top tip for beginners? Get your bike fitted properly, I didn’t realise my saddle was far too low until a more experienced cyclist stopped me in Sutton Park. While on the subject of saddles, spend a bit extra on a comfortable saddle, your bottom will most definitely thank you. Also make sure that your tyre pressure is correct, it makes a huge difference. Pushing my mountain bike up a steep hill was hard, hard work.

Luckily, the awesome people at Halfords have produced a Beginner’s Guide to Mountain Biking.

Beginners Guide Halfords

I wish that I’d read and digested the contents of this guide before I headed into Sutton Park. The guide starts with a section on ‘How to Pick a Mountain Bike’. Did you know that a smaller rider may find 27.5” wheels more manageable? I didn’t.

The guide then shares some basic mountain biking skills and a mountain biking trail grading guide. I think it’s safe to say I’ll be staying well away from black, double black and orange trails!

The guide then recommends a range of mountain biking trails. Although Sutton Park didn’t make it into the guide, I was pleased to discover that another local park – Cannock Chase – did.

Cannock Chase’s green and blue graded Fairoak and Sherbrook trails provide perfect options for those beginning to bike. Master these and you’ll be tackling its famous Follow the Dog and Monkey trails in no time. As an area of natural beauty the Chase is a perfect place to escape in the heart of the country.”

The Gear List is a little dangerous as it includes links to loads of bits and pieces I don’t really need at this stage in my mountain biking career, but will probably end up buying anyway.

Gear List

The guide then provides an incredibly informative section written by Fiona Outdoors on mountain biking etiquette.

I’m ashamed to confess that I’ve made a couple of blunders since the beginning of the year. Apparently, my approach of riding where I think I’m least likely to fall off is incorrect, I should always ride on the left. Next time I hit the trails – hopefully not literally – I’ll make sure I ride on the left.

The guide concludes with a section on mountain biking slang. I’m already thinking of ways I can introduce the word ‘gnarly’ into my next technical hydrology report. I doubt that anyone would actually notice.

So although I’m still not very confident and tend to spend most of the time worrying about what might go wrong, reading the Beginner’s Guide to Mountain Biking has definitely given me some really useful hints and tips.

You never know, I might ask my friend to drive me and Boris – I gave my mountain bike the least imaginative name ever – the short distance to Cannock Chase to check out some new trails.

If my friend is really lucky, I might even take him to Halfords so that he can pick out a bike from their impressive range of mountain bikes.

Do you have any tips that may help me increase my confidence on two wheels? At the moment, I’m still quite nervous when I ride in Sutton Park.

Have you ever made any mountain biking or cycling blunders? I genuinely had no idea I was meant to stick to the left hand side of trails.

**Full disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with Halfords**

Race Report: Aldridge 10k

I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend. This blog is a day late because I was actually at work yesterday. Shocking behaviour after an incredibly hectic weekend.

Some of you know I set myself the challenge of running completing 10 races this year. On Sunday I completed my fourth race –the Aldridge 10k.

So what did I think of the Aldridge 10k? Would I run it again? Would I recommend the race to other runners?

As always, I checked the weather forecast quite a few times. The forecast for Sunday was 23°c and sunny, typical. However, first thing on Sunday morning the weather was perfect; cool and dry with a refreshing breeze. The cool conditions unfortunately didn’t last. Ellen very kindly collected me at 09:30 and drove us the short distance to Aldridge. We found somewhere to park and walked the short distance to the race HQ, the local cricket club to collect our numbers.

I found race HQ a touch confusing. The signs weren’t very clear and it took us a couple of attempts to work out where we had to go to collect our numbers. Numbers finally collected and attached – there were a lot of safety pins – we decided to find out where the 10k race would start from. We found the 5k muster point, an impressive selection of trophies and the finish line. Virtually everything but the start of the 10k race.

The next challenge was finding somewhere for a pre-race pee. The queues for the portaloos were quite long so we checked out the cricket club’s Clubhouse. Bingo! Real toilets with a small queue. Toilet stop done and dusted, as it was still quite chilly we completed a pre-race warm-up. Ellen met up with some of her running club friends and organised some ‘before’ photos. We then squeezed in a second pre-race pee and then followed a sea of runners towards the mystery start location.

I’ve included one of the official race photos because I can just about make out my black cap in the distance.

Aldridge start

[Photo: Brian Smith]

The sun made an unwelcome appearance just before the race started at 11:00. One minute it was nice and cool, the next minute it was hot and sunny. I regretted wearing black.

At the start Aldridge

The first mile was hot and if I’m being honest rather uninspiring as it took us alone the main Walsall Road until we turned left at a pub and onto the amusingly named Bosty Lane. I’d describe the second mile as undulating and dull.

Youtube 3

[Source: James Cruze]

This section of the course was made more challenging as we had to run on the pavements as the roads hadn’t been closed. I was a little frustrated because I enter road races to run on the road, not on uneven pavements with niggle inducing dropped kerbs.

Mile three was also undulating. I wanted to walk but just about managed to carry on running. The highlights of mile four were the hoses and the sponge and drinks stations.

As I still haven’t quite mastered the art of running and drinking at the same time, I walked through the drinks station. I was a little disappointed to be handed a small plastic cup with hardly any water in it. A bottle would have been welcome on such a warm day! We spotted a camera, waved and continued on our way.

Youtube 1

[Source: Aldridge Now & Then]

Youtube 2

[Source: Aldridge Now & Then]

The penultimate mile was quite tricky because my fragile right knee didn’t appreciate the rather steep hill section. The half a mile down hill away from the centre of Aldridge and the start of the race worried me because I knew it meant the final part of the race would be incredibly challenging.

I’m ashamed to report that I gave into the heat, my dodgy right knee and my lack of mental toughness and walked quite a large section of the final mile. I’m afraid that the inspirational quotes someone had chalked onto the road did very little to inspire this hot and grumpy runner.

Aldridge Mile 5 and 6

[Photo: Ron Reynolds]

A few runners had warmed me about the “nightmare hill” between miles five and six. As a result I gave the hill far, far too much respect. Miles one to five had been completed at 09:xx min/mile pace; it took me over 11 minutes to complete mile six. The final part of the race was mentally tough as we had a couple of loops around a field.

I crossed the line in 01:01:45, collected my medal, goody bag and t-shirt -the Wolves colour was an added bonus – and found Ellen who’d finished before me.

Aldridge medal

We spent a bit of time recovering and then dug out our beer tokens and joined the queue for the free post-race half pint of beer. Beer successfully collected, we spent an enjoyable 15 minutes chilling out, discussing the race and drinking our beer. I couldn’t stay too long as I had to get ready for the journey back down to Wallingford.

Although my own race performance was a little disappointing, Ellen ran a seriously impressive time. I’m really enjoying watching her get faster and faster. The race was well organised and incredibly well supported. I received my official time via text the second I crossed the finish line and the first set of event photographs were available to download for free the same day as the race. It’s just a shame the photographer didn’t stay to take photos of everyone finishing…

This race report has turned into an essay so I’ll stop writing and leave you with a selection of Strava stats. I think it’s pretty obvious where I struggled.

If any more photos make an appearance online I’ll add them to this post.

So would I recommend the Aldridge 10k? Possibly, but I’d also recommend runners carry their own water with them if it’s a hot day. Advice I should follow myself.

Race ratings:

  • Cost: 9/10 – £13.75 (the entry fee included free downloads of official race photos)
  • Course: 8/10
  • Medal: 6/10
  • Race t-shirt: 9/10
  • Goody Bag: 8/10 (I loved the race number magnet thingys)

Do you ever wonder what happens to all the photos people take of runners during races? Loads of random people were taking photos on Sunday; they never seem to appear online. Strange!

Have you ever managed to dodge all the official race photographers? I’m starting to think that although I’m tall I’m also invisible.

Do you think 11:00 is too late to start a race? I much prefer an earlier start time as it’s cooler and the roads are less congested.

Still feeling a bit lost and alone

Last November I decided to risk blogging about something other than running and fitness. My Feeling a bit lost and alone blog was read by over a thousand people and the support I received was invaluable.

As it’s now over six months since I put pen to paper and poured my heart out, I decided it’s time for an update.A well placed bench

I’m pleased to report that if I ignore the fact my bank account was emptied at the end of last month – thanks Active! – at the moment I feel slightly more in control of my life. I know that I need to make a few changes but I feel more in control than I did in November.

My close friend and mentor is still battling his rare and unfortunately incurable form of thyroid cancer. I managed to spend some time with him just before Christmas and have seen him twice this year. I still miss our daily hydrology and life chats and I think it’s safe to say I’ll never forget him. I raised over £500 for a thyroid cancer charity and hope to raise more money for the Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

I got the opportunity to say “thank you” and later on this year have the opportunity to make him proud when I present my research at a hydrology conference.

Back in November I shared my concerns about working in an office environment for the first time in a number of years. I’m pleased to report that although from time to time I find working in a large open plan office a little overwhelming, my colleagues are awesome and have been incredibly supportive.

My line manager actively encourages us to take breaks as and when we need them and I doubt many other managers would have allowed me to drop what I was doing so that I could travel down to London to see my mentor.

While I’m still travelling back home most weekends, I’m pleased I accepted the temporary assignment and relocated (sort of) to Wally. The only downside to the temporary contract is the fact I’m now job hunting again. I’m really going to miss my colleagues when my contract comes to an end. I’m reasonably confident I’ll keep in touch with some of them.

I was also incredibly stressed out about the festive period. I had very little money, had failed to find myself a temporary Christmas job and felt like I’d let people down. Although Christmas was a little stressful at times, my family and friends didn’t seem too bothered about the lack of expensive presents. If I ever find myself in the same sort of situation, I hopefully won’t let myself get so worked up.

Finally, I’m now 39 *gulp* and unfortunately still feel completely alone. I’ve now accepted that I’m going to be left on the shelf forever, and will end up living alone surrounded by rescue cats. I’m not single by choice and I’m not happy living alone and not having anyone to turn to for advice.  I guess I’ll have to hope that I meet my ‘Mr Right’ in the vegetable aisle of my local supermarket.

So although I’m feeling far, far happier than I did six months ago, until I find myself a permanent job and can plan ahead, I’m afraid that I’m still feeling a bit lost and alone.

Apologies for asking a slightly nosey question but where did you meet your partner? I’m thinking that hanging around the vegetable aisle in Sainsbury’s isn’t working.

Have you ever considered online dating? I’ve read so many horror stories I’m terrified of adding a profile.