Royal Parks Half Marathon training week 8

Good morning. As always, I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend. I think the highlight of my weekend was managing to run continuously almost two hours. Thanks to an epic headache, I didn’t travel down to Wallingford last night so I’m not in the office this morning.Collage 25The eighth week of my half marathon training plan recommended that I completed an easy 30 minute run on Monday, a steady 45 minute run on Wednesday, parkrun on Saturday and a longer 110 minute run at a comfortable pace on Sunday. After missing a couple of long runs I was determined to complete my longer run.

So how did i get on during the eighth week of my half marathon training? Did I remain injury free? Did i manage to squeeze in a midweek training run?

Monday – 30 mins steady

Week eight didn’t get off to the best of starts when I managed to sleep through my 05:00 alarm. The Lichfield 10k had clearly been more tiring than I realised. I had a productive day because I was working from home. I spent the morning working on my conference presentation and the afternoon on a job application for a permanent role. I completely forgot to run.

I left Four Oaks at 17:00 and arrived back in Wallingford almost four hours later. Although I was feeling tired, I decided to head out on my 30 minute run as soon as I got to Wallingford. I really enjoyed my short run, and felt a lot less anxious and stressed afterwards.

Tuesday – Rest

For one the office was reasonably quiet and I managed to complete my presentation for Wednesday. I also remembered to book my train tickets. One day I won’t leave everything until the last minute. I left the office at a sensible time and headed back to my shared house. I’m not sure what happened but I lay on my bed and rested my eyes. One minute it was light outside, the next it was dark and I’d wasted most of the evening.

Wednesday – Rest

One of my housemates very thoughtfully woke me and probably half of Wallingford up at 05:30. Not what I needed after a somewhat restless night. The lack of sleep meant that I was quite stressed when the bus from Wallingford to Didcot Parkway train station broke down. Fortunately, I was allowed to travel to Didcot on a school bus and the rest of the journey to London was incident-free. Following a slightly emotional morning, I think my presentation went reasonably well. I was asked and managed to answer a couple of tricky questions. I had planned to fit in a run before the formal meal, but I was so busy talking, I ran out of time.Collage 26The formal meal was ok but most definitely not worth £50 a head. London prices are ridiculous. Sorry, rant over. We’d been provided with accommodation in the halls of residence on Marylebone Road. The views were amazing and the rooms surprisingly luxurious. Things have definitely changed from when I was a student in halls back in *cough* 1997.

Thursday – 45 mins steady

Following a quite emotionally draining day, I decided to spend some time away from the conference. I spent a couple of hours wandering around Marylebone thinking about all the drinks and meals I’d had with Geoff. London changes so quickly, loads of places had closed down. It was all a little depressing. I walked back to the university and joined up with the conference. After an afternoon of complicated hydrology talks, my head felt a little fried and I made my getaway.

I got back to Wallingford at about 18:00, had a shower, got changed into my running gear and met up with my colleague. It was so dark towards the end of our run; I think the Thames Path runs are going to have to come to an end quite soon. I had a quick drink of water, said goodbye to my colleague and then headed out on my 45 minute run. My Garmin was playing up – have I mentioned how much I dislike my Garmin? – so I decided to run three laps around Wallingford.

Friday – Rest

As I needed to complete a job application, I booked the day off as annual leave and headed back home in the morning. Most people would have cracked on with their job application; I managed to spend three hours replying to emails, cleaning and generally avoiding working on my job application. I completed and submitted my application at 21:30. Although I was reasonably satisfied with what I’d written, I need to stop putting things off until the last minute.

Saturday – parkrun

The sun very kindly woke me up before my 07:00 alarm. I decided to be productive and got all of my ironing done before heading to Walsall Arboretum parkrun. The journey to the Arboretum was as stressful as usual and I arrived at the start feeling a little flustered. I had to start a little further back than usual, and found the first lap really congested. My pace increased throughout the 5k, and following a failed attempt at a sprint finish, I crossed the finish in 28:23. Once the half marathon is done and dusted, I’m going to have a go at improving my parkrun time.Collage 27The rest of Saturday was unfortunately so dull; I’m not going to bore you all to tears with the details. I’m looking forward to my drinking buddies returning from their various holidays. Staying in on a Saturday night isn’t much fun.

Sunday – 110 mins comfortable

When my alarm went off at 05:00, I looked outside, saw how dark it was and instantly thought “sod it”. I woke up again an hour later, saw it was a lot lighter outside, gave myself a major talking to and got ready to run. I managed a successful loo visit and although my stomach felt a little bit what I’d describe as suspect, decided it wasn’t bad enough to stop me running.

It was incredibly windy. I’d forgotten how exposed certain roads in Four Oaks are. The first three miles were run into a headwind. Although I found running into the wind quite demoralising, I didn’t make my usual mistake of running at an unsustainable pace. I can’t remember exactly when I started to really need the toilet. One minute I felt amazing, the next minute I felt a bit dodgy.

I walked for a minute and started to assess my toilet options. Unfortunately, on a Sunday morning in the middle of Four Oaks there weren’t any. I was left with no choice but to carry on running. The final 50 minutes of my run were a struggle. I ran as much as I could but had to take a couple of walking breaks. I’ve no idea how, but my splits for miles six to 10 were respectable (10:46, 10:53, 11:10, 10:12 and 10:53) and I managed to carry on running. Fortunately, my long run finished near my house and I just about made it to the toilet. The rest of Sunday was quite steady.

So that’s the eighth week of my half marathon successfully completed. I can’t believe that injuries permitting, in four weeks time it will all be over.

I’ve just had a look at week nine of my half marathon training plan. I think all of the training runs are achievable. I’ve got to complete a steady 40 minute run later today, a 45-50 minute steady run on Wednesday, a 20 minute easy jog on Saturday and a longer two hour run on Sunday. After a slightly dodgy long run, I’m starting to feel a little scared about the actual half marathon now. Time really does seem to be flying by at a rapid rate.

Training totals

  • Runs: 26
  • Time: 19 hours 32 mins
  • Distance: 115.03 miles

Fundraising total

  •  £477 (£0 increase from last week)

Niggleometer

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

Would you rather run in wet or in windy conditions? After finding running into the wind for most of my long run quite demoralising, I think I’d rather run in the rain.

Did you watch the Berlin Marathon? I can’t believe I fell asleep after my run and missed Eliud Kipchoge’s marathon world record run.

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Royal Parks Half Marathon training week 6

I’d like to start this blog with a public service announcement. A couple of people who sponsored me said they enjoy reading my blog. I’ve genuinely got no idea who you are, but if you read this then “thank-you”. If you want to guess my finish time, please get in touch.

Good morning. I hope that everyone had an awesome weekend. I’m feeling far too chirpy for a Monday morning as I’m on flexi leave. I think the highlights of my weekend were volunteering at Sutton Park parkrun and completing the Little Aston 5 race yesterday.Collage 20The sixth week and halfway stage of my half marathon training plan originally recommended I completed a steady 30 minute run on Monday – I replaced this with a 90 minute run – a fast 25 minute run on Tuesday, a steady 45 minute run on Thursday, a slow 15 minute run on Saturday and a 10k race or time trial on Sunday. As I’d already entered the Little Aston 5, I decided that a five mile time trial was sort of equivalent to a six and a bit mile time trial.

So how did I find the sixth week of my half marathon training? Did starting the week with a long run cause any issues? Did I manage to complete all my training runs? Did my right knee niggle turn into something more serious?

Monday – 90 mins comfortable

When my alarm woke me at 05:00 on Bank Holiday Monday, I didn’t feel like leaving my warm bed and heading out into the dark. I weighed up the pros and cons of running, reminded myself I’d already missed two longer training runs, got up, went to the loo, got changed into some running gear, and then made myself drink a pint of water. I then did something incredibly sensible and almost unheard of; some stretches.

It was cool and still outside, perfect running conditions. My new Garmin unfortunately completely refused to function as a GPS so I took it off and set the timer on my mobile to 90 minutes. Once I got going and had warmed-up my old joints, I enjoyed my long run a lot more than I thought I would. I’ve no idea what I thought about while I was running, but the time seemed to pass quite quickly. Once the 90 minutes was up, I walked the short distance back home, made myself drink a couple of glasses of chocolate milkshake, did some more stretches and then headed back to bed for a couple of hours.

Tuesday – Rest

My Tuesday morning got off to quite an entertaining start. One of the gates I usually open on my walk to the office was padlocked shut. I was left with the option of either retracing my steps and walking the long way into the office, or climbing over the gate. I wouldn’t recommend climbing over a gate in slightly too tight smart work trousers. Luckily, my trousers remained intact. Following a somewhat noisy but productive day in the office, I walked back to my shared house (via the pub) and had a power nap. I was meant to complete a 25 minute speed session, but decided to give my slightly niggly right knee time to recover from my long run the previous day. Sometimes I can be sensible.

Wednesday – 25 mins speed session

The sound of some much-needed rain woke me up at 05:30. We need the rain… I very briefly considered getting my 25 minute speed session done and dusted before work. I saw sense, stayed in bed and managed to get some more sleep. Work was productive, but not very blogworthy. I managed to avoid having an Excel related breakdown. I think the highlight of the day was a colleague who is currently on maternity leave meeting us for lunch; her 8 week old was tiny.

I’ve reached the conclusion that I’m not very good at speed sessions. I completed a five minute warm-up and then tried to increase my pace. The first mile of my attempt at a speed session was completed in 09:06, the second in 09:19. Not very speedy and a reminder I’m a long way off my sub 25 minute parkrun target. I was a little concerned because the bottom of my left foot felt a little weird. I’ve got everything crossed that I’m not about to head down Stress Fracture Street again.

Thursday – 45 mins steady

After waking up at the slightly unreasonable time of 04:00, I somehow had another productive day in the office. The highlights of my Thursday were a couple of people supporting the ‘Guess my finish time’ sweepstake I’m organising and lunch. The somewhat unhealthy combination of lasagne and curly fries I opted for at lunchtime tasted great. I also discovered that an amazing job opportunity had been posted on the internal jobs site. I’ve got a couple of weeks to get my application submitted. I escaped the office at 17:00 and headed to the Boathouse pub with a colleague for a quick pint. Much as I enjoy drinking on my own, it was nice to have a bit of company.Collage 21The only downside to my post-work drink was not being able to head out on my run until quite late. I struggled to run for 45 minutes less than two hours after drinking a pint of Punk IPA, and eating two packets of crisps. At least the combination of feeling nauseous and the terrible streetlights in Wallingford meant that I had to run at a steady pace. I actually finished the run feeling better than when I started. Unfortunately, my left foot felt slightly strange again. Hopefully it’s an imaginary niggle rather than a ‘proper’ injury.

Friday – Rest

Work was quite entertaining as the Christmas and New Year leave discussions started. I’m trying not to think about Christmas just yet. Anyway, you all know my Friday routine; I left the office at 15:00 and after a slightly stressful journey, arrived back in Four Oaks three hours later. Although I felt so tired I struggled to make the most of my Friday evening, I did manage to add a fundraising page to this blog. Please have a quick look and let me know what you think.

Saturday – Sutton Park parkrun volunteering

After walking at least five miles around Sutton Park, I decided to give myself an extra rest day. I really enjoyed my somewhat slightly overdue first stint at parkrun volunteering. I was allocated a position quite a long walk from the start, right next to the ice cream van. I only heard one person complaining about the course. I guess a lot of parkruns aren’t actually held in parks and people have probably got used to running on nice smooth paths.Collage 22The rest of my Saturday felt a little mundane after the excitement of parkrun and ice cream. I spent a couple of hours working on my presentation for a hydrology conference, caught up on some boring ‘adulting’ tasks and generally faffed around. I rather reluctantly headed across Birmingham for a music lesson. I hate Saturday evening trains as with the exception of the driver and the guard, I feel like I’m the only sober person on the train. Fortunately no one was ‘unwell’ on the train this week.

Sunday – Little Aston 5

As the Little Aston 5 didn’t start until 11:00, I treated myself to a much-needed lie in. My legs felt quite fatigued when I eventually got up, luckily they appeared to be reasonably niggle free. After quite a few toilet visits – let’s just say returning home for one last visit was the correct decision – I walked the short distance to Little Aston Primary School. As at some stage I’m planning on writing a proper race review I’ll keep it short. I last ran the Little Aston 5 mile almost 10 years ago, I’d forgotten about the hills. I think I got a 5 mile PB; I’m just waiting for the official results.

So that’s the sixth week of my half marathon training more or less completed. I can’t believe I’ve reached the half-way stage and only have another six weeks to go. The year is flying by at a ridiculous rate.

Quite frankly, I think that week seven looks a little challenging. The schedule recommends completing a 20-25 steady run today, a 40 minute steady run on Tuesday, a 50-60 minute steady run on Thursday and a longer 100 minute comfortable run on Sunday. I’m taking part in the Lichfield 10k on Sunday so the 100 minute run will have to wait a week. Hopefully this won’t have any impact on the day of the Royal Parks Half.

I’m actually really looking forward to the Lichfield 10k as my sister-in-law has entered and will hopefully be running. She’s so much faster than I am I think it will be a case of see you at the finish!

Training totals

  • Runs: 19
  • Time: 13 hours 18 mins
  • Distance: 78.62 miles

Fundraising total

  • £420 (£120 increase from last week)

Niggleometer

  • Right knee: 2/10
  • Left foot: 4/10
  • Left groin: 2/10

The inaugural Sutton Park parkrun

Good morning. I can’t believe its Thursday already, I can almost smell the long weekend. Time flies when I’m in Wallingford.

Regular readers of this blog will be aware I participated in the inaugural Sutton Park parkrun last weekend. Before I share my thoughts on my new ‘home’ parkrun, I thought I’d start with a bit of history.Sutton Park parkrun start

[Photo: Richard Hill]

Way back at the start of 2010, I was a member of a group of local runners who were keen to get a parkrun up and running – apologies for the terrible pun – in Sutton Park. We failed. I think another group of runners tried and failed a few years later. At one stage it felt like parkrun would never come to Sutton Park. A shame when you consider the lack of parkruns in Birmingham and the fact that Sutton Park is so popular with runners.

Earlier this year I heard rumours that a parkrun in Sutton Park was looking more likely. When I bumped into my old running coach at the start of August, I discovered that a test event was taking place. He also described the course to me and said it would be quite challenging; definitely not one for setting a personal best. Hills are unavoidable in Sutton Park, but for every up there is nearly always a down!

On Saturday, I woke up well before my alarm and was dressed and ready to go by 07:30. It actually took longer to drive to Sutton Park parkrun than to Walsall Arboretum parkrun. Although I live next to Sutton Park, the parkrun course starts and finishes near Banners Gate at the opposite end of the park. I suspect it may be easier to run or cycle through the park.

Course

Car parking at Banners Gate is always at a premium, so the event organisers encouraged people to access the park via Boldmere Gate and to park in the large car park near the model aircraft flying field. The start was a short walk or run from this car park, I think it’s safe to say I’d warmed-up by the time I reached the start.

It was interesting to play ‘spot the inaugural parkrun collector’ (I’m not sure what the official title is) at the start. I overheard one runner saying he’d travelled for more than five hours to get to Sutton Park. I’m not sure if that’s dedication or something else.

The Event Director had asked for people to stay away from the inaugural event as he didn’t want to overwhelm the volunteers, other park users or the course. In the end I think there were a manageable 239 finishers. It will be interesting to see how quickly this number increases. I don’t think it will take long.

The event briefing was emotional and outlined some of the challenges Gary and his team had overcome to get Sutton Park parkrun started. A lot of people were thanked and we were reminded that we weren’t the sole users of the park. We were then set on our way; it took me about five seconds to cross the start line.

Although the first kilometre and a bit were reasonably flat, the surface (and my general lack of fitness) made it quite hard to run fast. It took me a long time to get going.

Most other runners were taking in the scenery, I was busy watching my footing; the last thing I wanted was another injury. The majority of the first section is along quite a narrow path; if you are a fast runner, I would strongly recommend you start as near the front as you can as overtaking is virtually impossible. I’ve included a still from a video a runner called Andis has shared on YouTube. Andis captured the whole course, I think it’s definitely worth watching if you are considering a trip to Sutton Park.

First section

[Source: Andis Ozols]

I must admit that I find watching myself running a little strange. I discovered that I still run like a wonky donkey and look like I’m constantly limping. So much for improving my running technique. I thought I was running at quite a decent pace, the reality was a little different. The course then split into two and runners had the option of running across a wooden bridge – warning this bridge does get quite slippery when it’s wet – or through what in normal, wet conditions is a small water feature.

Sutton Park parkrun kilometer 1

[Photo: Richard Hill]

I think it’s safe to describe the path along Lord Donegal’s Ride towards the Jamboree Memorial stone as the most challenging section of the course. Think gravel, energy sapping sand, and a short but steep hill which is really hard to run up. Thanks to the recent dry weather, the path was incredibly uneven in places. I’m ashamed to admit I got half way up the hill and slowed to a walk. Next time I’m determined to run up it all.

Gravel hill

[Source: Andis Ozols]

Thankfully, a steep uphill in Sutton Park is generally followed by either a flat or a downhill section; the next section of the course took runners towards the Jamboree Memorial stone (and my favourite ice cream van) and away from the gravel onto some welcome tarmac. Although the tarmac was easy to run on, I found the short out and back section quite mentally challenging and a little demoralising. Probably because it brought back memories of evil hill training sessions with my running club. There is nothing worse than running down a hill knowing you’ve got to run straight back up it.

Out and back

[Source: Andis Ozols]

I *may* have walked part of the hill back towards the Jamboree Memorial stone. I clearly need to work on my endurance. Fortunately, the remainder of the course is generally back downhill towards the finish next to Longmoor Pool. Judging by the photo my friend took, I’m not convinced I enjoyed running across a slightly uneven field covered in cow shit.  At least the cows (which incidentally belong to my family; the shame) kept their distance.

Sutton Park pakrun field

The parkrun organisers had very kindly provided a series of signs which gave an indication of how far we had left to run. I think it’s safe to say I enjoyed the downhill section towards the finish.

Sutton Park parkrun finish

[Photo: Richard Hill]

I’m not sure how I managed to maintain my sub 30 minute parkrun streak, but I finished in 29:18. I crossed the finish, collected token 155 and then made sure I thanked all of the volunteers and the person that had made Sutton Park parkrun a reality; Gary the Event Director.

I’ll stop waffling now as this has turned into a bit of an essay. Once I’ve volunteered a few times, I’m aiming to complete Sutton Park parkrun without any walking breaks. I have a feeling that if I make the most of the numerous downhill sections, I’ll be able to run quite a respectable time. Although I found the course quite challenging in places, I really enjoyed not having to run multiple laps around a lake or playing field. I think a single lap course is great 🙂

How far would you travel to attend a parkrun? Travelling for five hours shows some serious dedication to parkrun.

Have you ever attended an inaugural parkrun? I hadn’t realised until Saturday that collecting inaugural parkruns is a ‘thing’.

Royal Parks Half Marathon training Week 4

I hope that everyone had an awesome weekend. I think the highlight of my weekend was attending the inaugural Sutton Park parkrun. I think it’s safe to say that the course is quite challenging.Collage 13Week four of my half marathon training plan recommended that I completed a steady 45 minute run on Tuesday, an hour long easy run on Wednesday, a steady 45 minute run on Friday and a longer 80 minute run on Sunday. Although Saturday was meant to be a rest day; I suspected that the opportunity of attending a new parkrun in Sutton Park would be too good to miss.

So how did I cope during week four of my half marathon training? Did I manage to get my training back on track? Did I manage to avoid picking up an injury?

Monday – Rest

To say that Monday wasn’t the most positive of days would be a huge understatement. I received an email at 08:30 with the subject “Geoff”. I was devastated to read that my PhD supervisor, mentor and friend Geoff Petts had passed away on Saturday evening. I’d had the opportunity to visit him last week, but didn’t due to work. I’d missed my chance to say goodbye. Looking back, I’ve got no idea how I got through the day. I had to leave my desk a couple of times because I was crying; not ideal in an open plan office. Geoff was an amazing PhD supervisor, mentor and above all, friend. He was always there for me and I can’t believe I’m never going to see him again.

I left the office with a colleague at 17:00, and we headed to a local pub for a couple of drinks and something to eat. It was good to sit down and relax for an hour or so. It’s a shame it was a rest day as I know a run would have helped me process everything that had happened.

Tuesday – 45 mins steady

Tuesday was a little difficult. Work was a nightmare and I kept thinking about missing my chance to say goodbye to Geoff. I was putting on a brave face until I read a London Higher blog; The Geoff Years, then the tears really started. It’s a good job I have an incredible line manager.

I got back to my shared house at 17:30 and then spent a couple of hours lying on my bed watching Holby City. After a lot of procrastination, I headed out the door for my 45 minute run. I had to remind myself that one of the very last things Geoff said to me was to “keep on jogging”. Not starting my run until after 21:00 was good because it was so dark in Wallingford, I had to run at a steady pace to avoid twisting my ankle on the uneven pavements. It was cool and still; perfect running conditions. The run definitely helped me process recent events, it also left me feeling so tired, I got a decent night’s sleep.

Wednesday – Rest

The weather on my walk into the office was so gorgeous; I actually stopped for a couple of minutes to watch the River Thames. I’ve always found rivers incredibly relaxing – okay, perhaps not when they are making my job a nightmare – and often spend time just watching the water flow past me. I had a reasonably productive day at work and left the office feeling I’d actually achieved something.Collage 14I’m not sure what happened, but for the second time in three days, I found myself enjoying a post work pint of beer with a work colleague. I did briefly contemplate heading out for my run. I then rather sensibly (for me) decided that running after drinking two pints of beer and eating a reasonably sized portion of fish and chips wasn’t a good idea.

Thursday – 60 mins easy

What a difference a day makes. Although we definitely needed the rain, I got absolutely drenched walking the couple of miles into the office. It was so wet; I decided to take a slightly grumpy selfie during my walk to work. At least my sogginess gave my colleagues something to smile about. Work was a little difficult again and I was pleased to escape the office at 17:00.

My unscheduled rest day left me with a bit of a dilemma. I’d already agreed to run with a colleague at 19:30, but also needed to fit in a 60 minute run. I didn’t want to start my run while it was warm and humid. I also didn’t want to play dodge the traffic, dog walkers and pedestrians. I decided to split my hour long run into two thirty minute runs either side of running with my colleague. A slightly unconventional approach, but it enabled me to run for an hour. Can someone please remind me how to run at an ‘easy’ pace. The first run felt so hard, I had to sit down outside the local garage for 10 minutes to recover.  You know you must look awful when people stop to check you’re okay.

Friday – Rest

I love Fridays. I also quite like the organisation I work for. Thanks to the awesomeness that is flexitime, I was able to leave the office at 15:00; this meant I arrived back in Four Oaks at 18:00. I should have completed a 45 minute run at a steady pace. After a bit of debate and a meal from the local Chinese takeaway, I decided to play it safe and to take a rest day. I also wanted to enjoy the inaugural Sutton Park parkrun.

Saturday – Sutton Park parkrun

I woke up an hour before my alarm went off – why does this always happen on a Saturday morning? – so I made a start on some household chores. I phoned my friend to check that he was still okay to drive me to Sutton Park. He did his best to talk me out of running, but I was determined to take part. I’m not going to go into too much detail as I’m going to share my thoughts in a separate post. Sutton Park parkrun is definitely quite tricky; totally different to the flat and fast Walsall Arboretum parkrun. I’m ashamed to admit I had to walk a couple of times.  I’ve no idea how I managed to maintain my sub 30 minute parkrun streak.Collage 15The rest of Saturday was unfortunately a bit of a write-off. I think the events of the week finally caught up with me. I felt so physically exhausted I had to head back to bed for a couple of hours. So much for being productive and getting loads done. I managed to watch a couple of hours of athletics before my eyesight started to go a bit strange, always a warning I’m heading towards migraine city. As I didn’t want a migraine, I abandoned the athletics and headed back to bed for an hour.

Although I wasn’t convinced I’d feel well enough to complete a longish run the following morning, I set my alarm and laid out my running gear before heading to bed.

Sunday – More Rest!

I woke up well before my alarm feeling terrible. A few years ago I would have attempted my 80 minute run; I’m now older and a little wiser and accepted that running was completely out of the question. I’d like to give a big shout out to my colleague who came into work last week when she should have stayed at home. I suspect that every office has a ‘hero’ who comes into work when they shouldn’t’. I don’t think she reads this blog.

Not the most positive end to the week.

So that’s week four of my Royal Parks Half training not very successfully completed; only another eight weeks to go. Week four was emotional, there were a lot of tears and at times I failed to see the point in continuing with my training and fundraising. Hopefully next week will be less emotionally draining.

Week five is a little bit confusing as it is described as the ‘mid schedule peak’ but doesn’t *touch wood* look too challenging. I’ve got to complete an easy 30 minute run after work – I’m feeling so shattered it will definitely be ‘easy’, some sort of speed session on Thursday, a 50 minute steady run when I get home from work on Friday and a longer 90 minute run on Sunday. I’m determined to run for the full 90 minutes so I must remember to slow down!

Training totals

  • Runs: 12
  • Time: 8 hours 25 mins
  • Distance: 49.77 miles

Fundraising total

  • £300 (same as last week)

Niggleometer

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

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!

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?

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?