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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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?

A parkrun, some sun, a fun run and a BBQ

Happy Monday! I hope that everyone had an awesome weekend and enjoyed the sunshine. I booked Monday off work so I’m enjoying another extra long weekend.

Most of you will know my Friday afternoon routine now. I left the office at 15:00 and arrived back home in Four Oaks three hours later. I spent what was left of the evening getting all my washing done, catching up on a couple of my favourite TV programmes and eating unhealthy food.

I woke up well before my alarm on Saturday which was a little bit frustrating as I wanted a lie in. I hadn’t originally planned to head to parkrun but when my friend offered to drive me I felt that I couldn’t say no.

Unfortunately, I didn’t enjoy parkrun very much and kind of wish that I’d stayed in bed. I set out at a slightly ambitious pace, struggled in the humid conditions and seriously considered dropping out after the second lap.

Parkrun lap 2

[Photo: Ron Reynolds]

I gave myself a serious talking to, completed the final lap and finished in 28:14, a time I would have been over the moon with a year ago.

The short walk back to the car park felt like a marathon and I don’t think I’ve ever ended a 5k run with such a red face. The camera really doesn’t lie; sometimes I wish that it did!

Emma the beetroot

I also don’t think I’ve been so relieved to sit down for a couple of minutes after a run. I felt so nauseous, there was no way I was risking getting straight back into a boiling hot car.

A well placed bench

I’ve no idea why but I felt quite peaky for a few hours after parkrun and had zero appetite, definitely most unlike me and not ideal the day before a challenging 8.5 mile run.

Fortunately, a quick afternoon nap seemed to do the trick and I woke up feeling reasonably ‘normal’ again. As parkrun had left me feeling slightly dehydrated and I had a headache, I made myself drink a couple of glasses of orange flavoured Nuun.

The rest of my Saturday was quiet and relaxing, just what I needed. I made sure that I drank loads of water, avoided the local Chinese takeaway and the local weather forecasts. I went to bed at the not so rock and roll time of 22:00.

A combination of bright sunlight, heat and noisy birds woke me far too bright and early on Sunday morning. Not ideal when I desperately wanted a lie in. The fun run didn’t start until the incredibly late time of 11:00 so I had almost too much time to faff around before I set off on the short walk to the local train station.

My running buddy Ellen spotted me walking to the train station and kindly gave me a lift. We met up with Ellen’s friend Ruth and arrived in the centre of Sutton Coldfield with plenty of time for a couple of pre-race toilet visits. We entered the start area at 10:30 and spent the next 45 minutes or so getting hotter and hotter. I don’t think I’ve ever been so relieved to watch the sun disappear behind some clouds.

GMFR 2018 start

Nervous at the start

The run started and it was so crowded it took me almost a mile to get into my stride. I don’t enjoy running in hot weather and felt incredibly nauseous so decided to slow down. Somewhere between the first and second mile I noticed that my Garmin had switched itself off, not ideal but I managed to get it working again. To make matters worse my dodgy right calf started to hurt, a lot. We entered Sutton Park, I stopped at a drinks station to grab myself some water and never really got going again.

I told Ellen and Ruth to run on without me and walked for a couple of minutes to assess my calf. Walking didn’t help and I decided to switch my focus from getting a decent time to having a good time.

I power walked up the numerous uphill sections and ran very slowly down the downhill sections. I soaked up the atmosphere as I ran through the centre of Sutton Park near Town Gate and stopped for a quick chat with a teacher I hadn’t seen for several years.

Cardiac Hill

I reached the bottom of Cardiac Hill and spotted Matt in the distance dressed as an Oompa Loompa. I caught up with Matt and we successfully negotiated Cardiac Hill together. We reached the top, grabbed some much needed water and headed back towards the centre of Sutton Coldfield and the finish.

Miles three to six of the run were shockingly slow and I was embarrassed when I looked at the stats on Strava. The final couple of miles were slightly more respectable – probably because they were more runner friendly i.e. down hill – and I had plenty left in the tank to sprint to the finish line.

I crossed the line, collected a medal from an old school friend, grabbed some water and then spent 15 minutes trying to track down Ellen and Ruth. We were eventually reunited at the train station.

GMFR 2018 medal

I spent the rest of the afternoon relaxing in the sunshine, drinking beer and enjoying my first BBQ for years. The perfect way to take my mind off a somewhat disappointing Great Midlands Fun Run. Next year, I’ll make sure I’m on the other side of the barriers enjoying a pint of beer and supporting the runners.

My next race is the Aldridge 10k on Sunday. I’ve literally got everything crossed that the weather is a little kinder; I’ve had enough of running in the heat.

Do you enjoy running in the sun? If it’s boiling hot on Sunday I suspect the Aldridge 10k will be a DNS as it doesn’t start until 11:00.

Do you have any sun cream recommendations? The P20 I wore smelt terrible and wasn’t very effective.

Rants and raves #27

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post as my extra long weekend is coming to an end. I really don’t want to start the long journey back down to Wallingford later this afternoon. As always, all rants and raves and moans and groans represent my own views. Other, less negative and far superior running and fitness blogs are available**

Rave: Skid Row Marathon

Last Wednesday, I headed to the Corn Exchange cinema in Wallingford to watch Skid Row Marathon. I met up with some other members of the Run Wallingford group, treated myself to a bottle of Crabbie’s and settled down to watch the film.Wallingford Corn Exchange

I don’t want to give too much away, but if you get the opportunity please, please go and watch Skid Row Marathon. I was in tears before it even started. The actions of Judge Craig Mitchell definitely left me with a lot to think about. You may even spot another running blogger *waves*

Here’s the link to the official trailer and to the amazing poem that accompanied the film called ‘I Run On’ written by Molly Case.

Rant: My Garmin 235

Earlier this year I treated myself to a Garmin Forerunner 235. My old second-hand Garmin Forerunner 220 was over three years old and I wanted a slightly more ‘blingy’ Garmin.

Garmin 235

At the moment, I’m not very impressed with the Garmin 235. The battery life is useless, it takes over five minutes to pick up satellites, the wrist-based heart rate monitor is not even remotely accurate and the watch itself feels incredibly fragile and flimsy. I suspect that I’ll be treating myself to another running watch sooner rather than later.

At least the charging lead is machine washable…

Rave: Running

I’m really, really enjoying being able to run at the moment. As I don’t want to spend more time on the injury bench, I’m trying to be sensible and have been closely monitoring my niggles. I’ve been avoiding running down steep hills and have been careful not to increase my mileage too quickly.

My right knee still twinges occasionally when I walk to and from work. I don’t understand why as it doesn’t hurt when I’m running… Slightly strange! My left foot where I had a stress fracture a few years also feels a little ‘strange’

Although I’ve had some great runs recently and nothing beats running outside after a rubbish day in the office, not all of my runs in Wallingford have been enjoyable.

Rant: Hecklers

The first few months of running in Wallingford were both heckle and incident free. Unfortunately, last week I was heckled four times during a single five mile run around Wallingford. Most of the heckles were pathetic and rather unimaginative. I mean, shouting “Get those long bloody legs moving faster” from a car window was pretty tame.

The final heckle, however, was totally unacceptable, particularly coming from another female. I was so angry at being called a “fat bitch” I actually stopped running and stood in complete silence in front of the heckler. The heckler clearly didn’t think I’d be brave enough to actually stop running and walked away from me.

And I thought Wallingford was mean to be a posh town…

Rave: My Brooks trainers

I was a little surprised when Strava alerted me to the fact I’d completed over 400 miles in my current pair of Brooks trainers. My current trainers are still incredibly comfortable and I don’t think they need replacing. However, I’m an incredibly injury-prone runner…

The Strava alert left me with a bit of a dilemma; should I risk continuing to run in my current pair of Brooks or should I crack open a replacement pair? I’ve decided to replace my current pair at the end of the month.Running shoes

[Source]

I’ve just got to work out how to remove my SOLE inserts, they appear to be virtually impossible to remove.

Rant: Manspreading

Anyone who follows me on twitter will be aware that I like to have a good train-related rant. My number one pet hate is manspreading. For those people fortunate enough not to have experienced manspreading, here’s a definition:Manspreading

[Source]

I’m already dreading travelling back to Oxford later today. I can more or less guarantee that thanks to the layout of the seats on the Oxford train, I’ll find myself squashed into the corner of my window seat by either a manspreader or a womanspreader (they do most definitely exist).

Rave: Portable alcohol

I’m aware that drinking cans of pre mixed spirits on the train probably makes me look like I’m desperate for a drink. I’ve reached the stage I don’t care because it’s such an effective way of winding down on a Friday afternoon.Train booze

Opening a can also helps me deal with manspreaders, train delays, noisy passengers, smelly passengers and other train related irritations. Not driving home from Wallingford has some benefits.

Once again, if you’ve managed to reach the end of my latest random selection of rants and raves, thank-you. I’m aware that I said this last time, but I’m hopeful that my next rants and raves post will be slightly more positive.

Did you watch Skid Row Marathon? If you did, what did you think?

Have you ever found a running related purchase incredibly disappointing? I’m seriously considering returning my Garmin Forerunner 235.

What do you do with your old trainers? I’m a bit of a hoarder and tend to keep hold of my old trainers.  

An awesome weekend of running

I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend. Thanks to the flexi system we have at work, I’ve got the day off.

Although my weekend was disappointingly less food-filled than last weekend, I managed to fit in a couple of awesome runs. Watching Skid Row Marathon must have inspired me more than I realised.

parkrun

[Source]

On Saturday I woke up well before my alarm – odd given my struggles with getting out of bed during the week, and laid out my kit ready for parkrun. I ate a banana, had a shower and phoned my friend to make sure he was willing to drive me to Walsall Arboretum. Although he took a bit of convincing – apparently it was too cold for parkrun – he eventually agreed.

We arrived at the Arboretum at 8:40. This was brilliant as it meant that I had time to warm-up before parkrun started. When I got out the car I realised that the weather was perfect, dry and not too warm or windy. I had no excuses. I jogged to the start and positioned myself a lot nearer the front than I usually would.  I spent 10 minutes or so chatting to another runner and managed to get ‘papped’ with my eyes closed – I must have been deep in thought – by Ron the race photographer.

parkrun start[Photo: Ron Reynolds]

“Three, two, one, go…”

It took me a couple of seconds to start running and I was able to run at sub 9:00/mile pace almost straight away. If anything, I was a little too ambitious and set out a little too quickly for my current fitness levels. I decided to run as fast as I could for as long as I could. Simple.

The first lap was a bit of a blur. I overtook a few people and a lot of people came flying past me. I made sure that I thanked all the volunteers and tried to relax. The only minor irritation was my  pair of new and untested Lululemon shorts which kept riding up.

parkrun lap 1[Photo: Ron Reynolds]

The second lap was physically challenging and my pace started to slow. I was paying for my fast start and was struggling to control my breathing, not ideal for an asthmatic. I tried to find runners to pace me, this tactic was reasonably successful and I spent most of the second lap tucked in behind a couple of male runners. I somehow completely dodged the photographer.

The final lap felt great, probably because I knew the finish was getting closer with every stride. I did some dodgy mental sums, and worked out I’d finish in under my target time of 28 minutes if I maintained a sensible pace. I just needed to avoid walking. I managed to dodge the photographer again, and headed towards the finish. The only minor irritation was getting elbowed by another runner in the final 100m. If anything, the actions of Mr Elbow made me run faster. I sprinted(?) across the finish line, stopped my Garmin, took a finish token, got my barcode and token scanned and then jogged back to the car park to meet my friend.

pakrun finish

I knew that I’d finished in under 28 minutes as my Garmin time was 27:10. I was thrilled when the official results came through a couple of hours later and matched my Garmin time.

parkrun result

So although I’m aware I’ve still got a long, long way to go to achieve my goal of a sub 25 minute parkrun, I’m finally starting to believe that one day I will. I just need to learn how to push myself out of my comfort zone when I’m running.

Yesterday morning, I met up with Ellen for a long overdue catch-up and chilled out run in Sutton Park. After a quick discussion about where to run, I came up with the suggestion of running some of the Great Midlands Fun Run route.

We headed towards Jamboree Stone – I was a little disappointed we didn’t stop at the ice cream van – and joined the Great Midlands Fun Run route at approximately 3.5 miles.GMFR route

We left the Jamboree Stone, headed past Keepers Pool and towards Town Gate. I pointed out the usual location of the 5 mile marker and a drinks station and we embarked on the most challenging section of the Great Midlands Fun Run course, the steep climb past Blackroot Pool and up the infamous ‘Cardiac Hill’.

Anyone who has ever completed the Great Midlands Fun Run will know why ‘Cardiac Hill’ is so challenging. The hill is steep and feels like it will never end. There is an evil turn where you think you have reached the top but you haven’t. We just about managed to run to the top without slowing to a walk and then stopped for a few seconds to work out where we wanted to run next.

As we didn’t want to leave Sutton Park, we headed away from the Great Midlands Fun Run course and attempted to run along the perimeter of the park. We stopped for a quick selfie – I’m not sure why I look so worried – and carried on running.

Sutton park run

After a couple of enforced walking breaks due to virtually impassable patches of mud, we headed out of the park and back into Four Oaks. I asked Ellen how far she wanted to run and we agreed to run until we reached 10k. We increased our pace, made it to 10k and then walked the short distance back to Ellen’s house. I stopped for a couple of glasses of orange squash and some more running related chat, and then headed back home.

The rest of my Sunday was relatively chilled out. I entered the Aldridge 10k and made a few changes to my race calendar for the rest of 2018. I don’t think I’ll be taking part in the Vitality London 10,000 as I can’t get back from London on the Monday. At least I can get a refund on my hotel booking.

Next weekend will be a little different as I’ll be spending the weekend in Wallingford for the first time. If I manage to drag myself out of bed early enough, the plan is to head to either Didcot  or Abingdon parkrun on Saturday. On Sunday morning I’m looking forward to taking part in the Wallingford Thames 10k.

Did you have a good weekend?

Did you made it to parkrun?

Do you ever have to completely rearrange your race calendar?

A belated birthday, a parkrun and too much food

I hope that everyone had an amazing Bank Holiday weekend. How amazing was the weather? Returning to Wallingford later is going to be even more of a chore than normal.

I’ll start by rewinding a week. Last Tuesday I reached the grand old age of 39. I celebrated(?) my birthday in an incredibly quiet office. There was no cake and no after work drinks, I don’t think many people realised it was my birthday. The highlight of the day was my right knee surviving a five mile run after work.

I wasn’t too fussed as I knew my birthday celebrations would take place during the weekend.

I made my usual quick escape from the office at 15:00 on Friday, and arrived back in Four Oaks three hours later. After demolishing far too much Chinese food, I spent my Friday evening tackling the washing mountain, catching up on Chicago Fire and just chilling out. Boring but I needed some time to relax.

On Saturday, I woke up ridiculously early and couldn’t get back to sleep. I decided to risk running a little faster (for me) at Walsall parkrun.

I arrived at the Arboretum, jogged to the start area and made sure I lined up a little nearer the front than I usually would. I crossed the start line and spent a couple of minutes struggling to get into any sort of rhythm.

Not the most flattering parkrun photo, I can’t tell if I’m smiling or grimacing. Walsall 1

[Photo: Laurie-Anne Kennedy]

I wanted the finish in sub-28 minutes, but given the heat and my lack of running faster than 10 min/miles recently, I was happy to finish in 28:18. I’m aware that I’ve said it before but next time 😉

I jogged back to the top end of the Arboretum where my friend was waiting – apparently I looked just like a beetroot – posed for the traditional post-parkrun photo, and was given a lift home. Post Walsall

I had a couple of hours to start my ironing, to have a shower, to lose my red face and to get ready for my first belated birthday meal.

I met my friend at Bistrot Pierre in Mere Green, selected a table inside the restaurant (it was far too hot to sit outside) and spent a few minutes working out what to eat. After a lot of debate, I opted for the Cassolette de moules to start with followed by Steak-Frites and Crème brûlée to finish.

Although I managed to eat all three courses, I felt incredibly peaky when I’d finished the Crème brûlée. I never usually struggle to eat, so will blame it on the warmer than average weather.

Food food food

The rest of Saturday afternoon was quiet and may have involved a power nap; I guess it’s all good practice for when I turn 40 next year. I caught up on some blog related admin, listed some unwanted running gear on FleaBay and finished my ironing. Fun, fun, fun! Adulting tasks over, I had my third shower of the day, got changed and walked to the local pub to meet some school friends.

I had such a boozy night my early Sunday morning run didn’t take place.

After a very steady start to Sunday, mum collected me and drove me back home. The original plan had been to head to one of the local Chinese restaurants for an ‘all you can eat’ buffet. Due to the appearance of ‘summer 2018’, the buffet meal was postponed.  After a bit of sneaky sunbathing – top tip, remember to remove your socks first – we ate in the garden.

Summer 2018

I failed as a blogger and forgot to take photos of the food and birthday cake mum had made for me. The cake was amazing and possibly fuelled by Pimm’s and lemonade; I piled far too much on my plate.

Yesterday, I spent the morning and early afternoon working on the paper I am meant to be presenting at a conference later on this year. After discovering that my current assignment is not going to be extended, I also spent a couple of hours exploring some possible career options.

Definitely not the most exciting Bank Holiday Monday!

Did you have a good Bank Holiday weekend?

A parkrun, a nemesis hill and some laps

Happy Thursday, it’s nearly the weekend. I hope that everyone had an amazing Easter and if you are still on leave, I’m more than a little jealous.

As I haven’t blogged for a while, I thought I recap my most recent visit to Walsall Arboretum parkrun and also talk about a couple of recent training runs. If you find running related waffle then please, please close the page now!

On Saturday I managed to convince my friend to drive me the short distance to Walsall Arboretum. He was a little reluctant to start with but eventually agreed. After a slightly stressful journey, we arrived at the top end of the Arboretum with less than 10 minutes to spare. I jogged towards the lake and managed to position myself a little nearer the start.

parkrun lap 2[Photo: Ron Reynolds]

It was the same old story. I plodded around the first lap in an attempt to get going, increased my pace a little during the second lap and then tried and failed to put my foot down during the final lap.

parkrun lap 3[Photo: Ron Reynolds]

I finished feeling as fresh as a daisy in 28:03.

So although my times are gradually improving, I’m still struggling with the whole concept of pushing myself when I’m running. I’m stuck in first gear all the time.

Next time I’m aiming for a 27:xx time.

On Sunday morning, I got up really early – thanks birds – and decided to have a go at conquering one of my many nemesis hills. This hill had beaten me a few times so I was determined to run to the top without having to walk.

My run didn’t get off to the most positive start. My right calf muscle and right knee both felt a little niggly after my parkrun exploits, and at one stage I almost abandoned my run. Luckily, a couple of sensibly paced miles seemed to get everything moving and I felt confident continuing to run wasn’t going to turn my niggles into injuries.

I got to the bottom of my nemesis hill, gave myself a stern talking to and slowed my pace a little. I made sure that I maintained a sensible pace and did my best to resist the temptation to speed up. I reached the halfway point feeling great, but didn’t get too cocky because I was aware that the most challenging section of the hill was waiting for me.

I ran plodded past the Four Oaks pub, ran past my usual stopping point, ran past the church and made it to the top. The rest of my run was downhill and it felt great to have got another five miles under my belt before 08:00.

Next time I run in Four Oaks, I’m determined to conquer Cardiac Hill.

On Tuesday evening I found myself running after work in an attempt to clear my head. I’m finding my new job incredibly stressful at the moment and running gives me some much needed thinking time. I spent ages catching up on blog related emails and lying on my bed ‘resting my eyes’ and didn’t start my run until gone 20:00.

I headed out with the aim of completing six miles. My new Garmin was a little disappointing because due to some serious user error, I couldn’t actually read the screen. I had no idea what sort of pace I was running at, how long I’d been running for and how many miles I’d completed.

I’m definitely not an evening runner. Although I felt like I was running quite hard, my mile splits were a little disappointing.

Running is a strange old sport; some runs feel really easy, this run felt like a bit of a slog. I’m pleased I managed to resist the temptation to call it a day after a couple of miles.

I’ve worked out that I need to run roughly 50 miles a month for the rest of the year to beat my 1000 km in 2018 challenge. I’ve got everything crossed my fragile body lets me complete my challenge.

I’m aiming to complete a 4 or 5 mile run this evening, then I’m going to rest until Sunday when I’ll be running approximately 10 miles from Lichfield to Tamworth.

It will be amazing to take part in a completely new (to me) race.

Do you prefer to run in the morning or in the evening? I’m definitely a morning runner.

Do you have any new to you races planned? I can’t wait to run somewhere completely different.