London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 9

I hope that everyone who reads this had an amazing weekend. I think the highlights of my weekend were submitting a couple of job applications and completing a long run yesterday morning.Collage 23Week nine of my London Landmarks Half training plan recommended that I completed a steady 40 minute run on Monday, a steady 45-50 minute run on Wednesday, a 20 minute easy jog on Saturday, and a two hour long run at an easy pace on Sunday. After missing a few too many training runs, I was determined to complete my longer training run on Sunday.

So how did I get on during the ninth week of half marathon training? Did I manage to avoid the pubs in Wallingford? Did I manage to run after work? Did I rediscover my running mojo? Most importantly, did my slightly niggly right knee cope with four training runs?

Monday – 40 mins steady Rest

Sometimes I wonder what’s wrong with me, why I lack motivation. I booked Monday off so I could finish working through the comments some reviewers made on an academic manuscript I submitted ages ago. I think I did everything but spend time on my manuscript, it’s like I enjoy putting pressure on myself and causing myself more stress. I’ve always been the same. At university, I completed my dissertation three hours before it was due to be submitted. I didn’t even leave myself enough time to read through my masterpiece.

The weather was perfect, I could have run in the middle of the day and soaked up some Vitamin D, but I barely left the house. My procrastination levels were epic; I listed and sold more unwanted running gear on Farcebook, made a start on a job application and cleaned my fridge. What a waste of a day of leave.

Tuesday – Rest 40 mins steady

Once again, the weather was amazing, it definitely felt more like early summer than the end of winter. Such a contrast to the snow at the beginning of the month. After failing to leave the house the previous day, I played dodge the pushchairs, and got to the Post Office for when it opened. Following a couple of productive hours of hydrology work, mum collected me and we headed to the local farm shop for a late breakfast. I managed to polish off my Farmer’s breakfast in world record time, I’m not sure if my mum was shocked or impressed.Collage 22Eating a large breakfast left me with a bit of a running dilemma. I had to decide whether to run before heading back to Wallingford or when I got back to Wallingford. I decided to risk running less than two hours after eating a cooked breakfast.

Thanks to the cooked breakfast and the warm weather, the run felt far, far more difficult than it should have done nine weeks into half marathon training. I headed towards my usual ‘Figure of 8’ route in one of the flattest areas of Four Oaks. I thought it would be reasonably quiet, I was a little frustrated when I discovered I was sharing the pavements with dozens of school children completing some sort of cycle safety training. After nearly getting run over by children on bikes three times, I decided to run somewhere a little safer. I don’t think I’ve ever been so relieved to reach the end of a training run; my beetroot impression lasted until I travelled back down to Wallingford.

Wednesday – 45-50 mins steady Rest

The day got off to a positive start when I remembered I had a meeting in Reading, I have been known to head to the wrong office. The highlight of the day was seeing a colleague for the first time in 15 years; some people never seem to age. The meeting itself was incredibly productive and the six hours flew by. I escaped from Reading with a colleague and got back to Wallingford after a slightly stressful bus journey. We decided to pop into The Old Post Office pub for a quick drink. Several hours, not enough food and a fascinating conversation with a retired international athlete later, I virtually fell into bed.

Thursday – Rest 45-50 mins steady

I’m definitely giving up alcohol for Lent! I may also attempt to put an end to my slightly excessive Diet Coke consumption. I’ll be 40 in May; I need to make more effort to look after myself. Although the office was busy, I had a reasonably productive day. I escaped the office a little later than originally planned, picked up some food in Waitrose, got back to my room and had a much-needed power nap.

Thankfully, my 50 minute steady run felt a million times easier than Tuesdays run. I have a feeling I’ve turned myself into some sort of early morning/evening runner who doesn’t run very well when it’s light or above 5°c, not ideal! I got back to my lodgings, packed my bags, managed not to break the slightly scary power shower and headed to bed at a sensible time.

Friday – Rest

Most people who read my waffle know that thanks to the wonders of flexitime, I escape from the office at 15:00 on Fridays. For once the bus and trains behaved themselves, and I had a stress-free journey back to Four Oaks. I briefly considered completing a 20 minute jog but decided to give my slightly niggly right knee a rest. My Friday evening was dull but productive. As soon as I got home I went into get shit done mode, and managed to cross off most of my weekend ‘things to do’ list. I also made sure that I remembered to watch some of the European Indoor Athletics. I just love watching KJT and Laura Muir compete.

Saturday – 20 mins easy jog

I wasn’t exactly thrilled when I woke up at 05:30 and couldn’t get back to sleep. I decided to get my 20 minute run done and dusted so that I didn’t have time to change my mind, I was also aware that running first thing in the morning would give me more time to recover before my long run. The run was definitely too fast for a jog but still felt relatively easy. I wore my new Brooks for the first time and didn’t think they felt as comfortable as I’d hoped.Sutton ParkFollowing a quick trip to Sutton Coldfield – Sutton Park looked beautiful – the rest of the day was so mundane; I won’t bore you to tears with the details. I made sure that I didn’t waste too much time obsessing over the weather, ate a high-carb meal, watched more athletics, set my alarm for 05:00 and headed to bed at a sensible (for me) time.

Sunday – 120 mins easy

I found it really hard to get to sleep, and ended up getting the not so impressive total of four hours sleep. I almost felt jet-lagged when my alarm woke me at 05:00. Thanks to a combination of the weather and my lack of fitness, my long run yesterday felt challenging. My calf muscles felt quite tight to start with and seemed to take a long time to warm up. I felt tired and rather surprisingly given what I’d eaten the evening before, under-fuelled. I allowed myself a walking break after 60 minutes and then struggled to get going again. I’d overestimated how far I’d run in two hours, and found myself ‘waddling’ down a main road in the rain at 07:15.3 weeks to goSo that’s the ninth week of my London Landmarks Half training more or less completed. I can’t believe there are only three more weeks to go, I don’t feel at all prepared.

The tenth week of my half marathon training plan is described as the ‘peak week’ and appears to be the most important week of training. I’m aiming to complete a 30 minute run later today, an hour long easy run after work on Thursday, parkrun or an equivalent run on Saturday, and a longer 120-130 minute long easy run on Sunday. I was originally going to complete the Big Half in London on Sunday but have decided not to travel down to London.

Training totals

  • Runs: 19
  • Time: 15 hours 12 mins
  • Distance: 84.13 miles

 Niggleometer

  • Right knee: 4/10
  • Left foot: 3/10

Did you manage to make the most of the sunshine last week? I definitely picked the right time to take leave, it’s just a shame I didn’t make the most of the good weather.

Do you tell people when and where you are going running? Something happened during my long run yesterday that got me thinking. I don’t tell people I’m heading out running; perhaps I should start taking my mobile ‘phone with me!

Advertisements

London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 8

As always, I hope that everyone had an amazing weekend. I’ve taken today and tomorrow as annual leave as I need to finish a slightly overdue academic paper.Collage 20Week eight of my half marathon training plan recommended that I completed an easy 30 minute run on Monday, a steady 45 minute run on Wednesday, a 5km time trial on Saturday and a longer 110 minute run at a comfortable pace on Sunday. With only four weeks until race day, I wanted to have a solid week of training.

So how did I cope during the eighth week of my half marathon training? Did my knee niggle turn into an injury? Did I allow ‘real life’ to get in the way of my training? Did my running mojo return?

Monday – 30 mins easy Rest

I found myself in the office for the first time in what felt like ages. It’s probably a good job I wasn’t on leave or working from home because the whole building was incredibly quiet due to the combination of half term and training courses. The peace and quiet meant that I managed to complete a couple of technically challenging pieces of work I’d been putting off.

The plan had been for me to help a colleague fix her shed roof after work. Unfortunately, or should that be fortunately, it rained quite a lot during the afternoon which meant it was too wet to do anything outside. We both headed into town after work to buy some housewarming presents. We had some nibbles and then popped into the Old Post Office for a couple of drinks. I felt like I could have run afterwards, but I didn’t want to risk running for half an hour after drinking two pints of quite gassy lager.

Tuesday – Rest 30 mins easy

The walk into the office seemed to take twice as long as normal, possibly because I kept stopping to take random photos. The weather was gorgeous; quite chilly to start with but sunny, it definitely felt like spring had made an appearance.

Wallingford TuesdayWork was a little challenging at times but the day seemed to fly by. One minute I was logging into my computer, the next it felt like it was time to head home again. Most definitely my kind of day! I got back to my lodgings and spent an hour chilling out while catching up on Casualty. Thanks to an accidental(?) nap, I almost left it a little too late to run. I’d like to say that I found the half-hour run easy, however, thanks to my inability to pace myself sensibly, I found the final 15 minutes of the run quite tricky.

Wednesday – 45 mins steady Rest

Looking back, I can’t actually remember what happened at work on Wednesday, clearly nothing very out of the ordinary or worth writing about. I left the office at a sensible time with a colleague and we popped into The Old Post Office for a quick drink. We somehow found ourselves back in the Delhi Brasserie restaurant enjoying a curry and another pint. I felt so full after my meal there was no way I could have run, even walking back to my lodgings was challenging.

Thursday – Rest

I worked in Reading in the morning because I needed to travel into London at lunchtime. I’d booked the afternoon off as flexi as I’d been invited to the unveiling of Geoff’s portrait at my old university. Definitely one event I didn’t want to be late for. I left Reading at lunchtime and reached Paddington 30 minutes later, so much faster than travelling from Brum! I decided to walk from Paddington to Baker Street. London felt incredibly busy, I guess spending a year in Wallingford means I’m not used to crowds! I reached Baker Street, collected a chess book for a friend, and then headed to The Barley Mow. Thanks to a drunk bloke who didn’t seem to understand the word ‘no’ I didn’t have the relaxing pint I’d planned.Collage 21I quite literally escaped from the pub and went for a quick wander around Marylebone. I found walking past some of my old haunts quite upsetting; virtually every pub and restaurant I used to visit with Geoff had either closed or completely changed. I got to the university and met up with a couple of my old hydrology lecturers. I didn’t know what to expect, but the portrait unveiling was quite informal with a couple of speeches. I chatted to the few people I knew, enjoyed a couple of glasses of university red wine and then headed to Paddington. I got back to Wallingford at 21:00 and somehow found myself in the Boat House pub enjoying a relaxing pint. Cheers Geoff.

Friday – Rest 45 mins steady

After a slightly unsettled night, I felt more than a bit peaky when I woke up. Fortunately, I felt a lot better after the 40 minute walk into the office. I’ve decided that I’m going to give up alcohol for Lent. My liver and bank account will both definitely appreciate a bit of a break. Following a reasonably productive day, I left the office at 15:00 and arrived back in Four Oaks three hours later.

Usually, I get home, order a Chinese and eat it while I watch Chicago Fire. On Friday I got home and immediately changed into some running gear. I knew that if I sat down, I wouldn’t have the willpower to head out and run. Running back in Four Oaks felt great, nothing beats running along well lit pavements. I experienced a bit of what I call ‘half term heckling’ but nothing too serious. The 45 minute run felt reasonably easy, and before I knew it, I was I tucking into an enjoyable Chinese.

Saturday – parkrun Rest

How amazing was the weather on Saturday? Once the fog finally cleared, it felt like early summer rather than late February, slightly worrying if you ask me. I didn’t make it to Sutton Park parkrun, I did, however, have an incredibly productive day at home. I listed and sold a load more unwanted running gear on various Facebook selling groups. If I’m not careful, I won’t have anything left to wear this summer. At least I found my hydration vest while I was in the attic. I spent three hours gardening and definitely overdid it a little as my right wrist started to hurt again. I’m not sure of the events of the week suddenly caught up with me, but I went to bed for an afternoon nap, and woke up three hours later still feeling quite groggy.

Sunday – 110 mins jog 70 mins jog

As I wanted to avoid the random February ‘heat wave’ I set my alarm for the slightly unsociable time of 05:30. When I looked outside and saw how foggy it was, I almost headed straight back to bed. I gave myself a major talking to, got changed into some running gear, managed a productive loo visit, drank a pint of water and headed out the door.

It was freezing and incredibly foggy; perhaps not the best of conditions for an asthmatic runner with dodgy eyesight. I actually ran into a wheelie bin that had been left in the middle of the pavement, not my finest moment. I made sure that I ran at what felt like an unnaturally slow pace, this seemed to work quite well as I reached 50 minutes of running feeling great. In typical stupid Emma style, I inadvertently increased my pace and started to struggle. One minute I felt great, the next minute I felt terrible. I made it to 70 minutes and am a little ashamed to admit that I decided to call it a day.

So much for nailing one of my longer runs. To make matters worse, I received an email from the race organisers reminding me there was one month to go. Arraagghhhh!One month to goSo that’s week eight of my half marathon training not very successfully completed. I think I possibly let real life and the pub get in the way of my training. At the moment, I can’t imagine completing a half marathon in less than four weeks time.

Week nine of my half marathon training plan looks achievable, I just need to make sure that I prioritise running over drinking. I’ve got to complete a steady 40 minute run today, a 45-50 minute steady run on Wednesday, an easy 20 minute jog on Saturday – I must remember to check the parkrun roster – and a longer two hour run on Sunday. I’ve no idea if my right knee will allow me to run for a couple of hours. I need a decent longer run to give me a bit of confidence.

Training totals

  • Runs: 15
  • Time: 11 hours 22 mins
  • Distance: 63.89 miles

 Niggleometer

  • Right knee: 5/10
  • Left foot: 2/10
  • Right wrist: 4/10

Did you manage to make the most of the sunshine during the weekend? It feels a little strange to be wearing sun cream in February.

Have you ever run into something while you are running? I’m pleased it was so early no one saw me run straight into a wheelie bin.

London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 6

Happy(ish) Monday. I hope that everyone who reads this had an amazing weekend. My weekend didn’t go to plan because I spent Saturday morning at the dentist. I can talk and eat again now so the torture session was worthwhile.Collage 14Week 6 and the halfway stage of my half marathon training plan was described as a taper week with a mini target race. The plan recommended that I completed a steady 30 minute run on Monday, a faster 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 Birmingham Winter 10k, I originally planned to switch Saturdays and Sundays sessions around. Unfortunately, my tooth meant that I DNS the Birmingham Winter 10k.

So how did I cope during the sixth week of my half marathon training? Did starting the week with a long run cause me any issues? Did the snow in Wallingford cause any problems? Did I manage to complete my training runs?

Monday – 30 mins easy

Thanks to inadvertently destroying one of my back teeth, I had to take the day off as last minute annual leave. Not the best way to spend annual leave but it meant that I got to run in the daylight. I decided to be sensible and to run before I went to the dentist so after spending an uncomfortable 30 minutes working out how much money I spent on running last year, I got changed and headed out the door.

I think it’s safe to say I got my pacing completely wrong.  I always seem to run too fast when it’s light outside, perhaps I need to stick to running in the dark. The ‘easy’ run felt anything but easy and the final 10 minutes were very much a case of ‘hanging on’ and trying not to slow to a walk. Not the most positive start to week six of my training.

Tuesday – 25 mins fast Rest

To add insult to injury, my fragile right knee felt quite niggly during the 30 minute walk into the office. Only I could potentially injure myself during a not-so-positive training run. Work was quite busy so the day seemed to fly by, always a massive bonus. It felt like one minute I was catching-up on my emails, the next it was time to head back home. As my knee still felt a little niggly during the walk back from work, I decided attempting a 25 minute speed session would be asking for disaster.

Wednesday – Rest

Once again, the working day seemed to fly by. I think having to focus the majority of my attention on technical hydrology work really helps. If I allow myself to get distracted, I make mistakes and end up repeating calculations. After 12 months I’ve worked out that listening to music really helps me focus. By 17:00 I’d had enough and started to walk back towards my lodgings with a colleague. We somehow found ourselves enjoying a quick drink. As I’d only had a small lunch, I managed to convince my colleague to join me for another meal in Delhi Brasserie. The food tasted amazing, it’s just a shame my stomach doesn’t seem to cope very well with spicy food. Without going into too much detail, I had a bit of a rough night.

Thursday – 45 mins steady

I had another productive day, partly because the office was almost completely empty. I had an entertaining few minutes when, thanks to a rather random work task relating to personal security, I had to Google my name. I found a strange combination of dodgy running photos, race results, social media rants, academic research and random planning applications. Having to tell one of my colleagues about this blog was a little awkward.

Managing to mess up my run on Monday completely knocked my confidence. I felt slightly apprehensive as I got ready for my run on Thursday evening; it took me a long time to get out the door. I decided to wear one of the reflective running headbands Kimberley very kindly sent me to test out. I’ll be writing a more detailed review later this week, please check out this Etsy shop. I’m not sure how I’d describe the 45 minute run; I’d probably award myself a C+. Although I managed to avoid starting at an unsustainable pace, I found parts of the run far more challenging than I should six weeks into my half marathon training.

Friday – Rest

I got drenched walking into the office and spent the morning struggling to dry out and to get warm. After a reasonably productive day, I left the office at 15:00, and then got drenched for a second time walking through the centre of Oxford. I kept telling myself that after a dry January we need the rain…  Following a straightforward journey – I even got a seat on the local train – I headed straight to my favourite Chinese restaurant. Some habits are quite difficult to break.

Saturday – Rest

At 10:00 I found myself not on the start line of the Birmingham Winter 10k, but in my dentist’s waiting room. The hour I spent getting my tooth repaired being tortured wasn’t the highlight of my Saturday. I left the dentist and headed into Sutton with a slightly numb face. I managed to only buy what I needed and made it back home before the local anaesthetic I’d been given stopped working. After a quick recovery nap, I spent a productive hour sorting through my running gear. I listed a couple of pairs of leggings I’m never going to wear on the RMR second hand selling page. Both sold quickly, so I took them to the Post Office while it was still light. I got home, vacuumed the house and then sat down in front of the British Athletics Indoor Championships. The rest of the day was so mundane I won’t bore you all to tears!

Sunday – 10k race or time trial 60 mins easy

I decided to go back to the approach I used last year; setting my alarm for 05:00 and running before I could change my mind. As I wanted to enjoy my run and didn’t want to spend most of the time obsessively checking my pace, I decided to leave my Garmin at home and to run for an hour. Back to basics. I think this approach worked as I managed to run at a steady pace for 60 minutes. Unfortunately, thanks to a cunningly hidden puddle, my trainers got soaked in the first 10 minutes and felt like planks of wood. I think it may be time to treat my feet to a new pair. The rest of Sunday felt like it lasted five minutes. The weekends need to slow down a little.

So that’s week six of my London Landmarks Half Marathon training sort of completed. I’m feeling a little underprepared at the moment and can’t believe I’ve reached the half-way stage of my training plan. Hopefully this time next week I’ll feel slightly more confident, at the moment I don’t feel like I could complete a half marathon.

I’m aware that I said this last time I followed this training plan, but I think week seven looks more than a little bit challenging. The training plan recommends that I complete a steady 20-25 minute run today, a steady 40 minute run tomorrow, a steady 50-60 minute run on Thursday and a longer 100 minute run at a comfortable pace on Sunday. I don’t want to talk myself out of my training plan, but I suspect I’ll struggle.

Training totals

  • Runs: 9
  • Time: 5 hours 47 mins
  • Distance: 33 miles

 Niggleometer

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

If you blog, do your work colleagues know about your blog? Trying to explain the whole concept of blogging to a colleague was a little uncomfortable. I’m not even sure my family know about this blog.

How many miles do you wear your trainers for before you replace them? Brooks Adrenalines are meant to last between 300 and 500 mile. I’m a little disappointed my most recent pair only lasted 320 miles. I’m so injury-prone I don’t want to risk running in uncomfortable trainers.

The true cost of running

Good morning and happy Tuesday. This year, I’m aiming to save at least £500 a month. A lot of money, but it should be achievable if I’m sensible. I don’t smoke, I don’t drink (very often) and I rarely go out out. I’m trying to cut down the number of takeaways I treat myself to. I can’t remember the last time I had a ‘proper’ holiday.

In theory, I don’t even have an expensive hobby. People keep reminding me that running is one of the cheapest sports out there. Running can be a cheap hobby, but in my experience can become quite expensive.

0241

[Source]

Is running really that cheap? I spent an uncomfortable 30 minutes or so going through my 2018 running-related expenditure to see how much my cheap(?) hobby cost.

I really, really hope that my family don’t read this post…

Running clothes and trainers

  • Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 trainers – £55
  • Lululemon Train Times shorts – £48
  • Brooks Adrenaline GTS 16 trainers – £50
  • Feetures socks – £10
  • Lululemon Swiftly Tech racerback top – £24
  • Feetures socks – £12
  • Lululemon Train Times shorts – £48
  • Tribe Sports running leggings – £14.99
  • Karrimor reflective running tights – £15.99
  • Lululemon Swiftly Tech short sleeve top – £29
  • 2XU reflective running leggings – £19.99
  • Nike running shorts – £10
  • Nike running jacket – £15.80
  • Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18 trainers – £84
  • Nike Pro capris – £14.50

TOTAL: £451.27

Running accessories

  • Salomon running cap – £15.90
  • parkrun smoothband – £13.98
  • Sweaty Betty Anna headband – £11.50
  • Lululemon Run Fast gloves – £32
  • Lululemon Run All Day backpack – £65
  • Nathan Intensity hydration backpack – £69.92

TOTAL: £208.30

all-the-kit

Race entries

TOTAL: £350.20

Virtual races

  • Virtual Reading Half (replacement for Cambridge) – £12
  • Run Around the World Virtual Event – £13
  • Virtual Run Miles for Mind – £13.95
  • Run up to Christmas – £13
  • Virtual Runner 1000k – £13.50

TOTAL: £65.45

Travel and accommodation

  • Train to Cambridge Half – £10 (was originally £61.40 but got refund)
  • Train to Royal Parks Half – £28.30
  • Hotel in London before the Royal Parks Half – £159

TOTAL: £197.30

Running club

  • Fetch Everyone fees – £25

TOTAL: £25

Blogging

  • WordPress fees – £22
  • Plus a lot of my time writing for nothing!

TOTAL: £22

Miscellaneous

  • Royal Parks Half photos – £29.99
  • Donation to Alzheimer’s Society – £42

TOTAL: £71.99

GRAND TOTAL: £1391.51

Working out roughly how much I spent on my hobby last year actually made me feel quite embarrassed! I haven’t even included fuel and food costs.

I’m aware that I bought quite a few one-off purchases; for example the hydration pack and running backpack, however, I still spent a lot more than I thought. I don’t even want to work out how much money I wasted on races I DNS. I don’t think I’ll be entering any virtual races this year.

A lot of my running gear was either bought on eBay or in the sales, perhaps I should work out how much money I saved…

Fingers crossed 2019 is a slightly less expensive year. I’m going to avoid the temptation to enter races because of my #FOMO and I don’t need to buy any more running gear! I don’t think I’ll be entering any more race ballots this year.

Have you ever worked out how much money you spend on running in a year? I’d love to know if it’s more or less than I managed to spend in 2018.

Do you set yourself a running budget? I think I’m going to have to set myself a budget and will be slightly more selective when it comes to entering races this year.

Rants and Raves #32

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post as I needed a break from completing a slightly tedious job application. I’m also preparing to travel back down to Wallingford. I’m not looking forward to returning to my shared house. As a result, this blog may be slightly more ranty than usual. As always, all moans and groans and rants and raves represent my own views. Other, less negative running and fitness blogs are available**

Rave: Christmas

I hope that everyone had a great Christmas, mine was reasonably positive. I managed to eat and drink far too much and spent some quality time with my parents. I like to think that my parsley stuffing balls were the highlight of our Christmas dinner. Actually, I think the turkey was the highlight; I love turkey and all the trimmings.Christmas 2018Christmas Day was actually quite a low-key event as there were only three of us. Boxing Day was a bit challenging at times, and I ended up in the local pub in the evening having a quiet drink. I found being surrounded by large groups of people a little difficult. I didn’t get to see a lot of my family, but will hopefully see them sooner rather than later.

Rant: Festive food shaming

One of the not-so-positive aspects of Christmas is what I call the festive food shaming. I hadn’t even digested my Christmas meal or eaten any sherry trifle when I spotted this on twitter. I can’t remember who shared it.  Christmas food shamingWhy do people (and some organisations who should really know better) feel the need to share this sort of rubbish? Maybe I’m just as bad for sharing it on my blog. I don’t want to know how far I’d need to run to burn off my Christmas meal. Talk about encouraging unhealthy eating habits.

Unfortunately, running related brands weren’t the only culprits. I spotted this Spillers advert on Boxing Day.SpillersI’m off to run three marathons and then to ride a random horse for a couple of days!

Rave: TK Maxx bargains

I’ve said it before, but I love TK Maxx and its randomness. I love finding hidden gems and the occasional pair of trousers that actually fit. Having said that, I also love the fact it’s now relatively easy to find bargainous running gear online – my local store has always had a slightly disappointing Activewear section.TK MaxxMy brother and sister-in-law very kindly gave me £40 of TK Maxx vouchers as part of my Christmas present. Although I told myself I wouldn’t buy any more running gear, I couldn’t not buy the 2XU leggings I spotted in the red sticker sale. I mean it would have been rude not to buy them as they were so cheap. I bought a couple of sizes to try on and must remember to return one pair. I’m good at buying things and forgetting to return them.

Rant: My Garmin 235

I’m aware that I’ve moaned about my Garmin 235 before and I’ve tried really hard to make myself like it, but I’m still not a fan. I don’t know if mine is faulty but the battery life is rubbish, it takes 5+ minutes for the GPS to be ready, the wrist-based heart rate sensor is a waste of time and spends half the time telling me I’m dead, and a large chunk of my data has randomly disappeared. So based on my personal experiences, I wouldn’t recommend runners buy a Garmin 235.

Apologies for the rather random rant, I do feel a bit better now. I’m tempted to contact Garmin as I don’t think my 235 should lose 50% of its battery life during a 30 minute run.

Rave: TopNine2018 Instagram

I spotted a few snide comments from the usual suspects about people sharing their #TopNine2018 photos, but I loved looking at all of them. My Top Nine Instagram posts had a definite running theme.MyTopNineI guess this makes sense because most of my Instagram followers are runners and I only tend to share running related photos. This year, I’m going to make more effort to update Instagram on a slightly more regular basis. Shameless self promotion alert, but if you don’t already, please follow me.

Rant: Out of control dogs

Although I love running in Sutton Park and I also love dogs, I’m getting slightly fed up with the number of out of control dogs in the park. I can pretty much guarantee that every time I run or walk in the park I’ll have a ‘run in’ with a dog.

I don’t care if your dog is “being friendly” or “just wants to play with you” or “won’t hurt you”, I’m going to be pissed off if your dog jumps up at me or chases me bearing its teeth. And as for the lady I spotted trying to walk five large dogs last week, did you really think it was a good idea?

Rave: Wolves

I’ve been a Wolves supporter since I was a child. There have been ups and (quite a lot of) downs, but at the moment, I’m enjoying the Wolves roller-coaster. The second half performance against Spurs was amazing. The performance against Crystal Palace was terrible.

Although 2019 didn’t get off to the best of starts, I’m looking forward to Wolves having a successful 2019.

Rant: The weather

I know I shouldn’t complain too much because it hasn’t snowed (yet) and the weather hasn’t really messed with my half marathon training schedule. However, I can’t remember the last time I spotted blue skies in Four Oaks. The skies in Four Oaks have been grey for what feels like weeks.WeatherI’m starting to suspect that the lack of decent daylight is messing with my mood. I need some sunshine and blue skies to cheer me up. I also need some slightly chillier weather to test out some of my Christmas presents.

Rave: New Trainers

During my Boxing Day online shopping spree, I somehow ended up on the Brooks Running website and found myself hitting ‘add to basket’ and then buying these Adrenaline GTS 18 trainers.BrooksAt £84 they weren’t cheap, but this FREE SHIPPING & RETURNS. With Brooks’ True Blue Guarantee, take our gear for a trial run and if you’re not 100% satisfied within 90 days, return it for free” caught my attention. If I’m not 100% satisfied, I will be getting in contact with Brooks.

If you’ve reached the end of this blog and have read all of my somewhat random rants and raves, then a huge ‘thank-you’. I’m not sure I would have made it to the end. I hope that you think that my rants were reasonable. As always, I do feel better now that I’ve put pen to paper so to speak.

What was the highlight of your Christmas meal? Are you a turkey fan or do you prefer to eat something else?

Have you ever had any scary dog incidents while out running? I hope that my recent experiences are unusual rather than the norm.  

What is the most you would spend on a pair of trainers? £84 was slightly more than I’m usually prepared to spend.

Race Report: Royal Parks Half Marathon

Good morning. I hope you are all having a great week. Apologies in advance, I have a feeling this race report will be rather lengthy.

RPHM Logo

Before I start my review, I need to provide a bit of context. The Royal Parks Half Marathon was on my races bucket list for a long, long time. At the beginning of February, after six consecutive ‘failures’ in the ballot, I was thrilled when I discovered I’d finally been successful in the ballot. It meant that I could raise money for The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity without any pressure.

I paid my £60.95 entry fee, let Rachel from The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity know I’d got a place in the ballot, drafted out a training plan and then put the race to the back of my mind. The original plan was for my PhD supervisor and good friend Geoff to travel to London for the weekend of the race. Unfortunately, Geoff passed away peacefully at The Royal Marsden in London in August so never got to see me run.

I started training for the Royal Parks Half approximately three months ago, and documented my training on here. I also started fundraising, and as I’m writing this race report, have raised £756.62. Training for the Royal Parks Half went reasonably well. I had a couple of injury scares but nothing too serious. I had a bit of a sniffle the week before the race, and also missed a couple of longer training runs.

I travelled down to London the day before the race, treated myself to pie and mash in The Barley Mow pub in Marylebone, and then checked into my hotel in Southwark. On Saturday evening, I headed to Casa Becci for one last time and quite possibly overdid the carbo-loading. I returned to Southwark, laid out my kit and went to bed feeling very well fuelled.Kit flat layI was woken by the rain at 06:00. I looked out the window and discovered it was absolutely chucking it down. As a hydrologist working in an area in prolonged dry weather, the rain made me smile. After spending months moaning about the lack of rain, I couldn’t really complain! I had a shower, a couple of productive loo visits, got changed into my running gear, and then as my stomach felt a bit iffy, took a couple of Imodium tablets.

By the time I walked to Southwark tube station it had stopped raining and actually felt quite humid. I successfully navigated myself from Southwark to Hyde Park Corner tube station – I followed dozens of other runners – and walked the short distance across Hyde Park to the race village. As I didn’t have to use the secure bag storage, I got straight into the queue for the portaloos. Final loo stop completed, I started to explore the race village. I spotted a VIP tent and a media tent; I guess official bloggers got to use the one of these tents. After spending 10 minutes saying no to all the free food and drink that was offered me – I wasn’t brave enough to try the healthy(?) energy drink – I tracked down a copy of the race route.Route MapI was a little disappointed as the route sent runners down The Strand rather than making the most of Victoria Embankment. I guess I should have checked out the route before the morning of the race.

And then it started to rain again and I found myself sheltering with a load of other runners under a tree. The tree didn’t make the best shelter; I should have used a bit of common sense and sheltered inside the charity marquee. If I find myself in a pre-race monsoon again, I know what to do! By the time I squeezed inside the Royal Marsden area of the charity marquee I was soaking wet and quite cold. Luckily, the rain stopped just because we were asked to make our way to the start area.

I’ve no idea why, but I’d been allocated a green number which meant I was in the second wave of runners to start. I entered the green start pen and immediately walked to the back of the pen. I didn’t want to be caught up in a mad rush at the start! The green pen was quite empty to start with. There was more than enough room for more serious sensible runners to work through their pre-race routines.Waiting to startFrom what I could see, a lot of runners were stuck in portaloo and bag storage queues. I took this selfie – how nervous do I look? – and spent a bit of time talking to a lady who was injured and was planning on run-walking the half. The loo and bag queues cleared and more runners joined the back of the green pen. This meant that one minute we were at the back of the green pen, the next we were up near the front.Pre race selfieThe race started at 09:00, and after a short delay – the different waves started at different times – I found myself running towards Green Park. I quickly noticed that the course was incredibly crowded, and my trainers were useless at gripping on the wet surfaces. Basic race etiquette was unfortunately also a little lacking at times, I lost count of the number of times I was clipped by other runners.Start of RPHMThis set the scene for the first few miles. Most runners were making the most of the stunning surroundings; I was too busy trying to avoid slipping over and getting in the way of other runners. Despite this, I felt great and found myself running at a far too ambitious pace. A familiar mistake which would come back to haunt me later on. The route took us along Birdcage Walk, past Horse Guards, underneath Admiralty Arch and then along an out and back section along Whitehall. The rain had stopped, the humidity had unfortunately increased, but the support was amazing.

The route then sent us on an out and back along what felt like the most slippery road in England, the Strand, back underneath Admiralty Arch, along The Mall in the ‘wrong’ direction, back through the middle of Green Park and then just before the 10k mark, into Hyde Park.

After years of trying and failing to get a place in the Royal Parks Half through the ballot, I really wanted to have a positive race experience. I’m a little ashamed to admit I found the final half of the route in Hyde Park a little frustrating. The support was amazing and in certain sections a little overwhelming, and the water stations well organised and stocked. The mile markers were easy to spot and had some rather unusual motivational quotes including ‘no swanning around’ and ‘tree-ly well done’.

I found myself struggling after my far too ambitious first half and had to slow my pace. As I’m useless at drinking and running, I allowed myself to walk and drink after every drinks station. Just before the 10 mile marker, I was involved in a bit of an unfortunate incident. I was running along minding my own business when suddenly a couple of pedestrians decided to walk directly in front of me. I didn’t have time to react and to stop running, so had to push my way past the pedestrians while apologising. Sorry but you shouldn’t really just walk in front of a load of runners!

I think my personal highlight of the final section of the course was the Lululemon cheer station. Thanks guys, now if you could restock my favourite running shorts

The route took us past the Royal Albert Hall and back towards the finish. I overtook a lady being pushed in a wheelchair, spotted some photographers, smiled grimaced, and ‘sprinted’ across the finish line.Finish 1Finish 2Finish 3I remembered to stop my watch and collected a medal, a couple of cartons of water, a banana and an empty canvas bag. Five minutes after I finished it started to rain again. I pretty much instantly went from feeling a little too warm to feeling cold.MedalLeaving the finish area was tricky as the route back to the race village was incredibly congested. There were loads of supporters with massive umbrellas looking out for their runners. I felt a little sad when I saw runners and their family and friends being reunited. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to travel to races on my own. Enough self-pitying, as I knew I had to get back to my hotel and out of my wet clothes ASAP, I navigated my way out of this area as quickly as I could.

Once I’d made my way back to the race village, I spotted a huge queue of runners. I asked another runner what the queues were for, and discovered that they were for the post-race goodies. I joined the back of one of the queues and less than ten minutes later found myself in a conveyor belt of runners – it was really efficient – being handed a mixture of healthy snacks, drinks and rather randomly, a bottle of tomato ketchup!Goody bagAs, by this stage I was feeling very cold, wet and hungry, I left the race village and power-walked to Hyde Park Corner tube station. Less than 30 minutes after leaving Hyde Park, I was back in my hotel room having the most amazing hot shower. The £10 late checkout fee was definitely worth every penny.

I shared a photo of my medal and pre-race selfies on my Facebook page and thanked all my sponsors. I made my way back to Paddington station, treated myself to a McDonald’s, and then headed back to Wallingford and reality.

I spent Sunday evening feeling incredibly frustrated with myself. Once again, my pacing was all over the place and I let myself down. Although I got a 5 minute PB, I feel that I definitely could have done better. After vowing to never run in London again, I remembered I’d already paid to enter two half marathons; the London Landmarks Marathon and the the Vitality Big Half. Both events are in March.

Finally, if you’ve taken the time to read and to comment on my training updates; ‘thank-you’. My family don’t really understand why I run so your support has been invaluable. If you sponsored me ‘thank-you’. As soon as people spotted my Royal Marsden vest, the support I received on during the run was incredible, quite a few other runners came up to me with their own personal stories.

Would I enter the Royal Parks Half Marathon again? Yes! It’s expensive, yes it’s crowded, but the support along the route was incredible.

Race ratings:

  • Cost: 2/10 – (£57 + £3.95 postage and packaging)
  • Course: 7/10
  • Medal: 9/10
  • Race t-shirt: 8/10
  • Goody bag: 8/10

Royal Parks Half Marathon training week 7

I need to start this training update with another public service announcement. I’ve had a couple more mystery sponsors. I’ve genuinely got no idea who you are. If you happen to read this then “thank-you” I really appreciate your support.

Good morning. I hope that everyone had an awesome weekend. I’m not in the office today as I’m preparing a presentation for a conference later this week. I think the highlight of my weekend was having a lie-in on Saturday and completing the Lichfield 10k yesterday.Collage 23The seventh week of my half marathon training plan originally suggested that I completed an easy 20-25 minute run on Monday, a steady 40 minute run on Tuesday, a 50-60 minute steady run on Thursday and a longer 100 minute run at a comfortable pace on Sunday. I entered the Lichfield 10k before I even started my half marathon training, so decided to test my speed over the 10k distance. I’ve still got another three longer runs in my training plan, so I’m not too concerned about missing one.

So how did I cope during the seventh week of my half marathon training? Did I manage to avoid picking up an injury? Did my foot behave itself?

Monday – Rest

Week seven of my half marathon didn’t exactly get off to the best start. I was meant to complete a 20-25 minute steady run, but my legs felt so niggly first thing in the morning following the Little Aston 5, I decided to treat myself to an additional rest day. Although the majority of my Monday was so mundane I won’t bore you all with the details, I was thrilled to discover that someone I’ve known since birth had sponsored me.

Tuesday – 40 mins steady

Unfortunately, thanks to some issues with some random runtime errors, work was a little stressful. Fortunately, my colleagues are incredibly supportive and I eventually managed to complete what should have been a reasonably straightforward task. I think it’s safe to say that the highlight of my day was leaving the office at 17:00.

I got back to my shared house, headed up to my room, lay down and spent ages thinking about recent events. I must have nodded off as one minute it was light, the next it was dark. I very briefly considered not running, but decided that the exercise and fresh air would do me good. I got changed and tried and failed to find my Garmin. In the end I headed out without my Garmin and completed three laps around Wallingford. Each lap usually takes me 15 minutes so I definitely ran for 40 minutes. It’s a shame my run wasn’t exactly steady. After having to wait until 23:00 to have a shower, I headed to bed feeling shattered.

Wednesday – Rest

Once again, one of my housemates woke me far too early and I struggled to get back to sleep. When my alarm woke me at 07:00 I felt incredibly tired. I stopped off at the River Thames on the way into the office, and spent what felt like ages sitting on a bench, watching the river flow past me. I was incredibly reluctant to leave my peaceful spot next to the river.Collage 24I’m a little ashamed to admit that after a terrible start to the morning where I felt totally useless at my job, I broke down in tears at my desk. My line manager told me to head outside for a walk and joined me. I’ve already said far, far too much, but sometimes it’s just good to talk. I’m going to really miss my line manager when my temporary contract ends in March.

Thursday – 60 mins steady

I had a meeting in Reading so although I had an early start, I enjoyed the change of scenery. I’m not sure how I managed to board the ‘slow’ bus, but the journey to Reading took ages. Henley-in-Thames looked seriously posh; I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people walking Labradors. I managed to catch the slightly faster bus back to Wallingford, walked back to my shared house and got changed into some running gear.

My Garmin was unfortunately still on the missing list, so I decided to time myself running for 60 minutes using my watch. I figured I could work out how far I’d run using GIS or GB Mapometer. I found running for an hour quite hard, and I finished the run feeling completely unprepared for the half marathon in October. At least my niggles behaved themselves.

Friday – Rest

After what had been an average week, Friday was a lot better. Following a productive morning, I met up with the rest of my team at a local pub for lunch. My BLT tasted amazing but was so crispy; I genuinely feared my fragile teeth would fall out. I escaped the office and an hour later found next to a lady who was heading up to Newcastle to run the Great North Run. Emily, I hope you had an awesome run.

Following a horrendous train journey between Birmingham and Four Oaks – the British Transport Police were called – I arrived back home a little later than usual. I was emailing a friend when I realised my vision wasn’t quite right; I’d got the start of a migraine. I headed straight to bed and prayed that I’d wake up feeling better.

Saturday – Rest

Unfortunately, I woke feeling as rough as a badger’s bum; luckily I hadn’t offered to help out at parkrun and was able to have a lie-in. I had originally planned to spend most of the day working on a couple of job applications and my conference presentation. I felt dizzy and my head unfortunately felt so fuzzy, I wasn’t able to do anything productive. Even collecting a couple of presents for my nephew and having my hair cut left me feeling exhausted. I went to bed feeling doubtful I’d be able to complete the Lichfield 10k.

Sunday – Lichfield 10k

I should have completed a comfortable 100 minute run but decided to run the Lichfield 10k. Fortunately, I woke up feeling much better and definitely well enough to run six and a bit miles. I travelled the short distance to Lichfield and navigated my way to an incredibly chaotic race HQ. Although I completely failed to track down Ellen, my sister-in-law Julie spotted me near the start. As Julie wanted a sub 60 minute time we positioned ourselves between the 55 minute and 60 minute pacers. A couple of minutes later Ness tracked me down and joined us. Well done on an awesome time, I hope your foot wasn’t too painful Ness.

Lichfield 10k 2018

As I’ve reviewed the Lichfield 10k a couple of times before, I’ve decided not to write a lengthy race review. You all know my racing routine now… I set out at a far too speedy pace, walked up the hill that crosses the A38, ran again, walked a couple more times and then finished feeling a little disappointed in 61:17. Actually, given how unwell I felt the day before, I was quite pleased I’d managed to knock more than five minutes off my 2017 Lichfield 10k time. I was ever more thrilled when I discovered that Julie had got her sub 60 minute time.

So that’s my own interpretation of week seven of my half marathon training more or less completed. I’m starting to feel a little concerned about my lack of preparation. Hopefully I’ll feel more positive once I’ve got some longer runs under my belt.

Week eight of my training plan looks achievable. The schedule recommends I complete an easy 30 minute run today, a 45 minute steady run on Wednesday, parkrun on Saturday and a longer 110 minute run on Sunday. After missing a couple of longer runs, I’m determined to enjoy every minute of my 110 minute run on Sunday.

Training totals

  • Runs: 22
  • Time: 15 hours 59 mins
  • Distance: 94.51 miles

Fundraising total

  • £477 (£57 increase from last week)

Niggleometer

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

Do you prefer to enter the same races or do you prefer to try out new races each year? After completing the Lichfield 10k in 2016, 2017 and 2018 I think it’s time I explored alternative 10k events. Although I like to check out my progress year-on-year, I find knowing courses too well quite challenging.

Do any of your relatives run? Although I only managed to keep up with Julie for a couple of miles, I enjoyed running with her.