Race Report: Shenstone Fun Run

Good morning and Happy Tuesday, I’m so pleased it’s not Monday. Yesterday, when I spotted a single magpie during my walk to the train station, I should have gone back to bed. Hopefully, my new job will start to improve ASAP. Anyway, enough moaning and groaning and back to the point of this blog; my first race review since the Royal Parks Half back in October.LogoBefore I launch into a review of the Shenstone Fun Run, I need to rewind back to Saturday evening. Let’s just say a two-hour shopping session – sorry feet – and three pints of beer – sorry head – weren’t the best pre-race preparation. I doubt this pre-race routine will ever feature in Runner’s World et al.Shenstone Fun RunWhen my alarm woke me on Sunday, my head felt a little fuzzy and I was thirsty. A couple of cups of tea and pint of water didn’t do much to alleviate the thirst, not a good sign before a 10k. My pre-race routine went something like; drink tea, nervous wee, make myself eat some Weetabix, shower, get dressed, productive loo visit, drink more tea, another nervous wee, struggle to pin race number to t-shirt, pack bag, have bonus nervous wee and then leave the house. By the time I left the house, I was feeling a lot better and was looking forward to the prospect of taking part in an organised event for the first time this year. The weather was pretty much perfect and my right knee felt completely niggle-free.

I met my running buddy Ellen at the train station, we got on a train and four minutes later reached Shenstone. Quite possibly the most straight-forward I’ve ever had to an event. We walked the short distance to the Race HQ, Ellen collected her number, dropped our bags and then realised we had a lot of time to kill before the start of the run. After spending a bit time chatting and avoiding the drizzle, we decided to track down some loos. Although there was a ladies loo inside Race HQ, there was an impressive queue of female runners waiting, so we decided to have a look around the centre of Shenstone.Waiting to startI spent a lot of time in Shenstone up to the age of 16 because my grandparents lived there. I suspect I bored Ellen to tears with my “that used to be an HSBC”, “that used to be a greengrocers”, “that used to be a chemists” type observations. Even the library had changed; what used to be the children’s books section was now a cafe area with an amazing selection of homemade cakes. We both decided that a cake would make the perfect post-run reward and told the library volunteers we would definitely be back later. As an added bonus, the library had loos with no queues so we both made the most of the facilities.SelfieThe 10k was scheduled to start at 11:00 so at 10:50 we both joined the back of the pack so to speak. After a quick warm-up, we were sent on our way. The 10k route had changed as was advertised as flat and fast so I was a little surprised to find myself running up several short but quite steep hills in the first mile. We headed out of Shenstone past my grandparents’ old house and into the countryside. It took me less than 15 minutes to be reminded of my complete loss of fitness and my fragile right knee. I was struggling to run at Ellen’s pace so slowed down to what was almost a walk. Sorry Ellen!

By the third mile, I felt shattered. I’m not sure if it was the humidity, my lack of food the previous evening, my lack of training or a combination of the three but I was struggling to put one foot in front of the other. I was also struggling a little mentally and started to just want the 10k fun(?) run to end. I’m pretty sure that had the course allowed me to, I would have called it a day there and then.

The second three miles were what I’d describe as undulating. It suddenly seemed to get warm and I was grateful the organisers had provided several water stations. After a quick consultation with Ellen we switched to a strategy of running for four minutes and then walking for a minute. Walking after 5k didn’t make me feel very good about myself but I had to do something to make sure that I actually finished and made it back to Shenstone.

After an hour or so of ‘running’ my temperamental right knee decided to remind me that it didn’t appreciate me running downhill; it was pain-free on the numerous small uphill sections, but very painful on the downhill sections. Awesome, thanks knee! I was not a happy bunny at this stage. Running past a collapsed runner who was receiving treatment gave me the kick up the arse and reality check I so desperately needed. Although I didn’t suddenly turn into Little Miss Happy, I was reminded that I’m lucky to be able to run and that my knee issue was likely to be a temporary setback rather than a long-term injury.

We eventually – sorry again Ellen – reached the bridge next to Shenstone train station, ran past ‘Rocket Ron’ who had his camera with him but wasn’t actually taking any photos. Slightly strange but I suspect he wasn’t one of the official race photographers and was only taking photos of members of his running club. We both ‘sprinted’ towards the finish line, posed for the official photographer, collected our medals and some water and then spotted some of Ellen’s club mates. While Ellen caught up with her club mates, I popped into the medical tent to ask for an icepack for my knee.

MedalI guess it should be a case of what goes on in the medical tent, stays in the medical tent. However, I wasn’t very impressed with the rudeness of a runner who hobbled in for treatment, I’m going to call this person Runner x. Runner x had injured her ankle before the 10k – I remember seeing her sprawled on the floor – but decided to run anyway. I know that I’m not one to judge, but why would you attempt to run a 10k on a damaged ankle? Anyway, Runner x was incredibly rude to the St John Ambulance person treating her. Apparently, the ice packs weren’t cold enough and the lady treating her was useless. I was quite relieved when another runner came in seeking treatment for a nosebleed and I was able to escape from the medical tent.

And then, once we had collected our bags, it was time for the highlight of the morning, tea and homemade cake. Luckily, the library was still open and there were plenty of cake options. I played it safe and asked for a slice of sponge cake and a cup of breakfast tea. As we didn’t want to ruin everyone else’s tea and cake enjoyment, we decided to sit outside. The homemade cake tasted amazing and I regretted not buying a second slice to take home with me. Tea and cake consumption completed, we hobbled the short distance to Shenstone station and a short train journey later were back in Four Oaks.

Tea and cake

This isn’t a food blog so I’ll stop talking about cake now.

Would I recommend the Shenstone Fun Run?

Yes, I would, but I think the organisers need to consider bringing the start time forward an hour to 10:00. The fun run would also benefit from a few more loo options at the start; the queues were some of the longest I’ve seen. I personally preferred the old, slightly longer than 10k route but that is just my personal opinion.

And finally, the positives which most definitely outweighed the negatives. The organisation was pretty much flawless; I entered well in advance so my number was posted to me. Ellen had to collect her number on the day; this took less than a minute. The organisers provided a secure baggage area, this was well organised and there was no chance of people’s bags getting mixed up. Although I personally didn’t like the new course, feedback from other runners was positive. Every single race volunteer I was out on the course was incredibly supportive, the cowbells and music were definitely impossible to ignore and gave me a much-needed boost. The run was chip timed so results were available the second we crossed the finish line.

Race ratings:

  • Cost: 5/10 (£20 but a proportion of this went to local charities)
  • Course: 5/10
  • Medal: 9/10
  • Race t-shirt: n/a
  • Goody bag: 2/10
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10 years of MoRunning – enter a 2019 MoRun and be part of the celebrations (Discount Code)

Early bird entries into a race I volunteered at in 2016, 2017 and 2018 – the 10k MoRun in Sutton Park, Birmingham – are now available. Although I enjoyed volunteering and seeing people earn their MoRunning medals, I experienced some serious race and medal envy. It was definitely a case of race and medal #FOMOMORunVisual1-BI’m looking forward to running the 10k on November 16th and earning myself a unique 10th-anniversary MoRunning medal.

It’s not just about the medal. Taking part in the 10k MoRun in Sutton Park also means that I’ll be supporting and raising awareness of an amazing charity; the Movember Foundation.

What is the Movember Foundation?

MoRunning has supported The Movember Foundation since 2009 raising funds and awareness for the work they carry out. The Movember Foundation is the only charity tackling men’s health on a global scale, all year round. The Foundation is addressing some of the biggest health issues faced by men: prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental health and suicide prevention.

The Movember Foundation knows what works for men, and how to find and to fund the most innovative research to have both a global and local impact. The Foundation is independent of government funding, so it can challenge the status quo and invest quicker in what works. In 13 years the Foundation has funded more than 1200 men’s health projects around the world.

By 2030 the Movember Foundation will reduce the number of men dying prematurely by 25%.

Take part in a MoRunning event this year

2019 is the 10th year anniversary of the launch of MoRunning. The organisers would love you to join them for this incredible celebration of MoRuns supporting the Movember Foundation.TeamMiltonKeynesI think it’s safe to say that 2019 is going to be a massive year for MoRunning!

With 24 confirmed locations to date, Mini MoRuns for a third year and the option of virtual MoRunning, there will be an incredible month of MoRuns. There’s bound to be a race near you.

November 2nd

  • Aberdeen 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Hazlehead Park – 09:30am

November 3rd

  • Perth 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – North Inch – 09:30am
  • Newcastle 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Exhibition Park – 01:20pm

November 9th

  • Edinburgh 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Holyrood Park – 09:30am
  • Cardiff 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Bute Park – 09:30am
  • York 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – York Racecourse – 10:30am

November 10th

  • Swansea 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Singleton Park – 10:30am
  • Glasgow 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Glasgow Green – 10:30am
  • Peterborough 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Nene Park – 10:30am
  • Bristol 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Ashton Court – 10:30am

November 16th

  • Liverpool 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun Croxteth Park 09:30am
  • Poole 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun Upton Country Park 09:30am
  • Birmingham 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun Sutton Park 09:30am

November 17th

  • Southampton 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun MoRun – Southampton Common – 09:30am
  • Nottingham 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Wollaton Park – 09:30am
  • Milton Keynes 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Campbell Park – 09:30am
  • Manchester 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Heaton Park – 09:30am

November 23rd

  • Blackpool 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Herons Reach – 09:30am
  • Ipswich 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Chantry Park – 09:30am
  • Dublin 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Phoenix Park – 09:30am

November 24th

  • Leeds 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Roundhay Park – 09:30am
  • Whitstable & Herne Bay 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Hampton Pier – 09:30am
  • Belfast 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Stormont Park – 09:30am

November 30th

  • London 5k, 10k & kids 1.5k MoRun – Greenwich Park – 09:30am

2016-Leeds-StormtrooperVirtual Race November 1st to November 29th

Once again, there is also the option of taking part in a Virtual Race. Be part of MoRunning 2019 and take part in a virtual 5k, 10k or kids 1.5k MoRun supporting the Movember Foundation.

You can find out everything you need to know about the 2019 series of MoRuns here.

2019 MoRunning pricing

Early bird (July 1st – September 15th)

  • Mini MoRun – £13.20
  • 5k MoRun – £18.15
  • 10k MoRun – £22.00
  • Virtual MoRun – £13.20

Standard (September 16th – November 28th)

  • Mini MoRun – £13.20
  • 5k MoRun – £22.00
  • 10k MoRun – £24.20
  • Virtual MoRun – £13.20

Prices including online booking fees. 

**10% Discount Code – MoRun19_Followers**

MoRunners Receive

  • Race chip timing and instant race results
  • Brand new exclusive MoRunning Medal to add to your collection!
  • MoRunning Headband
  • MoRunning BUFF
  • Legend and Superhero medals for best fancy dress and legends of MoRunning
  • Discount of 10% for groups of 4 or more registering the same distance (code for booking MR19-TeamEntry)
  • Yellow Winners Jersey for 1st male and female in the 5k and 10k events as well as a Champion medal and free entry to 2020
  • Professional photos to view and purchase (you can pre-order ahead of your race and save over 60% on the standard price)
  • 10% discount voucher code for online purchases from Up and Running
  • 10% discount voucher for any Go Ape site

Mini MoRunners* Receive

  • Free super cool Mini Mo T-Shirt
  • MoRunning headband
  • Free MoRunning Buff
  • Mo Medal
  • Champion medal for 1st boy and girl
  • Yazoo Drink
  • Loads of high fives

* Please note that it is the responsibility of parents to ensure children are able to run the Mini MoRun unaccompanied. If required one parent can run with Mini MoRunners free of charge.MiniMo_family1-AI’m already looking forward to taking part in my local MoRun in Sutton Park November. Hopefully, it will be a case of fourth time lucky. I’ve already talked some of my running friends into entering; it would be awesome to meet some of you there.

Could you run a 5k or 10k for The Movember Foundation this November?

For loads more information and to sign up please click here.

For more information about the Movember Foundation please click here.

The Movember Foundation is a Registered Charity No.1137948 (England/Wales) SC041981 (Scotland)

**Full disclosure: This post is written in collaboration with MoRunning. All photographs were taken from MoRunning’s website** 

Rants and raves #35

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post after having a stressful day at work. I lost count of the number of times my computer crashed and I ‘lost’ what I was working on at the time. I’m also feeling a little tired after spending a little too much time out in the sun. As a result, I have a feeling that although I’ll do my best to be positive, this blog may be more grumbly than normal. As always, all rants and raves and moans and groans represent my own views. Dozens of far less negative running blogs are available**

Happy Tuesday, I hope that everyone who reads this enjoyed the long Easter weekend. How amazing was the weather, I just hope it’s a little cooler this Sunday; two boiling hot London Marathons in a row would be a tad unfortunate.

Rave: ReRun Clothing

Apologies if you’re already aware that this company exists, but I thought I’d start with a quick rave about ReRun Clothing.

ReRun is described as a Community Interest Company aimed at prolonging the life of running clothes and equipment and saving them from landfill.ReRun ClothingAccording to the ReRun Clothing website, extending the life of clothes by just nine months of active use would reduce carbon, water and waste footprints by around 20-30% each. When my self-imposed buying running gear ban comes to and end, I’ll see if I can find anything I like on ReRun.

Rant: Wasting money

In February, I worked out how much I spent on running related purchases last year, the final total was a bit of an eye-opener.  I’m now monitoring how much I’m spending. Thanks to a persistently niggly right knee, I’ve had a frustrating start to the year. I’ve already missed three races:

  • Big Half £35
  • London Landmarks Half £55
  • Cathedral to Castle Run £25

So that’s over £100 worth of entry fees, and no memories or medals. I’m sure that at some point, the race t-shirt, kit bags and safety pins will come in useful… I wish more events allowed the official transfer of entries. I was offered £60 for my London Landmarks number but I didn’t want to risk it.

Fortunately, being injured means I’ve had a lot more spare time, so I’ve sold a lot of my unwanted running gear online.

Rave: The weather

I’m aware that the weather features in virtually every blog I write, but the long Easter weekend weather was amazing.

I lost count of the number of burnt Brummies I spotted during the weekend. In the words of Baz Luhrmann, wear sunscreen:

“Ladies and Gentlemen of the class of ’99
Wear Sunscreen
If I could offer you only one tip for the future,
Sunscreen would be it
The long term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists
whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience…
I will dispense this advice now…”

I remember when I first heard Everybody’s Free, I was 21. Now I’m rapidly approaching 40! The lyrics to Everybody’s Free are pretty much guaranteed to make me cry every time.

Rant: Food shaming, the Easter edition

Apologies for another repeat rant, but I was disappointed but not at all surprised to see so much Easter related food shaming on social media. I can’t remember who shared this infographic, but I’d need to complete a lot of push ups after my Easter egg consumption.Easter food shaming 1

 Women’s Running Magazine shared this on Facebook…Easter food shaming 2…and subsequently deleted their original post and published this apology:

“We’re really sorry for our previous post. We want to promote positive relationships with food: after all, it gives us the strength and energy we need to run our best. Thank you for your feedback we’ll take more care with our posts in future.”

So, to summarise, you don’t ‘earn’ chocolate with exercise. Eat what you want when you want. I need to learn to love dark chocolate.

Rave: Boston Marathon 2019

Although I’m such an injury-prone plodder there’s no way I’ll ever get to take part, I still enjoy following the Boston Marathon. Unfortunately, this year I wasn’t able to watch it live because I was at work. I did manage to catch up with the marathon when I got back to my lodgings, so it wasn’t the end of the world.

I loved the sprint finish at the end of the men’s race; I mean how on earth can people sprint at the end of a marathon? It’s incredible; I can barley shuffle at the end of parkrun. I also loved the women’s race; I just wish they got a little more airtime.

I enjoyed watching one of my all-time favourite runners; Des Linden, in the female race. Although Des didn’t come first this year, she most definitely put in a gutsy performance. This interview with Des made me chuckle. When asked if she was tearing up near the finish line (as she waved to the crowds), Des Linden produced a humorous but blunt assessment:

“I’m going to be totally honest with you,” Linden joked. “That was me almost vomiting.”

Des Linden is one of the few elite runners I follow on twitter; she talks a lot of sense.

Quite frankly, the performance of Joan Benoit Samuelson blew my mind. Joan recorded a time of 3 hours and 4 minutes which was within 40 minutes of her 1979 winning time.

Perhaps there’s still hope for me.

Rant: Bad manners

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve completed a product review, have emailed the person I’ve been dealing with to let them know that the review is live, and have heard nothing back. I get that people are busy, but it only takes a couple of minutes to send an email. Where I work, if I failed to respond to an email, I would probably find myself having a conversation with my line manager. I’m starting to think that my product reviews are terrible.

Rave: London Marathon World Record attempts

Yesterday, the organisers of the London Marathon released information on some of this year’s Guinness World Record attempts. Some of the 84 attempts sound more challenging than others, for example, the fastest marathon wearing ski boots and the fastest marathon wearing ice skates. My fragile left foot hurts just thinking about running in ski boots or ice skates; I struggle to run in trainers. Also, the fastest marathon dressed as a tooth sounds like a rather random choice.

I’ve shared this before, but if you do watch the London Marathon on the BBC, don’t forget to play Marathon bingo!Marathon Bingo

[Source]

Rant: People who litter

Apologies for ending this post with a rant. After hearing that Saltaire junior parkrun was cancelled due to there being broken glass and rubbish on a large part of the course, I did a bit of online detective work (cross out) checked out facebook, and was shocked at what I saw.

Littering unfortunately seems to be on the increase. I’ve recently taken part in a couple of organised litter picks in Four Oaks. In a couple of hours, a group of five of us managed to fill 23 large bags with litter. While on the subject of letter, I’d love to see a few ShokzPlog events outside of London.

If you’ve reached the end of this selection of random rants and raves, then “thank-you”. I’m not convinced I would have made it to the end of my rather random waffle. I hope that you think my rants were reasonable. I do feel much better now that I’ve shared my moans and groans with you.

Did you enjoy the long Easter weekend? Did you manage to make the most of the amazing weather? I just hope it’s cooler this weekend.

Do you follow any elite runners on social media? I’m always looking to follow more inspirational female athletes.

The Ciderthon 2019 & Discount Code

If I didn’t have a knee injury, I’d definitely be taking part in the second running – apologies for the terrible pun – of the Ciderthon on Sunday May 5th 2019.n5o5ylhffkn2bbtfd36eAs a cider lover, hopefully it will be a case of third time lucky and I’ll be able to take part in 2020.

What’s the Ciderthon all about?

Who said you can’t drink cider and exercise? The event organisers bet that most of us have never run a race quite like the Ciderthon! I haven’t, yet. Experience an amazing day with friends filled with fitness, fun and cider. The organisers more or less guarantee entrants will work up a thirst every mile to fuel themselves with a different cider at each ‘dehydration stop’.

Water will be available too!

39442826_2047437092234513_4457261027645456384_n

The 13 and a bit miles cross some beautiful Somerset scenery before returning to the wonderful bars, food and music at the finish line.

Key Event Information

  • Start time: 11:00am (registration is open from 08:45am)
  • Bring your ticket and suitable ID
  • Fancy dress is encouraged
  • Entrants must have suitable footwear to participate

Check out the cider producers fuelling the half marathon

  • Sheppys Cider
  • Bumble Bee Cider
  • Crafty Nectar
  • Loxley
  • Tricky Cider
  • Crest Cyder
  • The Taunton Cider Co
  • Brothers Cider
  • The Orchard Pig
  • Beard and Sabre
  • The Cider Box

How to Enter

Tickets for the Ciderthon are currently available here and if you use the code EMMA10 you will receive a 10% discount!!

With your ticket you will receive

  • Finishers medal
  • T-shirt
  • 13 x cider tasters
  • Finishers pint
  • Ciderthon Village bars and fun open to all

52422320_2172288156416072_6197388120204247040_nFor more detailed information please check out the dedicated race website.

Become a CIDERTHONER SUNDAY 5TH OF MAY 2019!

#RunMilesDrinkCider

Rants and raves #34

**Disclaimer: I’m writing this post after spending the morning at the dentist, again. My debit card has taken a bit of a battering.  I’m also still not completely recovered from the lurgy and Wolves have just lost. As a result, this blog may be even more moany than usual if that’s possible. As always, all moans groans and rants and raves represent my own views. Other, far less negative running blogs are available**

Rave: The weather

I’m loving the weather at the moment; sunny but quite chilly mornings and gorgeous afternoons. On Thursday, it was mild enough for me to enjoy my first outdoors pint of the year after work. Although the weather isn’t meant to be great this week – I guess it’s time for some good old April showers – the forecast for next weekend looks reasonable.Spring 2019I just need to start running again sooner rather than later because at the moment I’m feeling incredibly unfit. I don’t want a repeat of a few years ago when I started running after a longish injury break and struggled because it was so warm.

Rant: EE network coverage

A rather random rant, but I’ve reached the stage I’ve had enough of EE. Someone told me that EE was formerly known as ‘Everything Everywhere’. I personally think EE should be called NA ‘Nothing Anywhere’. I do wonder how bad other networks are if EE keep winning this.EE best network

[Source]

My EE phone doesn’t tend to work in my office. This is incredibly frustrating when I need to check my personal email account (we aren’t allowed to access hotmail at work) and when someone tries to contact me. My phone lies and tells me it has 4G signal, the second I try to send a text the signal mysteriously disappears and the dreaded ‘No Signal’ appears on the screen.

My phone also doesn’t work for most of the journey between Oxford and Leamington Spa, in large areas of Four Oaks and in my house. Network coverage used to be a million times better, I’ve no idea why it is now so bad. And to think there are plans to install a 4G network on the Moon. I can’t wait to escape from EE when my contract ends in June.

Rave: Feedback from people who read this blog

Like most bloggers, I do sometimes wonder if people actually read my waffle. My blogging stats haven’t been that great recently, possibly because I haven’t had much to say. I was thrilled when Paul contacted me completely out of the blue to say they had found this running blog, and that my blog injected some welcome reality into things.

Thanks for taking the time to contact me Paul, your lovely feedback made my day. I’m hopeful that normal service will resume once I am up and running again!

Rant: My right knee

My fragile right knee has been incredibly painful – 9/10 on my niggleometer – for a couple of weeks now. Frustrating when the lurgy means that I haven’t been able to run recently. The ‘did not starts’ are starting to frustrate me, there’s no way I’m even going to attempt the Cathedral to Castle 10 mile run on Sunday, last year I ended the race with a knee injury.

I had hoped that a break from running would help my right knee settle down and get better, if anything it seems to be more painful the longer I don’t run. I can’t avoid using it as I have to walk to and from the office Monday to Friday. I’ve been following the strengthening routine a sports physio gave me a couple of years ago and have been wearing a knee support. I’m rapidly running out of ideas…

Rave: The Old Post Office

I have a new favourite drinking establishment in Wallingford. After a couple of not so positive experiences, the Boat House has been relegated into second place and The Old Post Office promoted to first place.

As an added bonus, the food in The Old Post Office is amazing. It’s just a shame it’s a tad on the expensive side, definitely more of an occasional treat. I’m still not completely sure how two of us managed to spend £70 in there a couple of weeks ago. I wasn’t even feeling tipsy when I left.

Rant: The Oxford Half Marathon ballot

With the exception of the London Marathon et al, I struggle with the concept of races having ballots. Races should be first come first served. I was more than a little surprised when a colleague told me that the Oxford Half was now ballot entry. I mean the Oxford Half didn’t even sell out in 2018. They also had an issue with medals; the complaints on social media were pretty impressive. I can only assume they held a ballot to encourage people to enter and to hype the event up.Oxford Half ballot

[Source]

I don’t know of anyone who entered who didn’t get a place through the ballot. I know some people didn’t get in via the first round of invites, but predictably they got a place via the second round of invites. I won’t complain about the price. Let’s just hope the medals arrive in time for the race this year.

Rave: Wolverhampton Wanderers

I know I’ve said it before, but after a few not very enjoyable seasons, I’m really enjoying being a Wolves supporter. I would love to be able to say that I’m heading down to the FA Cup Semi-Final on Sunday but I’m not. I’ve donated my ticket to a good friend who has never experienced the new(ish) Wembley.WolvesI just hope that he manages to get on the right train to London Euston, manages to find Wembley, and that Wolves put on a decent performance. If they get hammered by Watford it will be a disappointing day out for Wolves.

Rant: CrossCountry Trains

And while on the subject of trains, I want to rant about CrossCountry trains. I won’t complain about the fact most of their trains are overcrowded and quite clearly not designed for passengers with longer than average legs. I won’t complain about the fact that 90 per cent of the trains I catch on a Friday arrive into Birmingham New Street late. I do want to complain about the fact CrossCountry trains now charge £1 for the privilege(?) of having paper rather than e-tickets. When I contacted CrossCountry to ask why, this was part of their response: 

CrossCounty always offer a free method of fulfilment, and the £1 collection fee for collecting your tickets at a station is only chargeable where an m-Ticket or e-Ticket is available.

E-Tickets are easier to collect due to how flexible they are, you get four options for showing your ticket so you can save time queuing at the train station or waiting for your tickets to arrive in the post. You can show the PDF on your smartphone, print at home/work, send to Apple Wallet or use our Train Tickets app where your ticket will be visible in your wallet.”

I’m quite happy queuing at the train station for a couple of minutes to collect my tickets. I’d rather have paper tickets as I know they (1) will open the barriers at Oxford station, (2) will open the barriers at Birmingham New Street station, (3) don’t rely on having phone signal to actually work, (4) don’t rely on me having phone battery, (5) mean that I don’t have to risk dropping my phone when I’m already struggling to carry a couple of large bags and (6) are far more convenient.

And finally, I’m afraid I’m going to finish with a bonus rant…

Rant: Me!

I’ve been feeling incredibly gloomy and completely lacking in motivation for a couple of weeks now. Although not knowing where I’ll be living and working when my temporary contract ends probably isn’t helping, I’m blaming my gloominess on not being able to run. I’m definitely more positive when I can run. I’ve been struggling at work and have stopped enjoying my job. Getting out of bed each morning and heading into the office has been a chore. I haven’t felt like blogging and have struggled to find the motivation to write. Most evenings, I get back to my room; have a lengthy nap and then waste time watching TV.

I’ve got a job interview later this week and to be honest I don’t feel very well prepared. I don’t even know if I want the job, I just felt like I needed to apply for it as it’s a permanent position nearer to Four Oaks. Hopefully I’ll start to feel a bit more positive when I know what I’ll be doing when my temporary contract ends. Running will also help.

If you’ve reached the end of this selection of 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 shared my moans and groans on here.

Do you have any recommendations for mobile phone providers? After 15+ years, I’ve had enough of Orange/EE. I’m just worried they are all equally as bad.

Do you agree with races holding ballots or do you think it should be first come first served? I can understand why races like the London, Chicago and Berlin Marathons hold ballots. I struggle with the concept of smaller races holding ballots.

London Landmarks Half Marathon training Week 10

Happy Monday! I hope that everyone who reads my waffle had an amazing weekend. I had an enjoyable but perhaps slightly chaotic weekend. I’m feeling tired this morning, getting out of bed this morning was difficult.Collage 24Week 10 of my half marathon training plan – the ‘peak’ week – recommended that I completed a 30 minute easy run on Monday, a 60 minute easy run on Thursday, a 5k run or parkrun on Saturday, and a longer 120-130 minute run on Sunday. After missing far too many longer runs, I was determined to run for a couple of hours on Sunday.

So how did I cope during the tenth week of my London Landmarks Half training? Did my niggly right knee behave itself? Did I remain injury free? Did I allow the pub to get in the way of running?

Monday – 30 mins easy Rest

After a celebratory wine and beer on Sunday evening, I started the week with a slightly fuzzy head. Fortunately for everyone, I felt a lot better after the walk into the office. Thanks to some computer related issues – I’m pretty certain computers shouldn’t take 30 minutes to load – I didn’t have the most productive morning ever. The afternoon didn’t improve and I wasn’t in the best of moods when I left work.

The walk back to my room and a sneaky powernap helped me to shift my slightly grumpy mood. I decided to postpone my 30 minute run by a day as my right knee felt quite niggly after my long run on Sunday and I felt too tired to run. Not the most positive start to the week, perhaps I need to avoid working on Mondays.

Tuesday – Rest 30 mins easy

Thanks to some decent sleep, I woke up feeling reasonably refreshed, even my archaic work computer failed to wind me up. I spent the day preparing flow and groundwater data for a hydrology report and felt like I’d had a productive day when I left the office with a colleague. I’m not sure what happened, but we ended up back in The Old Post Office enjoying a beer and some healthy snacks crisps. Fortunately, my colleague could only stay for a couple; otherwise there is no way I would have headed out for a run.Collage 25I escaped from The Old Post Office, picked up some bits and pieces in Waitrose, got back to my room and then spent an hour writing a product review and watching Casualty. Once I felt confident the beer had settled, I got changed into some running gear and headed out of the door before I could change my mind. The half hour run felt reasonably easy, the beer just about stayed put and I avoided having an unfortunate incident in the centre of Wallingford. It felt good to make a start on ‘peak’ week.

Wednesday – Rest

My computer finally ‘died’ and I spent quite a lot of time on the ‘phone talking to someone on the computer helpdesk. I’m not sure why I was told changing my password would solve my computer related woes; it didn’t. In the end, I abandoned my computer, tracked down a spare desktop and managed to finish collating a technical report that had to be completed by Friday. My colleague very kindly saved me from a wet walk, gave me a lift back to her house in Wallingford and cooked us an awesome meal.

The rest of the evening was incredibly chilled out, just what this doctor ordered. I set my alarm for 05:30 as I wanted to run before work. Sensible people would have gone to bed at a reasonable time, I somehow ended up watching violin master classes on YouTube and completely lost track of the time. Who needs sleep..?

Thursday – 60 mins easy

Getting out of bed at 05:30 was a bit of a struggle. Once I got outside, it took me quite a long time to wake up and to get into my stride, to be honest, the run felt anything but easy. I was reminded that Wallingford is quite a small town and that the bridge over the River Thames is just like Mount Everest when your legs are feeling tired. Although the run was challenging, it felt incredibly satisfying to complete a midweek training run before 07:00. It’s just a shame my lack of fitness meant that the post-run walk into the office seemed to take forever.

Computer issues meant that work was a little frustrating at times. Anyone who has ever used ArcGIS will know you need a decent computer to actually use it; my temporary computer didn’t seem to cope with the map I was trying to produce. My early start meant that by lunchtime I was feeling pretty tired, I’ve got so much respect for people who run before work, I couldn’t do it on a regular basis.

The rest of Thursday was a little predictable. One minute I was in the office, the next I was enjoying a couple of pints in The Old Post Office. I think it’s safe to say that I slept well on Thursday night.

Friday – Rest

I had a productive Friday as I was quite literally the only person in the office from my team. Walking to lunch on my own felt a little strange, but I found myself a different team to sit with. After a short but productive afternoon, I escaped from the office at 15:00 and arrived back home in Four Oaks after a reasonably stress free journey, three hours later. The evening was dull but incredibly productive as I made a great start on my weekend ‘things to do’ list. I’ve no idea how I used to go out every Friday evening, these days I’m in bed well before midnight.

Saturday – parkrun Rest

I looked at the weather forecast, saw it was going to be a tad soggy, and decided not to head to my local parkrun. I spent the morning replying to emails, reading Tokyo Marathon race recaps – one day, I’d love to go to Tokyo, and generally faffing around. At lunchtime I met up with a friend in Bistrot Pierre in Mere Green for an early lunch. I decided to be brave and opted for a new to me starter; the Goats’ cheese bruschetta. I’m not a huge fan of beetroot but quite enjoyed the bruschetta. The steak with my steak-frites was a little chewy, and the Crème brûlée quite small compared to last time. I guess you can’t win them all.Collage 26After lunch, I had the enjoyable experience of Sutton Coldfield on a Saturday afternoon. I had to collect an order from TK Maxx and needed to buy a couple of birthday cards. TK Maxx was incredibly busy but people didn’t seem to be actually buying anything. I was in and out of the store in less than five minutes, definitely a personal best. I grabbed a couple of birthday cards and escaped from the crowds. The rest of my Saturday was so mundane – think sleep and lots of carbs – I won’t bore you all to tears with the details.

Sunday – 120-130 mins easy 80 mins easy

I felt shattered when my alarm woke me at 05:00, not the best way to feel before a long training run. I lay in bed and mentally debated the pros and cons of getting my run done first thing in the morning, the pros just about outweighed the cons so I reluctantly got out of bed. The weather wasn’t ideal; cold, wet and quite windy, and it took me a long time to find my rhythm. My stomach unfortunately didn’t feel ‘right’ from the start, and after an hour of running, I reluctantly headed back home. I’m hoping that running for 80 minutes is better than running for zero minutes.LLHM MapI just about made it back home and headed straight to the loo. Loo stop completed, I headed to the kitchen made myself drink a pint of strawberry milkshake, stretched and then headed back to bed for a couple of hours. I treated myself to a bit of a lie-in and watched the Big Half in bed – watching all the runners made me feel a tad lazy – next year I will hopefully at least start the race.

So that’s the tenth week of my half marathon training not really completed. I can’t believe there are now only a couple of weeks to go. I most definitely don’t feel at all prepared at the moment.

The penultimate week of the training plan I’ve been following is described as the ‘start of the taper’. To be honest, I haven’t done enough training to justify or to need a taper. I’ve got to complete a 20 minute jog later today, a steady 40 minute run on Wednesday, a steady 40-45 minute run on Friday and a 60 minute run at a comfortable pace on Sunday. If my knee feels okay, I may try to run for 90 minutes on Sunday.

Training totals

  • Runs: 22
  • Time: 18 hours 2 mins
  • Distance: 99.59 miles

 Niggleometer

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

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!