Tag Archives: cross country

What I’ve been doing

6 Feb

Busy, busy, busy! I’m still managing to exercise, but it’s so difficult for me to find time to blog, which is very frustrating. I thought I’d do a quick summary of what I’ve been up to recently…

Sunday 22nd January

No running for me today. Stuart, baby M and I headed out into the New Forest to marshal a race in the local cross-country league.

We had been positioned on one of the first marshal points, so we saw the start of the race and were then able to move to another point to watch runners heading towards the finish, before we walked back to the finish.

It was a crisp and cold day and as usual, there were lots of New Forest ponies around.


You might not be able to tell from my photograph, but the water below was frozen solid and remained that way all morning.


I feel so lucky to live in such a beautiful area and am looking forward to being able to get back on my bike and cycling in the forest.

Tuesday 24th January

I went for a long run with Pete around Chilworth. We left in daylight, but the sun started to go down as we headed down a very long hill. We paused to look at a beautiful sunset and to take some photos… but I hadn’t dressed adequately (just a t-shirt and shorts), so I quickly started to feel cold.

We ended up running around 10 miles, but it was hard going as my hands were so cold.

Wednesday 25th January

Baby M and I went to Buggy Mums on The Common again. We ran some laps around the model boating lake before heading up to the top ‘field’ part of The Common where we did some paired exercises. As usual, it was a lot of fun.

Thursday 26th January

The following day, I went to Buggy Mums at Weston Shore.

Last week the weather had been beautiful, with warm sunshine and no wind; it was the complete opposite today. Just before leaving the house, I decided to put on a base layer. I was so grateful that I had. I kept on my base layer, long-sleeved top, jacket, Buff and woolly hat for the entire session. Towards the end, I took my gloves off for a short period of time, but not for long!


I really like the Thursday sessions as they are less busy than the ones on The Common and there are more opportunities to chat to people.


Saturday 28th January

It was my turn to run on Saturday. I met my friend Teri who is recovering from injury. She has to follow a walk/run strategy. I agreed to join her as I thought it would be nice to do a steadier-paced run… however, Teri is fitter than I am, so he run intervals were quicker than I usually go and the walk breaks were very short, so I barely had time to decelerate before we were off again.

In the end, my time for the run wasn’t much different from my usual result.

Southampton parkrun 28th January

Sunday 29th January

The following day was Sunday Runday – a training run for Southampton half marathon. It was my turn to run, so I was able to choose which group to help. Part of me was tempted to go with the 11 minute mile group, but I know that I need to push myself, so I joined my friends Pete, Kate and Malcolm in the 10 minute mile group.

It’s interesting to refamiliarise myself with the route for the half marathon (as well as learning the new parts). The race is being run in the opposite direction from last year.

Monday 30th January

The following day, I decided to return to Southampton Tri Club for my first swim since having my baby. It was a logistical challenge as Stu swam in the first session from 7-8pm and I swam in the second session from 8-9pm. Stu finished his swim a little early, and then met me outside the changing rooms at 7:55pm. I passed him Baby M in her car seat and my car keys; in return, Stu gave me his car keys.

There were lots of new faces in the swimming session, so Coach Steve had to rearrange the lanes a bit. I was asked to move into Lane 2, but I pointed out that I no longer have any stamina. I swam in Lane 2 just for a bit before Steve rearranged us again and I went back to Lane 1. There’s now quite a lot of disparity in the ability of the swimmers in Lane 1 as some people find it tough to do more than a length or two at a time.

Steve had planned an interesting session that included some core work on the pool side. This was quite challenging, but good fun.

In the end, I did the majority of the session, but I finished nearly 10 minutes early. This was because the pool was so busy that I didn’t want to have to queue for a shower as I needed to get home quickly. The changeover seemed to work well, so I now need to get myself back on track ready to take part in Swimathon. I think I swam around 1600m (1 mile), so I need a lot of training!

Tuesday 31st January

I had originally intended to go for a long run with Pete today, but I had completely forgotten that I had booked onto a cycle maintenance for women course at my local Giant Store, so we rescheduled for Thursday.

I know that some people will think that it’s not necessary to run separate maintenance workshops for men and women, but most of the women who attended seemed to be quite nervous and didn’t want to made to look stupid in front of men.

My friend, Lou, has recently bought a road bike, so she had also booked to come to the event with me. When we arrived, we were divided into three groups, as there were three members of staff, each of whom was running a separate 30 minute workshop.


The first workshop was about bike cleaning. This was a simple topic to start with, and didn’t really warrant a 30 minute timeslot. One of the most interesting points was when we were shown the difference between Muc Off and a cheap alternative, which was quite eye-opening:

The second workshop was led by Nigel, the store owner. He was covering dealing with punctures. I’ve fixed punctures in the past and changed an innertube, but I think it’s always good to refresh this knowledge and there’s always something new to be learnt. Nigel showed me some tricks that make it easier to replace an innertube and tyre without using tyre levers. It was easier, but as I have delicate thumbs, I will probably continue to use levers!

Lou raised an interesting question about the need to pump up tyres after filling them with CO2. I hadn’t heard of this before and neither had the others. Later, Lou proved us wrong by sharing the scientific information that she found online!

The third and final workshop was the most technical one of the three as it was on brakes and gears. Whilst I understand the theory of all of this, I’m still nervous to adjust the gears on my own bike. We’ve had a few problems with the brake on M’s running buggy, so I asked a couple of questions and should now be able to fix the problem.

Overall, I think the evening was a great success. The staff were helpful and friendly and each participant was given a goodie bag, including a lanyard, button badges, a New Forest cycling map, some dry lube and a puncture repair kit. Apparently there are plans afoot to run more events in future, which would be really good.

Wednesday 1st February

On Wednesday, I went to Buggy Mums. My mum had come to visit, and I needed to drop her off before the session, so I ended up parking on the opposite side of The Common and had to dash to the start of the session.

We did a warm up on The Flats, so I ended up travelling back towards where I had parked. We then went back to the play area for the main part of the session, which included some pull up and chin up preparation as well as lots of tricep dips and press ups on the benches.


Thursday 2nd February

I had so much to do and was feeling tired, so decided not to go to Buggy Mums and to save my energy for a long run with Pete.

I ran down to meet Pete on The Common. As I was cold last week, I decided to wear a long pair of tights that I had got out for Buggy Mums, as well as a t-shirt and jacket. I took off my jacket when I met Pete, so it immediately started raining. Fortunately, the shower was over quickly.

Yet again, Pete had planned a lovely route, which took us all around Ocean Village. I think it would be a lovely route to walk in summer, but it was quite windy and the water looked rough.

Part way around, we stopped for Pete to have a ‘comfort break’, which gave me a chance to put my head torch on. I was grateful that I had it on as we got to the east side of Riverside Park. The river was overflowing and all of the paths were covered. Pete and I took an alternative route for part of it, but in the end we just had to go through the water. It was ankle-deep and cold 😦 This meant that we had cold, wet feet for the final part of the run.

We headed up Bassett Green Road, which is a long hill. Pete had intended for us to go all of the way up to the top, but about 3/4 of the way up there is a short cut that leads towards my house. I was starting to get tired, so I suggested we took the short cut.

In the end, we covered about 13 miles. I’m finding the long runs tiring, but am not struggling with DOMS afterwards, which is a good sign.

Saturday 4th February

On Saturday, Stu, Baby and I headed to parkrun with my mum. My mum has never completed a parkrun before, so I agreed to walk it with her. I didn’t want to push her too hard, so we took it very steady:

Southampton parkrun 4th February

I’m now hoping my mum will take part in a parkrun near to her in future.

Well, that’s all of my recent training summarised. In the last few weeks, I’ve also been testing out a variety of products, so I’ll be posting about those this week.

What have you been up to? Are there any events that you’re training for?

Big round up

9 Jan

It feels like ages since I’ve had a chance to blog. Christmas was hectic and baby M takes up an awful lot of time (who knew it was possible to sit doing nothing but watch a baby for hours!)

On Christmas Eve, Stuart, M and I were in Cornwall. I had found out that there was a new parkrun at Trelissick, near to Feock, but the inclement weather conditions meant that it might be very challenging with a buggy, so we decided to try to alternative route at Penrose parkrun. We’ve only done it out on the coastal past previously, but it’s currently on a flat tarmac path, which seemed like a more sensible option for the buggy.

It was Stu’s turn to walk with the buggy, so I put on my festive SOAS cycling jersey and some shorts. I persuaded Stu to take his festive antlers with him. Initially he was undecided about wearing them, but when he saw that everyone else was in fancy dress, he put them on:

Christmas Eve at Penrose parkrun

The event was heaving in comparison with when we have visited previously – there were 335 runners, which was over 200 more than in most weeks. Unfortunately, this meant that it was a slow start. I was hoping that the relatively flat course would make it easy for me to beat my post baby PB of 28:15. The course was also far muddier than I had expected. It took me almost two minutes before I could start jogging and even then I had to weave around people.

I finally managed to get moving more quickly. I could hear the man in the inflatable turkey suit just behind me, so I tried to pick up the pace. The course is currently an out and back, with an incline up to the turn around point. As we hit the incline ‘turkey man’ passed me. I was able to overtake on the way back down, but it wasn’t long before he sped past me again – oh well, never mind. I was also keeping an eye out for Stu and M. They were doing very well and were ahead of quite a few others.

The return leg was much easier as the crowd had thinned out. I could see the finish, but it involved going around a muddy corner and across a patch of grass.

Christmas Eve parkrun 2016

It wasn’t a PBPB, but I felt quite pleased anyway. I was 53/147 female runners and 6/24 in my Age Group.

After I’d caught my breath, I jogged back to meet Stu and M. They managed to beat 24 other parkrunners, which is a great result as they walked the entire event.

Stu and I had hoped to get out and about a bit at Christmas, but Stu came down with a heavy cold and we had so many relatives to visit that it was nigh on impossible to fit in any running, although we did go on a long walk to buy pasties 🙂

By New Year’s Eve, we were back in Southampton, which meant that we were able to take part in Southampton parkrun. It was Stu’s turn to run, so I got to walk with M’s buggy. My friend, Caro, caught up with us partway around, so I had a lovely social walk, and also managed to get a walking PB 🙂

New Year's Eve parkrun

I then had a dilemma. New Year’s Day was an extra parkrun day, so I knew that I could do either Netley or Eastleigh parkrun at 9am before doing Southampton parkrun at 10:30am. However, my next parkrun was a (minor) milestone: #200. In the end, Stu, M and I went out for a party on New Year’s Eve and then decided to have a lie in, so that I was able to do my 200th run at Southampton.

At the start, I met up with my friend, Pete, who agreed to run with me. Pete’s a stronger runner, but he’d had a very late night, so didn’t want to push himself too much.

During the first lap, we saw our friend, Kirsty, so she stopped and chatted to use for a while before heading off – she was in the middle of a long run.

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My photographer friend, Paul was out on the course, so all of the photos from my 200th parkrun were taken by Paul A. Hammon 🙂

I had decided to wear my parkrun 100 t-shirt, but it was a mistake as it was far too hot to wear black!!! I was also wearing my Hoka One Ones – I like them a lot more than I thought I would!


Stuart race walking with baby M.


Pete and I had been chatting a lot during the first lap, but the second lap felt harder. I had said to Pete before the start that I wanted a PBPB of under 28 minutes, but I started to wonder whether it would be possible.

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I was so pleased when we crossed the line in a time of 27:54 – a PBPB!

parkrun 01 January 2017

I was 80/218 females and 19/47 in my age group.

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This weekend was also a busy weekend. On Saturday, I walked Southampton parkrun with M. It was a busy event with its second highest ever attendance of 884.

I decided to wear some new kit. I’ve been sent some fantastic compression socks and insoles by SportArt, so I’ll be blogging about them soon.

Sport Art compression socks

I also wore a top from Craft that I received just before Christmas:

Craft base layer

Again, I’ll be writing a review of it as soon as I have the opportunity.

I also took the opportunity to try out a new gadget – a phone holder for my buggy – so I decided to play Pokemon Go whilst walking. This meant that I didn’t set a new walking PB, but I wasn’t far off.

parkrun 7th January 2017

Yesterday, I took part in my first cross-country race of 2017. It was also my first race since having baby M. It was the 5th race in the CC6 series and I was looking forward to running with clubmates from Southampton Tri Club, although I was a little worried that I might struggle to complete 5 miles as I’ve not run that far for a very long time.

Badger Farm CC6 group photo

It was quite a busy race, so I tried not to start too close to the front. It was also rather damp and misty, but warmer than the photos suggest.

Start of Badger Farm CC6
Stuart had agreed to look after M, so I was able to borrow his STC vest. I need to buy my own soon! I was also trying out some compression calf guards from Sport Art – I’ll be blogging more about them later.

The course was different from in previous years, which were usually two laps. I much preferred the new route, but there were some long uphill stretches as well as some steep parts. I loved the downhills, but they tended to be very muddy and a lot of other runners were wearing inadequate shoes, which slowed them down.

Badger Farm CC6 2017

In this league, only 3 women are needed to score as a team, however all abilities are welcome. I assumed that I was one of the last runners for my team, and I was correct… however, I hadn’t realised that Claire was just behind me until she over took me in the final 500m. I finished in 57th place out of 80, so there’s definitely some work to be done on my running, but I was pleased to complete the distance and to see lots of friends from STC, Lordshill and various other running clubs.

Post CC6 Badger Farm

I’ve not talked about New Year’s Resolutions because I’ve not come up with anything solid this year… however, I’ve got some exciting plans afoot regarding my nutrition, so I’ll be sharing more about them in the coming weeks. I’m also still deciding on my A races for 2016 as I need to know how much free time I have for training and I want to be fair to Stuart.I may take part in some races as a pacer as I really enjoyed it last year.

I’m hoping to get back to swimming soon and went out on my first post baby bike ride recently, with my friend Kim. Later this week, I’m going to be going to a free fitness class: Buggy Mums. I’ve no idea what to expect, so I’ll be reporting back on it.

What have you been up to recently? Have you set yourself any big goals for 2017?











My final race of 2016

28 Sep

The last couple of weeks have been hectic. I’ve been trying to round off various projects at work and then Stuart and I have been doing loads of DIY at home. We’re having carpets delivered tomorrow, so we’ve been trying to repaint 4 bedrooms and our lounge (including the ceilings and woodwork). This has involved moving lots of large pieces of furniture, which has been quite tiring.

Having thought through the logistics, I realised that it would not be possible for me to fit in a parkrun on Saturday morning (before the antenatal class), which was a shame as I love running. However, it did mean that my legs were fresh for Sunday…

Sunday morning was the first CC6 of the season. This is the cross-country league for local running (and triathlon) clubs. Originally, the league consisted of 6 races (hence the name), but it has now been expanded with there being 7 races last season and 8 this year. The first race took place at Fleming Park in Eastleigh. This is not far from where I live and I know the venue well as it’s where Eastleigh parkrun takes place. It was also a course that was similar to what I’ve run before with a start section, two main loops and then a finish section.

Stuart rarely takes part in cross-country races as he is injury prone and doesn’t want to risk getting hurt, but he agreed to come along to this one (perhaps to see how fit he is, but more likely to keep an eye on me!) The big change at this event was that we had both agreed to run for Southampton Tri Club, instead of Lordshill Road Runners. Stuart collected his new STC vest, and I was very grateful that Coach Steve from the tri club had agreed to lend me a top. (I fully intend to buy an STC t-shirt/vest as soon as I’m back to a normal size!) It was a bit sad to see club-mates from LRR in their club vests, but I figured that there are many more runners in LRR, so STC needs me more than them.

I knew I would have to take the race easy and had accepted that I might have to walk some of the hills, but my aim was just to enjoy it (and hopefully finish).

I started at the back, which was a sensible move. We had a gentle start, which is good as I’m terrible at pacing myself and always start enthusiastically. My friend, Kathy, was out doing her first race in a long time as she has had severe knee problems following a cycling accident. She was also starting steadily, so we had a bit of a chat, which was nice.

I knew that I would be running with different people from usual, but it was a bit sad that a lot of the slower ladies that I know weren’t taking part as I had hoped to run with a few friends.

I spent the first part of the race tailing my team-mate, Rachel, but the cheers from all of the marshals spurred me to pick up the pace a little bit. Most of the marshals were from Eastleigh Running Club and Itchen Spitfires… but I know them through ‘Sunday Runday’, Southampton parkrun and Southampton Tri Club. It was great to see so many friendly faces.

Towards the end of the first loop, former LRR team-mate turned Southampton Athletics Club runner, Andy, came racing past. he’s an excellent runner, so it was great to hear that he had finished in first place.

The second loop was a bit harder as the baby decided to wedge her feet into my ribs, which makes running a little more uncomfortable. However, after a few rubs on my side, she moved around again and I was able to run as normal 🙂

Running at the CC6

© Marie Keates

Thanks to Marie for managing to snap a picture of me whilst I was running. If you’d like to read more about the CC6 from Marie’s perspective (or just want to look at her beautiful nature photos), please check out her blog.

Although I was running steadily, it was quite a warm day, and the STC tops are much darker than LRR tops (STC tops have black shoulders, whereas LRR vests are predominantly white). This meant that I was glad when I was getting towards the finish. Fortunately, there weren’t any other runners who were very close to me, so I didn’t have to resist any impulse to sprint.

The race was just over 6km long and I finished it in under 40 minutes, which wasn’t too bad.

At the end of the race, I was given a raffle ticket with my position number on it: 66 (out of 72), so although it wasn’t particularly speedy, I wasn’t last 🙂

I then had a bit of a chance to catch up with various friends, before a group of us from STC headed off to Costa for some drinks.

Monday last week was going to include a gentle bike ride with Dani King. I was really looking forward to it and had arranged various appointments around it, but then I received this message:

cancelled Dani King ride

It was quite disappointing, but as I had problems with extremely low blood pressure at the weekend (73/33), it was probably better for my health that I spent a lazy afternoon at home.

Do you like cross-country running?





Looking forward to the first cross country race of the season

13 Sep

Last night I managed to get myself back to swimming. It seems that there are a lot of people who really love swimming when they are pregnant, but I’m finding it incredibly frustrating. I can no longer go as quickly as I can and I find that my breathing is off… and my additional ballast is making me roll around in a way that makes it feel so difficult. In comparison, I’m much more accepting of being slower when running. I’m wondering whether it’s because even when I do parkrun, it’s very much on my own terms, whereas lane swimming with others means that I feel under pressure to go faster.

swimming pool

Anyway, it was an interesting session with a variety of sets. I can’t remember them all, but the main set was 200m steady front crawl; 15s rest; 125m hard front crawl; 25m recovery; 30s rest – 3 times. I didn’t do all of them and am not convinced that my fast was significantly different from my steady pace, but at least I completed the whole session.

I’m also incredibly grateful every morning when I get my bike out. The process takes a little longer than it used to, with multiple locks on the garage door and then further locks inside, but at least it means that my work bike is still there.

Every day I wonder whether today will be the day when I have to dismount and push my bike up the hill, but so far I seem to be doing OK. I’m a little out of breath at the top of the hill, but that used to happen when I first moved to the area, and I’ve still a few gears left. I’ve got 9 more days left at work, so hopefully I can keep going for that long.

This weekend, I’ve got two events lined up: parkrun on Saturday and then the first CC6 (cross country league race) of the season. The CC6 is at the same venue as Eastleigh parkrun, so it shouldn’t be too muddy this early in the season. It’s also one of the shorter races (assuming it follows the same route as previous years): 3.9 miles. I’ve not run that far for a few weeks, but I’m confident that I can do it. I now just need to source a vest or t-shirt from someone who is not built like an elite athlete as the rules stipulate that I need to wear a club vest. It’ll be the first CC6 that I’ll be doing wearing Southampton Tri Club colours instead of Lordshill, which will be a bit strange, but I figure the tri club needs me more than LRR… and there’s a hope that I might make one of the first 4 teams for the tri club, rather than being in at least the 10th team for LRR!

Are you ready to get some winter miles in?

20 Nov
Cycling in Ainokura, Japan in April 2015 ©Jeremy Hollinshead

Cycling in Ainokura, Japan in April 2015 ©Jeremy Hollinshead

I’ve only got one event left this year (Tailwind 10), so I’m now focussing on base training ready for next season. For many people, base training means focusing on strength and endurance, but I really want to work on some speed in my running as this has been neglected this year. I also want to work on my cycling over winter and I may even fit in some muddy cross country fun.

I did some great cycling in the Algarve, but I think my carbon bike is now going to be resigned to its new indoor home* for several months whilst I spend more time on my aluminium road bike. It has sturdier tyres, so I feel more secure on it in wet and icy conditions. I’ll also be doing some turbo and spin sessions. Which do you prefer? I’ve never been to a turbo training class, but I really enjoy group spinning.

I’m also a little tempted to try out cyclo cross. I’d love to be able to do more off road riding and am uncertain about whether I should save for a mountain bike or a cyclocross bike/ I know that it should depend on what I’m using it for, but I don’t know yet. Any thoughts?

If you’re thinking about cycling throughout winter, please check out these two blogs that are full of great advice:


*my turbo room is currently a work in progress – as soon as it’s done, there will be a post about it. I’m so excited about it – I think it’s going to transform my training 😀



The Agony of De Feet – Brutal 10 Enduro Race Report

21 Jun

On Saturday night/Sunday morning, Stuart and I took part in the Brutal 10 Enduro, which was held at Minley (near Yateley). It was a 12 hour running event starting at 9pm. Stu decided to enter as a pair with his friend, Rob, so I entered as a pair with Rob’s wife Kim.

Stu and I have done similar events before (although always in much larger groups), so we felt quite well-prepared… however, we had no idea just how tough the cross-country course would be. There were lots of sharp ascents and descents, with a variety of terrain underfoot – the one I hated most was the cushiony layers of pine needles that were inches deep. They provided a soft landed for people who fell, but really sapped your energy.

We arrived at 5pm and decided to set up our tent. We knew there wouldn’t be a lot of time for sleeping, but wanted to have somewhere to shelter whilst our partners were out on the course, as well as a private changing area. We chose an area that wasn’t too far from the start/finish, but was also at the 5k point in the race. There were no other tents nearby, which also meant it was quite quiet.

Stus temporary tattoo

There were some fun touches at the event, including some temporary tattoos.

By 7pm, we had registered and collected our timing chip/radio transmitter, race numbers and free technical t-shirts. We then realised that we had nothing to do for a couple of hours… but as it started to rain heavily and there were a few peals of thunder we decided to just sit in the tent and chat.

Before the start

Stu, Kim and Rob chilling out!

I got changed into the team t-shirt that I had printed earlier in the day:

The design on our team t-shirts

The design on our team t-shirts

With Kim before running

Kim and I getting in the mood whilst the rain was pouring down

By 8:45pm, the rain had died away, so it was time to go to the start. Various events were taking place at approximately the same time: a single lap 10k race; solo runners, pairs and teams of 4 and a cani-cross event. The cani-cross runners were set off first and then about 10 minutes later, we started.

Agony of defeet meme

I was the first runner in my pair, and had the luxury of daylight for half of the lap. I had decided to pace myself and was glad that I did as although the first half of the lap wasn’t too bad, the second half was very technical and I knew that it would be challenging later when it was completely dark.

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I finished my first lap in about 1:05 and handed over the radio transmitter to Kim. We then alternated until each of us had done three laps, by which point Kim was unable to continue. My first and second laps were uneventful, but my headtorch battery died 2km into my third lap. This threw me into a panic as I knew that I would not be able to do another 8km in the dark. Fortunately, I caught up with a female runner I had chatted with earlier and managed to follow her until I got to a bit of the course that I felt I knew well. At 5km, I left the course, went into my tent, picked up some spare batteries and then rejoined where I had left. It was such a relief to be able to see again.

When I finished my lap, printed results had been displayed on a noticeboard and I could see that Stu and his partner had already built up a sizeable lead. The first placed female pair had completed 6 laps when Kim was out running our 6th lap, but I could only see us as being down for completing two laps, which was a bit of a concern, but I didn’t have enough time to follow it up before Kim arrived at the changeover point.

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Kim waiting for me at the changeover point

One of the challenging parts of this event was the weather conditions. Although it did not rain during the race, it was incredibly humid. I saw many runners wearing long tights, base layers and jackets, whereas I just wore vests and shorts and felt over-dressed in those. For this reason, the two laps I did that were fully in the dark were my favourite as they were marginally cooler than the others.

My legs were starting to feel tired when I started my 4th lap (probably because I’ve not run over 13 miles since Southampton Half Marathon), but I decided to give it my best shot. I passed a few runners (soloists, I’m assuming) and then heard someone coming up behind me quite quickly at about 2k. I stepped aside, but he was further back than I realised so I continued on. Although the runner sounded like he was gaining on me, it spurred me to keep pushing myself, so I managed to complete a fairly quick lap (*fairly quick for me = about 75 minutes).

I had a small cup of energy drink and then headed out for a consecutive lap, at about 7:15am. It all seemed to be going well until 2km in when I realised that I was feeling very dizzy and faint. I think this was because I hadn’t eaten more than an energy bar since 4pm the previous day and had only slept for 20 minutes. Sleep deprivation always affects me badly and I started to hallucinate a little, which is an unpleasant experience. I realised that I needed to eat something, so at 5km, I called out to Rob, Kim and Stu, but no-one was in our tent. This meant that I had to leave the course again, and rummaged in the tent until I found a piece of flapjack. I then rejoined the course and walked for a while before I started to feel much steadier.

1 hour 45 minutes should have been plenty of time for me to run 10km, but as I had wasted a lot of time, I knew I had to start picking up the pace, otherwise I would miss the 9am cut off and my final lap would not count. By 7km I was feeling much better and managed to start jogging. Eventually, I finished at 8:42am, so I made the cut off.

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Big smiles just after I’d finished 🙂

I’ve never run 50km within 12 hours before, so I felt quite proud of my achievement. At 9:15am, prizes for the event were given out and I was astonished to find that the female pair who had been in 1st place had stopped after 6 laps, so we had moved into first place. This was a great finish to a really fun event for me.

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Rob and Stu with their prize

Winning enduro

After we’d received our prize

Winning pairs

Group pose

Brutal Enduro first placed female pair

Brutal Enduro first placed female pair – if only we’d known that we were already in the lead after 6 laps!


Missing in action

5 Dec

I’ve been so busy recently that I’ve failed to post. I’m hoping that I’ll be able to get back on course this weekend, but I’m too tired to post much tonight.

This evening, Stuart and I went to a SUTRI swimming session. It was a 750m time trial. I realised when I got there that I’ve never timed myself over this distance, and I’m not sure I’ve ever swum 750m non-stop in a pool before (I’ve swum further than that in a lake or the sea, but that’s easier as I’ve always had a wetsuit on!)

My PB for 400m is 9:30, which is what Coach Peter timed it as back in April. (We did 400m twice that evening, and I managed 9:30 and 9:32, despite it being the day after Brighton Marathon). I used this as the basis of estimating my time for 750m. I assumed that I should be able to do 750m in just under 19 minutes, which would allow for my fatigue by the end of the session.

We did 200m as a warm up, but I realised that some of the slightly slower people who I’ve seen on previous Friday nights were not at training this evening – eek!

Stuart set off in the first wave of swimmers. The coach, Ollie, said that he expected everyone to finish in about 12 minutes. There are lots of really fit young guys, so even though Stu is a strong swimmer, he was one of the slowest people in his wave. I think he finished in about 11:30. Aaarrggh! It did not bode well for me.

The swimmers who had just finished were chatting to each other by the side of the pool. I could see Stu chatting to Kat, so I went over to them. Kat commented that I looked nervous and I said that I was and that I hoped I would finish before the session was scheduled to finish (9pm).

Everyone lined up, ready to dive in… but there was not way that I was going to subject myself to that (I’ve not dived in since last year), so I got into the water. I decided that I would just have to do the best I could and not stop. After I got in the water, I started my Garmin, so that I would not have to fiddle with it when we were told to start, so the time I recorded isn’t exactly right.

As usual, I set off far too quickly. I knew it was a pace that I could not maintain and I struggled to control my breathing, but I knew I had to otherwise I wouldn’t complete the 30 lengths.

After about 8 lengths, I managed to get into some sort of rhythm, but my breathing was still very ragged. I tried to calm down and think about the advice that Huw would give to me. I knew that he would tell me not to try to inhale as much, and not to move my head as much, so I tried to act on that.

Finally, I knew I only had 4 lengths left to swim. I could hear Kat shouting encouragement, but I tried not to speed up too much as I didn’t have enough energy left. (Last night I did a tough track session with Huw, so I was feeling tired).

When I got to the final 25m, I gave it everything I had left – 28s. My overall time: 16:48 on my Garmin (so a bit faster than that).

Photo of my Garmin data - 750m time trial

It was definitely better than I expected, but not nearly as fast as anyone else. I need to make sure that I swim more often as it is still definitely my weakest discipline 😦 My average pace was 2:14/100m, which is significantly better than the vast majority of my swims, but it’s not good enough. I kept reminding myself that I have done a half iron swim in challenging conditions, but I felt incredibly self-conscious and wished that I didn’t have as many people watching me. Now that things are getting back on track at work, I’ll aim to go to SUTRI swimming sessions on Tuesdays after spinning. That will mean that I swim with STC on Mondays, SUTRI on Tuesdays and SUTRI on Fridays. I will also swim with STC on alternate Saturdays… but I might postpone that until after I’ve got a 5k PB at parkrun!

What I’ve been reading this week:

I’ve finally got my running mojo back :-D

1 Dec

It’s been a strange week for me. After spending months and months thinking that I would never get back to my former level of fitness, there is actually a glimmer of hope on the horizon. I’ve come back from my training holiday with a new enthusiasm for running and an unwillingness to accept my self-imposed limitations.

As Run Camp has finished until January, Thursday morning has transmogrified into ‘Run Gang’, which is similar to ‘Bike gang’, but with running. Liz, Katherine, Stu, Jenny and I have been meeting near to The Hawthorns at 6:30am for speed work sessions. This week, Coach Stu told us to do one mile reps at our 5k PB pace. For me that translates to 5:01/km (about 8:04/mile). Unfortunately, I had forgotten my Garmin, so I decided to just follow Katherine and Jenny and do my best to keep up with them. Amazingly, this strategy paid off. We followed each rep with about a 2 minute recovery. My pace was 8:05, 8:10 and 8:15. Ideally, I would be able to maintain three reps at the same pace, but given that I really didn’t think I would be able to do a single rep at that speed, I was really happy with how well I did.

On Saturday morning, I was excited about having my first chance to run at Southampton parkrun for a number of weeks. Sadly, Stu didn’t feel well, so he stayed at home. I rushed off, so that I could collect a parkrun parcel before the event, and realised after I had closed the door that I had forgotten my Garmin, which was charging. As Stu was sleeping, I didn’t want to wake him, so I decided to run without it.

I met up with Katherine and we decided to have an enjoyable run together. The first part of the run went well. We saw Di and Angela and had a chat with them as we first went up the hill. It was fairly busy, so I had to ask a few people if we could pass them, but I was enjoying the conversation and barely noticed the hill. Katherine didn’t allow me to slack off at all on the downhill, and it wasn’t long before we were tackling the hill for s second time. As we neared the top, we passed Laura. She fought back and surged past us and I commented to Katherine that I didn’t think Laura would let us be ahead of her for long. This spurred Katherine on, so we had to speed up on the downhill. We then kept pushing, until we turned the corner and got back to the Flats. At that point, Katherine encouraged me to sprint, but I was unable to pick up the pace.

parkrunning with Katherine

parkrunning with Katherine ©4ceejay

About 15m from the line I was able to find a tiny sprint, so I pushed as hard as I could.

It felt like it had been a good time, even though I had not pushed myself for the whole run and I had failed to do a warm up. I asked Katherine our time, but she hadn’t stopped her watch. She reckoned it was under 26 minutes. We then saw Laura, who said that she had recorded 25:20 on her watch. My 5k PB of 25:08 was set 596 days ago in April 2012. The closest that I had come since then was 25:32 earlier this year, so if Laura’s watch was right then I knew I would be in for a Southampton parkrun PB.

Eventually I received a text message and email with my result:

parkrun result 30/11/13

parkrun result 30/11/13

So, not a PB, but very close. I was delighted with how well I had done. I think that I should be able to beat that and am now starting to believe that sub 25 minutes is a real possibility for 2013 😀 I had a good look at the results and was also pleased to realise that I was 3/13 within my gender/age category, which is quite a good result for me.

This morning, I ran my last CC6 of 2013, which was also the final (eligible) race for the Club Participation Award. It was at Badger Farm in Winchester and my recollection of it was that it was quite flat, with the exception of a final long gentle incline to the finish, but when I arrived, several people pointed out that my memory had failed me. As usual, the brilliant local photographer Paul Hammond was on hand to record the action.

CC6 Badger Farm 1

© Paul A. Hammond

CC6 Badger Farm 2

© Paul A. Hammond

CC6 Badger Farm 3

© Paul A. Hammond

First time we passed Hammy

First time we passed Hammy © Paul A. Hammond

Having completed this CC6 twice before, I am quite familiar with the course. It starts off at the top of the hill, so there is a long downhill, before an uphill run, most of which is between two hedges, so it is difficult to overtake. My strategy was to do what I have done on my last few runs, which has been to ignore my watch and run as fast as I can, but to pace myself according to how I feel.

I adore running downhill, so this race starts exactly the way I like it. There is then a long uphill, before a relatively flat section around a field before running sandwiched between two fences for quite a long section. I could see Kirsty just ahead of me, so I decided to try to stick with her for as long as possible. I knew this would be challenging as she set a fantastic PB at parkrun yesterday, but I didn’t think it was an entirely unrealistic goal.

When we returned to the main starting field, I could still see Kirsty about 10m ahead of me, and I was feeling surprisingly good. paul managed to catch some photos which really show just how much I was enjoying the race:

CC6 Badger Farm 4

© Paul A. Hammond

CC6 Badger Farm 4

© Paul A. Hammond

CC6 Badger Farm 6

© Paul A. Hammond

I didn’t dare to look back to see who was behind me to how close they were, I just wanted to keep pushing to finish the race as quickly as possible. I knew that catching Kirsty was unlikely, but I wanted to try to match her pace. Unfortunately, I couldn’t quite manage that, but I kept pushing up the hill.

CC6 Badger Farm 7

© Paul A. Hammond

CC6 Badger Farm 8

© Paul A. Hammond

CC6 Badger Farm 10

© Paul A. Hammond

Final uphill slog

© Paul A. Hammond

Eventually, I reached the finish line. I was the 6th LRR lady and in 37th place overall, which I think is my highest ever finish in a CC6 race.

Garmin data for the race: http://connect.garmin.com/activity/411084453

CC6 Garmin data Badger Farm