Wednesday 10 December 2014

Start of Cross Country Season

I had my first proper cross country race in 8 years on Saturday (not including the xc relays in November as they were so short)!  

This came the day after a very emotional and draining day on the Friday.  I went out for an early morning run and 400m away I found my cat in the road and he'd been hit by a car and killed.  I am devastated and heartbroken but giving extra love and cuddles to my other cat.  I am now so paranoid every time he goes out though and having trouble sleeping.  

So I got up on Saturday feeling tired and drained but trying to put it out of my mind just for a couple of hours.  

I actually ran really well and was pleased with how I did.  I started off fairly steady and was in about 10th place after 1km.  I then picked off a few girls in the first lap and heading out onto the 2nd lap I was now in 3rd place.  I stayed here and ran with 2nd place.  About 1km from the end we were approaching a short sharp downhill and I felt she was stuttering so I went to go past her only I hadn't looked ahead and seen the sharp left turn at the bottom!  I overcooked it and skidded to a stop at the bottom, went wide then by the time I turned left and up a short sharp hill she had a gotten a gap on me.  I then had to recover myself from this and the gap grew a bit more.  By the time I started to close it down it was too late.  I sprinted with the last 100m but couldn't quite get to her!  Really pleased to finish 3rd and feel there is a lot more there.  With a few more races, more confidence and not making stupid mistakes I'll get better.  I really enjoyed this and looking forward to doing some more.  

Wednesday 26 November 2014

Conwy Half

I raced at the Conwy Half Marathon last Sunday.  After my 10k race the week before I'm actually feeling pleased with my performance at Conwy.

I have done nothing but steady running for the last few weeks with no fast effort sessions and my longest run has probably been a little over 10 miles.  I went into this race with a much better attitude than last week.  I had decided that my lack of speed work and just steady running will suit me better for the half than the 10k and to use it as a race to see where I am now when not on form and know that by March all being well and injury free I can see a big difference.

I started off with a girl I've raced against before at half marathon but decided the first couple of kms were a bit quick so I backed off.  I was now in 5th place but feeling ok about it!  The race starts out flattish then goes around the Great Orme which is uphill all the way up for over 2 miles then of course down hill back then flattish back to the finish.  3rd and 4th place were about 150m ahead of me by the time we got to the Orme.  I took it fairly steady going up and ran within myself.  2 men caught me and were breathing hard.  Every time we hit a flat bit I would overtake them then they would come past me going up the steep bits - all the time breathing hard!  As soon as we hit the down hill I just let myself go and dropped them!  Half way down I caught 4th place and flew past her which was a really good feeling.  I didn't put the brakes on once going down and my feet were slapping the ground.  I could see I was catching 3rd place so just focused on her.  Onto the flat and at the 9 mile mark I caught her.  I ran with her for a bit as I wondered if I had just had a better down hill part and if she was still feeling good.  I listened to her breathing for a bit and decided that she was in pain and it was time to pick it up!  

I had a good last couple of miles and picked off a couple more men.  So I finshed in 3rd and was just 60s behind 2nd (who beat me by just over 60s at last weeks 10k)!  I was really pleased and feel there was more there but I ran the race right for me with a strong second half.  It made such a nice change for me to do a fairly hilly race as so often I pick races that are flat to try and get a fast time. 

Thursday 20 November 2014

Racing Unfit

I hate racing when I'm not fit!!  In the past I would only race if I was 100% fit or there abouts.  This year though I've tried to do a few races knowing I'm not in the best shape (far from it) and hope that I will be stronger mentally from doing this. 

My first unfit race was the National Cross Country Relays on 1st November  I wasn't too bothered about not being fully fit as it was so short (just 3k) so I reasoned that it was 39k shorter than my favoured distance of marathon running and it was a fun event and a chance to race with and meet some new team members of my new club Stockport Harriers.  I was quite pleased with how I ran.  I haven't run a cross country race for over 8 years and the course was very undulating, twisty and very uneven under foot.  I was a bit of a wimp in places and very stuttery with my stride length!  I need to do a lot more off road, technical training runs!  I was on the 2nd leg and managed to hold the 5th place that the first leg runner had come in at.  Overall we came 6th which was a good result.

I then raced at the Leeds Abbey Dash 10k on 16th November.  Originally when I'd entered this I was hoping to be in pb shape but after the injury and break I had to accept that this wasn't going to be.  I also got asked to represent the North of England which I didn't want to turn down as I've been asked a few times and its always clashed with a marathon in the past.  I was gutted to be in such a high caliber race knowing that I wouldn't be at full fitness as I would really  have liked to go against the other girls knowing that it could bring out my best.  During the race I started off too fast!  The 1st km was a touch quicker than my 5k pb time and normally this wouldn't feel too quick I would just know I needed to slow down, this time it really hurt!  I had 3km of pain before settling down.  To be honest I lost my  head a bit because so many girls had gone past me and I felt like crap!  I settled into a pace that by 7km I felt I could probably run a half marathon at the same pace!  My finish time was as expected with current form but I was gutted to finish 29th.

Tuesday 28 October 2014

Enforced Break

I haven't written for a while!  I went on holiday with my mum and sis to Lanzarote for a week with a hope to get some end of season warm weather training in.  I went running on my second to last day and pulled my calf muscle.  

I didn't think it was too bad and with a couple of days off it would be ok but that wasn't to be.  After a few attempts a running I ended up having 10 days off from running and then took the decision to take my end of season break now rather than at the end of November as originally planned.  This then meant missing the 10 mile race I had planned in Twickenham on 19th October.  

I'm seeing the positive side to this - it now means that I will get a full cross country season in and be fitter for the earlier cross country races in December and January than I would have been if I'd had the later break. 

Saturday 27 September 2014

Warrington English Half Marathon

I ran in the Warrington English Half marathon last Sunday just 1 week after finishing 2nd at the Lake Vyrnwy Half.  Originally Lake Vrynwy was to be my target race with an aim to win and hopefully a pb and then do Warrington Half a week later with an aim to hopefully win but not worry about the time and enjoy it.  With having a cold leading up Lake Vrynwy I was happy with my position of 2nd and my time which was slower than originally planned.  So I then decided that perhaps I could try and target a fast time at Warrington instead.

Although I have done this race for the last 2 years I had forgotten how its not really a course for a fast time.  Lots of long drags that aren't too steep but enough to slow you down!  Its also got some twisty parts too.  After a couple of kilometres I decided that although I was feeling good (and in the lead) that a fast time wasn't going to happen.  

I really enjoyed this race.  For most of it I ran with 3 other men and they helped me stay focused to not let them get away from me.  

I finished in 1st place for the 3rd year running and was 8th over all including the men.  My time although wasn't fast it wasn't too slow either (78.58) and is the fastest I've done at this race. 

A really good atmosphere and well organised race.

It was also quite a boost to see my picture in Athletics Weekly!

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Lake Vyrnwy Half

I've been looking forward to racing at the Lake Vyrnwy Half Marathon as its a race I've wanted to do before but didn't fit in with what I was doing.  So when I woke up on Wednesday morning with a really sore throat which then developed into a full blown cold as the day went on I was gutted.

I spent Wednesday, Thursday and Friday resting in between work and dosing up on vit C, echinacea and lemsip.  By Saturday I was starting to feel a bit better but not great.  Sunday morning I woke feeling really wiped out.  I was in two minds whether to race.  In the end I decided I'd only sit at home regretting it if I didn't do the race and if I had a bad one it would be better than not bothering so off I went!

Its an afternoon start so at least I didn't have to rush around!  When I got there and went for a jog warm up my legs actually felt quite good.  The race started and I ran just behind the lead girl.  I stayed with her for about 5/6k but although my legs felt good my breathing was all over the place and my throat felt really dry.  I had to back off a bit but felt happy just to be doing the race.  

Apart from not feeling at my best I really enjoyed the race.  I had a strong last couple of miles and picked off a few men and finished in 2nd place.  I was surprised to finish in 77.45 as I didn't expect to get much under 80 mins!

I'm so glad I did it.  It the past if I've been ill leading into a race I've normally decided against racing but this shows that as long as you take it easy you are likely to end up with a reasonable result.  I really did enjoy this race and hope to come back next year.  Less than a week to recover now before I do the Warrington Half.  I just hope its enough time to properly get rid of this cold and for my legs to recover.  

Friday 22 August 2014

2 Races in 3 Days!

3 days after the Birchwood 10k and I have the Capenhurst 5k.  I've been looking forward to this race.  Firstly, to see how well I can run a few days after a 10k and secondly because I really want to try and get the course record.  The current course record is the same as my pb which I got a few weeks ago at a Sale 5k race.  Obviously to get the course record means I have to win the race!

As usual, on the start line I look around me to see who's around.  No other girls starting ahead of me so I hope this is good.  The race starts and I try not to get carried away.  After about 400m a girl comes past me but she is breathing really heavily.  I think to myself there is no way she can carry that on breathing like that so I just keep her in my sights.  I run with a group of guys then overtake the other girl at about 2k in.  She's still breathing heavy!  I keep a check on my garmin 1k splits and I'm happy with how I'm running.

I probably eased off a bit for kilometres 3 and 4 but then start to push hard for home with 1k to go.  As I turn the final bend I see the finish clock which is saying 16.43.  I sprint as hard as I can and try to get past another guy who just edges me on the line!  I finished first in 16.49 which was a course record and pb by 7 seconds!  I'm so happy.  

A really good and enjoyable race.  I'm pleased with how I felt after racing 10k on Sunday and think there is definitely more there at 5k.  That's probably my last 5k now for the rest of the year as I start to focus on 10ks and half marathon distances.

Monday 18 August 2014

Birchwood 10k

Sunday morning was the Birchwood 10k.  I've done this race twice before - the last time being 2 years ago when I finished 4th.  I had looked down the entry list the night before and no names jumped out at me but that wasn't to mean I hadn't overlooked any fast girls!

The weather wasn't great - quite windy and occasional showers.  Oh well - its the same for everyone!  

On the start line I started about 2 rows back and had a look around to see what other girls were around.  There were a couple but no one starting right near the front.  The race started and I tried not to start too fast.  The first 5k is now very twisty with some dead turns (they changed the course this year).  Although this makes for a slower course it gave me an opportunity to see who was around!  It was clear early on that no other girls were running very close to me.  I felt really good and ran with a couple of guys picking off a few as the race went on.  

I felt really comfortable running today and well within myself.  Once I knew I was likely to win I didn't push myself as I had plans to race on Wednesday.  It was a shame not to have some competition to really push me but I was also quite glad as its nice to win and I did want to save my legs!

Back home and an ice bath!  I've not done this for a long time!  My 4 month old kitten was most intrigued as its the first time he's seen any water in the bath!  He decided to walk around the edges dipping his paws in until eventually he fell in!  He didn't return!!

Wednesday 13 August 2014

Never Give Up On Your Dreams!

I was lucky enough to have tickets to the final night of the Athletics for the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

I headed up on Saturday morning driving in torrential rain with my friend Claire who'd come up from Essex.  

What a fantastic night with medals for England in all but one of the track events!  

Mens 4x100m Silver, Mens 4x400m Gold, Womens 4x100m Bronze, Womens 4x400m Bronze.

And highlight of the evening for Claire and I was Jo Pavey in the 5000m getting Bronze at 40 years old.  Such an inspiration and giving such hope to the likes of me as a distance runner still hoping to get better!  

Last night I sat and watched Jo Pavey in the European Champs 10000m and win Gold!  Amazing.

It's made me really think about what I want from my running over the next few years.  At 36 I'm still getting pbs at every distance I compete at and I'm very confident that I have a lot more to give in the marathon.  After seeing Jo at 40 racing better than she ever has it has inspired me to not give up on my dreams.  My aim is to get to either the Europeans or Commonwealths in 2018 for the marathon.  For this to happen I really need to start putting in place a way to get my head together to cope with these aims.  As happened in the lead up to London I just let it consume me to the point of exhausting me on race day - I can't let this happen again!

Friday 1 August 2014

Short and Fast!

Two 5k races in my start of shorter racing.  

After two false starts to doing my local Parkrun - first one I intended to do I didn't get a good night's sleep and woke up not in the right mind set so did my effort session instead.  The following week I turn up to do the Parkrun to find it has been cancelled due to an event taking place in the forest!  I had checked the website but obviously didn't look properly!  So I find myself on the start line on 12th July not knowing what to expect at this short distance!  I last did my one and only Parkrun in Delamere in September last year when the course started and finished in a different place.  Whilst warming up I'm asked what time I'm expecting to which I reply sub 18 would be nice!  Last time I was just outside of 18 minutes.  I'm then told that this is quite a bit harder than the old course and getting a sub 18 would be good going!

I start off and there are 5 of us including quite a young kid!  He didn't last longer than 400m thank god as I wouldn't want to be beaten by a kid!   So then there were 4 of us and it felt so hard and fast.  Around 2k to go we were down to two and in the last 1k the eventual winner eased ahead and I had nothing left.  Pleased to finish 2nd (1st woman) in a time of 17.47 beating my course record from last time by 16s!  A good training run!

Two and a half weeks later I head over to Manchester to do the Sale Sizzler 5k.  After the Parkrun I feel ready for the pain that is likely to be there from the start!  It starts with 500m around the running track and with a field of almost 500 runners lining up its congested!  After the 500m around the track you then head out through some gates which with that many runners is quite tight.  A few girls were ahead of me at this point and when my garmin beeped the first km I was a bit faster than planned at 3.10!  I knew this was too fast but by this point I was overtaking men and a couple of girls so although I'd started fast so had many others.  Its a good course once it thins out a bit.  I finished in 2nd place in a pb time of 16.56.  So pleased to get under 17 mins and although over the years I have hardly done any 5k races it feels like a long time coming!  

Speaking to my coach a few days later he slightly told me off for starting so quick even though I explained that if I hadn't I think I would have gotten caught up behind slower runners.  He thinks that I could have done a 16.40-16.45 with a more sensible start.  Well hopefully I'll get that chance in a few weeks time.  

Wednesday 18 June 2014

Sport in the Port 10k

Just 3 weeks after Edinburgh Marathon I decided to run in a local 10k race!  So with 1 week of no running followed by 2 weeks of short steady runs I line up to start the Sport in the Port 10k!  A hot and humid morning but an enjoyable race.  I came 2nd just 17s behind the 1st lady.  I was pleased with how I ran and how my legs felt.  I just had no change of pace.  I couldn't lift the pace to stay with her or change gear at the end in an attempt to catch her.  I did feel like I could go on for several more miles at this pace though!  A sub 36 min effort (35.47) which isn't bad! 

I'm quite pleased as I really didn't know what state my legs would be in.  I had hoped to nip under 36 mins but in all honesty didn't really expect to!  Looking at the results later I hadn't realised that I was 6th overall so only beaten by 4 men!  

Friday 6 June 2014

Edinburgh Marathon

Leading up to the race lots of people commented at how much more relaxed I seemed compared to how I was before London!  I had a time of between 2hr 40 and 2hr 42 in mind which was several minutes slower than I was aiming for in London but definitely well within me.  If things were going amazing on the day and I was on for 2hr 40 with 5k to go then if I had anything left the aim was to try and get under 2hr 40.  

Unfortunately the weather was awful!  Torrential rain before the race started and gale force winds!  

I had an elite start and was in the front pen!  I felt quite special!  To start with I ran with a group of 7 including Vince from my club with a similar time in mind and a French girl.  My km splits were looking good and I was staying sheltered from the wind.  Then they started picking up the pace and I had a decision to make.  To stay with them and risk running too fast too soon and maybe dying in the last 10k or to ease up.  Looking behind me there were just 1 or 2 runners dotted behind me and no groups.  After around 10k I decided that it would be suicidal to stay with them and let them go.  I now had to run on my own and into the wind.  

I was currently in 4th place and 1st Brit and I just needed to hold this position.  I started to lose my head around 15 miles as my km splits were way out and I let it get to me.  Another British girl went past me and this played on my mind too.  My calf (which has been niggling for a few weeks) was also playing on my mind and by now it was feeling tight (was probably slightly in my head though).  I stopped to stretch and wasted about 45s during which time about 5 guys gradually went past me.  I then got going again and just kept telling myself to get to 20 miles.  

Edinburgh is an out and back course with more out than back and I saw Vince still with the group with the French girl coming back.  It took me about 2 minutes to get to the turn around so they were now about 4 minutes ahead of me.  Once I'd gone past the turn point and then gone through a country park estate I started getting back into my running - probably helped by the wind now being with me.  When I got to the magic 20 miles I started to really pick it up.  My turnover was much better and I felt like I was running well.  Several spectators were shouting out how strong I was looking which really helped spur me on.  I now started picking off lots of men. 

At 2 miles to go I then saw the the other British girl was in my sights and I was catching her quite quickly.  By now all I was thinking was that I wanted to be the first British girl and play it safe.  My first thoughts were to catch up to her and sit a few metres behind then out kick her in the last 400m but as I was catching her I then saw Vince.  I couldn't believe it !  I ran past Vince with a 1 mile to go and realised I was running too well so went past the other girl like I meant it and kept going until the finish!  

My time was a disappointing 2hr 48 but all things considered with the weather it wasn't going to be a pb day.  In the end the French girl was only just over a minute ahead of me.  It turns out that she beat me in La Rochelle 2 years ago by 6 mins!  The first 3 girls were all between 9 and 10 mins outside of their pbs so that says something!

As soon as I crossed the line I was nabbed by drug testing!  My first ever drug test - I feel like a real elite now!

Thanks to the organisors of Edniburgh marathon for my accommodation, race entry and for the support in the weeks leading up to the race.  It was a great event and one I hope to do again in the future.

Wednesday 23 April 2014

On Reflection!

A few days of thinking I don't ever want to do a marathon again and then I conclude that actually I do and I want to do one now!  I have now managed to get an elite entry for the Edinburgh Marathon on 25th May!  

So back to training!

Friday 18 April 2014

London Marathon

I am my own worst enemy at times!  Everything in training has gone so well and I've coped with putting a big block of training in then to let things get to me in the weeks leading into the race.  

All my life of running and racing I have suffered very badly with nerves and putting pressure on myself.  To a large part I have managed to almost get over this but every so often it rears its ugly head.  In the few weeks leading into London I got myself worked up with a time I wanted to aim for.  It was in my capabilities but at the very top end and could only happen on a good day when everything went right and I had the race of my life!  Its good to have these aims but I think I spent too much of my days playing it over in my head. 

As a result I was slightly less fresh in the final week of easy training.  Race day was hot and I kind of thought to myself its unlikely to be a day for an amazing time but felt I could deal with this.  I never really felt as good during the race this time as I did last year.  Last year up until the point my foot crippled me at 17 miles (ended up with a stress fracture) I actually felt so good and comfortable.  This time it felt like a slog.  By 18 I was feeling light headed and started being sick.  I tried to keep going  but by the time I got to 20 I just couldn't.  

Is it London that I'm jinxed with?  Is it the pressure I put on myself?  Either way I'm extremely disappointed in myself.  I know I'm better than this.  

Wednesday 26 March 2014

Wilmslow Half Marathon

It was the Wilmslow Half Marathon at the weekend and I've been looking forward to this race.  I finished 2nd last year taking off 1min 30 from my pb.  I was in better shape this year too and especially after pbing at the Trafford 10k I was hopeful of a good time.

I woke up on the morning of the race with a bad tummy but put it down to race nerves.  I then didn't feel too great before the race but decided it was better to run and see how I feel than to not try.  

For the first couple of miles I felt good.  I was running with Julie (who won last year) but decided to let her go as although my legs felt good I didn't want to start off too fast and slow down in the second half.  Around 8 miles my stomach started cramping and although I felt good in my legs it was a big distraction.  In the end I finished 3rd in 77.06 and just 3s outside of my pb.  Although I was initially disappointed with my run, to run just outside my pb on a day when I wasn't feeling well is quite pleasing.  

I'm pretty sure its what I had for lunch the day before that didn't agree with me.  I kind of knew at the time so I'm a bit annoyed at myself for eating so badly the day before a race.  Oh well, at least it happened here and there's no way I will be so stupid for London in a few weeks!

Tuesday 11 March 2014

Trafford 10k

I ran in the Trafford 10k at the weekend just a week after returning from warm weather training.  A very pleasing result - 8th (in such a good standard field) and 24s off my pb.  Very happy to do this in the middle of a marathon build.  It was hard work though - I felt really out of my comfort zone (which is always a good thing to do).  I'm sure 10ks never used to feel that hard from the start.  I ran even splits too so it wasn't like I went off too fast.

I'm now looking forward to the Wilmslow Half Marathon and then London Marathon!

Wednesday 26 February 2014

Final Week in the Sun

In my last week of training out here in Spain.  I've had a really good 3 weeks of hard and consistent training and now in week 4 I'm taking it slightly easier to let the hard work take effect.  Dan has arrived yesterday so some light training with a bit of sightseeing!  

A special thanks to Dave and Cathy (my coach and his wife) who have been out here with me and put up with me for the 4 weeks!  They have been really good on insisting that they cook most of the time which is fine by me especially as Dave is an amazing cook and could almost be a professional chef if he wanted to have a change of career!

I've really enjoyed the running out here - lots of dirt track/gravelly trails, a few hills if you want them and even a 400m running track!  That was a surprise - just like an old school cinder track and great for my shorter effort sessions. 

Trafford 10k to look forward to on my return.  I expect to get my arse kicked here as I've seen there's quite a few fast girls entered and with my marathon legs I'm not sure I will have the speed but it will be good all the same.  

Monday 10 February 2014

Warm Weather Training

One week down in a four week training block in Mojacar in Spain.  Last week is the biggest week of running I've ever done and I'm pleased to be feeling good!  I had some tiredness during my running on Wednesday and slightly on Thursday but by Friday my legs were feeling good again.  I put the tiredness down to the 5k pace session I did on Tuesday afternoon. Bit of a shock to the system putting some faster work in and I think it took a lot out of me!  

Its also very undulating out here with most of the roads to run on being trails.  Its taken most of the week to get used to this but I feel stronger already!

Weather here has been hot but the wind can really get up.  Yesterday I had a 2 hour 30 run to do and the route I ran started off quite hilly. Just as I was starting to feel good on the flats and with 50 mins still to run I turned a corner and it was like running into a brick wall the wind was that strong.  It had just come out of nowhere!  We have now had high winds all through the night with tables, chairs and bbqs being blown all over the place. Even the car wash at the petrol station down the road has collapsed !

Wednesday 22 January 2014

Helsby Half Marathon

Helsby Half Marathon on Sunday and during the week before I was unsure whether to do it.  I don't enjoy racing when I'm not at least 90% fit and right now I'd put myself at about 60% fit!  3 weeks of training after my post marathon break and also not easing up one bit at all before the race I wasn't sure it was a good idea.

I then decided that I should race as it will let me know where my current base level is and it all helps towards race fitness.

I had terrible start.  They've changed it from when I did it 4 years ago.  Now you start in a very narrow line up in the car park and do a few tight turns before getting onto the main road.  In hindsight I should have started a bit nearer to the front and over to the left (which I didn't).  I ended up shuffling along for the first 100m or so.  1km in and I was still overtaking people who I should have been in front of from the start.  Once into the race a few people were shouting that I was in 2nd place.  This was fine by me but I didn't see the lead girl at all so I presumed she must be someone super fast who was going to beat me by about 5 minutes!  

I had a fairly relaxed and comfortable run (shouldn't really feel that when you are racing but that's what not feeling that fit did to me).  In the end I finished in 2nd and was only just over 1 minute behind first place.  I'm a bit frustrated with myself as had I known she wasn't that far ahead I really would have put a bit more effort in.  Overall it was good to do it and I'm pleased with my result from just a few weeks training.  

Chester Tri Club had some great results from members with lots of pbs.  The guys I coach at the club track session ran really well - showing that their consistent training is paying off!

Saturday 11 January 2014

Feeling Broken!

I had a great time snow boarding in Whistler although the we could have done with a bit more snow in the second week!  A really great place and hope to go back again one day.  

Home now and after saying good bye to my nan, then Christmas I'm now back into proper training and preparing for London Marathon.  But my body feels broken - everything hurts.  I must be getting old!  I thought breaks were supposed to be good for you but right now I wish I'd just carried on hard training!