22. Perils of the Path

Bit of an exciting week has been had. Well, I say exciting…I think it is exciting, or at least interesting, but you may not. Read on, my friends, and see for yourself…

Run 34 – Tuesday morning was a quick dash round a few roads as I hadn’t accounted for a) having to be at work extra early to meet someone  and b) having to de-ice my car so much. But something is better than nothing.

Walk 2 – I had a day off work on Wednesday, and went to London with Guest Walker 2 to try and walk parts of the marathon route. I thought it would be good to do at some point before April, to try and get my bearings and work out vaguely where I’ll be going. I like to know these things. We decided to head for Greenwich Park and find the start so I could see where this ordeal would begin. It was ridiculously foggy, but quiet and beautiful, even at 11.45am when this ‘what I call’ lovely (soz, Miranda moment) picture was taken. Well at least it was quiet until we came along. 20131211-235722.jpgWe did a 3 mile circuit round the park and back out to the Cutty Sark which is also on the route. After lunch we headed for the finish line in St James’ Park, and worked backwards along the route following it all the way back to Tower Bridge, and then back to London Bridge again which was around 6 miles. So we walked about a third of the total route, and I feel like I’m piecing the route together. Not bad for a couple of girls having a chilled out day off.

Non-Run – Thursday morning I woke up bright and early (5am to be precise, don’t know why) and ready for action. It wasn’t till I looked out the window and saw how icy it was on the paths that I realised it really wouldn’t be sensible to try and run. I’ve never felt gutted about the weather stopping me from being able to go for a run, until now – it means I think I’m going to have to join the gym to be able to get through the winter months. Oh dear.

New Person – So, the low down on this new person is as follows: basically someone arranged for me to meet a sporty type person (fitness instructor…I think) as they had run the marathon previously, and could probably give some helpful advice. Brill, I thought, sounds…helpful. And it was. Three things to think about in training for the marathon: building in distance, building in variety, and building in fuel. Apparently he’ll tell me more about it next time. It also appears he’s going to be a total hero and write out a training plan or my for after Christmas, and help me out along the way. Amazing! Thanks FI (his name from now on).

Run 35 – Time for a long run on a lovely bright but chilly Saturday morning. After our weekly house pancake session, off I went. It was a great route down around the edge of the city walls and then heading out to Chartham and back. It’s a flat path that runs right by the river the whole way, and very peaceful to run along. However, there were serious perils I encountered along the way – take note, and learn:

People – yes, you lot. Well, most likely not you per se, but human beings using the path. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing the British nod and brief ‘hello’ to those who I pass by. But sometimes there comes the ‘excuse me’ situation where you try to ask discreetly, which is clearly too under-the-breath, so you ask a bit louder and then make them jump and it all becomes a bit of a confusion for a few seconds. Runners, brace yourself, slow down and shout loud and clear. It’s the only way. And then of course you have the competition, fellow runners out enjoying the morning. One girl overtook me and although she was a lot faster, I had her in my sights for ages. Then all of a sudden at a gate she stopped and turned to run back again. Being so focused, I just followed her when I got to the same gate, thinking that was the end of the path. It wasn’t until I started running back and heard my arm (RunKeeper) shouting ‘4 miles’ at me that I clicked – it wasn’t the end of the path! Quickly I turned back again and it was another half mile till I could finally quite literally shout, ‘wahey, I’ve made it to Chartham’. Moral of the story – don’t get distracted by other runners. Keep your eyes on your own prize.

Animals – Oh yes, animals, and it’s not just the dogs off the leads that think it’s fun to run in circles around you. Sheep are also a hazard. A gang of them heading towards you is quite terrifying. And then there is navigating the poo  everywhere that at points makes it hard to see the path.

Kissing Gates – I decided from the start that slippery cattle grids were too much of a risk to run over and I would be using the gates at every opportunity. This was going well until a fellow runner reach the gate at the same time. He went for the gate the same time I did and well…awkward whale alert. And it wasn’t until I was almost done that I saw my choice of gate usage was a good one – two girls were crossing the cattle grid as I came pass and one slipped and went through the bars. Giving first aid wasn’t on my list when thinking about the run this morning (don’t worry, she was fine – more a bruised ego than anything else I think).

It was a good run, and the 1 hour 28 mins it took to do 7.6 miles reflects a much more realistic average time of 11 mins 38 secs a mile compared to last weeks Olympic speeds recorded. Goodo. Onwards and upwards.

20. Milestone

I know this is a few days later than usual. Sorry. It massively frustrates the ‘structure’ inside of me that likes routine and consistency. I’m battling with myself to be able to say that it doesn’t matter if this is later than usual, the world will keep going.

Well, here it is…the week of the milestone:

Run 31 – After being a bit off routine the last few weeks it was good to run on Tuesday. I’ve found a little route that is pretty flat near my house, that just involves having to run back and forth as it is only about 0.8 miles out. Notes for the run went as follows: ‘Average. No, good. Let’s be positive.’ I say no more.

Bed – Our heating and hot water broke on Wednesday night so Thursday’s run was somewhat halted – I was sooo cold I literally couldn’t bring myself to get out of bed. I then promised myself I would run in the afternoon. Work took over and that didn’t happen. The first time since starting training that I’ve properly missed a run. Kind of frustrating.

Run 32 – Friday was ‘M’ (milestone, obviously) day. I was all ready for it. I planned to run a set lap a few times until I’d done 6.2 miles. It had a very gentle incline on one side, and steady downhill back again. Mid-afternoon, good temperature, still just about light (when I started, anyway). Perfect. Off I set, and after a few metres I decide I’m going a bit slower than usual and pick up the pace a bit. By 500m Runkeeper is telling me I’m on 9.5 min per mile. Thought it was a bit odd as that would be uber fast for me and it didn’t feel like I’d sped up that much, so just left it and thought it would settle. By mile 2 it was telling me I was on 6.5 min per mile. This was a little bit ridiculous, and extremely frustrating – this was the one time I wanted it to record properly! By mile 3 is settled and was fine for the rest of it – apparently I ran 6.2 miles (10km) in 1 hour 2 min. I was really excited as that is 3 mins quicker than my 5.5 miles last week. It wasn’t till afterwards I could go back over the GPS route it mapped, and look at the crazy squiggles that I supposed ran (which I didn’t) and that mile 2 was recorded at 5 min 21 secs. Is that a world record? Really annoying as I’m now not entirely sure if I actually ran a 10km. And after all of that! Oh well, it was a good run anyway. Hopefully next week it will be a little more accurate.

Run 33 – Sunday was cold and I got in late the night before after driving back from visiting my parents. Once I woke up to my alarm, learning from Thursday, I knew there were only two possible options – 1: run now, tired, cold and not motivated at all, or 2: run between the end of church and ‘Christmas Day’ with friends in the afternoon, warmed up and committed. Option 2 won out within a nano-second and I stayed in bed a bit longer to keep warm. Back to the actual run…it was alright, nothing special. 2.5 miles (I forget this isn’t normal for a lot of people – in fact, it wasn’t normal for me even 3 months ago). Nice running when the fresh morning chill has been dispersed by the sun creeping through.

So, mission accomplished – run 10 km by Christmas, done. Now it’s going to be fun trying to keep this going when I’m eating more roast dinners in a month than I do the rest of the year.

3. If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail

Disclaimer: Not all posts will be as long as the first few have been! It’s just whilst I get you (and I!) up to speed on what’s been going on…it’s all happened pretty quick!

They say it’s all in the planning. And my life is certainly being planned out until April 13th 2014. The 7 month calendar is coming along nicely and I’ll soon have every hour allocated to sleep, work, running, social life or rest. Literally. Those of you who know me well know I love lists (thanks to mum for instilling this joy in me from a young age – how else are you meant to organise ANYTHING?!) and timetables, tick sheets and schedules – this is an ideal opportunity to put all to good use! I suppose I’m not one to stop doing something to make time for something else; I tend to just keep fitting more in. I’m regularly told by my parents that as much as I would love to, it isn’t possible to do more than 24 hours worth of stuff in a day. Such spoil sports. It may not always be the best idea, but that’s how I roll and its okay at the moment so I’m sticking with it. I’m certainly not someone who can sit still for long, so evenings and weekends are usually full. Before I have a chance to think another week is over and I have no idea where it’s gone. Time flies when you’re having fun.

Something I’m going to have to get used to is being on my own running. I’d rather be with people 99% of the time, so thinking about the hours of being alone is one of the challenges. I’m trying to make it positive though. It’ll be good to get some space from the business of life, and have time to think, let my mind wander, and dream big (though maybe not too big if I end up with another idea like this).

The current plan is to run Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays  before work, and hopefully get in a bit longer run on a Friday or Saturday (depending on my social life), particularly after Christmas as training builds. My aim is a 10km by Christmas, which I’m sure is doable. And you can hold me to that.

Whilst at home last weekend I went to Run to Live to get some proper running shoes. The one thing I don’t mind paying a bit more for is decent shoes – I don’t particularly want to wreck my feet if at all possible. I was filmed running on a running machine, and then the lovely helpful lady looked at how I run (a neutral gait apparently!) and got me some very comfy shoes to fit. Big win.

Run 7 – First time in proper fitting running shoes. I felt like I was flying. Also first sub 13.5 min mile. And I wasn’t even thinking about timing. I was focussed more on pace as I know I tend to start to quickly. The RunKeeper app tells me my average pace every 5 minutes and every half mile, so when I caught it saying ’13 min’ something at the top of the road heading back down the slight hill, I wanted to keep it up. Of course, just as it said it, I got a massive stabbing in my right side, and was sure I was going to keel over. Here was my first ‘wall’! I was having none of it, and kept the pace going whilst trying to breathe through gritted teeth to stop myself from screaming. It paid off – 13 min 27 sec a mile. Boom. Wall 1 was hit and blasted straight through.

Run 8 – This was a short one as I was running late (as usual) and was going up to London so didn’t have much time. I was aiming for a faster mile, and although I certainly started off a bit too quick, I did the mile in 13 min 10 secs. Winner! However this was only due to the fact I knew I was doing 1 mile so not exactly sustainable right now for 26 miles. But we’re making progress.

I think that’s all for now, you’ll be relieved to know! Chow for now.