Welcome to my Blog!

A bit about me... I love setting strong running goals, pushing hard, meeting people equally passionate about running and encouraging others through the tough days.

I love the escape time running gives me, to de-clutter my head, muse over things and take in the fresh Warwickshire country air. I am a firm believer in what you put in, you get out.... and nothing can be more satisfying than that post-run/race feeling, shared with friends (especially when followed by a large glass of Carmenere!)

Some of my proudest moments;

- When Ladies Captain at Kenilworth Runners, part of the winning Masters team at the Warwickshire Cross country champs 2012
- Winning the Tempo Events Ilmington Series Vets prize 2015/16
- Setting up Run Warwick and putting organising the very successful 12 Miles of Christmas Events

Monday, 5 March 2018

There’s ..snow business like Mo business

It had been quite an unusual few days of inclement weather. If you needed to get out and run (and some of us, even non-Marathon training, still really do), fiercely icy winds meant extra grit (and layers).  Thursday brought snow... a good dollop of it... and then there was even more on the Friday. I was getting anxious about travel to London for the inaugural Vitality Big Half.  Created by London Marathon Events Ltd, The Vitality Big Half was billed as ‘a new one day festival centred around the half marathon, aiming to be truly global and uniquely local in a celebration of the wonderful cultural diversity of the great city of London.’  Well, with that organising, and elite runners like Sir Mo Farah fronting the field, what runner could resist!

There had been several cancelled races pop up on my social timeline, including my local Warwick Half, the Leicester 10km and every nearby Park run I can think of. An email from the race organisers confirmed the route was snow-free - so it was GAME ON.  My transfer back to Kenilworth Runners was just confirmed on 1st March, so I borrowed a Kenilworth Runners vest from a club mate in the village (where I was marooned) to wear come Sunday!

Sunday morning greeted London with fresh blue skies, and at the Tower Hotel, chosen because of its close proximity to the start area on Tower Bridge, swarms of runners were hustling around the breakfast area. Pinned up, shoe tagged and layers adorned, I set out to join a field of around 15,000 runners, minus those stuck up north in snow.  It was nice to hear the organisers had allowed runners who couldn’t attend, could record their own 13.1 miles and claim their medal with the Strava evidence.

Right. Now to it. There was a delay as the different waves surged forward from different converging roads near the bridge, but we were entertained by top tunes including Mr Brightside and London Calling whilst marshals darted about collecting disrobed bin bags and jumpers...then we were counted down.  The route passed through the boroughs of Southwark, Tower Hamlets, Lewisham and finished in Greenwich with a ‘Vitality Big Festival’ showcasing International cuisine and music to reward the weary runners.  

Now most road races I’m pretty zoned out, trying to hold onto a decent pace so my memory of details around me are very random and patchy... but some parts I can recollect. 

  • A chance passing of Sir Mo himself as he came out of Canary Wharf, in a lead pack of 3 and us outbound runners  cheered him on as we passed.
  • A mile long tunnel about 2 miles in... the Limehouse Link Tunnel to be precise. I don’t think I’ve ever run through quite such a long one!
  • Cobbles along Wapping High Street
  • Over the Tower Bridge at the 7.5 mile point... (below)
  • A sign at mile 10, saying ‘It’s only a Park Run to go’
  • The fantastic crowds in Lewisham cheering for the final mile...
  • The Cutty Sark greeting us in the final stretch

Would I recommend the Vitality Big Half?... Yes!  In the run up to the London Marathon, it’s a great warm up for the main event.  Great T-shirt, unusual medal and the rare opportunity to share a course with the International Elite in a much loved City.  The course had some minor challenges...the cobbles and incline from the tunnel exit but I can’t really grumble about 525 feet overall elevation gain.  My time was 1:53:19... a bit quicker than the Kenilworth Half the previous September (1:54:37) and close to the Warwick Half the year before that (1:52:52).  Seem to be a bit stuck in a groove, but onwards to Berlin Half next.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Second Place :o) ..and a good week.

Well this week, was a good week. Training going well, and although the JD plan said 70% of highest mileage week..ended up doing almost 50.. when I thought it was 45! I think it must have been the double. I think building in a double at least once a week will be my only way of keeping the mileage up, and next week will be one of the 100% max mileage weeks(!) *mama (sucks thumb)*

I did what I thought was the prescribed 1km intervals in the week, alongside fellow club mates doing 200s and 400s (they were told to 'ignore' me! Lol!) I really enjoyed the session and managed to stay at least 10secs within the target time.. and the drive up and down Stoneleigh was undulating - especially up and over the bridge so I didn't think it would be easy. What I hadn't read is that the session should have included 10km AFTER the intervals... I just didnt read that bit, and after initially feeling pleased with my efforts - I then felt the session was a big fat FAIL. But then, weighing it all up - maybe the extra mileage I did in the week was enough to make up for this 'missing 10km'..although I just want my body to be doing the right things to gear up for my best time possible in Snowdon. Am I expecting too much of myself - punishing myself for not paying attention to a plan like it is Gospel. I mean people have to work, have to fit plans into their life, the plans have 'fat' built into them for possible injury and just 'life'...so yes it was still a good week. This was definitely made smilier by a 2nd female place in a local race which I didn't exactly plan for. Thats probably the reason why. I was relaxing Friday night.. watching late night TV, drinking wine, with the vague plan on entering on the day. Found myself waking up early...probably not even that well hydrated, drinking coffee and getting my kit together. So this was mainly XC... but the ground was dry, so I opted for my normal Lunar Glides.. comfort was paramount! I did a bit of a warm up, a couple of kilometers just to warm the legs. So after a briefing - which scared the shit out of me, because the words 'Look after each other' seemed to echo around my head.. steep hills and the fact my friend who runs 34 minute flat 10kms, won the race in 52mins on the last race of the Series (this was the 3rd..) So we started off on the road line - myself and about 40 or so others... including what looked like a very quick lady (you can just tell these things)...who pushed in front of my female lead after about a half km or so. I had it in my head - I dont normally lead, this was bound to happen, and with the course ahead, plenty of time to move back ahead. I guess I really dont believe I am 'in that place' in the leading female position yet. Anyway - another girl pulled ahead of me as we pushed around a corner and up the first steep hill. And this was not just an 'undulation'...this was a HILL. Almost as steep as the last hill I faced in the Hilly 100 relay race, and that almost brought tears to my eyes steep! So I remember Rich's words 'it doesnt make much difference at this point if you reserve a bit - as there is a good downhill to make up for it'... but I had been doing tons of hill training, and I found it 'OK'... challenging, but not scary. I pushed ahead of the girl that initially passed me, but the other was finding this hill 'OK' too.. and she looked like she had more muscle strength in her legs.. so I kept a safe distance between us - using my arms to power up but short strides and quicker turnover. We got to a flatter part where I pushed ahead of the guy who had been shoulder to shoulder with me... and then up the second section of the hill (it was not over yet!) Then finally the descent ... like a surfer caught in the perfect wave, I went with it quickly, and almost wanted to cry out with the fun of it... quick down through woodland, roads, not looking around, keeping the other girl in range. It was a really enjoyable section until reaching around the 6-7km point where we followed a trail to a grassy hill which steepened, and I could see the runners 200m or so ahead all slowing to a walking pace up to the summit! OK the other lady could not be seen behind me (I never normally look behind in a race - but as there could be a walking section I thought I would bend my rules!) So OK I just had to take this with as much energy as I had left - after this it would be downhill to the finish. My quads were pushing exhaustively and I just looked ahead to see what the others were doing... walking. I thought I would run/walk/run to try and break up the pain but kept an eye on how far the other lady was behind.. she was running - but a good minute or so behind. Finally it was coming to an end... the top of the hill - a corner and the road went down... muscles released and my lungs relaxed.. then a kissing gate (slammed this shut) a quick field - and again - and I could see the 1st place girl almost one kissing gate ahead.. and I could not hear the one behind me going. I tried to move up on her... but she was as strong as me, I guess the addrenalin of being in first is more powerful than fighting to get there... but I gave it everything I could until the final kissing gate and the field to the line, where I was given a shout of well done 2nd female from my club-mates! Wow what a seriously enjoyable race... a thinned out field, a tough course but NO stitch and 2nd place and the training is making me stronger :)

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Serious Training - Lessons learnt

So almost at the end of week 15 - and starting to feel the lactate heaviness in my legs now.. but a week-end of serious 'recy'ing' the Snowdon route and do my long run on a 19 mile section of it, incorporating the first two hills. Travelling along the winding mountain road early on Saturday morning, I was concerned about my running on these blind corners, being exposed to the traffic as well as the elements... and this was a typical Welsh drizzly morning. Wearing my racer-back vest top and capris - I looked nervously at the fully weather-protected walkers, covered in Gore-tex jackets and hoods, large rucksacks and over-trousers! I did have my thin Montane ligthtweight luminous jacket in case the wind was too harsh. The plan was to do 19 miles and I was dropped off just before the point of the actual start of the Snowdon marathon, a mile or so just outside Llanberis... I started off quickly.. best plan is just to do it (as Nike says!) So started up the first incline which was a really pretty route through Pen y Pass winding through rolling fields of very bemused looking sheep who seemed to be staring at my mad little scurry through their Country.. also the odd cluster of tents just off the road with hikers just awaking to the smell of coffee and camp-fire bacon smells wafted over in my path.. as the incline was starting to get steeper but a gradual creeping up steepness, and I could only see up to the next bend and then beyond where the road curved back around again - but not how high the road climbed as anything further was shrouded in mist... it was just a case of letting the pace slow and digging in. It was getting tougher and tougher despite the very inspiring views.. but then a beacon of hope after around 8km a shiny white YHA which seemed to be the top of the road as I could see the cars parked opposite were disappearing down the other side. YES - the top.

Here is my biggest lesson... for this race... dont get carried away at the this point...its a MARATHON. I let my legs go full steam ahead as I have done in shorter races with a steep descent, trying to make up for the slowing pace up the hill before. Big mistake, and this caught up with me later on... so although I enjoyed this (a lot!) Especially as I was passing walkers at some pace... I knew there may be some serious runners out on the road - making their own way to the Fell Race which was happening later on in Llanberis.. I had to show them what I had! (What show offs we runners can be! :)) So this downhill went on and on for around 12km in total and as it flattened... so did my pace. My buttocks were starting to ache and I thought the downhill pace may be in there.. but this section of the route was the prettiest of all - looking down on a very pretty lake then making my way through a woodland covered section of road, with twisty tree trunks.. the breeze which had been quite cold on the steep decline was now evening out to a very pleasing cloak. I continued with only the odd car passing, and started wondering where Pete would catch up with me ..it wasnt long before I saw a very familiar looking runner coming the other way (thank God I was starting to drive myself mad with my usual musings and struggling with the running now).. but he said 'hiiiii!' and carried on!!! What?!? I thought he was going to run with me! I carried on a bit annoyed at this... but then heard his familiar breathing behind me.. as he caught up the time now went a lot quicker - up to the village of Beddgelert, and then out on the second long slow hill... which really caught my pace by surprise! It really slowed.. despite not being the steepest hill I had ever faced, but Pete who was quite fresh and encouraging kept me pushing into it. We got up to the village of Rydd Ddu and the road flattened out as we made our way out to the Snowdon Ranger and lake beyond which the car was parked... my pace returning (thank God!) I even did some strides at the end... but there were definite lessons to be learnt on this run! My fuelling seemed to work fine - and no stitch which was the BEST thing!! But I think I really need to ease up on that first downhill.. and the race really seems to comprise of a number of distinct sections. It will be easier with a field of runners around me - and more training in the legs, plus the taper.. and I will have to save something for the final hill... but I feel a lot more confident.

My pacing on this run - not quite as even as Amsterdam... this is not going to be the same sort of marathon in any shape or form.. I will have to really think about this..

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Back on a plan...and it feels good!

... a bad patch with running, an unfinished race, stitch, feeling what is the point with these tough goals, I mean what really is the point. Friends gained and lost and the real ones, my fellow Kenilworthians, always there, always supportive. I feel I lost my way a bit... the harsh heat recently, a skin rash from heat, a fall in nettles and stinging sweat in grazes... just an exhaustive business and the rewards for it... were not coming. The mileage going up, building up the ever important base for the plan to start, so I could build in more sessions with different benefits... it was hard going. My hydration levels were probably not good either, it teaches you to be on top of the game... respect the conditions and prepare. So a couple of 'not so good' races... a 6 mile in heat with several strong ladies after building up in my head that I could be in a strong finishing position...only knocking a minute off last years time. People saying knocking any time off is good - but not to me as I knew I had raced better. Then another race where I get stuck behind a pack - the frustration of not getting out strongly enough - but it just didnt work for me on that day... again high expectations and the delivery was poor. Then the third and final blow... evil stitch at the 7km point on a race I thought could ease the wounds of the previous two.. I was going well - encouraged by a voice behind me... someone pushing me on, telling me to pass others and as I did I found the strength - the racing strength I had buried down inside my aching heavy-miled legs, to pass more and then more.. The stitch almost took my breath away and I groaned as I couldnt fight it.. it slowed me to a stop and I stood on the side bending over - another voice behind passing my sorry stopage, said 'you're better than that!' It really hit a nerve... I knew I was. I had never stopped and given up - but I walked over to the Finish to cheer in a fellow runner and good friend... and that was my justification - stitch had stopped my chance of redemption of another PB. It was what I thought would make it all better...but it taught me something. I needed more time and I needed to do it properly before taking another shot... then the rewards really would come. It was almost at the best time as well - just as the Jack Daniels 16 week marathon plan started. At last a PLAN - I can take a plan as gospel - I mean almost religiously follow a plan and get the confidence from doing everything in it. It was starting to all settle my mind. A good week at work following a tough time and sresses there too... and I was on the plan. WEEK 1 - involved the 3 key ingredients I will be building in every week now... TECHNICAL, TEMPO and LONG RUN. Technical this week - km intervals.. tough and not quite at pace (only 10 seconds or so short - and can put that down partly to obstructions on the path)... Tempo... a 7.5 mile club run.... very encouraging as I was able to push at a good pace the whole distance, and tomorrow the long run which has built in different paces. It feels like it really is the start of something strong again.. my affair with running is resumed and feels right. Made more exciting by a run in almost tropical rain conditions in the week - one of the most enjoyable recovery runs I have ever done... waves (literally!) splashed over me from cars on the road - drivers laughing as I raised my arms up and enjoyed the total submergance in water 'wooping' like an excited cheer-leader! I have never been wetter or with as big a grin on my face.... enjoying the fact maybe the car driver that thought he had annoyed me could see me almost ecstatic from the shower he gave me and the ankle deep splashes along the road. Then tonight - new tunes on my I-Pod (which I thought had shorted out from the rain in the week!) I was really enjoying my new music downloads and singing out loud along to them - not caring - not caring if I was heard (probably out of tune!!) I'm ready for the next week, if it is half as good as this one!

Friday, 25 June 2010

Secrets of Success

Tonight I learnt from the legendary Jack Daniels... 5 elements of success for a runner. I believe I have the five...
Ability - getting there, but I think I have more of a 'long distance' frame
Motivation - bags of it... and no distractions
Opportunity - belonging to a running club and with many local races and beautiful places to run nearby, I have this
Training - I think of all the criteria, this could be where I need some help - most of it is what I believe from experience works, and trying different things... but trial and error is what the experts recommend
LUCK! Well it seems that other than avoiding injury, and getting all the ingredients of training right for improvement, apparently this could be another competitor's misfortune in a race that puts you in advantage... this had happened a couple of times now, and it does help when the Ladies field is thin... and you are one of the few serious ones.

Thats the thing I do feel like I am one of a few female of the species - taking this 'seriously'... especially at my age, when I guess the majority are sprogging up or going down the career route. But in the interval training last night, I was one of 4 ladies doing the session - about 15 men (3 of us were probably about halfway up the pack pace-wise). Most of the women in the club had decided on an 'easy 4 miler' on one of the familiar routes... I guess this is what separates the 'women from the girls' - I understand it is hard... it hurts... and after all, maybe for them running is about 'me-time' and its not about serious racing...which is their choice at the end of the day. But then you get the moaners...'I don't seem to be getting any faster'... Hmmmm.

I have always look up to strong women... I do like to be perceived as determined and strong Sarah Connor or Starbuck type... even Paula (of course), who I look up to. I like it when it rubs off on the others... and I hope our Ladies start getting some prizes to put out alongside the mens.. This running makes me feel energised, sexy, confident and strong. Feeling like this makes me confident when I 'go into battle', so I draw on this 'Sarah Connor' inside, and as soon as the race is over, its Ros again. But this is what works for me.


One of my favourite artists, Van Gogh....'Noon: Rest from Work'. I wish I could have rested at noon.. but I wonder given the temperatures at the moment (which are most unfavourable)...we could demand a siesta?

A siesta (Spanish pronunciation: [╦łsjesta]) is a short nap taken in the early afternoon, often after the midday meal. Such a period of sleep is a common tradition in some countries, particularly those where the weather is warm. The word siesta is Spanish, from the Latin hora sexta – "the sixth hour" (counting from dawn, therefore noon, hence "midday rest").

Well maybe the heat and some hard training had earnt me a rest, but despite my mileage target, I decided to take one this evening. Finding myself 'Home Alone', what did I do..? A couple of year's ago... Bridget Jones? How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days? .....a bit of American Psycho even? A phone call to a relative? A tub of Green & Black ice-cream and a large glass of wine? None of the above... what is happening to me? I sat down with a beautifully steamed salmon and vegetables, to watch 'Jack Daniels, The Art and Science of Running'. No disturbances... OK so I had treated my neglected face to a face-pack before...(which was nice and cooling)... and I did treat myself to ice-cream flavour chewits and a Milky Bar. I am taking this seriously, I think people that don't know me very well, maybe don't get this?

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Intervals with Friends....

Thank GOD!!! The speed is there, the stomach settled, and the motivation is BACK! Having spent a really productive day at work, and getting things organised, Calendars, BBQs, an overdue girly evening planned, an even more overdue trip down to see my Grandpa...and generally feeling I was putting some time in for things that really had taken a back seat, I was raring to go for the evening session. I needed to feel I still had that fast girl inside... the comradery of the club to help push hard, and catching up with a good friend back from hols! We made our way over to the flat, gravelly, narrow (and shaded!) 'Greenway'... where the 400m had been marked out, so we would each head out with similarly paced club members. My friend and I both had demons to burn....she had the week of holiday sins and no chance to burn out for a while, I had a few recent slow, trudgy and demoralising runs...and the need to feel back in control! I held my Garmin in my hand to check our pace and time - by the time the watch had caught up with me (pace wise) we were already about halfway down, and chasing down the leading pack... but the first rep was astonishingly SPOT on target time! More of the same - but the backward reps were slightly easier (very slight downhill on the first half)...
One thing I noticed was how doubled up and 'spent' the fastest group were when they crossed the 400m...almost to the point of wretching.... and the further back in the group you finished...the less it seemed to physically have taken out of them (noticeably anyway)... which made me wonder is it going to get really 'painful' to get better at this..? Do these guys push the pain barrier to the limits? The rewards are there... and i felt GREAT after the session, but Im not going to push any harder than my targets - for the time being anyway. :)

Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Trails, Fails and Tantrums!

I might have mentioned loving running... and also hating it.... but hating it for loving it so much....that is my true love, the road run. Tonight I met my love's dirtier, crueller cousin... 'trail'-er trash!!! Ooooooooooo she was was just sick. I had a hard three days following the hilly long run (which none of my club-mates can quite believe I did - especially this soon before my goal race!) Well some athletes (I am told) start training for target races a year or so in advance! So put that in your Garmin Training Centre and CHART it!! Well I was tired.... I dont know if I expected a 'second' wall to break through again tonight - so slow leady legs suddenly turn to light feathery goodness. I havent felt like this three nights on the go before, and trying to get through this... but getting lost on the over-grown, grassy, sun-belted dry, rocky muddy, rutty, ground with no room for exposed legs swishing through nettles, thistles and other spikey nastiness! I stopped. Started. Stopped. My Garmin was getting p****ed off with me (make your frakin' mind up girl!!!) Not that it matters because I'M FRAKIN WALKING my way through most of this. Please note I have not blamed anyone for this...no-one but myself for just getting so annoyed with it all. I am a control freak when it comes to training and what distances and routes I am doing, so when I was just demoralised that the short grassed trail route I was promised (I didnt even have my Mizuno Ascends on - and I did double and triple check that the person knew the route well) would actually turn into Private Benjamin's worst nightmare... I would have said - nah, I'll do my own thing tonight. These things happen - grasses grow... (radically apparently) - so I let that go. But I still have this big frustrated monster inside... why do we do this? Sometimes trails ARE fun... hell I did the Moreton Morrell Muddness...the Fierce 10 .... even the EXTREME terrain 10km!! But that was social - funny - and on freshly, tapered legs. Maybe I am just too tired? Maybe I just need some rest. Anything's worth a try.