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' 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 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 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.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

My affair with running....definitely a love/hate thing!

What is it with running? I mean...what IS it? She is like a temptress maybe - a mermaid, a vixen, a filthy whore even?! Someone you can share all your frustrations...take it out on her! (Is it a her...why have I called it 'her'?) She is there, patiently always there... like the perfect Mistress, she will always try to make you feel better, but sometimes its just too hard... you end up resenting her for it.... but she can hurt you more than you've ever known was possible!
Tonight I was resenting her... I was not happy after looking for pretty Summer shoes earlier on, which I felt SHE would ruin! I mean how can I wear these things.. she has made me crave comfort when not striking the ground hard! I AM the typical shoe loving girl... not a 'girly' girl - but I like to show off my hard-worked calves, and enjoy my REST nights with a pretty dress and matching shoes. But she is always there in my mind... always. I plan everything around her.. my days, weeks... and now even further ahead than that! But I also hate her. Tonight - I didnt even want to go out... after starting so slowly last night, and having planned in a long run instead of the normal club night to get my time with her. She had made me feel like this, like I had to be sneaky about doing it tonight... if the others saw my struggle with her, I might give it away. I ended up feeling the others would give me more strength to cope with her in numbers I guess! Well went out fairly well. but then she had her sweaty grip on me. and I slowed... grrrrrrr! Right thats IT!! I fought - I fought with the mental stimulation and chatting with Barry and Richard about beer!! Thats the spirit, IGNORE her, being sociable helped me overcome the mental struggle (was it physical or mental - probably a bit of both) - but I was able to finish feeling back in control. You have to stay in control of this one... she only makes you hate yourself for loving her so much... but sometimes you WILL hate her....its probably those times that make you a better runner.

Monday, 21 June 2010

No Pain, No Gain ...

Very very heavy legs... which after a week of increased mileage, unsurprising, but with a complete rest day yesterday, out of the ordinary! It started off very sluggish - as if I had just hoisted myself out of swamp water having run a hard cross-country race (were my trainers still wet from the Friday the week before? Not possible!) It was a warm evening so maybe the heat was also pushing me back... but this was just trudgy and groany and hard. After a kilometre or so - through quite a popular section with commuters making their way up from a nearby station (I normally like to go quick here as I feel my sport is on show!) ...I was frustrated this wasnt passing easily, but not to give up! I made my way to the canal, and on the flat ground I was able to hit a nice pace, and started easing up slowly. I mused over the day... I agonised over whether I had offended people... I had a moment thinking of my dad and how he would be smiling at me right now, which made me feel much better. I think a positive mental attitude...of not giving up, gritting teeth and powering through sometimes is the only way. Hard for some to comprehend, especially when nothing in their life has given them a unique 'drive' to succeed or survive! I really believe there is a factor there in a lot of successful runners, a strong core and a pain to overcome.... maybe in their life a pain they want to forget, helps to fuel the running. This is something I have thought about a lot...when I feel pain I think of the pain of losing my dad, of how much I would give for another day with him, and I can imagine similar things for others.. the pain of being seen as overweight, the pain of losing someone, of missing something significant in their life? I know how I can use these feelings to my advantage in a race...and dig really deep to not let it get the better of me. I know there are genuinely painful injuries that force a stubborn runner to stop in their avoid running and to take the bench to their dismay. I am absolutely terrified of this happening to me.. I need the running like a drug, to settle my mind and to feel the pain again which takes all other pain away... this sounds rather scary when I read it back but it really is true. Important thing is to know your limits, to know when a niggle is just a niggle and to sensibly get back on track... so far so good - touch wood but the further the training goes the higher the risks I suppose.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Another Inspiring, Hilly Cotswold Long Run.....

Well this run began in the little Cotswold village of Mickleton, heading out to Chipping Camden and on to Snowshill and the Lavendar Farm there... this was another one of the 'Hilly 100' legs, so plan was for me to run it for around 14.4km and then turn round and come back, so completing 18 miles. From the profile of the route it was going to be a long slow inclining outward run, maybe not as good training as doing the downhill at the beginning and then the incline at the end...but I wasn't going to complain! It was a lovely sunny day... my fuel belt a bit annoyingly 'sloshy', and the seal not quite good enough to prevent the odd trickle of water down my leg as it sloshed up.. heading out following the little yellow Hilly 100 stickers where we met junctions. A long slow hill was the first challenge and I felt strong in my legs to deal with it...but it went on..and on....and on a bit more.. but then coming into Chipping Camden, it was nice being met with the hussle and bustle of this beautiful Cotwold tourist trap! Antique shops, tea rooms and lots of limestone... and we strongly ran down the high street to avoid the crowds (feeling a bit of a local celebrity with my mirror shades on and plait swinging violently! After the High street heading out of the town, the most gorgeous collection of cottages... rounded hedges, long long long drives, some of the best kept gardens and just absolutely breathtaking houses!
Carrying on... long quiet roads with no paths, with beautiful views across the fields ... more slow inclines and a darker section with woodland either side of the road...and then a turning on the route to a Lavendar Farm.

Light hazey rows of lavendar, like purple tidal waves lined up either side of the narrow road here up and over past the farm... a tea-room sign advertising 'Lavendar Shortbread', sounded divine right now (nicer than my orange carb gel anyway!) I headed a couple of kms further than Pete to get to my target of 14.4km before turning round... just before the end a steep downhill .....owwwwww (that means I have to do a steep hill after the turn!) But this last section past chickens, more tumbling cottages, a pretty little village centre with picturesque church... and a twisty route through woodland... I stopped the Garmin - took a gel and changed direction. Was I confident about the route back...yes no problem, and the landmarks I enjoyed on the way out all to come again! It was lonely this way round as Pete had headed back after 12km.. just something I would have to cope with in the weeks ahead, but more inspiring routes like this one, is what long runs should be about!

Friday, 18 June 2010

The mascara of Rosso!

If there was ever a thorough test of mascara staying power.. it was on my run this evening... I ran, the mascara didn't! It was that fine misty rain that clings to you, doesn't hit you or render you breathless - but there must have been lots of it as it was pouring down my face but my Bourjois Waterproof Mascara resisted the attack! Very girly concern - but I did have this vision of looking like The Cure when I got back from my little run... I was sweetly surprised. So its my new favourite thing...having had some major fails on this front in the past! The run was refreshing, enlightening and enjoyable... my legs suddenly lighter despite the heavy mileage now building in them. My laces are getting annoying though...far too short and undo easily, so had to stop to tie them (again).

Thursday, 17 June 2010

The lonely road to extra mileage

So I have actually (I think) done my first ever 8 days in a row of running with NO complete rest day... I'm at 24 miles this week, and I need a further 26 to make my target 50... so 18 on Saturday's planned long run... leaves 8. I could do a 4 tomorrow, just recovery pace... and 4 on Sunday. That would mean 11 days straight running... (11!!! That number haunts me!) I can't believe how hard it has been this week to get up to the 50 (well planned - not done yet!) Its going to be the same every week if I want to keep on top of this mileage... lots of lonely time :( The runs with the club are good fun, but I think my long runs have now got to a point that I cannot run with anyone else as they are not up to this distance, and although I love the company I am not going to shorten these. Tonight's club race of 5 miles - I was feeling the 7 previous days in my legs, and I know as Eddie found out, its something that my body will adapt to, but I have also really enjoyed the odd rest day. Overall - its a sacrifice I need to make to get my mileage unless I can work in more doubles to free up a day... but not sure that 'double trouble' will tire me out too much because of my commute and free time.. God this is hard, will extra miles really pay off? I have a niggle down my left shin which I am slightly nervous about, didnt affect my running tonight, but its new... and I don't like that. So tomorrow's run WILL be easy easy eaaaaaaasy.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010


OK so I'm struggling a little on the goal front... mainly as I had some big marathon goals before, and did everything in my power to achieve them. Now I have this little race in Wales, and a 16 week training plan approaching...I'm taking this pretty seriously (as always) as this is going to be a huge step on the way to getting a serious goal PB in London next year. So the mileage, the hills... it will all contribute. But I am finding the 'goal' of the Snowdon marathon is hard to quantify, and I still need an objective there.. I confidently said to a club mate on Tuesday (though God knows where this came from), I will aim to get a marathon PB - even though yes I should allow for about 15 minutes on a flat marathon time. So that is my goal... to beat my 3:41 done on the flat and well supported Amsterdam last year. Talk about two completely different races, but therein lies the challenge. If I go for it..I imagine a huge 'runner's high' and self satisfaction (unless I blow up in training.) As I do not really have many other 'goals' or at least cannot think of any more in my non-runnning life, the running ones are all I want...that and a huge piece of M&S Coffee and Walnut cake after...and big glass of Barefoot wine!! (And a bath full of parma violets!)

Monday, 14 June 2010

Harmonious Living and Running

Do you ever have one of those days when you seem to be on top of everything, I felt super-efficient having organised my work calendar, insurance for new car, other bits and bobs, even tidied my desk, which has moved slightly and 'feels' better facing a different way, like the Feng Shui is working! However I have just looked up Feng Shui and its all wrong in our office (no wonder I feel so unbalanced!) For a start I dont have a wall behind my back, which is supposed to be 'support in your life'. I have no wall. The tables and chairs are definitely in more harmonious positions... but also there is a fax/photocopy machine next to the main office door. This is bad apparently, allowing hot chi energy to move in and out too quick. Who knew! I think I need a crystal or something for my window too.

Anyway my run was good and I felt efficient/harmonious... a good tempo run to make up for the short fail run yesterday, there was a threat of stitch which passed, and it was sunny and I felt strong. I didn't have my IPod, so I listened to my breathing/foot strike, recognising my own signature pattern now...focussing on this definitely made my running more efficient. I did feel I was pushing at almost race intensity at the end of the run, digging quite deep to maintain pace on the last kilometre or so having built in my normal hill towards the end.

One thing I always wear on my runs is my Trion:Z necklace... the theory is... Trion:Z combines the natural power of magnets and the energising effect of negative ions to balance the bodies magnetic and electrical fields. Magnetic therapy is commonly used to alleviate a wide range of health conditions, including pain relief and injury recovery. Magnetic therapy uses the influence of negative magnetic fields to naturally improve blood flow and oxygen to areas of injury to facilitate healing and cell regeneration. Well I thought it looked cool on Paula and when my friend gave me one saying 'I was her Paula'.. it became my lucky charm in races :) Does it really work? Maybe its a slight placebo effect... but it kind of makes sense too.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Saw Slash - then left the washed out Download!!

Well after watching Saxon and 3 Inches of Blood, the next on the wish-list was SLASH... and he delivered! Really enjoyed the set he did - including Velvet Revolver track 'Slither' and GNR (of course) - so wearing my Guns n Roses vest I was in the zone for 'Paradise City'! I also really enjoyed this track which I added to my Spotify list (below video) which is just awesome!!

Then - the heaven's opened and with thousands of fans due to leave the washed out fields later on - one poncho (Pete's - which I commandered) between the two of us - and feeling 'past it' on the festival front (girls wibbling their wibbly bits, some sites I care not to remember - one girl with laced up in piercing IN her calves so she actually had a lace running through them....FU**ED UP!) Anyway ... a hot bath, and a glass of wine seemed more appealing! I nervously asked Pete if it was BAD of me to want to leave as the rain-water relentlessly washed down our faces... and the queues for ponchos lengthened!! We were glad we made that choice... if it had been Maiden or Linkin Park or Black Sabbath, we would have stayed... but for Aerosmith...meh! And glad that it was only a slightly shallow swimming pool we had to drive through as we made our escape through the lines of sinking cars! (Heaven help them later!) It was amusing to hear Billy Idol on the stage as we walked away to the car, singing 'Nice Day for a White Wedding!'

Bit of a fail easy run...

So the plan, an early morning run before travelling to Donnington, to get my weekly mileage up to 40 and to get used to more back to back days.. so after a night of rather disappointing football, the alarm set and out at 7.30 or so for a couple of miles (although secretly hoped for possibly 6 or 7 miles so I could do 45 miles... also divisible by 5!) I felt good, slow with the hills and miles from yesterday in my legs, but a nice morning to run... until about 2km or so when the stomach lurch happened. Admittedly it hadn't occurred to me to take my all-important pre-run toilet trip this morning.. for such a short distance at that. But oh dear. Pete already had 'stomach issues' and headed for the short-cut back... could I make it a bit further, I powered through the intermittent stomach lurches, squeezing it back in each time... but it was getting touch and go (almost literally) so I turned back to the short-cut back :o( ...such a horrible feeling, as many runners will well know, to concern about the potential of squatting by the road, in a very public housing estate with no privacy. I just had to get back and quick! I didn't even get 4km on the Garmin, so I did get the 40 miles, planning to get this to 50 next week, but with more preparation next time(!)

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Calmly finding another way to stay on track

There could be so many themes that surround my run today... if I was voice-over man I would introduce it something like this...

One woman. Some of the hilliest terrain in Warwickshire. A dodgy map. A wrong turn. An offer of a lift from a running mate rejected... For no challenge is too great ...for... this Kenilworth Running diva.

OK so I awoke with a neck stiffer than a pubescent male's 'netherlands' first thing in the morning.. Good Lord...could I do a long run... let alone a tough one! Of course I could. Pete was doing a race - the first of the Threshold Series, which I competed in last year when it was called the Wedgenock Series (first lady overall in the series) so when I arrived with Pete the race organisers were expecting me to register. I was 'raced out' though....following a few week-end's racing. I needed to get back on track with the long run, to start cranking up the weekly mileage. So I used the facilities wash room - put on my I-Pod and Pete did a short warm up to show me off in the right direction before returning to race his 10km - whereas I had about 15 or so planned around the hilly area of Illmington, where one of the legs of the Hilly 100 is set. My neck had eased up but it was warm, and a night of consolation with a bottle of wine and my friend and I discussing the woes of job hunting was also poison in my veins - crying out for more hydration!

So I set out through the beautiful village - little tumbling limestone cottages fronted by proud foxgloves and acanthus in well-kept gardens, being tended by keen early-birds. the friendly smiling gestures and the warmth of the sun on my shoulders was comforting as I made my way to the first savage hill. A tough one but early on and I had strength in my legs, continually checking my little map print-out which only had a few road names (one I had already had concurred by a friendly looking villager!) So that done I continued on a long track towards the next Village. My continuous checks of the map, turning it in my hand to work out my direction, was confusing me somewhat as I got to the vilage but a couple of miles quicker than on the map... so I had missed a turn (the fact I entered the village via from the East rather than the West was a giveaway!) So what to do... I was supposed to be heading back down the route I had come in on... so I did that - just ignoring the 2 mile short-cut and continuing with the plan, back up the now familiar route, until an intersection took me back round to the village I started at and through to my second big hilly challenge... this one was painful - almost stood proud in front of my face it seemed! I took light short steps to master the hill without walking. My loose plan was to circle back around to the route which took me back to the village where I had missed a section which from the map would give me the extra couple of miles back. I did this, passing a group of D-of-E walkers, a couple of runners gone astray from the 10km race Pete was doing (asking me the way back - to which I offered them run with me but they seemed to feel bad they had interrupted my run and went in the opposite direction!) I then caught up with the route I had doubled back before so I could store the map away and get on with it - tackling the more minor hills again... also waving off the race organiser, Rob, who could see I was warm and struggling and offered a lift, but no - I would complete my 15 (now looking more like 16!) So I soldiered on... feeling the need for some gel sustenance.. but alas no gels on me (preparation fail!) So I steadily now used what I had left in me to get back, muffled pace and the intermittent stitch which I had to keep stopping to allow to pass. I was almost back when I saw the car... Pete was on a search and save mission as I was over my eta from my long run.. apparently my mate Rich was also doing the same somewhere else on the course! Pete had won 3rd place!!! His first 'podium' finish... I pathetically congratulated him with the tiny amount of enthusiasm I had left in my weary body! He praised me to powering through and coping with my slight navigational upset (it was bound to happen!) So 16 or so miles in the bag - another 2 in the morning to make it to a lovely round 40 week!!

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Highs and Lows!

After a very busy week at work which spilt over into my favourite day...'Cafe Nero coffee and cake in Warwick day'... obviously after a little plod in the morning, I was exhausted! Exhausted from working, but also mentally exhausted from the highs and lows of the beginning of the week... late nights, potential new exciting pastures... and a way out of my long commute and rather punishing working environment. But it was not to be... and I felt I had to take it out on something... the run! However I didn't have my socks and ended up in the swimming pool in a crowded hot-tub at the gym - which I didn't even successfully clear when I raised my ugly foot from the depths of the bubbling water...emerging its little ugly black nails (actually there is only one... its been a while growing the others out!)
Well - the one upside was really well rested legs - so this evening I arrived at the club half expecting to be running with a new fast lady, who my Club Chairman had given me a head's up about joining us, but she was not there.. so I ran with a group but I led the pack out to - who knows! I knew a rough plan - but Stan the man was behind and as I pushed hard out I had to keep waiting for the others to catch up. A fantastic run... through fields of long grasses - watching the others wind their way through the narrow muddy tracks pushing bare legs through nettles. We found ourselves in a field of large creamy cows! I couldn't help myself - I had to sing! 'I just can't fight this feeling any morrrrrreeeeeeee, I've forgotton what I started fighting foooorrrrrrrrrrr....' :D I think I was on a major high following a rotten few days of tears and stress.... A true runner's high but it was a good feeling!

Sunday, 6 June 2010

2 Castles - and several Peacocks!!

Today I ran the 2 Castles race from Warwick Castle to Kenilworth, which is where my running club is. I managed 45:30.... which honestly I felt a bit disappointed given my time at Oxford Town and Gown a couple of weeks earlier (PB of just sub-44 mins)...and I felt I was giving it all-out effort, especially with all the club there, but it was warm, and to be fair on myself the course was a lot hillier.... our club's men's captain won the race which was a great result for us as a team, but his time was a couple of mins behind his PB, which was reflective of the running conditions (his winning time today was 35:14... his best is 33 something...)..... a good 45 seconds ahead of second place too! Just shows though - looking at the times that the course profile and temps. did have an effect (Pete was around 40:49... so still chasing that 40!)

The race itself was tough - it was one of my first races I ran in June 2008 when I did it in 1 hour and 56 seconds! It has been an incredible journey since then as you have probably picked up... so this was a course PB for me of 15 minutes! I remembered how good the suppport was through the villages.. and how the steady incline from one town to the other was a real mental slog! I struggled today around 3km - I was working hard and feeling it.

I did have a little battle with another lady runner who I have become familiar with in races around the region... and I knew when I let her get just ahead of me on the worst hill at around 8km, I would try and save myself for a kick in past her towards the end..... which I did despite cries of support for her as we neared the end (this almost spurred me on more!) I was a few seconds ahead of her at the end...absolutely blasting round the Kenilworth Castle grounds like it was a cross-country race where I was fighting hard for position! I was 14th lady position on the gun-time (15th on chip) ....and that was in a field of 2,300 or so runners.

The start was amazing (obviously very strong feelings about the castle) - I did the warm-up.... felt really smug when a couple of marshalls advised me of where the 'elites' doing the Warwickshire Champs were warming up (I'm not doing the WC because of my training committments.... but I must have looked suitably serious/professional for them to show me where to go!) I did the warm-up running along into this amazing little well-pruned Victorian topiary garden in Warwick Castle grounds - with a dozen or so peacocks crying and perched on top of the maze-like hedges!! One of them ruffled its feathers open..... show off! (Just because I was doing McMillan running drills!)

There were loads of fellow club runners... so lots of chatting to ease the tension. The Castle is amazing - I felt so priveleged to be starting inside the grounds and then off to another one! My favourite view was across the river where there is a timber boat-house and next to this the huge trebuchet and a few wig-wam/tents almost as it would have been...

A couple of highlights which helped in the race - I past a couple of male club runners who I perceive as just ahead of me in races normally.... so that was a big boost! There was a moment when I was told by a marshal to stop and let a car turn out in front of me....... NO WAY. I carried on regardless (but then this gave me some real anger to move up the field strongly.) Also when I saw our old Club Chairman in the housing estate as we made our final couple of kms to the other castle - and he said 'Go on Ros'... that spurred me on too.... and I clapped thanks to bunches of supporters where I could! I tended to use the cups of water at the couple of water stations on the course to splosh over myself... I cannot drink out of plastic cups when breathing hard AT ALL.

So overall - good day... and invited a couple of my old school friends who did the race back to ours for a clean up and coffee - so that was nice to catch up with them.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Ice Ice!!!!

So.... warm morning! Tired legs and achey calves, not from a long run, but general training over the week's gone by, and it had been a while! So after a steaming hot shower, I cautiously entered the ice bath, a crystal clear pool with floating ice packs to maintain suitable arctic-ness! I managed to stand...moving my cosy towel from my freshly showered steaming body up to cover my shoulders so as I lowered, centimetre by centimetre... I went for the bottom next, so knees raised and calves still clear of the freezing punishment awaiting! I slowly then eased my knees down... allowing the water to slowely grip on to my warm dry flesh. My legs were now totally immersed under the mirror... and my quads were now slowly loosening under my tight restrain. Was this really good? A cup of hot coffee kept me warm inside... I started feeling at ease, following the initial shock... and almost feeling warmer from the waist down, although my upper body was shivering... more coffee!! I managed to stay for 10 minutes at least. Remember the benefits, injury prevention, improved circulation... flushing debris out of my tired muscles. This would help... and something I will have to get used to as the mileage takes its toll! It really wasn't that bad...

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Eleven Eleven!!

OK on my weary heavy legged run this evening I was pondering why do I see 11:11 a lot!? I also mused over why I need to know that I have to complete 'exactly' 7 miles, not 6.something.... I want 7! It seems numbers are all the rage at the moment... I mean take the number sequence in Lost, or the 'day the Earth blacked-out' in Flash (aaaaggh - aaahhh!) Forward! Cover your eyes/ears if you haven't seen the last episode - but minutes before they realised about the other black-out I actually predicted that the black-out was of another black-out.... so a double black-out.... so they were actually thinking two jumps ahead not one... which wasn't quite right as it was a few minutes after everyone ended up where they were meant to.. BUT does this mean I am psychic?? I sometimes think I am slightly... some weird things/coincidences in my life.... sorry to be morbid, but my dad died on 30/06/99... which is a very interesting number. An avid mathemetician, I find it strangely satisfying.... numbers were a big part of our relationship... so maybe me seeing interesting numbers, or repeated numbers is remembering a little bit about him. :)

Monday, 31 May 2010

Barefoot Merlot

So I really enjoyed last night's wine.... Barefoot Merlot. I go online and discover a whole community of 'Barefooters'... where do YOU like to get barefooted? I would say somewhere remote with a jetty dangling feet down into the clear water with the sun beating down.

What is really cool is the wine company itself organises volunteers across the US to clean up beaches and make them 'barefoot friendly'.

Meet some 'Barefooters' ....


Its very cute... I see a likeness with my green eyes!

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Joe Bonamassa - Ball Peen Hammer - tomorrow night!! :D

Running in Clent

So today I decided to start blogging as I take the long and lonely path to my 2010 Autumnal marathon... following the Hilly 100 relay event in the scorching sun last week-end, where I struggled to get another good chunk off my PB following some good PBs the following two week-ends... I realised the elements were in control, not me. But this is not something I can risk on Snowdon in October, I want to be ready for all the hills, I need leg strength and iron willpower.. and it starts with hilly long runs. OK so I have tried to build hills into my long runs... but I'm talking about HILLS. So I decided to do some training over in Clent, near Halesowen...
whilst Pete did a nearby 10km.... did I regret not doing the 10km? A little, as a race-obsessional, but I was very happy to let my recent times sit where they are... and although as we drove round the course, the hills did look like good training on a 10km race... I wanted to get some mileage as well, so decided on a double...possible triple loop up to the Clent Hills whilst Pete did his 'thang'. I managed 2 1/2 times.... so around 13 miles which didnt quite get me up to the desired 35 mile week... having done a lot of quality sessions I need to now build up mileage with some more quality hills in the long runs.