Life Goals

2 Jun

On Monday, I achieved one of my life goals.  That sounds pretty cool and pretty profound, until I tell you that the life goal I achieved was climbing Lord Hereford’s Knob.  And I only wanted to climb it because the name made me snigger.  It was (on a more serious note) part of a lovely 7 hour circular walk from Llanthony Priory.  We were pretty lucky with the weather (teeny bit of drizzle and a bit breezy, but otherwise lovely) and although it was a tiring day, it was also really rather gorgeous.

It did leave my legs sore, especially my adductors, and so on Tuesday and Wednesday I did two of my easy 6 mile runs which were scheduled for the week.  I had to resist the temptation to go and do my club’s 5k race on Tuesday evening, because I knew it was foolish to risk further injury when I’m just on the cusp of regaining some fitness.  By Thursday although I was still feeling pretty flat and tired, my legs felt ok and so I ran 10 miles steady at lunchtime.  The heat was a real shock to the system!

Friday was a pretty long day after a slightly late night the evening before, and included a round trip to Plymouth.  Somehow my nutrition and hydration went pretty awry this week, and particularly on Friday, as I was only 2.5 miles into my 6 mile run that evening, having cycled home as fast as possible to feed the cats beforehand, when I began to feel really light-headed and peculiar.  Shortly after that I ran into the edge of a bush and was lucky not to take my eye out.  It was a sign that running the 3 miles I was ‘due’ really wasn’t worth it.  Thankfully I was pretty near home and so I simply headed home, and inhaled loads of pasta, fruit and then some chocolate.

Having slept like a log Friday night I headed off to parkrun to see how I would fare 4 weeks on.  And there was an improvement: 20.19 (so 20 seconds faster than last time).  I guess in my heart of hearts I was a bit disappointed, even if it does show things are going in the right direction (plus so far I haven’t had bad DOMS, so suspect I left a little in the tank). However, my clubmate Al got a great action shot of me at the start of the descent, so it wasn’t all bad:

Edit: we are spoilt at Ashton Court parkrun, as local parkrun legend Geoff also took some excellent photos. Here is a ‘hair and air’ shot, plus a fantastic shadow.
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Today I had an orchestra rehearsal from 10-5, and I had a sneaking suspicion I was going to be quite tired afterwards, so was out of the door shortly before 7am this morning to get my 14 mile run done beforehand.  The pace was pretty ok for an early morning run, and my legs felt reasonably ok after the parkrun the day before.  49 miles for the week rather than the 52 the schedule said, but I’m going to focus on a May total of 191 miles, which was my highest of the year.

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Once, Twice, Three Times A Lady aka Oops I Did It Again (reprise)

26 May

If you read my blog about last week you’ll realise why I had no energy to run on Monday afternoon by the time I was back from court.  I was still pretty wiped out on Tuesday, but plodded a steady 10 miles.  On Wednesday morning I ran 5 miles steady and – for some reason – realised that it was the final Weston Prom Run of the 2018/2019 series the following day.  Now that I wasn’t going to be in court all day every day this week, I might actually make it!

And so it came to pass that on Thursday I was racing for the second time this year.  I felt rubbish warming up: legs like lead and the wind (frequently not great on the Weston-Super-Mare shoreline) was pretty frisky.  Even when I’d changed into racing shoes and done some strides and a few plyometrics, I still felt pretty apprehensive.  I knew I’d managed around 6.25m/m the previous week for just over 3 miles on an undulating course, so I figured that a fairly similar sort of pace would be a sensible target.  The gun went and I settled into a fairly comfortable rhythm.  First mile: 6.24 or thereabouts.  Second mile: 6.24 or thereabouts.  Third mile: 6.27.  By the third mile I’d slightly surprised myself by overtaking most of the ladies, and I could see the first and second placed ladies something like 20 metres ahead.  Fourth mile: 6.27.  The final turn is 1 mile from the finish, and the three of us were still within spitting distance of each other, as I had reeled the other two in.  There was everything to play for, ignoring the fact that the prize of a bottle of wine is the same for each of the top three, and so it was only whatever bragging rights your local 5 mile race gives you!  Fifth mile: 6.29.  Although my breathing was fairly comfortable, I didn’t have another gear when I needed it, so although I finished fairly close to the other two ladies, there was no way my current fitness would have enabled me to catch them as they put in strong closing miles.  (All of my splits were using Garmin autolap as there aren’t mile marks on the course, and I know my Garmin slightly under-measured, as it reckoned I ran 5.02 miles rather than 5 dead, hence my finishing time of 32.18 is slightly ‘out’ relative to the sum of my splits!).  But it was really fun to race again, and although my finishing time is a good 2 minutes shy of my PB, it’s a good starting point on this road back to full fitness.  Plus there were free chips at the end 🙂  And more seriously, tempo runs are great fitness builders, so give it another month or so and I’ll hopefully reap the benefits.

I had an early start for a hearing in Gloucester on Friday, so ran a steady 6 miles that evening.  I could definitely feel the race in my legs, and pace was gentle.  Saturday morning’s 6 miler was also pretty gentle as if anything the DOMS in my legs was worse.  Who knew 5 miles at what was once marathon pace could leave such a mark!  I spent some quality time with my foam roller on Saturday evening to smooth out some of the sore points on my legs.

I rounded my week off with 13 miles, mostly off road and with some decent climbs thrown in.  A steady 8.12m/m.  That makes 50 miles for the week, which feels like a significant milestone.  I’m still not throwing caution to the wind and building rapidly, but I’m getting there.

Cutbacks and Comebacks

21 May

Last week was mostly spent working.  I was due to start a big trial this week, albeit by the end of the week it looked unlikely we would start (as has proved to be the case, hence I’m blogging on a Tuesday afternoon), so there was a lot of reading to be done.  That, coupled with the fact I’d done 6 consecutive weeks of increased mileage, meant I was due a cut back week.  So after a rest day on Monday, I only did runs of 5 or 6 miles Tuesday-Friday, although I did a few strides on Thursday just to turn the legs over.

The final reason for the reduced mileage was to try and let my legs freshen up ahead of my return to racing: the British Masters Athletics Federation Road Relays (basically, a race for over 35s only.  Be gone, youngsters!).  For my age group (35-44), it was a team of 4 of us, and I was running leg 3.  We were in Sutton Park, which is fairly described as undulating: there are no huge hills, but there’s rarely a decent flat stretch where you can get into a rhythm, particularly as the course is a bit twisty/turny.  But I’ve a lot of happy memories racing in Sutton Park (the Midlands and National Road Relays are also held there, so if, like me, you are a veteran/masters athlete running for a Midlands affiliated club, you get to run there something like 6 times a year, if you’d like).  The course was just over 5km and so I figured something around 20 minutes would be reasonable given my (lack of) fitness.  I was lucky enough to have a fair few people to chase down ahead of me, especially as we were racing at the same time as the 45-54 ladies (don’t underestimate them and think that made catching them easy: there are some very, very fast 45-54 year old runners out there!), and made up 4 places for our team, taking over in 12th place and finishing in 8th.  Although we weren’t able to leap into the medals on the closing leg, it was still lovely to see team-mates again and to blow those racing cobwebs away.  Oh, and my prediction was pretty much spot on: 20.02!  Thanks as always to Bryan Dale for the excellent (and free!) race photos:

I finished the week with 10 miles easy ahead of a long day in chambers.  38 miles for the week.  Ready for a few more this week!

Ups and Downs

12 May

I started this week with very tired legs: it’s amazing what a tough parkrun followed by 11 miles the next day can do to muscles which just aren’t used to working that hard any more!  On a more practical level, I also did a 5 mile recovery run on Monday.  On Tuesday I made the most of being in court in the afternoon to do my 10 mile run in the morning.  My legs still felt a bit tired, but not as stiff and achy as they had on Monday.

Wednesday morning was miserable: wet and gloomy.  I was quite pleased it was time for a rest day.  Wednesday afternoon was wonderful, because T came home after just over a week away 🙂

On Thursday morning I did 6 miles with 12 sets of strides and then on Friday morning a steady 5 miles.  This was to let the legs freshen up ahead of Saturday’s Return To Speedwork: 10 miles including 4 x 1 mile (well, 1,600m rather than 1,609 on the basis there’s a marked 2km point and a marked 400m point on the Portway) fast with 2 minutes of jogging between each mile.  The first one was a bit cautious: 6.32, to see how it felt.  I was braver in the second: 6.17.  And pretty much matched that in the third: 6.18.  I slowed a fraction in the fourth: 6.21.  But overall, for a first workout after about 3 months when all I’d done of late other than steady running was strides once or twice a week, that was pretty ok.

That just left today.  It was a gorgeous morning and I couldn’t quite face a sensible flat route (they are few and far between in Bristol and so I know my local flat routes rather too well after all these injuries), so I headed off into the surrounding countryside for some trails and hills.  It wasn’t super fast, but it was great fun!  Here’s what my Garmin reckons the elevation profile was (with the caveat that Garmins aren’t always quite right…):

Putting My Toes Into The Water

5 May

This week I was not working: it was originally going to be my Post Marathon Week of Sloth, but clearly I couldn’t justify one, as the essential prerequisite is to run a marathon.  However, I thought I did need a Week of Sloth, so kept the week booked out in my diary.  Hurrah!  On Monday I did 6 miles steady and on Tuesday 10 miles ahead of a sports massage.  I can’t quite remember when I last had one, but it had been ages.  The general verdict was my legs were ok, a few uneven tight spots (left quad and right hamstring are tighter than their opposite numbers) but not too bad.

I took Wednesday as a rest day: partly because I’d had a massage the day before, but also because I was off to London for the day.  Partly to see a fabric conservator about some lace (beats seeing a man about a dog) and also to catch up with a friend I hadn’t seen in ages.  It was a long-ish day, and the cats were certainly waiting impatiently for their dinner when I returned!

On Thursday I ran 5 miles with some strides, and my legs felt lovely and springy, having had their kinks smoothed out on Tuesday and then rested the day before.  I ran 5 miles steady on Friday, because I wanted to find out what sort of shape I’m currently in by doing Ashton Court parkrun on Saturday.  The answer was ‘not too bad’: 20.38 for 5km.  Now, you have to remember that AC is the course which contains the Hill of Difficulty (my Garmin reckons that whilst I gained 94m of elevation, I only lost 90m.  The mind boggles!) and so my splits were beautifully uneven: 7.29, 6.48, 5.44, 35s.  Allowing for the climbing I reckon that puts me in about 20-dead shape on the flat.  Far from great, and a long way from where I was, but a benchmark to check against.

I look pretty serious, but I did enjoy parkrun, I promise!

This morning my quads let me know that I had hammered down the Hill of Difficulty the day before.  Ooof!  Still, they co-operated with my 11 mile run at a reasonable pace to bring up 46 miles for the week.  I had a fairly quick turnaround at home before heading out to support my friends and clubmates doing the Bristol 10k.  A pleasant end to a Week of Sloth.  Although cycling back up Bridge Valley Road post-race supporting was not Slothful!

FOMO

28 Apr

As Monday was a bank holiday, I decided to still run even though I was probably due a rest day (my legs were still sore from Saturday’s run + hilly walk!).  After a steady 6 miles I then spent a not very exciting day in chambers doing some preparation for the week ahead.  I took my rest day on Tuesday because I was in court in Salisbury which meant an early start.

On Wednesday I did my ‘medium long run’ for the week: 9 miles.  My Garmin decided to go a bit crazy when I was running along the Towpath at the bottom of the Avon Gorge, and claims I crossed the river twice (which means I swam, at about 3 mins/mile: amazing!  Proof that (a) Garmins do sometimes get things wrong and (b) mine has never seen me try to swim).  I think it credited me with an extra 0.25 miles, so ran 9.25 miles according to my Garmin by the time I got home (having done the same route which was only 9 miles on Sunday).

On Thursday I did 6 miles with some strides.  Thursday night was a bit uncomfortable, with another IBS-style flare up, and so my 6 mile run on Friday morning was very steady.  I felt quite a lot better on Saturday and did 6 miles with some strides.  Despite the best efforts of Storm Hannah the pace was pretty reasonable compared to other similar runs recently, which was encouraging.  I’ve been doing my runs with strides in lightweight trainers to help prepare for the return to speedwork in due course, and hopefully the legs are starting to get used to these again.

Annoyingly, on Saturday night my tummy started feeling uncomfortable again and I was actually sick a few times.  I slept really poorly and decided that although I felt relatively ok, albeit rather wiped out, I’d better not eat anything until lunchtime to err on the side of caution.  The toast and banana felt fine all afternoon, so I laced up my trainers and did 10 miles before dinner (double digits!  Yay!).  A grand total of 43 miles for the week, which means April is set to be my biggest month of the year.

As for FOMO (fear of missing out), it was of course the London Marathon today, and had I not had the two bike accidents and then further tendon/ligament issues to contend with in the last 6 months, I’d have been there, and even quite fancied my chances of running a respectable time, given I was getting nicely into shape back before the first bike accident.  But life had other plans, and so I was watching the elite race online, flicking between that an athlete tracker to see how my running friends were getting on.  It was the standard marathon mix of the sublime and the ridiculous, with triumphs in the face of adversity, results which really didn’t reflect the training which had taken place, and richly deserved PBs paced to perfection.  Every now and then I did feel a bit wistful, but I made my peace with this decision the best part of 2 months ago, and so by and large I was just able to sit back and enjoy/commiserate.  Maybe next year.

A Time To Be Thankful

21 Apr

I started the week with a rest day and then ran 8 miles on Tuesday. Having had a decent 48 hours break between runs my legs felt pretty springy and even the drizzly weather didn’t dampen my spirits.

I ran 6 steady miles on Wednesday and then 6 miles with some strides on Thursday morning. Somehow I think I got my hydration and nutrition badly wrong on Thursday as I had a really uncomfortable tummy: I’ve suspected for a few years I get IBS-type flare ups sometimes and this was a bad one. I slept really poorly that night and was relieved it was a bank holiday on Friday so that I could doze a bit more before doing a cautious 6 miles, doing short loops close to home…

By the afternoon I felt a bit better and so T and I joined the world and his wife at a garden centre before heading off for a short walk and some wild garlic foraging.

Yesterday it was an early start to squeeze in 6 miles with strides and food shopping before heading off to the Welsh borders for a lovely walk from Monmouth to Tintern along Offa’s Duke. There were plenty of undulations and stunning views on what was a glorious day.

Today saw a more leisurely start (aka lounging around reading) before a 9 mile run through Leigh Woods and along the towpath. The tide was in, which always helps the River Avon look at its best, and it was a day to forget what might have been had injury not struck yet again, and simply enjoy the pleasure of an easy run in beautiful surroundings. T suggested a pub lunch, which went down a treat, and then this afternoon I embraced both my British and Russian heritage by baking kulich and making paskha to eat on Western Easter Day rather than Eastern Orthodox Easter Day.

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41 miles for the week. Getting there, although I’m not sure I really mind too much what or where there is!