Archive | June, 2017

Don’t Stop Me Now, I’m Having A Relay Good Time

25 Jun

The heatwave was still with us on Monday.  I had an early start for work (Worcester), so didn’t get a run in until the evening.  I plodded 4 miles, arriving at T’s drenched in sweat, and feeling stupidly exhausted (when I saw plodded, I really mean it: 9.15m/m, or over a minute slower than my run a week before!).  I squeezed a 5 mile run to work in on Tuesday morning, very aware I couldn’t train that evening due to a chamber music rehearsal.  I was up as early as I could bear on Wednesday to attempt some faster running by myself before the worst of the heat kicked in.  It’s all relative though: this simply meant I was running in about 20-25 degrees rather than 30.  My legs had taken quite a while to recover from having done intervals the previous Friday followed by a hilly Cotswold Way recce on Saturday, and there was still a bit of tightness there (it can’t help I’m really overdue a massage, either!).  I’d planned to run Thursday afternoon, but ended up having to do some reading for a last minute hearing on Friday instead.  This had to be squeezed in around a rehearsal for a concert today (Sunday), and I was working until midnight in the end.  With a fairly early start to get to Cardiff on Friday morning, I didn’t get time to run until that evening, and did a very gentle 8 miles, mindful I was racing the next day.  My legs still felt fairly tight, but a lot of sitting down and long gaps between training sessions tends to do that to me.

And so to the race: the Cotswold Way Relay.  The Cotswold Way itself is a national trail about 100 miles in length from Chipping Campden to Bath.  As it goes through the Cotswolds, it’s pretty hilly.  For the relay race it is split up into 10 stages of varying lengths and difficulty.  This year I’d been given the anchor leg: leg 10 from Cold Ashton to Bath.  It’s classified as one of the easier legs because its mostly downhill (200m of climbing and 400m of descending), which might be the case if you are half decent at running downhill. Sadly, I’m not.  I think I lost us quite a few places overall on the downhills!  It’s fair to say I didn’t ever feel great, but I did my best to push on as hard as I could, although I was a bit annoyed to have to stop and do up my shoelace, as I was sure I’d double-knotted them before the off, and then to lose my bearings momentarily in Bath city centre, as my fatigued brain gave up.  Some very nice fellow runners, out to cheer their own club-mates on, pointed me in the right direction!  After a couple of stage wins in previous years, finishing 4th or 5th lady felt a bit of a let-down (more to my team-mates than anything else), but the great news is we won the ladies’ team race by 29 minutes (perhaps it could have been 30 if it wasn’t for my shoe lace and poor sense of direction!).  This morning I can definitely feel that my hamstrings, calves and glutes and sore, and after the race I felt really faint and dizzy, so I know I gave it everything.  The really, really lovely thing about the CWR is the camaraderie, however: Bristol & West had 4 teams out, and several of the early stage runners spent the rest of the day as roving supporters for those of us running later in the day, including Pete and Tracy, who took these great photos:

And here are some of the winning ladies’ team, complete with bling:

That photo also shows quite how big the “small” race t-shirts are.  Mine now has a new home with T, who it fits perfectly.


Baby, It’s Warm Outside

17 Jun

Monday afternoon’s recovery run (6 miles, in a crazy break from tradition) felt pretty comfy, and was my fastest since the marathon. On Tuesday I went to my club session, and although we were rather a select group I was pleased that I ran a faster pace than the previous week and as part of a longer, tougher session. There were still enough people to drag me round! On Wednesday morning it was clear I had really pushed my legs, however, as they somewhat begrudgingly allowed me to complete a 5 mile recovery plod (run would be too kind for the pace I managed).

On Thursday I ran 8 miles at a rather better pace and then on Friday I did my second quality session of the week (part of switching my focus away from the marathon this autumn will be doing more faster running but less overall volume: I’ll have more free time and sorer legs!). I did 4 mile reps as a solo session. It was pretty warm, even fairly early, although the breeze – which normally I’d just curse for slowing me down – provided a little bit of respite. I covered 12 miles overall, so the legs had a decent workout.

Today’s task was to recce my leg of the Cotswold Way Relay (the race is next week, so it was now or never). I got the bus out to Cold Ashton and set off. The first couple of miles were unremarkable. Then I got lost. In my defence, the way marker suggested a slight right, when in fact you needed a slight left. Eventually, after running around/through the same sodding field for what felt like a while, I was back on track. A couple of miles later, I came unstuck again. The directions said to follow the right hand field edge. I therefore went into the right hand field and dutifully followed its edge. Twice. Wondering why there were no way marks. Then I discovered I should have been in the next field along, albeit on its righthand edge…

I’m pleased to report that after that I stayed on track (ho ho), although dodging the tourists as I ran into the centre of Bath (the race finishes by the Abbey) was interesting.  The views (when I dared to peel my eyes away from their most important task of spotting way marks) were stunning


However, I had a bad dose of leg blotches from all the grass pollen:20170617_121812.jpg

Oh, and I was supposed to run about 15km, or under 10 miles. I ran 12. Oops…  Still, better today than next week. That brought up 52 miles for the week.  Nearly proper mileage again!

I Shall (Try And) Wear Purple

11 Jun

So, this week was the beginning of rebuilding my fitness.  It’s always a slightly daunting task, even though years of experience have told me that the ploddingly slow stage never lasts that long.  I started with 5 miles on Monday evening.  After the heat and humidity of Colombo, it was a shock to the system to be battling through a cold, blustery wind in Bristol.  On Tuesday I headed to my club session, with my legs (and particularly my hamstrings) still feeling very tight from the 2 long haul flights I’d done in the preceding week.  It’s fair to stay that trying to do some speedwork was a shock to the legs and lungs: 6m/m felt very hard work, whereas pre-London, as I’d regained fitness, it had begun to feel comfortable, and I’d begun to feel strong.  On Wednesday I did my 5 mile recovery run in the morning.  My left knee was slightly sore following the session on Tuesday, but thankfully this wasn’t too noticeable during the easy jog, so I was pretty relieved!

Thursday was a long day: starting with voting shortly after the polls opened, and seeing me only arriving home shortly before polls closed.  I stayed up to watch the exit poll results, but knew that I wasn’t going to be able to watch the results come in (much as I usually enjoy it).  I got up the next morning, gawped at the results, and then ran 8 miles to chambers (where there is thankfully a good shower so that run-commuting is an option).

On Saturday, a friend from Bristol & West had a landmark parkrun achievement: 250 completed!  I’m not a regular parkrunner, and have huge admiration for those who are.  When you’ve done 250 parkruns you get a purple t-shirt, and so the idea was to all wear purple gear if we could.  I was pretty astounded to discover that – despite having 3 drawers full of running kit – the only purple item was a sports bra (not very helpful, unless I was going for minimal attire), so I opted for some old racing trainers which are purple, and painting my fingernails (like many runners, my toenails are often painted a dark colour to hide the black ones: no-one ever told the truth if they pretended distance running is glamorous!):

However, the purple didn’t seem to give me a sudden fitness boost: my parkrun time was a very modest 21.02.  I suspect it was a combination of tiredness, lack of training and not having tackled the Hill of Difficulty for some time.  Plus I was a bit wheezy: the joys of hayfever…

That just left today: it needed an early start to get 10 miles in ahead of lunch in London with T’s family, but the run was done.  45 miles for the week over 6 sessions, including 2 harder runs.  Week 1 of proper training completed.  Let the return to fitness commence!

The End Of The End Of Season Break

5 Jun

My end of season block is usually 5 weeks, but this season it was extended to 6 weeks to accommodate a week in Sri Lanka.  Two weeks ago I did 40 miles, matching my mileage from the previous week, and also going down to my first club session since the marathon.  It was lovely to see my club mates, get the legs turning over at a faster rate, and the heat wasn’t bad pre-Sri Lanka prep!  I got my long run done on Saturday morning so that T and I could head off to catch our flight that evening.

I knew I wasn’t going to get a huge amount of exercise done in SL, but managed to squeeze in a short pool run on the Sunday afternoon (the roof-top pool on the hotel we were in in Colombo was shallow and small, so there was no point trying to actually swim!); a 3 mile run (in 30 degrees and 90% humidity!) on Monday, followed by a lovely and rather magical outdoor swim by moonlight (second hotel had a bigger pool).  On Tuesday I knew I was doing a fair amount of walking (Sigiriya rock is pretty tall), so didn’t run.  On Wednesday morning I went for a very cold swim in the next hotel’s outdoor pool (outdoor, and as I was up in mountains and it was unheated, it was very bracing).  On Thursday morning I managed 4 miles, running up and down the hill which the next hotel was on: I’m pretty sure the locals were truly baffled by the mad tourist, as I didn’t see a single recreational runner outside Colombo.  On Friday T and I went for a long hike in the rain (18km, with plenty of ascent and descent through the hills and tea plantations), so I didn’t run.  Saturday was our last ‘proper’ day, and I squeezed in 3 miles around the golf course opposite our hotel.  We then took a magnificent train journey from Nanu Oya to Colombo, so that we could fly home on Sunday.  It was a magic week, and – touch wood – the jetlag doesn’t seem too awful (but the time difference is only 4.5 hours, so that’s relatively tolerable).

A few gratuitous shots of the beauty of Sri Lanka.