Parkrun and fairy cakes

So this week has been pretty good all the way through and has definitely ended on a high. As I type this, drinking a cup of tea, I am delighted to tell you that this morning I completed my first Park Run.

I have been worried about it all week despite having good runs through the week in preparation.

Last Sunday, the Red Lady, God Daughter and myself, completed a very respectable 4.4k loop around the local area and again I was able to run much more than I walked. It’s a good loop and an enjoyable little run. Conversation was good (although mainly it was the Red Lady talking and me grunting in response as I don’t yet have “conversational running” nailed yet!) and I felt ok. For the first time, I attempted to run up the hill on the Bath Road. This is a very deceptive looking hill. In the car, you barely notice it, but running?….It’s hard. When we got near to the end of the loop the Red Lady gave me the option of looping round Sainsbury’s, going up the hill, or going home. Not wanting to lose face in front of God Daughter I chose the hill. As I set off, I was mentally slapping myself around the face for choosing the hill, but as I plodded off after my Running Squad, I reminded myself that at some point I was going to have to run up a hill, and I don’t want this to happen for the first time on the 10k.

The run up the hill was nothing short of horrendous. I was really only managing 20-25 second bursts before having to walk again and was using lamp-posts, house entrances, anything really, as markers. But I did run some of it. When I got to the top, I felt as though my heart was exploding out from my chest. It was a level of breathlessness that I haven’t really experienced since week 1 at the allotments, which seems a long time ago now. Still after a brief rest, we walked home.

I have been suffering a bit with extremely tight calf muscles. I haven’t really been doing a warm up as the bikini clad triathlete on the app simply makes you walk for 5 minutes as a warm up and then again as a cool down. The thing is, as I am now running for around 30-45 minutes, a 5 minute walk at the end (which I do enjoy – maybe it’s the relief of being able to stop?!) isn’t really cutting the mustard so to speak. Over a cup of tea with the Red Lady after our run, she introduced me to the foam roller, and lent me one to use. This has been equal parts brilliant and excruciatingly painful but seems to be doing the trick. The idea is to roll your leg over the foam roller, but using the weight of your body as leverage. The weight of my body although decreasing, is still substantial, so it works well and I am noticing a difference.

On Tuesday, Husband and I went out together for a lunchtime run for the first time since Black Friday. As promised and agreed, we mapped the 5k loop by the river and started at different sides so we would meet in the middle (ish) and then “high five” as we passed each other.  It was much warmer on Tuesday than any other day that I have run so far and so wardrobe was a bit of an issue (isn’t it always? I never seem to have anything to wear!). However, with limited options on kit at the moment, I wore my usual, but had to take my jacket off within about 500 metres of starting. I also didn’t have any water with me and I knew quickly that this had been a mistake. However, I did my best and made sure that I ran mainly and really only walked towards the end.

This was the first time I had tested out my new running playlist. On Monday evening, I researched on the internet “running songs” using the Jessie J track that seems to make me run faster, as a guide. As with most things running, I am baffled by the amount of information there is on the internet. I learnt that the Jessie J song has 149 beats per minute and so found an enormous list of songs that have the same beat, and spent a good hour or so creating my own playlist. Gary Barlow needs to up his game as sadly there is no Take That available (which makes me sad), but it does include some real corkers : Toni Basil “Hey Mickey” made me raise my arms “pom pom” style as I was passing Asda on my way back and a grey haired gentleman gave me the thumbs up whilst laughing. Hopefully with me rather than AT me, but frankly I didn’t care which it was. Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding out for a Hero” is also on there. Now that is a TUNE and importantly it makes me smile. When I’m in the final 1k, I need things that make me smile and music will always do the trick.

On Thursday evening, I ran with one of the Mums from Sporty Daughter’s football team who has also signed up for the 10k. We had discussed running together before and had made a plan. We did the same local loop as I had completed on the Sunday but this time I managed to nearly get up the hill in one go and only had to walk a tiny bit (20 paces as I counted them). I still had the same “heart exploding out of my chest feeling” at the top, but I did feel a sense of achievement in getting there. I am definitely going to have to start incorporating some hills into my training plan. (Did I just write that?! Who am I?)

I also now know without a doubt, that I definitely like running with other people. It worked very well with Football Mum indeed. She is quicker than me (I suspect everyone is), but I felt comforted by the fact that I could see her and she was only a bit in front of me (although I suspect that she was going slower than normal). She was also very encouraging and is a lovely lady. It was good.

Ideally I think I would like to run on my own once a week (using the app) and then twice a week with other people. The 10k is now 10 weeks away and I need to start increasing the distances I am covering meaning that I need to do a longer run at the weekend.

This week also saw the purchase of the Fitbit Surge, which is their running watch. A lovely lady I had met previously through the “This Mum Runs” Facebook group was selling one (she had used it only a few times but not got on with it) and Husband quickly gave permission for a purchase. I cannot tell you how happy this watch makes me. I do love a gadget and this watch is now measuring all sorts of things, most of which I don’t understand. So it was time to enlist the help of a specialist. Hockey Sister has a very dear friend who is a qualified personal trainer and is one of those people who is always running races, very fast indeed. I contacted her as my “Unofficial Trainer” and sent her some screenshots of my statistics and heartrate whilst running, amongst a few other things. She came back quickly with some very helpful information. I must tell you that her observation that my heart rate demonstrates that I am “working very hard for the majority of the run” made me laugh so much that I spat my tea out! That is an understatement. Will it ever be easy I wonder?

So back to the Park Run. Last night I was very nervous indeed. I had some pasta for tea and spent most of yesterday drinking water to ensure that hydration would not be a problem. I’d received the best text from the Red Lady earlier in the week which read “I’m staying with you Buddy, we’ll cross that line together” and I have to say that this did help quite a lot but I was still feeling anxious.

Husband, the Red Lady and myself were meeting Running Sister and Fitbit Sister at the site in Little Stoke (flattest course, very important) just before 9am in time for the race. Fitbit Sister and myself had traded quite a few texts on Friday night about what to wear, but in the end I went for the normal long sleeve top and high viz jacket. What we actually needed when we arrived this morning at 8.30am was a duvet as it was absolutely freezing. Husband was also cold (which is rare) so I know it wasn’t just a girl thing. Husband had asked a few of his friends along too as it was also his first Park Run and one of his oldest friends arrived, having run there from home. He does a lot of running (races, half marathons) and Husband was pleased to see him.

If you’ve never done a park run, or never heard of one (and let’s be honest, why would you unless you run, this was all alien to me 9 weeks ago) it is a truly brilliant thing. Races cost an alarming amount of money and the “Invoice of Pain” mounts up quickly. So far, the Bristol 10k, 5k colour run obstacle course and Westonbirt 10k (oh yes, forgot to tell you, I’ve signed up for that too now) have cost £70 which is not an insignificant amount of money.  Every week, across the UK, volunteers get up on a Saturday morning to man and ensure that the Park Run happens. It’s completely free because it’s run by volunteers. There are Marshalls all the way around (who clap and encourage you) and it’s timed and measured meaning each time you run one, you get an official time.  You have to sign up online and then you print off your barcode but that’s it. No money.

What a brilliant concept. Before we started, there was an introductory instructional chat by the, Irish rugby supporting, “Head Marshall” and a quick run through of the rules. We First Time Park Runners got a round of applause and then he asked if there was anyone there running their 50th or 100th Park Run? There wasn’t…..but wow! Will I be blogging in a year’s time to report to you how I just completed my 50th Park run?…..never say never.

Then we were off. 3 and a half laps of the park was 5k. Husband and I had already agreed that we wouldn’t run together so he ran off with his friend. Let’s not forget that this is only the 3rd time that he has run this year. He wanted to take it steady but I knew he was hoping to sprint finish.

Fitbit Sister and Running Sister went off ahead of us and the Red Lady and I were very close to the back. It was exciting to be there. A real race. There were LOTS of people there. Some people who took it very seriously, some recreational runners and some, like me, who were beginners. At the beginning of the second lap, we got lapped by some Elite runners. I knew it was going to happen, but felt a bit disappointed all the same.  The Red Lady (who by the way could have shaved many minutes off her time if she had run on without me) stuck to her word and didn’t leave my side. For this I will always be grateful as the whole experience was quite emotional. For a large part of the race we were at the back. A lovely thing happens at Park Run to whoever is at the back – a Marshall runs with you, chatting and encouraging you so you’re not on your own. I am sure that I will be at the back for a while, so this is reassuring.

Husband was just behind us as we finished our penultimate loop (he was finishing) and if he had sprinted, he would have overtaken me. He saw me and didn’t. I love him for not doing that and this has definitely spurred me on to get faster so he never has to make that decision again.

The final lap was very, very hard and I did have to run/walk a bit and used the trees as markers. However, I was determined not to walk the final stretch even though I was shattered. Running Sister and Fitbit Sister (who had already finished) were there cheering before we headed into the final straight which was great. As we entered the funnel at the finish, I burst into tears (why I am I crying all the time?!) with emotion and relief. I hugged my sister who was grinning at me. We were all grinning. My time was 46 minutes, 46 seconds which isn’t exactly a blistering pace, but who cares? I finished and I never would have thought that as I lumbered around the allotment all those weeks ago.

What a great way to start a Saturday.

As we got in the car, my fitbit buzzed 10000 steps. 10am and I’d already completed 10000 steps.

Since this morning, I have drunk around 8 pints of water (seriously, will I ever quench this thirst?!), had a nap at the cinema watching the Snoopy film (don’t go and see it, it’s rubbish) and the girls are now baking cupcakes. I’m going to eat one of those cupcakes, possibly even two. I may not replicate my 4 pound weightloss from last week, but I won’t be bothered. I am 41 and a Park Runner. Who’d have thought it?

ParkRun selfie

White van drivers and waving ladies

So where to start with this week. If I had written and posted this blog yesterday like I had planned to, it would have been full of sunshine and glitter as things had been going well.

Actually, no. Good is not enough of a superlative to truly demonstrate how well it had been going. I was definitely feeling like I was making progress. Obviously I still want to shoot myself for the first 5 minutes of each run and I have to run/walk for the first 2-4 minutes of each session as my body goes into shock about what is now expected of it, but I am beginning to be able to run.

This week I haven’t used the app once and it was easier. The point of the app is to get you to a point where you can run either distance or time. Since I last wrote my blog I have run 4 times. The first time I managed 22 minutes in one go and for the second 2 runs I ran for 30 minutes and importantly this means that I can now run 3k.

I am speeding up slightly and all of my splits are now under 10 minutes (vary from 9.26 to 9.45 per km) which is brilliant news. I also now won’t let myself run slower than 10 minutes.

This has meant that I have needed a slightly more sophisticated app and so in turn I have had to get some new “kit”. Many readers of this blog suggested I try “Runkeeper” (thank you) and I am pleased to report that it works pretty well for me. The idea is that the kind sounding Lady tells you each time 5 minutes is up and then each time you complete a kilometre and also gives you your speed. She also tells you how far you have gone each 5 minutes. I like this because it’s easy to keep track of how far/how long you have run for and it’s good for pacing. I struggle with pacing and in some previous runs have gone off like a rocket (well a short, panting, sweaty, slow rocket) and then had to walk more than I would have liked. I’m also trying to get quicker as 5k and 10k races are looming and as much as I know it’s “about getting round the course” and “I’m only competing with myself” bla bla bla, I don’t want to be last and I definitely don’t want them to be taking the barriers down as I pass. That would be too much. If I’m honest, one of the most frustrating things about this isn’t that it’s hard, it’s that I’m clearly not very good at it. I hate not being good at things.

I’m still using my Fitbit app at the same time and the GPS between them definitely isn’t in sync. Other interesting things happen too when I run them concurrently as there is a playlist that springs into life as soon as I set off. I don’t mind this and the music is actually pretty good, but I am a bit confused as I am certain that much of the music that plays isn’t even on my IPhone. How is this even possible? I do need to investigate this further. One of the songs that plays (a Jessie J track) makes me run faster so if anyone knows if there is a way to use a song (beats per minute) and find a playlist which uses the same beats, please can you get in touch? I need to know how to do this.

One new unforeseen challenge that has arisen is my desire to sing along with the songs. Sometimes I mouth them to myself and wonder how mad I must look to people who see me. Imagine what might happen if Take That’s “Relight my Fire” manages to get onto the magic playlist? Have you ever seen Lulu in a running outfit?….Best not to think about it.

I have also bought a fit for purpose “bum bag” that will fit my iPhone in. I wear this inside my running jacket which makes me look like I have a pregnant tummy. However, given that 6 weeks ago I couldn’t even zip the coat up and now I can not only zip it up, but also wear a bum bag under it, I’m taking that one as a win.

Talking of wins. My weight-loss is continuing although frustratingly has slowed down. However, I am pleased to report that I now weight LESS than 17 stone and my BMI has reduced so I am now only “obese” rather than “morbidly obese” so I guess that’s good news?!

Last Friday I ran home using the new stride lengthening technique and I ran consecutively for 22 minutes. I was also considerably faster clocking 3 x sub 10 minute per kilometre splits with my fastest being 9.23. It didn’t hurt horribly until about the 18th minute and I was feeling pretty good.

On Sunday, my running squad unfortunately wasn’t around to keep me company and for the first time ever, I really didn’t feel like going out. It’s a bizarre feeling. As my blog testifies strongly, actually doing the run is awful, but at no point have I not wanted to go – which is weird. But on Sunday last week, I definitely wasn’t feeling the love and didn’t want to go. Sporty Daughter wasn’t interested in accompanying me either so I really was on my own. I feel part of the problem is boredom with running the same routes (ie back and forth to my place of work). However, I managed to drag myself out and decided to try a new route near my house. I ran for 30 minutes consecutively and this meant that for the first time I ran 3k in one go. The sense of elation here cannot be underestimated. I was absolutely delighted. Park Run is looming as is the 5k Colour Run Obstacle Course (reminder, I need to get myself a pink tutu) and this was a big step in the right direction.

Also on Sunday I was waved at by 2 other ladies who were also out running. This is part of the code that I have mentioned previously. One lady was wearing a “This Mum Runs” team head buff and she was grimacing but when she saw me running on the opposite direction, on the other side of the road, she smiled and waved. I waved back.

On Tuesday when I ran home and again managed 30 minutes in one go (and this time was quicker again) I was overtaken by a whippet like lady who looked to be in her late 40s. She approached with stealth and when she passed me she made me jump, which made both of us laugh and then prompted her to try and start a conversation with me. It’s important to note that I was about 26 minutes into my 30 minutes of running and so conversation was not easy. She slowed down and was very encouraging saying “well done” and “keep going”. At the traffic lights, as we did that weird walk/jog on the spot that you see runners doing (I don’t know why I do it, I do it because I see other runners doing it), she was telling me that she had started like me and had now been running for 5 years. She was lovely as she chatted away, clearly glad of the company but all I could think of was the bus stop further up the hill that I had not yet been able to run up to without having to walk. I decided to mention this (as I didn’t want to appear rude as she was being so lovely) and she took it upon herself to become my own personal cheer-leading coach. She encouraged and cheered me on as I lumbered up the hill and I did get past the bus-stop for the first time ever. I was elated and she was pleased too – but then she said bye and she was off again. What a lovely lady. Running does make you part of a special team and all are supportive because I guess most have had to start as I have, and they all know how hard it is.

The White Van driver who imaginatively shouted at me on Tuesday “Run Fatty Run” will never know how hard it is and will therefore never appreciate the feeling of progress. In my head all I could think to retort was “you should have seen me at Christmas” but of course was too out of breath to shout it at him. Karma will get him though, that or hopefully, a vigorous bout of gastroenteritis.

So as you can see, things were going brilliantly…until today.

Husband has also signed up for the 10k but as yet hasn’t been out of a run. My printing off our Park Run barcodes for next weekend had obviously alarmed him as he asked to come out with me today. Husband is healthy and fit and cycles regularly across Bristol. We set off and although I had said he should not wait for me and should go off ahead, when he did shoot off (and he went off like Mo Farrah in the final straight), as he disappeared from my view, I burst into tears. This is a completely irrational response and I felt like an idiot, but nevertheless it happened. I couldn’t stop crying. I felt pretty hopeless and upset. It’s been a black day for me today as feel like I will never get to where I want to be with the running. Of the 5k route that I had plotted, honestly I think I ran/walked about 2k of it and I walked the rest, crying. Goodness knows what I must have looked like – my appearance was obviously too much for one old lady to ignore as she asked me if I was ok. It took me an hour to walk/run 5k. This is a real step backwards and honestly it was the worst run since week one and I was puffing around the allotment.

When I arrived back at work, Husband was mortified and immediately started telling me how well I was doing and that I shouldn’t give up, whilst apologising for running on without me (even though I had told him to – and when I told him to, I had genuinely meant it). I didn’t mean to make him feel bad, but seeing him sprinting off after not having run for 15 years (he ran the Bristol Half Marathon in 2000) was (apparently) too much for me to take. Over the last few days I have also been feeling very hungry and I was definitely having a “what’s the point” moment.

Thankfully, Hockey Sister was on hand to offer “no nonsense” encouragement and advice as only a Sister can. She was lovely. Encouraging, supportive, on hand with a tissue and hugs as well as the more practical “stop being a d***” and “man the f*** up” advice – which honestly works better on me than the namby pamby stuff. She also told me a brilliant story involving her arriving at a hockey match having forgotten to pack her hockey skirt, which made me laugh a lot. Laughter is very powerful medicine.

Fitbit Sister also called me up this evening and offered (more gentle!) support which was nonetheless equally gratefully received. Bad days happen and I need to draw a line under them. I have a run booked in already with Red Lady on Sunday morning and I am sure it will be a better day. I can’t imagine it being worse than today.

Also, Husband and I have agreed that although we will go out and run at the same time, we will plot loops and one start at one end and the other at the other.  This way we can high five as we pass each other, but I won’t have to watch him run away from me in the distance. No wife ever wants to see that…

3k for the first time

Phoebe running and flourescent headbands

This has been an interesting week and on the whole, a good week.

Before I update you on the running, a few observations:

  • My asthma is much better. I barely use my inhalers these days and *touches wood* I haven’t had so much of a sniffle since I started this new phase of my life and I am feeling much healthier in general. The asthma is an interesting one though. The doctors always tell you that exercise will help, but frankly I have always been a bit sceptical. I always carry an inhaler with me (I’ve discovered it fits perfectly into one of those puzzling tiny pockets on the running coats) but I don’t need it. I suspect however, that if I left for a run without it, the thought of not having it would likely result in me needing it, but I’m happy with this as the option for the time being.
  • I am wearing much less make up these days (those that know me well will be disbelieving of this) so this is a very surprising development. Running whilst wearing make-up results in horrible spots – hence, I am wearing less make-up. Prepare for MAC and Estee Lauder to announce a profit warning any day now…
  • I am much more comfortable in “leisure wear” and trainers now than my regular clothes. They are so comfy. Unfortunately Waynetta Slob is not a good look and I need to reign myself in a bit.
  • Sporty Daughter really doesn’t like it when I try and leave the house wearing a fluorescent comedic headband. Apparently it’s “really embarrassing”. She really shouldn’t have told me this as I now feel compelled to find the most outlandish clothes possible to run in. The internet trawling has begun and this will only spur me on to lose more weight to be able to fit into these loud running outfits to make my daughter cringe. Motivation comes from unforeseen sources.
  • I have now lost a total of 19 pounds and some clothes no longer fit. I can get into a suit that I last wore the day I found out I was pregnant with Sporty Eldest daughter (who is 9). It’s a teeny bit tight, but I am sure that I will be wearing it properly by the end of the month. I bought it brand new for a meeting with a huge client in 2007 and I’ve worn it about twice. The second time I was wearing it, I got two blue lines on a pregnancy test. I haven’t been able to get into it since.


My runs this week have been better.

Last Friday I volunteered to attend a “This Mum Runs” event where we were filmed running (and jumping!) and a couple of ladies were interviewed by a proper film crew. It was to be used to promote how one little thing that you do in your life exercise-wise, can make a difference. It was brilliant and I met some amazing ladies. Many of these ladies had started out like me on the c25k and were now regularly running 10k and beyond. They were also so incredibly friendly and encouraging. We did some loops around Greville Park in Ashton and it was good. I walked/jogged back to the office, soaking wet (as we experienced rain of biblical proportions during the session) and quite cold but felt inspired. Literally all you need is a pair of trainers and (if female) a sports bra to get started. They had done it and I am doing it. We all agreed that getting started is the hardest part and they all said that it does get easier….apparently…although you should always expect it to be hard.

On Sunday I went out for my best and most enjoyable run to date. I went with Sporty Daughter, God Daughter and my friend the Red Lady and we completed the Bristol Harbour loop. I did walk a bit but not as much as I had thought I might and we really enjoyed ourselves. The Red Lady did intervals whilst waiting for me to catch up and dare I say it, it was fun. We experienced rain, hail (which hurts when it hits you in the face) then glorious sunshine and a rainbow, which was beautiful. I definitely want to make this a regular thing and it has further motivated me to get quicker to be able to effectively train with the Red Lady for the 10k. Sporty Daughter also got to experience a proper run (without having to wait for me to catch her up) and she found it more difficult that she was expecting. She said to me afterwards – “That was really hard Mummy. You’re doing really well if you’re doing THAT 3 times a week”. This was a lovely thing for her to say to me and I do believe my girls are impressed with my commitment and progress. The thought of them watching me cross that 10k finishing line gives me goose bumps.

Tuesday Evening I jogged home from work. This time I used the app and for the first time ever did not want to kill myself over the first 5 minutes. This was an amazing feeling. I knew I could keep going and I did. The app had me running in 10 minute slots and for the last slot I ran for the “cooldown” period also, meaning that I ran for 15 minutes. I did feel stronger and I didn’t feel as weak in my legs. I am beginning to understand what people mean when they say that running is as much about mental strength as it is your state of fitness. My legs could keep going because I refused to stop. Belief is important. I also tried a technique that the Red Lady told me about – I slightly lengthened my stride which although I’m fairly sure made me look a bit weird as I ran (think – Phoebe from Friends running) I do think it made me a bit quicker. Typically however, this was the one time I forgot to set the GPS Fitbit tracker on my phone, so I don’t really know if I was faster or not. This is incredibly frustrating.

Of course, before I get to 10k I have to be able to run 5k without stopping so this is now my real goal. I may have mentioned before that I love a gadget and I am someone who likes to obsessively research any potential new purchase (I’m a bit blokey that way) and my research has led me to the decision that I want a Fitbit Surge (which is their GPS tracker sports watch). I know lots of people like the Garmin and my sister swears by the TomTom but the Fitbit system is working so well for me and “if it’s not broke don’t fix it” as they say.

I’ve asked Husband (and he agreed) to buy me one for Mother’s Day as a reward for running 5k properly. Unfortunately, I didn’t check the dates before making this deal so imagine my joy to discover that this year Mother’s Day is absurdly early – Sunday 6 March. Normally it’s much later than this so I seem to have put myself under quite a lot of pressure, but do you know what? I want that watch so I am going to run the 5k by the end of this month.

I’m going to run a Park Run on the last weekend in February. It needs to be a flat one (!) but I’m going to do it. Husband has also said that he will run it too so this will kick his 10k training plan off – it’s depressing that he will probably be able to run 5k off in one go, but I do like the idea of us training for the same race together. He will probably have to loop me often until I get quicker but on Sunday 15th May we will both sit down to a (very large) lunch knowing that we have both run 10k. I may, or may not be wearing a fluorescent yellow headband.

Run because I like cake photo

Daytime running and bouncy castles

This week’s blog will be written in a couple of parts.

Today is Monday and since I last updated my blog I have shared it for the first time with family and friends. It’s now “out there” and everybody knows that I am running.

Your response to this has been overwhelming. I have been extremely moved and I’m so happy and lucky that I have such lovely friends and family. It’s been amazing. I have had lots of encouragement, positive comments and some very helpful tips as well – thank you for these. I’ve also had an invite to a “tough mudder” race later in the year (which ends with a travellator – which I imagine to be something you might see on Total Wipeout) and I’ll admit that I am sorely tempted.

But now that you all know, I suddenly feeling under quite a lot of pressure. I’ve signed up for the 10k in May and I’m panicking slightly. What if I can’t do this? Can I actually get to the point to be able to run 10k in another 4 months? Will you all be disappointed if I have to walk a little bit?

It hasn’t helped my confidence that the last 2 runs I have done haven’t been great and I feel like I’m not improving. This is one of the things that I am finding out about running. Everyone that runs, says “don’t worry we all have bad runs, draw a line and move on. You still went” but the last two have been rubbish.

On Saturday, I went up to the Downs with Sporty Daughter. It was a last minute plan, due to the fact that Younger Daughter had a party in Brentry and it suddenly dawned on me that by the time I had driven home from dropping her off, I would have to turn around to go and pick her up again, so to squeeze a run in would be a good use of time.

Upon arriving at the Downs, two things occurred to me. The first was the realisation that I had only had a glass of water and one cup of tea since I had got up in the morning and I was thirsty. (It was 3.30pm when we arrived). Rule number 1 of running is always to have lots of water to hand – and I didn’t.

The second was that it was freezing. Really, really cold. Sporty Daughter and I were woefully underdressed for the temperature and Daughter immediately started complaining. I had to think fast and said although it was cold we would run fast and would soon be warm. This meant that I went off much quicker than I would have done normally, which coupled with the fact that I was de-hydrated, made for a horrid and very difficult 4k. We used the app (although she ran on ahead and looped back to me to keep moving and warm) and I struggled. I also (and unusually for me) felt very self-conscious when I was running alongside the road with my wobbly bottom on full view for all the cars and their passengers. In fact, I was feeling so self-conscious that I didn’t even want to run on the path by the side of the road at all, so we ran on the grass. This wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be, but it was very wet and muddy and my feet and socks got wet. We won’t even talk about the state of Daughter’s trainers. What is it with children and puddles? Peppa Pig has a lot to answer for.

I was desperate not to let Daughter down but by the time we were round the loop I was nearly in tears and I felt sick. I was very glad to get in the car and leave.  I had already planned to go for a run the next day to earn my Sunday Lunch, as was becoming tradition, and I was sure that the next day and next run would be better.

Unfortunately, this was not to be. On the Saturday evening we were invited to the farewell party of some very good friends as they embark on a new adventure on a different continent. I’m going to miss them and so I’m not sure whether it was the sadness that they were leaving, gin and tonic, Jagermeister like German shots, general sense of dehydration, not having had enough to eat or the half an hour I spent in the Bouncy Castle Disco Dome bouncing along to Taylor Swift and Relight my Fire by Take That (best song ever FACT), but on Sunday morning, I couldn’t even keep water down and a run was definitely not on the cards.

This meant that the next day I could run was on Monday.

I have plotted a loop from my office that is 4.6k. I know that last week I said I need the app, but the reality is that if I run for 60 minutes, at the speed that I run, I won’t have completed the 10k. So I have decided that I need to start completing distances – even if it takes me a long time, at least I’ll know I can do it.

So I’m going to start trying to run 4.5-5k distances, knowing that I will still have to walk some, but at some point (hopefully within 6-8 weeks) I will be able to run 5k without stopping.

I decided to go at lunchtime today as I’ve been a bit nervous running on the way home in the dark. I run my own business and today it was just me and Husband in the office (not that I think Hockey Sister would object anyway) so I decided that I would risk a bit of afternoon sweat!

Again, however, it was awful. My first kilometre split was 6.34 minutes and I was ruined. I had no idea I was going so fast, but the upshot of it was that I had to walk more of the rest of the loop than I have done previously. I am feeling quite disheartened. I did run/walk but probably only in 2 minute/30 second splits and I was completely shattered.  I can’t get the pacing right at all.

I have looked at my “Sunday Run of Glory” (which is what I’m calling it now, in case it really is the best that I ever manage) that I completed with Sister 3 just a week or so ago when I ran for 19 minutes in one go. When I check the timings though, this run had 10.30 and 11 minute kilometre splits and we sped up in the middle. Starting off with a 6 minute something second split may very well kill me and certainly isn’t going to get me to the point where I am able to run 5k in one go. Unfortunately though, I have no idea how to practically do anything about this. But I’ll do the loop again on Wednesday and see what happens.

One positive from the run however (and we should always try and find a positive in any situation), was that I ran/walked 4.6k in 39 minutes and actually it isn’t that far. Perhaps I should give a park run a go, even if I know I will have to walk a bit. Something to ponder.

Today (Wednesday) was a different day however, and I am pleased to report I’m feeling much less despondant and much more positive.

Firstly I have lost more weight and I am able to wear jeans that I bought last year in Florida “to slim into”. This is a brilliant feeling and makes me happy.

Secondly, I went out for a run at lunchtime today and it was much better. I am back to using the app (I used to be indecisive but now I’m not so sure….!) but as the app is only 31 minutes’ long, at the end I kept going until I had completed 5.4k. I managed 8 minute and 12 minute runs (with 3 minutes’ walk in between each) for 45 minutes and then walked the rest until I reached 5k. I was out for nearly an hour, fitbit buzzed and it felt good. I was much slower of course but I kept going. I may have to reconcile myself with the fact that I’m unlikely to break Paula Radcliffe’s record anytime soon and just concentrate on getting my minutes of consecutive running up, but progress is progress I suppose.

The other thing that I have found, is that although the run on Monday was awful, I still prefer running in the day to running on my own in the dark (I’m a bit of a wimp).  If I can complete next week according to the app (which is 20 and 25 minutes in one go – eek) then I’m going to ask to go out with Sister 3 again and try and push my times forward. If anyone else (that I know personally) would like to go out with me for a run (and importantly is happy with c10 minute per kilometre times) then do please let me know as I would love a bit of company, slow company, but company all the same.

Slow and steady – apparently – wins the race. Frankly this is laughable, but slow and steady will hopefully allow me to finish the race. At the moment, this is what I am aiming for.