Chocolate cake and three and a half weeks to go

Things I have learnt since January:

  • When you get really, really sweaty, the salt can make your face really sore.
  • I often get a very bad headache after a long run, even though I drink lots of water during and after as well as rehydration salts.
  • When you run really fast down a hill, it can make you feel sick, and you can feel your ankle joints rattle.
  • If you live in England, you have to be able to run in all types of weather. I actually quite like running in light rain but hate running in the wind.
  • My running kagoul is not even slightly waterproof.
  • Strangers high five you as you run past them (this has happened twice in the past week).
  • For every d**k that shouts “run fatty run” at you, there are at least 20 lovely encouraging people in cars who slow down at junctions to let you run across rather than making you wait and run on the spot, looking slightly deranged. Most of them give you a smile and some give you a “thumbs up”.
  • When I finish a run, I need to eat something quickly else I feel incredibly nauseous. I’ve tried many different things but the most effective by far, is chocolate cake.
  • I’ve finally tipped the 2 and a half stone weight loss mark and I’m feeling positive.

Since the last blog I have run 6 times, totalling 33.68 kilometres. Some runs are faster than others but on the whole I am faster. Not fast (Paula Radcliffe need not be concerned just yet), but definitely faster and importantly,I do feel stronger. Average pace per kilometre now is 9.15 minutes, which is nearly a full minute per kilometre faster than in February so this encourages me.

I’m doing a few warm-ups now and as long as I don’t go off too fast, I no longer contemplate death for the entire duration of the run, although this is still a feature when I encounter a hill.

So following my triumphant 5k without walking at the Little Stoke Park Run a couple of weeks ago (it’s possible that you may have heard about Little Stoke Park Run on the news over the past couple of weeks….) when it came to my next run, I felt under huge pressure to recreate my success.

I set off at lunchtime and ran along the river. There were several times when I did feel like stopping but I kept going. I was very pleased and this now proved that it is indeed a case of mind over matter, as marathon sister has been telling me. So now, I simply had to keep it up. Running regularly and keep building on the 5k distance.

The problem with this as a plan however, is that as I am slow (I may have mentioned this before) by the time I have run 5k, it’s taken me three quarters of an hour, and whether you run fast or slow, running for 45 minutes, without stopping, is very tiring indeed. It’s great for fat burning, weight loss, general fitness, strengthening your heart, asthma etc, but it’s exhausting and also from a practical point of view, to do more than that on a normal work day, is difficult to schedule in.

So for the next 4 runs, I stagnated a bit and for each ran around the 5k distance mark. These runs included a lovely outing with the Red Lady when we took on the dreaded Brislington Hill again and I also ran up Allison Road (for those of you that are not familiar with my local terrain, think Park Street in Bristol or the hills in San Francisco). It’s steep. But I managed to get to the top utilising this bizarre powerwalk/shuffle run technique that I am thinking about patenting. It’s not elegant, but it is effective. It also makes me grunt which is an unfortunate side effect.

I have never been a morning person EVER. I hate getting up and I love sleeping. So it was surprising for everyone that on the Monday morning I was out, running, in torrential rain at 7.30am. We had been away to Woolacombe for the weekend and even though I had optimistically packed my running kit, I had not been able to squeeze a run in. We had managed a powerwalk up and down some hills to try and counteract the lager and chips, but no runs. I was anxious not to have too long a gap in between my runs and so was up and out first thing on the Monday, keen to get a run in before work. My fluorescent kagoul was pulled up over my baseball cap (I hate getting my face wet) and my lovely new trainers were getting wet as I splashed through puddles, hopefully not looking, but certainly feeling, like Peppa Pig. It felt good and I wasn’t too hot. I was however soaking wet as my kagoul might as well have been made of cotton for all the waterproofing it offered. I ran, but observed the distance on my watch like a hawk. As soon as I had travelled 2.5k I turned around and went home. I felt happy that I had been out, but again it was only another 5k. I knew that I needed to increase my distances and so far, this wasn’t happening.

On the Wednesday evening, I decided to brave the This Mum Runs “conversational” 5k run again, with the intention of running on home straight away at the end which would have put my distance up to 6k. Brilliant in theory but those lovely ladies are so fast, I could barely walk the final 1k at the end, let alone run it home. They did look after me though and due to the “looping” system (where the front runners loop round from time to time and go behind the last runner and then slowly overtake again) I wasn’t always at the back. Both Football Mum (who is getting very fast and strong by the way) and Laura (who ran a 53 minute 10k at the weekend) both also ran with me for a while, which was nice and I appreciated enormously. But it was hard as it was one of those runs that just didn’t work. My shoulders were sore and niggly, my calves felt tight and I was 50/50 about even going when I got home from work, but I dragged myself out of the door. Laura had some advice about my shoulders and advised me to punch downwards every so often as I ran, in case it was to do with my hunched posture or possibly from getting wet on Monday from my Gene Kelly impression. So, looking a bit like a second rate cheer-leader, every 500m or so (or when I remembered) I punched towards the floor in a slightly drunk Toni Basil manner. My watch buzzed 5k at the bottom on Sandy Park Road (HILL) and I still had to run to the top. After trying to keep up with everyone, I just couldn’t do it and so I walked up the last hill. I was so cross with myself, but felt better as I realised that due to the speed we had run at I had shaved 42 seconds off my previous PB for 5k. 42 seconds?!!! I was shocked and elated. Well shocked, elated and completely and utterly shattered, but definitely elated. We stretched and I walked home, smiling.

This is the thing with running. It’s the thing that everyone and anyone who ever contemplates giving running a try should know – even if the run is bad (and as this blog demonstrates, some of them are horrendous) you are always glad you went. ALWAYS. Even when I arrived home, last Monday, so wet I was able to wring my undergarments out, I was still pleased I went. Whatever the reason is for not wanting to go – ignore it and always go if you can. It’s a strange thing. I can’t explain it, but as sure as I know that Hendricks Gin tastes amazing with cucumber, it is true.

Saturday is now Park Run day in our house. Husband LOVES Park Run. I think this is because he absolutely smashes his PB everytime he goes to one. Husband’s running by the way is going very well indeed. I am sure he will do a sub 60 minute 10k and will probably be showered by the time I cross the finish line. He has a running buddy now – who is also super quick. What is it with men? Is it genetic? Possibly not having to lug two undignified bouncing orbs on their front helps them?…

So as you have probably heard (unless you live on Mars) our local Park Run was the one in the news and was cancelled last week, therefore, homeless, we decided to try Ashton Court, which was also co-incidentally celebrating their 5th birthday on the same day. It was BUSY. Due to the extra publicity and Little Stoke refugees there were 561 people running. I met some lovely TMR (This Mum Runs) ladies and also met Melanie again who as you remember had promised to run with me at the back. The hill at Ashton Court is steep. It felt a bit like extreme mountaineering to be honest. I had to walk some of it, and let me tell you that even walking up it was hard, but I got to the flat on the top and made myself run the rest of the way. The AC course is 2.5k up (with 1 kilometre almost in need of grapple hooks in the middle) and then 2.5k down. Coming down I was very fast. It felt amazing, but I was also a bit scared to be running so fast – I could feel my ankle bones jarring with each step. BUT I WASN’T LAST. Now I suspect on a normal Park Run day (where the 200 extra people hadn’t turned up) I would have been last, but I don’t care. You learn when you start running to take your wins where you can get them. It was a shame not to be able to run with Melanie at the back but I’m sure there will be another opportunity in the future.

Yesterday, I took the plunge and ran 7.22k. This is the furthest I have run by some considerable distance. The first 4k were fine, almost enjoyable, but the final 1k was very hard indeed. It was very hot and very sweaty, but, I did it. I felt shattered afterwards and worryingly my back ached quite a lot for the rest of the day. I suspect that this is weight related, but apart from this, on the whole I felt ok. Tired and in need of chocolate cake (which I ate) but ok. My number for the 10k arrived this week (3.5 weeks until the race) and I know I have to keep pushing myself. I was still very slow, but my objective is not to try and get round in record time (luckily), it’s to get round the course in one piece, alive, with as little walking as possible. I’m feeling cautiously optimistic. Also, the Unofficial Trainer called this week to say that she has also entered the 10k so at least I know my warm up is in good hands.

This weekend I’m off with Fitbit Sister, the Red Lady and another friend to take part in the Colour Run Obstacle Course in Bath. It’s going to be BRILLIANT and hopefully a lot of fun. Running is fun….most of the time…….who would have thought I would have said that 3 months ago?

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