Splish Splash I was having a….

Run. I was having a run. No that sounds wrong. I was running. Well sort of. I was out there putting one foot in front of the other at varying paces. It looked like it was going to be another of those days where it just doesn’t happen. I have a ton of marking to do – the kind that takes forever because it’s formative so needs even more detailed feedback, we went out for lunch and that took longer than we wanted it to and the weather – urgh.

Anyway, I had ordered some new trainers ridiculously reduced – some Inov8 Roclite 305 gore-tex ones for under 50 quid. I mean it would have been rude not to. So I set myself a target of 5 more essays and then I could/had to go run. I put long pants on – yep time for big girl pants, too cold for 3/4 now I reckon – a long-sleeved top, my rain jacket and then because light was fading fast, a bright neon yellow t-shirt over the top. I looked a right plonker but I wasn’t about to be cold! Then I put the new shoes on and set off.

I can’t really do a proper review because it was only a short plod and I walked the uneven, muddy, trail-y bit because I couldn’t really see where I was putting my feet and my ankles were quite stiff and I am terrified of injuring myself. But  – why the hell did nobody tell me about gore-tex trainers before? I had so much fun not avoiding puddles and splish sploshing around that I started searching  puddles out to jump into them – and I still have dry socks. I can do puddles and have dry feet. It’s magic! I never had gore-tex trainers before. Getting some somehow always felt like a step too far – they’re for proper runners. I don’t really go anywhere where I need them, or for long enough that wet feet really matter… so the complete crap would go in my head.  I tried some once and they felt really tight and inflexible compared to the non gore-tex version so I presumed they were all like that. I was wrong. Love these. Bring on the puddles!

Happy running and splish splash splashing about!

Grumpy Grouse and too many miles

So last weekend we were due to run the Bolton Abbey Half Marathon in the Run for Manorlands event. I was not as nervous about it as I thought I might be. I felt good after the kingfisher miles when I woke up and thought that actually it might be ok and I would worry about the remaining miles to get me to the 20 it said on the plan after the event. However, Kath was struggling. It was clear that doing an organised event with people, a fixed time and fixed route was not going to work or be good for either of us. We decided IMG_2851not to go and run round here instead. Soon it became clear that that wasn’t going to be healthy either. A long run was too much for our fragile brains. We did manage to get out in the afternoon for a short little run and walk and even got Kath home for the start of the rugby while I toddled along to the co-op. I saw a very pretty duck on the canal if I remember my days properly.IMG_2886

I then actually managed to run twice during the week! On Monday and Thursday I dragged my butt round roughly 4 miles. I don’t really remember anything much about Monday’s run – it was along the canal and it was in the morning I think and it was promising to be a beautiful day. On Thursday we went up. Kath went ahead and she picked me up on her way back down. I plodded my way up Ilkley Road towards Ilkley Moor and saw pheasants and inquisitive fluffy cows and a kestrel. Just as I was beginning to long for enough breath to be able to swear at the hill something caught my eye – red kites circling above me. I stopped to watch them for a while, got my breath back, marched up the hill and saw Kath. We stood together and watched the kites a while longer before making our way back down.

 

We moved the weekends around so this weekend then became our long run weekend. Yesterday the plan said 8.5 miles walk. We vaguely toyed with the idea of getting the train up to Haworth and running to Top Withens but as we went to bed on Friday we were talking about plans and agreed that Kath should just get out and run if awake early and ready to go. She did exactly that and was back not that long after I’d woken up. I had actually planned on going back to bed for a bit but Shackleton had other ideas and was curled up in the warm patch I’d left. So I sat on the sofa a while cuddling our Ernie-Cat and when Kath got back we had breakfast and then did sort of nondescript Saturday IMG_2950things for a while and then I set off on my run. I was planning on taking it really easy and do a 1 minute run/1 minute walk with more walking if needed. I wanted as much as possible in the tank for today.

I had a lovely run out. I stuck to the intervals all the way with the odd longer walk or longer run to let people pass or to get past them. At no point did I find it hard, at no point was there a mental battle, I was just out enjoying the autumn sun. I stopped the watch after 8.5 miles and then walked the remaining half a mile home. It felt good to have had a positive outing and to have completed a full week of the Dopey Plan.

IMG_2953Today was the big one. We were supposed to cover 20 miles. We’d already said we would probably not cover the entire distance because we wanted to go to Bolton Abbey and run there and go up to Simon’s Seat on Barden Moor. Anything over 16 ish felt ok in my head given the terrain we would cover. I felt up for it this morning, perhaps a little anxious but generally fine about going. We parked in the top carpark because there are still roadworks blocking the road down to the Cavendish Pavilion. We set off from there and made our way down to the stepping stones and crossed over the bridge. We stayed on the bottom path and ran/walked until we started going up, then we more walked/ran and eventually just walked. So the elevation profile gives you a sense of our adventure today:

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Basically it was a hike with a little, tiny little bit, of running thrown in. To be honest, the up was fine. It was hard and I am so totally not hill fit but it was fine, it was a challenge and one I knew I’d rise to – might just be a matter of time but if there is a hill I will get to the top of it eventually. I could have run some of the bits along the top – particularly for example the ridge line between Lord’s Seat and Simon’s Seat but the path is flagged and the flags were wet and I’m a wimp and also I was conscious that I had a very very long way to cover still. we reached Simon’s Seat. No really, it’s there.

 

We’d been running in a mixture of low cloud and mist and that easterly wind they talked about on the forecast – yep it was there. Still it was somehow lovely. There were no other people for a start. It wasn’t a menacing wind, just a wind and the mist and cloud felt like it was hiding us from the world beyond, keeping us safe from the hustle and bustle. There was a hint of magic in the air interrupted only by the chuntering of the grouse.

Anyway, the problem with going all that way up is that at some point you have to come IMG_2973back down. I’m not a fan of down. It took me longer to get down from Simon’s Seat (about a mile) than it takes me to run 5km on the flat. It pushed a whole load of buttons and took a huge amount of mental strength. The views were pretty good when I remembered to look and we had some giggles on the way down. More grouse – they must the grumpiest bird on earth. They sort of go from a slightly surprised but more irritated alarm call to a grumble to flying away chuntering like they are muttering grouse profanities under their breath. We did get really close to one which grumbled but refused to fly off – though I am now muddled as that must have been earlier between the two Seats.

Anyway the down. A few times Kath reminded me to just keep moving and that it is actually harder if you stop. She probably has a point. At one point though she called back saying ‘just keep your momentum through this bit’ as she glanced back she just saw me perfectly poised balancing on one leg saying ‘yep, too late’ as I ungracefully flung myself forward, slipped on the mud, wobbled, caught myself and whimpered. We dissolved into fits of giggles before moving on. Eventually, after what seemed like an eternity, we were down, on a proper lane. I set the run/walk intervals and waited for Kath to re-tie her shoelaces. I felt drained. It had been a physical challenge in the sense that  the up is pretty brutal when you’re actually not all that fit and that my ankles and core most definitely got a workout on the way down and it had been mentally pretty tiring. I really wasn’t sure I’d have another 10 miles or so in me. Kath read my mind (usually does) and suggested that we could split the run. So rather than turning towards Burnsall, we’d simply head back towards Bolton Abbey and then head home and go out again later in the day. That sounded like a more manageable plan and would still justify the medal the Run for Manorlands team had so kindly posted us.

IMG_2975We ran walked a lot of the way back. It was ok. In fact some of it was actually fun and I felt strong and positive and there weren’t any major battles going on in my head. I was tired and my back and hips were tightening but it was all ok and the scenery was stunning. We made it back to the Pavilion, Kath stopped at the loos and then we did the last push back to the car. We drove home and planned to go straight out again. As we got home Kath wondered whether maybe actually we’d done enough. We’d been out a long time and we had worked hard. I should have listened – that was the sensible call. At the very least we maybe should have had a longer rest. But no. In my head the 12.6 miles we’d done were nowhere near close enough 20. In my head I needed to go out and do more. So we set off. About half a mile in I decided that actually it was good to have made myself go out again. At a mile I knew it it wasn’t. I had nothing left. There were people, too many people and it felt like Kath was running really fast and I couldn’t make myself go any faster. Then there was some traffic noise and I physically flinched and then there were more people and I could see more ahead and I couldn’t run and I couldn’t stop the rising panic and I couldn’t find the words to explain to Kath and we got our wires crossed and I just wanted to be somewhere else, somewhere quiet, maybe with the grouse. We walked home. Another 1.85 miles added.

As we got in the house I started crying. I’m not even really sure why. 14.45 miles will have to do for today. It’s not 20 but there are no ups or downs like the ones I tackled today at Disney. I had a lovely time out there – I shouldn’t have gone out again, not straight away anyway, but we live and learn. I don’t feel broken now, tired yes, broken no. Every time I close my eyes I can hear the grouse chuntering and see that one suspiciously watching us as we made our way past. We saw herons and dippers today too and for the first time realised that the pretty birdsong we couldn’t place belongs to a dipper. It’s been a good day and the 1.85 mile meltdown doesn’t change that.

Sunday weigh in – I’m the same and Ernie cat has put on 400grams which is awesome news!

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Kingfisher miles

The Dopey training miles are ramping up and with that my anxiety levels about whether this might just have been a really stupid idea. But today was one of those outings that reminded me that it actually doesn’t matter. If I don’t finish Dopey, I don’t finish Dopey. None of this is really what it’s about. It’s about the time out there, enjoying the autumn colours, the air and the things that I would otherwise just not get the chance to see. If I don’t finish Dopey I will, of course, be gutted but I will nonetheless have runs like today. Runs that I probably would not have done had it not been for Dopey training.

I didn’t want to go out this morning. I was sleepy, still tired from a silly week, sleep deprived and a little anxious generally. 8.5 miles also seemed like quite a long way. But then we got sorted and set off. I couldn’t back out or postpone because we’d agreed to meet Kath’s mum for breakfast at Salts Mill. I didn’t really like the idea of having to get there roughly by an agreed time but there we were. We set off on the start of our sheep loop at 2 minute runs and 30 seconds walk. I felt sluggish but to be fair I was still waking up really.

The first mile came and it was all fine. A little through the second we saw 3 deer skip off into the distance on the former golf course. They are so graceful and gorgeous. Then we dropped onto the canal towpath – home for the next 6 ish miles. The autumn leaves had come off the trees in last night’s winds and the November morning sun was shining onto the water creating a playful mystery of light, colours and silver nothingness. And there it was: movement, a flash of orange and a streak of metallic blue. The kingfisher (well a kingfisher) was with us. We played tag with it for over a mile and on one stretch stopped to walk. I was probably close enough to take a picture but it just never occurred to me. I just watched it as it once again took off and flew straight down the middle of the canal until it disappeared into the sunlight. I realised I was smiling.

My achilles felt tight. It was making my feet feel odd. So we had an extra walk through the next running interval and then it all felt better so we continued the normal intervals. I had a little mental wobble shortly after we left the kingfisher behind (or it left us, who knows) but then we were through half way. Kath saw movement to our left. Another three deer (definitely different ones) hopped over the wall into a field of startled sheep. we stopped briefly to watch them. I was smiling again.

When we were nearly at 5 miles I realised that there was no mental battle. I was just doing it. Slowly and happily doing it. A little further along – probably somewhere in mile 7 – I had another longer walk to try and relax my feet and then we ran/walked the rest to Salts Mill. I asked Kath for help because I was suddenly concerned I wouldn’t make it. Silly of course, I had less than a mile to go and I did of course make it, comfortably. It was a good run! Breakfast was good too as was the leisurely wander round the bookshop.

In fact it has been a good day, afternoon nap and all!

Autumn Running Hamburg and Home

In the last post I mentioned our Ernie-cat. Ernie cat got worse. He was a really very very IMG_2284poorly cat. We finished his course of antibiotics but if anything her was worse – so back to the vet it was and this vet felt a mass in his tummy that shouldn’t be there. We put pretty much everything on hold, nursed Ernie for 48 hours and then took him in for surgery. Two big lumps were removed from his intestines and then the silly little bugger wouldn’t eat at all. It took us another 2 days to tempt him. Running was – unsurprisingly – hit and miss. I managed 5.5 miles on the Wednesday before his surgery but then nothing until the following Tuesday.

IMG_2825On the Monday though I did do something running related. I went for a counselling session to talk about the running meltdowns I seem to be having on every long distance run. It was really useful to chat things through. I can’t even recall the detail of our conversation now but the upshot is that I am probably just putting too much pressure on myself and that I have internalised some of the objective measures of ‘good’ running such as pace even though I would logically (and rightly) say that pace doesn’t matter and that #myrunmyrules is the mantra to run by. I felt loads better after that chat.

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On Tuesday I was working home and Kath had already run in the morning but wanted to go to the gym so I said I’d run a loop and then meet her there. I ran 5k faster than for a long time. It’s not a PB as such I don’t think but I never really kept track – my Garmin tells me it’s a new record so it’s the fastest this year. I wasn’t trying to go fast. I just realised as I went down a gentle slope that I could just stretch my legs a little more and that felt good so I kept going. I felt it but it was a good sort of feeling it. Then on Wednesday I went out again to clear my head and switch from one work task to another. I felt strong and comfortable running and I purposefully didn’t look at my watch trying to get back to what a good run should be about – being outside and enjoying the movement. I felt really good until about 5 miles, then a few tummy rumbles and cramps set in and I started to feel quite uncomfortable. By 5.5 miles I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to keep running the entire 10k. I really wanted to though. By 5.75 ish miles it was clear that continuing running would be a mistake. I stopped to walk a little, and then alternated sprint/walk/sprint in short bursts until I hot 10k. Then I walked back home. A new 10k PB – and this might be a real PB. Again I’m not sure because I’ve never really kept track but I don’t think I have ever run 10k with a consistent 12 minute mile pace. It felt good.

IMG_2665I didn’t make it out on Thursday and on Friday we flew to Hamburg early in the morning. Very early. We had a lovely weekend staying at Dad’s, wandering round Hamburg a bit, seeing Cirque du Soleil’s Toruk and getting a couple of runs in. These were good runs in the real sense – not in the pace or distance sense. They were good because we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. On Saturday morning we set off from Dad’s flat and  went through residential streets basically in a straight line until we hit the Alster. Then we went clockwise round the Aussen Alster stopping for views and to take pictures and chatting away as we trotted along. Running didn’t feel hard, it felt like a nice way to spend a gorgeous sunny morning. Before we knew it we’d covered 3 miles and I still felt absolutely fine. Eventually we came up from the Alster crossed a bridge and stopped for a couple more pictures of the city sky line and then made our way back down and anti-clockwise round the Binnen Alster finishing IMG_2828on Jungfernstieg and getting the bus back. We’d just missed the number 5 bus which was the most direct route and while waiting for a bus for a whole 6 minutes might be nothing here, for the busiest bus route in Europe that just seemed unacceptable so we jumped on the number 4 instead. We then had to get off earlier than anticipated because roadworks meant the stop we wanted was out of action – that did give us the chance to go through Kath’s favourite and undoubtedly best named tube station in the world – Schlump.

The rest of the day was all views (from the Elfie), cake and afternoon naps before heading out to the Arena to see Toruk (it was fab).

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Sunday was meant to start with a run but Kath had a nasty migraine type headache so running was out. After we established that horizontal was worse than sitting or standing we went for a walk and slowly the air and gentle movement eased the headache and nausea and she began to feel better. We walked along the Isebekkanal for a while and did a loop coming back past my Oma’s old flat and then did a loop in the park ‘Am Weiher’ opposite across the main road just because, said hello to a couple of geese and then headed back for breakfast.

 

IMG_2758A little while later Kath said she felt better and would like to run so we got ourselves sorted and got the bus out to Planten Un Blomen which, bizarrely, I had never taken Kath to before. We started off running round the outside of the park mostly stopping on and off to take pictures. We past the ice-rink that gave me the scar under my chin. I’d forgotten the ice-rink completely and if I’d thought about it at all I don’t think I would have said it was there but as soon as we ran towards it, I recognised it and remembered skating out into the middle, turning round to skate back, making it to the edge, reaching for the edge, thinking I had it and then searing pain in my knee. None of us realised until a good few minutes later that my knee wasn’t the problem
but that I actually had blood pouring out of my chin which had spectacularly split open. The only other thing I really remember about that day is that it ruined my at the time favourite yellow top because there was blood all down it and it had to be cut off me because it couldn’t go over my head.IMG_2752

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IMG_2774Anyway, I digress. We ran past the site of my first ever sporting accident (hm) and chatted away, stopped for pictures and looked at the autumn colours. It was stunning. We made our way past the museum of Hamburg History and looped round the end of the park before doing another little loop just for fun so we could run on a little trail and cross some stepping stones. Then we looped randomly round the gardens stopping to spend some time in the Japanese Garden with stunning colours. Then we hopped on the bus back, had some food and later drinks with the parentals.  Monday we flew back home.

24 Mile weekend

Our little Ernie-Cat is giving us a bit of a scare. Last week we took him to the vet because IMG_2475he just didn’t seem right. Last year he had a nasty deep ear infection and we thought it might be that again so we got him checked. The vet didn’t see anything obvious but agreed he wasn’t quite right. He was given 10 days of antibiotics and we kept an eye on him all week. On Friday he just wasn’t right at all. His fur looked dull and he seemed really dazed and confused. The I went to give him some treats and he couldn’t eat them. We decided we would go back to the original Dopey training plan to do the long run on Sunday. We’d planned it for Saturday because the weather forecast looked glorious and much better than Sunday. But Ernie is more important so we took him down to the vet first thing Saturday. The vet had a good look at him and again couldn’t find anything but did take some blood. She said she’d call us in a couple of hours. Those couple of hours came and went as did the rest of the day. The vets were just run off their feet with appointment and emergencies. So Ernie-Cat is complicated. He has slightly elevated white blood cell count and calcium but only marginally. We have found that he is hungry but can only manage really soft food (like our porridge or really expensive cat food).

IMG_2476Anyway you’re not reading this because you are interested in Ernie-Cat. After waiting for the vet all day and worrying and convincing ourselves that it was something nasty and then unconvincing ourselves we were exhausted. We were both ready to just curl up on the sofa where I spent most of the day anyway and not do anything at all. But it was such a lovely evening still. The sun was out and the colours looked amazing. I grabbed a bag, chucked a water bottle into it and filled a little bag with nuts and then found the remaining chocolate and peanut butter  thingies Kath had made in the freezer and chucked them in too. Then I grabbed Kath’s hat and gloves just in case and then Kath and we set off on a walk. The training plan actually had a 7 mile walk for today. We usually run/walk or do some combination of running and walking on the long walk days just because usually walking for that duration when we could be running just seems odd. But we weren’t up for running, walking was perfect.

We walked along the canal towards Silsden. We weren’t at all striding out, we were just walking and chatting. Then we saw a kingfisher. The metallic blue seems particularly striking and vibrant at the moment. We got to watch it quite a lot because it kept landing in places where it was actually quite visible. I tried to get a photo but I couldn’t zoom enough. Then it headed straight for the canal bank and we realised there was another one and there was a split second of bright orange and metallic blue kerfuffle and then they were off and soon out of sight. Stunning. A little further along we watched a buzzard pair glide overhead and a little beyond that we saw loads of geese flying  – well we heard them first. We stopped to watch them a while. We walked on until we’d covered roughly 3.5 miles and then turned just after we’d seen a group of goldfinches fly past. We wouldn’t quite make 7 miles that way (we weren’t going the same way back at the end  – I do know 3.5 miles is half way to 7!). The sunset was now behind us and it was a stunner. The colours were incredible reds, pinks, oranges and yellows.

As we got to the golf course bridge (I forget what it’s actually called) and crossed, the moon was beginning to shine quite brightly claiming its place amongst the clouds. We stopped off at Kath’s mum’s briefly and then walked home, had some food and went to bed ready for a 17 mile run today.

IMG_2526I felt good this morning. I felt well hydrated, well fuelled, confident. A little anxious about the distance but not daunted. It’s only 2 miles more than two weeks ago and there is virtually no uphill in it! Our train was a few minutes late but eventually we were in Leeds and ready to go. We went out the back so we could start right at the end of the Leeds Liverpool Canal. On our way out we saw a heron. Always a good sign!

We set off and the plan was to run the first mile and then settle into two minute runs and 30 second walks. Well, that worked well until about 5 miles as we ticked off the miles chatting about our Disney plans. Then I started finding it hard. Not really hard at all  – I could just feel that there was a little more effort in doing this than in just walking and then my head kicked in. By about 7 miles I was losing the battle. The voice saying I couldn’t do it was too loud, the repeat message was to just give up long distance running and that my absolute limit was probably somewhere around 7 miles. To just stop. So I had a bit of a meltdown. At about 8 miles we sat for a bit and I changed the intervals to running 1 minute instead of two and I tried a bit longer.

I can’t articulate what happens in my head but it is exhausting and its a battle that went on for the rest of the miles. A battle between just keeping going – even just walking – and stopping with the urge to stop becoming near overwhelming at very regular intervals. I tried to refocus on the autumn colours. We saw another heron and there were ducks and plenty of things to keep my mind occupied but I could only ever focus on those things for seconds in-between trying to drown out the voice telling me to stop. Somehow we made it to Saltaire. I don’t really know how but there we were. We had been basically hurdling anglers for the last 2 miles or so and had also mostly walked with just the odd 1 minute run thrown in. We walked up into Saltaire village to get a bottle of water. While the fuelling was good with Tailwind, I was thirsty. I think maybe I need to take just water as well as the Tailwind.

From Saltaire we walked back with just a couple of little runs thrown in – so I did IMG_2544actually run in every mile. Once I had hauled my backside up 5 Rise locks we walked just a bit more and then I managed another little run down the road and then another little run down into the car park and we were done. It wasn’t the run I wanted but the last couple of miles walking and talking things through were probably useful and we finished the 17.26 miles in just under 15 minute mile pace.

I’m mentally tired and I’m trying to be positive about the run as a training run. I covered the distance and the first 7 miles were actually comfortably under 13 minute miles and when I look back I was, like Kath said all along, physically fine. My running form was good, nothing hurt, breathing was fine… On the plus though all miles were within Disney pace except one but I think that’s the one where we went up into Saltaire to buy water. I learned that I need water as well as tailwind and that I need to keep working on the mental side of running. I need to get better at defeating the voice in my head that tells me I can’t do it and I need to stop being annoyed at myself for not running more or whatever. It happened, I got the distance done anyway. Next time will be better.

So, 24 miles covered this weekend means that I have smashed through 600 miles for the year. I am on track with the training and the good news is that I’m not really broken. I’m tired and I’m sure I’ll feel a bit sore and tight tomorrow but it’s all good. It’s all good.

More importantly though Ernie-Cat seems a little happier and more settled.

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Sunday Weigh-In news – I lost 2 and a half pounds if you take the pre-run weight or 5 and half if you take the post run weight (which I don’t because I usually jump on the scales before running).

Happy Sunday.