Washington DC running 1

Well, as promised, here is the first of several catch up posts.

It has been a pretty full on week or so. I haven’t had time to blog at all really. We flew out to Washington DC a week ago – I think. Though I have lost track. I am writing this on Wednesday 5thJune but I am not sure when I am going to get chance to upload it as I am currently in Shenandoah National Park at Big Meadows Lodge and the wifi is intermittent (I am surprised there is any at all). So DC.

DC was hot and humid and I wasn’t at all sure about running but I wanted to. I am beginning to think that tourist running is just the best way to see a place and get a feel for it. So the first morning, with the time difference on our side, we headed out early – before sunrise although there was plenty of light. We ran up the hill from the hotel towards the Capitol Building and then turned right from there towards the National Mall. We ran, stopping at the crossings – this is rather a thing in DC, the traffic lights seem to take forever to change for the pedestrian signal. On this occasion though it was a welcome break. It wasn’t yet hot or that humid but enough for a film of sweat to form – the kind that makes you feel slightly smug.

The path on the National Mall is pleasant to run on and we took in the sights as we went, trying to get a sense for where things were as we passed museum after museum – the Capitol behind us and a seemingly endless stretch of path with grass on one side and Madison Avenue on the other with Constitution Avenue another block over. After a little while we crossed another road and headed left into the middle of the Mall so we were right in the middle and could, for the first time, see the Washington Monument spiking the sky. It really looks quite striking in a slightly odd sort of way. We stopped and took some pictures and then carried on running round the back of the Monument and towards the World War 2 Memorial. We turned left and looped round the other side of the Washington Memorial and made our way back towards the Capitol on the other side of the Mall passing the Smithsonian Castle. Now beginning to feel the heat we put a couple of walk breaks in and stopped to have a chat with a police officer and taking a picture with his bike. Bizarrely the thing he was most interested in was how to make good Yorkshire puddings (Lots of beating of the batter and hot hot hot oven and oil is the answer in case you were wondering). Then we were back. A great 4 and a bit mile loop to start getting a sense of the city. Later that day we covered some of the same route on a Segway which was more fun than I thought it might be and also much easier to ride than I had feared.

Day two in DC also started with a run. A short 2 mile loop round the Capitol Building and past the Supreme Court and Library of Congress. I’d seen the US Supreme Court from the inside the previous afternoon on a tour which was a bit crap. The guide just didn’t react to his audience and spent rather a long time explaining what a dissenting judgment is to an audience of academic lawyers. I enjoyed running past it again though with no people there and just thinking about some of the big decisions of our time that were argued and made in that building. Just a few steps further along the road is the Library of Congress. I hadn’t been in it yet but I could still sense the impressive nature of the building and I was instinctively drawn to it for some reason. I stopped and stared at it for a bit before running on to come down the opposite side of the Capitol.

I then looped right to head back towards the hotel and Kath went onwards down the Mall and towards the tidal basin. I was just going to go back up the path but as I crossed in front of the Capitol I looked up and thought that running up the steps towards it woud actually be quite fun and might make for a good photo or two. So I did that instead and once finished with that headed back towards the hotel, passed the hotel and to Starbucks which I hit at bang on two miles. 

Then it was time for some pretty serious conferencing before escaping later in the afternoon for a Capitol Tour and some time in the Library of Congress.

Tired, Humid, Grumpy

I have some catching up to do! I have several posts drafted but not edited and no photos in yet. I will sort them when I have finished this post. We are currently staying at the Hyatt Regency Golf Resort and Spa on Chesapeake Bay. It’s posh which on the one hand is nice because the service is fabulous (apart from chaos kitchen it seems), the facilities great and it’s just an all round nice place to be. On the other hand it’s full of the sort of posh people who play golf and know what to do with a marina. It is also one of the main hotels for the Eagleman Ironman race which was on today so it is full of triathletes and I am finding them rather intimidating. It’s pushing my already over sensitive buttons to see all these super fit people who not only run but also bike and swim. Honestly I think they are a bit mad – there is not enough body glide in the world to make me cycle and then run in a wet swimming costume even if it is one of those with shorts.

Anyway this post is not about triathletes and how I think they are weird. We are at the end of our holiday and I am still a bit bemused by how tired I am. But maybe that’s obvious, we have put an awful lot into not quite two weeks. That tiredness is impacting on running, as are heat and humidity. If I am honest, I am not loving the running. I haven’t really enjoyed a run since before the London Marathon. I do enjoy what running gives me though. I was thinking about that earlier today as I plodded away from Kath after having had a ‘disagreement’ about running during which I decided I would just go back to the room and hide under the duvet. I didn’t though and instead just kept putting one foot in front of the other.

It was humid and breathing seemed hard. My calf muscles were complaining, my right quad was almost as grumpy as I was and my achilles is still being a selfish whingey little fucker and of course, because I was grumpy, that’s what I focused on: How it was all so hard and miserable. Then I saw a heron fly into the rookery ahead and I smiled. Then I saw another follow. Just a few steps further along there were birds of prey circling overhead. I am not good at recognising birds of prey and am not even sure what sort would be here. I do know they have ospreys and I saw one a little further along. More smiles. Then a little rabbit shot across my path and fled. As I watched it go, my eyes were drawn to the edge of the golf course where I saw a deer disappear into the distance.

Kath caught up with me and we ran another mile or so together leaving our grumpiness behind and running along the marina to take some silly selfies. As we left the marina to finish our loop I realised that I was no longer focusing on how hard things were. It was still humid, my body was still complaining a bit but I was thinking more about how running allowed me to see all these things and be out in some beautiful places watching wildlife in a way that I would just never otherwise experience. I’d just never get up and go for a walk in the same way and neither would I cover the distance I do when running. I see more and I see it differently. When I run my focus is different. People often ask me why I don’t simply walk and enjoy seeing the wildlife etc and whether I miss things when running. Well interestingly I see more when I run. When I walk I get lost in thoughts about, say, my endless to do list, a session I am teaching the next day, a paper I am writing… I’m rarely in the moment. When I run I am right there with me and that means that my focus is on what is right there with me and as a result I get to see things I wouldn’t otherwise. So while I am not really looking forward to running again tomorrow, I am really looking forward to running again tomorrow!

Stunning Running

Last weekend we went to a lodge on the edge if Kielder Water. It was our little anniversary get away. It was lush. We planned on a walk somewhere on the way on Friday, and runs on Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

We set off Friday morning and drove north to the National Trust property Wallington. We had some lunch and then walked a little loop through the estate and woodland along the river. Then we had cake. This was a good start to the weekend! We visited the Kielder observatory in the evening but it was ridiculously windy and cloudy so we didn’t see anything much. The talks were interesting though

On Saturday morning we set off on a 7 mile loop around the Bull Crag Peninsula. The running was both harder and better than I imagined it would be. It was surprisingly hilly and it didn’t occur to me until about 4 miles in that one of the reasons the running was tough was because I wasn’t walking the hills. I was just running, looking at the amazing landscape and every now and again stopping for a photo. At the end my legs were tired and I was grateful to walk the last bit and look for red squirrels and very excited when we saw one!

The rest of Saturday was lazy and taken up with reading a whole stack of magazines which I’d left to pile up for ages and ages.

Sunday was long run day and I was anxious about this for some reason. We had decided to run out to Kielder dam and back – a total of about 13 miles. I prepped our tailwind for fuel, made sure watch and phone were charged and off we went. The first part of the route was the same as the day before but soon we were in new territory with Kielder Water on our left coming in and out of view as we zig zagged our way through the woods on the ‘waterside’ path.

I walked a few more of the hills on Sunday. I nearly had a meltdown in mile 2 because I seemed to be really feeling the uphill pull on that section. I got over myself and actually ran almost all of the first 5 miles which took us to the Tower Knowe visitor centre which was closed but did have some toilets that were open. From there it was another mile and a half to the other side of the dam so we jogged across, had a little break as we marvelled at the views and then set off back.

We took more pictures and walk breaks on the way back. By mile 8 though I was wondering if maybe I had bitten off more than I could chew with this pretty undulating 13 miler. For the next 3 miles or so I had a battle in my head to keep putting one foot in front of the other.

Then we were nearly there anyway and we walked a bit through a section of wood just before the Waterside Park our lodge was part of, the bit where we’d seen the squirrel.

The rest of Sunday involved more reading, the hot tub and a bottle of prosecco. I felt properly happily tired. We did go for a little walk once it got dark to look at stars. Wow, even with the lights of the cabins, reception and pub/restaurant, we could see so much more than we can ever see at home. I couldn’t work out the camera settings though to get enough exposure to take pictures so gave up and just looked at the night sky for a while.

Monday we were going to have a little sunrise run. I was tired and my legs were heavy. It was also very slippery with frost on the tarmac bits and I was not at all impressed with that. We went the other way along the water this time and after not quite a mile and a half came to a road/tarmac bit which was frosty and we couldn’t really see how long the tarmac stretch was so we called that it, turned round and then stopped about half way back to watch the sunrise.

We had breakfast, got packed and headed towards home. It was a 23 mile weekend and while I was definitely tired I was not broken. I am getting fitter but actually the most important thing about the running over that weekend is that we were just running for fun, doing our thing and that on all of the outings bits of it were effortless, bits of it were really challenging and I loved every minute, even the hard and bloody awful ones.

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.

Mid July to Mid August Round-Up

Wow, nearly a month without writing about running. That usually means I have fallen off the running wagon. Not this time really. I’ve been ticking over nicely. So here’s a summary with links to the more detailed posts about recent running.IMG_1952 2

So our Australia running adventures continued in Brisbane after a few days of not running as we completely relaxed in the rainforest on the Atherton Tablelands. We walked a lot but no running.

In Brisbane we had several plods along the Southbank and into the Botanic Gardens including a lovely parkrun meet up with our friend Jenny.

After Brisbane we had another stint of not running as we joined an Uluru tour out of Alice Springs although we did manage a plod in Alice Springs itself and did some walking during the trip.

Our final stop in Australia was Sydney where we managed a bit of running including one stunning 6 mile loop of Manly North Head before my ankles went a bit niggly and I mostly left Kath to it.

39515394_265814414237648_2206717328685531136_nSince we’ve got back we’ve not done too badly at all. We have managed to keep to a pretty good routine for both running and cross-training to support our running. We are on track with our Dopey Training (oh yeah – we signed up for that little 4 day adventure again) and getting sort of ready for the Great North Run which is scarily soon.

I’ve even managed to speed session last week – the trusted fartlek I’ve done before and then we had a lovely little adventure on Ilkley Moor where we tried out a new path which made a lovely little 6 mile loop and is certainly one we’ll do again. I also thought it was about time I ran 45 minutes continuously rather than stopping for photos etc so I tried last week but didn’t quite make it on the hills. Yesterday though I ran it all.

So it’s all going pretty well and we’ll just keep plodding along.