Going further than I ever have – apart from once

Training re-cap for week ending 22nd August: Monday – stopped half way through, Tuesday – did it! 45 minutes at Bolton Abbey, Wednesday –  rest, Thursday – got less than 50 metres before calf muscle twinge, icepack, Friday – more icepack, Saturday 9 MILES.

Yes that’s right. 9 whole miles, 14.48 km. That is the longest distance I have ever run. Oh actually no it’s not, there was the half marathon 3 years ago but when we trained for that we never got past 10km. So it’s the longest training run I’ve ever done and I almost certainly ran far more of the 9 miles today than I did of the half marathon. Apart from 2 little glitches we managed to stick to running intervals of two and a half minutes with a 30 second walk rest. The glitches involved starting the walk break a little early. The 9 miles took us 1hr 56 mins and 10 secs with an average pace of 12minutes 55 seconds per mile. I am really happy with that for such a long distance. I also think that if we stick to the Jeff Galloway training plan we’ve been following, I will be able to keep going at that pace for much longer which means I can probably stop panicking about the minimum pace required at the Disney World Marathon which is 16 minutes per mile.

Anyway, the run. We got the train out to Skipton and ran back home. The entire route is along the canal and you can get onto the canal just opposite the station car park. No navigation required – just keep running next to the canal. There is quite a lot of info on the Leeds Liverpool Canal online and the section we covered today is detailed on the Skipton to Stockbridge section of a website all about it. There area lot of pictures so you can see where I was running. I do have to keep reminding myself that we are pretty lucky to be able to run in this part of the world!

I was a little concerned about this run, not just because of the distance but also because of my calf muscle twinges and slightly creaky knees over the last week. The first three miles were ok actually. I settled into running quite quickly and I enjoyed being out and being by the canal with its colourful canal boats (some with brilliant names like Soggy Bottom), its dog walkers, its ducks, swans and moorhens. My legs felt ok. I started to struggle at roughly half way, I was feeling tired and struggling to focus on enjoying it and it all just felt a bit like plodding. I do wonder if I need to think about eating something at roughly 5 miles, I may try that on the next long run. Anyway I desperately tried to hang on to why we are doing this and tried to focus on how much progress I had already made. I took a slightly longer walk break somewhere just before 6 miles (not that I knew that) and then Kath told me we had gone past 6 miles. We’d done two thirds! Then I really just kept plodding, my thighs and hips were tight (but not my calf!) and it seemed a huge effort but I never felt like I wanted or needed to stop the run. I needed another longer walk break because I just couldn’t get my legs to move but shortly after that we were in familiar running territory and running along a section of the canal we have done before. I couldn’t take the walk breaks out but I did keep going to the end. It was so good to have done it. I was surprised to have done it at what is for me a very decent pace over the distance. It didn’t feel at all comfortable but I’ve sort of forgotten that now. I remember a field full of calves lounging about in the sun. I remember the heron (not one of our ‘usual’ herons, it was smaller and lighter in colour, maybe a young one), the miserable looking cyclists and the happy ones, the rabbits in fields and the just being outside.

We finished the run and then had to walk home from the canal. It took a very long time and as we got to the top of the golf course I actually felt quite poorly. Kath had taken her backpack with hydration system. I had ignored it for most of the run but I did then take time to drink some water. The walk route took us past Kath’s mum’s house and Kath stopped off and grabbed me a banana. A bite of that and I felt much better.

Once home I did some stretches (actually I spent a long time in Child’s pose and lying on my back with my knees to my chest but I did stretch too) and had some icelandic yoghurt with fruit and then a cool bath. My legs are tired, my knees are a bit grumpy but not much actually hurts. The exception to not hurting is both middle toes which seem to have taken a battering and which are bruising under the nail. I’ll do some yoga and stretching later and we’ll see how bad it all is tomorrow

A good run with lots to learn – I need to drink more during the longer distances, I should probably eat something for enegery too and, perhaps most importantly, however hard and horrible it gets, a few hours later I really just remember having done it and a few of the nice things seen along the way

Leeds 10km Run for All

Today was the day. Our first race. I use the term loosely – I don’t race. I plod along. Be that as it may, today we were tackling our first running event since the half marathon 2.5 years ago. I was excited and scared in equal measure. We had a cup of tea in bed and then got up, got our running gear on and had a bowl of porridge. We set off about 7.30am for the 40 minute drive into Leeds. We couldn’t find the way into the car park we had planned on using and Leeds is an absolute pain at the best of times, with road closures it was impossible. So we had a rather stressful 20 minutes getting on and off loops and eventually finding a car park that had an entrace we could get to. Once parked, we walked over to the Headrow amd I munched my banana on the way.

We joined a queue for the loo (I’ve used worse) and then we just waited around for a bit – actually our delayed arrival meant that we didn’t really have to wait that long once we had found our assembly area. It wasn’t that clear where we needed to be or how to get into it – it all seemed blocked off so we just ducked under a tape to get into the ‘green’ area. The blue and red runners went first and then the greens followed. The mass warm up was just stupid – mostly because they had told us all to move to the front and fill any gaps so there was no room to actually do the warm up. They sent the blues and reds on their way and then walked us up to the start. We set off towards the front of the greens and off we went:

First km – well it went quite quick but didn’t help me settle. Given our run/walk intervals we knew we’d get in people’s way if we weren’t careful and at the start everything is so bunched up that walking didn’t make sense so we kept going and took a walk out. That’s not something I have practiced though so it unsettled me a bit. We did eventually settle into quite a nice run/walk routine and the markers for 2 and 3 km came and went. It was hot. It was getting harder. I was coping with people though. 4km and a water station later (I didn’t get any) it was all still ok but I was beginning to really wish we could turn back and head for home. It was hot.

I missed the 5km marker completely. As we executed our 180 degree turn, one of the marshalls said 5.5 km and I presumed she meant that’s what was left. I could see the next marker ahead and kept thinking, right nearly half way, nearly half way… and then the marker said 6km. More than half way! Yay! I did take a couple of walks out, not quite sure where actually. Aorund what I now know was between 5 and 7km. I also ignored the 2nd water station but didn’t have the energy to avoid the water spray eventhough I didn’t really want to be sprayed. Poor Kath was to my left and closer to the spay so she got a proper soaking.

At 8km I was struggling, really struggling and just about hanging on until each walk break. Have I mentioned it was quite hot? But 9km came. My calf muscle felt horribly tight and it took me a little while to decide if it was pain that required me to do something or whether it could just be ignored. I added in a short walk (much to Kath’s dismay who of course knew what our pace was). She urged me on to start running again and I now know why. We passed the 400m to go flag. Just keep running Jess! All I remember is Kath telling me repeatedly that we could do this. Then I could see the finish line and I saw the clock. It said 1.24.something… I hadn’ t seen the clock when we started but the race pack had said that the green runners would start 10 minutes after the blues and reds. I didn’t really think it was possible but just in case I pushed hard. My (not so) little legs somehow still had something left and could go faster – and there it was: Kath’s watch confirmed it – 10km in under 1 hour and 15 minutes, a pace of under 12 minutes per mile. Wowsers. Our official time was 1 hour 14 minutes and 18 seconds.

As far as I can see, looking back at what we managed in our previous running life, that’s about 3 minutes faster than our previous best at the distance. Not that we are measuring against what we did before because we started from nothing this time round. I looked because it gives me confidence that the training is working, that the run/walk method is working, that Jeff Galloway’s plan with our slight adaptation is working and that means that if we stick to the training plan we will be able to do the RunDisney Walt Disney World marathon in January. The idea of me running a marathon is obviously totally ridiculous but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

I do need to remember to eat something after running though. I didn’t want anything when we got back to the car and then we decided we would just have a quick shower and go out for food so I didn’t have anything when we got back home either. By the time we were sat waiting for a food to come I felt decidedly dodgy and lightheaded – this will have been about 3 hours after finishing the run. As soon as I had some food (a trio of mini Yorkshire burgers at the new Keelham Farm Shop in Skipton if you must know) I felt better. Won’t leave it so long next time!

Well even running a 10km event doesn’t get me out of the Sunday Weigh In – I lost nearly 2 pounds which drops me nicely into the next stone and keeps me going in the right direction. Talking of right directions – thanks for all the donations to Panthera! Keep them coming in on our JustGiving Page


So how many of you are braving a run in this heat? Well, for England this is hot hot hot – for northern England this is insane. How do those of you who live in hot countries ever do any running? I’m not complaining about the weather, don’t get me wrong, I like hot but I do prefer it when I don’t actually have to do anything much!

Yesterday was the 30th June and that meant the start of our marathon training programme. That means it is 28 weeks to the Walt Disney World Marathon Weekend. Oh my goodness – 28 weeks! Given the heat the sensible thing would have been to give running a miss and perhaps walk instead or to at least postpone the run until later on in the evening when it got a bit cooler (although I don’t remember it getting cooler!). But no, we went at about 5pm. The first run of the programme is a 45 minute run. In fact all the runs during the week are 45 minutes.There is then a distance run at the weekend, 3-5 mile one weekend and a long run the next – the mileage for the long runs builds up by 2 miles every other weekend.

We are continuing to follow the run/walk approach to running  – sort of adapted a bit from Jeff Galloway who has also created the training programmes for runDisney.Our run/walk intervals are still at 2 minutes running and 30 seconds walking but we did talk about increasing the running bit soon. Not in this heat though. So off we toddled in the heat. We probably started at fairly strong pace for us but that didn’t last long, even in the shade it was a struggle. In the sun I just couldn’t breathe. We kept going though and on a few runs started walking up to 15 seconds earlier. We got to the end. The pace was 13.23 minutes per mile so actually not that bad given that it was so hot and we went for 10 minutes longer than we have done on our weekly runs before.

I didn’t hate that run, I quite enjoyed it, I just found it very very very hard. I am excited to have ticked off the first run of the training programme. It feels like we’re in the game now. Next one is tomorrow, the forecast suggests a slightly cooler day. I’d like that!

Getting back in the zone

As I write this there are gorgeous smells coming from the kitchen where Kath is making healthy blueberry bran muffins as well as our late lunch/early tea of quorn chilli; we’ve had a lovely morning (after a very long sleep for me) at Bolton Abbey where we went for a roughly 3 mile walk and we have spent most of the time talking about training, the runs we’d like to do from home as well as from starting locations locally. I am in a much better place mentally today. A number of things have contributed to that.

1. The little messages of support and tips on here, Facebook and Twitter and the very generous sponsorship/ donations made to Panthera. Thank you

2. It is Sunday which means weigh-in day and I have lost another pound. If I can shift another 2.2 pound I will drop into the next stone and it is exciting to see that first number go down rather than be an irritating and slightly depressing constant. I will be close to being the lightest I have been in over 3 years and not far off being the lightest I have been in over 18 years.

3. Our next run will be the first run of our marathon training programme. Now yesterday this freaked me out. Today I am excited about this. I am even more excited because Kath has bought me some smileimagey star stickers so I can mark of each run (yes, I know I probably need to get out more – but smiley star shaped stickers!). Here is the first page, blank. I’ll post again when it is full of happy little stars

4. Our first ‘race’ is two weeks today. That was just stupid yesterday but today I see it differently. Today I see it as part of my learning curve. It won’t be fast, in fact it will be very slow but it has been a very long time since I’ve run in a crowd, the timings for when to eat, when to pee, when to warm up…. are all different so it will be a great, if difficult experience. I know I can do the distance. I’ve done it twice now in the last 4 weeks and once I did it when I really really wasn’t in a happy running place.

So, yesterday running  made me miserable, and it really did. Today I feel better. Today I am pleased that the 6.5 miles yesterday haven’t resulted in any niggles or even stiffness. My legs were a little tight but the walk sorted that. Today I am proud of how far I’ve come and (while still totally unfit) how much fitter I am than I was. I am back in that tiny little zone in my head that knows that I can do most things I really put my mind to. It’s a little zone, a tiny one, one that I don’t manage to get myself into very often, one that shuts the door on my depressive black Labrador and on all the doubts, questions and negativity. It’s the zone that knows that this girl can and it is the zone that is learning to shout and be heard over all that other crap. So, Leeds: here’s my number. Look out for me. I won’t be running fast but I will be running because I have decided I am doing this so whether I can or not is actually irrelevant, I am doing it.


Just a quick one

I don’t feel like writing about running today, I feel like writing about other stuff which I will do shortly but I’m all for celebrating successes and I like a pat on the back etc. We had a rest day yesterday and did a 35 minute run today. Pace: 11.55 minutes per mile. Distance 2.94 miles. So just to be clear – PACE 11.55 -as in UNDER 12 MINUTES PER MILE.  Just saying