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!

Tentative Ten and Accidental Five

I didn’t set out to run 5 miles today. But I did. Well I ran some of the 5 mile outing, possibly most of it but I had a great time. But let’s start at the beginning. I put off running all week. Somehow I never really quite got round to getting my butt out the door. I did go to the gym on Thursday and did a bit on the bike and some strength work but my hip was a bit niggly so I spent time stretching and then walked on a fairly steep incline on the treadmill for 10 minutes. I wanted to be sure I could manage the planned 10 miler at the weekend. Eeek. On Friday I finally got my butt out for a little run. I used the Too Fat to Run? Clubhouse training run which was a Take 5 run. So you run to cover 5k, take 5 pictures and note 5 things you’ve enjoyed about the run. Here are 5 photos from that run: First bit of proper trail on the run (and a bugger of a slope but you can’t tell on the picture), blackberries, downhill across the old golf course, heron by the canal, me.

Then came the 10 miler. We’d thought about Bolton Abbey and doing our extended plus normal loop but then we were awake early and thought we could go closer to home rather than wait for Bolton Abbey to open. Then we had an argument about the route (mainly because I got canal bridges muddled in my head so we argued about distances), got grumpy, bitched at each other a bit, got over it and had breakfast. We decided to do our 1 hour run instead and the ten miler the day after. At lunchtime we decided we could try for the 10 miles after all, agreed the route (now that wasn’t so hard was it!) and set off.

I never really settled down properly. I ran the first mile, walked a little in the second, then ran the third and most of the 4th although I wondered whether I should just do the 1 hour and have another go at the ten another time. I felt like I was cheating, not doing it right – but then I thought that as I was out, I might as well try and do it now. Seemed silly to have to worry about it all over again. Towards the end of the 4th mile we walked a little and I had a couple of sips of the torque energy drink we had in our bottles. When we set off running again at about 5 miles I got really nasty tummy cramps and nearly threw up everywhere. I walked a bit, tried again and felt very very uncomfortable. We walked a bit more and then sat on a little wall watching a heron on the opposite side of the canal. Here he is just before he crossed over to where we watched him.


I’d pretty much decided to give up and walk to the golf course bridge and up towards home but as Kath pointed out, I’d done 6 miles, seemed silly not to carry on. I tried running a little and while uncomfortable, I was no longer in pain and no longer felt sick so I settled back into running very slowly for mile 7 where we saw another heron and a little further on a group of swallows seemingly playing around two moored canal boats.  Then we turned back towards home run/walking mile 8 and 9 trying to walk up hill as fast as I could and stopping briefly to say hello to Dino – the last time we’d ever run past him as he was being picked up by his new owner later.

The we walked most of mile 10. My hips and lower back were tight, as were my calves and I was now feeling the lack of fuel but otherwise I didn’t feel too bad and I recovered really well once I had some water and food in me. I was grumpy initially for having walked so much but that grumpiness has gone. I did 10 miles. I learned a bit and I’m looking forward to having another go. I also did pretty well on a number of strava segments in spite of my walk breaks and the distance. I am excited about the distance and doing it without it being a massive big deal – which it was the first time I attempted double figures.

Today we were supposed to do an hour. I woke up feeling a few after effects of the 10 miles but nothing too bad. Calves a little tight maybe but they soon got moving. I did want to be careful though so decided not to run first thing and wait until everything had got moving and I was sure nothing hurt. Then it got hot and then we thought it might be busy and we didn’t want people so we ended up going late afternoon after having had a curry for lunch. To make her miles up to this week Kath wanted 6 miles. I’d thought about an hour gentle, slow plod with walking to look at things and thought maybe 4 ish miles for me, max. Really I just wanted to go for a walk with the odd little run thrown in. 3 miles would have been fine!

So we set off at the same time, going the same route. Kath went ahead and when she got to 3 miles she was going to turn round and collect me on the way back. I figured that if I was going about 13.5 minute miles and she was going about 10 minute miles we wouldn’t be too far off and it’d be close enough to an hour. I was so proud of her as she sped away down Ilkley Road into the distance. By the time I got the the end of the road and turned left she’d gone. I didn’t see her again until she came back to meet me.

I was going too fast. I didn’t mean to. I felt quite comfortable for the first mile and a bit

Where the Weasel Wasn’t (ok, Mink)

and then I was suddenly aware of the sun and felt hot so at a mile and a half I walked for a minute and then set off again. I still felt good and even though I was consciously trying to slow down, I didn’t by much. At two miles I decided to walk because I didn’t want to suddenly feel tired when Kath came back. I also didn’t really want to go much further. I wanted this to be an easy run. I walked and as I did I saw movement in the water. ‘Cool’, I thought, ‘a water vole’ but it was the wrong shape and size. I swam straight at me and I got a good look. It was a mink. It hadn’t seen me. It moved gracefully through the water, totally unconcerned and I marvelled at how absorbed it was in doing what it was doing (which may have been just swimming for the fun of it). As soon as I moved to get my phone for a picture though, it clocked me and disappeared. Kath had seen it too it turned out.

At 3.36 miles I decided to run slowly to the next bridge because I’d got bored walking.


I thought I could wait there for Kath. She was going fast when I last saw her so she couldn’t be far off (Yes that was over 2 miles ago but still). I didn’t have to wait long at all but while I did I watched some cows and their calves in the field opposite and then as we started back we saw the little calf frolicking in another field. Lovely to watch.

We ran about a mile and I was finding it harder now but just as I was getting a bit grumpy about finding it hard, there was the now so familiar (but always exciting) flash of blue and orange and a kingfisher came past, stopped on a branch as if gently teasing us, before flying off again, flying a couple of loops over the canal and disappearing into the distance. I managed a bit further and then walked for a bit to let my tummy settle. Curry for lunch pre run was turning out not to be the best idea I’ve ever had. We ran walked to the end of the canal section and then ran up the short sharp hill into a little housing estate, walked up through a snicket and up and up and up home. I did run a bit of the slope (it’s a f-ing hill) but I felt no need to push on past the pub or up our road. I felt really happy with my weekend running and wanted to finish with that feeling. 5 miles. 5 really easy miles. Yes I walked and yes my tummy wasn’t great towards the end but it was a lovely 5 miles and it wasn’t a big deal. My ‘not a big deal’ numbers are going up and I’m quite excited about that! I’m also excited that I am now fit enough to accidentally run/walk 5 miles the day after completing 10!

Oh – Sunday Weigh-in. Same as last week.


Running with Kingfishers

Isn’t it funny how things get in your head. I don’t remember being particularly bothered by the man on a bike incident yesterday. It was irritating but I found it almost funny yesterday but it seems it got to me. It seems it got into my head and stole my running mojo, shattered my confidence and confirmed everything I should bloody well know by now: I can’t do this. I’m too fat to run. I’m unfit. I have no place parading my wobbly bits out in public. I should go back to the sofa with my packet of biscuits.

I woke up terrified of our long run. The last time I was this anxious about a run was, actually I’m not sure. Disney Paris half marathon maybe. I actually felt like I might be sick. It’s idiotic. It was a gorgeous morning, the planned route was flat and a point to point run. There was absolutely nothing to be scared of. It’s a little further than I have been recently but only by a mile and a bit. We had time, we planned to run/walk, there was no pressure…and yet I was terrified.

I had my slice of toast with peanut butter and a drink of water and then we drove out towards Skipton to drop our car off to be serviced. Once that was sorted we found a path onto the canal towpath and set off. We ran/walked the first two miles using 2 minute run/30 second walk intervals. Almost immediately we saw 2 gorgeous herons in a field IMG_6866on the other side of the canal. They were stunning and a few steps further on we found 2 heron feathers (now a little worse for wear after spending the next 2 hours in our pockets). In spite of the herons – our good run omen – I couldn’t settle. Both knees felt niggly, my feet felt like they were moving too much in my shoes, my left shin felt tender. The phrase ‘you’ll have to run faster than that’ kept popping into my head. I kept pushing it back. It changed to ‘I don’t know why you bother running at all’. I pushed it back. Then I got ‘come on, you’re part of an online running club for fat women – they can’t run and neither can you’. I got a bit cross at that because those women are bloody inspirational and amazing and brilliant runners. I pushed it back but my mind wasn’t having any of it. ‘You’re such a disappointment, look at you wheezing after less than 2 miles’. I wasn’t wheezing, well not until I thought that anyway. By mile 2 I was mentally exhausted and my tummy was gurgling ominously too.

I suggested that Kath ran on and I’d just walk. I felt awful for ruining her run and generally just pretty crap. I was losing the battle in my head and was beginning to firmly believe that running just isn’t for me, that I had no business being out there in my marathon T-shirt which I don’t deserve anyway because I walked most of it. Kath wouldn’t leave me. I was furious and relieved at the same time. I’d resigned myself to walking home sobbing my way through the remaining 6 miles and I really really didn’t want to ruin her run. We just kept walking. I thought about how disappointed all the lovely people in the Run1000miles Facebook group would be. They’d said such lovely things about my running and progress recently and now they’d realise that it was all just a fluke and that I’m just an imposter. Not really a runner, not even any good at pretending to be a runner. I wasn’t breathing.

As I walked and listened to nothing but my footsteps my breathing got easier and deeper and I realised I’d stopped thinking about anything. My mind was quieter. We’d been walking for most of mile 3. Kath was still there with me having refused to leave me behind. I wondered if she might help me run a little bit, just a little bit to see if I could do it mentally or whether everything would start screaming at me again. We walked past some dog walkers and then had a little jog to the next bridge. It felt ok. We crossed the road and then set off on another little jog and I felt ok. So we kept going, slowly and steadily. Then we saw the familiar yet often so elusive flash of blue – a kingfisher darted out of a tree and flew down the middle of the canal. It landed in a tree further ahead and then we saw a second one. They were catching up and leapfrogging each other, sometimes flying a little loop around each other, sometimes coming quite close, sometimes staying further apart. They both dived into the canal with hardly a splash and re-emerged looking magnificent. Eventually we lost sight of one of them but the other was still flying ahead, waiting for us, showing the way. I was still running.

Then there was a sudden unexpected movement just to my left, a thud and then a weird, and I mean really weird, noise as Kath tripped over something, hit the floor and somehow deflated. The noise and her staying down for an unusually long time really worried me but she was fine. In an effort to protect her garmin, she’d lifted her wrist up and got her elbow underneath her into her ribs, deflating and winding herself in the process. Like a true runner though she’d stopped the garmin before she even hit the deck. She’d been watching the kingfisher rather than where she was going. A little more carefully we kept following the kingfisher for a while longer before it flew a loop over the field opposite and headed back towards its mate which was now somewhere behind us. We’d been running with them for just over half a mile.

After having run a mile, I walked a bit to give my tummy chance to settle again – it was getting ‘unreliable’ with running. I was beginning to feel better. I was better at pushing the negatives back. I was making progress. I reminded myself that there was a time I couldn’t have run any of this. I took time to note that the slightly muddy and uneven terrain wasn’t bothering me whereas once it would have sent me into a meltdown. I noted that I was recovering from running segments much much much more quickly. I ran a bit of the 5th and 6th miles but we also took the opportunity to walk and chat about work we want doing on the house and holidays we’re planning (how to spend money basically). Then I ran the 7th mile and at about 7.5 miles Kath crossed the canal to head home and I carried on to go get milk. I didn’t run much after Kath left. It felt a bit lonely all of a sudden and I knew that my running form had gone. My hips were tight and the niggle in my shin I’d forgotten about was back.

Another blue flash, another kingfisher. I watched it fly down the middle of the canal until it went out of sight. It was stunning. I decided to run in short little bursts between landmarks and really concentrate on maintaining good running form for those short bursts. After the first two short bursts my phone rang. The garage  – they wanted to let me know that the car was done and they were on their way to drop it off – so the car got home before I did – luckily Kath got home before both of us. Once I’d stashed my phone again I had another short little burst and that’s how I made my way to the post office where I bought milk and some “Green Machine’ juice (apple, banana, kiwi, pineapple, spinach and some other green stuff) because I just really really wanted something other than the water in my little bottles which tasted like rubber left out in the sun for too long. Then I walked up the hill home.

I don’t know what to think about that outing. 9.1 miles, 2 hours 22 minutes. I am disappointed but I’m not quite sure with what. I’m ready for my rest day. I need it physically but maybe more importantly, I need it mentally. I have seen amazing things today. The herons at the start were just fantastic, they were walking in the field and some lambs were having  good look at them and then the herons flew off showing off their pretty spectacular wing span. There were swans and geese and ducks – all with young ones. Close to home there were cows with calves in a field on the opposite side of the canal and the calves ran along the canal bank with us for a bit. And we ran with kingfishers. Maybe it’s a good outing after all because running with kingfishers is pretty special – whatever else is going on.