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.

5 mile come-back

IMG_2336After nearly two weeks of not running I finally made it out of the house today. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to run. I had a work thing in London yesterday and half way through that I started feeling pretty grotty again and I was sooo tired by the time I got home. I was worried that I had caused a recovery set back and would feel crap again today. However, I slept relatively well and got up feeling ok. Not exactly springing into action but ok. I didn’t fancy heading straight out so had coffee and scrambled eggs on toast and then made bread while Kath got the first coat of paint on the outside of our back door.

Eventually I thought it was too nice a day to stay inside and went and got changed. My training plan is on a high mileage weekend  – 4 miles yesterday and 13 today but I’d already decided that wasn’t sensible and I just needed to get out today and see how things felt. I decided on a route that would give lots of options in terms of loops and distances. The route was all road and good sections of canal towpath so I went for road shoes – my new Brooks (they’re lovely). I really didn’t know what to expect. I just set off gently. After a minute or so of running I could feel the crap in my lungs but apart from spending the entire run coughing said crap up, I actually felt pretty good. Running was sort of comfortable. I deliberately didn’t look at my watch because I didn’t want to freak myself out if I was going fast or be disappointed if I was going really slow. I kept going reminding myself that I could drop into run/walk if I wanted to and remembering to look around too.

There were some stunning glittering damp spiders’ webs, lots of people getting their IMG_2337gardens ready for winter, cats enjoying the air and warm sun and people doing Sunday things like washing cars and having cuppas in the sunshine. I was trying to think of how I might describe how I felt running. I’m not sure I can quit capture it but being out made me realise just how much I’d missed it and how good it is for me mentally. Running felt familiar – in a good way. It felt a little like when you sit with someone in silence lost in your own thoughts and they are in theirs but there’s no pressure to talk or be sociable. Maybe it’s the ‘just being’ nature of it that I was particularly conscious of today and the words that kept popping into my head were comfortable familiarity.

I dropped onto the canal towpath slightly bemused that running still felt fine apart from the odd cough and spit. It was busy. I suppose people are taking advantage of the autumn sun. I saw dogs of all sizes but all were well behaved and out of my way today which was nice, there were cyclists too and then I saw lots of runners in quick succession, all men. The first was going fast and was working hard – he managed a nod and I gave him the thumbs up. He was followed by a guy going at what looked like a comfortable pace for him. I said hi and he gave me the thumbs up. ‘Cool’ I thought. The third looked the serious type and was clearly trying to catch the guy in front of him (and would do quite quickly). He didn’t acknowledge my wave and smile; ‘roadrunner’ I thought as I went past. Shortly after I heard footsteps behind me and a fourth runner came past me. Just for fun I let him get a little ahead and then tried to match his stride and pace for a little while. Just for a little while though – it was barely sustainable for the 50 metres or so that I tried. Fun though.

Mile 2 came and went and I was nearing the canal bridge at which I was going to cross to loop back. It was busy here, more cyclists, walkers, dogs and more runners. Ladies, was there a memo I missed instructing all women to not run today? I didn’t see another female runner. It was odd. Anyway, there were scout activities happening on the canal by this bridge and further up into the old golf course so I gritted my teeth and ran over the bridge and up the hill. I’ve walked the hill faster than I ran it today but never mind. I pushed on and was glad when the noise from the kids dissipated and all I could hear was my breathing. I realised my lungs were burning. My watch beeped for 3 miles and I walked a bit to let my lungs recover. I coughed up more crap and did a few run/walk intervals between landmarks. I was trying to work out if I’d had enough. I thought maybe I had and was going to head home from here.

IMG_2338I walked up the next slope and then began running again, I ran past the next point to walk up the hill and home. I felt good still, going home just yet didn’t make sense. I ran past the point after that too and thought if I kept going I could hit 5 miles which felt like a very suitable come-back distance. So I carried on. A little way up the next road section which slopes deceptively and annoyingly uphill my legs decided I was mad and that they were now very tired. I walked the slope. After the left turn where I almost double back I knew I just had a little section which sloped downhill left before I’d stop running and walk straight up the hill home. My legs didn’t want to run anymore though. But I did. I pushed on, got to the bottom of the footpath and stopped running. I started walking up the footpath and soon wondered what on earth had possessed me to think it was a good idea to go straight up rather than round. Insane. The three pictures in this post are all from the hill I left til last and as usual the photos don’t to the hill justice – so here’s the strava elevation picture which makes it at least look like it might be a hill

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But I made it home. 13.25 pace overall with a really good run over the first 3 miles. I’m back on the plan now – 45 minutes Tuesday, 5 miles Wednesday, 45 minutes Thursday and then 3 miles on Saturday. The week after is a high mileage week which is good because it gives me this week to ease back in and get fully better.

Oh and Sunday weigh-in. About half a pound heavier than last week.

Happy running.

Nothing quite like home

Well after a month of adventures in Australia with a little bit of running thrown in, it was nice to be home. The jet lag  wasn’t too bad in terms of sleeping patterns but a bit of a pain in terms of being generally tired and really hungry at random times. We arrived back on Saturday 4th August and on Sunday morning woke up early. We decided to run. My ankles still felt a bit tired but any real soreness had gone. Generally I just felt tight from having been curled up on planes for too much of the previous 48 hours or so.

This is nearly two weeks ago now so my memory is a bit fuzzy – I think we set off separately. We were aiming for the 6 miles listed on the Dopey Plan and wanted to have a nosey at the new canal towpath between Riddlesden and Silsden too. It was quite hard going and my feet kept going numb like they do when my calves are too tight so I walked rather more than I really wanted to but it was good to get out and the familiarity of the landscape made me smile. It was lovely to see and hear birds that I recognised and to see how things had changed over the month we’d been gone. 6.2 miles in the bank.

The second run at home was my attempt to get into good habits and not keep putting off speed sessions. We did the runners world fartlek we’ve done before and I didn’t do too badly except that I obviously pushed too hard on the 1 minute run and was a little bit sick, recovered and then did the two 30 second intervals at a steady pace. Speed work not avoided! Well done me. Next I wanted to do a 45 minute continuous run because while I haven’t been doing run/walk, I have been running with photo stops. I haven’t run continuously for ages. So I set off and felt pretty good for the first two miles or so. The canal towpath was busy though with lots of people coming towards me and I didn’t fancy turning round and having to go past all these people again so I changed my mind last minute and crossed the canal – I wasn’t mentally ready for the hill which threw me and I had to stop and walk. At the top I set off again and past a dog walker whose dog decided it would come with me instead. I had to stop and wait for him to retrieve it. Unfortunately this happened at the bottom of the next slope and I didn’t get going again until I’d walked to the top. Still it ended up being a pretty solid 45 minutes.

Then came the weekend long run last weekend – 7 miles was the plan. We went up towards Ilkley Moor and I was pretty pleased with how I managed to keep pushing from landmark to landmark. One day I might be able to run it all but for now that’ll do nicely. At the top we decided to turn left rather than right towards the trig point and stanza stones. It’s often really wet and boggy left so we’d never run it before. At the end of that track we went left again and explored a new (well no, new to us) path/track/trail to take us back down towards home. At some point we must have got it just slightly wrong because we ended up on the other side of the wall to where the clear footpath was but it was all fine. Given the terrain and that we weren’t quite sure where we were going we ended up walking a fair bit and the loop was 6 mile rather than the 7 but it was a fun little adventure.

This week I have done 2 45 minute Dopey Training runs  – one nice little plod along the canal with Kath which was uneventful and then the re-run of the route I did last week where I had to walk the slopes. This time I wanted to run it all and had asked Kath to help me. I really need to stop avoiding hills or deciding to walk the ones that are perfectly runnable! So we set off and I felt pretty good. The first mile was just under 12 minutes and I wondered whether I should slow down a bit to make sure I had enough in the tank but I felt good so just kept moving by feel rather than worrying about pace. Coming up the the bridge we were crossing and the hill that had thrown me last time I started repeating in my head: I feel good, I feel strong…. over and over. The hill came and went and I realised that my breathing and heart rate were recovering. I did actually feel good and strong. I kept the mantra going and the slope where I had to wait last week for the dog to be retrieved didn’t seem bad at all. Then there was the final little hill. I had a moment of doubt but then I thought I had less than 5 minutes to go so just needed to hang on. The hill somehow came and went and I kept running at the top. My legs didn’t give up and then my breathing recovered and I felt my heart rate settle again. I pushed the pace to the end of the road and stopped having run just over 45 minutes at 12.02 minutes per mile pace. Thrilled with that.

Next is the weekend 9 miler. I’ll be doing this run/walk with the aim of keeping the runs relatively fast, the walks positive and my mind off negative notions of things it might suddenly decide are impossible. Nothing is impossible. Which is a good thing because the Great North Run is looming.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

 

Heron, Kingfisher, cows and adventures

After a totally inactive week I was actually looking forward to a run. I did run on Tuesday and Thursday this week with Thursday being a bit of a crap run with lots of walking. Still, technically I am on plan but having spent most of the week sitting on my arse on the sofa had made me stiff and achey. The plan has us running an hour today and an hour tomorrow. We decided we wanted to run together so I suggested doing the sheep/trail/canal route but backwards. I am keenly aware that I avoid going up hill as much as I can and that I need to keep trying. So the planned route was to run down to the canal, along the canal towards Silsden and then cross the canal at the farm/few houses about 2.5 miles in. Then the route goes across three fields, into the wood, up a steepish trail through the wood, through a field and through the old Riddlesden golf course and back home following the last part of our ‘sheep loop backwards’ route. The route would have me running a fair amount of flat to just practice keeping going, some uneven paths – also good for just keeping going, then a steepish walk uphill and then some downhill running through the field/golf course and then back up. It’s probably about 5 miles ish so would take me a little over an hour but it’s a nice circular route.

It all went to plan for a while. I ran the first two miles quite speedily for me at just a smidge over 12 minute mile pace (12.03 and 12.09) and the 3rd which had the uneven bits and a few brief stops while Kath opened gates at 13 minute mile pace. We saw a heron along the canal and a little further on we saw a kingfisher – such amazing creatures. I was really happy with the first 5km – might not look it, but I was!

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The walk up the hill was also fairly positive and Kath took the two woodland pics below as we reached the top. Then we climbed over the stile in the wall into the field and I was quite looking forward to a little jog down and then hitting the golf course and turning for home. But there were cows. Frisky looking cows and they had little ones. We didn’t fancy making our way through a field with cows and calves so we climbed back over the wall and looked for an alternative route. We found a sort of path running parallel with the field wall. It was steep in places and clearly not much used. I am such a downhill wimp! We walked almost all of this and there were a lot of sections where I picked my way down very slowly holding on to trees for support but I also began to realise that my shoes were gripping and I was ok. I got a little more confident as we went on. Towards the bottom we even had a little jog when we spotted a gate into a field that ran down to the canal bank and a bridge across the canal. However when we got to the bridge, the gate blocking the path off the bridge was locked and not climbable because it was reinforced with barbed wire. We found another gate and entered another bit of wood and found another gate which turned out to lead to the field we often see a heron in from the other side of the canal. The field is actually much bigger than I realised and we jogged straight across to investigate getting over the wall at the other side which would take us into a little wood/nature reserve from where we could pick up the path home.

I was struggling a little here. My hip was beginning to niggle a little as we walked up the hill along the wall and I felt a bit apprehensive about climbing the wall, what would be on the other side, whether cows could come down the open gate into the field we were in and whether we were going to be shouted at by landowners. Kath found a spot where the wall was relatively easily climbable and once on the other side we made our way through the wood. It took a little bit of scrambling through the undergrowth until we eventually found the path. Then we had a little jog out of the wood, walked up the golf course, and jogged to the sheep field and fed Dino before jogging home. Our Garmin’s have a bit of a disagreement. According to mine I did 6.2 miles with a moving time of just over an hour and a half  and according to Kath’s we did 6.55 miles with a moving time of 1 hour 49. Doesn’t really matter. We were out for just over 2 hours and my feet and ankles got a work out on the uneven ground and I am pleased with how much grip my Mizuno trainers have. I wasn’t so sure about them as we were making our way along the canal but was so glad I’d worn them as I “bambied” my way down the trails and through the woods.

Anyway, I have bramble scratches down my legs so I must be a proper trail runner now.