Wednesday – still grumpy

Today has not been a good day. We went for a run on Monday. My right leg was a bit tight and almost sore as we set off but it loosened up and was then fine. It was a hard but ok run and I took two walk breaks out. I think the pace was just under 11 and a half minutes per mile. I was quite excited because it meant we didn’t have any gaps on our training plan and we were ready to start week 10. On Tuesday we spent the morning at Kilnsey Show and then came back home and got ready to run in the afternoon. We set off, my leg was stiff and sore – same as Monday really but this time it didn’t ease. By the time we got down to the canal it was painful. I thought it might ease once on the flat rather than going downhill. It didn’t. We stopped. It was so utterly frustrating and of course there were tears. I am trying really hard to be patient. No running today. My calf is tight and there is a niggle further up my leg into my hip and I think the problem may be that my hamstring is really tight. I have an appointment with the osteopath tomorrow so we’ll see what he says. No more running this week anyway.

So instead I have been looking at running routes and we have figured our an 11 mile route for Saturday (fingers crossed I’ll be ok) and also looked at what we can do along the cannal without having to run the same route again and again. So the 11 mile route for Saturday is Bolton Abbey to Burnsall and back – along the river Wharfe. I won’t spoil it, I’ll share details of the route when we actually run it. There are options along the canal with starting points in Shipley, Saltaire or Crossflatts so I think we’ll be ok – conveniently marathon distance is Leeds to home-ish along the canal so we know where we’ll be running for the really really long practice run!

I also had a little panic attack this morning and that slight sense of panic hasn’t really left me today. It probably hasn’t got anything to do with running or rather not running but I don’t think that’s helped. Anyway I am reasured that you don’t lose fitness by not running for a few days so I am hoping we’ll be ok for the long run and then can build from there.

So as not to lose focus but also to remind myself that I really do need to do this right and if my leg isn’t right I’ll just have to wait until it is, I have spent some more time looking at all the work Panthera do. For example, have a look at the Cougar Channel for loads of little video clips  (I quite like the greet and play) or if you feel like you need a brain workout have a look at the publications – I loved reading some of them but I really wish I was more of a scientist to help me make sense of it all.

If you value the work Panthera do or you’re just feeling generous or just want to support us please consider sponsoring us or donate to Panthera directly. Thank you.

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

Running in Paris

We’ve just got back from Paris. It has been an interesting few days of conference, museums, sun, people watching, lots of walking and yes – a run. We were really aiming for two but somehow that didn’t happen. Although I was looking forward to running in Paris, the idea of running in the city wasn’t that appealing. After arriving on Tuesday evening we went for a little walk and found one of the running routes I had seen online. It was only about 5-10 minute walk from the hotel  – so a nice little warm up really. So Wednesday morning we got up and got ready to run. We walked towards the Jardin du Luxembourg and started our run at this rather odd looking fountain in the Jardin Marco Polo (according to Wikipedia it is the Fountain de l’Observatoire)

We went left along the garden/park. When we got right to the end, the gate wasn’t unlooked yet  (you can see the gate at the end of Jardin Marco Polo and the big ones to Jardin du Luxembourg in the first picture below)- there was someone just going round unlocking everything so we did a little circuit round that section and by the time we came round again the gate was open. I do quite like the turtles in the fountain even if the rest if pretty hideous – there was no water on yet when we went for the run but I’ve included one picture with water just for fun. At the end of Jardin Marco Polo, you need to cross a little road and then we entered Jardin du Luxembourg through the gates  and turned left to run clockwise round it (mainly because everyone else seemed to be running anti-clockwise). It was relatively flat with just a very very gentle slope in a couple of places and the gravel path all the way round was even and easy to run on. There were quite a few runners and I was quite surprised that they didn’t really bother me. Everyone was just doing their own thing and some were going quite fast and others were just plodding along – possibly even slower that we were. It was a spectcular place to run with the path taking you right in front of the Palais du Luxembourg, home of the French Senat and through the gardens which was nice. Here are a few pictures to give you a sense

I was too busy looking around to really think about running and it was quite warm and I wasn’t used to having to go round obstacles (usually metal chairs left randomly in the path) and other runners so it was quite slow. A pace of just over 13 minutes per mile but it was a good positive run around people so all good practice and doing two loops of the park before then heading back towards the hotel meant I got to see stuff I’d missed on loop one.

The second run didn’t happen because we slept in, bought a breakfast picnic and sat in the park rather than running round it. As far as excuses go we did pretty well because we decided that we were walking so many miles (we did walk most places just using the metro a couple of times) looking at the sights that we could get away with not running. As excuses go, this is one of our more plausible ones!

Just to be clear though – I’m nowhere near actually liking running as ‘a thing’. I’m doing it and I’m quite proud of myself for that but I am doing it because I want to raise money for Panthera, anything else is really just a bonus. So as a reminder of what this is all about here’s us in our Panthera t-shirts in a silly Paris selfie (do not get me started on selfie-sticks) and us training hard (ahem – celebrating Kath’s birthday, our run in Paris and my pretty successful conference).

Thank you to those of you who have already sponsored us – and for those of you haven’t, if you can please do so here –  we’d really appreciate the boost just before our first ‘race’ tomorrow – the Leeds 10km Run for All.

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.

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When you feel like giving up, remember why you started in the first place

I saw that somewhere – maybe on the running bug website or facebook or something. So while I don’t actually feel like giving up at the moment, it is always worth reminding myself and others why I am doing this and there could be no better reminder than watching the BBC Natural World programme about Panthera’s work the other day. The programme Mountain Lions: Big Cats in High Places was shown on BBC 2 last Tuesday and it is still available on the iPlayer until mid July (for anyone not in the UK, not sure if or where you can catch it). Watch it if you get a chance. It is amazing footage and shares some of the latest insights and information about Mountain Lion behaviour. It is also a really good example of why I want to support Panthera’s work. The Mountain Lion project which is the focus of the programme shows how Panthera enables scientists to do their thing and to fully understand the big cats and their lives. The programme shows how detailed and rigorous scientific work can challenge our preceptions of how  big cats live their lives. The better we understand them, the better we can protect them.

So, this is just a quick opportunity for me to say thank you to Panthera. Thank you for doing the work that you do. Thank you for protecting the big cats of this world and for trying to make sure that we do not have to experience a world without them. Thank you for bringing us amazing pictures and amazing stories of amazing creatures. This is also an opportunity for me to reiterate our support for Panthera. Our running efforts are about that support. It may have all sorts of benefits for us personally but ultimately this is all about raising money so Panthera can continue the brilliant work they do. Our first ‘race’ is in 2 weeks’ time. If you can support us and therefore Panthera then please do. Thank you to those of you who have already sponsored us. If you haven’t already then you can do so on our Justgiving Page. Seeing donations come in or hearing about direct donations to Panthera really does help! It reminds me why I started in the first place and it reminds me that giving up just isn’t an option!

Thank you