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.

Looking forward to running in Paris

Yes, that’s right, I just used looking forward to and running in the same sentence without a negative. I am quite excited about running in Paris. I have just spent the last half hour looking at possible running routes and printing them off. We are heading to Paris on Tuesday (until Saturday). I am going to a conference and Kath is tagging along. I have been to Paris before, once but that was a long time ago and I really don’t remember all that much about it. I think it was in February and I think it was cold. Not likely to be cold next week!

It’s only a week to go until our 10km Leeds run. A week! I am a little anxious but actually I feel quite positive. We are sticking to the training. I am doing the runs, ticking them off one by one. I am getting stronger and I know I can do the distance. I am not setting out to go fast or finish in a particular time, I just want to re-learn what it’s like to run in a crowd, figure out how to make the run/walk intervals work without pissing other runners off and of course I want the medal at the end – obviously. There are only two more runs before then and at least one of them will be in Paris (travel times are awkward so we may go tomorrow and then do one run in Paris or we may not go tomorrow and then to Wed/Thurs back to back in Paris). I’m excited.

We did our weekend distance run yesterday. 5 miles. It was tough, it was hot. I had spent all day at our Open Day at work and most of that was spent at our stand in the main atrium of the university which has a glass (or whatever) roof. It’s a bit greenhouse like at the best of times but as the sun made its way up into the sky it seemed to focus all its energy on little me at the stand so by the time I got home I was hot and bothered and sweaty and tired from being on my feet all day. We debated putting the run off until this morning but I decided that as I was already sweaty I might as well get more sweaty. I coped better with the heat this time than last time we ran in the really hot weather, I didn’t have to shorten the runs and increase the walks. It felt slow but ok. I was also mentally stronger. I nearly suggested we just do 3 miles  – it was hot you know – then we passed 3 miles and I thought I might suggest that we stop at 4 miles but then I got distracted watching a moorhen and her chicks and suddenly Kath said ‘that’s 4.1 miles’. Well it seemed silly not do get to 5 then however much I was struggling.

I had no sense at all of pace etc. I just knew I’d found it really quite tough and that patches had felt really really slow. I was surprised when Kath said that our  average pace had been 12.54 minutes per mile and we’d been out 1 hour, 4 minutes and 37 seconds. It’s the first time our pace has been under 13 minutes per mile on anything over 3 miles. I walked up the hill happy, if a little puffed and very sweaty.

So, bring on Paris, bring on Leeds actually! Oh and it’s Sunday – weigh-in day. I’ve lost a pound in spite of the midweek pizza and quite a lot of bread and eating on the go more often that I would have liked.

Happy Sunday