Sunday, 16 October 2011

Double Figures

Distance: 10.04mi
Time: 01:50:50
Surface: Road & Trail
Conditions: Cloudy, sunny, cool

This has been a week of leaps forward but unfortunately, also steps back.

I've run the most I have in 5 months this week, and today hit double figures, hurray! I had a bad couple of short runs at the beginning of the week, having to stop and walk due to stitch after only 2 miles (I blame the huge sandwich I had for lunch at work).

I did bite the bullet and book in for my first Power Plate session since July, which was quite a hurdle. I've certainly noticed the change for the worse in my running, power and post-run agony since I started my sabbatical and, as I've written in previous posts, Power Plate has been an integral part of my running training certainly in the last year.

So on deciding to take on a mammoth hill climb today and a 10 mile run, I was a little anxious at how painful my glutes were and whether I'd in fact make it even half a mile let alone the full stretch. I decided to leave the run until mid afternoon instead of my usual morning rush before my husband plays golf. It gets harder and harder to get up early enough as my runs get longer on Sunday, before he has to leave at 10am and as I'm so bad at getting up (even earlier) to eat I thought I'd give myself a break. The weather was cloudy and on the cool side so it's been a perfect day for running and I felt good as I tackled my first hill.

I'd decided on a completely different route today, a road I drive up everyday to take my son to nursery which I've occasionally seen the odd 'nutter' run up. Today I thought I'd join the ranks of nutter and see how far I got. I surprised myself at the first section of the 2 mile ascent as I kept at a steady running pace of 10:30 min/mi. I thought I'd slow down a lot but actually the hill seemed more level when I was running it than it does when I'm driving. I managed to keep a steady pace until the steepest section of the road, which felt like looking up at an incredibly tall building from bottom, but I kept going albeit at a much slower pace until I ran out of pavement (I'd not seen that one coming) so had to detour through the adjacent village. This made the steep climb agonisingly longer but actually less steep, which I could live with and I kept with it. After about 25 minutes I managed to make it to the brow of the hill and the road thankfully started descending but the sun had come out and yet again I felt over dressed for the occasion. Thankfully the road on my route is quite exposed to the elements (as well as having beautiful views over the hills) so it was relatively windy which I welcomed, and feeling totally fantastic at having made it up the hill, managed to pick up the pace u again, collect myself and enjoy the gentle descent to my normal route through the woods.

I even surprised myself; there's a junction at the end of the wooded section which offers me the short road route home or the longer trail route (with added hill finish for good measure) and on most occasions I would usually cop out and take the short route home but today found myself drawn down the trail where I passed a woman on a bike whom I run past at the beginning of my session an hour and a half earlier. I like it when that happens, it makes me feel like I'm part of Tom's Midnight Garden or something, but instead of maids and gardeners you get to see other people in shorts and dry fit t-shirts (sorry if you're too young for the reference to the cracking BBC children's drama of the 80's - go look it up, it's a corker).

And so, I made it home in reasonable time having hit the double figure mileage mark for the first time in a long while, and feeling great! So what of the steps back this week?

I was gutted to find out my friend's Power Plate studio will be closing in November. I had always considered Power Plate as a core (excuse the pun) part of my running training plan and never considered it wouldn't be there throughout my marathon training. I'm so disappointed for both the hard work my friend has put into building such a fantastic fitness resource and for those people of Barnsley who will never know the benefits of the exercise.

I also find myself in a fit of panic, wondering what will ever replace the Power Plate classes that built up my core strength so well for the half marathon, and for which I need to get back (and some) to get me round twice the distance in now, under 6 months. Oh crap.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Fat Girls Chafe

Distance: 6.2mi
Time: 59:34
Surface: Road
Conditions: Cloudy and warm
Sheffield 101010 in 2010

I've kept it quiet, but today was Great Yorkshire Run race day. I'd kept it quiet for no other reason than I'd temporarily forgotten about it and I suppose I was  unworried about it. It's a sort of 1 year competitive race anniversary too as I took part in my first race on 10th October 2010 (Sheffield Ten Ten Ten) with a time of 01:01:24. A year on and my pace is slightly improved though I'm probably a good half stone heavier. I'm reasonably pleased with the time (although if I'm being truly honest I'm gutted I didn't beat my personal best of 58:26 at Leeds Abbey Dash last November) but I have pretty much started again in the last couple of weeks, and the second hill in the last 2km was paaaainful.

No pre-race nerves!
The route was pretty flat which is a miracle in Sheffield although having run 13 miles round Sheffield for the half marathon and having to contend with only 2 hills, I do believe in miracles. I'd entered myself with an expected time of 01:10:00 so was in the green band but decided to drop back to pink to support my husband who I felt responsible for bullying into taking part. We were also running with a few friends of which two decided to drop back as it was their first races too. The atmosphere on arrival was really good, it felt quite chilled out and not as expected based on the predicted throng of in excess of 8000 people taking part. The baggage area was well organised considering it wasn't at all (obviously) attended, and wasn't busy at either drop off or pick up.

I felt like I'd packed my entire running wardrobe; the weather forecast was for heavy rain but muggy during the race, but the previous week had been a mix of sleet, freezing conditions and hot sun. Who knew? I changed twice before I'd left the house and changed again at City Hall and ended up in a sleeveless vest (having changed out of a long sleeved t-shirt and waterproof jacket). Because of the weather forecast we left our son at home with my mother-in-law rather than drag them out in the cold rain for a couple of hours, which is unfortunate as I'd really liked them to have been there. We needn't have worried though, it was sweltering (OK exaggeration police, maybe not tropical but warm enough for a reasonable run).

The starting line up was pretty relaxed but the warm up was a wash out, the further towards the back you were the more random the flailing arms got as it was impossible to hear or see what we were supposed to be doing. Still the starts were prompt and we were off just after 10:21am but what a nightmare start! The route started off exceedingly narrow for the number of people and at one point just after we started we ended up walking as we hit a bottleneck which was very frustrating. This continued for about .75km before the route widened and overtaking didn't involve death defying leaps up the pavements and dodging people in big wigs. After this the number of runners thinned and it was manageable to keep up up a straight run and a reasonable pace. Pretty much all my running companions had over taken me right at the start, even my husband whose pace in training had always been much slower than mine. I am, however, pretty good at pacing myself and keeping slow despite the wave of people over-taking and the pressure not to be beaten by my newbie race pals.

I can't say the run was easy as it wasn't; I ran pretty much at full pelt for 8k. I could tell as my face was hot and my lungs were burning and my knee was twinging, sure signs I was pushing myself beyond my usual comfortable run pace. I could really have done without the last 1k uphill slog past Fitzalan Square, as could many others I'm sure, but as I turned the corner down Arundel Gate for the last 200m, despite telling myself not to do a sprint finish, the clock showed I'd been running very close to an hour and this was my threshold. I'll be damned if I was going to take longer than my first ever race, so I floored it across the finish line at just under an hour (there is photo evidence to substantiate quite how much I gave it, but needless to say they far from show me in my best light). My husband came in not long after me and finished in a respectable 1hr 5, so we were both in the first half of the running returners. I rather stupidly dug straight into my post race booty bag and scoffed the energy bars and drinks before I'd even had my chip removed from my shoe (which I discovered I couldn't bend down to do myself), and consequently nearly threw up by the side of the road, reminiscent of many a pre-school birthday party I'd attended (and a few drunk night outs). Classy.

I did recover enough to enjoy a post race lunch and deconstruction of the morning's running events with the hubby before returning home. Especially proud, I am, of his great race time considering his training runs were a good 15 minutes longer than today, a triumph indeed (and a result of being diagnosed and treated for Asthma in the last couple of weeks). Mine on the other hand was a little disappointing, as I had hoped (admittedly in those last 200m and not before) that I might beat my personal best achieved at the Leeds Abbey Dash in 2010.

So, we returned home, husband in a glow of glory, and me, just a bit moody, licking my chafing wounds from having too fat arms.

Sunday, 2 October 2011

Uphill Struggle

Distance: 7.50mi
Time: 01:28:15
Surface: Trail/Road
Conditions: Cloudy and hot

We're experiencing some freaky weather considering we're now in the full throws of Autumn, and I chose today, with temperatures in excess of 25 degrees forecast, to start tackling some hill training and add a bit more distance. All being said it didn't go too badly, I ran all the way including a steep hill half a mile long which, even at my peak I rarely relished or succeeded in completing. My average pace did suffer however at nearly 12 mins/mi (practically walking!). I ate before running this time as we were up early (child afraid of the dark) but didn't take any water with me (my bad) and I think I really suffered for it. My water consumption still isn't great on average and I'm certainly not consuming the recommended 2 litres per day so I really should have taken some out with me especially considering the heat. I have a Camelbak waist belt that is reasonably comfortable however in an attempt to make these runs as easy and as light as possible I've been shedding as many accoutrement's as I can - maybe water shouldn't have been one of them.

I did try out some new socks on this run too, X-Socks Sky Run. Basically they sound amazing and should have  cut my pace in half. OK, maybe I'm slightly over-egging the pudding, but they are recommended for controlling foot temperature and for preventing blisters by having specific protection points across the toes and heel and fast wicking away of moisture. Perhaps I was concentrating too hard on the temperature controlling properties of the socks but for the first 20 minutes my feet felt like they were on fire, not at all what I was expecting! This is probably an unfair assessment of these (pricey) socks - they were very comfortable and I didn't suffer any blisters (though blisters don't usually hit until I hit double figure mileage) - and perhaps I should have washed them first as recommended by Women's Running magazine. I'm not one for reading instructions, as my cooking prowess will testify.

Aside running up the hills, for which I employed any old method that meant I could get to the top without stopping, on the flat trail terrain I attempted my breathing technique and raising my field of vision described in my last post. I am sure this quickened my pace instantaneously by greater than 1 min/mi and at one point I'd reached a pace of around 8 mins/mi which I'd dearly love to maintain across a 10k distance (at the moment it's a good day if I make 10:45 min/mi which is my current "starting again" target. I did begin to struggle with thigh pain about half way round, experiencing quite acute tightening down the outside of my right thigh. I'm still suffering now walking down stairs too. I suspect I've over stretched myself (or maybe under stretched to start with) but it has brought a rather blunt fact to my attention - I'm a bit too fat. For the last few months I've got rather friendly with Mr Cake, and he's taken a fancy to my bottom, and my hips and now my thighs and now won't let go. Running progressively longer distance has just highlighted that my once reasonably toned thighs from regular running, Power Plate and climbing, are now just a bit too wobbly and running hurts more than I remember it.

I know I need to do 2 things to rectify this:

1. Eat better
2. Start Power Plate again

Now, I don't eat badly, I just eat a lot. I like my food and to be honest have struggled with knowing when to stop in the past. But I've lost a lot of weight twice now so I know what's possible I just need to buckle down, but that's not all. I need to find the bit in my brain that will allow me to maintain it for more than a couple of days and I think I'm nearly there, but until I am there's no point I'll only yo-yo diet and that's just within the space of a week.

The second thing I need to do is to restart Power Plate classes. During the last couple of runs where I've tried to blast it, I've suffered from leg pain, particularly calf pain which I never suffered from whilst I was doing Power Plate. I'm also not as powerful. The 30 minute Power Plate classes, twice a week saw me right; built up what now appears to be some good core strength (which means less back ache post runs) and  some fantastic muscles in my thighs, bum and calf (which gave me increased power). I've had nearly a 12 week blip in my attendance. I don't really know what happened (except for very little) once the half marathon was over. I seemed to give up on the 3 things I loved doing for exercise most - running, climbing and Power Plate, a seriously magic combination as far as I'm concerned for overall fitness and shape - which has had a knock on negative affect on my general being. More about that in another article...

So these are the things I need to work on in the next couple of weeks as I approach the 6 months threshold before the marathon.