Sunday, 28 September 2008

First 10K

Run10K 2008
(click on the image to see the whole album on Picasa)

This had been planned for months. However, the training in the last six weeks had been pathetically low - two gym sessions and three runs. That's all. To be fair, this can be blamed on a combination of parents' move to Norfolk (going well), large amounts of work (great for finance, lousy for training), and insanely bad weather earlier in the month. But by the time the Cancer Research Run10K event arrived, I was deeply depressed about my lack of preparation.

In the event, it could have been much worse. To begin with, this was not an easy course. Sandringham - yes, the Royal homestead - is very beautiful, but the route was (a) surprisingly hilly in places and (b) much of it was coming close to cross-country in the amount of grassy, uneven ground and stony, tree-root riddled paths. The continuous concentration to avoid a turned ankle meant that I was even tenser than I would have been, and not surprisingly, this messed me up big time.

My dear friend Kim kept with me throughout - she'd have got a much better time if she'd done it at her own pace - and we went across the line holding hands. She would nag me, get me to breathe deeper, and at times when I felt I would never finish it she ensured that I did.

As it was, I completed the route in 1:16:0, which at 12:13 was still faster than my pace at my first 5K in May 2007 (12:32). Given that I had to take a few brief walking breaks - ranging from a few steps to a minute or so - this means that my overall pace when running was probably at least sub-11 minute, which given the out-of-training, the course and (as I discovered at the end of the race) the spectacular blisters - one on each big toe - wasn't as bad as it might have been.

It's brought me up short, though. I dreamed a night or two back that I was running easy, without pain anywhere. That's what I want. It's also what I did achieve last year, and even occasionally during this year when I've managed more than two sessions per week.

Most of this race was, in fact, without any specific pains - the discomfort from the blisters only really kicked in during the last 2K. No particular pains in hips, back, hams or anywhere else: just those leaden legs that made me feel I couldn't take another step walking, never mind running. Now, of course, I also have sore ankles because the blisters are causing me to stand awkwardly, but that will sort itself out before too long.

I'm also fairly fed up to look at the photos above, and to know clearly that I simply don't look as toned here as I did even during my first R4L. My weight is almost identical - I was 150 then, 151 today (3 lighter than on my return from holiday) - but the last few weeks of less workouts mean that I just don't look fit. And having once achieved it, I hate to backslide. (Although in my defence, boobs like mine crowned with a race number will always give a Michelin man impression!!)

OK. Let's get these blisters healed, and then it's back on course.

PS: Anybody still want to sponsor me? Visit this link!

Friday, 29 August 2008

Getting better again

Managing to improve. Getting back to where I want to be.

1. Weight bounced unaccountably back up to 154 last week, but now is steadily going down. 151 this morning. Phew.

2. Ran the 1.75 miles to Morton and back on Saturday, and managed a sub-18 minute time: pace of 10:13.

3. Worked out for 45 minutes at the gym before going shopping on Tuesday.

4. Best of all, have just come back from Morton again; but this time I managed it in 17:23 - a pace of 9:56. Yes, a genuine sub-10 minute mile. For a real runner, sad; for me, it's huge.

5. And had my first sponsorship on the Sandringham 10K today. Thank you so much, Nicola. Now I'm going to start emailing everybody else...

I'm back. Sweating in a most unladylike fashion, but I'm back.

Thursday, 21 August 2008

The best of times, the worst of times

I'm updating this two months after my last posting. I'm filling in a few retrospective posts under the relevant dates over the next day or two.

Why the absence? Because it hasn't been a good time; there has been too much backsliding for my liking. Not enough running or gym sessions; episodes of depression that I thought had long gone; and, worst of all, weight gain. My last posting in "real time", on 22nd June, was followed by an insanely busy work and personal period - again - and I didn't manage one single exercise session until 11th July. Four runs and two gym sessions between that date and our holiday on 23rd July improved matters slightly. However...

I've just been brave and updated my "this is now" photo and weight. This morning I weighed in at 152; on our return from our holiday last weekend, it was 154. Not surprisingly, I wasn't going to admit to that. Careful scrutiny of this blog (as if anybody else was going to scrutinise it except me!) will show that in July 2007, it was down as low as 145; spent a while at 147; then settled at 149 for several months.

So it's interesting to see that my definition of "backsliding" is still a lot less drastic than it would have been, pre-January 2007. If I take my lowest "constant" weight as 149, it's a weight gain of 5lb at worst, and is now back on its way down. I know that some clothes are tighter than they were, and there's no denying that the photos at the August 2007 Wroxham 5K were a lot closer to the way I really want to be; but compared to the start of this journey in January 2007, there's still a much fitter, healthier and slimmer person here.

More importantly, the exercise is still a very permanent part of my life. Apart from the disastrous time in June-July described above, I've managed to keep an average of at least 2 sessions per week, every week - even when on holiday. [Since we got back, I've done 6 sessions (including last night's race) in 7 days.] A session might be a run (1.75 miles to Morton and back being the most common), an hour's weights, or 45 minutes CV on machines at the gym. And, hand on heart, it's not a duty or a chore, but genuinely where I want to be - especially when I remember how quickly the black dog returns when I don't keep him at bay.

Yesterday I ran 5K in 31:45. Our training run the day before was achieved at a pace of 10:00. In May 2007 I'd never have believed either were possible - I had run 5K in 39 minutes, and my average training pace was around 11:00. Now the next target is in sight: the Cancer Research 10K at Sandringham, Sunday 28th September.

I hadn't even started to ask people for sponsorship - I was so terrified I wouldn't be able to do it. Now I know I can, and one of my tasks over the weekend is to start emailing all and sundry to ask them for their faith and their money again.

Not only am I back, but I'm relieved to know that in real terms I've never been away. I might not have been firing on all cylinders, but I have managed to stick with my favourite mantra: Half-Assed Is Good Enough.

PS: One more resolution. I've just been looking back for references to weight in diaries and blog, and realise that between April and August this year, I didn't say a word. In April I was 149; in August I peaked at 154. No prizes for guessing what was going on there: a little thing called being in denial. Records of weight each Sunday recommence from now so it can't happen again.

Wednesday, 20 August 2008

PB - with style!

My third time in the Wroxham 5K. I am completely triumphant to have achieved a time of 31:45 - a pace of under 10:15 over the whole race, and a full 2:17 less than my previous best. Given that my first ever 5K was run in 39:00, I feel justified in being unbearably smug...

Kim came in at 30:33, and that brings her pace well under the 10 minutes. We are still pretty close to the end of the queue (300 runners, of which we were numbers 279 and 285) - but who cares??

Now we just need to manage to run twice that distance without keeling over!!

Happy photo, but I really hate my legs in those shorts...

Great run, partner.

The girls are back in town...

and a well-earned drink afterwards!

(See last year's equivalent here...)

Tuesday, 19 August 2008

Target achieved!

I've said on many occasions I want to run a 10 minute mile. To a real runner, this is laughable. Real runners do that speed for recovery. They train at 8 minute miles, and race at 6-7 minute miles. But to me, it's a big thing.

Kim and I went out for a run this evening, warming up at the gym and then taking the exactly-one-mile route round the Longwater car park. Admittedly, we did stop to stretch and breathe at the mid-point; but our total run came in at precisely 20 minutes for the two miles.

I never thought I'd do it. RESULT.

Friday, 8 August 2008

Holiday running

We had a wonderful time in France, as ever. Wandering down the country to Burgundy for a week in one gite and the Limousin for another, with a couple of B&B stops on either side. If you're really interested, have a look here for more about the holiday.

The usual problem presents itself: keeping some level of fitness and weight control while chilling out! I took trainers and Nike+, and at least managed four runs - two at each of the gites. It was desperately warm most of the time, but I was determined to do it... Pace wasn't too bad considering the heat - around 10:30 to 10:45 in each case (according to Nike+).

The Burgundy week was in a gite in a tiny village, and I calculated that the circuit of the whole village was just under 1.2 miles. So my first run was one circuit, my second one was two. A couple of tough little hills, especially on the home stretch.

The Limousin week yielded a fabulous place; not the best running track in the world (very stony and potholed, meaning I didn't dare get up much speed - the last thing I want is a repeat of the ankle injury) but beautiful. The circuit was 0.8 miles, and I did a double circuit (with pause for water) on each of two occasions. Here are a few photos of the glorious scenery, taken by my husband, with the little pink-or-blue dot in the distance being me...

France 2008: Lakeside running

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Been away too long

- not from exercise, I hasten to add - just from the blog! (although there was less exercise than I'd have liked...)

So where were we? Oh, yes - just triumphantly achieved a PB in the Wroxham 5K. That was halfway through a week of family visits, followed immediately by a week in London to work. The result of that was that my next run didn't happen until Sunday 8th - a full ten days since my previous run. Hopeless.

However, it was made up for by being another first: I managed the 1.75 miles of my normal route in sub-18 minutes. 17:55, a pace of 10:14. I really will break that 10 minute mile barrier some day. My next run, on the Tuesday, was sluggish by comparison - 18:24 - on a very warm evening.

Finally got together twice with Kim the following week - a gym visit and a run, which we both enjoyed. We both get so much out of this lark - it's a pity that earning a living gets in the way so much at times!

So today I took myself up the road again, and made another respectable 18 minutes. Warm and windy, but very beautiful again; hard work.

I was relieved that the ankle didn't play up during the run. The last few days, the old injury location - outside of right ankle - has felt odd, sort of numb, almost as though something was trapped - usually when I'm just sitting at the desk. I wonder if it's been because, having got used to the orthotics in my shoes, I've had several days of wearing shoes that don't take the inserts - either sandals, or (as in the case of a "do" I attended yesterday) high heels for the first time in ages? I don't fancy the idea of wearing trainers for the rest of my life - but I'd sooner that than find myself unable to run again!

Another week in London coming up; after that, I need to knuckle down to increasing that distance. My regular 1.75 miles is pathetic compared with the 6.2 miles I want to do in September, preferably without passing out in the attempt.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

PB PB PB !!!

When we ran last year's Wroxham 5K (August 2007), I managed it in 34:32. I was hoping to beat that this year - although recent training has been patchy, and I'm still not really back up to speed after that long, enforced break.

This year's weather was cloudy and fairly cold - better than humidity, anyway - but also very windy, which made especially the bit around the 3K to 4K mark very hard work. Malcolm and Susie were there, too, which was great. Here we are at the start of the race.

Out of 266 runners (all the results are here on the Norwich Road Runners' website), Malcolm came in at #153 in 24:05, which he said was disappointing (!); Susie was #242 at 29:57 (will I ever break the 30 minute barrier?); Kim apologised for running ahead of me, but in fact she put on a faster pace at the start and then remained in my sight for most of the rest of the racce, coming in a minute and a half faster than me at #253 in 32:33.

Malcolm, bless him, came out and ran me in the last bit (he's on the left of the photo below): I was absolutely triumphant to find I'd run it in 34:02!! At position #257, at least I'm moving up the field from last year (sixth from last - this year, 10th from last...)

And finally, Kim & I collapsed at the end...

Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Small companions

I was intending to run with Kim on the day before the Wroxham 5K, but her work schedule prevented; so, when I announced that I was going out for a run, my niece and nephew (7 and 9 years old respectively) decided they wanted to come, too.

I told them that I would be stopping just once for them - at the halfway mark; and we managed it. Young Jack did it in a mixture of sprinting and walking - he hasn't yet managed the idea of "steady-does-it"! - but Samantha kept happily pattering along beside me at about an 11 minute pace. Mummy was very proud of them...

(Here they are with Mummy - my sister, Jenny - not on this occasion, but earlier in the week during a visit to the Dinosaur Park. Yes, honestly.)

Friday, 23 May 2008

Bits 'n' pieces

During this recent mad period (parents hopefully about to move house to join us in Norfolk, sister and her two kids visiting from Spain, loads of work) the blog has been a bit neglected. Brief summary: Sunday 18th, Kim & I managed a decent gym session; ran the usual sub-2 miles on Thursday 22nd; got my new Nike SportBand, and now I've figured it out am much enjoying using it.

Saturday, 17 May 2008

Busy week

... aren't they all?

In London for decluttering work from Monday afternoon through to late Wednesday. As I was (a) staying overnight with my client on Tuesday, and (b) travelling back to Norfolk by train direct from London on Wednesday, had to have all my kit with me in rucksack; so the fact that I at least walked the 1.2 miles to the station rather than getting the bus was still better than nothing!

Got myself out on Thursday to do the Morton run, which was good and steady, and at a 10:29 pace - not bad.

Friday saw Kim & I doing our first weight session at the gym in (aargh!) a month. Am typing this the following morning, and no apparent aches and pains just yet! It felt very good - that really nice feeling when the muscles have been stretched, but not to painful point.

Next weekend, my sister will be here with her two kids. I don't think I'll challenge a 7 and a 9 year old to a race, somehow...

Sunday, 11 May 2008

Nearly a PB!

Well, not that impressive, but it feels a lot to me.

In all the time I've been running, I've usually managed a best pace of around 10:30. (When I started, in March 2007, the usual pace was nearer 12 or 13, so I've progreesed well from that.) Looking back, I once did an average pace of 10:12 across a three-miler in two hits on flat pavement, back last September (about my best for being in training), but otherwise it's between 10:30 and 11:10, depending on the location and inspiration!

The last two runs with Kim - Friday and Sunday - down to Morton and back were on glorious evenings. And Sunday's somehow felt more as it used to feel, with a few of those "easy" patches where I remember what I do running for... OK, it was in two splits with a three-minute pause in between, but having managed to the halfway point in 9 minutes exactly, I was very pleased to manage the return journey in 8:55. As it's a 1.75 mile total, that gave me a pace of 10:14.

You never know, I might crack a ten-minute pace yet!

Tuesday, 6 May 2008

Go, the Reepham Runners

An advert in our village magazine put me on to this friendly bunch. On a simply glorious evening, we started at the leisure centre at the back of The Old Brewery hotel, and wove our way round some very pretty paths and corners of the town. 18:15 running time, plus a couple of pauses to stretch, so I'm guessing at about 1.7 miles or so (hopefully Jackie will figure it out on FetchEveryone, as my usual crap sense of direction prevents me figuring it out!).

A great extra motivation to put in a few extra miles when I can. Their Tuesday evening meetings are best for me by far; Thursday mornings just don't do it (day off!) and Sunday mornings tend to be busy in this household. But an early evening meander through the Norfolk countryside - on paths which are a lot better to run than most round Weston Longville, and prettier than Longwater - will do very nicely whenever the diary permits.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Done it again!

Just got back from my second Race for Life; this time I was running with Elaine and her daughter (having run the Sport Relief race in March with Elaine and her son!).

We came in together at a pretty respectable 34:35, which given that (a) I did last year's R4L in about 39:00, (b) it's within a couple of seconds of my time at last August's Wroxham 5K and (c) I've managed precisely one run per week for the last month - plus a couple of gym sessions - it's not at all bad.

As this was Sunday afternoon, not Sunday morning, Selwyn was able to follow us round the course with the camera this time. I have to admit, having two "followers" - one with camera, one with water bottle - is preferable... not carrying water was a mistake, I felt totally spaced out by the end of it with dehydration. Mind you, it was a very, very warm day.

Waving from the middle of the crowd at the starting line

Ready for the off

Running steady

Done it!

Me an' my girls

By the way, it was fabulous to have Kim turning up with her mum and step-dad at the end of the race - I wasn't expecting to see her there. We'll be back out on the roads together soon! Wroxham 5K at the end of this month - let's see if I can keep up the pace for the whole distance this time, rather than flagging in the last mile...

Race for Life: one year on

It's hard to believe that it's exactly a year ago that I was running my first 5K. This afternoon I'll be going with Elaine - Kim can't make it this time - and am aiming for under 34 minutes (last year it was 39 minutes).

I haven't canvassed for sponsorship - am leaving that for the 10K in September. But I'm still really looking forward to this.

This is when I started racing for my own life, and I'm so grateful.

Monday, 28 April 2008

Berkshire park

On a five-day absence from home - a combination of me-time (a retreat at the beautiful Douai Abbey in Woolhampton) and decluttering work - it's hard to fit in exercise. Finally, on the Monday, I finished working with my client at lunchtime, and had time to go out for a run (after a rest to let lunch go down) round the park behind her lovely home.

My calculations were pretty approximate on FetchEveryone - I don't know the park well, and with my usual hopeless sense of direction, I even managed to miss my way on the homeward stretch! - but I think I did around 2 miles at a reasonable pace. The last couple of minutes were walked in any case, as I found myself on some bumpy grassland, rather than a park, and didn't fancy a sprained ankle.

Tuesday, 22 April 2008

Accompanied by birdsong

I walked down to Morton and back this morning to give some technical support. I really don't do morning running - especially not after a gym session the night before!

The plan was to run with Kim this evening, but she's not feeling well; so, as it's another lovely evening, it was no hardship to take myself down to Morton once more.

I was serenaded all the way down; not that I can identify any of them (despite the guideliness in the wonderful Bad Birdwatcher's Companion, which I am much enjoying at the moment).

Not a bad outing; a 10:37 pace is respectable at the moment, considering that even at best (last autumn) I didn't make it below 10:30. Besides, contemplating the prospect of running that route another two-and-a-half times (the 10K I've just entered for) makes me focus on distance, not speed!

Racing for life once more

I've just done as I promised: entered for the Cancer Research Run 10K event at Sandringham (we're going upmarket) on Sunday 28th September. Click here to visit my page.

The 5K Race for Life is coming up very soon - just 12 days away - and while I haven't badgered anybody to sponsor me on that, because I want to save my charitable efforts for the 10K, I was so chuffed to receive a sponsorship and a message from my dear friends Dot & Milton:

We thought we'd kick this one off just to show how proud we are of all you've achieved - Go Girl!! xx

As for the 10K: I've got (at the time of writing) over 22 weeks to achieve this. This I can do.

Monday, 21 April 2008

Oh, there are my muscles

A determined session with Kim on weights. It's only a fortnight since I managed a circuit, but I really felt it...

Sunday, 20 April 2008

Wymondham evening

I haven't run round Kim's home town for an age. This evening I went to her place, and we did a decent 2.28 miles in a fairly respectable 24:00. A beautiful evening, a friend to run with, and the occasional relaxed feeling in running that I have missed so much.

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

Walthamstow racetrack

... no, not the dogs, and certainly not fast! But at least I managed the usual 1.17 miles to the station, with shoulderbag, and felt OK. Not a lot this week - but better than nothing.

Sunday, 13 April 2008

I was a junior marathon-er

Watching today's inspirational London Marathon, and fantasising about being there one day, I reflected that in fact some of the participants walk it - in part or in whole. While it's a very real dream of mine to actually run a marathon - preferably before I'm fifty - it's liberating to realise that the same "walk, jog or run" applies to 26.2 miles as it does to 3.1 miles - and that's what enabled me to attempt my first Race for Life last year.

More than that, though: something in the back of my mind said you have done this already, you know. A distant memory stirred of a very long sponsored walk when I was at school: a grey, wet day (like today), and this plodder here refusing to give up, or take a lift. When was it?

I burrowed around in some old files, and found it. On Sunday, 24th March 1974 (I was just over 11 years old), I apparently took place in the Mayor's Sponsored Walk. I had a total sponsorship of 20p per mile (wow) and according to my form, I walked 24 miles. Not quite a marathon, but not far off it. And here's the proof.

How long it took me, I've absolutely no idea - I would imagine in the region of 6-7 hours. However, I clearly did it, and knowing how stubborn I was then (what do you mean, then?), I doubt that I would have cheated.

So if I did it aged 11 - even though not a step would have been run - I reckon that, 35 or so years later, I can do it again...

Friday, 11 April 2008

Welcome back, tomato-face

I used to take quite a few of these photos. Just to prove I'd been running!

After a mad thunderstorm earlier today, it turned into a lovely evening; and having spent all day glued to the PC (managed to get a lot of work done, though, and better still, mostly paid!), I needed a break. So about 5pm I took myself down to the Hall as usual.

Still not back to where I was last autumn - and in recent weeks, my training has been sporadic, to say the least - but for the first time in ages, neither the ankle nor the hip protested, during or after the run. Better still, I did the 1.75 miles in just 18:10 - which is a pace of 10:23, and that's pretty much as fast as I've ever managed to run at any time. So I'm well pleased.

Monday, 7 April 2008

Being honest

I realised that my "this is now" photo hadn't been changed since December, so a quick mess around with the webcam and came up with a new one. (Adding it here for posterity as I know it will change again soon!)

What did bother me was my report on weight: given that I did get as low as 145 lb last year (although to be fair, that didn't last for very long), and my pretty constant weight has been 147 since about last summer, it hurts a bit to admit to being 149 this morning.

However... like most holiday times, it had, about ten days ago, been up to (aargh!) about 151 until I got back into a routine (I keep quiet about this, natch - wouldn't you?) - the same thing happened when we got back from France last September. So I'll try not to panic, keep a close eye on the food for a few days, and endeavour to get it back down ASAP.

PS: Having just checked out that entry above, I'm mildly depressed to see that I'd set myself a target which I'd then conveniently ignored: get down to 139 in order to leave the 140s behind. Hmm. Do I let this worry me and refocus? Probably not a bad idea.

PPS: Mind you, it was encouraging that one of my business colleagues, at a networking meeting today, thought I'd lost more weight!

It's been a while

... since I did a real gym session.

Actually, looking in my diary, it was 11th March - and even that was only a relatively short go on various machines before having a swim with Kim, who was suffering from a bad neck at the time. The last real gym session - a proper workout - was 19th February! Good grief. No wonder my shoulders are aching so much. I've got a lot more work to do.

It was good, though: 10 minutes each on bike, crosstrainer and seated bike, plus a 13 minute, 1 mile run on the treadmill (why does it always seem much slower and harder than it does out on the road?), followed by about 50 minutes of free weights and machines.

But I need - and really want - to get back to the routine of 1 x gym plus 2/3 x runs in any given week. My record over the last couple of months has been pretty pathetic, with usually two exercise sessions in any given week. I can do better than that!

Friday, 4 April 2008

The station run

No sooner had we arrived back in Norfolk after our holiday than I was off again: this time, happily, to earn some money! Four days' decluttering work split between two clients in London. A very enjoyable time, and I hope my clients found it so!

It's just under 1.2 miles from my parents' home to Walthamstow Central Station, and this route was one of my very first attempts at a walk-run combination when I started this lark, about a year ago (good grief). On the first morning, I was carrying a handbag (happily, the sort that you can sling across your back in the style of a rucksack - the newly discovered and excellent Healthy Back Bag) but also had a carrier bag with change of shoes, reading matter - that sort of thing. Bad idea. Totally off-balanced me, made the run deeply uncomfortable and excruciatingly slow - not enjoyable. And that ankle was protesting a bit, too.

Second morning, I walked it. Third morning, I'd learnt from the first try: I didn't take a change of shoes, stuck with the trainers; took a magazine [Runner's World, natch] that would go into my handbag; and didn't need an additional carrier. Much better, and some bits of the run (okay, okay, the downhill bits) were really enjoyable - much as things used to be. Final morning, walked it again.

So it wasn't a huge amount of running; but given that in a previous life I'd have done the whole lot by bus, I guess it's an improvement!

Wednesday, 26 March 2008

A change of scene

A lovely week in Herefordshire to recuperate after the madness of Holy Week. We spent our time in a delightful village called Weobley, in the equally delightful Mellington House. Alison & Chris were so helpful and friendly, and the self-catering cottage that we had was great - give them a visit if you're in that part of the country.

Having done no running at all since the Sport Relief circuit, I was eager to get in even a little exercise. So on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, after a day's gentle bimbling round local towns, shops and tourist attractions (click here for one of them), I headed out around the village: right down the main street to the church, round the bottom of the church, back up the other side and in to the top of the high street. FetchEveryone decreed this route to be 0.69 miles, so three loops gave me a two mile run.

A really pleasant evening, and a pretty place to be. The ewe and her lambs looked at me as though I was mad.

However, this took me back to (mostly) running on roads with minimal pavements. Which meant road camber. And by the end of the second run, I had to admit that the ankle was starting to ache again, and that was somewhere I just didn't want to go; so my two little evening runs were the sum total for the holiday. Roll on my next podiatry appointment.

Sunday, 16 March 2008

A soggy red nose

... well, I should have had a red nose, I suppose, but I looked enough of a clown as it was!

This was the Sport Relief Mile Day. You could choose to run 1, 3 or 6 miles, so I reckoned that 3 miles was reasonable; because of the length of the loop chosen, the actual distances were 1.05, 2.85 and 5.55 miles.

When I woke, it was tipping it down. Not only that, but a high wind - not fun. Leaving my visiting friends in bed (very wise of them), I drove into Norwich, met up with Elaine and her son Peter, and Kim (not running this time, but was there to cheer us on and took lots of photos - thanks, Kim!), and lined up with vast numbers to run round the city centre.

Whatever bright spark (Noel Coward, actually) said Norfolk was flat had clearly never been to the centre of our county town. The hills around the centre are noticeable, to say the least! The route took us down the side of the marketplace, along to Chapelfield, around the Chapelfield Park area, and back round to the Forum. After my third lap I was more than ready to stop - the thought of doing the six mile version didn't bear thinking about - but at least I was OK with doing more than a mile.

Peter, being a fit teenager, was far faster than us; like an eager labrador, he effectively ran much further than we did, as he kept running ahead, then turning back or running on the spot to allow us to catch up! I knew from our training runs that Elaine would have no problem with the distance, and as she has the light frame of a runner, rather than a plodder like me, I wasn't surprised when she and Peter vanished in front of me during the last half-lap or so, and came in exactly a minute ahead.

However, I was pretty pleased to find that I'd maintained at least a sub-11 minute mile throughout - the photo of me crossing the line proves my timing(see clock top right)!

Aching a bit, but not too badly; very, very wet (I was glad I'd brought a change of clothes, and especially shoes - my trainers were twice their usual weight by the end with the water, or that's what it felt like); and very hungry, I was glad to go off with Kim to meet Malcolm & Sue for tea & a scone in Jarrolds. The post-race photograph with Elaine & Peter is perhaps the least flattering photo of me I've ever seen, but at least I look happy!

With a bit of luck, by my next outing (Race for Life, May) it will be (a) in better weather and (b) I'll be nearer to the fitness point I left last November!

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

It takes two

I've always known that I love both running alone and running together. The former gives me quiet times in my favourite places; the latter gives challenge and pace.

This evening I met up with Elaine, who has just started running - although is very fit to begin with. We took the one-mile circuit from the gym and round the car park, as last time. Managed a steady mile, stopped briefly to stretch; second mile, ditto. I'd mentally committed to two miles, as this was what we did last time, but as we stretched, Elaine said "Are we doing the third mile?" - bearing in mind that we're running the Norwich Sport Relief three-miler on Sunday! So off we went again, and it was great. Had I been alone, I'd probably have given up after #2 and gone home...

We were pleased to find that our running time was 32:40 for 3.03 miles - a pace of 10:47, which was very encouraging. Now we just need to do it on Sunday without the breaks!

Tuesday, 11 March 2008

A leisurely swim

Spent 20 minutes on the machines at the gym; then with Kim's arrival we went to swim (she has a very painful trapped nerve at the moment, so running or weights sounded like a bad idea for her). It's good to feel that the ankle is sufficiently recovered that I can do front crawl again! (The "flipper" action of the feet was just too uncomfortable until now.)

Sunday, 9 March 2008

A bit faster

I went out this evening for the usual 1.75 miles to Morton, and for the first time since I got off the bench, felt (just occasionally) that lovely comfortable-run feeling. I took the pace up just a little, and was pleased to find I'd done it in 18:30 - a 10:34 pace, which is nearly as fast as I've ever managed. Now I just need to get the distance up as well!

That was only my second run since this time last week, however - it's been Wednesday and Sunday both of the last two weeks. Need a bit more than that. Kim is now back, and we plan a swim on Tuesday; and a run with Elaine on Wednesday. There had better be at least one more - I'm doing three miles next Sunday!

The hip seems to be sorting itself out - that was no problem. The odd, mild discomfort in the toes of the right foot is still there, but seems a bit better. However, I've felt pretty "creaky" in the last couple of days - even my old lower back problem seems to resurface occasionally - so perhaps a visit to the osteo is in order. Honestly - how many therapists does it take to look after a runner?!!

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Another running partner

Elaine wants to do the Race for Life in May. As she's started where I did a year ago, I was really happy to be able to take her out as Kim did for me. I plotted a slightly extended route from the front of the Longwater gym - the usual way round the car park and back - but going round the back of the gym too, so it made it exactly a mile's lap.

Actually, she's FAR fitter than I was last year; had no problem keeping up the continuous mile, and we only paused between the two laps we did because she had a bit of a stitch. An 11 minute pace, which was comfortable for us both.

Monday, 3 March 2008

A guide to healthy eating

Thanks loads to PastaQueen for putting me on to this wonderful cartoon. I think I'd move the easy & untasty three upwards - I happen to like them - but otherwise I couldn't agree more.

It comes from the awesome ("A webcomic of romance, sarcasm, math, and language"). Apart from the math, sounds like my kinda guy.

Sunday, 2 March 2008

And they're off again...

Back in another happy place, actually. The Race for Life 2007 was really where it all started. I was originally planning to skip it this year, in favour of doing a 10K race happening the same weekend; but having been back running for a month, I think the likelihood of getting up to that distance by early May is a bit remote, to say the least. Not to say foolhardy, given the frustration of three-months-crocked.

And when my friend Elaine said that she had just started running, and wanted to have a go at the RFL... well, it had to be done! So here's the renewed web page.

As you'll see, the target is very modest this year. That's because I still want to do a 10K - and for it to be the other Cancer Research race, which happens around September (they haven't published the dates yet). So I'd prefer to call in the goodwill factor from my wonderful family and friends for that one instead.

But if anybody feels like making it "as well as", that would be wonderful...

Just do it

This is better.

A day with lots to do, paid and unpaid, business & domestic; therefore the motivation to get off my backside and take a break from the PC with a quick run down to Morton.

Around 5pm, still in daylight; the evening turning muggy and cloudy, but dry. 18:45 - fifteen seconds off the last time; pace 10:43 (hooray!); still that weird discomfort in the toes of the right foot, but otherwise fine. Left hip nagged a bit only after I'd stopped.

That's good. Little and often. And I see from my diary that I've been managing only an average of two sessions a week over the month since I started running again. Nothing to do with injuries - only laziness. 3-4 per week is what does it for me. So what if it's only 20 minutes per session? In those immortal words, which I should have emblazoned on a t-shirt, "half-assed is good enough"...!

Wednesday, 27 February 2008

Back in my happy place

My original regular training run was home-to-Morton-Hall. I started by thinking it was "about two miles" round trip; was a bit disappointed when FetchEveryone informed me it was actually 1.75 miles, but hey. It usually took me about 20-21 minutes in splits.

It was the site of my first walks-with-running breaks; my first (nearly) mile without a stop; and then the whole lot in one hit.

I realise that I haven't run that route since September. The September-November period was given over to much longer runs, both round the village and at Longwater, when I tried to build up mileage; and my few runs in the last month have been with Kim round the new state near the gym.

Including today, I've done 13 miles this month - not huge, but getting back to where I want to be. My only residual niggles right now are the left hip, and a weird discomfort in the right foot (same foot as the ankle problem was) but specifically in the middle toe - as I put weight on the foot and bend it to walk. Very odd. Not even a pain, but - as I've had in other places before - a "there". Looking forward to the appointment with the podiatrist next month.

Anyway, I hadn't run since last Thursday. Six days? Not good. A planned evening with Kim earlier this week didn't happen, as she was under the weather, and I just hadn't shifted my ass to get out on my own. Today was a glorious day, and I really fancied the run, but thought I hadn't enough time (physio this morning, computer training client this afternoon). But when, in the event, my client decided we had covered all the work she wanted to do in just over the hour, instead of two hours, I found myself with a bit of time to spare in daylight, so got out there.

A steady pace, 1.75 miles in 19 minutes dead, pleasingly sub-11:00 pace; kept to the middle of the road to avoid problems with camber. Breathing fine; ankle OK, toes OK; left hip a bit sore but nothing drastic. A gorgeous evening, just before sunset; and best of all, the baby bovines were out. The cattle in the field on the right of the track often come and watch me; this time, they had their new-borns with them, who were absolutely tiny and clearly mystified by what I was up to. I'll take the mobile with me next time and photograph them.

I've realised that I really have to take this building-up process pretty slowly, and also that I was slipping back into the "if I can't do it properly, I won't do it at all" mentality. When I first used this route, I was of the opinion that while any increase in distance or speed was good, but just doing the same as last time was fine, too. And that's where I need to be now for a while. I love running with Kim, and I love pushing myself to train; but these quiet evenings in a familiar environment, with no company but scolding blackbirds and curious cattle, are very precious, and I'd forgotten how much I'd missed them.

Thursday, 21 February 2008

Any other Norfolk runners out there?

I'm always thrilled to realise that somebody actually reads these ramblings of mine from time-to-time, and better still if they prove to be folk I have a fighting chance of meeting some day because they live in the same county!

An email from Nicki this morning prompted me to wonder if there was any (forgive the pun) mileage in setting up an online resource for local runners to be able to find each other when they need motivation - somebody to run with. So, for any readers in Norfolk (that's UK), have a look at my newly-created Yahoo group - join us if you'd like - and perhaps I'll see you there!

Saturday, 16 February 2008

A bad week

Last week was brilliant - at least, on the exercise front. I had done three sessions in rapid succession (Thursday: solo run, Saturday: run with Kim, Sunday: serious weights with Kim). Each time it had improved my constantly blue mood (result of business being appalling at present, but that's another story) and I felt that I was finally getting back both to the level of fitness and the shape (especially shape of my face) that had made me so much happier. And at least the ankle is now fine (whisper it) and the only aches-and-pains relate to being on the bench for three months, not to injury.

During this last week, however, I haven't done a thing. And I haven't been busy - quite the reverse, and taking myself down to the gym would have been an obvious remedy for a fit of the miseries. But I have been avoiding running on the local roads, as I still think that the camber on them was one of the culprits for the ankle problem - and that was the quick-and-easy way of getting my exercise fix. Now I need to jump in the car and go somewhere else to make it happen. And when I'm in a real strop, the more effort it takes, the less likely it is to happen.

The two planned sessions didn't happen, either. One with Kim fell on an evening where a real pea-souper of a fog descended, and even the driving to meet up didn't seem like a good idea - never mind running when we got there. And the second occasion - a beautiful sunny afternoon - was scuppered by a long discussion about computers with a friend, which I don't begrudge, but by the time I'd got away it was very dark!

The net result has been that I've been six days without any exercise, and feeling as down as I have been recently anyway, this was not good. So this evening's run with Kim was a life-saver. We started, as usual, at the gym for a warmup; then headed out to our new "tough run" - the very hilly couple of miles into the new housing estate being built round the back of Longwater. However, this time we (a) didn't split the run in two - we kept going, albeit at a pace that could hardly be called running; and (b) added on a bit more at each end, bringing the total distance up to 2.83 miles in 32:30. Not exactly speedy - average pace of 11:29 - but given those hills, we were still pleased. And, more to the point, it's the first time since November that I've run for that long without stopping.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

First solo run in three months

I went down the gym on my husband's instructions, as I was in such a miserable blue funk that he was fed up with me. I decided to take the running gear; did 10 minutes each on bike and cross-trainer, and then went out to run. Took myself on a loop from the gym, round the good old Longwater car park (site of our first ever run, last March); kept a steady, fairly slow pace, but kept going. A pretty mild evening for February, and a comfortable, mostly totally flat route on pavements.

It turned out to be 0.84 miles per circuit, and I ran it twice (in 18:45 without a stop); so just slightly short of my old 1.75 mile run to Morton Hall, which was my main route for months. Pace of 11:10, which was pleasing considering that I seldom got better than 10:30 back in the autumn. No problems with CV; some aches in legs, which took my mind away from the ankle (which didn't play up at all); only noticeable discomfort was in the left hip, which I suspect is some sort of weird biomechanical compensation going on for the right ankle. Or something.

And there were just a few bits of the run (OK, mostly on the downhill bits, but hey) where nothing hurt, and everything got in rhythm, and I knew what it was I'd been missing so desperately.

And I came back much happier - to husband's relief...

Sunday, 3 February 2008

The girls are back in town...

Tonight was my first run with Kim for over three months (29 October since we ran as a team, to be precise; 7 November was my last long run solo).

Start at gym with warmup on cross-trainer, head out for "a gentle mile round the car park". Spot a road off the route round the back of the complex, head off down there for what turns out to be just over 1.8 miles for there-and-back, including a steep hill down-and-up, there-and-back, and into a strong wind on the return journey. Very, very weary legs, but (hooray!) the ankle hasn't complained. 20:45 running time, plus 3 minutes walking/stretching halfway.

I'm therefore back to roughly the pace (11:20) and feeling ("this is hard work, but I can do it") that I was in the summer; so having been on the bench for three months, I've essentially gone backwards by three months, which is reasonable.

Back to the gym; not the most flattering photo of either of us (self-taken on my mobile), but the momentous moment had to be recorded.

Tuesday, 29 January 2008

Shutting the stable door

... after the Rector's Wife has bolted.

Wise words from Vanilla, but it's too late for me - I'm already hooked.

And desperate for my next fix.

Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Another treadmill mile!

Spent 10 minutes each on bike and cross-trainer, then 18 minutes on the treadmill - first and last two minutes walking, middle bit running. Total including walking of 2.22 km (1.38 miles). Slow, big effort, but only real discomfort was in legs, not ankle, because they're so out of practice.

Keep everything crossed for me. This has been such a hole in my life.

Monday, 21 January 2008


- to three miles... oh, I couldn't just enter for one!

and, as ever, the username is norfolkbroad. Hence my sponsorship page is Sorry.

So either follow the link above, or see the Sport Relief widget on the right, send a few arrow-prayers for the ankle, and sponsor me if you feel like it... although you might want to defer that decision for a few weeks to see progress...

Sunday, 20 January 2008


It's been a couple of weeks - mostly because of our usual post-Christmas crashout with friends (as usual, a highly enjoyable combination of over-eating and over-spending). I did manage one gym session during the week, which was better than nothing, at the rather swish JJB gym in Bolton. (Query: why don't gyms have a scheme for visitors, rather than charging on the basis of you trying out the gym before joining? I can't be the only mad fool who doesn't stop wanting a workout when on holiday.)

During the week leading up to the holiday, Kim & I had managed a reasonable three-gym-session-week, including CV, weights and swimming in various combinations. The ankle continues to mystify; the occasional ache at night, usually walking reasonably comfortably but gets tired quickly, heels of any description are a no-no (which is cramping my style something horrible), and the odd violent twinge if I put on pressure at an odd angle. The one-mile treadmill run on 5th January is still the only running I've dared attempt since November.

This evening, I combined a grocery-top-up trip to Sainsbury's with a gym visit. Comfortable with ten minutes each on bike, cross-trainer and Nautilus, followed by 50 minutes' full weights routine.

In the supermarket, I spotted a leaflet about Sport Relief. A mile? Only a mile? Oh, come on. I can do that. And it turns out that you can actually choose to run one mile, three miles or six miles. So if I feel brave in eight weeks time, I might just see if the three is do-able...

... but I promise I'll be sensible, and do lots of treadmill work in little bits, and see the physio - and the podiatrist, if the NHS ever gets around to giving me an appointment...

Monday, 7 January 2008

Red wine is good for you, right?

Birkenstock therapy

A comment on a recent entry from thirkellgirl recently reminded me of a similar suggestion from our friend Margie, who is a sports masseur. Merrell isn't a make to be found often in the UK, but the general idea of clogs or some other orthopedic sandal seemed sensible. So when I visited Norwich today after seeing an IT client in the morning, I had a look around; and in Schuh found some Birkenstock sandals that promise to offer, at least, more support than the slippers that I've habitually worn during the day when working from home. Not decorative, but practical. Let's see if they help.

Saturday, 5 January 2008

A mile - to prove I still can

There was this challenge on the FetchEveryone site, you see, to run a mile by 6th January and to write a report about it. As that's my birthday, and it's almost exactly two months since my last run, I thought, well, let's see...

so a visit to the gym with Kim on a bright Saturday morning (we'd both chickened out on the Friday night), a long (25 minute) warmup on the bike and a 10 minute power-walk on the treadmill; and then, oh-so-cautiously, I took the speed up and ran 1.6 km (1 mile) in 13 minutes. Pathetic by previous standards, but an achievement under the circumstances. Ankle felt a bit tired, but not painful; so I reckon that if I can manage some decent walking and keep up with the rest of the gym stuff for another week or few, we might be getting there.

Continued the session with about an hour on weights, so felt that I'd had a real workout for the first time in weeks. And an input of legal feelgood meant that it was me that went back home - rather than the impossibly miserable cow that my husband has had to put up with for the last couple of days.

Wednesday, 2 January 2008

Can't even get up a sweat

Gym session, depressing. Bike, cross-trainer, OK; tried treadmill, couldn't even power-walk fast enough to get the HR up above about 110, much less run, without ankle protesting.