Category Archives: Life

Why 2018 Was Awesome!

Happy New Year! I hope you all enjoyed ringing in the New Year and aren’t feeling too sad about saying goodbye to 2018. Now, as regular readers will know, this blog saw a lot of doom and gloom through 2018 as I went through 5 months of injury. So, now it’s time to focus on what made 2018 awesome.

parkrun:

Obviously parkrun had to get a mention here. My first parkrun of 2018 was on 6th January (I missed the double on NYD because of a horrible virus) My finish time was 45:20. I’ve now dropped that to 37:59 on Christmas Day! I also was a tourist at Aviemore parkrun in March where despite finishing in 46:18 I finished in position 28. My highest finish position to date! Not only finish times and positions though, the friends I’ve made through parkrun. I know I can ask on Facebook for a run buddy and someone will always come forward. The running community is so supportive. I’ve built my network down here (We moved South in 2015) from parkrunners and now they’re incredible friends. In April I ran Mike’s 100th parkrun with him because, this still amazes me, he wanted to run with me because I was his favourite RD. I felt so incredibly privileged that day. More wonderful parkrun-related days were meeting Paul Sinton-Hewitt, the founder of parkrun, and Dame Kelly Holmes, the retired Olympic athlete.

End of the run

Selfie with Paul Sinton-Hewitt

Dame Kelly Holmes

Travel:

I’ve not left the UK in 2018 (I went to Brazil at the end of 2018 and will go to Canada in 2019) but I’ve still discovered new and lovely places. I started 2018 by visiting Cheddar, Weston-Super-Mare and Bristol. In March I visited Scotland and discovered new places as we stayed in a different area to where we’d usually stay. In April I visited Wales, or to be precise, Barry Island. We went landmark hunting as I’d finally got around to watching Gavin & Stacey! In September we went back to Scotland where we did so much walking! My injury was finally fading and I loved enjoying the outdoors again.

Loch Morlich

Running:

My running has improved so much towards the end of 2018. However I want to focus on some of the amazing runs I’ve done that aren’t parkrun related. I ran in my local country park for the first time and discovered the cliff top run so many people have told me about. That was an incredible run but it’s a shame it coincided with flying ant day!! A year to the day after starting parkrun, I also completed my first run with The Breakfast Club. I’d never felt good enough to go before but I loved every second. In May I also did my first intervals session at Gosport Road Runners and absolutely loved it. By May my running was going from strength to strength and I was thoroughly enjoying it. In June I also ran my longest run (5 Miles) to date at the Romsey Cake and Beer Race. An incredible day and I won a prize! October was an amazing month as I started running again after my injury and suddenly found losing 2 stone had made quite a difference to my speed.

post parkrun selfie

Friends:

In June I met Woofs With Wilson and his Mum for the first time and got on with them famously. We’ve since met a couple more times and they introduced me to The Pump House, one of my favourite places in Gosport.

My friendship with Maria went from strength to strength as we went to so many spin classes and in June, I got her to come to parkrun. And got her hooked on it!

We had friends from Sheffield visit in June. The weather was sweltering so we had beach days, as well as playing tourist in our own area.

I also met up with Anna from Anna the Apple blog a couple of times at the Paul Sinton-Hewitt chat and for dinner where I quizzed her on every marathon she’s run.

Woofs with Wilson and I

Me:

Obviously in 2018 there were some great things that happened to me that don’t really fall in to the other categories. At the end of July I signed up to Weight Watchers and so far I’ve lost 2 and a half stones. It’s from the picture below people really  started noticing my weight loss.

I added another string to my bow by completing a level 2 course on Understanding Childhood Illnesses.

In December, my husband and I also celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary.

Wearing the Contra t-shirt

What made your 2018 awesome? Or are you glad to see the back of it?

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Was It A Running Injury?

I’m about a month behind on updates about how my running is going! Oops! Hopefully over the Christmas break I’ll manage to get caught up.

On 27th November Maria and I went back to the spin class we used to attend at the gym. We haven’t been to a spin class since I got my injury on 9th June. We were looking forward to getting back to it. I’d left it so long after my return to running because I wanted to be so so sure that everything was ok. 

Before Spin

Obviously we take our class very seriously, and before it began, we took selfies with filters. We were pretty pumped to find out the class was our favourite one. We do Virtual Spin, which basically means they play a video. It’s a bit like doing a DVD at home, except you’re in a spin studio.

We really enjoyed the class and both left absolutely buzzing. Completing a spin class gives me that high feeling. I’ve yet to experience that from running! To quote one of my favourite movie characters, Elle Woods…

So really spin class is keeping my husband safe too! 

However, the next couple of days, as well as the saddle soreness you experience from a spin class I could also feel my injury. Don’t get me wrong, it was nothing like as painful as it had been. In fact it wasn’t so much painful, but really uncomfortable. Which makes me wonder, was it a running injury after all? Perhaps it actually came from a spin class and running the parkrun that morning just upset it further? Perhaps that’s why when the physio asked me what I did to cause it, I didn’t know the answer. I didn’t do anything, I was just plodding along.

That uncomfortable feeling lasted a good couple of days. As a result, I haven’t been back to a spin class again. My running is going so well at the minute I just don’t want to risk aggravating the injury again by continuing to spin. I’m pretty disappointed though because I do love the spin classes.

Have you had to give up something you enjoy for health reasons?

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Winter Running – How To Stay Safe

Every Tuesday morning I see one of my parkrun friends out running on my drive to work. I pass her at the same point every Tuesday morning and it got me thinking…is this safe? The more I thought about it on my drive to work, the more this blog post came to fruition. Anything to make the commute pass by quicker!

Don’t Run The Same Route

Unfortunately these days you never know who is watching and if you run the same route, like my friend does every Tuesday, people will know. By not running the same route you make yourself less prone to attack. That might sound over dramatic but we read about muggings in the press all too often. Whilst we’re talking about routes, stick to well lit routes that you’re familiar with so you don’t get lost. And also…

Tell Someone Where You Plan On Running

If something does happen, heaven forbid, then your loved ones are at least going to have some clue of where you are. When you leave tell someone how long you expect to be. If you live alone then it’s always a good idea to carry some form of ID. The parkrun wrist bands are ideal as they have your ICE contact on them and you can list any medical conditions you may have. You might also want to…

Carry Your Phone With You

Now I’m kind of in two minds about this. If you have a phone with you and something happens then you can at least contact someone. Your loved ones can use the “Find Friends” app to track you too. However I don’t like to take my phone because if I’m going to get mugged, I don’t want them to take my phone. That’s why I’m in two minds! However I can make calls from my Apple Watch so I don’t necessarily need my phone but lets face it, if I’m going to get mugged, they’ll probably nab the watch anyway!

Be Bright

If you’re running in the dark mornings or evenings make sure you can be seen. There are so many pieces of quality Hi-Viz running clothing out there, there’s no excuse! You can also buy various running lights cheap as chips on Amazon. Wear your brightest clothing and you’re all set.

Hit The Gym

Not wanting to run in the dark? Go to the gym and use a treadmill. I know they’re not the most inspiring pieces of kit but you can use the programme settings on treadmills to get a really good workout. I help time pass on the treadmill by watching YouTube videos. There are actually elite athletes who use treadmills regularly to aid their running.

Do you like running in the dark?

Do you have any tips on staying safe?

A Beasting and Gosport Half Marathon

I’ve slipped a little with my blog posts again! Following on from my parkrun PB on 17th November, the following day I went for a run with Claire. We were meant to go to Breakfast Club but as it was the morning of the Gosport Half Marathon (which meant road closures between home and Breakfast Club) we decided to keep it local.

We met up at the end of my road and agreed we’d keep it to 30 minutes out and back just like a Breakfast Club. We set off towards Hill Head and ran along the prom. We ran all the way until the point where the prom runs out and then turned around. On the way back as we passed the toilet block we did some hill reps on the slopes that go from the toilets to the upper level pavement.

We then headed to Browndown where Claire then had me run up and down the stairs. As we began running again afterwards my hamstring on my left leg started to hurt. I think I probably strided out too far on the hill reps maybe.

We headed for home after this which made the run up to just over 4 miles. I was slower than the previous day but that was to be expected after getting a PB. Once I got in I had a quick shower and headed out to spectate at the Gosport Half Marathon.

The good thing about spectating at the Gosport Half Marathon is that you can see your runners multiple times due to the layout of the course and the fact it’s two laps. It’s a strange one though if you’re a runner. It’s along the seafront in November so windy and cold. It’s two laps, some people find laps soul destroying. And finally, if I were running it, I’d practically run past my house twice whilst, I imagine, in a world of pain! I’d probably just want to go home!

Anyway I stood with two friends from Gosport Road Runners and had a natter with them whilst cheering people on. I only took one picture as I didn’t want to miss any of my runners.

Gosport Half Marathon

I was a bit gutted to miss Anna on her final fly by as I was still watching runners come the other way! Still I think I managed to see most people 4 times which is good and not something that can be done at all marathons.

Do you like to spectate at races?

If you want to read my other post about Gosport Half Marathon, it can be found here –> Gosport Half Marathon 2016

 

 

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Achievement Awards

When I finished parkrun on Saturday I got talking to the Race Director of Eastleigh 10K. Eastleigh is a pretty big event on the local race calendar and lots of people take part. It boasts that it is a flat fast course so people are bound to want a crack of the whip.

Whilst chatting he told me instead of just awarding prizes for 1st, 2nd & 3rd male female or age category etc, next year they’re introducing an Achievement Award. This means that all runners are in with a chance of winning an award if they’ve run the previous year. The way it will work is, if you ran the 2018 race and then run the 2019 race, if you make an improvement on your 2018 time you’ll be in with a chance of winning. To make it fair it’ll be based on the percentage of your improvement time.

For runners like me this is an amazing opportunity. I’m never going to be a fast runner coming 1st, 2nd or 3rd, nor am I ever likely to win my age category. Something I can boast though is that I’ve knocked somewhere around 15 minutes off my 5K time. That’s a 25% improvement. When I told him a bit about my journey he said it’s people like me he’s hoping to reward, those people that chip away at running to improve their physical or mental health. I guess it’s about rewarding everyone and not just those who run super quick. However, I guess those middle of the pack runners who are never going to win but are only likely to improve their time by say 2 minutes are still likely to miss out on an award.

I like the idea but what do you think? Is it fair to reward only certain people or should the whole awarding people prizes be scrapped?

 

Spectating At The Great South Run 2018

I was meant to be running the Great South Run this year but due to injury wasn’t able to take part. A couple of months ago I don’t think I could have even gone to spectate but now I’m feeling a lot better in myself so….

On 21st October I headed in to Portsmouth to watch the Great South Run. We’d spent a good while contemplating how to get there and eventually settled on just paying the monstrous £10 parking fee to park on Southsea common. We left home at 6:50am to drive over to Portsmouth and get parked.

I knew I wanted to be somewhere around the 8 or 9 mile mark to provide people with cheers and encouragement in those latter stages where they might be struggling and really need the boost. However, first we were heading for breakfast! We walked to The Tenth Hole which is an amazing cake shop that also happen to do some pretty tasty food. It was a good half an hour walk to there and we arrived at 7.55 ready for them to open at 8am. The Tenth Hole was on the Great South Run route and there were signs everywhere saying so and not to park. On our walk there and whilst eating breakfast we probably saw 10 cars get towed away. We even saw one lady park up, get out of her car, read the sign, then go for a jog anyway! Her car was towed about 10 minutes after she left. I bet that was a nasty surprise to come back to!

Sun rise over Canoe Lake

The sun rising over Canoe Lake

For breakfast I had French toast with banana and a coffee followed by a slice of banoffee pie. There were so many runners in there enjoying breakfast too. I’m not sure it’s how I’d fuel my run right before the race but each to their own. When we left and walked to the end of the street I realised we were about 200 yards from the 9 mile marker. It looked as good a place as any to stand and there were toilets right opposite us in case I needed a wee! Priorities!

Andy Vernon warming up

Andy Vernon warming up

We had about half an hour to wait before the elite women set off. I was looking forward to seeing Eilish McColgan and Gemma Steele run. Whilst we were waiting we saw Andy Vernon warming up ready to take on Chris Thompson. We didn’t have too long to wait after that before we saw them around mile 7 (at the end of the road where The Tenth Hole is) and then it only seemed like 10 minutes before they were running past us at mile 9. Eilish McColgan was in first place when she passed us and was looking strong as! I snapped a shot of her and uploaded it to my Instagram stories, only for her to share it on her Instagram stories!

Eilish McColgan

The elite men soon passed after the women and Chris Thompson was in the lead ready to win for the 3rd time. Now I had to get my beady eyes ready to start spotting my friends. The tracker app was next to useless! It told me some of my runners were still on the start line when they’d run past me, and some had finished when they hadn’t. It was down to me to spot them as the app wasn’t reliable. I soon spotted Anna and Kyle. Anna was the happiest person I saw at mile 9. She looked like she was having a great time.

As the time passed by the weather really warmed up. I cheered on Craig from Runr and around 40 people from parkrun. I collected hugs from those that were able to stop. I was shocked to find everyone was dripping wet where they’d poured water over their heads to try and cool down. One friend told me she was suffering with heat stroke! It was so warm and I even got sunburnt. I managed to spot all my friends bar one which I thought was pretty good considering there were 20,000 people running! At the end I was waiting for my lovely friend Mike from parkrun but the app told me he’d finished so we  started heading back to the car. As we passed the finish line I heard the announcer call Mike’s name! So he hadn’t finished after all when the app told me. Luckily I was able to yell through the barricades to him and catch his attention. He laughed when I told him about the mix up and said he’d take the quicker time!

The only downside to the whole day was trying to get out of Portsmouth! It took us about an hour and forty minutes to get home and it’s usually a half hour journey!

Have you been to spectate a big race like the Great South Run?

What’s your favourite race distance?

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International parkrun Day

On October 6th it was International parkrun Day. It marks 14 years since parkrun started! I don’t need to harp on about how amazing parkrun is as you all know already that I love it.

Before the Saturday I’d already completed one run/walk. When I was seeing a physio she told me when I made my return to running, to start off with so little running it’s mostly walking. She suggested 30 seconds running and 4.5 minutes walking so that’s what I did. My first run/walk I did 20 minutes on the treadmill and I’m pleased to report it was pain free.

Saturday it was time to test it out over the 5k distance. I donned my apricot parkrun t-shirt and started by doing the new runners briefing. I went to the start line and my fellow parkrunner Claire came to join me. She asked me what my goal was. I told her to get round pain free but as we started I said I wanted to try and stay under 20 minute miles. We walked and chatted and Claire’s watch continuously beeped with her pace as it kept telling her she was behind pace but it was good as she told me where we were at. Mostly around an 18 minute mile. However on the runs I was banging out 11-12 minute miles! Say whaaaat?! Haha I am aware it was only for 30 seconds though.

The parkrun was pretty uneventful to be honest but this was good, I got round, it was pain free and to top it off I did it in a good time. A surprisingly good time actually. I finished in 49:58 with 30 seconds running and 4.5 minutes walking! Bearing in mind my average parkrun time is about 45 minutes. Mind blown!

Afterwards I was absolutely buzzing! I’m praying this good luck continues. And just to finish off, here’s a silly selfie taken before hand!

parkrun selfie

What’s Been Happening Lately

It’s been over a month since my last proper blog post. Since becoming an injured runner it’s been hard for me to blog because I’ve not really had much to blog about.

Last time I wrote I was going for a practice parkrun walk which turned in to a walk with a twist. Since then I’ve been able to go back to the gym and exercise properly, although I’ve yet to return to spin. I’ve been on holiday to Scotland where we did lots of hiking and I’ve been back to parkrun twice.

The first time I did parkrun it took me over an hour. It was pain free but foolishly I wore new Nike trainers that absolutely ripped my feet to shreds. It was really bad, so bad it took two weeks before I could comfortably wear shoes again!

I’m still doing well with Weight Watchers (or WW as it’s now meant to be known) and I’ve nearly lost 1.5 stone. I did put on weight after holiday though! I’m not worried about that at all though as I know I’ll lose it again.

I’m going to keep this short and sweet as that pretty much brings me up to date and now I can start individual posts on runs and workouts etc. I just didn’t want to start blogging again without bringing it all up to date.

The Running Awards

I’ve been nominated for a Running Award in the Personal Blog section. Click the red button to vote for me, you know, if you want to!

 

What My Return to Running Will Look Like

Now that I’m almost pain free I’ve started to think about my return to running. My view on it has really changed.

No more worrying about times:

Previous to my injury I was so determined to improve my time all the time. I was disappointed if I went over a 15 minute mile. I was annoyed if I went over a 45 minute 5k. There’s one thing this injury has taught me and that’s to enjoy running. Run because I can not because I have to.

No more signing up for races:

The main thing I panicked about when I got injured, was the races I’d entered. I had the Gosport Golden Mile, River Ness 10K and the Great South Run. I still went ahead and ran the Gosport Golden Mile which was a huge mistake but hindsight is a wonderful thing! Luckily I’ve managed to get my entry fee back from the Great South Run so that just leaves the River Ness 10K who won’t refund or let me defer. I guess I just have to let that one go. I no longer want that pressure of “I have to be able to run this distance” I want my running to be for me. Although I do really want to do the 5 mile beer and cake race again!

The end goal is not a marathon:

Some runners feel the end goal is to run a marathon. They work their way through the distances and then sign up to a marathon or ultra. I just want to be able to run. I want to complete a parkrun but after 5K anything else will just be a bonus.

Social Running:

One thing I do definitely want to do is return to Breakfast Club. Running with people I know and a nice chatty breakfast afterwards. I think if I do end up going over 5K, this will be it. It’s half an hour out and half an hour back. It’ll be nice to see how I progress through this but I’m not going to think “I want to run 4 miles, or 5 miles or 6 miles” etc. My progression will come naturally the more I run when I can run.

Now I just have to figure out how to get rid of this last little bit of niggly injury!