Gosport Road Runners Beginners Group Take Two

Last year I joined the Gosport Road Runners Beginners Group. I had to pull out after week two as I had an Achilles injury. I never managed to go back as my Achilles kept me out of action for the remainder of the course.

GRR run their Beginners Group twice a year; August and January. It was time for me to try again!

We were split in to three groups. As I’m already a member of Gosport Road Runners I got to choose what group I went in. Members perks! I went straight for the group being co-led by my good friend Rachel. We went out on to the cycle path that runs near the club and warmed up. We then did lots of intervals between lampposts. We ran to one then walked to the next and repeat. Then we ran two and walked one and repeat. I found it easy and manageable. I kept up with everyone and wasn’t the slowest! Relief and also a big change from when I joined in August.

After the intervals all the beginners came back together and we did a run around the block. We were told to take this at our own pace as this would then determine what group we were in to for the remainder of the weeks. I took it easy and managed to run most of the way, just needing one walk break as I definitely started too quick! When we were finished I was told I’d be in group two or I could pick a group.

They didn’t put us in to groups last time, despite saying they would, but there’s no doubt I’d have been in the bottom group as I was slower and able to run a lot less then.

I’m looking forward to the next few weeks and seeing what they entail. To the session I wore my new leggings I bought from Marks & Spencers I thought they’d be perfect for running in the dark as they have reflective spots on them. I got lots of compliments on them and were told the reflective spots were really effective.

Reflective Leggings

My priority now is to make sure I do some strength and conditioning exercises to help build my strength up and hopefully I’ll manage to complete the course this time! Fingers Crossed!

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A Long Weekend in Bristol

We went to Bristol the weekend after my Birthday. We had lots of grand plans but they were all laid to rest by me having a very sore knee and horrendous weather. We were meant to go to parkrun at Ashton Court, do the cliff walks at Cheddar Gorge and visit the gym and spa. We actually did none of that but did visit Weston-Super-Mare, Cheddar and Bristol city centre.

Below are some pictures from our trip.

Weston Super Mare

Weston Super Mare Grand Pier

Weston Super Mare Beach Huts

Weston Super Mare was beautiful but absolutely freezing as there was a really strong wind blowing the whole time. I loved the beach huts, they’re such pretty colours. The ones at the beach near me are bottle green! I’d much rather they looked like this.

Cheddar

Cheddar

Whisky

Cheddar Gorge Cheese

My purchases from Cheddar! Whisky and Cheese! In case you’re wondering the Tomatin Whisky was my favourite and the Cave Matured Cheese was my favourite.

The Hotel

Double Tree

Guinea Fowl

We stayed at Cadbury House Hotel and Spa in Congresbury. We bought our stay on points which meant 3 nights in a suite cost us £17! The hotel was beautiful and our room was lovely. We had no complaints. The bathroom was in the room though not separate! We didn’t mind but I wonder if others would. They also had Guinea Fowl at the hotel who were very noisy during the day! Thankfully as soon as dusk came they left.

In and Around Bristol

Costa Coffee

We had breakfast in Costa Coffee one morning and I tried their Coconut Vanilla Latte. It was absolutely beautiful!

Clifton Suspension Bridge

The Clifton Suspension Bridge is a big tourist must see. It’s a shame the weather was horrendous as I’d have been tempted to get out and take pictures but the views weren’t great as a result of the heavy rain.

Bowler Hats

These bowler hat lightshades were in the bathrooms of one of the shopping centres we went to. I thought they were pretty quirky so snapped a picture.

I really enjoyed Bristol and the surrounding area. It’s definitely somewhere I’d like to revisit in better weather and without a sore knee!

 

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2018 Races

I’ve entered a few races this year so I thought I’d do a quick post about them.

June – Romsey 5 mile Cake and Beer Race

I have to admit I was tempted in to this by the Cake and Beer but was reluctant. Could I get to 5 miles by June?! Anyway Anna and our mutual friend Graham convinced me I could so I signed up. There better be cake left by the time I finish!

June – Gosport Golden Mile 5K Race

I’ve spectated at this race for the past two years but never taken part. It’s a race along the seafront at Stokes Bay. My worry though is that it will be as hot as it was last year. Pretty sure it was around 27-30c!

September – River Ness 10K

I feel like I have unfinished business with this race so decided to give it another go. This time I’m determined to do well and not get shouted at by a marshal. See this post for what I’m talking about.

October – Great South Run 10 miles

You know when you marshal at a race and get caught up in the moment and think “I could do that” so you go home and sign up immediately? Yeah that! Now I think “You absolute fool” Praying I can just get round the course and finish it.

I hope the 5 miler, then the 10K will give me some incentive to keep training and make it to 10 miles for the Great South Run. That’s the plan anyway!

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The Run Where Tech Went Wrong

I was the Run Director at parkrun this week. I’d like to say it went off without event but that wouldn’t be true. I won’t go in to too much detail but I had to handle a volatile situation and that kinda thing is pretty scary! Other than that though it was a great experience yet again being an RD. We had a whopper turn out – 470 runners! I meant to try a run Saturday afternoon but chose to nap instead.

Thanks to Peter Stoddard for snapping this picture

Sunday morning I was off to volunteer at junior parkrun. I decided I’d get there a little early and go for a trial run. I say trial because I needed too test my knee that had been really sore (more here) I took my kindle in the car just in case I needed to stop and then would have time to kill. Anyway I got to Stokes Bay just before 8am. My plan being a 2 mile run if my knee was ok and that takes me about half an hour so I’d be back in time to volunteer.

So I get myself ready, opened the Strava app on my watch…and it didn’t work. It said I needed to open the app on my phone. I opened the app on my phone…and nothing happened. My app on my watch still wouldn’t work. No worries I thought I’ll just start Strava on my phone when I’ve completed my warm up. Once I’d done that I opened Strava on my phone and set it going. But then I wasn’t sure what to do, do I wait for the screen to lock itself or should I just lock it? Will the app still work if I just lock it? I decided to chance it and lock the phone thinking I’d check on it after a short while.

I set off running up the prom but as I got towards the end instead of turning round I decided to head on the grassy/gravel paths towards Fort Gilkicker as a couple of people had told me this would help strengthen my knees and ankles. Jeez, no one told me how hard it is to run on grass. It was hard going but I got to Gilkicker (approx half a mile) and thought I’d turn here as they’re doing some work and I wasn’t sure if you could get all the way around it. As I turned I took a walk break so thought I’d check how Strava was going on my phone. My phone was dead. It showed the lock screen but wouldn’t let me swipe up to unlock it. I tried switching it off but it wouldn’t even let me do that. So instead I started the apple fitness app on my watch.

Now I was going to have to start again with the two miles because I’m a fussy person and didn’t want to leave it at 1.5 miles knowing I’d probably run half a mile already. I struggled again over the grass and gravel but once I got back on to the prom I found my rhythm and ran. I took very few walk breaks which I was pleased about. As I turned around to make my way back to where the volunteers meet I got a couple of beeps from cars which were the volunteers starting to arrive. As I continued my way back I saw them setting up but guess what?! I was only at 1.9 miles! Imagine my embarrassment when I had to run past them shouting “I’ve misjudged! I need to run another 0.1!” Luckily they laughed and told me they’d see me in a minute.

When I finished I popped in to the toilets and then afterwards thought I’d see if I could fix my phone as I walked back to the car to put some warm clothes on. My phone worked straight away this time! And Strava was still running! I wish I’d checked it as soon as I’d finished as I’d have stopped it at the right time but hey ho. At least my phone isn’t completely broken which was a fear on my mind. Anyway it turns out I ran 2 and a half miles after all.

Thanks to Eileen Bartlett who snapped this picture of Penny and I chatting right after my run

Now I’ve had time to recover, everything feels fine. No knee pain, just the usual Achilles niggle, which I always seem to have. So, that means I’m all set to go to the beginners group at my run club again! Fingers crossed I don’t break on week 2 like I did last time.

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A Small Piece of parkrun Fame

Every week parkrun UK ask a question on their Facebook page. Sometimes it’s just “Did you join us this week?” or “Where did you parkrun today?” Sometimes they might ask something a bit more in depth e.g. “How does parkrun make you feel?” etc. Occasionally I answer these, if I feel I have something to say.

So imagine my surprise when I left work one night and had a Twitter notification from Anna telling me I’d been featured on parkrun UK’s Twitter page. A few days later I was on their Facebook page!

Facebook

Imagine my surprise when the following week I was featured again!

I absolutely can not get over how many likes on Facebook this one got! A whopping 761! So many people congratulating me and lots of people complimenting my t-shirt! It’s from OBD Clothing in case you’re wondering!

I’ve loved my little two minutes of parkrun fame!

Have you ever been featured on parkrun’s social media?

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Injured…again

After my Birthday parkrun I felt on top of the world. I had run further than ever before and was so pleased. Then on Sunday I went to volunteer at Stokes Bay junior parkrun. Everything felt fine.

Then we went to spectate at Stubbington 10K. We cycled down there as we thought the roads surrounding it would be shut. Every time I pushed down on the pedal with my right leg, I got a pain in my knee. I didn’t really think too much of it as I’ve always suffered with my knees right from being a child. I get the odd twinge but it never turns out to be anything major.

We spectated and rode back, again a bit of pain in my knee but nothing too bad. I decided to cancel my spin class as I’d spent over 30 minutes cycling anyway. That night the pain in my knee got worse. I took some Ibuprofen, just to be safe and went to bed.

I woke up numerous times in the night as I bent my leg I got a hot pain in my knee. When I woke up there was a definite pain in my knee whenever I bent it. Being at work all week definitely aggravated it. Getting up from the floor to standing was agony and going to sit on chairs, then getting back up really hurt it.

The pain finally started to get a little better on Thursday, by Friday it had mostly eased. Now (Sunday) it has pretty much gone, although when I ran upstairs earlier because I forgot about it I did get a twinge. Nothing too bad though. Fingers crossed it’s on the mend now but it means I haven’t run for a whole week and now I’m scared I’ll be right back to square one.

Why is there always something with me?!

A Birthday parkrun

Last Saturday it was my Birthday. Since my Birthday was on a Saturday I knew it had to start with a parkrun. I actually contemplated going away for my Birthday and doing some parkrun tourism, but in the end I knew there was no where else I’d rather be than at my home parkrun with my friends.

After a cup of coffee and a Belvita breakfast bar, I took the long way to parkrun to have a warm up. I actually live 0.2 miles away from my local parkrun start line so I actually have to go well out of my way to get a warm up in!

As soon as I got to parkrun people started wishing me Happy Birthday. Then Auz (the guy that was integral in getting our parkrun started) came over with a Happy Birthday helium balloon for me. I was so flattered that he and his lovely lady Rachel got me a gift. 😊

Now I was holding a balloon, lots of people wished me a Happy Birthday. It was so lovely. As the run brief began I positioned myself behind Mike who I ran with in this post. He runs at such a consistent pace I really wanted to try and keep him in my sights.

As we set off down the prom I thought to myself “If I can run to the first shelter I’ll be really pleased” as I’d never managed to run that far before, but low and behold by matching Mike’s pace I reached that first shelter and kept going. My focus now changed to the second shelter and I knew I’d be pleased if I could get that far. But guess what?! I did! My thoughts kept changing “If I can make it to the sailing club, the turn around point, if I can make it back to the sailing club, the second shelter, the finish funnel (We have to run past the finish funnel at around 1.4 miles) I made it to the bottom of the ramp before just needing to walk the ramp and catch my breath. The bottom of the ramp is 1.5 miles in to the course.

I RAN 1.5 MILES WITHOUT STOPPING!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I couldn’t believe it. I wanted to cry, happy tears of course. However, Mike was calling me and telling me to come on. So when I reached the top of the ramp we were off again. I took a couple more walk breaks but actually ran a lot of it. I was so pleased with myself, what a Birthday treat! Oh and my balloon? The string on it snapped as I reached the second turn around point and turned in to the wind 😢 I was gutted as I’d been planning my Instagram post, me and the balloon in front of the parkrun flag. But no, the stupid wind took it for a trip to the Isle of Wight! Below is my Instagram post minus the balloon!

After parkrun

Never mind, the joy from running so much of the parkrun outweighed the sadness relating to the balloon.

Have you ever parkrunned on your Birthday? Is parkrunned even a word?

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What A Typical Week Looks Like For Me

I started this post thinking I’ll do a typical week but actually this ended up being a not so typical week with a work meeting and my Birthday.

Monday 8th January: Monday is my day off from work. I’m usually up relatively early. Today I made us a chilli in the slow cooker. I put it on at about half past 9 ready to eat at about half past 8. I often eat late because of the hours I work. Today there’s a meeting at work I have to go in for. I leave the house at 5.30 and the meeting is 6-8pm, meaning I get back at 8.30pm. I also went for a run today which you can read about here: My First Outdoor Solo Run

Tuesday 9th January: I get up at 5.50am as I start work at twenty past 7 meaning I leave the house at around 6:40am to make sure I’m there in time if I hit any traffic. It’s a busy day at work and people have phoned in sick which always makes it harder. I finish at 6, as always I finish work with back ache (from lifting and being on my feet all day) and a head ache from not drinking enough. It’s home, cook tea and bed.

Wednesday 10th January: It’s the same routine of up at 5.50am. After work tonight I want to go for a run but don’t yet have anything hi-viz or lights to make me visible whilst running in the dark. Instead I run on the treadmill. I try a new technique (I know, again!) I slow down the pace I run at and try to run as much as I can and walk when I need to. I cover two miles in 29.40. I’m pleased with that as I’m not used to running in the week after work when I’m exhausted. I’ve also got an Apple watch now, it’s meant to be for my Birthday but I’ve been given it early.

2 Treadmill Miles

Thursday 11th January: OK so same routine of work. Tonight it is Virtual RPM at my gym with my work colleague Maria. We get there pretty early and walk on the treadmill to warm up a little and have a natter. You can’t chat in spin class. If you’re chatting, you’re not working hard enough! I find the spin class a little harder than usual. Possibly down to the run the night before? I still cover 12.2 miles. Maria covers a whopping 12.9! When I first started spin classes I was only covering 9-10 miles so I’m pretty pleased with the increase.

Spin Stats

Friday 12th January: It’s finally Friday. I’m always pretty tired by the time the end of the week rolls round. Same routine of up and going to work. Then Friday night is rest night. I’m in bed by 9pm for tomorrow it’s parkrun day. I like to go to bed early on a Friday night as, although I’m not having a lie in due to parkrun, I’m still getting a bit of extra sleep.

Saturday 13th January: Happy Birthday to me! I’m up early to go to parkrun and follow my usual schedule of a small cup of coffee (Don’t want to be desperate for the toilet halfway through the run – although our parkrun has 3 lots of toilets on the course!) and a Belvita breakfast bar. A parkrun friend told me they have a Belvita as they contain 4 hours of carbohydrates (I think?) so they’re ideal to help you with a run. I’ll leave the tale of my Birthday parkrun for another post I have planned. Below is a picture of me after parkrun.

After parkrun

Afterwards we go home and shower. I feel like my Birthday has crept up on me as it doesn’t feel like two seconds since Christmas. Therefore I haven’t planned anything to do on my Birthday. I decide on a look around the shops in Southampton will do. Whilst there I buy a couple of things and we go for a Sprinkles. We get home mid afternoon where I have my choice over the TV (for once) and then we go to a Chinese restaurant in Chichester which is really lovely.

Sprinkles

Sunday 14th January: This morning it’s up early again, as I’m volunteering at Stokes Bay junior parkrun. This week I am the volunteer coordinator (I tell all the marshals where they need to stand and give them their lanyards with safety information on) and then I am the Timekeeper. When it’s finished we pack up the kit in to the cars and everyone makes a swift exit as the team are off to Stubbington 10K, a very local race. I go home and grab my bike then cycle to the closest point the race comes to where I live. I spot lots of friends from parkrun and team mates from Gosport Road Runners. After the race has ended we cycle home. I’m booked on to Sunday spin but I decide to cancel it as I’ve cycled for over half an hour going to and from the race. The rest of the day is spent relaxing and preparing for work the next day. I don’t normally work Mondays but this week coming I am as I’m off on the Friday instead.

So that is what a semi-typical week looks like for me. Work takes up a massive chunk of my time with me working 11 hour days so it takes effort to fit in other things as work does tire me out physically and mentally.

How does it compare to your week?

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My First Outdoor Solo Run

Lots of runners run outdoors on their own. They use it for headspace, to zone out and forget about the worries of the day.

When I need to run, usually on my day off like today, I go on the treadmill. The treadmill is easy for me. It’s what I’m used to, it’s flat and I don’t have to leave the house.

I’ve always found running outdoors much harder. So much so, after my injury in 2013 I never really returned to outdoor running. My first outdoor run was my first parkrun on 13th May 2017. Since then I’ve walked lots outside but never run. To be honest I’m a bit scared of what someone might say to me. You hear these horror stories of runners being heckled and I don’t want it to be me on the receiving end.

As I’m beginning to enjoy running now and I have the Great South Run booked, I know I need to transfer my running to the great outdoors. I need to gain the strength needed to complete that 10 mile race. So this morning I thought “I’ll go for a run outside” that was 4 hours before I actually plucked up the courage to go.

I eventually got dressed to go but as I reopened the curtains after getting changed my stomach dropped. The bin men hadn’t been yet and they’re usually somewhere in the area at this time. So what?! I hear you cry, well this means I’d have to go past them. A group of blokes, what if they were lairy and shouted something at me?!

I finally managed to get my butt out of the door. I’d worked out a one mile loop and my aim was to run it and then if I felt able I could always do a second loop. Ideally I’d do two miles but worst case scenario there were a few cut throughs back to home on this loop so it’d be easy to go home earlier if I needed to. I walked part of the loop (just over half a mile) to warm up, then dropped my jacket off at the house and set off.

Guess what was waiting round that very first corner? Yep, the bin men. They didn’t so much as bat an eyelid in my direction! I ran much more than I expected to before taking my first walk break. I ran along the front and was feeling pretty darn good. Just like at parkrun I ran when I could and walked when I needed to.

Before I knew it I was at the point to start heading back towards home to round off my first mile loop but I decided to keep going on the road I was on as I felt good by this stage and knew I wouldn’t need to stop at a mile. I ran on until I hit 1 mile then turned to run the same route back.

I decided to turn off a little early as my route went ever so slightly uphill. I mean ever so slightly as well, I live in a very flat area. I know a little loop near me is about 0.3miles so I knew I could loop that instead and probably still make 2 miles before arriving home which I did. I got to my house just after mileage ticked over to 2 miles. I did it, and nothing happened!

Red faced but 2 miles complete

I was really pleased, in fact I still feel pretty smug about it now. 

strava details

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When Running Feels Good

After my post Feeling Lost With Running lots of people offered advice on my blog, on Twitter and on Facebook.

The general theme of the advice was “Listen to your body”, “Go off plan”, “Keep it fun” and “Don’t be afraid to take a step back”

I took the advice. This week I went to parkrun without a plan. I didn’t set any intervals on my watch, I just pressed go and went.

We walked the long way to parkrun to give us a good warm up. On the way we saw Marie and Mike. Marie asked me if I was going to beat Mike this week. I told her not likely! (This will become relevant later in the post) We arrived at 8.55, just as the run brief was getting underway.

It took me longer than usual to get past the start line. The New Year not only makes gyms busier, it also makes parkruns a lot busier (as well as three local courses being cancelled).

I ran a little and walked when I needed to. The course was quite congested with so many people there so some of my walk breaks were enforced or extended as I just couldn’t get past people with the faster runners coming back in the other direction. I cheered on my friends as they all came back past me having already reached the turn point. The thing I love about my parkrun is, I know so many people, I barely go more than 20 steps without someone waving at me or cheering me on. It’s great and helps move the time along.

When I turned at the first turn around point I noticed the sun was still on it’s way up. It was making the sky glow with a pinky/lilac colour. It was really pretty. I continued with my run walk, taking breaks when I needed to. I kept overtaking an older gentleman when I was running and he in turn would overtake me when I had a walk break.

As we passed by the finish funnel I took a walk break and he said to me “Come on, don’t let an 85 year old beat you” He didn’t make me feel bad, or particularly unfit at all haha

I was now making my way towards the second turnaround point now and I felt good. Runners were coming back the other way once again and I was able to cheer everyone on and receive words of encouragement myself. My 85 year old friend told me “When we reach that turn around point I don’t want to see you again” Shortly after he said this I fell behind anyway and he disappeared off but I soon heard a voice from behind me.

Mike (in his 70’s) was just behind me shouting “You’re still beating me” I tried to run away from him (No really!) but that just made him laugh and shout “That got you moving didn’t it?!” We soon fell in to pace and began to run together. The thing is with Mike is, he runs slower than me but is more consistent. Matching his pace actually allowed me to run quite a bit more than I had been doing. We chatted, he told me they’d just been to Exmouth and run the 2nd Exmouth parkrun. I told him the ED’s had been to our parkrun in November as they were running the Gosport Half Marathon and that my favourite athlete Jo Pavey had turned up to their inaugural.

We made the descent down mini mountain and Mike started to pull away from me. He told me to hurry up. I told him I wasn’t sure I could run all the way from there to the finish funnel (it’s further than it looks, it’s very deceptive) he said I could and together we ran in all the way, him encouraging me all the way.

Just before we got to the funnel we overtook my 85 year old friend who shouted “Oi!” at me. I shouted an apology back but Mike told me to go so I did. We ran in pretty much together.

Here I am with my older friends!

I felt elated. A good fun parkrun. I never got to thank Mike, he was continuing his run to Browndown in an attempt to start upping his mileage. Next time I see him I’ll be sure to thank him for his good company.

Taking the pressure off was the best thing to do. I didn’t feel wrecked by the end of it and today I haven’t been paying the price. I’m so pleased and I finally got a good parkrun photograph!

I’m going to try the same tactics next week for sure! Wish me luck!

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