Race report: Mulgrave Castle 10k

After I entered the Vale of York half marathon, I lingered on the RaceBest website to browse through the other races that were there. My eyes fell upon the Mulgrave Castle 10k which takes place near Whitby on a private estate.  I have a friend who loves Whitby and quite likes running 10ks so I asked him if he was interested.  He was, but he also didn’t do anything about it, so I didn’t book a place. It’s a nearly 90 minute journey away from home, and seemed a bit to far to travel alone, just to run a race.

Still, my internet browser kept flicking back to the race, so I asked around to see if anyone else was up for it. I didn’t find anyone else, but I eventually booked my place anyway… it was to be my first off-road race and, I expected, a lot hillier than I’m used to. It would be an adventure.

Race predictions

Before a race it’s traditional to ponder on what time you hope to get and what time you realistically might be able to run it on.  I’ve never run a trail race before and I’ve never done a 10k that was quite as hilly as this one promised to be.  It was meant to be pretty, so I might want to take it easy to enjoy the views, plus I hadn’t been training for 10k speed at all this year, so I kept my predictions conservative. “I’d be happy with under an hour.” I said to anyone who asked.

Secretly, I reckoned I might be able to manage a 57 or 58  minute time, given that my 10k PB is 51:51 and Sheffield and Leeds Half marathons which I’ve run recently weren’t exactly flat.

Race Prep

Race prep was a bit unorthodox this year.

The Thursday before the race at about midnight, I decided that we (my boyfriend and I) would go camping in Pickering, which is about half way to Whitby, so on Friday after dinner, we packed up the car and off we went.

IMG_20170602_205118_481

After an unpredictably wild night in a village pub (the barman was giving out free pints because he was cleaning the lines), I woke up on Saturday morning dehydrated (because neither of us had remembered to bring anything we could keep water in), yet determined to go ahead with my plan of attending Dalby Forest Parkrun. It was one of my slower efforts (00:26:52), what with the massive hangover, but I felt like I was getting some good woodland trail practice in ready for the race the next day. When I got back to the car, Paul had bought me a Rocky Road bar for breakfast (healthy, I know).

After lunch, we walked back into Dalby Forest from Thornton le Dale. Y’know, just a little 8 mile undulating walk to make sure my legs were extra fresh for the race the next day…

IMG_20170603_134518

In the evening, I had a disappointing curry and one beer before snuggling into my sleeping bag for an early(ish) night. There was a newly purchased drinking vessel filled with water by my bedside. At least tomorrow morning I was going to be hydrated!

Race Day

I bravely didn’t set an alarm.  The race wasn’t until 11am and I was sleeping in a tent so I was bound to wake up on time… and I did!  It only took about half an hour to pull on my sports kit, pull down the tent and pack up the car.  We were in Whitby by 9am and went in search of breakfast:

IMG_20170604_092331

Mission accomplished

With time to spare, we went for a wander down the pier where I perfected my pretending to run pose:

FB_IMG_1497437036482

Pretty convincing, huh?

Next I drove to Lythe, a little village outside of Whitby where the race was set to start, dropping Paul off in Sandsend on the way because he decided he didn’t want to come and watch.

I arrived at 10.30am to an empty car park… but it turned out that most people had parked in the village, rather than at the sports club which was buzzing with people in club race vests. It seemed that there was more than one race going on today, but I soon found out where to pick up my race number and joined the crowds on the sports pavilion.

At 10:45 someone blew a whistle and indicated that we should follow him on a short walk down to the estate. I trudged along alone in the crowd, keeping an eye out for a fellow GoodGymmer who I thought might be there (he was, but I didn’t see him) and listening to the chat around me. Someone was talking about the hill at the end. I knew about the hill.  I’d seen it on the Strava maps. Someone else was describing the fast downhill start – for about 1km where everyone goes off at great speed, before running under a tunnel and then out the other side into some somewhat more ‘undulating’ terrain.

There were two races going on that day. The 10k race I was in and some other more serious league race full of people who had their age category pinned on their back.  They were to set off a few minutes after us, but follow the same route. It was a small race, only 142 entrants for the one I was a part of, so no chip timing.  I lingered near the start line, where, from the look of the photos I really didn’t belong. We set off at the sound of a whistle.

FB_IMG_1497436999576

Since I’d been right at the start line on the whistle, the first km consisted of everyone sailing past me as I tried not to fall over, or trip anyone else over on the very much downhill, uneven ground.

At the bottom of the hill, we reached the tunnel that I’d heard someone talk about. It was maybe 10 metres long and all of a sudden I had a different problem – I’d been relying on my eyes to scope out the uneven ground ahead of me to help me not fall over, and suddenly it was pitch black!  While I slowed down to temper the sensation of blindness and impending death, others carried on at their standard pace and I tried not to trip them over. I emerged into daylight again before I knew it and we were soon approaching our first uphill climb. By now, most of the people who were faster than me had gone past, so I could concentrate more on my own race than worrying about holding them up.

The course was described as undulating and it undulated for a fair few km after that. In a race of mainly club runners, I was pleased to see one or two women up ahead starting to walk the hills.  I didn’t need to at this point, but it was good to know that it wouldn’t be frowned upon!

It was perhaps during the 3rd km, that another rush of people started coming past me. This time they had their age categories on their backs. Those who had started 2 minutes after me were now overtaking, starting with the V35 men, then the V45s, V55s, and someone with V60 ran past me.  A man who’d been running at about my pace whilst chatting to me pointed him out and called him a ‘youngster’.

At around 4km a marshal called out that I was the 41st lady.  I distracted myself by, counting any other women who passed me for the next few minutes, until I lost count at about 50th position.  Just after 5km, the wood lined track opened out into a clearing that reminded me of farmland (there were some tractors) and cups of water were being given out. I gratefully grabbed one, swallowing down a mouthful before chucking it to one side. The marshal called out for us to watch our step… because we were about to run through a brook.  I didn’t take too much care, trading it in for keeping up some sort of speed and came out the other side with some very wet feet to tackle the next hill.  On the bright side, I had cooler feet for a few minutes.

By now if I ran past people on the hills, they were calling out a breathy ‘well done’.  Everyone was feeling it!

At around about 8 or 9km, there was a sign that said ‘WARNING, STEEP DESCENT’ which my brain calculated as meaning steep ascent until I heard someone say ‘you know what that means don’t you.  We’ll have to go up after we’ve gone down.’ As I turned to corner, my brain recalibrated and remembered that descent meant down.  While some runners called out for others to stand clear and let gravity hurl them to the bottom of the hill, others like myself put the brakes on a bit.  It was pretty steep – and took us into potentially more muddy ground on a beautiful path alongside the brook. I kept waiting for the uphill (my research had led me to believe that the last km was mostly uphill) and though short rises did appear, they didn’t seem all that bad. We went back through the tunnel. At my slower pace, it didn’t seem so scary to be temporarily blind. After the tunnel, the path did indeed start rising.  But it wasn’t too bad.  We’d done worse on the trail so far.  My watch buzzed on my wrist to tell me that I’d run 6 miles.  About 400m to go.  This hill wasn’t so bad after all. Then round a bend and suddenly… I had to walk. Everyone around me slowed to a walk.  Mine was a firm, decisive power walk up the hill, but it was still a walk.  It had suddenly got so steep and I just didn’t have the power to keep on running.  I still couldn’t see the finish line but I knew it must be near.  Up ahead there was a photographer.  I broke into a trot because, you know, photos. A few people around me called out ‘well done love!’ ‘go on!’ as they kept walking upwards.

FB_IMG_1497437009119

Token ‘run’ for the photographer

As soon as I passed the photographer, I had to walk again.  The finish line was probably no more than 150 – 200m ahead of me now. I could see some people gathered on the side of the track,meaning that the finish line must be just there, but I couldn’t muster up my standard sprint finish. Or even a jog finish.  I looked down at my watch and it said 00:58:something.  There was no way that I was going to be slower than an hour for this one.  I walked faster, breathing more like I’d just sprinted the last mile. I can’t remember if I managed a few jogged steps over the finish line, or if I just walked over it.  Most of the people I watched after I finished did manage to jog those last 10 paces, but to me, it felt like it was the first finish line I’ve ever walked over.

As I stumbled through the finishing funnel, gasping for breath, someone with a clipboard asked me if I was coming back next year. “Yes” I said.

It was hard, it was the first time I’ve ever had to walk to a finish line, but it was beautiful and it was fun.

My official race time was 59:42.

I was 89th in the overall race (out of 142) and 22nd woman out of 51, and 5th (out of 20) in my age category. Obviously my race didn’t include the super-fast league runners. They have their own results table.

Then I went and ate fish finger sandwiches and ice-cream in Teare Woods in Whitby.

FB_IMG_1496589488853

I’m definitely going back next year.  Who’s in?!

All the days in May

Last month I set myself a challenge to run every day in may.  Well guess what? I did it!

  • I ran for 20 hours in total
  • I covered 189.6km (that’s  117.8 miles)
  • I completed 36 activities, including two races.

Here’s what my Strava activity calendar looks like:

Allthedaysinmay

I anticipated that it would be really hard to fit it all in.  It wasn’t at all.  It was just something that I did every day. It was even something that I didn’t really need to change much around to accommodate.

On many days, particularly towards the end of the month when I was mega busy, I only did 2 miles, but they counted. These are what I called my ‘rest’ days.

A friend asked if I was going to carry on into June. So far I have, but not really on purpose.  On the first 5 days of June I’ve had planned races or social runs, or simply needed to get out and use my legs to save my sanity.  I have a lot of uni work and revision at the moment and the run breaks have been my salvation.  Even so, I think I’m looking forward to a few proper rest days this week…

Race Report: Leeds Half Marathon 2017

Race Preparation

I wasn’t expecting great things.  I’d been pretty ill from a virus for a couple of weeks following Sheffield half and my training had never really got going again. Though I’ve been running #EveryDayinMay (still pulling it off by the way), most of my runs were feeling a lot harder than they should.

Despite running every day in the week leading up to Leeds Half, I did consciously try to taper from my zero training by keeping the runs I did do shorter and easier.

The day before the race, I joined some of my GoodGym family on a trip out to Sheffield Hallam Parkrun, followed by a Sheffield mission. Obviously, I took it easy on the running that morning.  Coach Egg invited some us round for carb loading and Eurovision that evening, so instead of my usual steak, chips and an early night, I had pizza, cake and a half past midnight bedtime.

Race Day

I woke up at about 6:30am to the sound of rain. Last night’s pizza and cake were lying heavily in my stomach.  I lay around in bed for another half an hour, before finally rising to see if the weather really was as wet as it sounded.  It did look pretty wet:

IMG_20170514_071011_336

As designated driver, I’d arranged for everyone to meet at my house at 7:45am.  That didn’t stop Sean from arriving on the doorstep at 7:13am when I was still in my pyjamas, and Egg and Lizzie arriving a few minutes later!  Since we were still waiting for Becky, I used the ample time I’d given myself to get ready while the others chatted amongst themselves.

It turned out that driving to Leeds also meant that we were driving towards bluer skies, and by the time we got there, the sun was ready to come out.

Car park selfie, Leeds Half Marathon

Car park selfie

Our very punctual departure from York meant that we had plenty of time to find toilets, check in bags, take team photos, meet up with Karen, and get to our starting zones. While speedy Egg had a 9:30am start, the rest of us were due to head off at either 9:43am (weird, huh?) or 9:50am.

Before Leeds Half Marathon

Before the race

And they’re off…

My memory from a previous Leeds Half is that the first 6 or 7 miles are basically uphill (but not as uphill as Sheffield), and the rest is downhill, with the exception of a little slope upwards towards the finish line. I was a little confused / pleased when the first three miles seemed to be very much downhill.  I noted that I was going much faster than target pace, but at the same time, wanted to capitalise on any downhill there was. I didn’t attempt to reign it in.  The first 3 miles went by in 08:32, 08:50, 09:03 – all well within a sub 2 hour time. This was my stretch goal for the day (the more realistic goal being to beat my Sheffield time of 02:03:01).

I didn’t recognise the route we were going at all in those three miles, and for a moment, I wondered if the course had changed. I worried that I’d prepared everyone for hills at the start… what if they were actually at the end nowadays?  I needn’t have worried.  Soon after the 3 mile marker, we turned a corner and I recognised a hill, rising sharply in front of me and slowing me down to 09:47 pace. Even so, it seemed much shorter than I expected.  Maybe this wasn’t going to be so bad after all.  Next we merged onto an A road, with one of the lanes closed for runners and the other open to cars, some of which sped past with ‘Eye of the Tiger’ booming from their stereos, making me smile.  We were running downhill again, so I let gravity carry me forward.

Around about 5 or 6 miles, I spotted Sean up ahead, running with the 2 hour pacing group.  As I caught up with them, I felt them getting under my feet, so I sped ahead, overtaking just in time for the road to start sloping upwards again.  I heard the 2 hour pacer’s flags clinking behind me as he gained some ground and I thought he might overtake me on the hill, but it never happened… soon we were turning the corner and I’d been staying well on pace for a sub 2 hour time. Miles 5, 6 and 7 came in at 08:45, 09:00 and 09:10.  This was all going swimmingly, apart from the crampy feeling in my tummy. I hoped that I wouldn’t need to make an emergency toilet stop, and willed myself to keep up the pace – the faster I ran, the sooner I’d make it to the finish line.

By now, the sun was out in full force and though I was very warm, I wasn’t feeling the need to slow down,  so I didn’t.  The mega steep downhill helped of course – I just let gravity pull me down through cheering crowds, past supporters wielding hosepipes, Haribo and Jelly babies. At 8 miles they were giving out energy gels.  Normally I grab one, and store it in my pocket as a ‘just in case’ for later, especially if my stomach is feeling dodgy as it was on this occasion.  For some reason, I broke my rules and drank it straight down.

Miles 8, 9 and 10 passed in 8:43, 8:33 and 8:46. Suddenly there was an inkling that I might not just get sub 2 hours today – I could be on for a PB! I resisted the urge to slow down, knowing I’d kick myself if I narrowly missed out on a PB, telling myself that it was unlikely anyway, because this course is so much hillier. Could I just hold on for the length of a Parkrun? I grabbed a water from the next station, took a few gulps and poured half of it over my head to help cool down.  It was an open topped bottle without a lid, so I couldn’t carry it with me anyway.

Mile 11 seemed to take forever to come round, but in reality, it only took 08:51 to get there. Mile 12 was another long one, but the PB potential was getting more real.  I had to hold on.  I knew that there would be soon a literal uphill struggle to the finish line, but I didn’t let it distract me. Another mile completed in 8:49 pace.

The last mile has the last bit of uphill.  I tried to remember what my half marathon PB was.  I knew it was 01:57:something, but I didn’t know what.  If I finished in 01:57:something, I wouldn’t know if I had a PB until I got back to my phone which was in the car… As I tackled the upward slope, I passed people breaking into a walk. Someone staggered to the side in front of me, but another runner asked them if they needed help, leaving me able to carry on running, guilt free.

As we ran onto the penultimate straight, we were met by a wall of sound from the gathered crowds cheering us on.  Someone read my name from my race number and shouted it out. Usually I’d smile at them gratefully, but it was a long uphill struggle – I didn’t have the energy to do anything but grimace.  I could see the final corner up ahead. I knew that the finish line was just around it, I struggled onwards, I turned the corner and the finish line was sooooo much further away than I had remembered.  The road was soooo much more uphill than I remembered too. I knew there would be photographers around but I didn’t pull a photo finish face.  I carried on grimacing my way through to the end and staggered to a halt after passing the timing mats, dry heaving all the way.  Would this be the first time that I made myself sick from effort…? Thankfully not!

By the time I’d collected my goodie bag and medal, I was breathing normally again, and found Egg, Karen and Becky waiting next to the alcohol free beer tent sipping away at their pints. I joined them while we waited for Sean and Lizzie.

18486297_10155354310103464_7365187780188618065_n

The results

In case you were wondering, I got the PB: 01:56:47.  Since I’d sneaked in under 01:57:00, I knew it was a PB straight away and didn’t have to wait until I was back at the car to find out.  All four of my passengers also got shiny new PBs and we drove home in high spirits, listening to a tailor made Eurovision playlist.

IMG_20170514_135341_670

#EveryDayinMay

A few days after the Sheffield Half Marathon, I got pretty ill with a flu-like virus. I’m pretty sure my body was trying to punish me for making it climb up a 5 mile long hill… I stayed in bed over Easter weekend and developed a nice chesty cough which was to stay with me for the next few weeks.  Basically, I didn’t do much running at all for the rest of April.

As May drew nearer, so did my next race, the Leeds Half marathon (which is just over a week away now). Luckily my cough also faded, so I started thinking about what I might do to get back on track with my training.

I hatched a plan – I could run every day in May!

I questioned my plan.  I’m currently on placement, an hour’s commute away from home. On some evenings, I have less than half an hour once I get home to get changed, grab something to eat an get to my evening job. I arrive home, exhausted at about 11pm – leaving little time to squeeze in a run…

Maybe I could run every day in June instead, I thought, when I’m less busy? I immediately dismissed that idea because ‘Every day in June’ doesn’t rhyme.  If I was going to do it, It had to be May.

On the first of May, I still didn’t know whether I was going to do it.  But 1st May was a Monday, meaning it was also GoodGym day so I was running anyway.

On Tuesday I got home from placement and decided that it wasn’t going to happen because I really needed a nap, and I had some placement prep to do before the next day. I finished my nap, dinner and placement prep by about 8:30pm. And then I went out for a short run in the fading light anyway… just in case. I didn’t really enjoy it. My dinner was jiggling around in my belly making it feel uncomfortable and clunky.

Wednesday is the challenging day. I get home at about 6:30pm and have to leave the house again at 7pm. No time for a run there. Instead I drove to placement early, parked up in Morrisons car park and had a 20 minute jog (slowly, so I didn’t break too much of a sweat) around Harrogate. I followed that with a wet wipe shower and change in the Morrisons toilets and then headed off for a day of work.

Thursday was a similar picture – no time after work, but I start later on a Thursday, so I had time to for a few miles before.

So now I’m committed!  I’ll be running every day in May – for a minimum of 20 minutes. I’m not expecting it to make much of a difference to my fitness in time for Leeds, but it should get my body back in the habit of running,  ready to start marathon training in the next few months… eek!

Race Report: Sheffield Half Marathon

Race prep

I took a somewhat unorthodox approach to race prep this time round.  My sore quad was feeling a bit better so, the day before the race, I went to Parkrun to test it out. Somewhere at the back of my mind I’m sure I thought that I’d take it easy. What I actually did was smash out a Parkrun PB of 24:36. It was the first time I’d gone sub-25 minutes in over 2 years (and the second time overall). I felt pretty good afterwards though!

After that, I cycled into town and jogged a couple of miles to a goodgym mission, did some gardening, jogged a few more miles, cycled home, and then I rested. Of course, the sore quad flared up again, so I took a much more sensible approach to the rest of the afternoon – eating half a Vienetta and draining a glass of wine. Well OK then, the sensible bit came at dinner time when I had a substantial steak, potato and vegetable feast, plenty of water and prepared my kit before retiring for an early night.

IMG_20170408_191512

Race Day

I got up at 6am and limped about on my sore quad for a bit before having a stretch, popping some ibuprofen and hoping for the best. I ate a peanut butter and banana sandwich at about 6:30am and then drove myself across the other side of York to meet up with some other members of the GoodGym race team. When we arrived in Sheffield, we found a Park and Ride and got the tram into the centre – taking our cue from other people dressed in lycra as to which stop we should get off and which direction we should walk in.

We met the rest of the GoodGym gang at the Peace Gardens for a pre-race photo and the dropped off our bags before joining the longest ever queue for the toilets. It seemed that for the 10,000 participants, there were approximately 20 toilets. 35 minutes later we made it to the front of the queue.  As I flushed my portaloo, I heard the starting klaxon for the race.

FB_IMG_1491990066060

Before the race 

We’d been told that ‘hills’ in the Sheffield Half actually meant ‘hill (singular)’. Just one, huge 5 mile uphill. As we strolled towards the starting line Lizzie, speculated that it couldn’t be that steep if it was continuous. I agreed, thinking that there must be at least some element of flat amongst the climbing. We were both wrong…

I was aiming to come in somewhere between 2 hours and 2:10, so set off with the intention of keeping to 9:10 miles and being prepared to let it slide to 10 minute miles once it started getting steep. The first mile seemed fine. Maybe a gentle slope upwards, but imperceptible from the flat. The second mile seemed to be the start of a gentle incline, but nothing too challenging. Just after the third mile, I overtook the 2 hour 10 pacer on the steepest incline yet. My pace slowed to almost 11 minute miles. I’d abandoned any thoughts of hitting target paces and just focused on putting one foot in front of the other and wondering if I’d be able to make it to the top of the hill without walking. In the distance I could see the flag of the 2 hour pacer bobbing up and down, just out of reach. It was the hottest day of the year – but I wasn’t really aware of the scorching sun. I began to wish I’d paid more attention to the race guide. Was the hill 5, 6 or 7 miles long? I think my ears popped – like they do when you’re travelling up steep hills in a car. The words ‘brutal’ and ‘relentless’ kept buzzing round my head. I knew that it had to end sometime soon, I just didn’t know exactly when!

We passed a timing mat at the start of the 5th mile, indicating that we were now being timed for our ‘king of the hill’ split. Though the road seemed to be a little less steep – my energy was spent and I couldn’t muster the will to speed up. I couldn’t remember whether the start of that section meant I had one or two miles of hill left. I concentrated on not walking.  Thankfully that split was just the one mile and I was greeted by cheering crowds at the end of the split, 11:10 minutes later. I grabbed a gel from the water/gel station and shoved it in my back pocket as a back-up plan for later. By now, views of the rolling hills of the peak district were all around us and I could see hundreds of runners snaking around the path ahead which, incidentally was still going up hill.

Finally, the promised downhill section came. After a mile or so, it started to hammer the quads. Surprisingly, my injured quad seemed to be holding up well, and it was the other leg that was complaining more loudly. While I used gravity to help me speed up, others seemed to keep the same pace. I had to call out ‘excuse me’ a few times to get through – no longer having the energy to either put on the brakes or weave around the people in front of me. Finally, I saw the timing mats for the final 10km split. The countdown to the end was on. I wasn’t sure how I’d cope running downhill for another 6 miles, but anything had to be easier than running uphill for the first 5…

At mile 8, we rounded a corner to find an uphill section. It seemed so sudden and unexpected – my screaming quads got a bit of a rest, but my lungs struggled up the thankfully short incline. 5 miles seemed like such a long way to go. From that point on, only pure determination was going to get me to the end.

Elevation sheffield half

Course elevation profile

I finished the bottle of Lucozade that I’d been carrying from the start of the race just after a water station. The sticky sugary taste lingered in my mouth and I was starting to crave some simple clean water.  The sun was beating down hard by now and the heat was starting to make me feel a bit light headed. Thankfully, the supporters were out in force that day and I managed to grab a cup of water from one of the many lovely families who were passing out drinks and sugary treats to all of the runners.  That sustained me up and down a few more hills, as far as the next and final water station.

3 miles to go: just a parkrun, I told myself. And then I reminded myself that a parkrun is actually quite a long way.

2 miles to go: I started to feel hungry and I let that distract me over the next mile. Some supporters shouted out that we were on the last uphill. For some reason, I didn’t believe them. As I drew closer to the end, I started to see runners laid out on the side of the road being attended to by first aiders. It wasn’t surprising on a hot day like this that people were falling victim to dehydration in the late stages of the race.

1 mile to go: I remembered the gel in my pocket. I knew that it was too late for it to have any real effect, but drank it down anyway in an effort to trick my stomach into thinking it had been fed.

400m to go: the course started going uphill again! Not only that, but the road seemed to have so many twists and turns that I couldn’t catch sight of the finish line – something that is often a great motivator for me- until much closer to the end. My efforts to sprint finish were somewhat hampered by the hill, but I did still manage to speed up a little. I stopped my watch and glanced down at my time as I stumbled into a walk through the finishing funnel – I had finished the race in 02:03:01.

I poured what was left of my water over my head and grabbed a fresh one before joining the goody bag queue.

At the other side, I helped myself to a free pint of alcohol-free Erdinger and joined Egg to stretch and wait for the rest of our GoodGym team to come over the finish line.

 

 

After the race

After arriving home, I declared to Paul it was time for a pub dinner. Everyone had been asked to review their race in 15 words or less for the GoodGym run report so, over steak and ale pie, I brainstormed a few options and put them to the vote:

  1. It had its up-up-ups and down-up-downs
  2. It had its peak (district)s and troughs
  3. Oh my quads! That was brutal!

The voting committee (Paul) selected option 3. Since this also seemed to be the most accurate appraisal of the race, I sent that through before retiring for an early night.

Involuntary taper

The Sheffield half marathon is now less than a week away.  As well as not following a training plan for this one (for the first time ever), I’ve also managed to get myself a sore quad meaning that, for the past few weeks, I haven’t really done much running.

It all happened about 3 weeks ago.  I had a weekend where I did crazy amounts of running (a marathon’s-worth over Saturday, Sunday, Monday which is probably more than my average week’s worth). I didn’t really aim to do that much – but there were lots of GoodGym missions that weekend and the miles soon added up. I woke up on the Tuesday morning and drove out to Knaresborough,  to do a regular hill training session. As soon as I set off running, I knew that my quad didn’t feel right, but I’d just driven half an hour to run, so running is what I did.  It didn’t feel all that great, so rather than 10 hill reps, I did 5 (though that still added up to 8 miles) and went home with a plan to rest for a good few days.

On Friday I had arranged my first GoodGym coach run, so did a careful 5km (with an hour’s rest in the middle to chat to the person I was visiting) and managed a decent time at Parkrun on the Saturday. I could still feel the niggle in my quad, but running didn’t seem to be making it any worse.

The following week, I managed a 20 mile week, and though the niggle wasn’t going away, it wasn’t getting any worse.  That is until last Monday when, after some running drills, I started to feel it, even when I was walking.  That was four days before the end of March. By then I was only 19km off a 200km month – which was a tantalisingly easy target to reach, but I’ve been burned by injury before so I resisted the temptation.  For the past week I’ve switched to cycling (for the aerobic exercise) and Yoga (in an effort to stretch and strengthen).

Today the leg feels a lot better, though I can still feel it’s not right.  I’m going to try a gentle run tonight, but other than that, my next run could well be on race day…

I’ve no idea how this one will go. It’s hillier than any half I’ve ever attempted before, and I haven’t followed a targeted training plan. Plus, I’ve barely run at all in the past 3 weeks.

In a perfect world, I’d love a sub- 2 hour time, but maybe 2:10 is more realistic. I’ll let you know how it goes…

How GoodGym changed my life

At the end of January, I was a few weeks into my second semester as a final year speech and language therapy student. It turns out that this means spending a lot of time at home, alone, preparing for exams. And then, once the exams are over, it involves spending a lot more time at home, alone, writing a dissertation. I was starting to feel a bit lonely. On top of that, I was starting to feel like a character in a soap opera with drama going on around me in my social group. It was all starting to feel very claustrophobic and I wanted to do something about it. I wanted to get out there and meet new people. That was the main reason why, on 23rd January 2017, I went along to the launch event for GoodGym York.

GoodGym is a community running group that combines running with doing good.  Put simply, we meet up every week, run somewhere within York where we complete a task to help the community, and then run back.  When I first saw a post about it on my social media feed, it piqued my interest, so I signed up on the website.

wp-1490113949328.jpg

Collage from the last mission of a 4 mission weekend

Heading down to the meeting point that evening, my expectations were that I would be a casual member, popping in every so often to do a good deed and that I probably wouldn’t become a member.  By the end of the evening, I was signed up and fully committed to being a GoodGym member. Just two months later I’m about to go out to complete my 15th good deed.

wp-1490113971483.jpg

Collage of the latest good deed – clearing brambles and planting an orchard

As tempting it is to go into detail about all the good things that GoodGym do, you can find about that anywhere. Instead, here is a list of 10 ways that GoodGym has changed my life (so far):

  1. I have become a more social runner.
  2. I go to parkrun more often. This partly because I know more runners and therefore my Strava feed is full of parkrun results every Saturday morning, and I don’t want to feel left out. It’s also because I know more people at Parkrun now, so it feels like a more social event.
  3. I now own a running rucksack, and sometimes I run-commute.
  4. I run more overall, but less just for the sake of running. Instead I’m running to work, or running to GoodGym or running to visit my GoodGym coach.
  5. Instead of lounging around in bed, watching Netflix on weekend mornings, I’m out in the fresh air, battling with ivy, brambles or bark chip, planting trees or helping out an older person with their garden.
  6. A pair of gardening gloves have moved into the drawer where I keep my running kit.
  7. On more than one occasion, I have driven half an hour to run hill reps.
  8. I am a member of a UK Athletics race team (the GoodGym one, obviously). Mainly because I want the vest.
  9. My laundry cycle is dictated by when I next need my GoodGym t-shirt
  10. I am permanently busy on Monday nights.