Fitness Journey, parkrun

parkrun #33 Wimpole Estate

Last week saw us head a little further afield on the outskirts of Cambridge to the Wimpole Estate for our first National Trust parkrun. The full tourist crew were together again and we even had a friend join us so spirits were high as we all set off on a chilly morning.

The Wimpole Estate, once owned by the daughter of Rudyard Kipling, offers a beautiful setting for a challenging run. Starting not far from the Grade I listed mansion house, the route passes through farmland and is predominantly on grass with some nice undulations along the way. There are plenty of views to keep you occupied and even some HUGE cows and sheep to say hello to. One giant, horned beast in particular decided to get a little too close for my comfort along the way which led to much squealing and arm holding with C as she protected me from the scary looking monster!

One thing I did notice with this parkrun was that there was an added loop for runners with dogs – I thought initially to avoid cattle but that was on part of the course where there was no cattle so not entirely sure what it was for…? If anyone knows the answer then please do let me know in the comments.

About halfway there is a bit of a killer hill – most of the people were walking it by the time I got there (myself included), however it is short and sharp rather than long so I was back to it once we hit the top. There is also a gravel drive towards the end in front of the house which is quite tough on the legs. Not surprisingly, I was slower than last week because of the hills and grass but all things considered, it was a lovely event, with a beautiful scenic route.  A lovely course to do in autumn as I’m sure it would also be all year round.

Top of the hill – Wimpole parkrun

Next week is our home parkrun’s 3rd Birthday so we are staying local but will be back for tourist fun the week after.

Stat update:

Total no. of parkruns: 33

Total tourism to date: 9

2018 pb: 29.41 (Aylesbury)

D x

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Fitness Journey, parkrun

parkrun #32 Aylesbury

I continued in my quest to find my running mojo through parkrun tourism last weekend at Aylesbury. It’s pretty local to me and I’d heard it was a fast course so was feeling pretty good about it.  Two of our little tourist crew were away so it was just me and P this week, he’d been training for a marathon the next day so offered to run with me. It was a very cold morning but the sun was shining down on us.

I hate that feeling of holding people back so wasn’t keen on the idea but he stuck with me for most of the first mile until I nagged him to ‘bugger off’ and he went and did his own thing. It was a pretty busy course, about 250 runners and the first section is on quite a narrow path so difficult to get spaced out until a few 100 meters in.  The course is a lollipop, something I hadn’t done before so despite a few runner friends commenting that it was a boring one, I actually quite liked it! There were a couple of bridges along the route which broke it up nicely and some wonderful marshals including a young addition who’s made a sign to cheer us on.  A very well organised parkrun and great team.

I didn’t pay too much attention to the watch this time and tried my best to run on feel.  P had obviously set me off on a reasonably good pace and it all must have come together on the day because it’s the first run I’ve done in a very long time which hasn’t involved a walk break! I ran the whole thing, even had negative splits and ran the fastest 5k I’ve done for AGES – a sub 30!! Was very, very pleased with that!

The rest of my running week hasn’t quite gone as smoothly, a club run on Tuesday night in the 10 min mile group was a big fat fail as my legs felt like lead and I cut it short at 3 miles rather than carrying on for 5.  I knew when I left the house I wasn’t feeling up to it so maybe it was psychological or maybe I should just listen to my body more.

Anyway, tomorrow brings another tourist run, something new that will hopefully make it exciting enough to kick that mojo into gear and a one lapper this time with the whole tourist crew and a special guest appearance from G! Hurrah!

Happy running

D x

parkrun

parkrun #31 Gadebridge

Week two of our parkrun tourism continued at Gadebridge parkrun, a two lap course in Hemel Hempstead. The weather forecast was bright and sunny however when the five of us piled into the car, the drizzle wasn’t showing any signs of letting up. It was only around a 30 min journey which worked in our favour when half way there,  I realised I’d committed the ultimate parkrun sin and left my barcode at home! A quick detour back to the house to grab it and a traffic free journey back meant that we pulled into the carpark at 8.57, a good job that it was very near to the start line!

In it’s autumn setting, Gadebridge park looked particularly beautiful despite the now pouring rain! The course is two laps, each made up of a lap around two grass areas split by the main road. The trees were full of colour and on a dry day, I’m sure it would be a beautiful place to run.  However, for me, it brought back memories of those winter school PE lessons when evil teachers made you run laps of the school field in the pouring rain! I hate running on grass at the best of times so it was not my best run by far.  I also learnt a very valuable lesson about hairspray and pouring rain – you will spend the whole time drinking hairspray flavoured rain water, the taste of which was not pleasant!

I’m still struggling with my running comeback and no where near that sub-30 pace I once was. Gadebridge offered a few inclines and slippery wet downhills so wasn’t the fastest course and that combined with the weather ended up a disappointing 34:52.

So my overall thoughts of Gadebridge, a lovely course amongst the trees and wonderful marshals, however I hope to return in better weather soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stat update:

Total no. of parkruns: 31

Total tourism to date: 7

2018 pb: remains at 32:44 (Heartwood Forest)

D x

Fitness Journey, parkrun

Around the world with parkrun

One of the things I love more than anything is travelling. Whether that’s to a remote location on the other side of the world or exploring towns and villages in the UK, I love discovering new places and experiencing all the different things our world has to offer.

So, I’ve decided to channel this love of travelling to see if I can rediscover my mojo! In 2017 I ran London Marathon and had the worst training experience I probably could have had.  After a chest condition wrote me off running for almost 3 months, I was staring from scratch when I began training towards the end of January.  I’d worked really hard the year before and really improved my running so it was a massive set back for me to be struggling to run 5k’s at anything more than 11 min mile pace.  Rightly or wrongly I went on to run the marathon and loved every minute of the day, but the training experience put me off running completely.  I continued to coach a beginners running course and did the odd parkrun here and there but I basically stopped running.

In the last year, I’ve had some big changes in my life. I recently took the decision after being unhappy in my job for some time to leave and pursue a new career (I’m still figuring out exactly what that is), I moved in with a boy for the first time, we got our little fur baby and emotionally, it’s been a pretty rough rollercoaster! I know I am happier when I’m exercising and working towards a goal so I’m going to be using parkrun to search out that spark that has been missing!

parkrun tourism isn’t anything new or different, there are lots of people doing it but my mission is to explore this beautiful world, one parkrun at a time. The hope being if I focus on the travel bit then the running will eventually come. An amazing friend of mine who I share the same inner geekness with introduced my to the google chrome running challenges plugin for parkrun which opens up a whole bunch of badges and awards you can work to – anyone who knows me will know this level of OCD excites me big time! I will have to achieve them all!

So first up, I’ll be tackling the tourism badge – 20 different parkruns. To date I have done 6 and the goal is to do 10 new ones by the end of the year, starting with Heartwood Forest which I completed last weekend (there are 12 opportunities to run left). I’ll share my experiences from each one for anyone keen to try out some different ones, this year they will mostly be within an hours drive of where I live but I hope next year to explore a bit more widely!

Fingers crossed this challenge will help me to get back on track and find my running self again!

Wish me luck 🙂

D

Fitness Journey, Health & Fitness

Fitness Diary – Just keep running

weatherIt’s been a big couple of weeks in my training plan as I’ve now hit the big weekend runs that are further than I’ve ever run before.  I’m always looking to push myself out of my comfort zone and I definitely did that!

I don’t think I was quite prepared for the jump to double digit mileage – it seemed like a gradual step up but it was certainly challenging.  I’d run a 10.5 mile before but when I say run, it was with some of my fellow club ladies and the dogs and there was lots of chatter and a few stops along the way (I think we averaged about 15min miles) so didn’t really count that as a proper run.  One of my running buddies, who is significantly more experienced than me and a regular half marathoner, volunteered to keep me company and we set off for a 10 mile out and back along the canal.  We’d planned that route as it is pretty flat but one thing we couldn’t plan for was the weather.  We battled gale force winds and rain and it made it a whole lot harder than it needed to be.  Dan kept me going though despite my swearing (sorry mum) and complaining all the way round.  It was all going as well as could be expected until about 8 miles in when my body just refused to run anymore – it was my first experience of hitting a wall.  I think the extreme weather got the better of me and even though we’d only run 8 miles I think the effort against wind equated to running a lot more than that!  After a little walk, I managed to carry on for the last two miles and finished the 10 in a reasonably respectable 1hr 49mins.

So this weekend, I was thinking, it couldn’t be any worse for my 12 mile run right? I’d arranged to meet a fellow club runner who was unfortunately unwell so I was actually really nervous about heading out for my longest ever run on my lonesome and to top it off, the sun decided to come out and make it the hottest day of the year so far. Last summer, I really struggled with the heat having just come back from injury and being very new to running so I was interested to see how I’d cope with the 20 degree heat.  Instead of an out and back, I planned a loop around the town so I wasn’t too far from home just in case (!) and I also took along a gel that a fellow club member had very kindly given me to try.

The first 6 miles was great, I really enjoyed the run and the weather didn’t seem to be bothering me too much.  I had broken the run down into four sections and at 6.5 I had completed the first two.  I decided to try the gel at this point as I’d been running about an hour.  The ones I used were the SiS GO Isotonic Gels – they are pretty thick and gloopy but being the first one I’d tried, I imagine they are probably all like that.  I have heard that quite often, runners find that gels upset their stomach quite a lot so I was a bit hesitant but all was good.  After completing section 3, I was left with the final 2 miles.  Two miles – that’s easy, I could do that, couldn’t I?

They were a very hard two miles but I did it!  I finished the 12 miles in 2hr 9mins, injury free and feeling pretty proud of myself!  I was surprised by the time as I’d had a couple of little walks but averaged 10:48 pace and it’s left me feeling optimistic for the big day in just under 4 weeks time.

March has been a pretty great month training wise.  I’m feeling really strong and love that each time I’m seeing little improvements.  The big achievement in March was that I hit my first 100 mile month! Here’s how the rest of the stats stacked up:

March

Total distance: 100.38 miles

Number of runs: 19

Average distance: 5.3 miles

Furthest distance: 10 miles

Coming up this month, I’ll be running in the Chick’s Chase 10k this week and Flitwick 10k in a couple of weeks time.  I’ve booked lots of races so am pretty sure I will easily smash my 12 race target for the year.

2015 mileage to date: 251.94

Miles to go to hit target: 448.06

Happy running

D x

 

Fitness Journey, Health & Fitness

Fitness Diary – reflecting on the last year

liar

This week has been one of reflection.  A year ago today I completed my first ever event, the Sports Relief 5k and graduated from the couch to 5k programme run by my local club, the Leighton Fun Runners.  Tonight, I ran alongside the latest group of couch to 5kers, supporting them as they themselves tackled their first ever full 5k.  It got me thinking how much I’ve changed since I completed it back then.

I never set out to be a ‘runner’.  I was at a time in my life of change and trying new things and also wanted to get a bit fitter.  I joined the couch to 5K programme after hearing about it from an old school friend via social media and thought it would be a great way to get a bit fitter and maybe meet some new people.  From the start, I never found it easy.  I always approached each weeks task with a ‘I’m never going to be able to do this’ attitude which whilst I always ended up surprising myself, often made it a lot harder than it needed to be. I managed to reach the end of the programme and even signed up for membership of the club, still not really thinking of myself as a runner, but someone who was giving it a go occasionally.  Shortly after I suffered an ankle injury which meant I completely stopped running and lost all confidence in my bodies ability to do it.

It took me three months to gain the confidence to go back to club and I’m so glad I did.  Last week I ran 5 consecutive miles under 10 mins and this weekend I completed a 10k race in my home town in 1:00:47, not quite a PB but given the ‘undulating’ nature of the course was an amazing achievement for me.  The point is, my mind set has changed completely.  I’m now craving challenges and I am constantly pushing myself to achieve more.  The last 6 months of running have seen me almost starting from scratch to training for a half marathon and setting myself new targets and goals every week. I don’t think I’ve ever been this motivated about anything before!

So at the end of the first quarter, here’s how the targets I set at the start of the year are looking:

  • Run 700 miles minimum – so far this year I have run 200.65 miles
  • Complete 12 events – to date I’ve completed 2 x 10k’s and booked 1 x 5K,  6 x 10k’s and 3 x half marathons (a total of 12 so far and I imagine there will be quite a few more)
  • Finish 10k in under an hour – my fastest so far has been 1:00:37!!
  • Complete at least a 15 mile distance – Kinda forgot about this one but I’m sure after the first half we’ll give it a go.
  • Trail running – make the most of all the lovely routes we have locally – I’ve booked the dirt half, a mostly trail half marathon and also organising a bluebell run in May in a local woods.
  • PB’s – lots of them at all distances! – I have smashed my 5k PB and am hoping to keep bettering that 10k time!
  • Push myself to achieve but remember its all about having fun too! – I’m definitely doing that so far 🙂

I’ve still got a way to go on some of them but I’m pretty pleased with the progress so far!

P.S.  No bling this weekend but I did get a really cool Tshirt – here’s a few pics with my normally awful running face on!

Running Leighton 10k

Happy running!

D x

 

Fitness Journey, Health & Fitness

Fitness Diary – First race of the season…DONE!

I’ve been looking forward to this weekend for weeks as I’ve had really itchy feet to do an event (and get some bling) and this weekend it was final time for the first one of the year, the 10k at the Milton Keynes Festival of Running.

We got there nice and early, there were 4 distances in total on the day starting with the 20 mile which a few friends from club were running so once we cheered them off it was time to get focussed.  This event was by far the biggest one I have done so far and the 10k seemed to be the most popular distance.  It was an odd feeling being surrounded by so many people – all shapes, sizes, and abilities but all with the same goal.

MK festival of running

 

 

 

 

 

 

As this was my first official 10k, my aim for the day was to just run my own race, listen to my body and push when I felt like I could.  Aside from one encounter with a very rude runner hurling abuse at some 5kers who were struggling a little, the atmosphere on the way round was really good.  Lots of people cheering you on, especially in the second half which I was surprised actually does really help!  Pace wise I was surprising myself at the speed I was running – 9:20 miles which is very fast for me for that distance and I was feeling strong, until I saw ‘it’ in the distance.

A lot of people had been talking about ‘the hill’ in the last mile, something I thought was odd as anyone who has been to Milton Keynes knows, its pretty flat certainly in the centre where we were.  I didn’t know the course route so as we hit a steady incline at the start of mile 6 I thought OK, this isn’t so bad.  I can do this after all.  That was until I turned a corner and there in the distance I saw it.  At that point I had been pushing pretty hard and knew there was no chance I had enough left in me for that hill.  So the strategy was, push right up to the hill, speed walk up, and then sprint the rest of the way.  It wasn’t ideal as I was determined to get round without stopping but this way it meant  had enough left in me for a little sprint finish and finish in style 🙂 As I stumbled across the finish line and collapsed on the grass, I was gutted when I realised I forgot to stop my watch!  Waiting anxiously for results to go up online I knew I was really close to a PB and the goal for the year, a sub 1hr 10k.

MK festival of running medal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Even with the little uphill walk I managed 1:00:37, over a minute off my PB and so close to the end goal!  I was so pleased with that and has made that goal feel so close!  My next event is a 10k on 22nd March, course wise, I don’t envisage it being a PB as it is reasonably hilly so the tactics for this one is to get round with out stopping and not let those hills defeat me!

hills

 

 

 

 

 

 

2015 mileage to date: 159.96

Miles to go to hit target: 540.04

Happy running

D x