The maps are out


Hopefully this time next week we shall be stumbling back home, up the stairs and into our beds after running through the night at Dusk ’til Dawn 50m ultramarathon AFTER having run the 50 miles.

This morning I met with two of the three people I plan on running with next weekend to plot out the route on a large map and to go through the course details.  The last person missing from our group was crazily helping pace our three club runners through the last 50m at the Winter 100m.

Winter 10050 miles of pacing, followed by 50 miles in the Peak District at the Dusk ’til Dawn race next weekend…that man is a machine!

This morning we took over the living room floor at Tracey’s house with maps.
Tom had bought some large scale maps of the area we would be running and we played the Dusk ’til Dawn briefing video on the iPad so that we could take notes and talk through each section of the course.  I didn’t think it would take too long but in actual fact we were there for more than 3 hours plotting it all out!

Maps for Dusk 'til Dawn

It has done some good though and all three of us came away feeling much more confident about the navigation aspect of the course.  We have a total time of 14hours and 3minutes to run the race.  This sounds like loads and loads of time (it actually works out at 16m 52s per mile…I can walk at that pace!) but when you see the course elevation you realise just why so much time is required…

Dusk 'til Dawn elevationAdd into that the fact that a lot of it is on technical trail (rocks, uneven ground…) and that it is run through the night, and you’ll discover there isn’t actually a huge amount of leeway when it comes to the time.  Our priority will be to get as far as CP9 (38 miles) before the cut off as this is the last checkpoint where runners will be asked to withdraw if they are moving too slowly.  From this point, we will be able to relax a little and no longer worry about pace.  Realistically I know to expect to be at the back, but at the same time I will probably have more experience than some on the trails.  Last year one guy was wearing road shoes and had never run an offroad race before!  I overtook 17 runners from the 95 that started last year from starting at the back.  It’s much nicer to be able to pick people off on a course than have them come storming past you!

Each of the four of us is bringing different skills to the race so between us, hopefully we should have a very strong team.
* I ran the first 35 or so miles of the course last year so should be able to recognise the majority of the route as well as having had experience of navigating with the e-trex 30 device.  I will be the navigation guru.
* Kev has run many ultra races over all types of terrain and is the most confident of the three of us at being able to pace it in.  He will become our pacer and also feeder, ensuring that we all eat enough and often enough.
* Tom has practiced his map reading and compass skills and is the quickest runner of the four of us.  He will become our map reader for the evening.
* And Tracey is chief organiser – she was responsible for the meetup this morning and for the four of us taking the planning a whole lot more seriously than I am sure we would otherwise have done!  She has made numerous notes about the course from the video and briefing notes sent out to us and has recently navigated on a shorter ultra run in the daylight.  She is our manager.

Mapping out the Dusk 'til Dawn course

Have you ever tried navigating a course with maps before?


New job, ultra briefing, speedy reps and #catownerproblems


Oh, so much to write about today!

Lets start with my new job…  This morning I headed in to sign paperwork for my new job which I shall be starting on Fridays after half term – going on to a full five-day timetable after Christmas when I have finished at my current job.  Last week seemed to go by in such a blur – applying, being invited for interview and then being offered the post.  It was nice to go in and meet people properly today and to get a better idea of what will be expected of me in the new role.  I already feel like I will be incredibly well supported in the post.  The Head of Department grabbed me for a chat after I’d signed the paperwork to let me know that she had decided she had wanted me for the post as soon as she saw me teach but could have smashed me around the head during the interview stage with the headteacher when I didn’t deliver as well!  I’m just awful at bigging myself up and she felt I’d really undersold myself in the formal part of the interview.  She’s already promised that she’s going to help me work on that, but the compliments I was paid today have already done wonders for my confidence.  Luckily, they hired me for my teaching ability, not my interview skills, so last Wednesday I was very shocked to receive the call offering me the job!
I’ve already decided that this Winter at work is going to be all about the jumpers over dresses with boots so that was how I decided to dress today.  I have a real issue looking down at these boots though.  They always look like I’ve got them on the wrong feet!  (I promise I haven’t!)

Ankle length boots not on the wrong feet

This afternoon our race briefing for the Dusk ’til Dawn 50 mile ultra arrived.  For anyone that’s interested, here’s the video.  

I’ll write a longer post on Dusk ’til Dawn later this week as it is now only nine days away…

Tonight was the first speed session I’ve attended at club for a while.  I normally find myself getting very worked up before each rep of a speed session.  My heart rate gets ridiculously high before I’ve even begun, I shoot off with the front of the pack then my throat gets tight, I feel like I’m not taking in enough air and am certain I’m going to collapse before I make it to the end.  It got to the stage where I wasn’t enjoying this weekly routine so I stopped going on Thursday sessions for a while, continuing with just the Tuesday tempo runs.  The groups were always so big, so I always felt like I had to fight my way through the pack as well, adding to my anxiety.

Tonight, I gave speed sessions another go.  I’ve been doing some speedwork on my own, but that is never the same and I want to make a real go of the marathon distance next Spring so knew I needed to get over my fear at some point.  For a change there were only nine of us in Group 5 tonight.  A perfectly manageable number to run as part of a group with.  We ran two and a half miles as a warm up before arriving on the km rep route.  Right by the school we meet at is a pavement alongside four different roads which goes all the way round a park and some houses in the form of a massive square.  That’s not a very good explanation I’m afraid, but I have no idea how to explain it without taking you there!  The distance has been officially measured as 1km, so the club often uses this area as part of training sessions to time kilometre reps so that we can track our progress over time.  We couldn’t start at the corner we usually start at tonight, as Group 1 were also running the reps, so we staggered it slightly and met at the other side of the square.  This is a much worse starting point as you always have two long uphill sides of the hill to run together, whereas the other corner means you start and finish on an uphill, with two downhill sides inbetween.

I was a little bit pacey waiting to begin, and I almost asked not to be timed to take the pressure off of myselg, but then I realised that would be silly and that I’d never improve if I kept dropping out.  I’m the only one putting pressure on myself.  We started.  On the first two sides of downhill I managed to really get into a strong stride, without pushing too hard.  It was tough coming up the long uphill after speeding down for so long but one of my strengths is uphills.  I had already pushed to fourth position and coming up the hill I overtook another person.  I was pushing, but not to my maximum.  As the hill started to level out I was aware that the guy running in second place was within reaching distance so I really put my head down and pounded forward.  I am certain I wouldn’t have done so had he not been right in front of me.  He glanced behind and pushed too and we finished together in 4m53s, with just one other guy finishing in front of us.  The guy that had finished with me commented that he wouldn’t have pushed quite so hard either had I not been right on his tail!
A quick two minute stop before take two.
The second rep was the other way around the square.  Because we were starting from the highest point though it still meant two sides of downhill before finishing with a long uphill stretch.  Again, I felt confident and comfortable on the way down.  My breathing was under control and I was already in third position as I hit the hill coming back up.  I didn’t quite have enough in me to match the guy in second place though.  As I neared the top, the Group 1 runners soared past in the opposite direction and that helped me to push a little harder on the final stretch.  My time was called out at 4m55s.  Pretty happy with that consistency!  Just two seconds difference between the two reps.  I offered to time the third lap as our coach that had been timing needed to get back to open up and let the runners have their keys back.

I really enjoyed the session and am looking forward to being pushed this Winter.

I ran tonight with cuts all over my face and arms though.  Some of which stung in the wind.  This afternoon I took Bella to the vets.  Being put into her travel cage is not top of her favourites list and she very definitely let me know!  She’s such a lovey-dovey cat normally but as soon as you try to get her anywhere near her cage the claws come out and she splays out her legs in every attempt to make herself as big as possible so you can’t get her in.  I always feel awful because she cries and cries, and then it upsets me because I don’t like seeing her so worked up.  Whenever Dan has to put her in the cage he gets dressed up in his massive ski jacket and gloves to minimise blood loss.  It wouldn’t have worked on this occasion though…she got me right across my face!  I now hate the vets as much as Bella does!

Bella scratched me

I took her in to the vets because I noticed that she had a couple of fleas a fortnight ago and so gave her a deflea dose, which seems to have done nothing at all and now she is overrun with fleas and really miserable because of it.  She’s started losing her hair and crying when she scratches so I took her in to get weighed so that they could give her a prescription dose.  Hopefully this will do the trick.  Thankfully she wasn’t too mad at me when I brought her home and I even got a cuddle later on!

Me cuddling Bella

After our visit to the vets I posted a picture on Twitter with the hashtag #catownerproblems then decided to see who else had been having #catownerproblems.  Here are some of my favourites…

catownerproblems catownerproblems catownerproblems

Are you able to present yourself  realistically at interviews?
Do you like cat photos/videos?
 Dan always says if he finds me laughing in front of the computer he knows there’s a good chance it’s because I’m watching a cat video!


Cross-country season has arrived!


Cross-country season has begun!  Well, at least it will have by 26th October.  I collected my number for the season from running club tonight.

Cross-country numberOur club membership fees include the cost of the five cross-country races in the Three Counties XC series as part of our membership…always a nice way to finish the year – five free races which finish with free cake, sandwich and a hot drink in the lead up to Christmas!

We always host the first of the five events at Croyland Park in Wellingborough and although biased, I have to say our course is probably the best of the five.  It criss-crosses several times through the park so you can pretty much see runners at all times wherever you are stood.  There are also two places where you have to jump a small brook.  No other course in the series has that!

Cross-country brook jump

The first race always falls in half term, which unfortunately mean lots of our club members are busy and unable to help marshal.  Our club captains each pick a team so that they are guaranteed enough runners out on the course to score and represent the club before marshal duties are divvied up and given to the volunteers.  Usually club captains just pick the quickest runners (and this does make sense) but this year, although our male captain choose all from Group 1 for the men’s team, the lady captains decided to choose on both ability and attendance for representing the club.  This year I was offered a place on the team!  Very exciting, but very disappointing when I realised that it was the same day as Dusk ’til Dawn and that I wouldn’t be able to step up.  :(  I hope I can prove myself to run for another year.  I’m yet to have the chance to run the home course.

I had a great run tonight out with the club.  We just ran five miles but that included a couple of spurts of fartleking (mixing the speed up over short bursts on a run) and some speed work up a long hill so we felt worked by the time we got back!  The Coach Co-ordinator has decided to mix around some of the coaches between groups and it was a nice fresh change to have the group shaken up a little.  I worked hard and there were several of the quick sections run at 8mm.  I always get nervous when we are told to push it for a certain distance in the group.  I worry that I won’t pace it correctly, or I’ll have to drop out before finishing or I won’t run as well as I would like.  I’m in to the habit lately of taking myself to the back of the group to help myself start at a steady pace rather than racing off.  As the run section progresses I can gradually pass each of the other runners.  Hopefully this way, without burning out!  The target is to get as close to the front runner as possible.

Will you be running any cross-country this year?
Do you set mini targets within each training session?



My new Vivofit toy


So way back at the end of the Summer, Anna posted a blog about her new Vivofit, after having had the Fitbit for a while.  I was really interested in seeing the data the Vivofit produced as I am a big data geek at heart.

It was another month before I took the plunge, but a fortnight ago I finally ordered a blue Vivofit and couldn’t wait for it to arrive.  It turned up last Saturday morning whilst I was getting ready for my friend’s wedding so I didn’t get a proper chance to have a look at it.  I actually opened the box as I arrived in the carpark at the school which was hosting Mablethorpe Marathon last Sunday and managed to quickly sync it via bluetooth with my phone before the start.  I figured I would have a good few hours to work it out on the run and I haven’t taken it off since (…other than for my interview on Wednesday where I didn’t think it would look very professional on my arm!  I guess I should have thought ahead and worn long sleeves.  :P )

So the blue Vivofit now sits above my Garmin on my arm when out on runs.  I am weighed down with devices!

Garmin Vivofit

You can bluetooth all the data to your phone at any point in the day.  I can see basic charts on my phone, but much more detail on the Garmin Connect website.  I loved the idea of being able to track my sleep in the week, especially in the build up to long runs/races as I know that lack of sleep affects my runs.  I’ve already discovered that Dan was right when he said I am forever flailing in my sleep.  (I actually start off sleeping at night with my arms up above my head but end up curled in a ball on the far side!)Garmin Vivofit sleep cycle

The day after my interview was a completely different story though – I must have been shattered as it was pretty much a solid straight line with no movement at all!

A really good feature of the Vivofit is not having to charge the device.  It’s a pain when my Garmin runs out of battery when out on a run and having to continuously make sure that it is charged up beforehand and having to hang around until it is.  (Always leaving it to the last minute!)

It displays the amount of steps walked, how many steps until you reach your target, how many miles you have covered, the calories burnt and the time on a really easy to see display.  It’s nice to not have an overload of information on the device.  In fact, there’s just the one button on it!

Garmin Vivofit

Each day the Vivofit sets a target number of steps for you to aim for.  Depending on whether or not you met your target from the day before.  If you reached your target then the following day your target number of steps will increase.  If you failed to meet it then the number of steps to target the following day will decrease.  My goal started out at 7,500 steps, but on day one I ran a marathon, so my target went back up after that!Garmin Vivofit

As you can see in the screenshot below, I was pretty inactive after returning home from the race!  But to be fair I had already taken 47,472 steps that day!

Garmin Vivofit step count

In the days after the race I had a little break from running.  Working as a teacher with tiny class sizes, not a lot of movement happens during the day.  I purposefully kept my day after the race as typical as possible.  I covered just 3,243 steps.

Garmin Vivofit step count

Pretty awful.  :(  Look at all those inactive, or barely active moments in my day!

Garmin Vivofit step count

If you are inactive for an hour a red line starts to appear along the top of the Vivofit to let you know it’s time for a walking break!  It’s made me really aware of how much I need to get up from my desk in the day and keep moving around.Garmin Vivofit

Running five-six days a week normally I tend to think I’m pretty active.  But in reality, I’m not really.  According to Runner’s World, sitting is the new smoking!  I’m gonna try and fit in a few laps of the classroom between lessons.  More movement required!

Last weekend I had Mablethorpe Marathon but this Sunday evening it’s a completely different kind of marathon…A Desperate Housewives boxset marathon!  I’m working my way back through the episodes whilst tidying the house.  Dan is away until Friday on a training course in Manchester so I’m having a bit of chill time with the dishes in the sink unwashed.  Wild times!

Do you use a fitness tracker or any apps to keep track of your progress?
Are you a fan of Desperate Housewives?