Taper, run, taper again!

My toe has gone from being a little twingy, but me insisting that it gets on with things, to me forgetting I ever injured it in the space of a week.  So, I have gone from an extreme four week taper, to fitting several runs in this week and now I’m back onto the taper again!  My runs have been strong this week which has helped to regain some of my confidence for the upcoming Milton Keynes marathon on Monday.

This Monday I headed out on a 3.6 mile run with Dan after work.  We took things pretty slow and Dan needed to stretch at the two mile turn around point.  It felt good to be out at a chatty run pace again.

This week started off pretty manic.  I had an email last week to say that I had been selected to interview on Tuesday for an internal position at school following an application I had made earlier in the week.  I absolutely hate interviews and when it comes to questions requiring me to big myself up I really struggle as I find it sounds so false.  Dan was a massive help over the weekend, – between us we made a list of about ten questions that might come up during the interview and I wrote and learnt versions of model answers to each one before spending a long while practicing responses to them while Dan mock-interviewed me.  Alongside the formal interview I had 30 minutes of tasks to complete which went well.  I didn’t think I would get the position as I have only been in my job fulltime since January but I was proud to think that I had been invited for interview following my application letter.  My feedback the following day was good – I had lost out purely because the successful candidate had already been in the role whilst working in a different school.  Probably one of the better interviews I have had!

Tuesday evening I headed out on my own to test out a new trail route.  Although I am eager to get back to club now that I am running again, my group were only planning on running 3-4 easy miles as so many of the runners had either just run London marathon or will be running Milton Keynes this coming weekend.  I had been asked to come up with a 6-7 mile trail route from the town I live in for next week so I set out on my own with the intention of exploring any footpath signs I ran past.  I had intended on running at about 11mm pace over the fields but about four miles into my run my leg disappeared from beneath me and before I knew what was happening the front of my left leg bashed against the top of a badger sett hole and my right knee crashed to the ground.

Left shin – scraped:

Left shin scraped

Right knee – bleeding:

Right kneeExcellent.  Who would be a runner?!  Things could be much worse though, I’ll get over it.  I walked the remainder of that field.  The grass was high and the holes were well hidden.  When I arrived back out onto the road again I picked up the pace a bit into the 9:xxmm to head home.Comeback trail run

Last night I was shattered but desperate to head back out on a trail run with club.  There were eight of us that met in the car park in Grendon at 7pm.  Within half a mile we got cornered by some cows with their young on the bridge. We turned around and tried the route in reverse but as we were seven miles into the run with less than a mile to go we realised the cows still hadn’t left the bridge we were due to cross.  We snuck (incredibly quickly) along the back of the field they were in and leapt a fence at the other end, only to discover that we had landed ourselves in another field with cows in!  Kev headed alongside the fence near to them and kept them distracted whilst us girls sped round the back, unnoticed.  Several minutes later and we spotted one of the guys running full pelt towards us and safety as the other guys jogged casually behind shouting out “They’re coming! RUN!”  No cows were in sight, but it was funny to watch!
We’re all a little bit nervous around cows after one of our club members was attacked a few years ago.

Top interview techniques?
Do you run/walk through cow fields or avoid them where possible?!

VMLM this year as a spectator

I absolutely loved the atmosphere around the course when I ran London Marathon last year.  The thousands of people lining the streets for the entire route really made the course for me.  As did the runners with messages on their backs, running hand-in-hand with others or laughing away with the person running alongside them.  I came away from the course last year knowing that I wanted to go back and support friends there in the future.

Last week a friend from club messaged me to see if I was still interested in going down to watch the race in person.  He was running it himself, and had booked three seats on the local Northampton Road Runners coach, but now only needed two of them.  Obviously the idea of heading down still appealed to me…and did so even when I was told that we were due to board the bus at 5:30am.  When Tom wanted picking up at 4:50am though, I’ll admit, I wasn’t quite so keen!  That is even earlier than my school alarm!

But…I like marathons a lot more than I do school and at 4:50am on the dot I rolled up and set off to catch the bus with Tom and his sister.

A little after eight, the bus pulled up amongst a whole line of others at Blackheath and we wished the runners good luck before Katherine and I headed off in the direction of Tower Bridge to catch the runners in a few hours time.  I say we headed off in that direction…we actually stood still in the field for several minutes pretending to study our map but actually keeping our eyes up and waiting for other spectators to head off first so that we could follow them to the station!

Good job there were some friendly marshals out on Sunday, because they got us both to the station and on the right tubelines.  Otherwise I would probably still be sat on the (rather wet!) grass at Blackheath now!

When Dan had come to watch me run London last year he had seen me at Tower Bridge and then again three miles from the finish.  I needed the boost of seeing someone I knew by the halfway point and with Tower Bridge in the background it was a popular point for supporters, so the atmosphere was buzzing.  It was no different this year, despite the much colder weather.  After crossing Tower Bridge three times to make sure we were in the correct spot (good job we arrived early!) we caught the wheelchair athletes coming through and then managed to spot some others supporters from our club so grabbed a space next to them on the front of the barrier where we watched the elite women power through.

Elite women at the London marathonLook at the muscles in those legs!

Time went so quickly all day, but most of all in the morning.  We thought we would have loads of hanging about to do between dropping the runners off at the start and seeing them through at the halfway point.  Not the case.  Time flew.  It seemed only minutes before the elite men were heading through.

Elite men at the London marathonThe streets were lined with spectators by the time the men came past.  Katherine and I were at the front of what was probably a six-deep crowd.  We hadn’t intended on moving on until Tom came past (1hr 55m) but it was impossible to move anywhere by this point anyway.

It was so interesting watching the front (non-elite) runners coming past and the road gradually fill up more and more with runners.  A clump of guys ran through together not too long after the elites.  A couple of us in the crowd pointed and shouted out “First woman!”  The cheers really grew then, and once more when one by one we realised there was another woman towards the back of the little pack with a very familiar running style.  Paula Radcliffe.  The sound was deafening as she ran past and I am sure I saw a grin cross her face.  The woman next to me told her child that she thought that was the one that they had been told to look out for but she couldn’t remember her name.  This was the same woman who had informed those around her that she thought Usain Bolt was in the lead and was pretty sure that Mo Farah was in second!  Erm, not quite!

People either side of us were leaning over the barrier so far and children everywhere had those large inflatable sticks that they were beating together and getting in the way of my attempts at photographs.

I tried my best to photograph runners from our club but it wasn’t long before I gave up after many failed attempts…

Jon at London marathonThere were too many hands, arms, inflatables and other body parts that kept getting in the way!  As the time went on it was more and more difficult to spot runners in the crowd before they were right on top of us and I turned my full attention to cheering and trying to get the attention of runners I knew to help give them a boost at the halfway point instead.

We had told Tom where we would be so that he could look out for us and as soon as he had come through, looking strong and still on target for sub 4 we managed to squeeze our way out of the crowds and head back onto the pavement where we slowly made our way back up to the station.  The queue was barely moving at all.  One rude man tried to push into me and told me that no-one would get anywhere unless we pushed.  His tactic clearly didn’t work as we passed him a little later on.  One good thing came of our slow moving line though…we got to see Paula heading back through mile 22 on the other side of the road.  Well, we actually heard the crowd cheering her name before we saw her!

It was absolutely freezing stood out waiting for runners to come past and I lost the feeling completely in one set of fingers.  Lots of rubbing them together whilst on the train seemed to do the trick though and by the time we arrived at St. James’s Park ready to catch runners come through to the finish they had regained feeling again.  We arrived just as our front runner, Jon flew past, although despite loud shouts and cheering he didn’t see us stood on the sidelines.  He stormed through to finish in 2h 55m.  We made our way to the 600m from the finish sign where we met up with two other runners from club.  Kev and Kim.  Kim had come prepared with her club vest ready to wave at runners as we saw them heading our way and the next 90 minutes flew by as we cheered everybody on through towards the finish.  I was chief tracker and kept updating everybody on the progress of our club runners.  The ice lollies that Kev bought us at this point went down well, although as an afterthought we could probably have done with something a little warmer!

We stayed in this spot until our runners on target for a 4:30 finish came through and then made our way to the club tree – the spot that has become the waiting point on the other side for runners of our club to meet up.  I would have liked to stay out supporting for longer, but unfortunately, with the bus pickup being a 45 minute walk away from the finish, and collecting us in just over an hour we needed to make sure that a) Tom could still walk (questionable when it involved curbs!) and b) we could find our way there!  We also made a quick detour on the way to a McDonalds for a hot chocolate.

Absolutely knackered by the time the bus arrived back in Northampton (may have had a little snooze on the bus on the way back!)…a 4am get up and I even managed to walk more than 9 miles as a spectator!  Very worth it though and I had a great day!

Did you watch (in person or on TV) London marathon this weekend?

Last minute niggles but a run at last

Yesterday was the day I had penciled in to test out running again after taking sixteen days off running, and falling five and a half weeks after first breaking my toe.

I wore my old trail trainers just to be on the safe side (they’re a little more broken in and flexible around the toe area) and although my toe felt a bit weaker, I had no problems pulling my trainers on or running across the fields.  This makes me incredibly happy!

Last night was a special run.  The chairman of our running club was stepping down after ten years in the role and had decided to organise a seven mile trail run for as many people could attend, starting at his local pub.  After the run we were invited in to the pub where he had organised a spread of sandwiches and the nicest potato wedges I have ever tasted!

The promise of food at the finish and a chance to enjoy a pint after the run drew in more people than usual, and the largest number of runners yet turned up for the trail run…27 runners!  Another fifteen or so (mainly those running London this weekend) joined us at the pub afterwards.

Trail run by the river - lots of runners!

Great turn out and a lovely way to celebrate ten years of our chairman at the club.

This morning, as I had enjoyed my Friday evening run so much I headed to parkrun to tot up another run closer to my 50.  (I’m slowly getting there, nowhere near as quickly as I had hoped though.  I think it will be well into 2016 now before I get my t-shirt.)  I purposefully planned on aiming to hit 30 minutes for the parkrun – much slower than normal.  Definitely didn’t want to overdo my toe or wear myself out with the marathon now nine days away.

Spot on pacing!

30min parkrun

…29:59.

…but then my parkrun text came through and it recorded at 30:01.  Pah!  Annoying!

30min parkrun 1sec

Another one closer to the magical 50 mark though and another run complete post-injury.

Another incentive to get to parkrun was so I could enjoy another trip to Magee Street Bakery afterwards for a hot chocolate and cake with a friend.

Magee street bakery, Northampton - salted caramel tart(Reused pic…I can’t resist the salted caramel tart from that place!)

Although my toe caused no problems last night, as soon as I started running I felt the uncomfortable ache on my right hip that has come on now and again on runs since February.  I assumed this would disappear after the time I had spent off running.  It aches, and is a little uncomfortable but does not hurt.  It almost feels like the muscle on the side of my hip is just stiff.  I did speak to the doctor about it as it seemed to come on about the same time that I started losing weight a couple of months ago but the doctor didn’t feel that the issues were connected.  I guess it will be a job for the physio if it continues.  It’s always something!

I’m getting really excited about heading down to spectate at London tomorrow morning.  Although not so excited about my get-up time.  We board the coach from 5:30 in Northampton, but to ensure we arrive in time I need to leave mine by 4:40am as I am picking a friend up on the way.  4am get up it is.  :(  Will be worth it though!

What is your favourite bakery treat that you could eat every time?

A new cross-trainer game

Back at my wedding last year, my Maid of Honour presented me with a gift of velcro hats and some soft balls as part of her speech that told of items that would keep Dan and I strong and happy through marriage.  The gift represented having fun.

Ball game on the cross-trainerIn the evenings this month I have mainly been busy with school work and then usually attempt some sort of workout session on the cross-trainer.  Because we’ve also been doing our best not to spend any money lately so that every penny is available for our house move in May, Dan and I have been limited to watching box sets in the evenings.  I’m not really into any series at the moment so this gets dull rather quickly.

Introducing the new game Dan and I came up with last night when we pulled our velcro caps out of our pile of games in the spare room…

Step 1: Don a weird point-scoring cap.

Ball game on the cross-trainer

Step 2: Climb on board the cross-trainer and step away as quickly as you can.  (As an after throught, step 2 yesterday probably should have been to draw the lounge curtains!)

Ball game on the cross-trainer

Step 3: Be prepared to duck and dodge whilst on the cross-trainer as balls fly at you from all angles…!

Ball game on the cross-trainerBall game on the cross-trainer

What gym would ever let you play this game?!  I’m sure it would break all the health and safety rules!  It also probably wasn’t the best game for me to be playing a week before race day and a few days before I shall be trekking around London to watch the marathon…there were a couple of points where I really thought my balance was going to go!  But I wobbled myself back into place again.  Heart rate well and truly up for half an hour and fun most definitely had!

Is anyone else going to watch London on Sunday?  I’m really excited!  I’ve followed the coverage on the TV for several years now, and tracked runners online and then last year I was down in London running it myself.  This year I shall be there in person (probably at Tower Bridge, followed by 700m from finish), armed with my camera to take pictures and cheer on anyone I recognise, and probably everyone else inbetween.  Good luck runners!
Are you running London marathon?  If so, what number should I be looking out for?