A few more seconds over 5 miles

So, although we have now been in our new house for a week, we are yet to get connected to the internet.  BT tells us it is currently looking like 28th July is the next available day they are able to hook us up.  I had intended on keeping up with emails, blogs and social media before and after my teaching hours using the internet at school, but even that has been down following the heavy thunderstorms we had at the end of last week.  There was no internet at all on Friday at school and it has also been down for a few hours today.

What I have been doing instead is a lot of DIY in the new house!
One of the most satisfying feelings is stripping the walls of the bright wallpaper that the previous owners seem to have included in every single room!

Stripping wallpaper in our new houseI am sure my lucky streak will come to an end soon but on Thursday night I actually cut a few more seconds from one of my recent PB distances.

Every year our club holds the Wellingborough 5 mile road race on the last Sunday in July, with a chance for those marshaling the event on the day to run the course the week before, whilst those chosen to represent the club team on race day marshal at our club ‘race’.

It’s nice for a change to not feel so intimidated by all the ‘quickies’ at the front of the pack and to start a little closer to the start line.

After consideration, I did intend on racing the 5miles.  I had weighed up the option of heading out on a chatty run with friends or keeping things steady, but the course also has a lot of PB potential and I knew that there was a good chance I could improve on the 5 mile PB I had set back in May at Blisworth 5 (46:05) as that had been run on a hilly course and on a hot day.

Rushing around in the morning before school I forgot to take my lunch though, so after work Dan and I rushed home via a quick stop to Tesco so that I could inhale a sandwich.  The ‘race’ didn’t start until 7pm and I wouldn’t normally have eaten so late but knew I would need something to help get me round.  I then promptly fell asleep for the remainder of the journey home (house moving is tiring work!) so was rather groggy by the time we arrived back nearing 6pm.

A quick change into shorts and club vest before rushing off to the start, although I couldn’t go to the loo.  I hoped it wouldn’t be a problem.  I would have been really annoyed if eating too late stopped me from having a good run!  Luckily, I didn’t need to worry.

It’s tradition that we take a group club shot including members’ children before setting off on the course.  I’m over on the far right of the picture.

Wellingborough club group shot before the Welly 5 BBQ

When the gun began I stuck to my tried-and-tested heart rate method and kept checking I was running at around the 165bpm mark.  I was a little nervous at how far up front of the pack I was, but a lot of the quicker runners were out marshaling so I trusted my heartrate monitor and stuck to my guns.  With it being a club race, I knew everybody out there and a couple of people who were taking the run a little easier tried to start conversations with me as they went past.  I hope they didn’t think I was being rude with I stuck my thumb up at them or nodded or shook my head in response.  For the first couple of miles I was pretty much on my own, with the occasional runner overtaking me.Wellingborough 5 mile road raceI was only vaguely aware that photos were being taken of us out on the course.  Obviously by this point I was counting steps.

Wellingborough 5 mile road race

I ran my first mile in just under 8:30 minute miling.  I wasn’t struggling but I was a little concerned that it would come back to hit me later on.  At the start of my last 5 mile race I’d been hoping for sub 9:30mm.  That’s quite a difference!

The next two miles were around 9mm pace  (didn’t bring my Garmin to work so unable to check – I shall update with exact figures when I next have access to the internet!) and at the start of mile 4 you hit the one and only gradual hill on the course.  Although I remained at the same effort, this mile was much slower at 9:46mm, which rather concerned me.  Luckily the last mile is back on the flat again and I got a lot of encouragement from the marshals, and also a shout out from the club captains who drove past in their car.  Along the final stretch of road I stormed past a couple of runners and came through the finish feeling strong.  I’d purposefully not checked my watch during the final mile and so was unsure whether or not I had achieved a PB until after crossing the line.5 mile PB time on the garmin…I had.  The official results marked me as finishing in 45m 55s.  Another 10 seconds off from my Blisworth 5 time back in May and a total of 2 minutes and 2 seconds faster than my previous PB.

This is such a difference from when I ran the club BBQ run last year.  That run saw me stop and start numerous times over the five miles and throw myself onto the ground at the finish line incredibly disappointed with my performance.  I just checked my club website, as it appears I didn’t even post my finishing time on the blog last year, but it actually took me 50m 37s to cross the line in 2014, and I knew I was very capable of a much better performance than the one I had given.

What do you do with all of your ‘free’ time when you don’t have the internet?
How do you come back from a bad race?  Does it make you feel more nervous about repeating the same race in future?

We’re in! Moving weekend


The last few days have been incredibly busy and tiring but finally, we are in our new home!New home cardAfter parkrun on Saturday morning we began packing in earnest.  Although the majority of our belongings have been packed since the end of May, there were several items that we had been unable to pack as we were still using them, and there were a few boxes that we had ended up opening once our initial move date fell through.

We each packed a bright purple bag of items we would need over the first few days.  (Toiletries, underwear, work clothes, PJs…)  Bella also made sure that she packed herself in Dan’s essentials bag…!

Bella is packed - cat in a bag!We collected the moving van a little after 5pm on the Saturday and decided that we would load as much as possible that night, as rain was forecast the following day.

Moving van

It was literally a giant game of Tetris and we spent a while jigging and rejigging our larger items (bookcases, mattresses and sofas) so that they were stored in the least amount of space possible before piling up the boxes.Loading the moving vanDan had been a proper taskmaster over the past few weeks when it came to how much we were packing each night and what got done, but he was flagging by this point and it was me that stepped in and made sure that all boxes were loaded before bed!

Loading the moving van for our house moveThere were 70 boxes in all and it really helped having them all the same size!  We just marked out one side of the van for the boxes and then knew that we wouldn’t have to worry about trying to fit the boxes together as they stacked perfectly.

The following morning we threw what remaining clothes we had into large white sacks.  Because we had so many black carrier bags of rubbish we were collecting as we went along, the different colour bags were nice and easy to spot so we didn’t accidentally end up throwing away any of our clothes, or packing any rubbish!  (I hope…!)
I was a little confused when I spotted this bag of cats that Dan had labelled!  Although afterwards, I realised he had labelled it ‘coats’!

Bag of cats or coats

Just as we got the fridge and freezer outside to defrost, it absolutely poured it down outside and our van loading ground to a halt.  Our fridge was already destined for the tip anyway, as it has been leaking badly over the past few months but I rushed outside with bags to cover the freezer.  Luckily, no damage was done.Pouring with rain on moving day

By the time it was dark, everything else was on the moving van so I took the upstairs for cleaning, and Dan took the downstairs.  There wasn’t a lot of floor space in our old house, so the cleaning itself didn’t take too long.
Loading up the moving van

A night on the mattress for us as our bed was in the van now!  We caved and let Bella sleep up on our feet.  Normally she sleeps downstairs in the lounge on the sofa at night, but she had been following us around all day, knowing something was different, there was now nothing left for her to sleep on and the room was echoing and cold so she spent the night with us instead.

When I got up on Monday morning I left a little note for the new owner listing all of the keys and what they were for, which suppliers we were currently with and a few other messages about the house.  I also left the most recent Yellow Pages and town magazines out on the kitchen work-surface.

Leaving a note for the new owner during a house moveI didn’t really say a proper goodbye to the home as I was rushing off out to work as usual in the morning, leaving Dan to make the final touches, along with the help of my brother and my friend’s husband, who both arrived nearing midday.

The last two days have been busy ones at work, followed by rushing back to our new home to try and get things a little straighter.  There is a lot of work that needs doing to the new house, so we are leaving several boxes packed up in the garage and spare rooms, but I have started to unpack kitchen items and we’ve pieced some furniture together now.  It is so lovely having a table back in the house – no more balancing my work on my knees on the sofa!

We won’t have internet access until July 24th, so I may be a little slow replying to comments/blogging/catching up with blogs, as I shall only be using the internet at school before/after my teaching day but I will get there.

I have my running clothes drawer all unpacked already, so things are looking up!

Unpacking my running clothes after the house move

What were your first priorities when you last moved house?

Summer training

Last year towards the end of June I put together a training plan for the Summer taking me past Grim 70m, Mablethorpe Marathon and leading up to the Dusk ’til Dawn 50m.  As I am running these three races again this year I had every intention of doing something similar for this time round but in the end there were a few factors which made me decide against it.

I don’t like feeling stuck in a rigid training pattern.  Despite probably being quite good for training, I am very much a social runner and like to enjoy my easy or long runs with friends.  I still work hard on my hard sessions, but when I was training for Operation Ultra and completed all runs on my own so that I could stick to my plan things got very lonely.  I like the flexibility of being able to join in on an impromptu club 15 mile run without feeling guilty when my plan only says 12 miles.

We’re in the middle of moving house!  First it was going to be on May 29th, then it was moved to July 23rd, very close to Grim 70 race day and as of last week we are now moving on Monday afternoon.  Tomorrow!  In fact I am sitting on the floor in my lounge currently writing this post as we loaded the sofas and majority of the boxes onto the van we rented last night.

Moving van - Stable Hire LtdBoth of us worried that we weren’t going to fit everything inside, but we managed to load 60 boxes, a sofa, a corner sofa, all my craft boxes, pillows, duvets and sofa cushions and two bookcases, with half of the van still empty for everything else to be loaded today!

Loading the moving van for our house move

Work has been incredibly busy.  I’ve completed my first Spring and Summer term in a new job.  Specs have changed for the GCSE course we’re offering next year and so this has resulted in a re-write of a lot of our resources over the past few weeks.  I shall also be teaching the Diploma and a year 13 A-Level course I have not taught before from September and this has meant that I have had lots of revision to do and grilling of colleagues ready for the start of the new term.

It’s been super hot just lately.  I’m not a runner that enjoys the heat and at the same time it is impossible for me to get up and run before work when it’s cool.  I get up at 5:30am already, 4:30am is not on the agenda!

I’m vaguely following the Runner’s World Intermediate Marathon plan to help guide me in terms of long run distances in the build up to Mablethorpe Marathon at the start of October.  The plan contains 5-6 runs each week and I have always found that I can train more consistently with this number of sessions each week, although I don’t plan on sticking religiously to the sessions laid out on the plan.

Since finally getting my Strava account working properly the other week I have enjoyed the accountability of knowing other people will be able to see my training.  It was frustrating before as all of my miles and splits would be messed up and inaccurate so at times I wouldn’t upload everything I had completed, whereas now, I like to see my stats!  If you’re on Strava, come follow me and make sure my training is carried out! :)

On Saturday morning I headed out to parkrun again.  Back to Northampton again this time as the Corby course was having a week off due to their town carnival I think.  I hadn’t heard whether or not my friend who I’ve been pacing recently was also going to the Northampton course by the time I arrived so I made the decision to push it for myself to heart rate. I didn’t think I would be capable of a particularly quick time, – it was another very hot morning out there.  I chatted to a couple of club runners at the start and one of them asked me if I was going to be pushing for a PB.  I even said to him ‘Nah, it won’t be a PB today.  It’s too hot out there for me!’

Not aiming for a parkrun pb(Posted earlier this week!)

We began and I knew I was running well from the very beginning.  There were no aches, no pains, I’d had a suitable amount of breakfast beforehand and been to the loo.  Everything seemed to be in my favour.  From glancing at my watch I was quickly up to 168bpm and I hovered around there for the first mile or so as I had been looking to stick to a 170bpm run.  I soon found myself almost at the point where my watch normally beeps for the first mile.  Time seemed to have gone really quickly, so I glanced down at my watch.  I don’t run with my watch showing my pace anymore, but the cumulative time still started with a 7:xx!  When it did beep to signal the mile it was at 8m 12s.  I’ve never run a mile that fast during a race/parkrun before and all of a sudden was aware that a PB could be on the cards if I kept my head straight.  I began to count steps.  Counting steps keeps me focused and stops me thinking about any aches or from slowing down.  I was surprised at how consistent my running remained.  I ran the next mile in 8m 35s with mile three in 8m 36s.  I got a stitch as I was coming up to the final (mini) hill at the start of the third mile.  I really concentrated hard to keep going here.  I never felt like I was overdoing it or shooting off too fast which is positive, but I did feel as though I would have pulled or slowed right down because of the stitch had this been me last year.  The displayed heart rate on my watch gave me the confidence to keep going though and I just kept thinking ‘Only a little over 8 minutes to go…eight minutes is nothing!’  The course at Northampton is one large lap around the whole park followed by a shorter lap which cuts through the middle of the park, joining the outer path so at times you can be lapped/lap people out on the course.  I was still busy counting my steps as I went to lap one of my old coach’s sisters at mile 2.5 who was out on the course.  I felt I needed to shout out a well done to her, but as I passed I shouted out ‘98!’ to her instead as that was where I was up to with my counting in my head!  Haha!  Very special indeed!  I quickly followed it up with a ‘Well done!’ and hoped no-one had noticed!

I knew I was on for a PB but I didn’t check my time as my watch beeped the 3 mile mark, instead increasing my cadence to come down to the finish.  My smile said it all when I crossed the line though and I heard one of the marshals comment on how smiley I was!

5k PB face

Dan also had a great parkrun, crossing the line in 28:11, his fastest time this year.  We were going to celebrate with Malteser Krushems on the way home, but had forgotten any money.  Rubbish!

Garmin time: 26:36
Official time: 26:37
Position: 185/348
Gender position: 27/127
Age category: 2/12

Yesterday was my first parkrun PB, as my overall 5k PB of 26:55 has stood from way back in February of 2013 – my very first parkrun.  I’ve also run at Sheringham parkrun but my PB on that course stands from the first time I ran it also.  The only time I got a course PB at Peterborough was the first time I wasn’t pacing a friend and more recently, my Corby parkrun PB came from the first time I ran it also.

parkrun PB messageFirst time I’ve received the parkrun PB message! :)

Apparently there was also a photographer out on the course (I must have been focused, cos I didn’t spot one!)  Dependent upon my focused face in the photos, I shall add any photos here once they’re posted later today.


Northampton parkrun PB faceApparently this is my parkrun PB face.Northampton parkrun PB face

I don’t care though – it was a PB! :)

How do you devise your training plans?
Were you at parkrun this week?  How did you get on?

What I plan to eat during a 70m race

Yesterday afternoon I headed over to the dentist surgery after work to get the two fillings I was told I required during my last visit.

I wasn’t looking forward to the visit (Just who does look forward to a trip to the dentist?!) and had been building myself up to discuss my current sugar intake with my dentist after his accusations of my chocolate and fizzy drink-fueled diet three weeks ago.

A copy of Runner’s World which I found on the waiting room table helped calm my nerves and take my mind off of events before going in.  Much better than the usual trashy chat magazines that haven’t been replaced in the last six years!
Runner's World magazine

I was asked to open my mouth immediately upon entering the chair and as the dentist looked into my mouth he asked ‘So have you sorted your poor diet out yet?

I wimped out.  I was embarrassed and pretty helpless laying in his chair.  As soon as he had removed his hand from my mouth I just shot back with ‘I’ve stopped eating fruit’.  It was a gut instinct reaction and I should have been more adult about it but I panicked.

I haven’t stopped eating fruit, although I have limited how much of it I eat each day now.  I was given no advice on how best to improve my ‘poor diet’ and the whole time my teeth were being worked on I was thinking about where there were other practicing dentists in my town.

This week I have also spent some time thinking about my fueling strategy during races.  When I first started running longer distances I was introduced to gels.  I never got on with the thick, gloopy gels but instead fueled my half marathons with Lucozade and Jelly Babies originally.  Once I upped my distance to the marathon I quickly realised just how sickly sweet the Lucozade drinks would become after a few hours and how there is nothing better than pure water to wash your mouth out after a sugar overload!  So I moved away from the super sickly sweet and started looking at more savoury items of food.  Eventually I came up with a nice mix of sweet and savoury, and although the list isn’t the healthiest, it’s what my body craves and runs well on.

Below is a picture of my kit list (and food!) for the Dusk ’til Dawn 50m ultra last year.
Kit for Dusk 'til Dawn 50mile ultramarathonThere are now just 21 days remaining until the Grim Reaper 70mile event on July 31st.  Last year I was running to complete the race.  I just wanted to tick off the 70m mark as a nice step towards completing my 100m (one day!) and focused purely on getting round the course within the time limit.  This year, I return…And this year I would like to beat my time.  Nutrition plays a massive part in performance and having tweaked mine over several events now I would like to say I have figured out what works for me.  I added the following foods to my MyFitnessPal account alongside a 21 hour running activity and these are the stats that popped back out at me.

Food: Sugar: Carbohydrates: Protein: Calories:
Orange (x7) 119g 168g 21g 630
Bag of sour cream and chive pretzels (x2) 13g 251g 32g 1480
Cocoa orange nakd bar (x7) 98g 112g 28g 1015
Carton of chocolate milk (x2) 69g 73g 22g 500
Vegetarian pizza 11g 80g 31g 578
Electrolyte nuun lemonade tablet (x7) 0g 21g 0g 49
Total: 310g 1015g 134g 4252
Suggested required amount (based on 21hr completion time): 521g 2045g 818g 13899
Difference: 210g 1339g 683g 9646

I did write a post about what I ate at Grim last year and to be honest, a lot of the foods I will be eating will be the same.  They worked last year, no reason for them not to work this time round.  I pretty much winged it last year, following a few trials of various foods on shorter ‘long’ runs leading up to the event.  Just three months earlier at the Conti run, I had still thought I would be fine getting round a 12 hour event on Jelly Babies and Lucozade!  I managed 44 miles, but it wasn’t an enjoyable affair towards the end of the race and I regrettably pulled early with another 90 minutes left on the clock.

I entered the food details into MyFitnessPal first of all, and when I then logged the amount of running time as 21 hours, the suggested required amount section changed, increasing the suggested amounts I would require to fuel me.

Nakd bars in a box

Firstly, I could never eat 13,899 calories in a day.  I’ve mentioned it in the past but I’ve heard of runners getting mouth ulcers from consuming so much food in such a short space of time!  I personally find I really struggle to eat much at all during and after running and really need strong flavours (sour cream and chive pretzels/oranges) or easy to consume items (chocolate milk) to get the calories back in so that I can convert calories to energy.  After Grim last year I felt quite weak for a while afterwards.  Just very energyless.  I slept for several hours when I first returned home and (after I’d been through every little detail of the race with Dan!) then I spent a little while eating pretzels and building up some energy to get my leg over the edge of the bath tub to take a shower!  We actually have a corner bath so I was able to sit on the side whilst I showered, as I am certain that I would not have been able to stand for the full length of time that I was in there.  I am almost certain that I will lose weight during the course of the event as I will be in a huge calorie deficit, but will try my best to continue eating larger amounts over the following days, in the hope that I will quickly regain any weight lost and can continue with my training.  Before I was a runner, calories were the only stat on an ingredients list that I would ever take any notice of and now, the only reason I choose to take notice of them is to ensure I am getting enough in.

My dentist wouldn’t be impressed with the amount of sugar I plan on taking on board, although I seem to be within the target set for someone completing that amount of exercise.  Although my choices aren’t the healthiest, I feel that on this one occasion, it is more important that I get the energy on board by the way my body can cope best with – this just happens to be via chocolate milk and nakd bars(!)

I shall be carb loading before the event, and also increase my protein in the days immediately following the race to help aid recovery.  I might add some meat to my pizza but as I don’t consume huge quantities of meat anyway, and as it is not something I ever find myself ‘craving’ I don’t want to overdo it on this occasion and spoil my race.

I have thought about what strain goes on my body not only for competing in a 70 mile event.  But also, what strain goes on my body for taking on board such huge quantities of food over such a short course of time.  It is such a large task, – there must be some.

Do you think fueling for long races affects the body?
What snacks/food do you use to fuel your longer workouts?