Ugh, a new PB and cake

dsfI’m pretty sure that the three of us came away with food poisoning last weekend. We’d taken Oscar out to a large indoor play area on Sunday afternoon. He was having so much fun, and we were having so much fun watching him enjoy himself that we completely didn’t realise how quickly the afternoon had flown by until Oscar started to whine that he was hungry, and we realised restaurant feeding options were minimal in the area.
It was a quick trip to the nearest one we could find, where Oscar sleepily, but thoroughly enjoyed chicken skewers with sweet potato fries and corn on the cob. Dan also went for chicken, and I demolished a mushroom burger.
Oscar with cornBecause Oscar was so tired he left quite a bit of his meal, which is unheard of for him, so we got it boxed up to take home for his lunch the following day.

The next morning, Dan groggily appeared downstairs for breakfast. By that point Oscar had already been through two nappies, and was about to fill his third. Dan managed to force some cereal down but Oscar just moved his breakfast around his tray looking rather sorry for himself.
Fast forward to lunch and, having not yet sussed out the link between the meal from the previous night and our poorly household, I pulled out the remainder of Oscar’s meal for him to have for lunch. When he once again, did not seem too fussed about eating any of it, I placed it onto my plate instead. Sweet potato fries are my favourite!

Ugh.

They are not my favourite any more. And neither is chicken.  :(

I spent the start of last week feeling rough, with a painful crampy stomach and zero energy. I sensibly decided to take a few days off from running until I fully recovered.  It was frustrating not getting out to run during the first week of the Summer holidays, but I knew that there was a good chance that I wouldn’t be able to hit any of my training paces, and would feel rubbish for attempting to do so in the first place.

The Thursday before had been our club’s annual Pre-Welly 5 BBQ run.  Always held 10 days before our club 5 mile road race, the idea is to check over the course, practice our marshaling and to give everybody a chance to run the event who might not be able to on the day if they were marshaling instead.

After a couple of rubbish BBQ runs in previous years I had a great run last year and set a new 5 mile PB of 45:55.  Although it’s not an official race – but instead more of a social event for our club, it is run on the race route, so I’m counting it as a PB!

Having run really strongly since starting my training using the Hanson’s Marathon Method, and having already achieved PBs in 6 mile and 10k events over recent weeks, I was hoping for another PB this year.

It didn’t start well when I arrived feeling knackered and hungry though.  I instantly had doubts for the run and began to talk myself out of it.

When we first set off I looked around and instantly felt like I had placed myself way too far forward, with runners usually much faster than me.  But my heart rate monitor told me that I could run faster, so I carried on.

Pre Welly 5 BBQ run

I chatted to a couple of people early on in the first mile.  Again, projecting my doubts about a decent time to them.  Kev came alongside me and commented on how well I had been running just lately.  I told him that I was hoping for a good time again that day – perhaps something around 9 minute mile pace.  I could see him trying to work out the math!  We spent several minutes talking before he nipped into a bush following the pre-run pint of Guinness he’d enjoyed in the bar before setting off!

I had sat behind the same people for the whole run until we hit the slight hill at mile 3.5.  Here, still feeling strong, I managed to gradually pull past other runners one by one.  I probably wouldn’t have been able to hold a full on conversation any more, and this ended up being my slowest mile at 9:07.  (So happy that I can say a mile at this pace was my slowest mile now!)

In fact, I ran really consistently for the whole run.  My mile splits were 9:01, 9:06, 8:49, 9:07, 8:50 and then 7:20mm pace for the final 0.09 recorded on my Garmin.

I overtook a couple more runners who I never would have been able to overtake normally in the final mile and then opened up my stride to power through to the finish.  As I headed towards the finish line I struggled to remember my exact PB time, but knew I was in with a shot of hitting it, and so commented to the Group 4 running coach as I came alongside him, who then insisted we run through the finish holding hands.

Pre Welly 5 finish line pic

Watch stopped, 45:33.  A full 24 seconds faster than my previous best!

Despite not really looking it in this pic, I was completely comfortable and was barely breathing heavily at all, able to chat and laugh with other runners whilst heading down the finishing chute.  I guess this picture must have been taken literally as I pulled back from a run to a walk.  You can see the official finish line drawn on the floor just behind me.

Although initially disappointed that I didn’t come very close to 45 minutes, having set myself a rough target of 9 minute miling, I soon cheered up when I checked my watch to discover that with the slight over-distance run I had actually ran an average of 8:57 minute miling!  Hanson’s is definitely doing me some good!

For the first time since the BBQ run has been taking place, we didn’t actually have any BBQs.  Instead, a pizza van.  So I waited in line for my turn to demolish a hot, veggie pizza and sit nursing a drink at the bar.  Very satisfying mid-week and with just one day left of the school term.

So that was last week – poorly sick following a good 5 mile race.  This weekend was a little different again.

I started off this weekend by running Kettering parkrun with Laura whilst pushing Oscar in the buggy.

Kettering parkrun start(Picture taken as a still from a video which was shared with the Kettering Facebook page)

This was parkrun #87 for me and I completed it in 34:25.  I should really count the amount of parkruns Oscar has been to.  He must be coming up to 20 now?
{Position: 196/255 Gender position: 67/108 Age category position: 10/12 }

Kettering parkrun midrun

(Picture taken as a still from a video which was shared with the Kettering Facebook page)

Having come right from the very back of the run and Kettering being a very difficult course to overtake with a buggy, I’m fine with that.  Oscar stayed wide awake for the whole run, gripping onto his Sophie giraffe toy.  Good job, because I didn’t really want to have to keep stopping to pick her up along the way!

I’m hoping that at some point during August I will be able to run a parkrun hard and see what time I am currently capable of.  It’s been a while since I raced a parkrun and I’d like to think I’m a little quicker now.

In the afternoon I headed over to The Garden Deli with Laura and Steph for cake and a catch up.  The cake there is a good.  I went for this lemon and ginger sponge.  I don’t even really like lemon flavoured things.  I can’t stand it when bartenders add a lemon slice in your drink when you go out, but this looked too good not to try.

Lemon and ginger sponge cake

The drinks are also amazing!  I went for a strawberry and vanilla fruit crush and was not disappointed!

Strawberry and vanilla fruit crush

Then yesterday was the actual Wellingborough 5 race.

For the last few years my role at the race has been to direct cars down the driveway and onto the car park before the race begins.  I then take photos of the runners along the first 100 metres of the race, again in the final 200m as well as ensure runners turn safely into the final section along the field at the very end of the race.  There were a couple of other marshals with me at the end this year, which meant that I could take pictures without worrying about where runners were headed.

I love taking photos of the event.

Last year a runner suffered a cardiac arrest during the race and was air lifted to hospital, so it was a sigh of relief when all runners were back safe and sound this year.  The club invited Tom, the runner who had been hospitalised following the race last year to our BBQ run the other week, and he finished at a run/walk along with his wife and one of our members who happened to be a doctor who had stopped and helped him on the day.  He finally got the chance to finish the race route!

Wellingborough 5 trophies

This year I also took pictures of all of the prize winners.  Prize giving always seems to go on for ages.  I couldn’t even dream of ever being good enough to receive a prize at a race.

Welly 5 winnersHow did you spend your weekend?

The final races of the EMGP and a new PB

So, I wrote a post a little while back about entering the East Midlands Grand Prix weeknight series of races which took place during the final half term of school (very inconveniently timed with my return to work!)  There are eight races in total.  I wrote about the Silverstone 10k, Blisworth 5m and the Rugby 6m (PB) in my first post about the series.  I’ll jot down some notes about the second half of the series below.

I wish I’d had a chance to blog about the events sooner though, as I always find it hard to go back and write about a race later on, especially if I race several events in quite quick succession.  I’ll do my best to remember as much as I can about each race, but if you want the events summed up in a few bullet points, see below.

* There were eight races, of which I ran six.

* I PBd twice during the series (at 6 miles and 10k).

* I nearly missed the start of every event bar one due to traffic/leaving late/getting lost.

* Once my watch died before the beginning and once I forgot my heart rate monitor.

Those four bullet points pretty much sum up my last six races!  But if you are after a little more detail, then read on…

Corby 5m

What sort of sadistic Race Director starts a 5 mile road race on a steep hill, and then finishes the race on that same hill too?

The Race Director at the Corby 5 race, that’s who!

If a race starts with a steep uphill, you can usually fairly safely assume that you will be finishing on a downhill, in order to get back to the same spot.  However, the Corby 5 runs up a steep uphill at the start, then has a nice, fairly flat/slight downhill couple of miles, before throwing in a couple of hills and ends by running back up that same steep hill that featured at the start of the race before running through into the car park and across to the finish.

I had only run the race once before – in 2012 before I began blogging – but I still remembered those hills!

Nevertheless I planned on giving it my best shot.  There is a nice downhill section into the village in mile 2, and I took advantage of this, knowing that my legs wouldn’t enjoy the steep climb back up to the finish for the final quarter of a mile!

Corby 5m

Towards the end of mile 4 I hit a hill and couldn’t maintain my heart rate, so decided to walk a short portion of the race.  I chatted to another runner as I broke back into a run again.  The other runner hadn’t run the event before so was quizzing me on whether there were any more hills.  I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but that final hill is tough so close to the end!

As always, my club was super supportive and were all there crowded around the finish cheering everybody in.  It’s much easier to produce a finishing kick when you have everybody in front of you screaming your name!

Official time: 48:14
Garmin time: 48:13
Position: 319/360
Gender position: 96/129
Category position: 24/33

More than a minute faster than when I had run it back in 2012.

Banbury 5m

The Banbury 5m event fell the day after I returned to work full time (I had been in for odd days only before the half term holiday).  Oscar had started full time at nursery the day before and, unsure yet of what time I needed to get up each morning to ensure that I was round and ready to leave Oscar in a state suitable for nursery and me fed, showered, and looking presentable with food for the day meant that I was getting up at 4:15am.  Two days in – by the Tuesday evening – I was already absolutely exhausted from lack of sleep.  Oscar gets up once during the night, and I had been going to bed late to try and get my work complete before morning.  It left me without much sleep and within minutes of arriving home from work on Tuesday I announced to Dan that I would not be driving the 55 miles to Banbury (the furthest distance to travel of all the races) and promptly fell asleep on the sofa, where Dan woke me several hours later!

Harborough 5m

This was a new-to-me event, as both times I’ve raced the series in the past I believe it has fallen on parent’s evening.

For some reason Oscar was super tired when I collected him from nursery.  He whinged and whined every time I tried to put him down so that I could get changed or go to the toilet.  Dan arrived home from work at about 6:20pm and I madly dashed around trying to collect everything I needed for the race and get out of the door.

Unhelpfully, as well as leaving late, one of the roads the satnav sent me down to get to the race start was shut and the satnav wasn’t picking up any alternatives, with the diversion signs being no help whatsoever.  I am so reliant on the satnav when it comes to getting anywhere, so I rang Dan and got him to quickly talk me through what alternative route I needed to take.  Luckily, as navigationally-challenged as I am, Dan is the opposite, so he managed to get me to the car park for the race with three minutes to spare.  I dashed out of the car desperate for the toilet, pinning my race number on as I ran over to the mob of green vests I could see by the start.  Somebody called out to welcome me and I screeched back “Where are the loos?!” before rushing in the direction I was pointed towards!  What a welcome Mary!

Quickest wee in the world (only possible because so many people abandoned the line fearing they were going to miss the race) and I managed to make it to the back of the pack just in time to hear the starting shout.

Not so lucky when it came to my watch though.  I had switched it on to find signal as I arrived, only to see this screen…

Harborough 5 Garmin time…it never even made the start line.  :(

The aim for the race had been to run to heart rate (170bpm) but now I would have to go entirely on feel alone, something which I still haven’t been able to judge very accurately since returning from pregnancy.

In actual fact, I think the first three miles of the race were run at parkrun PB pace (8:35mm ish).  It resulted in a really bad stitch, meaning I had to break into a walk, and then even slow that walk down for perhaps quarter of a mile!  That fourth mile would definitely have been nothing to shout about so perhaps it’s a good thing I don’t have any Garmin evidence of it!  My last mile was strong though.  There was a fairly long, drawn-out gradual hill in the final section, and playing it sensible, I was able to pass several of the runners who had zoomed past me during my feeling-sorry-for-myself walk.  I haven’t had a stitch in years, and it was so, so very painful!

Both the start and the finish of the race were a lap around the grassy field – always difficult to remain strong when your legs are tired, you go from road to thick, long grass and you have everybody watching, but somehow I managed to overtake three runners during the lap to finish in 47m 32s.

Position: 280/312
Gender position: 84/107
Category position: 16/21

Weedon 10k

The one and only event where I made it with plenty of time to spare!  Although as I stood waiting to go, somebody asked if I needed to collect my number, as I wasn’t wearing it!  Quick jog back to my car to find it required!

I hadn’t been able to find my heart rate monitor anywhere in the mad rush before leaving the house.  I normally hang it over the bed post at the bottom of the bed, and when I arrived home that evening I discovered that it had fallen off and gotten tucked under the bottom of the bed annoyingly.  I threw my old heart rate monitor in to my kit bag in a hopeful attempt to be able to have some sort of data to base my pace on, but it is my old heart rate monitor for a reason, and it refused to pick up on my Garmin at all, so I ended up offloading it to another club runner’s husband at the start instead of running with it and annoying me the whole way round.

It was another hot day and it wasn’t until we were stood on the start line receiving the race briefing that the Race Director told us all there would be no water station on the course, as there had been a few marshaling problems.  It didn’t really affect me, as I wouldn’t take any water on for less than 10 miles anyway, but there were a few restless runners around me despairing and wishing they had brought water with them for the race.

Weedon is a race known for it’s tough hills, with a large hill at both 2 miles and 4.5 miles.

Weedon 10k hillsThe first hill always seems short and sharp, and there are people stood at the top cheering, so it’s hard to slow down too much as you have an audience!  I find the second one tougher mentally though – perhaps because it’s getting towards the end of the race by that point.

Weedon 10k(Photo by Barry Cornelius)

A few of the runners around me seemed to struggle a lot with the hills, and one guy asked me after the first hill if there were any more hills on the race.  I told him there was another tough one, although I couldn’t remember if it was at mile 4 or mile 4.5 at that point.  Two marshals stood up by the water tower were also asked by a nearby runner if there were any more hills, to which they responded “See the water tower?  That’s the highest point on the course!”  Although the top of the tower might have been fairly high, we didn’t run up there, and there was still a pretty tough hill to come!

Weedon 10k(Photo by Barry Cornelius)

The end of the race is all downhill though, and once you hit the downhill it’s easy running until the last 200 metres, which head up a steep hill towards the finish funnel.

Weedon 10k

Poor form in this downhill shot though…

Weedon 10k 3

…but clearly I perfected my spot-the-race-photographer smile during this race!Weedon 10k

Official time: 61:22
Garmin time: 61:20
Position: 290/324
Gender position: 73/97
Category position: 18/24

My initial plan had been to run to heart rate (170bpm) but unable to do that I was then happy on a hilly course, on a hot day to come away with a sub 10mm pace time, which I achieved.  It was also a time more than 3 minutes faster than the previous time I had run the event back in 2014.

Weedon 10k 2014 recap

Milton Keynes 10k

This was a stepping stone ‘target’ race for me.  Milton Keynes 10k was where I had achieved my previous 10k PB (58:27) and where I knew I had the best shot of improving my 10k time this year.  The course is fairly flat (if you don’t count the numerous redways) and is not overly crowded with a fast, flat, open finish.  I knew that I was in with a shot of coming away with a PB if I ran a smart race and didn’t get carried away at the start.

It was back to my usual problem of getting there on time though.

Leaving late, combined with a bad road traffic accident on the way meant that once again I arrived with just minutes to spare(!)  The start line is a short walk from the race HQ, and I arrived with just enough time to nip into an empty loo as I passed and tag along with a group from my club who were then walking over to the start.  One of the runners hoping to get under an hour asked me what time I was aiming for and I admitted that I was hoping to PB, but that my current time was 58 minutes.  I got the impression that they planned on staying with me, and I secretly hoped nobody would try chatting to me during the run – I wanted to focus and run strong!  I started chatting to one of the club’s membership secretaries and all of a sudden everyone started running forwards.  The race had begun, without our knowledge and so we hurriedly pressed buttons on Garmins and leapt into action.

Like several of the races, the start line is on a field, and so a wide path of runners set out, before narrowing as we came out onto the road.

I counted steps and also kept checking the numbers flashing up on my Garmin, trying my hardest to ensure they stayed between 165-170bpm.  I was struggling to run fast enough to bring my heart rate up to 170bpm, so decided to aim for 165, and reassess at the halfway point if needs be.

Mile 1: 8:45 – 146bpm
Mile 2:
8:51 – 168bpm
Mile 3:
9:08 – 167bpm

Milton Keynes 10k

(Photo by Barry Cornelius)

I was still feeling strong.  I passed a few runners from my running club who have finished other races in the series ahead of me.  I knew I was on target for a good race, and really did not want to spoil it.  My head kept trying to work out the sums over and over, but I can never work out timing math when I’m trying to run!  At least it kept my mind busy!

At mile 4 a bus drove past quickly through a deep puddle and soaked me and another lady that was running alongside me.

Milton Keynes 10k

(Photo by Barry Cornelius)

Mile 4: 9:20 – 168bpm
Mile 5:
9:06 – 164bpm
Mile 6:
9:12 – 165bpm

As my watch ticked over to 6 miles, I pulled alongside Margaret and puffed out that I was heading towards a new PB, as way of explaining why I was overtaking a runner from the same club.  She pushed the pace up a notch to challenge me further and I managed to keep with her, pushing past just before hitting the final field and managing to finish six seconds in front of her.

Milton Keynes 10k

Nubbin (0.27m): 8:11mm pace – 170bpm

I was obviously super happy and crossed the finish line beaming!  It was several minutes before the crowd I normally finish with began to trickle over the line.  I had PBd by nearly two minutes!

Official time: 56:40
Garmin time: 56:36
Position: 394/456
Gender position: 96/136
Category position: 28/35

My watch shows that I ran an average of 9:01mm pacing over the whole distance, so the obvious challenge to set myself for MK10k next year in 2018 will be to get the pace down to something starting with an 8:xx!

A great way to finish the series!

MK 10k 2014 recap
MK 10k 2015 recap

Overall standings:

11th senior lady (out of 16) with 105 points.

To score, runners must take part in at least 5 events out of the eight.  You are given scores relating to your age category for each race.  So, the first Senior lady is given one point, the next two points, and so on.  At the end of the series, each runner’s lowest five scores count and the lower your total score, the better.  (The winner of the series actually only scored 5 points, as they won all races they entered within their age category.)

EMGP resultsBecause I ran six events, my highest score (Silverstone) was disregarded when working out my total.

When was the last time you PBd?  Was it by much?
What is your favourite race distance?
Have you ever missed the start of a race before?

Weeks 3 and 4 of the Hanson’s Marathon Method

Last week was my fourth week following the Hanson’s Marathon Method* training plan.  Although I’m trying to slot in my runs as best as possible I haven’t stuck strictly to the plan, tweaking it in a few places from time to time as required.  My return to work with a young baby and house improvements still to be made has meant that these first few weeks of the plan needed to be fairly flexible to fit around my schedule.  Once school finishes for me at the end of July then training should become a little easier to slot in though.  (Hopefully!)

The main structure of my training week comes from the book, and I try to follow all advice given from within the pages, with all my paces based on a 4h 15m marathon finish time.  (I am aiming for a sub 4h 30m marathon in October.)

Week 3 planned: (5 runs)
Monday – Off (extra rest day as racing the following day)
Tuesday – Weedon 10k (run to heart rate – 170bpm)
Wednesday – 6m trail run with friends
Thursday – 6x 800m with 400m recovery
Friday – Off
Saturday – 3m easy, followed by parkrun (10:50-11:40mm)
Sunday – 8m easy (10:50-11:40mm)

Week 3 actual: (3 runs)
Monday – Off
Tuesday – Weedon 10k
I accidentally picked up my old heart rate monitor as I madly rushed out of the door.  Old, as in it no longer sends my heart rate data to my watch and so, despite planning to run to heart rate for the race I ended up needing to run on feel once again.  Weedon 10k is a ridiculously hilly course, with two particularly big hills at miles 2.5 and 4.5.  Luckily the race finishes with a long downhill, but the first proper hill of the event really took it out of me for the rest of the run!
Total time: 61:22, which I was happy with on such a hilly course!

Weedon 10k(Photo by Barry Cornelius of Oxon Races.)

Wednesday – 6.19m trail run (12:43mm)
Pace includes all stops and stile climbs!
Thursday – Off
I just did not have the energy or drive to get out for speedwork on Thursday evening.  I replaced speedwork with a two hour nap once Dan returned home from work.  That nap did me wonders.
Friday – Off
Saturday – 2.07m easy (10:45mm), followed by parkrun (28m 53s), then 0.69m easy (10:59mm)
I headed to Huntingdon parkrun on the Saturday, slotted in a warmup and then a cooldown to try and get in some extra miles.
I really want to continue attending parkrun throughout marathon training, but I really struggle to keep the pace consistently easy at parkrun at the moment unless I have somebody to chat to.  I feel like I am constantly battling with myself to not end up racing against previous times I’ve run.  This week I ran parkrun at 9:10mm pace, which is way too fast for my prescribed easy pace of 10:50-11:40mm, and definitely wouldn’t have done my legs any favours.
Sunday – Off
On Sunday I headed to Norfolk for the day with Dan and Oscar to see my parents.  We ended up setting off from Norfolk to return home again a little later than originally planned.  That, combined with a diversion on the way home meant that we didn’t arrive back in Northamptonshire until fairly late, with washing still to be washed and bags still to be packed for the following day.  I felt like I’d already had a fairly rubbish week of training, and so skipped the workout.  (Which I obviously immediately regretted as soon as I got into bed.)
Next week is another week…

Week 4 planned: (5 runs)
Monday – Off (extra rest day as targeting a race the following day)
Tuesday – Milton Keynes 10k (run to heart rate – 165bpm)
Wednesday – 7m trail run with friends
Thursday – 5x 1k with 400m recovery
Friday – Off
Saturday – 3m easy, followed by parkrun (10:50-11:40mm)
Sunday – 12m long (10:29mm)

Week 4 actual: (5 runs)
Monday – 5.19m (11:24mm)
Tuesday – Milton Keynes 10k (run to heart rate – 163bpm average)
PB, PB, PB!!!  I didn’t want to all out announce it beforehand, but I was fairly confident that I would be capable of PBing at Milton Keynes on the Tuesday night.  All the recent extra runs I’ve been fitting in and base building at slower paces has seen my running improve.  My running was set at 8:xx pace for quite a lot of the time that I stuck to my 165bpm goal.  I would never have believed how easy 8:30-9mm pace could feel over a 10k distance this time last year!  My previous 10k PB had also been set at Milton Keynes 10k, two years earlier.  That time I had PBd by 8 seconds, and was ecstatic on the night.  So – imagine my beaming smile last Tuesday evening when I crossed the line in 56m 40s – giving me a PB of nearly two minutes!

MK 10k with Margaret Wednesday – 6.93m trail run (11:48mm)
Thursday – Off
I start off with such good intentions at the beginning of the week, but by the time Thursday rolls round often all I want to do is curl up on the couch and sleep.  This Thursday involved housework until 11pm though.  Boo. :(
Friday – Off
Saturday – Off – we headed to Dan’s parents in Wolverhampton on the Saturday and so it ended up being a rush in the morning to get round in time.  Dan had left his car in Northampton following a work night out on the Friday, so I had to load Oscar up and drop Dan off to pick his car back up again before we headed to the Midlands.  Had Northampton parkrun been on in the morning, all would be fine and I could have slotted my run in, but as it was, the Racecourse where Northampton parkrun is held was being used for something else, so no run was had. :(
Sunday – 5.86m with Oscar in the buggy (12:46mm) AM, 8.05m (11:02mm) PM
The AM run was a substitute for missing the Saturday run, and the PM run was a shortened version of Sunday’s run.  Although annoyingly, heading out in a rush I didn’t check my training plan properly and missed that it was supposed to be run as a ‘long run’ rather than an ‘easy run’, and I should have run at a pace 30 seconds quicker per mile than I did.  Never mind, – can’t win them all!

How was it this sunny already at 7:30am on my run this morning?! #buggyrunning #stanwicklakes #10k

A post shared by Mary (@ahealthiermoo) on

So weeks 3 and 4 complete now.  My biggest challenge is keeping the momentum going by a Thursday evening, especially as that is a speedwork night and one that I should not really be missing.  I have been racing for the past few weeks though which luckily does keep my legs ticking over, but the East Midlands Grand Prix series has finished now, with Milton Keynes being the last race of the series, so I am on my own again!

My second biggest challenge is keeping the pace slow and steady at parkruns.  It is so, so easy to get carried away and drawn along by everybody else at parkrun.  I can easily zone out and happily run my easy runs at 10:50-11:40mm on my own back at home, but when there are people around, it instantly becomes so much more difficult to do and I end up running too hard on what should be an easy run day.  I plan on getting some parkrun tourism in over the Summer and hopefully I will feel less pressured to run hard on unknown courses with people around who I do not know.

My easy runs are definitely paying off, and are absolutely not ‘junk miles’ as proven by this week’s PB!  Whenever I think about how much effort it is to get out late at night (when my runs so often are nowadays – seriously, if you follow me on Strava you will see that the majority of my runs are 9-10pm!) I look at how much my running has improved and how much easier it is to hit faster paces than it initially was and it gives me that extra little bit of incentive to get out there.

Do you find it difficult to run ‘easy’ runs as slowly as prescribed?
What time of day do you tend to head out for a run?

Plans for 2017

Happy New Year! I hope everyone had a lovely weekend and enjoyed time off with family and friends.

I love the Christmas holidays. It always feels like the first week is a mad rush with the lead up to Christmas, with the second week then nice and relaxed; catching up with friends, lots of trail runs and playing with all the gifts we got for Christmas.

2017 running calendar

With a new year always comes new resolutions.  The madness of Christmas helps to instil a desire to get back into regular eating, healthy living and an organised way of life.

Several of the goals I set myself for 2016 were unachievable due to my pregnancy:

  • Fit in some double days of running

  • Slot in a midweek long run as well as a weekend long run each week

  • Run a marathon distance at least every 4-6 weeks

  • Get started with some regular core work

When I discovered I was pregnant at the start of the year I knew I needed to be sensible if I wanted to be able to continue running throughout and so scaled back my running distance wise and speed wise.  Core work was out of the question.

  • Continue to run parkrun as often as possible

Finally, a goal I could, and did achieve. I ran 26 parkruns throughout 2016. They started out as tempo runs at the beginning of the year and became chatty social runs towards the end as Oscar grew bigger and bigger in my belly.  I got in lots of parkrun tourism and finished the year having run eleven different events in total.

I also set some non-running related goals for 2016:

  • Purchase a second house

  • Get into a more regular posting schedule on the blog

  • Meal plan every week during term time

  • Stay on top of housework

Again, some of these were affected by the pregnancy.  (They really weren’t joking when they said having a baby changes your life forever!)

  • Rather than purchase a second house we put all our money in the pot so that we were able to improve the one we had bought the year before, ready for when Oscar arrived. (Or not ready, as the case may be!)  As I type there are currently two plasterers upstairs in the bedroom boarding our ceilings.  Dan and my Dad also fitted a new kitchen and bathroom for us this year.New kitchen(Still requiring a paint job, new light fittings and plinths, but it’s definitely getting there now!)  Buying a second property is still on my wish list, but it will just take a little longer to save up for now.
  • The early days of pregnancy left me feeling so tired that I wasn’t able to do anything but head straight for bed after work in the evenings, leaving my blog posts few and far between.  By the Summer I managed to post much more frequently again, but since Oscar’s arrival it’s been hard to find the time to sit down and spew out blog posts like I once did.  I’m such a perfectionist that it often takes me a couple of hours per blog post, and I like to write them in one go, uninterrupted.  Something which nobody seems to have told my child yet!  I want to get back to blogging regularly again, and I’ve sooo missed having the time to read blogs of friends these past few months.  It’s something I’d like to schedule in to the week so that I definitely make time for it again this year.
  • Meal planning was much better this year and I was chuffed that I’d managed to prepare for the early baby days by holding a couple of batch cooking days at the end of the Summer.
  • I have been so much better with the housework.  Now that I’m off on maternity leave it’s much easier to keep on top of, but even before that I didn’t do too badly at making sure the house was usually in a fairly respectable state if anybody dropped by (despite living in what seems like a permanent state of unfinishedness!)

I have high hopes for 2017.

Now that I’m no longer pregnant and *touch wood* currently not injured, I am back on the running bandwagon.  (Obviously!)  The long term goal is still to run a 100 mile race, although the SDW100 is no longer on the cards for June.  (Probably a little too soon!)  I shall see how my return to running goes over the next few months before committing to a 100 miler though.  I haven’t set any ‘time’ goals as such for this year as again, I need to assess how my return goes first of all.  Seven weeks back though and I’m feeling strong and happy.  As long as I remain sensible and build the mileage slowly, I’m hoping I shouldn’t have too many problems.
Running goals for 2017 as follows:

  • Achieve 100 parkruns and order my black parkrun t-shirt

    I’m currently sat at 67 parkruns, (that’s including having run two on New Year’s Day) so would have to run 33 this year.  A number I definitely think I am capable of.  I ran 24 parkruns in 2015 and 26 in 2016, hitting the 50 parkruns milestone back in April.  I just love the parkrun concept and how it is suitable for everyone, no matter their experience or training aim.My 50th parkrun top

  • Increase my parkrun tourism to twenty different courses

    I WILL get on this leaderboard in 2017!

  • Take my weekly mileage back up to at least 50 miles on average each week

    I know high mileage isn’t for everyone, but I find that I run better on more miles.  Most of my miles tend to be off-road and I feel stronger all round the more time I spend on the trails.  Win-win! 😉

  • Complete at least five more events of marathon distance and above

    One of my long term goals is to become a member of the 100 marathon club.  Between 2013-2015 I ran 10 marathons and 6 ultras from 35m-70m in distance.  I didn’t add any to my total during 2016.  There’s still quite a way to go before I reach the 100 marathon total!  At the moment I only have two events booked in.  The Pembrokeshire marathon in April, and the South Downs Way 50m during the same month.  I will leave it to see how I cope with those before booking anything else in for the Summer.

  • PB at the 5k distance

    Not technically a ‘time’ goal as I haven’t set a time(!)  My current 5k PB is 26:37, set at Northampton parkrun back in the Summer of 2015.  I know I am capable of beating this and plan on doing my very best to get there!

From a non-running perspective there are a few other changes I would like to see this year:

  • Take more pictures with my DSLR

    The quality of pictures taken on my big camera is so much better than those taken on my phone, but it often ends up being a laziness thing.  My phone is usually within reach and doesn’t require setting up before each shot.  The phone may capture the moment but it does so in a much less attractive way.

  • Find an easier way of living

    My life has always been hectic.  I’ve always jumped at every possible opportunity and said yes to anyone who has asked for a favour.  It leads to me frequently feeling worn out, exhausted, stressed and teary.  Looking back across my blog posts from the past few years I can see the points each month where things had built up and gotten too much.  Before Oscar I was getting up at 3-4am some mornings and staying up until gone midnight to make sure that I got all of my work done.  I love teaching, I love my school and I love my job, but I also love running, I love blogging and I love my family.  At the moment I’m not sure how I’m going to fit all of these things in alongside teaching when I return from maternity leave in May.  Dan was recently offered a new job much, much closer to home which, whilst fantastic in the long run, has meant that he will not be able to work from home for the 6 weeks between the May half term and July end of year that I initially return to work before the Summer holidays begin, so we now need to look at childcare arrangements for those weeks.  I won’t be able (or want) to leave Oscar in childcare between 6:30am-6pm, so will have to get into school late for those weeks and leave early, working through the night to keep up with my workload.  It’s not ideal, but I’m yet to work out a way round it.

  • Make more time for my family

    This kind of ties in with the point above.  It’s taken the first few months with Oscar to get into any kind of routine.  In the early days Dan would arrive home from work and I’d hand over the baby so that I may sleep, only to be handed him back when I woke again so that Dan may have a break!  I feel like we know Oscar so much better now but we need to make time and plan our time out as a family of three and also time that Dan and I can spend together without Oscar.

What do you plan on achieving or working towards in 2017?