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?

Love for the Rio Olympics

I don’t know about everybody else but I have loved watching the Olympics over the past fortnight, and my mornings seem kind of empty now that I’m not refreshing the medal table on my phone as soon as I wake up.

Rio 2016

I missed the London 2012 Olympics – something I was rather gutted about.  Although I had great reason, – I took 20 year 11 students on a charity school trip to Malawi for a month that Summer.  The opening ceremony took place the day after we flew out so, without access to TV or the internet whilst over in Africa we missed the whole event.  I caught up with odd bits of the ceremony and highlights during the week after returning before school began again, but it wasn’t quite the same.

I’d applied for Olympic tickets months and months earlier, before agreeing to take on the Malawi trip at school, but like so many I was unsuccessful.  Is it just me, or did it seem to be that the same people got batches and batches of tickets for different events?!  A friend received multiple tickets for the Paralympic Dressage, so I was able to purchase a couple from her and my Mum and I headed down to watch that one day in the Autumn on my return from Africa.  I did also get a chance to see the Olympic torch being carried through Huntingdon early one Saturday morning, but that was as close as I got to the action for our home games.Dressage at the London 2012 Paralympics

This year, I was looking forward to catching a bit more of the action on TV.  When I was younger I would purely watch the equestrian events, not interested in any of the others.  This year I’ve found myself getting caught up in all of the sports, even those I’d never heard of before.  I don’t think I was the only person to not understand the omnium to start with!

I think Miranda Hart’s love letter to Team GB pretty much sums up how quite a lot of the country felt this year!

Of course, the equestrian events were still a big favourite of mine, although despite a gold in the dressage, we didn’t do as well as we have done in previous years, taking home two golds and one silver, with nothing from the eventing – a discipline we tend to do quite well at.  It was great to see Nick Skelton come home with an individual Showjumping gold though.  He’s been a big name on the scene since the days when I first started riding all those years ago.

Obviously athletics is something I’m interested in now as well since becoming a runner.  Frustratingly a lot of the shorter distance events were on at silly o’clock in the mornings, so I missed quite a lot of those – eagerly hunting down results the following day.  It is the longer distance events which appeal to me more though and I really enjoyed both Sundays when I could get lunch prepared and then just slob out in front of the iPad with marathon coverage showing in the background.  I had the best of intentions to get on with other things at the same time, but ended up getting too drawn in to both races – more so the men on the second week.

Firstly though, the course.  Paula (Radcliffe) and Brendan (Foster) both commented on how poorly the course was executed and I agree.  There seemed to be lots of little fiddly twists and turns and out and backs.  There also seemed to be issues with athletes collecting bottles from aid stations as they were all on one side of the road and very condensed.  It did make me appreciate just how well organised our London marathon is and how much thought and preparation must go in to preparing every single little detail beforehand.

It seemed like everything happened in the men’s race, starting with Callum Hawkins leading the front of the race for several miles from the get go.  Brendan constantly questioned Callum’s game plan in the commentary and seemed to get a fair few people riled up as a result.  As a side note though, how cool did Callum look with his cap on backwards?!  😉

Tsegai Tewelde (UK) dropped out with a foot injury and Meb Keflezighi (USA) looked uncomfortable the whole way round, before finally slipping just before the finish line and getting a few push-ups in!  (All part of the plan I’m sure!)  Fourth Olympics though, and at 41 years old.  Superstar!

Did you watch the Olympics this year?
Which events were your favourites?

GO TRI – Try a tri

Yesterday morning at 8am our club held a GO TRI event at Bannatyne’s Health Club in Wellingborough.  The idea was to give people that hadn’t experienced a triathlon before the chance to get to know a little more about the sport, practice having a go at each of the three disciplines and transitions without too much pressure or tiring them out over a long distance.

For the adult event competitors swam 200m followed by an 8km bike ride and then a 1.4km run before heading back through the finish gantry.  The children were split into different categories, but swam either 120m or 160m, followed by a 900m cycle for all, and then finished with either a 600m or 900m run dependent on age.

As I’d volunteered to help several weeks earlier, I was down to time with a team of three others and was given the job of timing the bike course.  All four of us grouped around the side doors to the swimming pool so that we could start our stopwatches at the same point before dispersing to our positions on the course which were all within 100 metres of the pool.

Go Tri timing sheet

I think I was more nervous about messing up the timing on the stopwatch than some of the entrants were at being in the event!

Stopwatch started and I ambled over to the ‘Bike Out’ section of the course.

Although the event was put on by our club, we were able to use a lot of the Go Beyond triathlon equipment, as Steve (the owner of Go Beyond) runs for WDAC.

WDAC Go Tri bike racks

Swimmers would head out from those doors at the front of the pool and along the red and white tape to the left, where the bike racks had been placed.  From there they needed to add their race number, get shoes on, hop on their bike and run past me over the line they had to cross before leaping on their bike for the cycle part of the course.  As they passed the flag I would note down the time on my clipboard sheet so that we would be able to relay to them once they had finished how long they had taken over each of the three disciplines and also how long they had spent in transition between each event.WDAC Go Tri Bike out flag

Because the swim was held across two of the lanes within the indoor pool, swimmers were set off two at a time (one in each lane) every 90 seconds which meant it gave me a chance to grab their numbers as they raced past me pushing their bikes.  One by one they all came rushing past, although it wasn’t long before the first of them were shooting back in from the other direction to rack their bikes back up and head out on the run.  I had to also jot down the time they passed me on their way back in too!

WDAC Go Tri start gantryOne of the other time keepers was noting the times that competitors went back out in their running shoes and overall times as runners headed off in the other direction under the start gantry for the final of the three parts, so this freed me up to cheer people coming over the line.

The event had just 19 adult entrants, which meant it was fairly easy to manage, and the last of the entrants was back across the line within 40 minutes, giving us enough time to set up for the junior event which was due to begin at 9am.Go Tri completed timing sheet

Because the direction the kids headed out on the bikes was different to the way they came back in, I was only able to record their bike out times and someone else caught them as they came back in again.  It was more confusing with the kids event though, as depending on their age, they ran a different number of laps around the leisure centre, which had been drilled into them before they set off!  (Mainly I think to help us when it came to timing…so we knew to record their time if they stopped when they came over the line!)  I’d slightly overestimated how long it would take the kids to finish, and they were all back within 8 minutes of starting!

Quick photo of the adult finishers with medals around their necks…

WDAC Go Tri finishersI had arranged to run with a friend after helping at the tri and had said I should be able to head back home again somewhere around 10:30am, but in actual fact we were done and all packed away before 9:30.  An efficient club, us!  😉

Although I’m not as clued up on triathlon rules as I am of the rules at pure running events, I always seem to learn something new each time I marshal at a tri and it makes me more enthusiastic about the sport.

Did you watch any of the Olympic triathlon at the weekend?
Does your club contain many triathletes?

The Welly 5 and a 999 call

Sunday was our club’s annual road race – the Wellingborough 5, or ‘Welly 5′ as it has become known to locals.

I was down for my usual job of marshaling at the top of the track leading into the Old Grammarian’s Sports ground car park heading to the start/finish line.  This time with Nic, another lady from my club.

{Previous Welly 5 marshaling recaps: 2013 * 2014 * 2015}

For 2016 we were no longer able to park runners in the large farmer’s field opposite the Old Grammarian’s (OGs) as they have started developing this site into an industrial estate.  It meant that all marshals and all runners would need to park in the OGs (much smaller!) car park instead and this required lots of organisation!  After the stress of being placed on car parking duty at the South Downs Way 100 a few weeks back, I was glad to see that my marshal position remained at the top of the track and that I wouldn’t need to be directing cars into spaces on the day, but instead merely pointing them in the direction of Colin, who would be indicating exactly where they were to park.

As we knew there would be limited car park spaces I headed down with Tom, who needed to head out with the van and lay the signs for the course out on the route in the morning.  Because it was still too early to direct runners into OGs when I first arrived, I helped set up signs and start lists inside with those who were on registration before heading out to my marshal point a little before 8:30am.  The race didn’t begin until 10:30.

Race numbers at the Wellingborough 5

Dan had decided a few days earlier that he would quite like to run the Welly 5.  Despite not having trained for it he has been going to the gym twice a week for the past month and regularly going to footy training for several months.  He managed to snag the last remaining place of the 300 on offer.

This year the t-shirts for runners were polyester technical tops.  If you haven’t yet tried a polyester technical top I suggest that you hunt one down immediately!  They are so light-weight and cool for Summer running.  I picked one up for marshaling at Pitsford Triathlon the other week and am hoping there are still a few Welly 5 tees going spare as well next time I’m at club.

Polyester technical tops at the Wellingborough 5The road that the OGs is located on is locally known as ‘The Mad Mile’.  It is one mile of straight road with nothing on it but the turn into OGs.  Cars really pick their speed up coming down this little country road and I was surprised at how fast-moving the traffic was even at 8:30am on a Sunday morning.  There is no way that we would be able to run the race if we were disallowed a road closure for the Mad Mile for the hour the race takes place.  At times it got a little hairy when runners were waiting to turn their cars in to the car park from both directions and other road users were trying to squeeze through the middle of cars turning in!

Miraculously the car park team did a great job of slotting in all of the cars and the race began on time once the road containing the start had been closed off.  I had been asked by our Race Director if I would take photos at the start and finish from my marshal position, as I had done in previous years, so I took my camera along to get a few shots of the runners setting out.

The start at the Wellingborough 5

Tom had been posted as tail runner so jogged along behind the final two ladies as they made their way past the car park track and then the 249 runners that had turned up for the race, the lead bike and Tom disappeared off into the distance.

It was perfect race weather – quite sunny yet still with a slight breeze.  Much nicer than last year when it tipped it down for the entire race!

We had a good 23 minutes or so before we would be able to see the front runners heading back round the corner in our direction and several other supporters from the club had gathered by this point with Nic and I.

It probably wasn’t much more than 10 minutes later when a car rushed down the track from the car park towards us at full speed.  Hazard lights were flashing and the horn was honking as the car approached us.  Despite us not supposed to let any cars out of the car park until the road reopened, we could do nothing but leap out of the way of the speeding car, which then sped off to the left past us.  It wasn’t until it passed that we realised that the guy sat behind the wheel was dressed in a St. John’s Ambulance uniform.
He was driving with too much urgency for it to be something as straight forward as a sprained ankle or broken leg.  I glanced up to see Colin running from his marshal spot over to us and immediately thought that something must have happened to one of our club members.  Colin though, hadn’t been aware that it was the guy from St. Johns, and had actually been running over to remind us not to let anyone out.

A further few minutes and the car came racing back down the road in the other direction – heading towards the way the runners would be coming towards us for the finish.  Not long after, he was followed by a paramedic vehicle and closely afterwards, a police car.  We were very worried over by the finish now, especially after having seen the police car speed by.

The front runner came past, and my job as photographer began.  So that I could begin photographing the runners I passed my phone to another club runner so that she was able to call the Race Director and tell him what little information we knew – that there had been an incident on the course.  He was already aware.
Lead runner at the Wellingborough 5The first guy (Mark Ryall of Milton Keynes AC) won by a huge margin.  He had been leading from the very beginning of the race.  There had been no chance of anyone catching up with him and beating his very impressive finish time of 26m 49s.  Second place belonged to one of our green vests that you can see way back in the distance of the above photo.

The end at the Wellingborough 5

As our finishing club runners started to filter back out to cheer where we were stood it became apparent that the majority were not aware that there had been an incident, and of those that were, knew no details.  We worriedly ran through names of our own who were still out on the course and mentally ticked them off as they came past one by one.  There was one obvious runner missing, but it wasn’t until Dan came to find me after crossing the line that we learned of any further information.  (Dan had a very consistent race and had finished in 49m 51s.)

The person that had suffered a cardiac and respiratory arrest had gone down before Dan had passed through and Dan was able to inform us that it was a male runner from Northampton Running Club.  Although instantly relieved that it wasn’t the one of our own we were still missing, we were still very anxious to know that all was OK, especially as an air ambulance now droned overhead in the direction of the course.

Team Balancise at the Wellingborough 5

Our lead bike had headed out to pick up the tail runners on delivering the front runner across the line.  He returned now, along with the back runners and informed us that the road had been closed off completely so no cars were to head in that direction.  Nic and I remained at our marshal post to ensure all cars turned left out of OGs rather than headed to the right where the incident had occurred and where the road was now closed.

A gentleman came over to me and said that he hadn’t seen his friend finish the race yet.  Had all the runners arrived back now?  Only he didn’t think that his friend was normally this slow.  I asked what club vest his friend wore as a way to sound out whether or not I needed to share what limited information I had been given so far.  I was told that his friend didn’t run for a club but he couldn’t remember what colour top he had been wearing that day.  Tactfully I was then able to say that there had been an incident on the course involving a male runner, and that it had been confirmed that the incident involved a club runner from one of our local running clubs who would have been wearing club colours.  By this point I had also been told that a few runners had stopped to help when the runner first went down, including our missing club runner so I shared this information as well.  I was told by the gentleman that his friend was a policeman and he was sure that he would have stopped to help if he could.  He thanked me and left to make a phone call.

A few minutes later a marshal car came past and they could confirm that amongst those who remained helping on the course were a nurse and a policeman, so I headed over to reassure the man where his friend was.

It wasn’t until 20 minutes or so later that I saw Tom walking back towards us with another runner who was walking alongside him.  This chap was the policeman who had stopped to help.

The Northampton runner had collapsed very early into the race.  Tom was first to reach him and was able to call for help.  So many members of our club and runners out on the course were quick to think and react with everybody jumping into roles such as slowing traffic, performing CPR, reassuring the man’s wife who had also been out on the course, calming other runners and giving instructions to the ambulance crew.  They ended up performing CPR for half an hour before the Northampton Road Runner (also called Tom) was airlifted to the local cardiac unit.

Although things didn’t sound too good to begin with, we received an email from his wife on Monday afternoon and it appears that things have now started to improve.  She was able to tell us that he woke from the induced coma himself, recognised his family and when given a pen and paper managed to ask what time he had clocked for the race!  Apparently he was rather upset that he had DNFd!  Although still in intensive care and not yet ‘out of the woods’ everyone is remaining positive.

Hopefully it looks as though Tom will make a good recovery, but it made several of us think about ensuring our first aid qualifications were kept up to date and highlighted the importance of carrying a mobile phone at all times on a run.

Are you first aid qualified?
Do you take your phone out with you when you run?