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Entries in race (4)


Quietly clanking

Another post about a thing I've finished and hadn't got to blogging. 

Both Clarkie and I have accumulated a whole lot of medals from various running races. I used to hang mine on the door to my study back in Brighton, and they clanked like hell when the door got shut but it didn't matter, because if we had guests I wasn't using the study. When we moved, I switched them to a set of hangers on the side of a big bookcase, and no more clanking. 

Then Clarkie decided she wanted to hang hers too. The only place, really, was on the back of the guest bedroom door - cue the return of the clank. This time though, it is a problem when we have guests. Particularly if the guests (say) want to use the bathroom in the night. So, I had to fix it. 

Medal backing

It's a pretty simple fix. I made a very small quilt, from a single piece of material and some left over blanket. It sits behind the medals and dulls the noise they make when they hit the door as it stops moving. 

The material is patterned with bunting, which seemed appropriate. I quilted it along the lines of the bunting on the pattern. 

Medal backing

The curves were an interesting challenge! 

To hang it, I sewed a couple of tabs to make use of the same hooks that the medals are hung from. 

Medal backing

I took the medal off that hook to take the photo, the hook is still usable. The weight of the hooks and the stiffness of the quilt holds it flat to the door, and the noise when you open and shut the door is now gone. 

Guess we need to invite some people to stay to test it properly! 


Running all over

Having posted that I was back on the run and loving it, I had a couple more weeks of enjoying it before I got struck down by my first cold of Winter. I had a lovely run with Clarkie in Worcester first - we did the Worcester City 10k together, running on behalf of the Worcester Association of Carers, the charity that our friend Carole works for. Clarkie was desperate to run a sub-1 hour 10k for the first time, and I thought I could probably run her to that quite comfortably. 

Turns out I was right. That was us near the finish (photo from WAC), and I had a really lovely run. It started out misty, but the sun came out and it turned into a beautiful day. Clarkie got her sub-hour, with 57:39. (The slightly odd lump under my shirt is my SPI belt with my inhaler - not that I needed it, but you never know.)

I then got sick. Took 2 weeks to clear it, including 3 days off work with a lot of sleeping. This was a bit of a bugger, frankly. Talk about extreme tapering. I was well enough for the half I was targetting at Blenheim palace, but woefully undercooked miles-wise. Still. Not the first time. 

My day running around Blenheim also started foggy. I had to rescue one of the tops I was going to donate to start the run in, because it was cold and damp. Again, the sun came out during the run, and I ended up running through the beautiful grounds of the palace and beyond on a cracking day. This was not a flat run - nothing extreme, but constant ups and downs. I also goofed with my food. I had a Nature Valley bar to eat beforehand, but decided not to. Of course, I got hungry within a couple of miles of the start. Fortunately Clarkie had donated one of her gels, so I started that at 3 miles and made it last right through. By 11 miles I was knackered, but I kept running anyway. The finish of the run is uphill, with Blenheim Palace laid out behind it. My legs felt absolutely empty, but I was not walking at that point. Finished in a personal best of 2:03:20, but I was a smidge irritated not to get under 2 hours. 

Sadly, my right achilles was really not happy with my efforts. It still hasn't quite eased up, if I'm honest. I ignored it and went to taekwondo anyway, but my star jumps were quite flat-footed. I gave myself the week off. Then (naturally) I got another cold. This one has been more of a slow burn than the previous, but even Clarkie has succumbed now which is most unusual. So fingers crossed I'll be up and running (short distances, slowly) soon. I'm signed up for Bath in March, and I'm definitely targetting sub-2 on that one. I know exactly how flat it is! 


Fast and slow

I had a busy running week last week. Both Clarkie and I ran the Pheonix 10k on Wednesday night. I did this race last year, on a distinctly different evening. This year it was hot and almost perfectly still. Sadly, with Clarkie running as well there were no photos (or there were, but they are of the expensive, official variety). I managed another big PB, taking 3.5 minutes off my previous best with a 51:59. I was pretty pleased, especially since I'd had to stop a few times to sort out a stitch. I think I might want to think about some kind of warm up in future, especially since I still want to go faster (of course!).

Clarkie also ran a PB by a similar amount. She was a bit worried going into the race, because she hasn't run that far since the Cambridge Half. The conditions were a bit different from the sleet! She made it in 1:02:44, so she's got the hour mark in her sights for the next one. She also kicks my arse in a sprint!

Then we headed up to Cambridge for a dual-purpose trip. We were house-sitting and wedding-attending! But since we were there, we thought we'd do Cambridge Parkrun too. Turns out a mid-week 10k may not be entirely the best preparation, so I didn't get a PB on that one. In fact, the mile pace wasn't too far off the 10k pace, wih a 25:11 time recorded. All good though.

That meant that out of the 18.5 miles I ran last week, about half were run at race pace. At the moment that's around a minute per mile faster than my gentle a-to-b pace. Seems to have left me a little tired! So I skipped Monday's run altogether, and let myself do the run into work with my camera again. I've had to change my route a little, because they are digging up the path. The first mile through the houses is the same, but then instead of heading down along here...


I get to head up here for a chunk instead.

Onwards and upwards

The path is rather different, so instead of a narrow strip of chalk with flint sticking through

Through the undergrowth

I get to run on chunky gravel and embedded rocks.


And actually, that was a good section. That's quite testing in minimalist shoes, but I'm getting better at it. First time I did it I thought I'd bruised my foot spectacularly! I've still got some way to go before it's really comfy though. We'll see. (And ooh look! Tan!)

The route I'm using is part of the Jugg's Way between Brighton and Lewes, on the South Downs Way. It runs along a pretty exposed ridge. 

South Downs Panorama

(Might be worth clicking through to flickr for that one, see it large!)

I've run it in some pretty foul weather before, all the way to Kingston, but today was a good day. I don't follow it particuarly far either, before heading down off the ridge back towards work.

Downhill time

You can tell it's been dry and hot recently. The hills have gone that shade of yellow. 

The work I was trying to avoid has started to spill down the rest of the route - I'm not sure how much longer I can keep going this way! This is a picture of what the new path will look like. I'm actually a little underwhelmed - the surface (if this is the finished surface) is very loosely packed. It's ok to run on, but you can already see the bike tracks in it and it's not officially open yet. 

New path

Still, it will be better than what was there before. I think. The cows don't seem overly impressed...


The rest of the route (for now) is the same as previously. The other route was 3.6 miles. This one is 4.9 miles, more or less. The elevation profile is a bit different, going up higher and having more breaks between the downhill sections.

I'll admit that I've been cheating at hometime and running along the flat into town rather than up and home again. That gives me a combined total of 9.1 miles for the day, which is more than enough for now! It means that at the moment I'm doing more miles but less elevation, so that's a mixed thing. Maybe eventually I'll do both ways. We'll see. 

People occasionally ask me what I'm training for, and at the moment I'm not really on any sort of training plan. What I'm actually doing is training in preparation for my marathon training plan! I'm hoping that by slowly increasing my weekly mileage now, the jump in mileage for the plan won't be so much of a strain. It is still going to be a jump I think, but we'll see. June I ran four weeks increasing from 14.8 miles to 16.5 miles. This month I've been increasing from 18 miles and aiming to hit 20 miles before cricket week. Then a couple of weeks higher than that, before DiGRA at the end of August. And a couple more big (for me) weeks in September before the training plan kicks in. 

I should point out that these are still not impressive distances - most beginner plans reckon on 30-40 miles per week for marathon training, something I have never achieved. But it is a more consistently high mileage than I've ever managed before, and I'm managing better speeds than I've managed in the past. I'm really hoping this will mean marathon training goes more smoothly and puts less strain on my body this time around. 

Well, a girl can dream!


A Fine Summer's Evening

Last Wednesday I did a nice little 10k on the seafront. Given that it was July 18th, I had sort of expected some reasonable running conditions.

18 Jul 2012 19:33

Not so much. That photo was taken by Clarkie at the start. At 7:30pm. She says the camera lightened the shot quite a lot, and you can see the lights on the pier and on the lead-out bike. If you look at the blue flag in the background you can see it was a little bit breezy too. Nice little 20+ mph headwind for the first 5k.

I was hoping (given my recent training form) to squeak under an hour. My previous PB was set in October 2010, and was 1:03:31. I've recently had my training runs drop by around 1min/mile, which has been a nice surprise, so I was pretty hopeful of the PB but really wanted the sub-hour. When I saw the conditions though I wasn't sure I wanted to run at all!

I had serious thoughts about giving up before I got to 5k! It was hard. Toughest 5k I've done for a while. I didn't check my watch, just tried to grind it out, but I can't say it was the most fun I've had with my trainers on! I just kept focussing on the Shoreham power station chimney getting clearer through the mist. I've not run out that way before, so I found it difficult to judge where I was. Once I turned round all became much better. A 20+ mph tailwind is much more fun! I even managed a big cheesy smile for the official photographers (seeing as my photographer decided that the car was a nicer place to be - and I don't blame her at all!).

I was slightly startled when I checked my watch to see 5.5 miles at 50 minutes. So startled it took a little while for my brain to process and I had to check it twice. I crossed the line at 57:40 gun time, 57:10 chip time. So 6:21 better than my previous best, or precisely 1 min/mile! I was ever so pleased.

The increase in speed seems to have coincided with starting to use a steroid inhaler for my asthma. Clarkie wants me drugs tested! It seems as though my asthma was affecting me more than I thought. I think I'm now used to running at a certain level of out-of-breathness, and now I can breathe a little better I can go faster before hitting that level. I don't think I've quite got the asthma fully under control yet, and I have no clue what my 'triggers' are other than not exercise. I start my exercise not being quite sure of my lungs, and I finish it at the same level. I do think the extended period of damp has not helped at all, but why that might be and what I could do about it I have no idea!

Bodes well for the Grunty Fen in September though. I have a bit of a calf niggle, but other than that I'm feeling good. Let's hope.