Running Long and Tapering Down

Today saw my last long run of this training programme. After today I’m on the taper.  And, to my relief, I’m feeling…

G-R-R-R-E-A-T!

Tony03

The weather forecast for today was dismal, so imagine my surprise to see sunshine and blue skies this morning. The weather gods were obviously smiling, so, after a breakfast of porridge, bananas and honey and having done my email duties for the morning, I set off. I had decided to run a tougher route than just along the fairly flat shore road. It’s my 4 mile loop which, if run again, becomes a 5 mile loop. I know that doesn’t make any sense, but if you take into consideration that if I’m doing a 4 mile run I walk to warm up and cool down adding the extra distance. If I run right round it’s 5 miles. Honest it is.

The run starts with a first mile which is mainly uphill. I always find that tough when I start off; my legs aren’t properly warmed up and my calf muscles are still too tight. However, I soldier on. After that the route undulates with some good hills to climb and descend. It’s a good route and I prefer to run a loop than go there and back. The only issue with this route though is that it tends to flood and yesterday we had some pretty nasty rain. I was expecting the worse.

The worst bit wasn’t as bad as I had expected, although as this road is being used as a diversion route for a farm which is cut off at present thanks to roadworks, it has suffered a bit. The road was pretty broken up in parts, with massive holes on either side; I feel sorry for the folk who live round there. The holes, predictably, had filled up with mud and rainwater and with the increased farm traffic the sloppy mud was being distributed all over the road. It was unavoidable and my lovely Brooks trainers are no longer quite as lovely; they are drying as I type, in the hope that the dirt might brush off. We’ll see.

I had taken with me my 33 Shake chia seed gels and my Camelbak with ¾ of a litre of water with a High 5 Zero tablet in it. I had been just using water, but I felt that I needed an extra boost. The High 5 Zero tablets had been sent out by the Edinburgh Marathon Festival organizers with my number, so I felt duty bound to try them out and I liked them; not too juicy tasting, salty if anything, and gentle on my stomach. I was a bit concerned when I got home though to discover that I had almost all of my ¾ litre left – I’m not drinking enough. I need to watch this, especially if I’m racing in warmer weather.

I planned to take my gels at miles 4, 8 and 12 but after mile 8 I forgot and ended up taking it at mile 9 instead. In the end I just didn’t bother taking the third one – I was managing fine with what I’d taken. Maybe the drink was helping there. I like the chia seed gels, but they are a bugger to swallow in a hurry when you’re a bit out of breath. I always take them on my walk breaks, but I inevitably run out of time. If I’m honest this is putting me off them and I’m wondering if I can do anything about it. I might contact the makers and see what they suggest.

By mile 8 the forecast weather had arrived and it was throwing it down. I stopped to call my son at home as I’d left two machine loads of washing on the line and knew that it would be soaked again by the time I’d run the last of that loop home. I decided at that point to head home and complete the run on the treadmill. The wind had picked up and the rain was extremely heavy – it wasn’t worth slogging out another loop. I may be mad, but I’m not crazy!

Having set up Star Trek on the DVD player I set off to boldly go (again) and boldly went with the Voyager crew. I felt surprisingly good and even ended up increasing the pace in the last couple of kilometres.

With my 14 miles complete in about 2:39 I had a rushed lunch of scrambled eggs, toast and humous and a strawberry soya milkshake and a quicker shower before heading into town to do the weekly shop! As a result, I haven’t sat down much, which might explain why I’m feeling so good! I honestly don’t feel pained enough to have run 14 miles – maybe that will come tomorrow!

But I hope not!

So now the taper begins. I’m pleased to have run my last long run before the race – I’m looking forward to saving my legs a bit. I’ve got two 30 minute runs to do this week, then a 5 mile run next Monday and two final 30 minute runs and then it’s race day!

After last week’s podiatrist downer I have some good news. I went to see my chiropractor (he of the Vulcan death grip) and told him what the podiatrist had said. When I got to the part when I relayed that I’d been told basically to give up running he stopped me. “Don’t give up running,” he said “Running has given you so much. Strength, confidence, achievement – don’t give up!” It was what I needed to hear. All athletes get injured. I don’t have the financial backing that elites have, but I do have a very good chiropractor who listens to how I’m feeling and helps me. Sometimes I need to work through injuries and having his support, as well as Jeff Galloway’s running plans, help me do that.

After all, if a 14 mile run leaves me feeling like Tony the Tiger, I’d be daft to let that go!

 

 

New Kicks for a New Day

My last post was a bit down. I don’t apologise for that; it’s a reality that life dishes out downers and we need to deal with these and carry on. So I’m carrying on.

Yesterday I crossed the border, left Scotland and went to Carlisle in England’s county of Cumbria. Carlisle is just under 30 miles away, quite close by our standards, and a much larger place than our local town of Dumfries. I hadn’t intended to go to a running shop, but my chores led me in that direction. Honest they did!

I ended up gazing longingly at nice new trainers in Chivers Sports. I tried on about half a dozen different pairs, mostly Asics and Brooks – the two trainers I’ve bought in the past, and ran up and down the shop under the watchful eye of one of the salesman. He knew his stuff! I explained that I had been told that I was a neutral runner, but that I’d had Plantar Fasciitis and had the start of bunions on each big toe (requiring a wider fit). He wasn’t put off by my peculiar running style (flicking my twisted right leg so that I landed well) but noticed that my left foot rolled in slightly. I needed some support, but not the excessive support of the Asics I’d worn previous to owning my Brooks Ghost 5s.

Choices, choices.
Choices, choices.

In the end we were choosing between the Ghost 6 and the Defyance 7. I noticed that the Ghost  dipped away at the left big toe, making me want to roll more in that direction, but the Defyance had me landing square. It was a no-brainer: I choose the Defyance.

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Brooks state that the Defyance has…

..that same amazing balance of the GTS…smoothly infused in the Neutral construction of this hybrid ride. From the reliable transition of the segmented crash pad to the adaptability of anatomical Brooks DNA and the adjustable eye row, this versatile shoe wins the all-around award every run.

After choosing, my salesman disappeared with my kicks for quite some time. It transpired that they keep records of every shoe sale to every customer and note down any issues that the customer has. My poor salesman had an essay to write! I eventually left with new shoes, at a discounted price and a discount card for future purchases.

So far as my running is concerned, well I’m almost ready to restart my half marathon training. I’ve been treading water a bit since Christmas, not wanting to put any undue strain on my left foot and re-spark my PF. I’ve done mostly short trail runs (up to 3 miles) and treadmill running. I’m enjoying trail running again, as is my dog!

Murphy in sniff-mode.
Murphy in sniff-mode.
The trail is great at this end! Wish it was all like this!!
The trail is great at this end! Wish it was all like this!!

The excessive rain we’ve been ‘enjoying’ has made parts of this route very, very muddy, but it doesn’t bother me other than obviously slowing me down! My old Nike Alvords are looking really manky these days, but they dust off when the mud dries and they are still  comfortable. I’ve even started leaving my Garmin at home and not timing my running. It’s quite liberating really!

My half training starts next week, so I’ll have to dust off my Jeff Galloway training app. I’ve set it for 11 minute mile pace, which I know I can more than handle, and will adjust the walk:run intervals as I feel fit. I’m feeling really positive about things just now so let’s just hope that I can stay injury free!

Edinburgh Rock’n’Roll Half Marathon

Oh.My.God.

After making light of yesterday’s forecast, expecting much lighter wind speeds and for the predicted rain to have passed over, I felt a tad embarrassed walking down through the cobbled streets to the start of this half marathon. We had decided not to try and drive into town, but leave the car at Leith and bus it as close as possible to Holyrood. With the start at just after 9, we’d been told to arrive an hour early to allow for any hold ups. Ordinarily this would have been fine, but today the weather was rebelling. Wearing only a soft shell jacket for protection, I was drenched by the time we reached the bottom of the hill. Not the best scenario an hour before a race and with no shelter to take.

As we rounded the bend at Holyrood Palace, the full force of the gusting wind hit us. This was not going to be a pleasant experience or a personal best race. My first stop was to visit the toilets whilst the queues were still short. After finding a portaloo that the wind hadn’t already blown over, we headed across to the field.

I had filled a rucksack with as many things as I could think of that might help me at the before the start and at the end of the race. Nestled at the bottom of said bag were a couple of foil blankets collected from previous races and stored away for days such as today. Amazingly warm for such a thin piece of material and waterproof. Result.

We sought out shelter behind the Run 4 It tent, along with a few others, and waited for the start to be called. A very long 40 minutes later I stripped down to my vest top and sleeves. Looking around me, most people had opted for long sleeves, several layers and waterproofs. I was there with no sleeves, one layer and three quarter leggings. Was I mad? After kissing hubbie goodbye and giving my shivery, wet dog a pat, I headed off for my corral.

Finding my corral proved difficult and I ended up in corral 7 by mistake. The guy beside me assured me that it wouldn’t matter, so I stayed put. I wasn’t alone. I didn’t realise, but our numbers started with our corral number and there were many others in corral 7 with numbers starting with 8, 9, 10 and even 11. I stopped worrying. With the weather conditions taken into account, where I started was insignificant.

I had Jeff Galloway’s Half Marathon app playing on my iPhone and my Garmin for back up. Our chips were in our numbers, which meant that there was no faffing about with lace chips, far easier. When I crossed the line I hit my app/watch and I was away.

Starting in the faster corral actually worked out better for me. I tend to run faster during my run intervals than other people running the same overall pace as me, so I found that I was better paced being further up the field. I made sure that I kept right out of the way during walk breaks, because I know how annoying it is to be confronted by a line of walkers. I also quickly realised that my vest and arm sleeves were perfect. I was warm within minutes.

Mile 1 : 9:44

Even in the town the wind was dreadful. Combined with rain the conditions were some of the worst I’ve endured. In terms of people running, it was certainly more comfortable with only five thousand runners on the roads, rather than almost forty thousand in the Great North Run. Mind you, I still managed to get tripped up around mile 2, although how it happened I’m still not sure. I was going for a space, got through it and then all of a sudden someone ran right into the back of me. I’m fairly sure that I am easy to see, so how she managed that I don’t know.

Mile 2 : 9:56

What I soon discovered was that my trip had caused my juice bottle to fall out of my waist pack, a bottle full of SIS juice designed to last me the entire race. I was annoyed and a bit worried. I couldn’t remember what isotonic juice was on offer and wasn’t sure how it would suit me. Perturbed I stopped to collect water from the first station and, in an effort to calm myself down, I stopped at the portaloos behind the water station.

Mile 3 : 10.10

I was pleased with my pace, despite stopping for a toilet break (although the watch may have auto-stopped for this, I didn’t check and can’t until I get home.) However this joy was soon to cease. We had reached the shore and the wind and rain were waiting for us. The route took us down onto the promenade. I didn’t think the wind was too, too bad, but the long hill before dipping down to the shore was relentless.

Mile 4 : 10:09

I took my first energy gel at mile 4, following the pattern I’d set down at the GNR. The Powerade gels were a little thicker than others I had been having and needed washing down with water. Around mile 4 we were offered isotonic juice IN CARTONS! I’ve never seen this before. They were terrible to use, with juice spilling out from the open top. I quickly emptied my water bottle whilst on a walk break and filled it with the juice. I don’t drink a lot on runs these days, but I needed to know that I had enough to see me through.

Once we turned off the promenade the wind hit me. And so did the hills. Oh, and the rain, I almost forgot the rain. This combination was a killer. We hit hill after hill during mile five with the wind hitting us face on. My pace showed the effect.

Mile 5 : 11:21

Mile 6 was no better. Hills, wind, rain. Lots of all of these.

Mile 6 : 11:37

On the downhill stretches, and there were one or two, I just went with it and ignored walk breaks in a bid to regain some time. I knew I was going to be close to my GNR result by now as I was averaging a 11 minute mile. Knowing that I needed to speed up when I was confronted by the elevation and the weather was starting to get to me. I had to focus on running for four minutes as close to my race pace as I could, even when I was running up hill. Not easy.

Mile 7 : 12:14 (my worst mile)

As I finished mile 7 I took another gel, and on seeing that the organisers were giving out the same gels, I snaffled one to replace my bought one. Cheeky! By now we were climbing back up towards Arthur’s Seat. It’s a long and steady climb, eventually rewarded by a long downhill stretch to Holyrood Park. I, again, ignored the walk breaks and used gravity to push me on down the hill. I could hear Jeff Galloway counting down the miles and it sounded as if I wasn’t far off pace, but as I’d lost sight of the 2:15 pacer, I didn’t know how far away from this I was.

By now I’d decided that finishing below 2:30 would be nice.

Mile 8 : 11:31

We hit the town again, which meant more hills. Yaay.

I will never moan about the Great North Run course again.

Ever.

People had generously dotted pretty much the entire route, offering encouragement as these mad runners ran past. Considering the weather, I think that these folk deserved a medal as well!

Mile 9 : 11:32

Have I mentioned the hills?

We ran down through the Grassmarket and, inevitably heading down will mean that we will have to climb again. By now I was totally pissed off with the hills! I just couldn’t get a good pace going and I knew that I still had it in me, just not uphill anymore.

Mile 10 : 12:09

By the time I reached the town centre I was glad of some level running at last. My legs felt tired out by all the climbing they’d done, but were happier to run on the flat for a while. I was starting to yoyo with the same people, all of us were doing a combination of running and walking. I was pleased to see that there were running club people around me, making me feel a little less useless! I knew, as well, as I had about half an hour of running left, so I tried to up my pace.

Mile 11 : 11:51

Running across the Royal Mile meant that I wasn’t far from the finish. The course the took us down past The Mound, past Waverley Station and into Princes Gardens. I have to say that this is one of the nicest routes I’ve run, if you disregard the hills and the weather! The architecture and the sights were lovely, taking me through areas of Edinburgh that I didn’t know at all. I spotted some lovely looking restaurants, although I doubt I’ll ever find them again!

Mile 12 : 11:46

From mile 12 on the going was easier, mostly downhill and sheltered. I started looking out for hubbie and dog, but didn’t really expect to see them until the end. As I headed down Cannongate I knew I was nowhere near my Great North Run time of 2:22. I was disappointed, but it was a tough race and I’m not going to give myself a hard time over missing a PB. Doing a sub ten minute mile at this stage of the race was fabulous. I felt strong at the race end.

Mile 13 : 9:58

As I passed the palace the wind hit me again, but I pushed on through it, distracting myself by looking for my family. I found them just before the finish straight. I was aware of someone trying to overtake me and, spurred on by the sight of the finish, I sprinted for the line – which probably surprised me as much as the other runner!

Mile 13.13 : 9:08

I crossed the line at 2:25:10, well I think I did. There were three lines! I didn’t know which one to stop my Garmin at, so I went for the last one, just in case. Bearing in mind that I’m not sure whether my watch kept going when I was on the loo, I don’t think it really matters! I will get my official time in due course, but whatever it is, I’m happy with what I did.

I enjoyed the run, but wasn’t expecting the hills. The weather made the hills impossible and apparently everyone was affected with even the elite runners coming back slower than expected. My medal, well, see for yourself!

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I’m tempted to say it makes up for the hills and the weather.

After the race it seemed that the weather had caused far more chaos. The bag check tent was in danger of collapsing, so no one was allowed in. Instead bags were being collected by staff members and handed out, so you can imagine the huge resultant queues. The stage for the after race concert had been devastated, the wind having ripped the stage sides to shreds. The concert was cancelled. As I passed the portaloos I noticed that even the massive urinal loos had been blown over.

Luckily I’d given my bag to hubbie to look after so I only had to collect my tee shirt. The organisers had done well offering a Brooks technical tee, which is wonderful.

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The walk up to Leith Walk for the bus was hard work! As if I hadn’t seen enough hills!! The bus journey back to Leith was wonderful. I had a seat all the way home. Warm and comfortable.

Sitting here now in the caravan, having enjoyed a hot shower, a lovely lunch and the Chinese Grand Prix, I think we’ve got a great set up. We leave tomorrow for home, not racing home tonight because I don’t work on a Monday. I’m looking forward to vegetable frittata, new potatoes and salad and a nice glass of wine in celebration of the toughest race I’ve run…so far!

EDIT.

I’ve just sat and read this through and realised that not once have I mentioned the bands that were playing along the way! Just about every mile was marked by a rocking band, spurring us on. It was great to listen to and I just regret that we weren’t able to enjoy the concert at the end.

The Wrong Trousers

Arrrgh! I’ve been doing it again! After saying last time that I was finding the training hard, I finally reached crisis point on Saturday. When I get to that point things have a habit of going one way or another; it’s pretty black and white with me. All I can say is, thank goodness for friends and social networking!

After a grim training week I felt that my half marathon time goal was completely out of my grasp. I came home in the light (for a change) and decided on Wednesday to take my faithful hound into the woods for a half an hour 3 miles or so. I came back disheartened with my rubbish pace, even though I was wearing, as Wallace and Gromit would say, ‘The Wrong Trousers’ (tights that just have no give in them at all) and the trail was so muddy in places I was walking for a good few minutes. I ached, really ached from the effort and wondered if my treadmill workouts had left me “softened”.

wg_wrong_trousers

On Friday I had no choice but to hit the treadmill. I was meant to do a straightforward run at above race pace, but after Wednesday’s run I knew that I wasn’t up to it and ran at my normal pace with the idea that if I found it too easy I’d crank up the speed. Needless to say the speed remained constant throughout.

By Saturday I was starting to panic.

I had 13 miles to accomplish on Sunday and whilst I didn’t doubt my ability to complete the 13 miles, I was worried that all my weeks of training had been for nothing. I said as much on Facebook and asked for my running friends to give me some advice. As it happened I had friends who run and friends who don’t all offering encouragement. It was lovely to read.

On Sunday I woke early and determined to run exactly 13 miles at my 11 min/mile pace. I knew that I could achieve that normally and, feeling like I did, I needed to see that I could achieve that on that day. Without boring you with the detail, I ran easily and thoroughly enjoyed every step (except for maybe mile 12, by which time I was really tired) and even managed to race to the end! I did the 13.04 miles in 2:26 giving me an average of 11:14 min/miles. I chose a particularly hilly 5 mile route, ran that twice and then added an extra circuit on the end. It was a hard 13 miles.

In short what I’ve done is prove that my training is working. I could easily have run my 13 miles faster, maybe not much, but fast enough. What I think is difficult in my training is doing the 800m intervals on the treadmill. It would be difficult to maintain a constant pace on the track and you would naturally slow down (or start off slow and speed up) but I’m expecting to be able to maintain a fast pace for the entire 800m and it’s no big deal that I can’t!

I need to…

keep_it_real_-_sky_kids_cu_1 (Thanks Banksy)

I’m on course to improve on my half marathon best and if I don’t then at least I know I’ve tried my best.

Garmin Connect – 13 miles around Ruthwell (2 loops and a bit).

Nutrition

Pre-run: Instant Oats, soya milk, banana and honey

During run: OJ/water isotonic juice (200ml OJ/400 ml water with 1/4 teaspoon salt); Dextro dextrose tablets as necessary (approximately once every third walk break)

Kit

Nike vest; Karrimor long tights; Karrimor gloves; Nike peaked cap; Brooks Ghost 5 trainers; Asics waistbelt

MishMash

This post is going to be a mishmash of all the things I’ve done this week. It may not make any sense! Just go with me on this.

Training

Training is going well, if being permanently knackered counts as “going well”. I must admit that I’m finding the Improve you Half Marathon element of the Jeff Galloway Half Marathon training app tough.

I’m doing things I haven’t done much of before (proper interval training) as well as things I’ve never tried before (gliders, cadence counting). The gliders and cadence are fine; the intervals are killers! 800m

reps at 12.2 kph/7.6mph with 3 minutes walk in between (not even rest!!) is hard and sometimes, I admit, I’m not always making it to the end of each interval.

However, I will persevere.

I’m up to Week 7 of the plan now and looking forward to a dry and sunny 11 mile run this coming weekend.

Ab exercises

What a mess I’ve made of this. I am naturally stiff in the neck and shoulder; I can’t help it, that’s where I carry my stress. Before, when I was doing a Plank-a-Day, I had to stop because my neck kept going into spasm. I thought I was doing well with my Ab Workout, but the week before last I had to stop. My neck and upper back were solid.

My son, who is completing a B.Tech in Sports at the local college, asked what my posture was like and, of course, I had no idea because I can’t see myself! My husband said that I tend to lift my head first before coming up and my son thinks that this is the problem. He reckons I should be looking straight up towards the ceiling. I’ll try again, although at the moment the only thing I want to do is a nice bit of yoga to try and relax a few stiff muscles.

Shoes

The GoRuns are still performing well, although I think I’m landing heavier than I was wearing my Brooks. It might just be my imagination, but I seem to be fair slapping my feet on the treadmill. I don’t feel any more tired though and my legs aren’t suffering.

 

Music

I need to refresh my running music. Much as I love the Quo, I need something else as well to get me going. I keep looking at iTunes and most of the albums (showing my age here) seem to be full of songs I’ve never heard of. I did see one a while back that was all rock songs, which would be great, but I’m still to track it down.

Nutrition

I’m seriously impressed by the EnergyBits. That’s two good runs I’ve taken them for, just a handful before setting off, and they’ve powered me up to 90 minutes with juice. They aren’t the nicest things to take, that’s the drawback, and I don’t know how I’d manage with them on a run because they are the same size as an average vitamin pill and you have to take between 20 and 40 at a time! This last time I took 20 in one go and they aren’t sweeties! I’m going to look at pricing though, see if it’s feasible.

I also discovered this last week that potato crisps are on my list of banned substances. It must be to do with the way they are produced because even the supposed gluten free ones are giving me the most awful stomach cramps. I’m sticking to tortilla chips and the like, unless I find something that is labelled “gluten free, we promise – stick needles in our eyes if we lie.”

 

Running in a Winter Wonderland

This morning it snowed.

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My route, 6 miles of sleet and snow!

My first reaction was “shit” – I was due to do a 6 mile run but, if I’m honest, I was delighted to get outside despite the snow still falling heavily. I had worn my Nike trail shoes for some extra grip, despite the fact that I’ve not run that far on the road with them on, and they actually felt very similar in support to my Ghosts. Apart from my niggly left calf/Achilles, I felt great.

I stopped to talk to these lovely horses, who then ran alongside me for the width of their field.

The conditions slowed me down a bit, but apparently not that much. I had to slow down on some downhill sections that felt a bit dodgy and to say hello to the horses (well, you have to, don’t you?),  but at the rest I just trudged away ignoring the bemused looks on driver’s faces as they pulled across the road to avoid me.

I ran out along the shore road, thinking that it would be quieter traffic wise, and turned at 3 miles to head back in. I didn’t actually notice my time when I hit the stop button on Gary Garmin and so was pleasantly surprised to see that I’d run 10k in 65:45. It didn’t feel fast or strained, but that time is comparable to my 10k race time in 2011, just a couple of minutes slower than last year’s time.

A great start to my training anyway!

Nothing better than having some vague tree giving you the thumbs up on the way out!
Nothing better than having some vague tree giving you the thumbs up on the way out!
 Stats
Distance:
6.00 mi
Time:
1:05:45
Avg Pace:
10:58 min/mi
Elevation Gain:
104 ft
Calories:
679 C
 

Fuel

Breakfast : Porridge with banana and many cups of tea

Powerade Drink at 3 and 5 miles

Kit

Groovestar NZ base layer

Reebok Waterproof Running Jacket

Xcelerate Long Running Tights

Crane Knee Length Compression Socks

Nike Alvord trail shoes

Asics waist bag/drink holder

Crane reflective dayglo vest

When Twelve and a half became Thirteen point one – a post by Pooh Bear

As I drove into town following Monday’s run I was planning exactly what I wanted to say today. I’ve long since forgotten, which may be a good thing now that the dust has settled. I’ve a feeling this might be the shorter, less rambling version of events!

On Sunday I was due to run 12.5 miles as per my Jeff Galloway finisher training plan, but someone had other plans for me on Sunday and sent heavy rain just as I was due to set off. I waited for a while, but it didn’t show signs of stopping, so I did my tax return instead. Hang on, who really IS in control here?

I had to run on Monday morning before going to see my chiropractor, basically because I couldn’t see the point of seeing him before I ran! It was drizzly, but only that.

Now, this is where my ego kicks in. I looked at 12.5 miles. Boy, that’s tantalisingly close to 13 miles isn’t it? Just an extra half a mile, 0.5, not much at all. And, as luck would have it, if I added another tenth of a mile I’d have done a half marathon. It was too much to bear. I had to run the extra six tenths and see what my half time would be!

I had planned a simple there and back route, running from one castle to another! I guess not many people can say that! The route took me along the shore road, up into Bankend village and turned onto the Glencaple Road. My turn around point was just short of the turn off for Caerlaverock Castle. It wasn’t flat and there were a few steep bits, but it was quiet so far as cars are concerned.

I had a light carb breakfast of spelt toast, waited an hour and then set off.

I listened to Jeff Galloway’s Half Marathon app. It paced me perfectly, although when my first mile was completed in 9:40 I wondered if I had it cranked up too fast! It evened out after that to around 11 minute miles, some faster, some slower. One thing I have noticed though is that without the GPS turned on the app is taking me further than the prescribed miles. I must be going faster than the app anticipates because I hit my target miles far faster according to the Garmin.

My new Brooks Ghosts felt like slippers. I love them. I run better in them, more easily should I say. The effort required to push my wee legs forward has been lessened. I realise now that I might as well have been running in high heels the way the Asics held my heels up. The Brooks allow my heels to sit down and I’m running on my mid foot more than my heel. I’m getting less aches and pains in my legs, with no knee pain at all on Monday.

The weather was typically Scottish. I went out wearing long tights and a vest (my No Meat Athlete vest to be precise!) and a reflective arm band because it was so dull. It drizzled lightly and then the rain became heavier. By the time I’d reached Bankend (5 miles) the sun was beating down on me! Once I’d turned and headed back it dulled down again and then the cloud and sun played some peepo game!

Miles 1 and 2 were sub 11 min/mile pace. Miles 3 and 4 were exactly 11 min/mile pace. After that I started to slow down a bit. Mile 5 was 11:14, not bad, but Miles 6 and 7 were both 11:42. My only thoughts on this were that I was running up hill a lot more until turning at 6.7 miles. I was, however, running up the hills!

I took my Maxifuel Viper Active citrus gel at mile 7. Previous to that I’d only been sipping Lucozade Sport, an Isotonic sports drink. I don’t know how much it helped, or if I was heading downhill significantly more, but I completed mile 8 in 10:17, my second fastest mile! I remember that mile because that’s when I had my runner’s high. Everything was wonderful. I was running with ease. The sun was shining. The birds were tweeting and the bees were humming. I had a total Disney moment and felt great!

And then came miles 9, 10, 11 and 12. I held my pace at around 11 min/miles through sheer determination. I WAS going to finish with a sub 11 min/mile average. I kept forcing myself on by looking at my watch and seeing the average getting closer to 11! At some points I was running under 9 minute pace before taking a walk break. I still didn’t know what effect this would have on my overall time; I just hadn’t worked that out! I was getting tired and light headed and, for the very first time, I thought I was going to be sick. I held off the feeling and pushed on.

By the time I hit mile 12 I could see the village again. I’d tried to time my turn around so that I would finish before getting to the village, mainly because there is a hill coming into it, a long draining hill that I really didn’t want to finish on. I miscalculated. In my enthusiasm to get going I started off in the village and still turned at the same spot. As I rounded the corner I knew that I was going to finish on the hill. I pushed and pushed. My pace got slower and slower as I tried to sprint up the hill; I had no sprint left. There were no people there to encourage me, no line to cross, just what was in my head and the slow ticking of the odometer as the hundredths of a mile passed.

I stopped the watch at 13.1 miles.

2:23:41. A new PB.

I was 11 minutes faster than my last half run completed in October 2011. That’s a minute faster for almost every mile! I am very pleased with that. If I can only replicate that come the Great North Run I’ll be very happy. If I can’t, I have this as an official PB at least. But who knows. Could I run faster?

On walking back to the house I realised just how much energy I’d used up. I stopped briefly to read the  village notice board and started seeing stars and feeling decidedly unsteady. I got home as soon as I could and popped a potato into the microwave to bake. Ten minutes later I was sitting down to Jacket Potato with Lemon Humous with a glass of soya milk. It was my 80%:20% carb:protein recovery meal. Very simple, but very effective.

I didn’t run at all on Tuesday. Truth be told, I could hardly walk without pain!  After visiting the chiropractor on Monday afternoon I felt a little better, and managed to relax in the hot tub in the evening,  but soon stiffened up during the night. Tuesday, my birthday, was sore! Today, Wednesday, I feel fine, although I did pop a few ibuprofens yesterday!

I’m about to head into the gym for a treadmill recovery run, nothing too tough. I’m saying this out loud so that it goes into my tiny brain! I am, after all, a bear of a very little brain!