Saturday, 30 April 2016

44, friends and counting!

Last Saturday I introduced one of my friend’s, Kim, to Parkrun. I’ve done a few Parkrun’s in Leeds with my friend Maria and we’ve been encouraging Kim to join us. We were all free last Saturday so decided to try a route which was new to us all. I am counting down to my 50th Parkrun and Saturday marked 44 – not long to go now!
We met nice and early at Oakwell Hall Parkrun and as the sun was shining I’d chosen a t-shirt and shorts. The sun was deceiving. It was cold. Much colder than it looked. But at least it wasn’t snowing! I spent the time before we started, jumping up and down on the spot trying to keep warm. I’d told Kim I would run with her as it was her first time and she was feeling nervous. I always enjoy doing Parkrun with other people as it’s a much more sociable and happy experience!
Oakwell Hall

Just before we set off we saw our other friend Laura who was also new to Oakwell Hall Parkrun last week. The route was pretty and is a 2 lap course. The marshall’s were super friendly and we were made to feel both welcomed and encouraged. There were lots of lovely printed signs of encouragement and I stopped to take a photo of this one (it made me smile!!).
 We felt like it was lying to us the first time round but more encouraging on passing it on the 2nd lap. The course was challenging with zig zags, mud and trail paths.  We run walked the course and as I still didn’t have my Garmin, I just enjoyed chatting to Kim and Maria and taking in the new surroundings.
Kim and I crossed the finish line together and Maria, Laura and her friend were waiting to cheer us on. Kim enjoyed her first Parkrun and says she’ll be returning for another – she also got a 5K pb! Well done Kim! It was an enjoyable morning and we had some chocolate before heading our separate ways to enjoy the rest of our Saturday (which for me may have involved some wine tasting!!)
Me, Maria, Kim
 My Great North Run training has not been productive at all this week. I had a brilliant week last week, 2 bootcamp sessions and 2 runs but I’ve not done anything since Saturday (oops!). This week has been spent celebrating some good news and preparing for our Speech and Language Therapy pantomime.
Tomorrow I am doing Sunderland 10K for the third year running. I am looking forward to seeing the new start and experiencing a new route.  Two years ago, Sunderland 10K was the first 10K race I ever entered and it was only the second time I’d even ran that distance. Hopefully the next few weeks will see me regaining some motivation and training a bit harder.
I’m off to sort my things for tomorrow. I know I can cover the distance tomorrow as it wasn’t too long since I last ran 10K. I look forward* to increasing my distance over the coming months towards my journey to the Great North Run.
*I am trying to remain positive, I use the term ‘look forward’ quite loosely but I’m not dreading it which is progress on a couple of weeks ago (and indeed the last 18 months since the last time I thought it would be a good idea to subject myself to running a Half Marathon!)

Thursday, 21 April 2016

The best things in life are free!

When my plans changed this evening and I had an unexpected free night, how better to spend it than going for a little run after work. The sun was shining and I felt motivated so I was keen to lace up and get out when I got in from work.
I went to Bootcamp last night for the first time in quite a while and boy did I feel I feel it this morning! We were boxing so I could really feel in my arms (and I still can!). I am really glad I went as I have caught the exercise bug again and was motivated to go running tonight.
I realised that I left my Garmin at my parent’s house when I went home for the weekend so I knew I’d have to run without technology. Once upon a time this would have made me stay inside but I decided that I would rather just go out and run because I can.
I ran to the running track near Temple Newsam and planned to run round it twice before heading back. During the second lap I noticed a really pretty spectrum in the sky that looked like a tiny rainbow. Rainbows are one of my favourite things so I had to stop to take a photo. It was so beautiful but the camera didn’t capture it’s full beauty. The blue sky and pretty colours gave me a bit of an energy boost and kept me going for a third (!) lap of the running track. I then headed back and really enjoyed taking in my surroundings…the birds were singing and there were lots of people out and about enjoying the spring weather. It was lovely to see that some of the trees are getting their leaves again. I love the changing seasons and felt like I got to experience part of this tonight by being out in the fresh air. My legs and hips began to ache a little bit so I decided to walk on my way back. I enjoyed the walk too and the pain eased and I ran the rest of the way back.
It was definitely the most enjoyable solo run I’ve done in a very long time. I find running on my own difficult but I think I enjoyed the freedom of being outdoors in nice weather with no technology. (I had my phone in my pocket in case of an emergency but I didn’t have it logging my run). I’m definitely going to do more runs without my Garmin as it reminds me to take in my surroundings and actually experience the run. I am doing a Parkrun in Leeds on Saturday with some of my friends from work and I am actually looking forward to running without my Garmin (I’d always use it if I have a choice but I’m a little bit pleased I accidentally left it behind when I came back to Leeds).
Two years ago today, during my training for my first Half Marathon, I ran 10k for the first time ever. I never thought that I’d still be running two years later, or indeed training for another half marathon. I know it’s not going to be easy but I am actually looking forward to the challenge again!  And if I wasn't training for the Great North Run again, I doubt I would have gone out tonight...and look at what I would have missed. The best things in life really are free!  

Monday, 18 April 2016

Sun, Sea, Sand and Smiles...

This morning I went out for a long run. I’d arranged to run with Tony as we are doing the Great North Run together. When my alarm went off I began to question why I have committed to training for another half marathon but I dragged myself out of bed all the same. Once up and dressed I opened the curtains and saw that the sun was shining and began to look forward to getting out in the fresh air. What a way to start a Sunday morning!
It was almost perfect running conditions, quite cool but sun shining with a light breeze (ok, actually quite windy at times…after all we are near the sea!)

We set off running from Ashington to Newbiggin and I was at least a mile in before I started I complaining. I stopped complaining once we reached the prom…it was an absolutely glorious day for a trip to the beach. I felt like I was on holiday: blue sky, almost calm sea, and a mile of golden sand… it was easy to forget that I was on a training run in Northumberland and not the Costa del Sol.

At times my legs ached but breathing in the sea air made it worth it (and almost entirely enjoyable). I chatted all the way round (yes, really – who knew I talked a lot?!) and it was surprising how far we went altogether.
Altogether we ran almost 7 miles and I am actually starting to believe that this 2nd attempt at a half marathon is doable.

Tony and me - half way through our run!
My next long run will be Sunderland 10K 2 weeks today! Two years ago this was the first 10K I’d done and I am looking forward to doing the new route there this year.


Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Never say Never!!

I think I may be slightly crazy but I am once again training for the Great North Run. Any one that has had any running related conversation with me in the last 18 months might be rather surprised at this. No one is more surprised than me.  You may recall how much I disliked the Great North Run  the first time I did it and I pretty much said never again. But for a number of reasons I’ve changed my mind and I am in training once again. If you'd like to read about my previous journey going from an absolute non-runner to someone who completed a half marathon you can read about it here.

I’ve had some good runs recently mainly because I’ve been running with other people. I rediscovered my addiction (and love?!) of running at Blyth 10k last week. I think I spent so much time talking to Tony (my new running buddy) and breathing in the sea air that I actually temporarily forgot that I was running. It was a really enjoyable morning out and for the first time ever I can honestly say I enjoyed taking part in a race and running. I always enjoy the feeling after and the sense of achievement but generally I do not enjoy running. I enjoy the people I have met and the fitness I have gained. My sister, brother-in-law, nephew and niece came along to support and it was lovely to see them cheering me on! My best friend Rachael also made a brilliant 10K race comeback and it was lovely to share the experience with her.
Rach, me and Tony
Now it appears I can run (and enjoy) 10k relatively easily, I’ve decided to give myself a new challenge and train for the GNR again. Last time round I really struggled with anything over 7 miles so I know it’s not going to be easy but I am a determined person and I know I can do it. I am fitter than this time 2 years ago before my first (and only) Great North Run and I am surrounded by lots of supportive people in my life so I know I will get to the finish line once again. Hopefully this time it will be more enjoyable.
I am running for the North East Trust for Aphasia again as they were looking for people to join their Great North Run team and I’d love to support them raise funds as it’s such a fantastic charity. They support people with Aphasia (communication difficulties following a stroke or other brain injury) and I have seen first-hand the brilliant work they do. If you would like to sponsor you can find my page here.

On Saturday morning I was going to do a Parkrun in Leeds but I have somehow managed to leave all of my running socks at my parents’ house in Northumberland. I felt a bit guilty all day that I hadn’t run as I’ve been struggling to fit much exercise in to my routine in the last month. On Sunday I went and bought some new running socks and went out for a little 2 mile run. I just found out about my Great North Run place today and as I am newly enthused about running again I went for another little run after work tonight. In the rain. I ended up doing 4 miles in total and got home rather drenched. But I didn't melt. I was so close to not going as I had a headache when I got in from work but instead of using that as an excuse I decided I would go out for 10 minutes and see how I felt. I kept going beyond 10 minutes and I am so glad I did as I felt much better when I got back in. My legs were aching from about mile 3 but I made it home and survived.
View on tonight's run
Here’s to a successful 5 months training! I guess I should ‘Never say Never!’ Wish me luck!