Sunday, 29 May 2016

Druridge Bay 10K

I planned to go for a little run at some point earlier in the week after work but a combination of finishing late, tiredness, hayfever and panto preparation (don’t ask!), I just haven’t had time. The night’s when I haven’t been doing anything I have decided that I needed to just rest. I feel like it’s been a list of excuses but I do feel better for having rested so I’m not going to feel guilty about it.
I wasn’t going to Parkrun yesterday as I knew I was doing Druridge Bay 10K today but a last minute decision found me on the start line at 9am. I was tired and grumpy, but by the time I’d finished I was glad I’d got up early and made the effort. I made the mistake of telling my running partner Tony that I didn’t think I’d been putting enough effort into my running recently and he made sure that wasn’t the case yesterday morning. We talked less and pushed each other round and we did the fastest 5K I’ve done in a long while (and Tony got a fab personal best!)
This morning I woke up bright and early eager to run 10K. That is a sentence I never thought I’d say! My brother in law (Craig) and niece (Toni) arrived at my mam and dad’s at 8.30am. Craig and I spent the next 20 minutes trying to put our race numbers onto our t-shirts with event clips. By the time I’d finished attaching mine it was so crumpled it looked like I was just re-using a number from last year!
Craig, Tony and I travelled to Druridge Bay together and my parents and Toni came and met us there a little while later. My friend Katie and her two boys also came and met us there to support us.
My favourite supporters :)
Before we started we spent time chatting and catching up with friends, and my dad asked about the route so he knew where he could stand to take photos and cheer us on. We then made our way to the start line ready to begin.
I don’t think I’d had enough water yesterday and I felt it in my legs when I was running but I still made it round. I wasn’t looking forward to running on the stretch of sand as I have previously not enjoyed beach running. However, I actually quite enjoyed it, mainly because I could see the sea and breathe in the gorgeous sea air. I never tire of the seaside and I have really missed it while living in Leeds. Half way along the beach I did think I’d had enough of running on sand but we tried to focus on the view instead. Towards the end of the beach I could see my family and friends there to support and started to smile as my dad had his camera at the ready! It was difficult coming up from the beach, the sand was soft and the slope quite steep and I honestly didn’t know how I was going to get there. I put one foot in front of the other, (complained a bit!) and we made it to the top and back onto the road, where my dad had appeared again like the paparazzi pointing his camera at us. I forced a smile as we ran past but smiling was the last thing I felt like doing. Once running on the flat again I felt a bit better and knew the bulk of the run was behind us. We’ve even decided that we might incorporate this stretch of beach in some of our training runs for the Great North Run.
As we were running round the lake (just like the parkrun route), Tony and I were saying we didn’t think we had a sprint finish left in us. My knee and hip were hurting from running on the little bit of soft sand and I was really ready to find the finish so I could stop. As we began to approach the final kilometre I began to think I had a little bit more energy than I originally thought. Once I could see the finish I decided maybe, just maybe, I did have enough energy to sprint finish after all. I began to run faster and I built up speed. So did Tony. I absolutely love running with him and I love how we are training together at the same speed as each other but when I could see the finish line, competitive Julie surfaced and I gave it everything I had. I could hear everyone shouting and it spurred me on even more. We ran almost side by side getting faster until we crossed the line. I wasn’t sure my little legs could carry me any further but we made it…and the official time says I beat him by 1 second! (who knew I was that competitive?!)
Sprint finish!
It was so much fun: the company, the supporters, the scenery and the sprint finish. A perfect way to spend a Sunday morning on a bank holiday weekend, and we even got a lovely medal and a fabulous goody bag!
Craig, me and Tony with our medals :)
I can feel it in my legs now and think I may have overdone it this weekend. That said, to say I’ve ran 15 k over two days, it doesn’t feel as bad as I’d expect and I know I’m getting fitter all the time. I know I need to keep putting training in and I need to increase my effort over the next few months to get me to the Great North Run, but I know that I can do it. Bring it on!
Thank you to my dad Paul Carr for the photos xxxx

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Where there's a will there's a way!

I’ve done quite a lot of running since I last wrote here. I’ve possibly not ran as much as I should have done but at least I’ve got out there a few times and that’s what counts.
Last Saturday I did a different Parkrun in Leeds. I met my friends at Woodhouse Moor ready for my 45th Parkrun. I’m enjoying experiencing different Parkrun’s in Leeds and I think this one was the busiest I’ve been to. It was a 3 lap course which initially put me off as I thought it would be psychologically more difficult but it wasn’t as bad as I thought and I actually quite enjoyed it.
Me, Judith, Maria and Kim
I’ve had an extremely busy week with something planned each night after work so I didn’t know when I would fit in a run. I’m determined not to make excuses as I want to ensure I train well for the Great North Run. On Tuesday night I set my alarm early and was determined I would get up early  to run. I knew it wouldn’t be far or fast, but it would be better than nothing! When my alarm went off on Wednesday morning I really wanted to go back to sleep but before I could process what I was doing, I ate my banana got dressed and went out. I didn’t know how far I was going to go but I knew I’d need to be back to get ready for work. A few minutes after I started to run I was glad that I’d got up to experience a part of the day I don’t normally see. I ran about 10 minutes away from my house before turning round and running back. I was glad I went out, it was grey and drizzly outside but by the time I got home I felt sunny and happy on the inside. I’m not sure I will be motivated enough to make it a regular early morning thing but I’m glad that I did it this week.
Pretty Cherry Blossom on my early morning run
I’ve been home this weekend and yesterday morning did Druridge Bay Parkrun (my 46th Parkrun!) It was a bright and sunny morning and I enjoyed the route, I saw a few people I knew and enjoyed catching up with them before the run. It was quite a warm morning but Tony and I still had enough in our legs for a sprint finish!
Sprint Finish! (Thanks to Druridge Bay Parkrun for the photo)
My niece Toni completed the Gregg's Children's Cancer run this morning (3 miles) and she really enjoyed it . I think it's lovely she has the running bug too and she was so proud of her medal! :-)
Toni with her medal looking proud
I’d already planned to go for a longer run this morning but then also decided to go for cocktails last night as it’s my birthday tomorrow. I didn’t have too many cocktails and it wasn’t a late night so I knew I’d be ok to run this morning. As I’m doing the Great North Run with Tony we plan to do as many training runs as possible together. We didn’t know how far we’d do this morning (mainly in case I was hungover!) but we decided to just see how our legs felt. I knew I wanted to see the beach (as always when I’m home) so after running around the lake at the QE2 we headed to Newbiggin. It was a beautiful morning, albeit slightly too hot to run. We covered 8 miles in total which is more than I was expecting. We walked some of it partly due to the heat and partly due to my knee/leg hurting. Although I didn’t feel hungover this morning I probably hadn’t had enough water yesterday.
I never tire of this view
 This afternoon I also went for a walk around the lake with Rachael which was lovely. I'm surprised my legs feel ok...hopefully they'll still feel ok tomorrow!
Rach and me on our walk
I’m finally beginning to feel that the Great North Run is achievable. I know I’ve done it before but it still felt out of reach until recently. I surprised myself covering 8 miles this morning and it made me realise that running is as much a psychological battle as it is physical.

Friday, 6 May 2016

Hanger to Happiness...

It’s been a long week and I finished work later than planned tonight so the last thing I wanted to do was get ready and go to Bootcamp. I was tired and hungry (and probably a little bit Hangry!) but I ate a banana and got my running clothes on before I could change my mind. I haven’t done any exercise all week and I have another busy week ahead. I made every excuse possible not to go for a run last night (and even got lost looking for the Polling Station!) so I knew I had to make the effort tonight.
It took every ounce of will power within me to get ready and go out the door. But I did just that. I knew it would make me feel better and I know that if I have any chance of crossing the finish line of the Great North Run then I need to keep training.
Within 5 minutes of starting Bootcamp I knew I’d made the right choice. I then spent the next 50 minutes wondering why I’d chosen to put myself through the pain, especially when the midges started to attack and the grass left a rash on both legs. But then I felt happy again during the last 5 minutes and proud of myself for making the effort.
Pretty Sping flowers
I’m generally a positive person and sometimes feel like I don’t want to blog about the negatives, but then I think I need to keep it balanced. It’s about ensuring that I look for the positives in the bad days and that’s what I did tonight. I knew that I would feel better after I went so I made myself go. Exercise is such a feel good factor and I for one never thought I’d be so addicted to it (even though I had to all but kick myself out the door tonight).
Life is rather busy at the moment, quite a lot busier than usual and the next couple of months show no signs of slowing down but I will try and fit as much training in as possible to ensure I can cover the distance!
I am looking forward to doing another (different) Parkrun in the morning with two of my friends from work.

Sunday, 1 May 2016

A Soggy Sunday in Sunderland...

This morning when my alarm went off and I could hear rain lashing on the windows I was wondering why I thought it was a good idea to get up and do a 10K on a Sunday morning. I have this battle every time I have to get up early to go running. Ironically, I didn’t go running yesterday morning yet I was awake at 7am (how annoying!)
I got ready and had my usual 10K breakfast of porridge and Nutella before lacing up and heading out the door. Half way to Sunderland I realised that I had forgotten to pack bin bags and so thought positive sunny thoughts in the hope I wouldn’t need to wear one anyway! Upon arriving at Sunderland, we parked a few minute walk away and heading to the new start area at Keel Square. It was cold, wet and miserable and I didn’t feel enthusiastic about running at all.  We stood shelter in the baggage tent which was marginally warmer, and considerably drier. My sister Joanne then rang and told me she’d arrived and was near the start with Craig, so Tony and I went to meet them.
Craig, me and Tone
I decided I wanted my number pinned to my jacket instead of my top so I could fasten it and stay dry when running. Unfortunately the event clips wouldn’t go through my jacket so I decided to run with my jacket open instead. (This turned out to be a fortunate decision as the rain stopped not long after we started running and I quickly began to feel hot).
It was lovely to see some familiar faces and running friends I haven’t seen for a while and I slowly began to look forward to the run ahead. It was lovely to have my brother in law Craig back out running too as he’s one of the people that inspired to me to run.
Tone, me and Chris
Me and Colin in his Big Pink Dress
The route was different to last year and it felt strangely disorientating in parts. I don’t know Sunderland very well and I couldn’t have run last year’s route from memory but it still felt different at times. I was of course happy I got to see the sea and quite enjoyed the route overall. It was hilly in parts but I am proud to say I ran the whole way. I know I must be getting better at running as I rarely think about walking. I still complain quite a bit but I just run through it.

All the Marshall's were friendly and supportive and it was also lovely to see my friend Fiona marshalling too. It's always lovely to see a friendly face out running!
There were a number of water stations on route which were definitely needed at times. They were water pouches which I always find difficult to navigate. Firstly I didn’t realise it was already open so squirted half the water out before I got any and secondly once I figured this out managed to breathe in as I was drinking and running and inhaled the water as well drinking it! I was still grateful for the water and I navigated the second pouch much better than the first.
When there were 3.2 miles remaining there was a sign in memory of Cpt David Seath, the 31 year old soldier who sadly died during the London Marathon last week. We ran the rest of the route in his memory and it really made me appreciate how lucky I am to be able to get out and run. Life is so short and we should remember to make the most of every minute.
I struggled with the final couple of miles as my hip began to hurt and my calves felt heavy. Some kind spectators were giving out jelly babies and it was a welcome sugar hit as we were approaching the end. Although I found it difficult, I did quite enjoy it overall, particularly as I had someone to talk to which always helps.
Joanne was waiting near the finish and cheered us on. We didn’t think we had a sprint finish left in us but the closer we got to the end I decided maybe I did after all so I ran with everything I had. Tony did too and we did another synchronised sprint finish! Just after we crossed the finish line I saw Craig and Chris cheering us on. We then joined the queue to get our t-shirt, medal and goody bag and went to find Joanne.
I was really pleased with our time of 1 hour 16 which is faster than we ran Blyth 10k a few weeks ago. I am particularly proud of this time as it was hillier than the Blyth route.
When heading back to the car I began to feel really cold and decided I needed to use the foil blanket we’d been given which made me a lot warmer! We also got a cup of tea on the way back to the car which helped warm me up even further.
This afternoon Joanne, Craig and the children came for tea and I shared a bottle of Prosecco with my mam and Joanne to celebrate. I spent the whole afternoon sporting my t-shirt and medal (which has a rather exciting moving propeller feature!)
Feeling proud!
I’ve had a lovely day with some wonderful people and I look forward to continuing to build up my miles towards the Great North Run. I am running for a fantastic cause – the North East Trust for Aphasia – supporting people with communication difficulties following a stroke or other brain injury. If you would like to show your support you can find the link to my fundraising page here.
Thanks so much for reading!