Getting Faster

I do believe I am getting a bit faster.  There was a time when running at a pace below 8 minute/mile was something I could only do for a very short time – as a short effort perhaps.  But over the past few months I have gradually extended the distance I can hold that pace for and have, in several races lately, found myself covering the final mile or two at that pace.  I think it is the Club Efforts sessions that have helped with this, plus trying really hard not to go off too fast in races.  I have run negative splits on several occasions recently and that definitely feels better than running out of steam 2 miles from the finish.

During May I ran PBs at:

5km (Aberystwyth parkrun, 23 May – 23:53mins),

5 miles (Great Yarmouth, 20 May – 40:47mins),

10km (GEAR, King’s Lynn, 3 May – 51:13) and

10 miles (Dereham, 10 May 1:27:47)

Then yesterday I ran Catton parkrun in under 25 minutes for the first time (24:47mins).

Me avoiding hills - love this pic by the wonderful Helen Oghenegweke

Me avoiding hills – love this pic by the wonderful Helen Oghenegweke

There is a common theme to most of these PBs – they are on flat courses.  Aberystwyth, Great Yarmouth and GEAR were pancake flat.  I find it so much easier to pace myself and finish strongly on a flat course.  So it is encouraging really that I am getting faster at Catton as that is a hillier course.  I think hills are probably something I need to tackle a little more.  I need to venture to some of Wendy’s Mousehold sessions and push myself a bit now my ankle is definitely mended.

Running is feeling good at the moment.  It isn’t just getting PBs, I am just really enjoying it – whether it is a race, efforts at club on a Tuesday, a run and a catch-up with Jess or a long slow chatty run with Linda, Lynn and Sophie.  I am loving them all.

And that is how I want it to stay – a nice mixture of chasing PBs, pacing other people and just running for fun, plus a couple of rides each week on the bike, of course!

10k PB – Grand East Anglia Run (GEAR) 3 May 2015

May was a month of PBs for me!  First up, was a fabulous PB at the 10k distance.

I had it in mind to try and get a good time at the GEAR run in King’s Lynn as it is a flat town centre course with great crowd support.  My ankle was recovered and I felt good so it seemed realistic to aim for sub-53 minutes (to get the club gold standard) with the possibility if I felt particularly strong of going sub-52 minutes.

The day did not start well as it was pouring with rain for our half hour walk to the start and then we hung around for ages getting wetter and wetter as the start was delayed.

Sally and I, waiting in the rain to start the race

Sally and I, waiting in the rain to start the race


The first mile was slow as many people had started in pens where the pace was too quick for them and then others were prissy about getting their shoes wet (even though they had been standing for an hour in pouring rain!) and the pathway was narrow so it kept surging forward and then stopping suddenly when a Prissy Person encountered a puddle and tried to go round it.  This stopping and starting made me nervous about my ankle.

But after the first mile people spread out and I got into my stride.  I knew that to get the time I wanted I had to average 8:15 minute/miles and, with a 9:08 minute first mile, things were not looking promising.  But I kept targeting runners ahead and picking them off one by one, running behind them for a few seconds and then overtaking when I felt comfortable.  My pace felt manageable at just over 8 minute/miles.  Starting further back than I probably should have done, and having a slow start meant I overtook a lot of people in the middle part of the race which is always good for morale.  The rain had slowed to a drizzle which was nice and cooling and there was little if any wind.  The crowds were, as expected, fantastic and it makes such a difference to get cheered on, even by strangers.

The final mile!

The final mile!

By the beginning of the final mile I did feel tired but I wasn’t sure I’d get the time I wanted unless I made one final push and, knowing there were no hills, I managed a 7:41 minute/mile which was a good effort at the end of a 10km race and not something I could have done a year ago.

My finishing time was 51:13 minutes, a PB and well under the 53 minute target I had set for myself. The medal was great and it was good to watch Sally and some of her club mates finish and to have a brief chat with Roly who had also run a really good time, although he too had had a slow start in the crowds.

All finished - with our bling!

All finished – with our bling!

Delighted with my PB, we retired to the pub to strip off all the nasty wet clothes and then drink much beer and eat a rather large meal!  A great day!

Trowse 10k 2015

It was for this race that Linda and I had been submitting ourselves to hill efforts at club for the past few months.  We were determined that we would make it up the hill in Trowse both times without having to lie on the floor and groan.  And we did!  We had a great race – managing a good finishing time (55:25 which gives us the Club silver time – hurray!) and chatting and enjoying it the whole way round (well, maybe the chatting and enjoyment was a bit sparser towards the top of the hill the second time round)

It was a wonderful day.  I had focused my thoughts (fears) on the hill and had not really given much attention to the rest of the race.  And of course, most of the race is downhill or flat.  The downhill section is a lovely long sweeping 2k which is gentle enough to enjoy but downhill enough to be restful.  I loved that bit.  And the part alongside Whitlingham Broad is always nice to run along and it wasn’t too muddy.

We managed to maintain a fairly even pace – slower on the hill of course but not too much so – and our pace didn’t drop towards the end of the race.  We had both agreed, at the 8k mark, that we had nothing left for a sprint finish but somehow, when we could see the turn for the car park lurking further down the road, we found something and off we went.  I felt good for the whole run and I am fairly confident that I could put in a much faster time on the flat 5 milers at Great Yarmouth which are coming up and the GEAR 10k which is also pancake flat.  So I finished the race feeling very positive both about the recovery of my ankle and the fact that I didn’t seem to have lost a lot of running fitness (my quads did ache the next morning!)

Linda and I sprint for the finish!

Linda and I sprint for the finish!

But it wasn’t just the race itself that made it such a good day for me.  Being part of the NRR running community gives me such a warm glow inside and makes events a fun social occasion.  Some of my friends (Sally, perhaps?) might remember me holding forth about how I could never join a club, how I would hate having to run with other people and how the beauty of running was being able to get out there on my own whenever I wanted!!  How wrong I was!   I love being part of the Club.  It’s great having people to run with but also the camaraderie from Norwich Road Runners, not just those running but also those spectating, supporting or taking fabulous photos is fantastic and it is inspiring to watch people train, improve and compete at whatever level that may be.  The club is for everyone – fast or slow or inbetween.

And at this event, it wasn’t just NRR folks – there were also some pals from my cycling club (I love VCN too) and my friends, Sally, Geoff and Jayne with whom I shared a very tasty lunch at the River Green afterwards.

With Sally and Jayne before the start

With Sally and Jayne before the start

What a fantastic day!

Things to Look Forward To

My ankle is definitely improving and I have been out for a couple of very short flat slow runs and it has felt OK. It is hard to know what to do for the best now – rest it completely from running and just cycle (which is what I did for the first 10 days) or try running on it. It is definitely not still right – it feels bruised to the touch and it is hard to describe but it is a little unstable and would, I fear, be easy to twist again.  And, of course, I don’t want to run too soon and make it worse and be out of running for ages.

I am going to be fairly cautious and will back off completely if it feels worse after I have run on it (which so far it hasn’t).  My plan for the next few weeks running-wise is to do Parkrun tomorrow but just at a jog or even a walk if necessary and then I will rest it from running for 3 or 4 days and then try a really flat slow 3 miler midweek and then aim to do the Trowse 10k on Sunday but it’ll be a slow steady run and may include some walking (or even sitting down!!).  Then I will rest it completely for a week and hopefully after that I can go back to all my normal running antics – efforts, long runs etc.  I do hope so.

I have done plenty of cycling this past week and my ankle hasn’t bothered me at all whilst pedalling, it’s just the clipping in and out that hurts. I had my second ever fall from the bike on Tuesday, simply because it still doesn’t feel instinctive to unclip with the other foot and I dithered and ending up falling splat in the road in front of a tractor. Weirdly the only other time I have fallen off my bike was also in front of a tractor. So I now have a nicely bruised elbow to coordinate with my ankle.

But anyway, looking ahead I have lots of events planned over the year so I thought it would be useful to list them all here, in one place, so that I can refer back to it when I need to.

5 April                  Trowse 10k (hopefully)
22 April                Great Yarmouth 5 miler (already have silver time, try for gold time?)
25 April                Morley Meander 113k cycle ride
26 April                London Marathon (watching this, not running it!!)
3 May                  GEAR 10k (try and get the Club silver time)
4 May                  Pedal Norfolk 50 mile ride
6 May                  Great Yarmouth 5 miler
10 May                Dereham 10 miler (try and get the Club silver time)
20 May                Great Yarmouth 5 miler
31 May                Norwich 100 cycle ride
28 June               Humpty Dumpty 10k
24 July                Worstead 5 miler
30 August           The new Norwich City Centre 10k hopefully
18 October         Amsterdam Half Marathon and weekend away with Club
15 November      St Neots Half Marathon (try for the Club silver time)

I seem to have rather a lot lined up for May but several of them are short events (5 mile, 10k and 50 mile on the bike) so those shouldn’t be too arduous.

So there is lots to look forward to and I am sure I will add more events for later in the year as time goes by.

The Injurious Incident of the Football at the Parkrun

It’s funny (in a peculiar, not humorous) kind of way how you can have everything planned out and then one silly little thing sends all those plans awry.

One silly little thing. And here it is . . . the silly little thing:

Silly Little Thing

Silly Little Thing

A football. I don’t play football. I have never been in the slightest bit interested in football. But sometimes things in which we have no interest, they seek us out whether we want them to or not. And this is what happened to me at Eaton Park on Saturday morning.  Having happily completed my own Parkrun, I had decided to run the final lap again, with Allyson, as a cool-down.  I had just joined her and was chatting merrily away when a football whooshed out from the undergrowth (Ok, so it rolled gently across some well-cut grass). Most people who see a football coming towards them would probably stop and let it pass, or perhaps leap athletically over it, or maybe kick it back from whence it came. I tried to do all of those things – all at the same time. And instead of managing any of them successfully, I kind of half stepped on it whilst it swivelled and squirmed beneath my feet yanking my right foot viciously to the side and I ended up on the ground, clutching my ankle.

At first it was very painful. I fear I may have sworn and I may even have whimpered a little. Some very kind men who had finished their Parkrun came and hoisted me up and offered to walk me back to the bandstand but by then I was feeling better and hobbled over by myself feeling a little silly. When Allyson arrived back a few minutes later I was quite recovered and queued to have my time recorded and wandered back to my car barely limping, thinking I had had a lucky escape from injury.

But then when I got home and looked at my ankle and saw just how large it had become, it began to hurt a whole lot more. A quick check on the internet suggested that it was probably just a sprain and that RICE – rest ice compression and elevation – was the thing to do.  And that’s how I spent the rest of the weekend, slumped on the floor or the sofa with my leg raised up and a bag of frozen peas regularly resting against my poorly ankle.




And those plans that went awry? Well, really I had no immediate plans other than my regular runs and rides – I just hadn’t planned on sitting around quite so much. Fortunately I don’t have any events scheduled until the Trowse 10k on Easter Sunday.  For now I can’t run. My ankle is still a wee bit swollen and quite bruised. I can walk on it on flat even footpaths and cycling seems to be OK (other than the twisting to get the cleats in place) so it could be worse. I am trying to enjoy a rest week. But one will be enough. I suspect I will enjoy a rest fortnight or month a whole lot less.

But I think it is easier to deal with this accident than it is a running niggle or injury as I know exactly what caused it and that it wasn’t because I ran too far or too fast (as if!) or too often or wearing the wrong shoes. I just need to avoid footballs.

New Year New Targets

Well, perhaps the year is not so very new! It has been a while since I last wrote here. I’m not sure why – I kept meaning to write but other stuff seemed to get in the way.

Anyway, I am back. And I didn’t stop running or cycling for the couple of months I failed to write – I’ve done plenty of running and have been out on the bike when the weather has allowed. I refuse to cycle if there is the slightest hint of ice so that has meant less riding than I would have liked.

So what’s new? Well, I did a fair few races since I last wrote here and they all went well. I feel fairly confident now running the longer distances – I ran a hilly 15 miler at Folksworth at the end of January and got a much better time than I had expected and I ran the Freethorpe 10 miler with Linda a week later and beat my previous 10 Mile PB by six minutes. I have also run two 10ks (Ely New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s), a few Parkruns and cycled the 80 mile Wiggle No Excuses Sportive. I enjoyed them all. And that’s the main thing, isn’t it?

Oh and I got my Bronze Medallion from Norwich Road Runners. Whilst it was a wee bit embarrassing getting it presented, I am so very proud to have it. This means I got the bronze standard time at 6 distances for my age group- 5km, 5 mile, 10km, 10 mile, half marathon and 15 mile. Joining Norwich Road Runners last January was one of the best decisions I have made recently – it has given me such an enthusiasm for running that I just can’t stop myself from entering events (more about that in a future post).

My bronze medallion!  Isn't it beautiful?

My bronze medallion! Isn’t it beautiful?

So what next? Well, these are my plans for the next few months in broad terms:

1.I want to get my 50 Parkrun t-shirt this year. I have been doing Parkruns intermittently since they first started in Norwich back in 2012 but I have never been a regular attender. I am currently halfway there. There are now a range to choose from locally so I have no excuse at all. Parkrun is a great way to start the weekend.

Catton Parkrun with LInda and Mark Storey last Saturday (Linda and I both got a PB!)

Catton Parkrun with LInda and Mark Storey last Saturday (Linda and I both got a PB!)

2.I want to try to get the silver club standard medallion before I move into the next age group next spring. I already have the silver times at 5 mile and 15 miles and I don’t think they will be too tricky to get at the other middle distances but I struggle to believe I can ever run 5km in 24:14. I guess I could always try to get it at 20 mile distance instead of 5km. But 20 miles? Eek! Ah well, that is something to worry about later – initially I shall concentrate on getting the silver time at 10km, 10 mile and half marathon as those definitely feel do-able.

3.I managed to do a lot of running and a lot of cycling last year without injury and I want that to continue. I will therefore try to keep my training at a sensible level (I am pretty ancient after all). I shall aim for three runs a week: efforts at Club every week as those are so good for me and hard to do alone, Parkrun on a Saturday morning and then every other week I will do a long run with Linda so that we can run long races whenever it takes our fancy. On the week I don’t do a long run I will just do a nice steady 4 or 6 miler.

And cycling? Well, here I am on my bike the other week just to prove I have still been riding for those who haven’t seen me for ages:

Sally Kelly and I on the Wiggle No Excuses 80 Mile Sportive (February 2015)

Sally Kelly and I on the Wiggle No Excuses 80 Mile Sportive (February 2015)

I want to concentrate on just getting out on my bike with VCN, Jen, Jess or whoever else fancies a ride (Liz, perhaps, now she has her new bike!?) and enjoying the ride rather than doing so many sportives and events. I got pretty fed up with Sportives last year (several were disorganised or felt like they were ripping us off). But I will do Pedal Norfolk at the beginning of May with Sally and also the Norwich 100 at the end of May, hopefully with a group from VCN. Whilst I have gone out with Jen regularly over the winter and done some lovely 25 mile jaunts, I have not been on many VCN Club rides so I will aim to remedy that over the next few weeks.

Two weeks in one post

I never got round to writing this last weekend and now I am going to struggle to remember anything about two weeks ago even with the aid of my Strava/Garmin records. But I shall try . . .

And I shall start with the easiest bit – the week that has just finished!

Saturday (29/11) – rest day (did clean dirty bike at last!)

Friday (28/11) – rest day

Thursday (27/11) – A lovely ride with Jen to the South of Norwich on very muddy roads. It was the first time I had seen Jen in months so there was lots to catch up on. I hadn’t bothered to clean my bike since the Audax earlier in the week but it is just as well really – I saved myself some effort by only having to clean it once.
(27.5 miles at ave 12.6mph, ave HR 123 bpm)

In the evening I went to the Norwich Road Runners session and ran a nice steady 4 miler with Karren. Again I hadn’t run with her for some time so there was lots to catch up on there too. It was a nice run although the street lighting is not great in some places and it was rather dark and difficult to see where you were putting your feet.
(3.9 miles at ave 10:11 min/mi pace, ave HR 139bpm)

Wednesday (26/11) – rest day

Tuesday (25/11) Norwich Road Runners efforts session on the field. I love these! And this was one well-suited to me as I prefer the shorter efforts – running hard for 5 mins always seems a bit much, but this was 1 min, then 45 secs recovery, then 45 secs, followed by 15 secs recovery, followed by 15 secs effort. And we did that 6 times. I remembered to push the lap button on my Garmin so could see my effort pace rather than just the meaningless overall pace (I walk on the recoveries and groan a lot!)
(3.5 miles, pace for effort parts varied between 6:14 mi/mile and 7:28 mi/mile, ave HR 148bpm)

Monday (24/11) Long run day. I have decided that I will do a long run (not always this long) every other week to keep my distance up. Anyway, I was planning to run alone which is fine if a little dull. But during the day Jess got in touch to ask if I was going to Norwich Road Runners as she was thinking of going too. When I said I was doing a 12 mile run, she rather remarkably said she would come too. Jess only started running a few weeks ago, and up til now the furthest she had run was just under 7 miles. And she coped fine. We kept the pace nice and slow. My stomach got very dodgy under the Magdalen Road flyover (not a place you want to stop for a natural break) but I did make it home without incident. My Heart rate was a bit higher than it should have been for a run at that pace – not sure why that was but I felt fine.
(12 miles, ave pace 10:35 min/mile, ave HR 151)

Sunday (23/11) Rest day spent marshalling at a very very soggy Norwich half marathon. I am so very glad that I did not register to run that event.

Here we are waiting to start marshalling at the half marathon!

Here we are waiting to start marshalling at the half marathon!

Saturday (22/11) Swaffham Scorpion Audax. It was a wet day and the roads were very mucky but audaxes (is that the plural?) are such fun – everyone is out just to enjoy the ride and not worry about their speeds and the food is always good. And they are so cheap – £5 if you are a CTC member and that includes the food. Doing audaxes has turned me off Sportives which never have such a good atmosphere, often have a lot of dangerous riders and are hideously expensive in comparison.
(65 miles at ave speed of 15.1mph, ave HR 136bpm)

Friday (21/11) rest day

Thursday (20/11) rest day

Wednesday (19/11) Evening run with Jess. This is my old route, the one I used to run every flipping time I went out but it is so long since I have done it regularly that it now feels all fresh and interesting again. It is good to run once a week with Jess as she goes a bit more quickly that I generally do and it’s probably good to have a bit more variety in pace.
(4.9 miles, ave pace 9:23 min/mile, ave HR 158 bpm)

Tuesday (18/11) Norwich Road Runners Efforts session – Descending ladders on Gas Hill. There were no ladders involved – these efforts were 40 secs up, walk down recovery, 30 secs up, walk down recover, 15 secs up, walk down recovery x4. Or at least I think that’s what we did – it is so long ago now that I might have got it a bit wrong) Doesn’t sound a lot, does it? But Gas Hill is steep and it was hard work. But fun too! I managed it and whilst my legs were achy the next day my achilles was fine and I suffered no ill effects.
(Garmin data pretty meaningless as didn’t use the lap button – but total distance was 3.2 miles)

Monday (17/11) Rest day

Sunday (16/11) Longdale Striders Catton Park Relay for the Big C. I was an honorary Storey for this event. Basically we had to run laps of Catton Park for 3 hours – teams could have as many members as they wished. We started off with 5 members which meant not too much running had to be done by any of us, but after one lap the girls decided they didn’t want to do any more, so Linda and I did two laps but poor old Mark ended up doing all the rest. It was a fun event and hopefully they raised a lot of money.

Mileage (for week beginning 23/11)

Cycling – 49.1 miles
Running – 19.4 miles

Mileage (for week beginning 16/11)
Cycling = 118.5 miles
Running = 11.9 miles