Running on empty…

I have been meaning to update for a over a week now but things just keep getting in the way. The Easter holidays flew by and I was snowed under at work, stressing and worrying about the organising and planning of the new block of lessons, and now here we are, 2 weeks into the new block and time is just going too damn fast! My working days usually fly by from the minute I clock in to the minute I clock back out and by the time I get home and have my dinner I am already planning on going to bed! I am really appreciating the lighter evenings and they are really giving me the boost I need to get back out and clock up some miles but I have recently felt like it’s a real struggle to find the motivation and energy I need to get out there. Since the Edinburgh half two weeks ago I haven’t managed a run longer than 8 miles. By the time I finish teaching at 6pm I can’t describe how hungry I am, so dinner is always a priority as soon as I get in. I wait for a bit for dinner to digest and by the time I’m ready to head out for my run it’s pushing 8pm and I don’t want to head too far from home with the light fading… Whining aside, it has been a great month for racing. The Edinburgh race really made me up my game and made me realise I was tougher than I thought when it comes to running in horrific weather conditions. And I think horizontal rain and 37mph winds count as slightly horrific!! Last weekend brought us the Callander X 10K and it was fabulous. Easily one of the most scenic races I have completed and a good challenging run too. It started at the bottom of a hill and after a minute or so of road running we turned sharply and started our ascent up a rather steep trail. It wasn’t a busy race but the trail was very narrow to begin with, so there was a bit of darting about through people trying to find a comfortable position in the pack. The race was described as 40% tarmac and 60% trails, and the first 2.5 kilometres were all off road, quite muddy and rather steep. I was glad I had swayed towards trail shoes for this particular race! I pushed really hard for the first section to try and get past people that by the time the second section of hills came I just felt useless. My run became a bit of a shuffle as the hills got steeper but before I knew it I could hear the piper at the summit of the hill and I was fast approaching 5km. The descent was amazing, I suddenly had the wind in my sails and I used the downwards slopes to make up for lost time on the way up. The trails were absolutely wonderful and with a snow capped Ben Ledi as a back drop I couldn’t help but smile as I speedily made my way back downhill and onto the roads. The road took us back up some serious hills and I could see the fast runners in the distance at the top of the hill and sighed as I realised I had to dig deep and push once more to get up to the top of this one. I was running low on energy by now as I’d really pushed to get my splits back down into single numbers after the last lot of hills so this next lot of hills wasn’t a welcome feature! By now we were about 7.5km in and I could see the trail leading back down into Callander so I just let my legs go and flew down the last lot of hills. I kept glancing back and could see Jemma in her bright Alloa half t shirt not far behind me and she is FAST coming down hills, so that also gave me the final push I needed to speed up. The last 2km were lovely and flat, following an old railway path back in Callander, crossing and old metal bridge and down a final slope back to the finish line. Done. The race wasn’t chip timed so going with my garmin I got 52:40 but my official race time was 53:04. However my garmin only registered 6.09miles, so not quite sure what happened there. But under 55 minutes for a tricky hill race will do me just fine! Sunny 10k hill run, bbq and mugs. I’m happy! My little brother had come along with Jemma so it was nice to have some support at the finish line and then once Jemma finished we all trotted off for a lovely burger from the BBQ the event organisers had put on for us. The weather was gorgeous throughout and I would highly recommend this race to anyone who loves trail running or just wants to give it a go! We got a goodie bag filled with tasty treats and also an amazing mug – as much as I love a medal, a mug is just as good as you  get to use it daily and with the amount of coffee I drink, this is definitely useful. An awesome race memento. Although I feel like I have been running on empty, I have been working hard in the gym during my lunch break. When you finish work for the day, the last thing you want to do (well, me personally) is return to said place until the following day. I work in a sports centre and get the gym and classes for free, but I find myself unable to go back after I finish as 9 hours a day there is long enough!! I go to classes at weekends and I’m desperate to try out Metafit which has just been introduced to our timetable, so we’ll see how I get on with that along with my circuits on a Tuesday. During my lunch break I’m completing a weights circuit 2 days a week and a cardio/abs set on the other 2 days. I wish I could fit in a swim as well (seeing as I’m already in the pool for about 6 hours a day!) but there just aren’t enough hours in a day. Where does time go?! I’m also looking into joining my local running club, The Wee County Harriers. They train 2 evenings a week, starting from my workplace and also at the weekends so I just need a little confidence boost to go along and join them. That’s my one of my goals for this year, along with a 46:xx 10k time and a 1:45:xx half time. I think that’s just about feasible. I ran another 2 races this weekend which were both awesome. Race reports will follow later this week!

Edinburgh Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon – RACE REPORT!

Official time: 1:53:49 Overall: 1181 out of 4361 Division: 51 out of 393 Gender: 273 out of 2269 It’s glittery!! I had been looking forward to this event for months for a few reasons. I cannot lie, the main reason being the awesome medal, but also because it’s a much bigger and more structured event compared to the others I have taken part in this year. However from the minute I woke up and heard the wind howling outside I knew I was going to be in for a hard slog. I awoke before my alarm at 5am and after a bit of tossing and turning, trying to get back to sleep I eventually gave in and got up. Clearly it was even too early for my dog to as she was snoring away merrily and I had to prod her to get her up!! We went out for a short walk and by the time we got home we were both drenched. Not a good outlook for the upcoming race. Hoping it would clear by the time I got through to Edinburgh, I set about making my usual pre-race breakfast of porridge with banana and a few cups of strong coffee and I was ready to go. I left slightly earlier than was necessary as I was worried about parking in Edinburgh due to all the road closures. However as I was so early I easily found a space in back road with time to spare for a quick trip to Tesco to stock up on bananas and Lucozade. Sitting in the car as I waited to head down to the start area, I started to worry a little about the race. The car physically shook with the strong winds and the rain was battering off the windscreen. I have had much more pleasant runs this year so far and I have always chosen to wear either long sleeves or a t-shirt, but idiot Iona chooses this one to debut her vest wearing for the year. Eeeek, this could have been a bad choice! But it was too late to worry now, so I packed what I needed in my backpack, braved the cold and took off my tracksuit bottoms, put my hood up and joined the hundreds of other runners making their way down to the starting area at Holyrood Park. I had plenty of layers on for now, but it was only a matter of time before I had to ditch them at the bag drop and make my way to the start line. The wind was fierce and the rain was driving into our faces but I was trying  not to let it get to me – I still had a good few hours of this by the looks of things! A few portaloos had already been blown over by this point which added to the already huge queues of people waiting to go one last time before the race and I needed to join them, not looking forward to the long wait, but luckily I found a short queue. It was then time to brave the cold and get ready so I dropped off my stuff at the bag drop and went to meet Jemma who had got the bus through from Glasgow. As we stood shivering at the starting area we once again wished we had remembered bin bags to wear up until we started – next time for sure! The race was delayed a few minutes at the start due to the weather causing problems on the course that had to be sorted, but not long after 9.15am the first wave were off! We were at the back of the third wave and soon as we were over the line we began to dodge people and try and get a good fast start. The road is pretty narrow for the first mile or so and we found ourselves dodging in and out of people to try and get through the crowds and set a sensible pace. By the time we rounded a corner and came up to 2 miles people had spaced out a bit and we were finally moving! Soaked through and not even started. 🙁 The first few miles flew by. The weather had eased up a bit but it was still pretty windy however this wasn’t dampening anyone’s spirits! There were live bands dotted about the course and despite the weather they carried on and boosted morale. The course was flat and fast until we got down to Portobello where side winds hit us hard for a shirt period of time. As we rounded a corner and progressed down to the promenade we had a sudden boost with tail winds and it was greatly appreciated! Miles 4, 5 & 6 saw us running through residential areas and back up towards the other side of Holyrood Park. The rain was still horrific and my feet were absolutely soaking but I wasn’t going to let this weather beat me. Mile 1 – 8:16 Mile 2 – 7.48 Mile 3 – 8:06 Mile 4 – 8:20 Mile 5 – 8:45 Mile 6 – 9:01 At mile 6 we met the first of the hills. Not too steep, but it was a long one and my legs screamed at me. I took a gel about 6 miles in and instantly felt it in my legs – just the boost I needed. This is the first race in a long time I have completed without listening to music at all and it was really nice to have a chat with Jemma on the way around as well as listen to the bands and cheer on other runners! Miles 7 and 8 saw us coming into Holyrood Park and hitting another hill. With side winds. And rain that felt like it was stabbing me. Ouch. However what goes up must come down and we absolutely flew back down the other side! A combination of a descent and tail winds took our split down to a pace time of 7:06 at one point and we had to laugh – that was slower than some runners pace for the entire race!! As we headed out of Holyrood Park and back into the centre of Edinburgh I could hear the P.A on the other side of the park congratulating the runners who were just coming in to finish – Uhhh, I still had 4 and a bit miles to go!! Those people are crazy fast!! The next few miles were an uphill slog through the Cannongate and looping round past the Meadows and back past the University of Edinburgh. This was the toughest part of the race for me where my legs just wanted to give up on me. My breathing felt good, I felt strong on top and in my head I was desperate to push up that hill, but my legs were aching and my foot was giving me grief again. For a while the arch on my left foot has started to get sore after long road runs, (which is probably due to my crazy flat feet!) so I’m guessing it’s time to go and see someone about it. I’m pretty stubborn when it comes to things like that but if it’s going to affect my running, I’ll get to it pronto! At the top of the hill we took a sharp right where a sudden gust of wind caught me and nearly took my feet out from under me. This seriously was the toughest race I have ever taken part in. I knew I wasn’t getting a pb from about 5 miles in, but I could probably get back in about 1:55 if I kept up my pace, which I’d still be really happy with! At mile 10 we were on a long flat road going through the Meadows and an American man on the pavement suddenly shouted loudly “3 miles to go, you’re 3 miles away from that pint!”. Unfortunately I had the car with me, so I couldn’t indulge after the race, but this comment really spurred me on again and I caught back up with Jemma, who had got away from me a little. I took another gel at 11 miles to get me up to the top of the last hill and then I was finish line bound! The course took another well appreciated down hill route and I used this as my launch pad to speed up for the last few miles. Through Princes Street Gardens, past Waverly station and plenty of cheering tourists and back down the Royal Mile towards the finish line. There were a couple of guys on microphones shouting everyone on at 12.4 miles and them reminding me I had less than a mile to go made me dig deep. Another amazing downhill stretch gave me another boost right to the final 0.1 of a mile where I pulled everything I had left together and tried for a sprint finish. It wasn’t the fastest but I did manage to get past a few people right up the line where I put on my biggest smile for my finishers photo. Mile 7 –  9:23 Mile 8 – 8:44 Mile 9 – 9:06 Mile 10 – 9:23 (where my legs just said no!) Mile 11 – 9:05 Mile 12 – 8:42 Mile 13 – 8:07 0.1 – .49.1 As I shuffled through the finishers area to collect my medal I suddenly felt elated. It wasn’t a pb and it wasn’t a comfortable run by any means, but I felt brilliant and it was another half marathon in the bag! Then came the downside to the race. During the race the staff had to move all the bags due to high winds and the tents where we were meant to pick up our t-shirts had been taken down through fear of them blowing away. This meant instead of a very quick bag pick up and t-shirt grab we had to queue for our bags as very few staff ran in and out of the tents to get them. The queue was massive, no one quite knew where they should be standing and this lead to many people skipping the queue and others just being left baffled while trying their hardest not to blow away in their amazing silver space capes. I think if it hadn’t been for these capes my hands might have fallen off as after half an hour or so of waiting and shivering my finger tips turned completely white and lost all feeling. Not good! I had somehow come away with 2 space blankets, so I used the spare one to make a snazzy silver hand warmer and kept myself amused by jumping up and down and talking to people around me. EVENTUALLY (over an hour later!) we got our bags back, headed for the t-shirt queue and went to find somewhere to get a hot drink. I think that was the best cup of tea I have ever had. The feeling has finally come back to my fingers. Jemma and her fly away space cape!!! I was so thankful for these. All in all, I did enjoy this race. The weather put a bit of a downer on the event but you can’t help these things and I’m sure I’ll run other races in similar conditions – I do live in Scotland after all!

Forward planning…

With 2 days to go until the Edinburgh Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon, my 5th half, I couldn’t be any more excited. The thought of running with 5000 or so other people is really appealing to my competitive side, seeing as the majority of the races I have taken part in over the past few months have only had a couple of hundred people taking part. Most of these people have been club runners and hell they are fast! Although my times are improving (I have taken 10 minutes off my half marathon time and 7 minutes of my 10k time since I started racing), I’m still placing quite far back overall. The last big race I ran was the Great Scottish Run where I placed 1460th out of 7770 runners so this weekend I would definitely like to place top 2000. I think that’s possible…. All week I have visualised the race in my head. When I entered the race earlier this year I put down my finishing time at around 1:50:00, but since then I have smashed my pb by a whole 5 minutes taking my time down to 1:48:11 and I know I have more in me. I haven’t raced this route before but I’m aiming for a pb and I think if I can sneak forward into the 1:45:00 corral I’ll be more determined to keep up with those around me. I finally splashed out on a Garmin Forerunner 410 last week and I can’t wait to try it out properly in a race. A while back I said I didn’t want one as I quite liked using Endomondo on my phone, but as my phone gets a bit older my battery can’t take the stress of gps, music and Endomondo all running for any great length of time. I think I would be heartbroken if it gave up the ghost in the middle of a race and seeing as it has already totally drained my battery while out on long runs the chances of this happening any time soon are quite high. Also being away somewhere on a long run and my phone dying scares me in case I fall and break something and can’t drive home. I’m known for being super clumsy, so this is bound to happen some day! So, welcome into my life my lovely new Garmin!!! Ahhh, a new toy… I did sway with getting the 110 as it’s a bit more girly, but I liked the added features of this one. It’s a bit chunky but, again, seeing as I’m so clumsy I’m pretty sure this will be indestructible for me. I just need to remember to take it off when I’m in the pool teaching!! For some unknown reason I received the instructions in every language except English, so my poor husband Craig had to deal with me footering about with it, beeping every possible button and getting frustrated with the bezel, until he informed me I could download the instructions and didn’t have to guess how it worked. Yep, slight blonde moment there! So off my shiny new Garmin and I go to add another medal to my collection. I’m aiming for 1:45:00 – 1:50:00, seeing as I don’t know the course. I’m hoping if I can stick to around 8 minute miles I’ll come in under my expected time. Now that I’m a serious (ha!) runner, I’ll actually be a bit gutted if I don’t bring home a PB. Time to rest up until Sunday… Good luck to everyone running it and hopefully I’ll catch some of you there! Race report will follow 🙂 BEST.MEDAL.EVER!!!

Hello Spring!

What an amazing change in the weather we have had in the past week. Back in February when Jemma and I ran our first race of the year we thought that the winter was behind us as we ran along in the (rather chilly!) sunshine with clear blue skies above our heads. But no. Just a week later the snow began and it just didn’t want to stop. It was the kind of snow that you just get really bored with – always there but never on the ground for more than 5 minutes and just bitterly cold and annoying. At least it stopped for the majority of our race days, apart from a little flurry just before the beginning of our Loch Katrine races. The day after the Alloa Half Marathon the snow hit us pretty badly for a day or two – that was a very lucky miss! But here we are, 5 days in to April and we’ve had sunshine every day. I tried an evening run in shorts on Monday – maybe that was a little premature, but it won’t be long! My training this week has consisted of the following: Saturday – 11 miles of trail running with Jemma Sunday – Rest day Monday – 6 miles road running Tuesday – Circuits Wednesday – Rest day Thursday – 12.5 miles, mixed road and trail Friday – 5.5 miles cross country. I won’t lie, this week has been a struggle. On Saturday I felt maybe it was too soon after my breakfast and that’s why I didn’t feel great, but when I went out on Monday I felt slow. I put it down to having had a busy day at work and still being a bit sore from Saturday but if I’m honest, I wasn’t. I spent most of the day on the phone speaking to parents and organising the next block of swimming lessons when I’m usually in the pool teaching all day, so I can hardly say I had a strenuous day! On Tuesday I went to circuits and I felt great. Towards the end we completed a “nightmare set”, which consists of pad work, body kicks and lots and lots of squats. Oh how I needed my rest day on Wednesday! Long run day was on Thursday this week and again I felt slow. I haven’t quite recovered from Tuesdays set even now, so maybe I should have taken an extra day before my long run! But on I plodded down the old railway line from my house all the way round to Alva where I found a bench to sit on and eat my banana. I have started running with a Camelbak on my longer runs and even though it probably slows me down quite a bit I am really thankful for it. Not only does it carry my fluid but I can stick my keys, tissues, phone and even my banana in there. And the longer I run, the lighter my bag gets, so the last few miles are never that bad. However I needed a bath when I got in and a very good stretch. Tiger balm has become my new best friend this week. My run today was glorious. It was just beautiful! Shorts were back on, buff was left at home and my sunglasses even made an appearance! When I run cross country I have many gates to go through and cattle grids to hop over, so I’m never expecting a fast time, I just enjoy the scenery. And when it looks like this, you can look past the pain! Snow topped hills, blue skies and the Wallace monument in the back ground! Reading other blogs and Twitter is starting to make me insanely jealous with all the marathons everybody is running. At the beginning of the year I didn’t think I’d ever want to run a marathon, never mind be ready to run one. But in the past few months I have really upped my game and with Jemma and my little brother training for marathons this year, I’m starting to wish I had entered one too! I’ll wait and see how they get on in theirs first… Maybe next year will be my year! I have had 2 weekends without races and I’m starting to crave my next one. And what an amazing one it’s going to be – The Edinburgh Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon! I’ve seen quite a few people going on about it on Twitter and their blogs so it would be amazing to meet some new people on the day. Let me know if you’re doing it too – Jemma and I will see you there. After that I have the Callander 10k, the Balmoral 10k and the Balfron 10k, all in April and then the Loch Leven Half Marathon in May. After that my race calendar is actually empty. Give me ideas for more please!!! Look out for me!! This weekend I may have no races but I do have a lot on and maybe a wee wine or two with good friends. So for now I am hanging up my trainers and with all those running the Paris marathon in mind, I bid you Adieu!

A Week Of Pain

When I started racing, training mostly consisted of pounding the pavements, trails or treadmill for long periods of time. As I started to get fitter, I’d notice the distance I could run without feeling like I wanted to die had significantly increased and I was getting slightly faster, but that was what bothered me. It was only slightly faster. I used to do quite a bit of weight training and go to classes, but since I became a swimming teacher and don’t get out of the pool until 6pm every night, by the time I’m home and fed most of the classes at my local gym have finished. I used to LOVE going to spin classes and before my wedding I became a total spin addict. Now the majority of the spin classes are starting just as I’m climbing out the pool, dripping wet, freezing and in desperate need of my dinner. So I got into a cycle of getting home, having some dinner, going out for a run then coming home to watch some TV, catch up with Craig and go to bed. Another day over. A few months ago my friend told me about a circuits class that was being run for woman at the local MMA gym. It consisted of pad work, weights, cardio and pain. But good pain she assured me! I thought why not, I needed something else to try and I really wanted to improve my strength so one Tuesday I tagged along with her and her sister. The good thing about the class is they let you work at your own pace and ability. If you are struggling with a move they let you miss a few out then join in again and don’t scream at you for doing so, as I’ve seen countless times in the past. But as I’m quite competitive, especially with myself, I wasn’t going to give up. One of the most painful sets to date was at the class last Tuesday and I think my butt has only just forgiven me. We started with 2 minutes of squats and then went straight into 30 seconds of straight punching with hand weights. After 10 seconds rest we then went into 1 minute 30 seconds of squats and and minute of straight punching. And so on until we had come down the pyramid and went right back up it again. Ouch. On Wednesday morning I waddled up to work with my bum and thighs feeling a bit tight but nothing could prepare me for the DOMS I suffered on Thursday. Oh.my.god. I struggled to get out of bed, I struggled to walk the dog and every second word out my word had to be censored (I work with kids!). Usually a bit of doms doesn’t bother me, but this was something else. On Friday I decided I needed to stretch my legs out so I planned a little jog along the old railway line from Tillicoultry to Dollar. “It’s nice and flat and I’ll only a do a few slow miles” I told myself. But once I was out and running, I got a little carried away. 7 miles averaging 8 and a half minute miles. Ooops…. I was trying to save my running legs for Saturdays long run with Jemma! But I was feeling good, so on I plodded… Saturday morning I was up and over to Jemma’s by 9am. We hopped in the car and drove over to Mugdock country park and set out on our planned 17 mile adventure. About 4 miles in I started to feel a tad queasy. At 7 miles I was struggling to pick my feet up and at 9 miles we looked at each other knowing what the other was thinking. I just wasn’t feeling it, which was a total shame as the weather and surroundings were beautiful. I just knew I didn’t have another 8 miles in me. So we plodded back to the car and finished our run at just under 11 miles. Not too bad, but we were both disappointed we didn’t make our target. The back drop for many of my runs However, I must add that even though I have only been doing it for a couple of months, I’m pretty sure the circuit training is doing something. Since the beginning of the year I have shaved nearly 2 minutes off my 10k time and a whole 5 minutes off my half marathon time. So maybe the pain is worth it after all? I’m off work for a week from Wednesday so in that time I plan to run long distances, take amazing photos and eat some left over Easter crap (seeing as I didn’t get an egg… grumble, grumble…). I think I deserve it! My one eyed easter treat Just out of interest, what do you take with you on a long run? I take a few gels and a couple of jaffa cakes, but what other treats do you fuel yourself with? I need ideas!