Spanner in the works

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The last week hasn’t been great, or I should say it has had some rather tremendous lows and a couple of highs at least where running and general health is concerned.

After Friday’s run with Lisa McKenna Brown on 9 October I was gutted that I couldn’t do park run because I had a day school for uni but I was appeased by the fact that I would be out running again in the week. Well those plans were scuppered when I became ill on Thursday. It actually started Wednesday night with some heartburn (clearly pregnancy related) which meant I didn’t feel hungry but I managed to eat dinner that night but then I felt so dizzy I had to stay in bed and rest. On the Thursday morning I didn’t feel any better and in fact felt worse and was even sick. I was actually so sick that I couldn’t even keep water down. Now I think you know me by now and I’m not someone who copes well being ill or incapacitated in anyway. That evening Andy drove me to the stables to bring Libby in. I bumped into Tina (the yard owner’s daughter) and asked if I could put Libby on full livery. I think its the first time I haven’t looked after her in years. She said she would happily bring her in now but I said I would be fine. She walked out with me as I went to the car to get the stable rent, as I was doing this I started to feel nauseous again. She said she would get Libby and I thanked her and then threw up at the side of the car….well I threw up more water as clearly there was nothing left in me. Disgusting!… and then I started to cry. I waited until Tina came past with Libby before I would get in the car. Andy was so sympathetic with me. Bless. I have to say though being a passenger in a car when you feel sick has to be one of the worst experiences ever..especially when you car has the suspension of a pillow.

So it was home to bed again. Thursday’s running with Lisa had been cancelled and then my glorious Thursday evening with Vicky Chapman also had to be cancelled. I really hate hate hate being sick.

Friday morning I felt fine, well not 100% but certainly so much better than Thursday. But as the midwife had told me to take it easy for the day I had to phone in sick again. I sunk into the sofa for the first part of the day and still didn’t feel really capable of doing much but managed to prop myself up by the afternoon. So yes as I say not 100% but much better.

Saturday morning I felt on top of the world so I set my sights on completing my 47th Park run at Warrington, Victoria Park. I was so surprised actually at how fresh I felt. Perhaps that’s because I hadn’t run for 8 days. I can’t believe that….not running for 8 days. (I did however manage to ride Libby on the Wednesday before I became sick so I didn’t feel that I had missed out on exercise completely).

There did seem to be a shortage of people I knew at the start of the race although I did manage to quickly catch up with Sarah Leigh. Looking forward to eventually having a chat with her about how she started running a few months after the birth of her third baby.

The thing is as I wasn’t actually expecting anything of myself having been sick I hadn’t anticipated getting anywhere near a 30 minute time. I was very pleased with a 30.51 time and very comfortably at that. It was actually the 2nd and 3rd kilometre that I slowed down on and was actually speeding up towards the end where I started to feel like I had warmed up and was ready to clock in some more miles. I was so happy to be back running again. Lisa wasn’t running as she was volunteering and I caught up with her a couple of times on the corner she was marshalling and we said hi and she cheered me and bump on.

park run 47 week no2

Rejuvenated after my park run I was keen to get out and run on Sunday as well to make up for the poor week that I’d had. Lisa said she was going to the Sunday social just to do the 5km so I decided I would give the 5km another go.

As the 5km and 10km warm up at the same time I was able to catch up with quite a few people I’d not seen in a good while including Sharon Howarth who got so busy chatting with me that she almost ended up on the 5km run instead. Also managed to catch up with Susan Plant who I haven’t seen in ages and again it was lovely to see her back running after being away with injury.

So the last time I’d run the 5km social run it had been too slow but I was pleased to find that this time around the speed was much faster, in fact in was actually climbing up to closer to the times for the 10km social so certainly there were no real beginners in this group and it was very different to the 5km social run I had done the time before that was very slow. What was also lovely was Dave Webb took a route around Warrington that I had never been on before so I experienced areas I hadn’t been before and we ran alongside the River Mersey for a stretch and saw two teams of long rowing boats travelling downstream, perhaps training for a race.

I must have been so distracted when I was talking with Sharon that I had forgotten to set my Strava, but Lisa had recorded the route which was exactly 5km (I only caught the last 3.1km). My average time was 6.24/km which for a chill out run wasn’t too bad.

sunday social 18 oct with lisa

It was certainly a good way to start Sunday morning and I hoped would kick me back into gear for the next week.

Unfortunately that was not to be as I woke up on Monday morning feeling light headed and dizzy again. It persisted all through the day and I decided to call in at the doctors on the way back from the stables on Monday evening. The doc checked my blood pressure and said it was a little on the low side. Basically that was the diagnosis. Next it was for me to find a cure so I could get back up and out again. Sitting at home and not being able to do anything is the most infuriating thing in the world for me. I really hate being weak. My first thought was these Omega 3 supplements I had started to take since the consultant had said they were okay last Tuesday. I had taken one on the Wednesday and then the following day I was ill. I hadn’t taken anymore until the Monday and again the symptoms appeared. It may have been a coincidence but I decided to cut them out. I did find on the internet some evidence to suggest they could cause low blood pressure. The other things to help raise blood pressure was to ensure to remain hydrated and increase salt intake. So lots of water was consumed by moi.  I thought a good way to help get the water and salt at once would be to take the isotonic sports drinks as these obviously are used to replenish fluids and electrolytes during and after exercise and hold “similar concentrations of salt and sugar as in the human body” (http://www.diabetes.co.uk/sports-drinks.html) so it certainly would do me more good than anything. Plus I love the taste.

The reason it first came to mind is that during my reading about what to pack in my maternity bag to take to hospital there had been mention of taking isotonic sports drinks. “They’re quickly absorbed and give your body the right kind of energy for the physical demands to come.” (http://www.babycentre.co.uk/a544481/eating-and-drinking-in-labour#ixzz3pKtFLm7O) So again another reason why I thought they would be a good choice to help plus I hate overloading on too much water.

Anyway its Thursday now and I am finally feeling like myself again. Here’s hoping that tomorrow I continue to improve even more and that I can get out and have a good run. Unfortunately Lisa is taking a couple of days away from exercise as she is exhausted. I am not surprised working three night shifts and not having any sleep. I am looking forward to catching up again for my 48th Park Run on Saturday…. getting ever closer to the 50!!!

Fingers crossed then that health continues to stay on track now and that this nasty little glitch has come and gone. I seem to have the heartburn under control now with some Gaviscon so hopefully I will be able to eat properly as that had been upsetting my diet. And I will try and make sure I am drinking enough fluids too. Don’t want the nasty dizzies to come back. Obviously I want to keep running for as long as I can. It isn’t just about a love of running either. As I mentioned I think before this is more than just a hobby, this running now is training for the labour which is getting ever closer. If I stopped anytime soon it would have a detrimental effect on how the labour would progress. There is clear evidence from James Clapp MD in his book “Exercising through your pregnancy” that stopping exercising in the final trimester does not have a positive effect on labour as exercising through to the final stages does. The percentages of the studies carried out are quite dramatic really. Such simple statistics from Clapp’s studies showed that “all the exercising women delivered in less than 10 hours”(Clapp, 1998, p94) reduced labour time by a third on average. In fact most of the exercising woman appeared to deliver between the 2-4 hour slot. Now that I have to say is very appealing. So train I will and train I must. Just 10.5 weeks ago….but perhaps less as I mentioned in the previous blog. Woman who exercise are more likely to give birth in the 38th and 39th week. So actually I could be looking at just 8 weeks to go!!!! Looking forward to seeing whether I follow suit with the stats or whether stubbornly my body and baby decides otherwise!!! Only time will tell.

Two minds – lost focus

My head is very much in two minds as what I am doing at the moment and I am feeling quite torn.
I had a great half marathon but then over the past three weeks since then not really much has happened. I have been putting more miles in running with the buggy than I had been previously and I ended May with 58.5 miles ran with the buggy out of a total of 104.1 miles. So far for June the percentage of buggy running has increased even further with 19.8 or the 23.9 mile run with the buggy! Today I did a split run with 4.1 miles by myself before going to collect Harmony in the buggy. Unfortunately the buggy had a flat tyre so it was a nightmare pushing it. Have a feeling a got something stuck it in the wheel on Wednesday’s run with Lymm runners as we did a bit across the May Queen field and down Whiteleggs lane and with it being off road there is always a chance that I missed seeing something that could have got stuck in the tyre. Another trip to the bike shop is in order!
So I’ll give a brief run down of the last three weeks which started with a 2.8 mile schooling session with Libby in the paddock just in walk and trot. Once again I feel like we are improving and she is listening to my aids. So whilst we had a big set back with that bucking session on the Trans Pennine I feel once more we are moving in the right direction with this session.
Couple of midweek runs with Harmony including Wednesday’s Lymm Runners. Harmony isn’t well though as she has tonsilitis and we have been up for a few nights and I have felt quite drained by it. Harmony enjoyed the offroading session that we did – it seems Lymm runners like to do quite a lot of trail running and we went through Spud Wood. Had a chat briefly with Fiona and David. Chatted with Sarah who asked if I had entered the Sale marathon and I said I was feeling quite depressed and disilliusioned about everything at the moment as I am struggling being away from Harmony which would probably explain that all my running miles have basically been with her along. Even if she goes to sleep in the buggy I can still see her in there and I still feel like we are together. As I was running with the buggy to go and collect her today I couldnt help but look into it and then remembered she wasnt there yet!
I really am finding it extremely difficult to motivate myself at the moment. I manage to get out and run and once I am out I really enjoy it, but the getting out is a real struggle.
Didn’t manage to ride Libby again until the weekend where she definitely wanted to canter but I had to keep holding her back. We didn’t ride for long as I was stressed because Andy was waiting with Harmony in the car as she kept crying whilst she was on the yard because she seemingly wanted to be with me. I had hoped that I would have been able to have a canter by now but I really don’t want to when there is no one around and with Andy in the car park I still felt that it was a risk. I have really lost my confidence again and I don’t know whether I am going to get it back.
In an attempt to motivate myself I decided to go for a long run with Harmony on Sunday 28 May. I ran down to the stables via the Trans Pennine Trail and just kept going until we got to the section where there is a ramp (the part I normally enter/exit with Libby) and then down All Saints Drive in Thelwall and back around past the Little Manor meaning it was a 3.7 mile run to the stables rather than the direct route of 2.5 miles. We had a bit of a tootle around at the farm and I checked on Libby and then headed back the way I had come. I decided that I wanted to get up to the 8 miles so I added Bollin Crescent on and then ran up to the Sainsbury and back to get to 8.1 miles. The 8 miles were covered in 1.19.59 and I pushed really hard for the last couple of miles to get in under the 80 minutes for 8 miles. Really pleased with that as whilst it isn’t particularly fast, covering 8 miles with the buggy is the furthest we’ve gone and its a good average pace over that distance. I intend to try this route again and see if we can improve even further.
Andy., Harmony and I went to the Warrington Horse Show on the bank holiday monday and I really enjoyed watching the show jumping. I would so love to do that with Libby but I am just not good enough to even consider it. I am going to see if I can find a rider or look at how you can go about finding someone who would be interested in taking Libby showjumping. When Lucy Worsley used to ride her they jumped some great fences and decent spreads. Libby has so much potential to compete but she is just let down by me and my failings as a rider. I really do think that she would do so well as a show jumper and it would get her thinking and focused which I think is what she needs to be doing. She has basically had a year off with my having a baby and now its time for her to do something. If I can manage to build up some confidence and lose the negativity that has developed maybe we can do something together but at the moment I think sadly that isn’t going to happen.
Hadn’t intended three buggy runs through the week but that was just the way it panned out. On Tuesday I went on the stage lane/wet gat elane run to get Harmony to sleep. She fell asleep around 1.5 miles in and we completed 4.2 miles as I added Reddish Crescent and Bollin on as well. It was like I just could ‘t stop and wanted to keep going. We averaged 10.14/mile. It felt like a very comfortable run with the buggy.
Wednesday I decided not to run with Lymm runners but go on a longer and faster route just with Harmony. We went via Crouchley Lane and Kay Lane, where Harmony proceeded to lose a shoe. I only noticed at the end of Kay Lane where I saw her trying to take the second shoe off. I didn’t have time to go back as I had to get back for Mum who would be arrriving in less than 30 minutes and with just over two miles to go I was pretty pushed for time. I decided I would drive up to Lymm dam the following day and then do a shorter run in search of the said shoe.
We actually covered 5.5 miles that morning, which was pretty humid with an average pace of 9.38/mile with a fastest in 9.07. I think the buggy training is working well. I feel positive because I have Harmony with me. I do hope she will enjoy running in the future and that we can run together. At some point it will be me trying to keep up with her.
So Thursday whilst I wasn’t in the mood and the weather was even more humid I set off again with the buggy, having parked the car at Lymm dam and ran back down Crouchley lane. The shoe was as I suspected down Kay Lane and was 1.6 miles into the run. I immediately headed back after taking photos of where I found the shoe. Harmony seemed quite pleased with herself. If I had have run from home it would have been 2.7 miles into the run, so basically which ever direction I had gone to get there it would have been the half way point. Glad I chose to park up. I didn’t fancy another 5.5 mile run two days on the trot.
Friday I managed to have a rest before meeting up with Lucy Worsley at Heaton Park Park Run for what turned out to be a faster than expected buggy run. Lucy as I have mentioned previously is just coming back after having a baby six months ago so she has just crept her time back into sub 25 minutes. I have managed a 26 minute 5km with the buggy and given the amount of people at Heaton Park was not expecting anything. The first mile, whilst down hill so we had gravity on our side, was completed in 7.49 minutes. Now I was surprised as I don’t think I have gone that fast with the buggy before. The second mile, which included the first hill was in 8.11 and then on the alternate course that had been arranged it still meant that the second time all the way up the hill would start around the 3.5 kilometres in. Lucy asked if we could slow it down a bit up the hill to my relief. I was thankful to her and said so. I didn’t think I would be able to keep on pushing at that rate up the hill. Having said that whilst I slowed down for the last mile it was still around 8.48 and I ended up finishing with a buggy PB of 25.40, which I was very pleased with. Lucy was also very happy with her time as she had not expected to go so fast around with me and finished about 30 seconds ahead of me as I said she should go on ahead for the last kilometre.
It was fantastic catching up with Lucy. She said we would have made great running partners as we both clearly motivated the other to keep going. I can’t imagine hitting that sort of time with the buggy with anyone else especially whilst also still chatting away.
As planned on the Sunday I managed to get out for that long buggy run again. Mike Hall had agreed to meet me. Actually his words were “can you run with the buggy so I can keep up”. At some point I know he will be back on form. He is certainly clocking up the miles again and cleared more than 100 miles for May. I know he’s already on over 50km for June and it’s only the 9th and he’s not run today yet!
We ran the 3.7 mile long route to the stables and miraculously missed the downpour of rain which started as soon as we arrived. I parked the buggy under the eaves of the stables and Mike lent me his waterproof so I could go and check on Libby in the field. After I’d done that we waited a while longer. Harmony had fallen asleep on route so I covered her over with a horse saddle cloth, which quite usefully could be attached with the straps over her legs to protect her from the inclement weather.
The rain lasted perhaps 15 minutes and then we set off again. The ground on the Trans Pennine was surprisingly wet considering the short period it had rained. We were running very steadily under the 10 minute miles and when we actually got back around the Bollin Crescent and back to Mike’s car on Reddish Crescent (a slight deviation from my route the previous week) we clocked in the 8 miles in 1.18.58 (so 1 minute faster for my 8 mile buggy run). I felt really good and again it was just the last mile that I felt my body tiring, more than anything from pushing the buggy.
The tightness that I had been experiencing in my periformus during the half marathon were not present. I am still trying to work out what actually really sets it off. Is it down to running hills at speed or is it running with someone else at speed and not running at your own stride? These are both factors where I have noticed it (EHM with Mike last year, Helsby with Susan and Amanda and Chester with Amanda). When I ran Manchester by myself it was flat and my periformus did not tighten up at all. It seems to start kicking in around mile seven. I ran the 8 miles with and without Mike and the buggy and it didn’t happen then, but the ground was flat and we were not going fast.
I did mention this with Amanda when we chatted at Lymm runners this wednesday. On the again off roader where I think my tyre may have sustained a thorn or some such sharp object that I could not see that has left me with yet another flat tyre. It was a really enjoyable run and it turned out to be a lot warmer than I had expected. Before I set off I actually changed from my t-shirt to a long sleeved top as it felt cool. That was the wrong decision to make!
So for the third time in a week I ended up running down Crouchley Lane. Had a good chat with Sarah who is still marathon training. She said if I do want to train for a marathon as I said I may have worked out a way to get the longer runs in with Harmony (where I do the first half with Harmony and the buggy say up to 10 miles and ten the second half and/or remaining miles alone), that I should try and sort out the tightness in my hips and IT band. I felt relatively positive after that and started again to look forward to what lay ahead.
Now as I am writing this almost three weeks have passed before I have had the impetus to actually work on my blog. Starting to wonder what it is all about at all. Will finish this blog off and then try and start the next one but it all feels like I am treading water. I am not even sure that I want to even bother writing anymore either. Everything has just got on top of me and I am not liking the person I am. Sorry that this is such a negative way to end this blog but I can’t see a way out of it at the moment.

Chester Half in new shoes

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I collected my new Nike Zooms up on the weekend and on Monday 15 May I got to give them a go. I decided to do the Wet Gate Lane route as its relatively flat and it’s where I go to practice speed. Well those niggles I was experiencing in my left foot around my big toe seem to have gone as has the twinging in my right knee which really does demonstrate how important it is to buy new shoes after 300 miles of running. Whilst they may not look worn out, my old pair were not doing me any favours as the support in them must have gone. I comfortably managed a 7.35 mile during the middle of my 3.5 mile and averaged out at 8.04/mile.


I had hoped to get more miles into the shoes before the Chester half but that was not to be as only other run I managed pre Chester half was a buggy run with Lymm Runners and I went out in my Adidas trail shoes as I figured that we would end up off road and the last thing I wanted to was muck up my brand new shoes. The route was an interesting one. We took the most direct route to the penny ferry which actually took us down through Libby’s field. It meant having to get Harmony out for the entrances at both ends, but she certainly enjoyed saying hello to Libby on route. As we left the field John Croall was at the other side of the gate so he had the honours of holding Harmony whilst we got the buggy over the gate.
It was fun going down to see the penny ferry and when Harmony is a little bigger I am going to enjoy taking her over the canal.


We headed then back up to the Trans Pennine Trail and another time where Harmony had to be carried. Amanda carried her up the steps whilst myself and another runner helped carried the buggy up the steps, I think it may have been Mary Burton.
We carried on down the TPT and I carried on whilst the rest of the group headed off by Star Lane and finally reaching home with a sleeping Harmony I clocked up 6.5 more buggy miles.
My week was more focused on getting Libby to listen to me in the paddock after her little bit of misbehaving on the weekend, but even that was just 30 minutes working in walk and trot whilst my Mum was over and watching Harmony. She wasn’t listening at first and it took a good 10 minutes or so before I got what I was asking for. For the time being Libby will remain on my “boot camp” until I feel she is listening. It is so tempting to canter but I think until she learns to listen to me again properly and I can trust that she is, I don’t think I should be trying to canter. As the weeks go on it will be more and more difficult to resist. I don’t want to do it when no one is around in case she does buck or do something and I have no one to help me, should I so need it.


By Saturday 20 May I had really start to feel down on myself. I had managed one 3.5 mile run all week and someone had been at me over the weekend about my hobbies which actually was quite hurtful because (and I’m not going to say names) this person clearly doesn’t understand because she never worked whilst she brought up her children that it is extremely important to have hobbies to keep your sanity as a mother and a working mother at that. I feel as well because I have put things on hold that this has further exacerbated my feelings of low self worth. I had just started to build back my confidence with Libby, I had started to manage reasonable times at running and whilst I only manage a blog every fortnight or so, I am still focused on working on my degree once more come October. I know I have a 30 hour working week to contend with as well as trying to balance the house work and Harmony, but I honesty feel mentally stronger the busier I am. Never an idol moment.
So with that said on Saturday I chose not to run and I didn’t go and ride either so I was starting to feel quite down about the Chester Half Marathon because of the potential time it would take me away from Harmony and also the guilty feelings that had been thrust upon me by this person who said my hobbies got in the way!
The way I see it is that some people have to take insulin to live when then have diabetes, some have to take blood pressure tablets, well I have to run and be outside as much as possible else I just start climbing the walls like a caged monkey and feel desperately sad as a result.
So on the morning of the Chester half I was seriously considering not going as my head was in a real mess about it.
Thankfully I have some very supportive friends who reminded me that not only was running good for me but it was also good for Harmony as it showed her a positive and healthy role model, introducing her to a way of life that is good and fun. I must always try and remind myself of this.
So I mustered my wits and energy and headed off to Lymm library to pick up Mary Burton who was going to travel down to Chester with me. It wasn’t her first time around the course and we talked about her long distance running. She recently completed the Liverpool to Manchester ultra which is 50 miles or thereabouts. I honestly don’t know how you even begin to train for that. Mary said she just trains as if it were a marathon, but then doesn’t go up past the 20 mile distance before hand. Maybe one day but it really isn’t on my agenda. I think I’ll be sticking with halfs which in themselves are quite an endurance challenge if you intend to get a good time and perhaps a marathon next year if I can find the time and a good way to train.


I lined up with Amanda Pemberton who wanted to run the half in a similar time to me. My PB prior to Chester was 1.48.41 and Amanda’s was just under 1.47 I believe, so with not much between us pace wise it made sense to keep each other going. With the two unknown factors facing me: new shoes – would they stand the distance and; how would I fair running at speed for the full 13.1 miles when all I had done at reasonable pace were my saturday morning 9 milers?
The first mile out of the race course and through the centre of Chester is all up hill and that combined with trying to pass other runs meant we were slightly back on our time at first with an 8.47 mile. Once out of the centre the road heads back downhill and we were back on track for the second mile at 7.34 and a lot faster than we would set for the rest of the race. We then evened out the pace with a 7.57 for the third mile and by this point the weather was getting really warm and the cold that I had been feeling at the start when I stripped down to my running vest and shorts had faded.
By 5km in with a time of 25.16 officially I was 1301th /178th female and 32nd in my age category. It had taken 1.53 minutes to get over the start line where I had started in 1478th position and 268th female, so we were climbing up the rankings.
The fourth mile saw us going back up hill again and over the motorway bridge so we did slow down to at 8.08. We then kept a very steady pace after this with 8.03 and 8.05 for the fifth and sixth miles.
The 10km time at this point was 50.33 and up to 1182nd position, 149th femail and 29th in my age category. The weather had cooled off as well and by the 7th mile which was one of those sections where you run up the road only to have to run back on yourself we were still easily going at 8.06/mile. It was at this point that I started to feel the tightness building up in my right hip around the periformus. I tried to focus on the countryside around me and not let the tightness start to irritate me. We then had the footbridge back over the motorway and where I had hoped we would get some speed back going down hill we didn’t because we couldn’t get past some rather slow runners at that point and were boxed in. We did manage 8.01 for the mile.
This is where the endurance part started to sink in as we reached mile nine with an 8.05 and whilst still going strong I didn’t honestly know how much longer I could keep it going, particuarly since I knew there was a big hill at the last mile. Mile 10 is one of those mental barriers and once across it I knew I only had a 5km distance left to cover. We managed it in 8.09 but I could feel my body crying out to me to slow down. I was so pleased though as we managed the 10 miles according to my Strava in 1hour and 20minutes. I must remind myself to look for a good 10 mile race at some point.
I manged to stick with Amanda for the last mile, who had continued to praise me for keeping the pace up for so long with basically no training. I hadn’t run this pace continuously for this distance since the Manchester half in October. Whilst it is fine covering say six miles at pace, it gets harder on the legs as the miles clock up especially when your body has not properly been conditioned to both miles and speed combined together.
Amanda who had recently run the Brighton Marathon in 3 hours 55 minutes obviously had conditioned her body for longer distances so the half was actually as she said herself quite a lot easier, as the distance in your head is not unsurmountable. I told her to carry on without me as we reached the next hill but I was determined that I will still finish with a PB although at points I desperately wanted to stop. I had to keep reminding myself on the 12th mile that I wasn’t a quitter and that I should “never give in, never give up” and just keep pushing forward as each step was one step closer to the finish line. I think this is what is meant by endurance and how you can use your mind to battle what your body is fighting against. If not for the tightness building up in my right hip I could easily have carried on at the same pace, but that tightness was really debilitating as it made it so difficult to stretch my leg out further as it was just getting tighter and tighter. The 12th mile I was surprised was still an 8.08 minute mile.


Now for the final mile and I honesty thought I wasn’t going to do it. There was a good deal of encouragement from the marshalls and as I entered the centre of Chester the cheers from the crowds was quite amazing. The hill climbed on up and then levelled out before turning a corner and again going uphill. The speed humps also proved a further interesting challenge with tired legs struggling to get over them. Then I was onto the cobble streets with markers say 400 yards to go,300 yards, 200 yards and then it was time for me to sprint as fast my legs would allow. I could see the official clock ticking 1.48.50 and so on to a finish of 1.49.22, but with the chip time I was actually under my last time and came in with 1.47.29, a whole 62 seconds off my last half on a much hiller course. Just 150 seconds off my target race time of 1.45! I can live in hope can’t I?
Going over the finish line, I felt ecstatic. People wonder what running and racing is all about. It is about that moment when you achieve something great. For me running a PB for a half marathon in 1.47.29 was a great achievement. At the age of 42 I actually finished 154th female runner out of 1916 women and 29th in my age category  out of 309.

me and amanda post race
So I had started the day feeling very negative about running and at the end after just under two hours of gruelling running I couldn’t be further away from stopping running. I love running so much. When I get the opportunity to really push myself I often feel surprised and I do wonder as well whether even now I could have pushed further. I am working on sorting out this hip tightness so that hopefully next time I won’t have that holding me back. I haven’t decided on the next half I will do but hopefully I have a couple more in me this year.

I really want to say a huge thank you to Amanda for running with me at Chester and a massive well done on your PB in 1.46.32!!

Do I Endure?

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My last attempt at endurance riding was in 2014 and I think before the running really kicked off. Libby and I had clocked up some miles, we were roughly doing about 100 miles a month and several hacks a week with out long hacks ranging from between 14 and 20 kilometres. On 4 October 2014 we went out on a fun ride which is meant to get you started on going out for more serious endurance where the horses are vetted and you have a speed target for around 12 kilometres an hour. This was the goal that I was aiming for. On the fun run we cover 10.14 miles (16.41 kilometres) and finished it is 1 hour and 27 minutes. With this in mind we completed with an average around the 12/kph speed that is required for endurance.
This is what I need to aim for once again if endurance is what I want to do. Time may be an issue given that the shortest sort of distances for endurance around 20km, so we really need to be getting out for a couple of hours a couple of times of week. I am not sure that this is sustainable.
It has however put my head in a bit of a pickle about running and riding. Lets face it my heads in a bit of a pickle altogether and this weekend (20/21 May) I was seriously wondering whether I should bother at all. Thanks to a few wonderful comments from friends who have reminded me that both of these hobbies are good for both me and Harmony I am certain to continue. How I continue and how I decide to balance the two is yet to be decided. One of my many decisions I feel I need to make over the coming months.

After my 100th park run the only event coming up was the Chester half marathon and I dithered about whether to enter that. It was only after the Wednesday run on 26 April where I chatted with Amanda Pemberton and Fiona Eaton that I decided I would enter. It was tough run that day for the 6.5 miles as the buggy had a tyre going down again. Managed to drop in at the bike shop and he said perhaps it is my pump not connecting to it properly and sometimes they do go down when there is foam in them and you just have to pump them up a few times before they stay up. He ordered me a twisty connection to attach to my buggy wheel so I can access it easier. Crazy thing is I still haven’t had a chance to nip down and get it. My intension had been to collect it and take my bike down for a service and order the seat for Harmony so that we can start going out on the bicycle. I am sure she would love that.

So with one race in mind and a potential endurance 20km race on 3 June I decided that for the first time since September 2015 I would go out on the Sunday (30 April) with the VPRC group. It’s changed quite a bit since I last came and there area lot of new faces, but some familiar ones still. I managed to catch up with Kevin Lakin, Clare Allan, Sharon Howarth and Dave Beesley. Did see Helen Speed but never managed to chat with her. Ran 7.8 miles but it was rather slow and I think my legs actually suffered for it. It was a nice reminiscent route around Walton Gardens.

With my knees niggling me and the need I think for new shoes I opted for a ride with Libby on the May day bank holiday. It was absolutely amazing and I loved every minute. MY mind becoming more and more focused on riding more than running which certainly was a surprise to me but I have been enjoying it so much.

My canter confidence returned and I even videoed Libby as we were cantering. Something I have never even dared to do before. She seemed so calm and I think she was enjoying it as much as me.The only time she was startled was by a man with a buggy he was towing behind his bike which had a big orange fluorescent flag flying on it. We past four greyhounds in both directions down the trail. I felt like we should be racing with them. It was a wonderful 5.2 mile ride out. We covered 3 miles on the TPT in less than 30 minutes so that is just perfect for the endurance work.

After a successful trip to the bike shop on the Tuesday (via a Harmony sleep run of 3.5 miles) to have the tyres pumped Harmony and I were all set for our Wednesday Lymm runners session. Harmony is really getting to know everyone’s faces now so that is just fantastic. We started off running up over the May Queen field, not something I’ve ever done and certainly not with the buggy. Bit uphill! This was followed by the amazing path by St Peter’s field with its fabulous views and then down Oughtrington to the field across to Mill Lane and then via the ponds out to the TPT and then back down the trail. Lovely 5.7 miles out with Harmony, the Lymm Runners and buggy!

lymm runners 3 may

It is clear that the running or trying to achieve something with running over the start of May was taking a back seat. I went out a couple of times just with Harmony and the buggy on commute runs to pick her up from Cherie’s and after dropping the girls off for school. The Sunday social again with VPRC/Run Geek also wasn’t going to do anything to help improve my times although it was a rather long one as I ran from Thelwall and farm to get there. It was an amazing run through all the Grappenhall dingles and woods. I ended up clocked 13 miles that morning.

On the Saturday I made it out again for another successful hack with Libby and this time I ventured down the Manchester Ship Canal. This section is supposed to be an actual designated bridleway. I don’t know how short they think riders are when sat on horses but this is not really doable at any pace with a 15.1 hand horse. MAybe if you are riding a Shetland or something very small you won’t get whacked about the face and arms with branches and shrubbery. Most of the time I spend leaning over Libby’s withers so as not to get swipped by the foliage. It was nevertheless a thoroughly enjoyable ride. Continued on down the TPT which I did a little bit of an about turn on to clock up an additional mile. We were stopped by a family on the way back who really wanted to have a photo of Libby as they don’t get to see horses often. They had recently moved to the area. I managed to get them to take a photo for me too….don’t often get that opportunity! So with the endurance plan in mind we covered 5.5 miles in 1 hour and 5 minutes. It’s not bad given the last bit was on the road and we have to go a bit slower. Our fastest mile was 9.51 down the TPT.

Monday 8 May was really my first opportunity in a week to test out a bit of speed training and I didn’t even really do that. I just wanted to get an average speed of around 8.45 around the Wet Gate Lane and Reddish route of 4 miles and that’s exactly what I got. Didn’t do any speed splits as my head really not in it at the moment.

Whilst I really do enjoy catching up with everyone on the Wednesday Lymm Runners it is very slow and Wednesday 10 was no exception with an average pace of 11.08/mile. And that’s slow for me even with the buggy. It was a lovely route that Jenny Rogers organised though down the canal tow path, which I would never go with Harmony alone, and the back over the fence to the TPT where had to get Harmony out of the buggy and Team Lymm helped getting the buggy over. Seems this is a favourite point for the Wednesday group to turn back! And home for a 5.5 miles.

I continued with more buggy running this week weather being nice so I have been running to pick Gwen and Jules from school. On the Thursday I even managed to get them to have a run up the TPT. They ran 1.1 miles averaging 10.23 / mile. For two girls who don’t run and despite some complaining from Jules mainly they did it. So I am very proud of their achievement. With that and my run home from April, my commuting runs totalled 3.1 miles. I carried on with on the Friday as well and just missed the rain.

I was again in a dither about running to park run on the Saturday but decided if I didn’t go then it would be a few weeks before I would be there again with the Chester Half being the following weekend. I am still finding it a little tough now because my shoes are definitely on their way out and I ordered a new pair of Nike Zooms ready for the half. I just hope that I can get enough miles in so that they are not brand spanking new on the day of the race!

The worst thing about the 9 miler on the saturday was the pain in my back and the aches in my left foot in particular. I am not at all positive about Chester and hope desperately that the shoes are the cause of these problems and there isn’t something else! If there is an issue then maybe I’ll just swap to riding for a while. But then I don’t know if that is helping or not helping with my back, but it could also be compounded by te fact that I had a sports massage session on my back on the Friday and that has triggered something and it is going to take a while for the symptoms to settle. I hope that is why my back hurts.

The hacking continued on the Sunday 14 May but this time with company. I have to say starting out I was really nervous about going out with Shannon and Duchess because I don’t know what Duchess and Libby will be like when out but for the first half I felt good about it and Libby behaved impeccably. Apart from it being a little tediously slow for me, it was enjoyable. We managed to hack to my house where Andy supplied us both with water as we were both really thirsty as the sun was definitely beating down.

Our return journey I felt a difference in Libby. She had started to get a little more edgy and as we reached the Trans Pennine Trail I just had the sense that she really wanted to go. We had a few nice little canters but when Shannon and Duchess went on slightly ahead in trot on the section of TPT where there is a bridleway to the side of the paved footway Libby decided that she wanted to bomb off into a canter. When I tried to stop her she thought better of my decision and buckarooed me so high into the air that I literary was flying through and over her head. I landed on the side of my head with a roll tumble. Shannon coaxed Libby to a standstill which was very good and I walked over to her and climbed back on. Thankfully not even shaken although when I heard something go crack I was certain it was my neck. It was actually the rim of my hat, but it really in the after effects did shake me up. I just couldn’t stop thinking about Harmony. She was my only thought as I was flying through the sky.
It has obviously put a huge question mark in my mind as to whether I can continue with the idea of endurance. I think I need to be more settled with Libby and we certainly need to train alone. She was absolutely fine when I did the pleasure ride a couple of years ago but we very well prepared for that with a different bit so that I had super brakes! Plus we had done a lot of canter work together. At the moment we are just getting going so whilst I was so very keen at the start of May to enter the endurance event on 3 June, now I am not going to do it. Libby is going to “boot camp” with me …which basically means trotting around the paddock until I know she is really listening to me and perhaps seeing even if my purse strings can stretch to a good dressage lesson in a proper arena!

So in the matter of the month I have gone a huge about-face to wanting to do endurance above everything to saying “oh no I can’t do that”. Needless to say my mind is in a bit of a quandary at the moment and I’m not sure which way I want to go. I don’t like to leave my blogs in such a negative frame but there really isn’t anywhere else to go with it at present, and after we had started off so well!

100th Park Run!

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Okay so the thing is I am still a little confused about what I should do with running. Worse still I now have this other thing that I really want to get back into doing – Endurance riding. Before I became pregnant with Harmony I had been clocking up the miles with Libby and we getting up to some good speeds. There are requirements to enter endurance racing and your horse has to be really fit. Now that I am able to get out and ride a bit more I want to try and do this. We had clocked up some good miles and speeds were improving. We are obviously back at the beginning again and I am just going to try and get the miles increasing each time we go out and not worry too much about the time as its not all appropriate areas to move faster.
But horseriding aside what I had set my mind on was completing my 100th park run with the support of my amazing husband Andy Seymour who insisted I would set a new PB and my beautiful daughter Harmony who both came along to support me.
The week coming up to park run I decided not to focus too much on getting my speed splits but seeing if I could run around 8.45/miles as I was thinking of this sort of pace for a marathon if I entered one. On the Monday I set off with an 8.37 followed by an 8.17. I was very comfortable running at this pace but decided it was best to slow it down a little. Got to 8.32 for the 3rd mile and then slowed it down a bit more but perhaps too much then to 8.54 and after that I was back up at 8.22 so I was really all over the place. As I mentioned in my last blog I am in two minds as to whether or not to enter a marathon. Seeing how I was all over the place trying to get my pace right here I think perhaps if I am going to train for a marathon I need to have a running watch. I can’t really justify spending money on one at the moment and perhaps I just need to wait and see if I get into London. I am still wondering whether I could just saunter around the trail marathon around Sale/Chorlton in early August just to do the miles. But again I can’t decide!
Having said that I averaged a pace of 8.33 a mile over a 4.9 mile distance. I wonder how long I could comfortably sustain that pace. Often I find the slower I go the harder it actually is and that for a marathon you have to run at a suitably comfy pace. For the half that I did in Manchester in October where I ran in 1 hour 48, I pushed myself a bit further and was running around 8.15 minute miles. If I were to try and achieve a good for age time of 3.50 for a marathon I would be looking at around 8.46/miles. If I fell comfy running 15 seconds faster I wonder whether I could keep it going. Is is sensible perhaps to run the first half faster and then slow down for the second half? According to Paula Radcliffe when she was commentating at the London marathon on the morning of the Whitley 10km she did not think so. When Mary Keitany was running at the start she set a very fast pace. If she had kept the pace up she would have beaten Paula’s 2.15 record with a 2.11. As the race progressed, she completed the first half in a record time of 68 minutes I think it was and then her second half was much slower. So in fact this did work for her. She finished in around 2.18 which was still women’s only marathon record. This was something I found really interesting and it didn’t make sense until Paula explained it.
What used to happen is the elite women used to set off at the same time as the men. When Paula achieved her 2.15 time she had other men that she was able to pace herself with, keep up with, or aim to pass, which is a great motivator for keeping the spirits going. The women’s only record time is a separate time that has been created since the women’s start is now before the men. This means that often that front running woman is running most of the race on her own. Keitany was along after the pacer left her and she had to maintain her pace, keep her timing and had nothing that her own nerve to keep her going. When there are other runners ahead of you or even behind you it pushes you forward. When you are out there alone I think it would be very difficult to either push on forward to increase your speed or gauge how fast you are actually going.
So bearing in mind Keitany’s fast first split, rather than doing a split negative and running a faster second half, which I think is what most people aim to achieve and perhaps works for some people is to actually run a faster first half. If I did this at the 8.30 pace, I would be at the half way point at 1 hours and 51 minutes 20 seconds in roughly. This would then give me 1 hour and 18 minutes 40 to finish the second half at a pace of around 9 minute miles. I would hope that I could perhaps do the next 10 a bit slower and see if I had reserves for the last 3 miles and perhaps up the pace for the final 5km! Tell me if I’m crazy but it seems like a doable plan!

Anyway on the Wednesday I met up with Lymm Runners. The buggy had a tyre going down again and despite trying to pump it up it wasn’t going to stay up. Not sure if its actually me not being able to get the pump onto the valve because there isn’t much space to connect it. Anyway chatted with David and Fiona and Amanda. Fiona had run the London marathon on the Sunday so we chatted about that. Amazing achievement. Amanda talked to me about the Chester half marathon at the end of May. I talked about my running marathon dilemma and I think I may just put it on hold. Part of me just wants to see what I am capable of though. But I think I may enter the Chester Half as my race for the month. With the run to and from car and the Lymm runners 6.5 miles.
Thursday was another attempt at speed splits. This time I decided to swap to kilometres and see if I could achieve something a bit more successful with the splits being slightly shorter. I took my usual route around Warburton and then Wet Gate Lane. I actually ran it the fastest so far with a 43.05 for the 5.2 miles. The 2nd, 4th and 6th kilometres were my speed splits. I managed 4.42 (heading into the wind with a 5.04 recovery), 4.39 where I had to wait at the road to cross with a 5.12 recovery and a final split of 4.35 which I was much happier with but a slow recovery of 5.45 but then I was also thinking about cooling down. Was very happy with this run on a rather windy day.

I didn’t run on the Friday in preparation for my 100th park run!

Was so pleased that Andy and Harmony came to support me for my 100th run. Now that Harmony is bigger Andy can take her on the park so she is easily distracted. Bumped into Lynn Moseley who said she wouldn’t be able to pace me under 23 minutes as she wouldn’t be running that fast but she found someone who could. Faye Lawton who runs around 22.30.


So I endeavoured to keep Faye in my sights. It wasn’t going to be easy as she was actually behind me at the start so I just kept going. She passed me after the first kilometre which I clocked in 4.18. When Faye passed me I wondered if I would keep it up but I managed to, slightly slower at 4.28. I felt so good and positive. The field as always took some time off with a 4.38 but got back into gear and caught up Faye a bit more for the last couple with 4.29 and 4.27 to finish. I felt truly ecstatic as I crossed the finish line. I really do like running fast. Having this to aim towards was fantastic. I officially finished in 22.41 so a good 37 seconds off my previous time.
It was great to catch up with so many people and achieve my first club silver! But the best part was having Andy and Harmony to share it with.

This might be a good time to reflect on where I have come since having Harmony 16 months ago.

Before Harmony I had managed a 25.14 at park run. Obviously as my pregnancy progressed I slowed down. My times went down to around 31 minutes right up to 8 1/2 months of pregnancy. I then began the slow progression back. I started running two weeks after having Harmony and my first park run six weeks after she was born in 26.58. I had my first sub 25 minute park run six months after giving birth and was just 10 seconds off my PB after 8 months. On 29 October 2016 (just shy off 9 months after giving birth) I achieved a new PB of 24.13. It wasn’t until my run with Roger Seddon on 17 December (11 month post birth) that I knew I was capable of much more when I achieved 23.16. Since that time I have been consistently get sub 24 minute park runs and finally 16 months after giving birth achieved 22.41!
So bearing that in mind and my love for statistics this is how I have progressed over the past four years which included having a baby and coming back from that too:
Year       Best Time       Best Age Grading
2014       25.43               59.11%
2015       24.18               62.96%
2016      23.16                66.12%
2017      22.41                68.33%
So does that mean in 2018 I will get below 22 minutes?

There is also a friend of mine Lucy who has similarly been an avid park run attendee and has also progressed though her pregnancy and childbirth. I am curious to see how she has fared. Whilst I did not have any complications post birth, Lucy I know had a few so she was unable to start back running as soon as I was. But she is such an accomplished runner that I am sure that the set back of post natal complications will not stop her from getting back on track and running as good as she ever was.
So before pregnancy Lucy’s best time was 22.15 so super speedy! Unlike me Lucy didn’t run all the way through her pregnancy and her last park run was at the end of August 2016 in 29.41 which is still a fantastic time when you are almost seven months pregnant.
As I said due to complications Lucy couldn’t get back to running straight away and ran her first park run around nine/ten weeks after giving birth ( a more walk /jog) in 45 minutes. After that she started to increase her speed and now around five months post birth of Maisie she is down to 24.47. From just a quick look at her statistics she hadn’t run as fast a time as her personal best since 2015 and her best the year before pregnancy was 23.18, so she is just 80 seconds away from that. I have a feeling that over the next two months she will be down to that time. I would say she would be there sooner but she doesn’t get to run park run every week as hubbie likes running it to and they swap on the parenting duties each week!
Year     Best Time     Best Age Grading
2013     22.48             64.91%
2014     na                  na
2015     22.15             66.59%
2016     23.18             63.59%
2017     24.47             59.85%
So with my exciting pregnancy running statistics out of the way I will say adieu. More on the endurance stuff next time!

Whitley 10km and a great quote!

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Finally I feel like I am getting somewhere with this blog even though I am still writing about what happened two weeks ago!!!
Saturday 15 April I did run park run as I was planning to run my hundredth park run on 29 May. All I ended up doing was taking Harmony out at lunch for a buggy run to get her to sleep via Wet Gate Lane route. Just 3.6 miles.
Sunday 16 April I actually made it to one of Lymm Runners sunday runs. I had initially thought I would go on the 10 mile run (plus the additional 1.5 miles I would have to run to Lymm Library and back. We set off from the library and headed down past Lymm Hotel and whitbarrow road, then it was quite exciting as we went down a footpath I’ve never been down before which goes by all the ponds and comes out on Poole Lane. I imagined as I we were going down there than Rhi must come down her with her black lab, Mollie. What a cute little route, but not the best of ground so won’t be going there with the buggy. We then carried on down the bridleway down by the Manchester Ship Canal. It was actually not muddy down there. I was running close to the front and Lynn Moseley was leading the way. I started to desperately need the toilet at this point. If it had been for a number one I might have made a dash into some bushes but unfortunately it was the ole stomach playing up on me again. As we neared Ferry Lane I did also think about the toilets by Libby’s farm but there wouldnt be time. Disappointingly I decided I would have to go back with the 6 mile group.
However by the time we got to the Trans Pennine Trail by Half Acre Lane the symptoms had vanished and I changed my mind back to running with the 10 mile group although by this point Lynn had confessed that it was more like 11 miles.
As it was the Easter weekend Lynn had brought some Haribo’s for us all to nibble on and we had these before the two groups went their own separate ways.
We headed on down Half Acre Lane and then across the bridleway to the main road where the dogs home is on where we took a photo by the gate as there was a Santa hat discarded there. I wonder what story that hat had!

lymm runners sunday social 160417
We carried on out down towards Appleton and then turned right into some fields and down towards Grappenhall Walled Garden and then through the woods. I honestly only recognised a few spots before we were back onto new sections and I did wonder when we going to start heading back. When we stopped to muster around Grappenhall Heys Lynn admitted that it was going to be closer to 12.5 miles!! I guess my telling Andy that I wouldn’t be back until 11am was going to be accurate!
Finally we cut through more woods to end up on Australia Lane and Grappenhall Village and got back onto the canal. Its a route I would never remember so I won’t be running it alone in the future! From the canal we jumped back on to the Trans Pennine Trail by the farmer’s field that I canter over with Libby and then it was homeward bound from there.
When we reached the Viaduct section to the Star I actually felt like I’d got a second wind. A runner passed our little group of seven and Jose I think didn’t like that so he picked up the pace. Myself and a couple of others also sped up. So much so that I actually got a PB for that section of TPT of 4.21. I left the group at Whitbarrow road and carried on down the TPT home finishing with an average 10.01/mile pace and 13.8 miles.
Now that I am back to riding Libby a bit more I also want to watch all things horsey too, so I put on The Horse Whisperer. Whilst the character John Booker isn’t exactly Monty Roberts and some of the techniques used in the film aren’t what you would call without forceful on the horse, I really do love this movie. What’s more there is a great running quote:

After Robert Redford as John Booker says “out for a morning jog” to Kirsten Scott Thomas’s character she responds “I don’t jog Mr Booker; I run!”

Amazingly I got out with Lymm Runners again on the Wednesday. Because Andy was off work I was actually buggy free and I caught up with David Faulkner who I had chatted quite a bit to on the Sunday run. He had a run a PB at park run under the 23 minute marker and was due to do Whitley on Sunday. We could be quite evenly paced and it was going to be interesting to see who was going to push who over the line. I discovered from David that he was actuall a bit of a climber and in fact he impressed me that he had four attempts to climb the Eiger. He was hoping this year to get there and succeed but he was struggling with either getting someone to go with him as climbers in his club are either less experienced and won’t do it or they are really climbers that he would now be holding back given he is now slightly older. And the older guys have already done it and don’t want to do it again! If I didn’t have Harmony and had no other commitments this would be something I would seriously have considered but it’s not for me now!
The route John Croall took us on was a good one down MAssey Brook and Booths Lane and round the Avenue and around the dam. Finished the run with a 5.5mile average of 10.15/mile which isn’t bad for the Wednesday run which is usually a bit slower.
Thursday I was in luck again and had a run up the TPT with Mike Hall. We ran up to School Lane, I either forgot to unpause Strava at one point when we were deciding whether to carry on or it stopped as I lost signal around the same spot on my long run at the end of March coming down the TPT towards School Lane. I think Mike must have been feeling good as he just seemed to want to keep going so rather than run straight back down Rushgreen we carried on the TPT to Reddish Crescent and then back around that way completing 6.4 miles, although Strava only recorded 5.1 averaging 9.39/mile.
Before I talk about my Whitley 10km I need to talk about where my head is at at this moment in time. I am really in a quandry about what to do. Here are my options as I see it:

1. Carry on running 5km/10k and half marathons and improve on speed.
2. Forgot working on speed and enter a marathon and focus on:
A)Completing it.
B)Getting it under 4 hours
C)Or going one step further and going for good for age: below 3 hours and 50 minutes
3. Try and continue working on speed but at the same time enter a marathon but don’t worry time.
4. Balance running with doing more Libby such as an endurance race, which would mean less running

Clearly something has to give. I have thought about entering a metric marathon (Chester in October) rather than a marathon and maybe that is a good balance.
My other thoughts are to do with the club championships and silver standards. Here are my other dilemmas:

1. Make sure I enter 10 events for the Summer Championships to see how well I could do. I know I won’t finish first as there are some amazing runners with Lymm but it’s not about winning it!.
2. Try and enter some different races that I haven’t run before.
3. Aim for club silver in three distances.

So with that in mind Whitley 10km forms one of the races for the club Summer Championships. There was a reasonable turn out from Lymm Runners and I was happy that Lynn Moseley was there as I was hoping that I could keep her in my sights as a pacer as she is such an amazing runner. I started with a mile warm up which is something I haven’t done pre-race in ages. It was actually a really warm day. I was stood with David Faulkner as the race began and I pressed on ahead at the start. The first kilometre went by so fast (4.26) and by the second kilometre (4.41) Lynn Moseley had passed me. I was determined to keep her in my sights but then she stopped and I did wonder what was going on. She later said she had dropped one of her mittens and someone had tapped her on the shoulder as they had picked it up. They must have been playing chase with her and trying to catch her. Apart from feeling thirsty for the first half of the race (not taking my water with me was a last minute decision), it went along very well (4.38, 4.46, 4.40) and I was looking at around 23.30 for the first half of the race. I knew it was going to get tougher though. The 6th kilometre was still fine and it was around this point that Lynn passed me again but saying that I would have her on the hill. I seriously doubted it but it would be coming along shortly. The 6th kilometre was still good at 4.34 and I felt tonnes better once I had my water. It was actually at the water station that Lynn caught me up. I ended up choking on my water (always tough to run and drink out of a plastic cup) so I actually had to stop to get a bit more water before moving on.
It had been simple until that point with a few undulating hilly areas but now it was time for the real hill. It showed with a 4.49 and 5.07 for the next two kilometres. I couldn’t get my stride back after the hill and was hoping to pick up my pace. I had as Lynn had said passed her on the hill. I also passed David FAulkner and another Lymm runner. I like to set myself a target runner to pass, usually female, but there were no female runners in sight. I had stuck running along side a couple of guys and it was only when Strava said the last kilometre was 5.05 and I knew that I hadn’t upped the pace did I put my foot down for a final 4.31 kilometre.

whitley 10 k 2017
My official time was 48.41 and I was really pleased with this given it was a hilly course. I knew I was going to be set back by the hill and I think if I had managed to just keep myself going for the last few kilometres I would have been under the 48 minutes. I finished 14th female so I was very pleased with that.
It was great to be part of it with Lymm Runners at the end and catching up with everyone. Lee Hughes did brilliant and came in third runner overall and received a “plate”. I can only dream of winning something like that. But it would be super cool! Maybe in another lifetime!

Oh what a dilemma!

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For the end of March I wanted to reach my 100 mile goal. I literally managed to get to exactly that with a 5.2 mile speed sprint session on Thursday 30th. It felt like quite a disappointing run as I was even slower than I had been on my previous speed session and it felt like I was not getting anywhere. I am not sure what else I can do to run faster other than run with a faster run that will keep me in check. Seems to work in races. I am finding it difficult at the moment to get my pacing right. I can’t afford to go out and buy a watch so I only know how fast I have been going at each mile marker. I suppose I could change it back to metric and then even half kilometre so I could adjust over a shorter distance if need be but I don’t know if that is the answer. Wouldn’t want it going off every half kilometre say at park run I would sound rather silly!
For the end of March I wanted to reach my 100 mile goal.  I literally managed to get to exactly that with a 5.2 mile speed sprint session on Thursday 30th.  It felt like quite a disappointing run as I was even slower than I had been on my previous speed session and it felt like I was not getting anywhere.  I am not sure what else I can do to run faster other than run with a faster run that will keep me in check.  Seems to work in races.  I am finding it difficult at the moment to get my pacing right.  I can’t afford to go out and buy a watch so I only know how fast I have been going at each mile marker.  I suppose I could change it back to metric and then even half kilometre so I could adjust over a shorter distance if need be but I don’t know if that is the answer.  Wouldn’t want it going off every half kilometre say at park run I would sound rather silly!

The start of April was actually quite special as my best friend from high school was over from Australia so I got to spend a couple of days with her whilst she was over for work. It was so great to catch up and really didn’t feel like it has been 10 years since we had seen each other last.
Starting back up with my speed session on the Monday, I didn’t fare much better and I put it down to eating Andy’s spicy left over curry. I managed a fastest split of 7.23 but I do need to look at how I can work out these speed sessions better and perhaps trying to run a fast mile is too far!
4 April was a special day as it was my seven year anniversary with Libby. I managed to ride her the previous day but Tuesday I just visited and cuddled. Took Harmony to the weigh in centre and jogged up with the buggy. She is now 15 months old and weighs 9kgs exactly which is 1/5th of my own weight!


Thursday’s speed session was something that I opted out of given how unsuccessful the other ones had been and I just decided to run and enjoy being out. I took Burford Lane and ran the hill mile in 8.46, so whilst I wasn’t focused on a fast split I was still looking at increasing speed up the hill section. I opted on taking a shorter route back rather than going via the Lymm dam and turned down Grammar School Lane and over the fields past St Peter’s Church. It was a really great run and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Averaged 8.36/mile for 4.5 miles.
Friday was another odd run as I ran to pick up Harmony from Cherie’s. Strange running with an empty buggy! Just a short one of 1.8 miles. Can’t remember the last time I did such a short distance. It barely counts as a run at all.
I feel a bit on the back foot at the moment writing the blog as I am always weeks behind and trying to remember exactly where I was up to and how I was feeling at the time. Thankfully my Dad bought me a diary which I makes notes in of the runs and just brief comments and its actually amazing how these little notes really refresh my memory of the run. My first long run of April was my 9 miler to Park run. I had to park down the road from the farm as Laskey Lane was being retarmaced. So I ran down from where I had parked to turn Libby out (although I asked Gail is she would do it once Libby had slowly eaten her breakfast) as I had misjudged the time and not taken into account the 0.3 miles from where I had parked the car to the stables. So with Libby sorted I set off for the 3 miles to park run. I wasn’t planning on anything special at park run and after Georgina Walker passed me just before the one mile marker I decided I would keep her in my sights. I managed to just do that and passed her in the last 100 metres or so to finish with a 23.52, finishing 9th female. It felt very easy so I know I can run this much faster. I just need that push from somewhere!
Ran back with a couple of the guys from Lymm runners via the Trans Pennine Trail. It was good to run in company as I have not done that in ages. Whilst I run at park run almost every week I very much run it alone. Can’t remember the last time I ran park run with someone all the way around. It must have been with Mike Hall but that seems ages ago now. Finished with 9.2 miles. It was great listening to someone else’s running story about starting running 20 years ago and getting an entry to London marathon but then not getting around to doing it. After that ten years later he started running again and is now running marathons and ultras and due to run London this year some 20 years after that first entry. I didn’t catch this Lymm runners name which is something I seem to do a lot. Not very good at remembering names!
This next week was school holidays so my 5 mile speed sessions were going to be out. I started the Monday with a buggy run with Harmony to get her to sleep. We took the TPT to the A56 and she was asleep after the first mile. I ran back the way I had come and then just added Bollin Crescent on to take me to 3.6 miles.
On Wednesday I walked up to the tennis club with Gwen and Jules and then carried on from there with Harmony in the buggy down the A56 to the TPT. I bumped into Jenny Rogers at the top of Brookfield road as she was heading down to Lymm Library for the Wednesday Lymm Runners. I said I was giving it a miss this week as I hadn’t thought I could make it but I would be there the following week. It turned out that whilst running back down the TPT I could see the Lymm Runners ahead of me just as I was coming up to the Lymmhay Lane entry to the TPT by the allotments. I took running up another gear and caught up with them gaining some good ground and clocking 8.48/mile in the process with the buggy. Had a quick chat with Fiona Eaton, Jenny Rogers and a couple of the other runners before deciding I definitely couldn’t join them for the next section as Mum was coming over for 10am and I wouldn’t have time. Finished with 3.1 miles.
Thursday morning I decided to run down to the farm to see Libby. My legs just didn’t have it in them today and I felt like I couldn’t get going on the way there. I felt much better on the way back which was via the tennis club as Gwen had left her tennis racket there. As Harmony and I were proceeding down Brookfield approaching the car park entrance there is a building that is being worked on and a van pulled out right in front of me. I couldn’t help but say “Watch out for pedestrians on the pavement” to which the most intelligent response from this young uncouth man was “Shut up you dickhead”. I was a little stressed by it and contemplated actually writing a complaint letter to the business who are working on the house, but after a bit of deliberation decided it was better to let it go and move on.

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Sporting my handknitted cap – just before the weather gets too warm!


Fired up from that run and with a tennis racket to be taken home I went out with the Harmony again after lunch just around Bucklow gardens and Sandy Lane. Out of curiosity I decided to count how many cars were parked on the pavement and/or on the grass verges. I counted a total of 79 cars, 61 of which were in the first miles from my house and down Bucklow and Sandy Lane. So actually finished the day with a total of 8.6 buggy miles.
Friday 14 April was a special day as it was the first day that I have been on a hack with Libby since being pregnant with Harmony. It seems such a long time ago and roughly 20 months since we have been out on the roads together. There were a couple of things that had me worried. Firstly the time it has been since we had been out on the roads together and the second being that Libby is currently unshoed and I didn’t know how she would cope on the roads and if she would be tender trotting on the ground.


Lets just say it didn’t start well. At the entrance to the bridleway a new gate has been installed and there are lots of builders sand bags that are dumped at the side. Libby decided to take it upon herself to have a bit of a fit over the bags and I couldn’t get her through the gate. At the time I did know it, but she ended up scrapping her back right leg on the side of these stones stabs that surround the gate which for the following week had me worried that it would get infected. I can say that my veterinary skills prevailed and it healed well.
Once we were out on the route though she behaved impecably. We set off down towards the Manchester Ship Canal and then down to Ferry Lane. That was probably the most uncomfortable stretch of ground for her as there is a great deal of loss stone on the surface of this road. At the gate by Ferry Lane I managed to get through without dismounting but decided that on the way back I wouldn’t be taking the chance as I always find it so hard to open the gate away from Libby and then try and get through before the gate closes, especially when said gate is so stiff to open in the first place. Anyway we headed down Ferry Lane and over towards All Saints Drive. Had a few cars to contend with but Libby was as steady as ever. Finally we made it to the Trans Pennine Trail. With only a limited time as I said I would be back by 10.30 to take Andy to his all day snooker competition I calculated I had roughly 10 minutes to get up the TPT to the M6 bridge and back again. I managed to build up some confidence along the way and we had a few stretches of light seated canter to complete the mile in 8.53. I remember the joy of clocking up those miles with Libby when we had been aiming for endurance and getting our kilometre time down to just under 4 minutes at one point. I headed back the way we had come and managed to cover 3.3 miles in 42 minutes which included stopping on two occasions to have chats with some people.


It was only after I dismounted and was back at the stable untacking that I noticed Libby’s injury on her leg. Thankfully it hadn’t affected her as she had not been lame throughout the ride. Because of the ride though it has set me thinking about my riding goals which has then made me wonder about running and how I can possibly balance the two. I absolutely loved the ride and it placed my thoughts into such a dilemma about what I want to do…. I almost feel like I want to ride more than run which kind of freaked me out. The only thing is I have no idea to set myself goals with riding where with running it is easier to set targets and obviously there is a club to be part of. I don’t think I would ever really fit into any horsey clubs or get to any standard that I would hope to reach. Oh such dilemmas!!

Harmony and I visited again later that day to check on the wound and rebandage it.  Found Libby’s scalped hair on the stones by the bridleway.  My poor baby.  Pleased to say she made a perfect recovery and it is healing well.  Also she was brilliant with no shoes on!

Arley 10 km and finally a long run!

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After not running more than six or seven miles in one run over the last few weeks I decided to take it steady om Park Run incorporated 9 miler! I have so missed getting out for a longer run and really missed it. On the way down to Park Run there was a boat at the locks. You don’t realise how massive they are until you run past them. Took a photo and only managed to get the end of the boat in shot. Didn’t really have time to stop and get a great photo in as I am always running a bit late from the stables to get to Park Run for 9am. Managed to get there just in time and I am lucky that they actually never set off running til about 9.05 anyway!


I didn’t over do it at the park run either and ran a steady 24.44. Headed back to complete the 9 miles and average 8.37 per mile which is what I would love to aim towards if I managed to get to marathon fitness.
Unfortunately that Saturday afternoon I started to feel under the weather. It started with a sore throat and then blocked nose. By Monday 20th I was still feeling pretty awful. After a rubbish shift at work I really wanted to run though so decided I would just go out for a couple of miles so that at least my head would feel better if nothing else. My tummy was so upset that I had to stop at someone’s house just a mile around to use the toilet. I managed 2.6 miles at 9.16/mile which without the buggy is pretty slow these days.
The following day I didn’t feel much better but set off with Harmony and the running buggy to get her to sleep. I went via Wet Gate Lane for my 3.5 mile route. It was so windy which I think is why Harmony didn’t go to sleep until after two miles into the run. I thought she wasn’t going to go at all. She woke again but fortunately went back to sleep before we got home. I felt exhausted when I got home and was really starting to worry that whatever had started on the Saturday was never going to go. I don’t do ill! Not these days at least. I like feeling well and healthy and I really get frustrated with getting run down and bugs.
By Thursday the darn cold or whatever it was was still full blown. I managed to get a 5km run in at 8.49/mile between work and going to the dentist (owch). I actually sped up along the route and couldn’t help but think about the long run I was planning the following Monday where 5km 23 marchI had actually managed to book half my shift off to go out and run. It’s the only part of my holidays that I have allocated just for me. The rest of the holidays I have booked off because I have no childcare cover and will spend all those days with Harmony or else be nannying the twins instead of typing work!

Managed a quick Buggy run on the Friday morning (24 March). It was a glorious morning and I would have liked to have run for longer but as it was Friday morning I took Harmony swimming as we haven’t been for a while because of colds so only managed 2.3 miles around Bucklow Gardens, Sandy Lane and Reddish Crescent. It definitely feels like the miles are slowing down over the week. I only clocked 20.7 miles this week and 22.6 the week before and the same week before that. I was hoping to be at least getting 25 miles a week in. And now with one week left for March I have 30.1 miles to reach the 100 for the month. If I manage it, that will be 6 months on the trot where I have run 100 plus miles each month. I want to see how long I can keep the streak going. It’s tough to reach and it seems like at the end of each month I battle to get the miles in to reach the 100 and the start of every month either an event occurs which means I can’t get out and run or I really have run so much the previous week that I want a break of a couple of days which means that every month I am always on the back foot.

Next month will be no different as my friend Melissa is over from Australia from 31 March until 2 April (over for business and managing to pop up to see me between meetings), so there are two days that I definitely won’t get out to run; and a fine excuse too!
Over the 25th to 27th March I had three brilliant but very different runs: buggy run at park run, the Arley 10km and my first very long run since 5 February!
On the saturday I went with Harmony and the buggy to park run. Haven’t been with the buggy in ages but as I had the 10km race on the Sunday I thought it would be nice to have a shorter run and hopefully a slow one so that I was knackered for SUnday. Little did I know that I was going to love it so much and listening to Harmony whooping with excitement and banging her legs up and down on the edge of the buggy just made me run faster. I managed a 4.49 kilometre for the 5th kilometre and clocked in with my personal best buggy run in 26.07.pb buggy park run 25 march
I was fortunate on Arley 10km race day to grab a lift with Jen Murphy and her friends Natalie and Alice. Really lkovely chatting to them in the car and hearing their mummy stories. I really didn’t know what to expect on the day and actually that morning I had started looking at advice on whether I should run or not because my cold was not getting and better and I still felt poorly. The general concensus seemed to be if its above the head then just run. The other advice was will you feel worse mentally if you actually miss the race rather than run it poorly. With those thoughts in mind I decided to get down there. I have to say I was disappointed that Clare Makin had pulled out and it felt even more so when I heard stories from other people who had never run 10km race before and were just used to doing two mile runs a day with only one lung! I think if I had pushed perhaps Clare would have come but then I wasn’t prepared to run my race slower to keep her motivated so its an awkward one really. I do hope she gets the opportunity to enter another 10km race as I think she will do really well and surprise herself. Its amazing I find how much a race can push you that bit more.
Having said that I did wonder if I had the go in me to push that bit more. I doubted very much that I would beat the 48.01 from High Legh given my lung capacity was not fairing so well and my nose was completely blocked and phlegm was building in my throat. I opted against my better wisdom to run without my water bottles as its obviously easier to run without them. In hindsight that was a mistake as I really needed to clear my throat on a few occasions around the route. Bumped into a few old friends; Sue Plant was there and planned on trying to get 45 minutes. There was no way that I was going to try and keep up with her! Alex Hartland was also there aiming for anything around what we had got at High Legh last time (the exact same time for both of us), so I would try and keep her in my sights, except she actually was running behind me until the 7th kilometre where she caught up with me.
The first three kilometres coming out of Arley and were very fast with 4.37 for the first couple of kilometres and a 4.40 for the third. It was then that I did start to slow down with 4.47 and 4.59 (going up the incline) to the water station which I really needed by that point. The day was much warmer than I was dressed for and I had rolled up my sleeves but still was stinking hot. Wish I had worn a vest but I really wanted to be able to wear my Lymm Runners top and I only have a long sleeved one at the moment. I will have to invest in Lymm vest soon as I am going to be sweltering at the next one! I will probably just have to wear my own gear and definitely shorts. Have to say though that Nike bottoms that Andy bought me for Christmas didn’t actually make me hot so they must be made of very breathable material not like the karrimor leggings that I have. They really make me hot and sweaty.
After the water station I did feel a little rejuvinated but phlegm was building in my throat and I was struggling to get air in. I managed to speed up to 4.43 but then by kilometre seven slowed back down to 4.55. This is when Alex Hartland caught me up and told me to stick with her. I manged for a while but then told her to run on ahead. I made sure after that though that she was no more than ten strides ahead of me. Whilst the 8th and 9th kilometers were much slower at 5.00 and 4.56 but pushed on at that kilometre which doesn’t actually seem that far as the marker is just before the gates to Arley so you know you are almost back and that clocked in at 4.39 so really back up to speed again there. My official time was actually 47.49 and I was so surprised that I actually knocked 12 seconds off High Legh to make this my new 10km PB.
Looking at the results I finished 7th female out of 107 in the Veteran 40 class and 54th female out of 651. The first female Hannah Griffiths finished in 35.56 and first V40 female, Kirsty Longley in 36.36. Sue Plant ended up finishing in 45.57 for V35 position 14 and 38th female overall. Alex Hartland finished just six seconds ahead of me on the gun time but actually finished in 47.33 so PB for both of them. Alex was in the V45 category and finished 4th in her category and 53rd female. Jen Murphy also achieved a PB with 56.38. Alice finished in 1.02.42 and Natalie (running under Clare Makin’s name) finished in 56.32. It was a great day for everybody and a brilliant way to start my second Mother’s Day. I couldn’t wait to get home and give Harmony a big hug and show her my medal. She likes to play with them.


Finally my third challenging run over these three days was my long run on my half day. It is unbelievable though the guilt I had for actually taking half of my shift off to actually have some me time. I know its something that lots of mothers seems to suffer from. I had half planned a route but as I hadn’t actually clocked how many miles it actually was I had decided that at a certain point on the route I would decide how I would proceed.
I actually started off quite well for the first couple of miles as I headed down the Trans Pennine Trail to Dunham with a 9.14 and 9.11. Something odd appeared to happen with Strava and the next mile clocked in with 12.10 so something went wrong there. My knee felt somewhat sore for the first mile but that eased up. After that I had a stitch for the following mile and I really did wonder by mile three whether my legs were up to the challenge having run the Arley 10km the previous day. It probably wasn’t the wisest thing to run a long distance but it was the only day that I could do it and I wanted to get it in before the end of March.

long run dunham bridge
I carried on regardless of my concerns and came off the TPT and ran through Dunham village and then into Dunham Massey. The fourth mile took me to just up to the house where I stopped to take a photograph. This I considered to be the first leg of my tour. The second section was to run to High Legh. I trotted over the styal and down past the Swan With Two Nicks and then headed up to the A56 which I duly crossed and ran down the side road on the opposite side towards Millington. Love this road but this is the first time I’ve run down it. I had appreciated

how hilly it was. The fifth mile was 9.41 but I slowed on the 6th with a 9.59 where the gradient increased by 99 feet. This is a stretch on Strava referred to as reddy Lane Hill and I achieved 7th position overall. This is certainly a route I will run again in the future but I don’t know when.sheep 6 miles

The seventh mile took me past High Legh golf course and into the village of High Legh where I spotted a sign which displayed the birds you may find in the area. It was at this point that I had to decide what route to take. Clearly if I headed home it would be just three miles and that wasn’t enough for my long run so I decided the next route would be down past the rugby club and through Lymm Dam.
I did feel a bit more of a lease of life as I ran up the road towards the M56 before taking the turn off towards Crouchley Lane. The eighth mile was still slow at 10.2high legh golf course2 but I finally at mile 9 picked up some speed with a 9.50 and 9.46 albeit we were going down hill but this point with an overall decrease of 83 feet over those two miles. When you get to the 10th mile it feels great to reach the double figures. I was just getting to my 11th mile as I began my run through Lymm Dam when I spotted ahead three women and a couple of pushchairs and a toddler walking. It took me a moment to realise that this was actually Cherie with Harmony and a couple of her friends. I was so overjoyed to see Harmony and I got her out of the buggy and gave her a huge cuddle. It was so tempting to stop the run there and spend the rest of the time with Harmony but I was on the final straight now as I imagined it with the Lymm Dam push being the third section of my tour. I was so excited to see Harmony that I forgot to get a selfie of us together. That mile needless to say was a bit slower as I took a while to get going again with 11.05.

lymm dam long run
The last section was to take me down towards Weaste Lane. At mile 12 whcih was also slow at 10.45 I had a pebble in my shoe so had to stop to get that out and again it was tough to get going. After that I felt a greater sense of achievement as I was close to reaching the half marathon distance albeit at a very slow rate and not what I had originally set out to run. I then had a choice of whether to run left under the M6 and back up the hill to Lady Acre Lane and back along the TPT or turn right for a slightly shorter run, albeit still with the aim to get to the TPT by the M6 but via the A56. I chose the hill route and headed down and back up the hill and my 13th mile clocked in at 10.31. Finally back onto the TPT I would be running a route that I have run so many times before. By the time I reached the M6 section and ran under the underpass of the A56 I was feeling really tired. The extra bit of energy that had buffered through me around 12.5 miles in that made me take the longer route had gone and I was struggling to keep going. But keep going I did and I could feel my calves starting to get tight. Part of me wondered that if I had actually run it faster would things have tightened up as much as I was clearly running well below my usual steady pace. But I tried not to knock myself given I hadn’t run this sort of distance for almost two months and what was I thinking that I could just do it and expect to where I was at the start of February when I had been managing a longer run each week. As I neared home I sped up with a 10.07 and finishing with a 9.54. I was so tired when I got home that I just wanted to crash out. Ended up with an average pace of 10.12/mile. I would love to give the route another go at some point and see if I could improve on my time as it was such a lovely route to run. I chose well keeping to either the TPT or country lanes. There were only small sections which meant that I had a main road to cross or a small estate to run through, but basically it was the most peaceful route I have run for that type of distance.
It has been 17 days since I ran that route and I’ve only run a 9 mile run since that time. Once again my training is going a little astray but I am hoping that I may have found a running buddy for the long runs mid week if I can arrange for some childcare cover on one of my mornings off. I just hope that I am able to pick up the pace a bit. I think I need to get a couple of test runs in before I try and go out with Germaine as I don’t want to slow her down. I am starting to think of possibly entering the Liverpool Rock n Roll marathon but it really will depend on whether these long runs happen or not. Only time will tell.

Things are looking up eventually!

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Well I have just come to my computer after over a week of not getting an opportunity to write. I finally feel like I can get a bit of writing done in an evening, which I usually avoid as I am normally shattered (not that I’m not shattered but I thought I’d give it a go). Only to find that my dam running blog has vanished from my PC – well it hasn’t vanished it just crashes every time I open it! I thought it would be a great idea getting Scrivener as I could get used to it for writing my other book and whatever ideas I came up with I could get it all jotted down. But it seems to have beaten me and lost what I had typed for what would have been last weeks blog. As usual with my blogs it was about 1500 words at the time before I had to cut off because a certain someone had woken so now what….do I start again. I don’t even think I want to. But then where would the continuity be?
When I last left off I had just finished the High Legh 10km with a PB of 48.01. With the Arley 10km just three weeks later I did wonder if I was going to manage an even better time. For the weeks in between I was obvious going to focus on speed as distance has just gone right out of the window as I just haven’t been afforded the opportunity to have the time to run for so long. I have however booked a half shift off at the end of the month to try for a longer run once more.
When I checked my handicap on Run England I was down to 12.8 and 1246 Woman in the W40 in the UK category. It seems pretty good to me.
I opted the Monday after the race to try my sprint session route. I didn’t really achieve what I was hoping but then it was probably down to tired legs. I had to run in my trail shoes as well because my Nikes were still soaked from High Legh.
It was lovely day on Wednesday 8 March so even though Harmony had already slept I took her out in the buggy to basically run my sprint route in reverse, but actually adding on the Bollin Crescent circuit as well.
On the Thursday it was another attempt at a speed session which again I felt was a little pathetic. I perhaps shouldn’t have set off with a baked spud just recently eaten! I took the Warburton triangle route and then down Mill Lane for a rather uncomfortable tummy run of 4.3 miles averaging at 8.25/mile.
On Saturday 11 March I felt so disheartened about running that I didn’t even bother with my long run and Park run. I decided instead to spend some time with Libby and we had a wonderful time. Still just pottering about in the paddock. Can’t wait for us to be able to go out and have a proper ride again. REading back on my older blogs from before Harmony I was clocking sometimes around 100 miles with Libby in a month and we were seriously getting somewhere with our endurance and the possibility of entering some races. Clearly that is something that I can’t even consider at the moment, but I will remain hopeful that one day I will still be able to do something special with Libby.
There was sudden change of heart on Sunday 12 March. After the glorious time with Libby and perhaps a step away from running I was fully recharged and set off with Harmony in the buggy down to the stables. We clocked out journey down there (2.5 miles) in 24.11 which is great for a muddy Trans Pennine Trail run with buggy. So on the way back I set myself a buggy challenge….to finally get the 10km under an hour. It meant having to go a bit further but I had encouragement from passersby along the way. We finally clocked our 6.2 miles in 58.21 and I even had a 8.47/mile. With this sort of time with the buggy it seems obvious why I was unhappy with my 8.25/mile for the speed session the previous week.
Bearing all the above in mind I do think it is really important to get a days rest. The difficulty I have is that I have to fit in runs when I can and sometimes they don’t really fit with when I would like to rest.
Checking my handicap on Monday 13 March it has gone down to 12.7 but I am feeling really low. I think I really struggle leaving Harmony with Cherie and then working especially when work has been come such a nightmare with computers crashing constantly and not getting anything done. You can imagine my chagrin when I lost my earlier draft blog and have had to type this up. I mean I spent half an hour trying to get the damn thing to open. I only have another 10 minutes before my little allocated spot of 1 hour for typing is over and I switch to reading to help wind down for the night as otherwise my head will be buzzing too much and I won’t be able to get to sleep.
So anyway I went out after that awful Monday shift and took the hilly Burford Road route. I made it up there the fastest yet with a 8.53/mile and then headed back towards Lymm. I was feeling really good and then took what is referred to on Strava as the Bollin Dog Leg and suddenly was filled with an overwhelming sadness. This is the last route I ran with Misty before I let the breeder take her back. Its been almost six months since I’ve seen her and it fills me with sadness whenever I think about it and her. I ran fast but not as fast as Misty and I ran than last time. It remains my fastest time on that route. And forever may that be so.
As the week drew to a close I managed my final speed session for the week on Thursday 16 March. It was amazing. I chose to run up the Warburton triangle and then back down Mill Lane, Wet Gate Lane and Stage Lane and round the back of Outrington Primary and then Bucklow Gardens and home, a 5.2 mile route.
The first mile was a warm up followed by my speed mile (I clocked 7.15 as well as the first place course record for that section around the Warburton triangle). I then had a recovery mile at 8.53 before trying for another speed mile, much slower at 7.58 but the elevation gain was a little steeper and my legs were a good deal more tired. This is definitely the route to take and work on my speed. I really enjoyed the challenge of pushing on with that mile. I have to say it would be an awful lot easier if I switched over to kilometres!!!
Friday 17 March was Libby’s 11th Birthday and also the day I had entered a virtual 5km challenge. I decided to run it with Harmony in the buggy and the ran stayed away long enough for us get around. Such a change in weather from the previous day. Harmony was pretty snug though in her waterproofs! I ran my comfy buggy route which incorporates Bucklow Gardens and Reddish Crescent for a very comfy 30.32 time. It was a very good way to end the week. I even managed in the pouring ran to ride Libby for 5 minutes in the paddock.
than last time. It remains my fastest time on that route. And forever may that be so.

A Speedy 10km at High Legh

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As the end of February draws near I manage to chug along and clock up those miles to just tip over the 100 miles for the month. Mike came over on Sunday 26 February for the run down to the stables. I really enjoyed the company and the steady run. It was very muddy after all the rain we’ve had. So glad that I invested in a pair of trail shoes.
We chatted a little about marathons and I think that I will probably not enter one this year. I had a crazy idea that next year I will try and run the top five most scenic marathons but I like to think big! But for this year I think with only being able to fit in shorter sessions I’ll focus on speed as when I get a better time it does make me feel happy.


On Monday I managed to get in a short run between my two jobs and I may actually use this session time if possible to work on improving my speed. Shall see how things go there
I finished the month with Harmony in the buggy for a 3.7 mile trip around Bucklow Gardens and Reddish Crescent which was so wet. Huge puddles to dodge. Glad I went out in the trail shoes again.
Ridiculously Wednesday being my actual day off was when the weather was nice first thing and I didn’t manage to get out, instead I took Harmony to visit her Nanna.
Thursday like Monday was an opportunity to work on speed. I only decided to do this into the second mile and it was a bit haphazard. I will need to work out some more structure to the sprint training to inprove my times. It’s a good relatively flat route that I have chosen which is exactly 5km. Stage Lane, Mill Lane and back around the rather wet Reddish Crescent. Covered the distance in 25.17 with a fastest split of 7.51 in the middle. I will try and aim to get this middle mile quicker as training goes on. I do like having something to aim towards.
Did the stable run via Rhi’s house to check on her cat Morgan on SAturday morning as opposed to going to Park Run. With High Legh being the following day I thought I’d sped a bit more time with Harmony at the stables. She loves it there and played about in the mud and puddles. Her waterproof full body outfits have been another sound investment along with her wellingtons.

All cosy after playing at the stables


High Legh starts late at 11am on the Sunday morning 5 March. Last year I had sold my place to Mike Hall as I didn’t think I would manage to get the distance in, which I did given I ran to High Legh and back with Mike. Silly me, I didn’t want to get a rubbish time though so that was also a factor that had plagued me. This year though I wasn’t originally aiming for a time either as I was going to incorporate it into one of my long runs as part of the marathon training. With that now on hold I was back to running the race as I would originally like – as fast as I can. So how fast can I go? Last December, my last 10km in Wilmslow had given me my fastest yet with a PB of 49.01. Obviously my intention was to try and achieve something better than that.
The weather however was going to be a factor. First thing that morning I had been sat reading my book looking at what was going to be a lovely day and then around 9.30am the change came in and it soon became an all out downpour which didn’t let up all day. Mike Hall arrived just after 10am and we decided to just run a kilometre to the race start rather than the originally planned two miles from Lymm High. We parked up and the rain sounded horrific beating down on the roof of Mike’s Mini Cooper. We got out and I stood standing in the rain for a minute or two whilst Mike did some sort of phaffing in the car. Not quite sure what he was doing. But needless to say it was getting me used to the inclement weather.
We tootled down to the start line but not before we had been splashed horrifically just before turning off the main road by a car that just didnt seem to care that the puddle that encrouched five foot into the road would completely drench us. I screamed out as I wasn’t expecting it. I was going to get wet, but it didn’t have to be before we had even started. I felt like I had just had buckets of water thrown over me. Very cold buckets. Its all well and good doing the ice bucket challenge in Summer but not when its not your choice and its only 5 degrees out and you’re not going to be able to get warm for at least two hours.
So totally drenched we rocked up at the race headquarters and collected our numbers. Spent as long as we could inside the hall before going out and standing at the start line. Some person quite rudely kicked me in the back of my legs as she was doing some stretches. When I saw who it was I didn’t expect any apologies. If it had been me I would have said something like “Oops sorry about that”. I mean really why you would be trying to do stretches in the middle of a crowd is totally beyond me. It was like sardines at that point, but I was thankful for it as it least it kept us warm before the start.
The High Legh always starts promptly. Thirty seconds had elapsed though by the time Mike and I had crossed over the start line. I basically then tried to keep up with Mike as he dodged around people and puddles (for which there were many to avoid) as we made our way around the course. There were so many people to pass in the first kilometre and it was tough going. The first kilometre clocked in at around 5.19. Once out of the main crowd it was then just a matter of trying to get past people where we could. The puddles often encroached either side of the country lane so there was a funnel down the centre. The time for the second kilometre at 4.36 showed that we were moving on quite quickly. We passed the 50 minute pacer and Mike said that he hoped he wasn’t running at the right pace as he was starting to feel tired already. With only just coming back from injury neither Mike or I knew how the 10km was going to be for him. He kept the pace up though and I followed his back as we carried on through the third kilometre. By now my feet were well and truly sodden and my legs kept getting splashed by Mike ahead or me and those that I ran past. I didn’t mind the wet, but my only worry was that the wet was going to bring back those awful chillblains. The third kilometre at 4.44 was also very reasonable. As we neared the A56 I spied Lynn Moseley who appeared to be pulling out of the race. I asked if she was okay and she said she was. Only last week she had flown past me at park run finishing in 22.58 minutes. I think I need to get her to pace me for my 5km time.
It was a little hard going down the main road stretch as trying to keep up with Mike as he wizzed past people and then dealing with the traffic passing was not easy especially given there were puddles again all along the side of the road. We carried on at the same steady pace for another 4.43 kilometre. Having only run the route a couple of weeks ago it was nice to know that what lay ahead were a few windy country lanes and a slight hill around 5km in. It was at this point at the 5km mark that Mike said that I would have to go on ahead without him. At that point his watch suggested we were at 23.36 for the first half but he said he couldn’t keep up the pace, the last kilometre being a 4.41. I carried on a little disappointed as we had been doing so well together. Having Mike to chase had really spurred me on. I think after that I lost a bit of momentum. Sure enough the sixth kilometre was slower at 4.50. I had passed the water station without having anything also I decided to have my gel which I thought would serve to give me some energy and also some fluids. I still kept pushing on and as the roads run through Millington they are distinctly uphill and this carries on for the 7th kilometre as well which takes you up the bridge over the M56. Another steady time of 4.51 and as I ran over the bridge and headed on down the long straight stretch heading to the end of the road which leads back to the A50 I was passed by two women, one on either side of me. I was gutted. Then I saw one of them had a t-shirt on saying 26.2 and I gave her the respect she deserved. 10km for her was like a walk in the park. They passed me chatting away as if they were just out for a steady jog! Mike said later that when they had passed him he thought that is what people must think when we are chatting away at park run and passing them.
The eight kilometre closed in with another 4.50 so whilst I had slowed down at least I was consistent. It became a bit tougher then as there is a small stretch that is off the road and down a pathway which was just basically a bog and this is where one really needed to switch to trail shoes. My light grey trainers looked decided charcoal by the end of that stretch. Back onto the final straight and up the road and over the motorway once more for my slowest kilometre since the start of 5.04. I head someone hot on my heels as I was reaching the crest of the hill. I could see Amanda Pemberton ahead of me and decided that this person behind me was not going to pass me but instead I would try and catch up with Amanda. I had been making inroads and had spied her a good kilometre or so back. As I made my way down the hill I found a safe place to pace shouted out hi to her, to which she responded something like “go for it Gaynor”. Great to get such support from fellow runners.
I did pick it a gear once more for the final kilometre for a 4.43 and a finishing time of 48.01, knocking one whole minute off my previous time. I couldn’t believe that I was also splashed again by the massive five foot puddle on the side of the road. I even warned the 4×4 that was coming to move out but it seemed to take some glee in driving straight through and splashing me not just with the 4×4 but the horsetrailer behind it. I guess you can’t get any wetter, but it certainly felt like that was just yet another layer of wetness.
As wet as I was I felt so very happy. What made me very happy was that I was just 17 seconds behind Georgina Walker who did seem very surprised to see my coming through the finishing corral just after her. At the time I didn’t realise that she had just finished. I imagined she had been stood there chatting for some time. The only other Lymm female runner ahead of me was Germaine Holmes who finished exactly a minute ahead. To be third in the club made me very happy.
Mike wasn’t too far behind me, but nothing like his time from the previous year of around 45 minutes. He has a way to go yet before he is fully recovered.
We didn’t do any more running as was intended back to the car because the weather was so bad and we thought it was far too dangerous down the road.

Please wash me now!!!

Later at home obviously one can’t help looking at the results. I finished 25th female and was actually 124th runner to finish out of 498. I was only 6 minutes behind the first female who finished in 41.42. The weather must have really affected some of the runners. It didn’t affect the first man to finish who achieved course record of 32.33. I also felt very positive as I didn’t feel tired at all as I crossed the finish line. I know there is definitely room for improvement. So much so that I decided to see what the gold standard is as I’m now only 30 seconds off the silver standard. Gold is quite a long way off at 42.50 but again have to set sights high and see how much I can push myself.
Based on the 10km time I am looking at a 5km time of 23.10 which is just 6 seconds faster than my current time, 1.44 for a half and 3.41 for a marathon. Also my Run England Ranking handicap has gone down further to 12.8.  All looks fantastic on paper. Now it’s just a matter of putting it into practice. I will enjoy the work getting there. Running is not a hobby it is a way of life.
Today I started reading the introduction of a new book I have bought out of curiosity called “Run for your life – mindful running for a happy life” by William Pullen. William Pullen is a psychotherapist who helps people dealing with anxiety issues amongst other things. As I am out running what is often true is my mind wanders and I start thinking about things, putting my thoughts in order. This book basically deals with this and calls it DRT – Dynamic Running Therapy. It’s techniques are supposed to focus on the ancient techniques of mindfulness and the clarity that can be reached by the action of movement within your body. So more on that as I progress through the book.
So in the meantime my focus will be on speed, but still aiming to get one longer run in each week. I love my nine miler on Saturday mornings.

A Scenic Marathon Challenge?

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At week 12 of the 17 weeks into marathon training, with an 18 mile due to be run I decided that I just didn’t have the time to really train like I would like and that perhaps my reasons for running the Manchester Marathon were skewed.
Running a marathon is definitely on the cards but it is not going to be the Manchester Marathon in April. I have had a good think about my reasons for running the Manchester Marathon and actually I don’t think I fancy my first marathon to be around the dreary streets of Manchester just so I can pass my mum’s street around 20 miles into it! I’ve decided rather to not set myself with a target of time but to enjoy the 26.2 mile run by finding a scenic marathon to run where I simply enjoy the scenery. Mike Hall has already suggested the Windermere Marathon in middle of May and this seems very possible if I can get a few longer runs in before then. I’ve been having a quick scout on the internet and there are a few others that seem possible as well: Conwy, Snowdonia, Guernsey, Lochness. Obviously they would all be challenging courses and not one to go full steam ahead. I think this is what I would like to do for my first marathon challenge. I also haven’t decided whether to wait until next year or go for it this year. I’m going to see what pans out over the next month. I would love to hear people’s thoughts on what scenic marathon to run.
On 18 February I did my usual 9 mile run from the stables to park run and back. Had a good pace getting down to park run and managed 23.28 for Park Run which I was very pleased about, just 12 seconds off the PB and could crack it anytime soon. I ended up running a slow 7th mile back to the stables and finished with the same 9 mile time as the previous week with 1.14.45. At least I can say I am consistent.
I checked England Athletics to see what my handicap was and it has gone down from 13.4 to 13.1 over the past month. I’m still 7th female in the postcode of WA13 where I discovered there are over 6000 women according to a poll taken in 2011. Who knows what the percentage of those women run, but I don’t care as it serves my purposes of feeling good about being 7th out of 6000+.
Monday 20th turned out to be a lovely morning and I took Harmony down to the stables in the buggy. She enjoyed playing in the puddles and I enjoyed being outside with her. I am looking forward to and perhaps hoping that when she is older she will want to run and we can enjoy running and talking together. Harmony catapulted her wellington out of the buggy on the way back and I had left her other shoes in the footwell of the buggy and didn’t notice until we got home that one of them was missing. I did think she was at the point to get new shoes and in fact went to measure her feet the following morning and sure enough she was now in size 4. Still didn’t stop me from running back up the Trans Pennine Trail to find them.
On the Monday there had been a man with a digger on one section and I did wonder if perhaps it would have ended up getting lost under the soil there, but some kind person had picked it up and put it on the fence at the entrance to the trail by Star Lane. I didn’t notice it on the way up so I ran a bit further than I needed to where I thought she must have lost it. I clocked it on the way back and even though she isn’t likely to wear them again I was happy to have it back for sentimental value only.
I didn’t think it would be possible even with clocking the 8.6 miles up over these two days that I would manage the 100 for the month, made even more challenging with February only have 28 days. I set off on Wednesday down Wet Gate lane and Harmony was asleep after the first mile. This is a lovely flat route and I always enjoy it. Just a shame Harmony woke up just as we got home. I did think about carrying on but I decided for some reason against it and left it at just 3.5 miles.
Thursday was the day of Storm Doris and there was nothing on earth that was going to get me out walking or running in that weather. I was reluctant enough to be down at the stables where sheets of rain washed across the car park. It was truly horrific. So bad that on my journey to visit Andy at lunch I saw a tree right across the Cherry Lane and on top of the roof of a car. That must have been so scary for the driver, and I really hope they were okay.
Friday morning with not childminding I ran to the stables again. After the storm the previous day it felt like a miracle that the weather was so glorious. Just as I was setting off it seemed like my right back wheel was going flat and I thought I should pump it up but just wanted to get down to the stables via cat sitting and feeding Morgan for Rhi whilst she was away on holiday. By the time I got the stables it was completely flat and I ended up running all the way back with it like that. Tiring for my arms but the tyre was okay and I was able to get it fixed again at the bike shop. I can’t be bothered doing the whole puncture thing these days, its just too time consuming and its so much easier to just get the bike shop to change it. I was so surprised when Harmony fell asleep on the run back from the stables as it was the morning and she hasn’t done than in the buggy in ages. I guess because she had been under the weather with a chest infection she just was more tired that usual. And maybe she felt very cosy in her big coat and all her blankets.
Clare Makin was supposed to come out for her 10km pacer run that afternoon but she had had such a tough day that she decided that she would prefer just to catch up and chat and then come down to the stables and visit with Libby later that afternoon. It was wonderful to be able to catch up with one of my friends. I often feel like I haven’t got a friend left in the world as I very rarely get to see anyone these days. I just have my five minute chat at Park Run before I head off home. I know it won’t be forever, but I do miss my friends.
Saturday 25th February was Mike Hall’s birthday run at Park Run and I did the usual stint there. I managed to knock off a bit of time and it looked pretty good for a best nine miler. I did think I had done better around Park Run than the 23.35 and Strava said I clocked 5km in 23.15. I was doing well and then at the last minute was passed by Joanna Robbins . She flew past me at such a speed. Talking with her afterwards it made sense as she had been using me to drag her along and she was coming back to running after being ill and she normally clocks her 5km in 20-21 minutes. She talked about having a baby in 2014 and said that this Summer would be when I would benefit the most from having the baby and that I could really see some time improvements. I think this obviously all depends on how many miles you clock up as it just doesn’t happen without putting in some effort surely! I finished 6th female and the usual 2nd in my age category. There were 432 runners so it is getting to be a massive event these days.
I managed to clock 5 miles in just over 39 minutes which I think is my fastest and the 10km distance was around 48 minutes. I knew that if I kept up a good 8.30 minute per mile pace I would get in well under the hour and 15 minutes. As the eighth mile was completed I was at 1.04 and something seconds so I took it up another gear finishing the last mile in 7.48 for a 1.12.12 time. I was blown away knocking off 2 1/2 minutes from my previous time. I am getting closer to being able to achieve a 10 mile race in under 1 hour and 20 minutes which is my ultimate goal.
With the reduced mileage I am actually happy with my decision not to run Manchester. I like running fast and I have so many potential goals that I can aim towards that it really doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I thought it might but I feel a lot happier knowing that I am simply running to enjoy it and not trying to clock up those all important endurance miles to run as speedy a marathon as I can achieve.
Feeling positive about everything to do with my running now and trying desperately to achieve my 100 miles for the month….with just 3 days left.