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.

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1000 miles

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Okay so I have been a little bit remiss in writing about hitting the 1000 miles for the year. I achieved in the middle of October and due to lack of motivation to write I simply haven’t. My motivation has been at an all time low over the last few weeks and I have struggled to get out and run. It may not look like it on paper but I really have found it difficult and questioned why I should even bother.
I think I may be through the dark tunnel now and thankfully as well my breathing has improved as whatever the cold/flu-bug was that I had at the start of October when I ran the Sandstone Trail it really set me back with regard to getting anywhere time wise.
I don’t think the lack of speed has helped with regard to motivation as when I discovered that I could actually run faster if I engaged my glutes months ago, I then just seemed to be getting slower and slower over the past couple of months.
The last few runs I have been on have felt easier in relation to breathing and whilst I still don’t feel 100% I do think I am heading in the right direction.
I don’t think I am going to achieve anything special at the Wilmslow 10km on 26 November 2017 as I haven’t run at speed since the summer. I think I achieved 49 minutes for this last December so it would be nice if I could get something faster than that. I am a long way off the 45 minute goal that I had for a 10km this year. We were heading to that time nicely towards the middle of the year but the I lost my edge and as the motivation just started to slip away I have since been just trying to find ways to keep myself going.
I have been bored with the runs as well, seeing the same thing all the time and going around the same roads. What the Sandstone Trail did for me what introduce me to something that I didn’t think I was going to enjoy so much, which was running cross country. It is for this reason that I have been quite excited about the winter season’s Lymm Runner’s events. I’m going to run the Arrowe Park Cross Country on 10 December for the fun of running cross country. I would enter more but I think my goal next year is to enter less races, but try and put some focus in what I want to achieve from the races I do enter.
I probably do need to get entering into them but at the moment the Wilmslow half in early March next year is the next big goal and I want to try and focus on a reasonable training plan incorporating some speed work so that I can try get the time down to 1 hour 45 minutes. I can try and work something out with the buggy running as again whilst this does slow the times down I can try and do some work at improving these times as I am going. Harmony seems to enjoy it when we go fast around bends. Again, again, she shouted out yesterday as we were heading back home and I lifted the front wheel of the buggy to take the bend faster. My speed merchant daughter who isn’t yet two years old and her favourite movie is now “Cars” because she loves seeing the cars crashing and going fast and faster!
I have been reading a couple of interesting books about runners, the last of which was called “Runner” the autobiography of Lizzie Hawker, this amazing ultra runner who ran the Mont Blanc Ultra around the mountains covering 161km most of the races, and winning it several times, I think she ran it about six times. She was truly inspiring to read about, but it really did bring in to question to me how unmotivated I actually was. This woman truly did let the running lead her lifestyle. I think perhaps I do have a balance going and the running isn’t everything. It is extremely important to me though as it has been a lifeline and a way to help me regain focus and de-stress through a period, particularly over the last few months where I have been so stressed with work that I have at times felt almost incapable of moving. At least I have the patience to know when I am running that the de-stress doesn’t happen straight away. It usually takes a couple of miles before I can feel my body relaxing, the breathing coming free and easy and my mind releasing all the bad thoughts that have been building up.
I can stress enough how important running has been to me. It is really part of who I am and one of my happiest moments is enjoying watching Harmony as she runs. She says “running, running” and “run, run, run”. I think the time will come soon when she doesn’t want to go in the buggy but will want to run herself. IMG_20171008_085055

Sandstone Trail Adventure

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I’ve been finding it really difficult to get time to type or be in the mood to write anything at all. My friend Liz Hedgecock suggested to me that I try dictation rather than typing, particularly given the pain and suffering that I’ve had in my arm as a result of my job typing. That in itself is another story. Because of the anxiety I have been suffering as a result of my work I’ve turned to a book “Run for your Life” by William Pullen in relation to running and mindfulness. It talks about Dynamic Running Therapy and how you can use running and/or walking to help you clear your thoughts. There is a certain set of processes to utilise to do this. I haven’t really put them into practice yet but I’m just working through the text. The general gist of it though is that you set yourself a question when you go out on your run or walk. Then run that question through your head. It doesn’t matter if you deviate or go somewhere else it’s just a way to help you look at one particular aspect of something that may be bothering you or troubling you. The book seems to suggest certain questions in certain orders depending on what you’re trying to combat; whether it be anxiety, anger or low mood. Again I haven’t actually gone through the whole book yet.
The book also suggests that you have a mantra to use to help you. I’ve had a good think about this while I was out on my morning run with Harmony. Mantra: “I’ll try and be more accepting and love myself”. In relation to being more accepting about things this includes things that mainly are out of my control like computers that run too slowly, phones that when you press the buttons they don’t activate immediately; I’m someone who likes things done very quickly and I have to learn to accept that that’s not always the case. I also have to learn to accept that life revolves around many people as everybody has busy lives and that it’s not some attack on me when I can’t see my friends anymore because they have lives too and because they can’t see me at times when I’m available means because they’re working and they can’t see me when I’m when I can’t see them when they’re available because I’m looking after Harmony.
One big stress that I did have was now it’s come to the time of year where Libby is coming in and wondered how I wasn’t going to be able to fit that in as easily now that Harmony is walking and quite active. But it seems to have been easier than I imagined and we are able to turn Libby out together to the field. It’s actually quite fun although it just takes a very long time to get there. We also enjoy mucking out the stables together and Harmony likes stealing the apples for me when I make Libby’s dinner.
On Sunday, 2 October I ran my first race in over two months. The 10.6 mile Sandstone Trail Race. The logistics are actually getting to the race which started at 11am were quite frustrating. We had to get to the end part of the race at Delamere by 8a.m. as we booked onto the coach which was leaving by 8:15am. Mike and I got on the coach and we were actually at the start of the race at 8:50 a.m. which was over two hours before the race started. We sat chatting on the bus which was nice but I think my back started to get a bit tired from sitting there for so long. We ate a couple of jam sarnies and a banana and eventually got off the coach. Made a couple of trips to the toilet at Beeston Castle and stood around. I had my silver foil to keep me warm pre race and then we walked our way over to the start line.
One of the other issues here was that one of the stiles we had to go walk over to reach the start line, was actually part of the race. This resulted in us meeting runners racing the A race which had started at 10am and seven miles further away. Not particularly great for them.
Mike and I both started in the first wave of the B race. Fortunately we clarified the group before we started as we wouldn’t have actually set off in the first group. We were supposed to running in “good for age” although I certainly wasn’t feeling well enough for it. I had a cold and had headache for the last 3 days and I just generally felt under the weather. We set off anyway. I didn’t feel too bad in fact the first section has quite a steep hill and I sprinted up that. Looking on Strava it appears that I’m 7th woman of all time up the hill with 1.07 minute sprint. Mike was a bit behind at that point and I think that was the only point I was actually a head of him during the whole race. I was too hot which is why I ran up the hill so fast so that I could take off my jacket and tie it around my waist once I got onto the straight bit and downhill on the road that followed.
We then took a right turn across the fields and this is where we really discovered how muddy it was going to get. it was tough going through the mud and I did wonder if I was going to make it. Just before the A51 road crossing I witnessed a lovely sight where a man with this a little boy were waiting to meet a female runner (obviously mummy) with a bottle of water and support which I thought was really lovely. It kind of made me feel a bit sad that I didn’t have that with me. We reached the A51 road crossing where the chip time was paused. Unfortunately the road was actually clear which meant that we didn’t have much of a breathing space between the chipped timer pausing and un-pausing; it was something like 30 seconds and then we are off again. That was only around 2.5 miles in.
Mike and I had already done a recce of the run but only ran to basically the half way point and back. I knew we were getting closer to the point where we turn back. The Farmers track around this point leading onto a road it’s quite muddy and I think it’s pretty much going uphill. Once we crossed the road we were onto the section when Mike I had previously turn around. We were then on a small narrow pathway going around the field where there were many rabbit holes to avoid I said to Mike this is where we turned. From here we entered into a field full of cows and there was a big hill and I knew that I couldn’t run any faster.
The cow field basically marked the half way point and it was it this point that despite keeping a good time with times of 8.04 (albeit there was more waiting in that mile so it was probably longer)9.04, 9.21, 8.53 and 9.13 for the past five miles, I needed to walk up the hill and in fact when we crossed the field the hill that awaited us there was the one that we hadn’t got to on the recce as we had turned back at five miles. Boy that was some hill when you feel tired and unwell. So we trotted it a bit, and walked a bit, there were quite a few poeple walking it so I didn’t feel out of place.
Once at the top we had the pleasure of the spectacular views which I had seen once before when we had run the route from the end to the half way point. This is when I started to feel some positivity coming back, knowing that we had now passed the half way point. That sixth mile was a tough 10.58 minutes and from there we headed down through another field which previously had a horse it on our recce. Onto the main road and left down there until the next entrance to the trail. Past the water station which I didn’t bother with although I did take one of gels to see if it work some magic.
Then I remembered as we turned right back onto the trail that this next section was all uphill. An unrelenting hill at that and looking at Strava mile six was 134 feet gain and then mile seven was 178 feet gain. We did slow a little but there was no walking, maybe perhaps for a moment but we were steady with 10.08 I remembered the route well but not well enough and when I that at the next turn we would have reached the flatter ground, I was wrong and the hill kept going. It was along this point that I chose to have a brief walk as I think my mind had already told my body it wasn’t going to have to work as hard around the corner when in fact it did.
Finally we reached the woods and the hill came to its end. But what this meant was that the decent was actually down into the woods with tree routes, stones and all sorts of muddy sections to avoid so whilst you may think that you can make time back on the decent it isn’t always the case. If the down hill section of path had been similar to the up hill we may have made up some time. As it was though I really enjoyed the decent, all 150 feet of it. There were a couple of runners ahead of Mike and I and it was lucky that Mike was there and familiar with the route as there wasn’t really any signage of where to go and they were asking if it was left or right at the bottom of the first hill. It was left and then we had to make a right turn back into the woods which again wasn’t obvious.
Thinking that there was some more downhill to come I then realised that there was the really steep uphill rocky climb up though the woods. It was a lot harder than I remembered and we did walk a section but mainly because we were behind these three runners before I decided that I wanted to push on. Just finishing our eighth mile we were heading towards Kelsall Hill Equestrian where the race would take us through the fields I had ridden the farm ride with Libby. Just before it there was a stretch of trees and Mike flew over a root that was protruding from the ground. He got straight back up and it was only later that he felt his shoulder sore. The runner behind me joked “watch oout for the root”. Moments later just as we were reaching the field, my foot wobbled precariously on a rock, I managed to keep my balance and didn’t go over on what was once upon a time a very weak ankle. Again our joking runner said “watch out for the rock”.
The entrance to the field was blocked in a sense by a ten foot wide puddle of who knows how deep. Mike boldly went forward and I followed, there was no way that feet would be dry after that one and they were certianly soaked through.
It was then straight on down the hill. I chatted with the runner who had been behind me while Mike flew down the hill. I then said I had better catch my friend up and went off chasing Mike down the hill. That hill as my joking running companion said would be great to toboggan down. I can imagine that Harmony would love that so much.
There was then the section of the farm ride which I hadn’t realised was so hilly. I guess it’s not something you notice as much when you are trotting around a field on a horse! We came back out on the road where the Farmer’s Arms is located. Happy days remembered of our stop outside there to take a photo on our recce and then it was time to face the one road hill. At least at this point I knew that this was mile nine and we were close to the end. One very brief couple of stides in walk and we pushed on up the hill. I knew the right turn would be coming up and despite feeling very tired I insisted I was going to run to the turn because I knew it was in sight and then it would be downhill again. The ninth mile in 10.02 with an assent of 97 feet, so not as bad as the earlier couple of climbs but still it felt there was more ups than downs.
Then onto the final stretched as we entered into Delamere. The country lane leading to it was a lovely way to start the last mile and a half and we took it very much in our stride picking up pace. A lady pointed out to me that I looked very fresh and I was pleasantly surprised to hear it given we were nine miles in to this very hard race.
Now having to recall the last section after several weeks it feels difficult and I am sure my memory is different. As we reached this farm track we caught up with David Faulkner from Lymm Runners. I had seen both him and Emma Nunnerley at the start of the race, but they were ahead with the gates so we were at least 20 people or so behind them by the first mile. Mike had spotted this woman from his club and he decided we should get a sprint on to catch her. I said he could do that but I was going to stick with the pace we were doing. Given we had already sped up down the hill and the 9th mile was an 8.30 minute one I think we had started to make good time. Now for the last tricky section which was a narrow path with a drop on the left hand side. Thankfully the shrubbery was clearer than our last venture down there and we kept our speed going. The finish had slightly changed but that last half mile seemed to go on forever. Finally the right hand turn came up and I could see the crowds of people perhaps 100-200 metres ahead but I couldn’t see the finish funnel. I was only about 20metres away when I actually spotted the funnel and made a last dash to cross the line. The last 0.6 miles averaged at 8.29 giving me on Strava a moving time of 1.39.16. Obviously Strava decided to take out all the stoppages at gates so if they weren’t there this would have been the constant time. However the official finish time for me was 1.45.01 finishing 20th female in a field of over 150 and just 15 minutes behind first place. Emma Nunnerley did super well finishing as first female Lymm Runner and a few minutes ahead of me.
Overall I was very pleased with the result because I felt so rough particularly for the first half of the race. The second half it was more race tiredness than illness; I think I had scared the illness away!! If we do enter next year I guess the plan is to try and improve on the times and at least I know what I will be in for. I didn’t think I was going to enjoy trail running as much as have done. I really enjoyed this race as tough and at times mentally debilitating that it was. I think had I been in full health it would have been my favourite race ever.

Activate the Glutes

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So at the moment I haven’t got any more races coming up until the Sandstone Trail in October. I think I need to rectify this and am thinking of doing the Birchwood 10km and the EHM but can’t decide.
I am so happy with the new farm that Libby and I have moved to so with that finally okay I feel like things are moving forward positively.
Went out on Saturday with Mike Hall to run the second half of the Sandstone Trail. We ran it backwards to the midpoint and then back again. Mike wanted to show me some of the tough sections of the trail. We have a good laugh. Took plenty of photos on the way and really didn’t hit the kind of pace either of us are hoping for on the day. We will have to get working hard in October if we want to get out time around 1:32. We finished 10.7 miles in around 1:52 minutes averaging around 10.41 a mile. Obviously we weren’t going for a race pace, although the last couple of miles were more the speed we were looking for between 9 and 9.30 minute miles.
It was a good and positive way to finish off the miles for July with 106 miles for the month. I have managed every month since October 2016 now to clock my 100 miles and it has become quite a challenge to keep it going trying to fit it around my life. I did think that August was going to be the toughest month of all as it is the holiday time and we had plans to go away and I won’t be running whilst we are away so that lets me with less days to clock up the 100.
It’s now 7 August and I’ve managed somehow to manage 36.8 miles and 27 of those have been with Harmony and the buggy. My goal this month is simply to clock in the 100 miles. There are no races as I can’t enter the Birchwood 10km with Harmony and the buggy as some of the sections of the race are too narrow so they don’t deem it appropriate for buggy’s to be in the race. It’s a shame but I will see I can find something for the last week in August perhaps.
Something came up recently at my physio appointment that may actually assist my running if I can work out how to do it and that is to engage my gluts during runs. Apparently my glutes are not strong and that my hamstrings are doing a great deal of the work for me and as a result this is causing a strain on my back. I need to strengthen my glutes and look at ways of doing this. Obviously I have been given exercises but over the last couple of runs I have been focusing on what has been happening back there and I have to say “not a lot”.
Clearly if I could use this rather large muscle it would surely assist in improving my speed and getting me moving across the ground faster. I just need to look at ways to do this.
I have been given a bridge exercise to do to help teach me to engage the glutes and I need to leave to use this when I am running so that when I push up with my legs I am activating that muscle each time.
This activation will also help with the periformus issue that I have as this little muscle is always getting tight and is obviously overworked. Whilst I don’t actually suffer any pain because of this it will clearly help me if I get all these things working correctly. I am going to do a little bit of research to see how I can work on this and then update on my progress over the coming months. I am sure I will be able to work on the speed part of it really as I will mostly be out with the buggy over August but who knows perhaps I will see some time improvements there.

The first step will be to do the glutes strengthening exercises which will help me to engage the glutes and strengthen then so that when I run they will actually be able to play a more active part in running!

Having a quick look through various sites on improving your glutes I picked up the following which I’m goinhg to start off with as my pre-run warm up to activate these dormant glutes. It’s really important that I start to work on this as my hamstrings are taking the brunt and also according to a runners world article as well the ITB (ilitibial band) is also compensating for the glutes lack of activity. (https://www.runnersworld.co.uk/health/injury/check-your-form-glutes
)

Exercise 1 : Donkey Kicks

This is probably one most people are familiar with where you are are on the hands and knees and whilst keeping your knee flexed you raise it up and back that hopefully this is when the glutes are then engaged.

Exercise 2: The Bridge

Whilst lying on back draw your bottom up from the ground by squeezing your cheeks together and pushing upwards. The hamstrings should remain loose (this is where I have been pulling up and they have been tight) Also the stomach muscles should not be pulling up either. IT should all be coming from the glutes.

Exercise 3: Single Leg Bridge

Similar to the bridge but advancing it so that whilst in the bridge position you then extend one leg out whilst keeping the other in the bent position. You need to start in this position before then pushing up by using the glutes as stated under “The Bridge”. The core should also be engaged here.

Exercise 4: heel raises

This can be done either from standing or better if on the ground (depending on whether the ground is wet). IF standing put hands against the wall and then with one knee bent up and the flat of your foot facing backwards pushing back keeping the sole of your foot vertical.

If you do this lying down, lie on your front with one knee bent at 90 degrees. Then push the flat of you foot upwards trying to make sure that it stays horizontal. Maintain the 90 degrees – anything greater is likely to activate those hamstrings and in may case they are already working too hard! The intention is to do 8-10 reps on each leg twice but we’ll see how that goes!

Exercise 5: Straight Leg Walking

Walk forwards with your legs straight out in front of you so no bending. As you bring your leg back squeeze those glutes until the foot returns to teh ground and repeat on the other side. For a image of this one check out http://www.therunnerbeans.com/2016/01/3-pre-run-glute-activation-exercises.html. They also provide an example for straight leg running too but I think these will be giving me plenty to go on with for now.

New Beginnings

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I feel that I need to start this blogging business afresh as its actually had me bogged down trying to write down what runs I do and all that and then I started adding in how things were going with Libby and it just all became too much for me and I stopped actually enjoying writing about it as it just felt like a chore I had to get done.
I have two draft blogs that I wrote earlier in the month or they may actually have been from last month and I’m just going to leave them sitting there.
The last few weeks have been the happiest I have experienced in such a long time and I think it has a good deal to do with the move – Libby to a new farm. I hadn’t realised how unhappy I had become at Laskey as I had always considered that my safe and happy place. We’ve moved to a new home and hopefully things will carry on as they have for the past few weeks as Libby seems so very settled and we are actually getting to ride in a “proper” arena and I even had a riding lesson. Got that awful left canter going on the correct lead leg and things finally seem to be coming together.
Since I last blogged I’ve managed to continue my 100 miles a month regime although at times it has been tough to keep that going. But that’s the point of a challenge isn’t it!
I’ve run in four races so I think that is what I will focus on for this blog:

Dunham 5km
WRC Summer 5 Mile
Lymm 5km Trail Race
Lymm 10km Trail Race

DUNHAM 5KM 15 JUNE2017

Dunham 5km was receded by an upsetting event at Laskey Farm and I was seriously upset and totally knocked off stride and seriously considered not running the Dunham Massey 5km because I felt so down on myself. I managed with a little bit of encouragement from Georgina Walker (Lymm Runners super best runner) and my hubby to go down and run. I didn’t want to leave Harmony and for some reason I have got so I don’t want to be away from her even more now. I really don’t like being away from her. I am not getting any real time to myself at the moment so I suppose it was important to go down to Dunham for the race. The obvious goal in mind was the beat Park runs 5km time of 22.41.
The weather was not too bad but it really felt like there was no air at all. I struggled to breath the whole way around. My legs felt absolutely fine. Set off down the first downhill stretch and clocked in 4.19 for the first kilometre. I tried to keep Georgina in my sights but she sprinted off at the start and I lost sight of her. I carried on feeling focused for the first mile (7.11) and actually the first 1/2 mile was 3.11 so I was really going something then to try and catch up with Georgina. I lost sight of her at the bottom of the hill when she turned right. I got a text message into the second mile as we climbed up the offroad hill section. I started stressing about what it could be about and then lost my focus. Slowed down on the middle mile to 7.35 and then felt really annoyed with myself.
I managed to regain focus for the last mile and really pushed it as much as I could, still struggling with the air. The last mile was 7.23 so I did gain back some ground but not enough. The last kilometre also had the same focus once more as the first with 4.20 but I need to work on maintaining the focus in the middle where I basically just try and get through the miles. My official finish time was 22.51 so I was actually disappointed. I know that I can’t compare it with park run but I was really hoping that I would get a time closer to 22 minutes. I need to find a really good flat 5km race to test my speed out and see what I am capable of. If I had managed to keep Germaine in my sights I would have got the time I was after. She finished in 22.08 and Georgina flew in in 21.48 I think. David Faulkner also passed me on the first uphill climb and he gained a PB for his time in 23.30.
The one positive I can take from it is that it is only 10 seconds off my PB so it means that the time is not a fluke and that I am more than capable of hitting that sort of time. I just need to be able to work on the speed more regularly!

WRC SUMMER 5 MILE

I was still not feeling focused again for this one and seriously again thought about not bothering. I was also feeling somewhat under the weather and had been for a few days. As it was just a head type cold I had decided to get myself together and head down to Collier’s Moss for a race where I really didn’t know what to expect – which was partly why I had entered this one in the first place! I had thought at first it would give me a chance to work for a 5 mile PB but then realised that it was more a trail run so I really wasn’t going to be able to crack that one!


This was a tough trail run but I really enjoyed it. May mean that I will switch my focus more on what runs I enter over the winter season. I didn’t think trail running was my thing but because I wasn’t really aiming on time and figured this was more about strength and enjoying the event for what it was rather than the elusive PB I really took everything in my stride. The first mile started off quite easy but quickly became more challenging with traversing streams and steep inclines upto the top of a hill for an amazing view. Mile two required a snake like path amongst trees. It was impossible to pass anyone at that stage so the pace was dictated by the runner ahead so this did slow things down a bit and I probably lost at least a minute over this section. I was tired really by mile three and the hills kept on coming but I carried on with a man behind me/in front of me talking with his friend and he never stopped going on how this was just a jog for him and that he was just helping someone out and that he wasn’t really putting any effort it. Always good to have that kind of talk around you when you are trying your best and hardest! I am sure if I had felt 100% and not felt somewhat feverish then I would have knocked a minute or two off. Georgina was well out of sight after the first bend so I knew I had no chance of catching her and she would be minutes ahead of me. She actually came in first in the V35 category with 40.28 and finished 4th overall. I didn’t finish to far behind, finishing 15th female with 44.25. The last mile had a section running through fields of maize and then a climb up an embankment where the photographer was waiting at the top to take some interesting photos! I was pretty happy overall with an average pace of 8.57/mile. I hope I can manage that kind of pace for the Sandstone Trail in October.

LYMM 5km TRAIL RACE

I decided for some crazy reason to enter both the 5km and 10km on Sunday 9th July for the trail races. I figured I normally run 9 miles on either a Saturday or Sunday and this would be good practice for the Sandstone Trail.
The 5km was supposed to a warm up for the 10km and I still didn’t feel 100%. When I realised however that I was quite close to front I decided that I would push on and see how well I could do but making sure I didn’t push too much and have nothing left. I passed Emma Nunnerley around the 3km mark and shortly afterwards she shouted out to me that my lace was undone so stopped to tie it. She passed me then and then I passed her again. I finished 8th female overall and 4th in Lymm Runners. Guess who was first – Georgina! My time 24.47. So happy again with that for the trail race. I ran it a couple of years before I really got into running in around 31 minutes. Goes to show how far I have come since then.

 

LYMM 10km TRAIL RACE

There was a half hour gap roughly between the two races and I had a massage of my calves from Sam Foxall who was attending on the day! Standing at the start line again seemed a little bizarre. I think I was one of a handful of people who had entered. The advantage was that the 10km had been measured a little short so it wasn’t going to be a full 10km distance. The boring part was that it was two more loops of what I had done for the 5km.


The heat was what had made the 5km difficult so it made it even more difficult with the 10km. The first half it didn’t seem as warm but having already run 5km my legs were warmed up but lacking somewhat in energy. I seemed to be going fine though for the first half and I actually paced myself better.

The final loop was tough and I really felt it by that point mainly because of the heat. My legs didn’t feel too bad. At kilometre six I heard the announcement that the first man was crossing the finish line in 31 minutes. At least it gave me a good indication of where I was at so I knew if I kept going I would come in just over 50 minutes and not dissimilar really to the pace I had already set for the 5km. I actually crossed the finish line in 51.12, finishing 16th female and 3rd in Lymm Runners. I wonder where I came overall with those who ran both races. If I get an opportunity I will have to look into that. Would be interesting to see times for those who had entered both events! It was actually something that Mike Hall mentioned to me just the other day. The run appeared to be short quite a bit 5.7 miles on my Strava.

At the end of that event I was left in 3rd place at Lymm Runners Summer Championships having entered 4 of the qualifying events. Those placed above me had entered 5 and I was one point off second place. Unfortunately I don’t think I’ll be entering anything else for the rest of the season unless I enter Birchwood with Harmony in the buggy. Food for thought.

 

 

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!