Two Days To Go

How did my grand plan for last Sunday go?  Hmm, well?  Weather was good, still no clients so still plenty of time, motivation present, mind ready, body – not so!  I decided to run out through the A2 activity park to a 5k point and then turn back again.  This route takes me past the Gravesend Cyclopark and could best be described as “undulating” especially the return trip up what was the old Tollgate slip road on to the coast bound A2, a slip road that could only sensibly be tackled in second gear.  I wont bore you with a blow by blow account but I got to 6.9k, just short of the summit of this hill, when I gave in and decided on a 1 min walk/1 min run routine.  This lasted until 7.5k when I thought “and the point of this is?” so gave up altogether and walked the rest of the way home.  This did not auger well.


On Monday morning I got back from a client and felt well up for it but decided on a day’s rest (the first since the previous Wednesday), purely because I felt that if I failed again that day, this would not do my head any good.  (Sorry, crap English!) A day’s rest could only help?

Tuesday dawned and I’d already decided on a different route, almost flat apart from the road and rail bridges across the A2 and High Speed lines and a slightly longer gradual incline up towards Jeskyns Park.  I calculated that should be approximately 5k so I could get to the top of Church Road and then turn around and come back again.

Where’s the alpacas?

It’s actually 5.5k to the top of Church Road but when I got to the top I couldn’t quite face the return trip even though it would have started with a slow longish descent so decided to continue on towards home and opt to carry on passed home to 10k.  Only as usual I didn’t quite make it passed home, my legs took me towards home and I managed 7.5k again but this time without any walking.  Not exactly encouraging but I’m banking on the unknown supposedly flat terrain of Sheffield taking my mind off what I’m doing and enabling me to run that last 2.5k.  That and the shame of having to tell the Telegraph I had to stop and walk!

This morning I decided to go out for a last short run before Sunday, no Parkrun this weekend and I’m feeling quite sad about that.  The Sheffield forecast for Sunday is 16 degrees and mostly sunny and that’s roughly what it was this morning although a little breezy.  Decided on a 5k route, run to the 3k point then turn around and come back and cut out the run around the lorry park.  The run to the 3k point went fine, lovely conditions, friendly dog walkers and another runner actually acknowledged my existence!  (Doesn’t always happen, funny breed are runners!)  Then I turned back and whoa, that’s where the wind went!  I certainly didn’t notice it giving me any assistance on the outward run but it made its presence felt on the way back.  But I struggled on and actually made it around the lorry park and back home without stopping for a 6k.  And I felt like I could have carried on so that’s left me in a more positive frame of mind.  I know 6k is only three fifths of the distance but the fact that I felt like I could do some more has made me feel a bit more confident.

So there’s any ever growing pile of running things accumulating on my bed, MP3 and Garmin fully charged, emergency details completed on my number, safety pins gathered.  Now I just have to wait for Sunday and keep everything crossed.  This will be my tenth organised 10k, it would be so nice if just for once I could do it without walking and even better if I could do it without walking and in under an hour.  Fingers crossed.

As an aside, I read this morning that Javier Gomez, the new world triathlon champion, craves beer and pizza after a triathlon.  I know just how he feels, I crave wine and pizza (or chips)!  Not after a triathlon, just an organised run!  So my rewards are safely in the fridge ready for Sunday evening, those and the second episode of Downton.

Yum, yum

Pizza Champion and yum again!


Parkrun Number Six

My Saturday Morning Mecca

As promised, I did get up bright (?) and early this morning.  Having dreamed about doing a Parkrun in Paris which all went horribly wrong but fortunately I can’t remember the details.  I probably stopped for a croissant!  Had breakfast and went back to bed for 10 minutes to enjoy the residual warmth of the duvet.  Then got up again!  But it was worth it.

Will I still be doing this when the paths are in this state?

Oh yeah, new PB, 26’ 02”.  Oh so happy for about 5 minutes when I suddenly realised, if I’d been 4 seconds quicker I’d have been sub 26’.  Never satisfied, that’s me!  That’s putting the pressure on for next time though.  This time I had company having “persuaded” a friend, Mark Gosling, to come along.  I’ve become a bit of a Parkrun evangelist and am convinced this is the reason for my ever improving times, not just doing the 5k Parkrun but also my running in general.  Yesterday I calculated that my recent 8k run translated to an 8’ 36”/mile. S**t, two years ago my pace was 9’ 30”/mile at best!  I suppose the big question is can I keep this up for next weekend.  Will this be the first ever 10k I’ve done without walking, and will it be a good time if I do?  Time will tell (pardon the pun).

This was oh so tempting on the last lap!

So back to my evangelism – I’ve raved to a few people about Parkrun but Mark has been the first person to take me up on it and I think he’s pleased with the result.  Hope he doesn’t mind me mentioning it but he took over a minute off his PB (and then he went to the gym to do another 5k on the treadmill – I went home had a coffee and my reward cake).

Gotta love a bit of cake 🙂

A few weeks ago I was bemoaning the fact I’d come sixth in my gender (that’s female for anyone wondering!) three times in a row.  Well guess what, it’s now fourth three times in a row so even more pressure to improve.  And that is going to be pressure because today the third woman was a good minute ahead of me.  Next week there’s a new Parkrun starting in Gillingham so I’m hoping this might attract some of the Shorne Wood regulars away and give me a chance!  Although I wont be doing Parkrun next weekend.  I’ll be saving my legs for Sheffield – hope Sheffield is ready!

Up until this weekend I’ve avoided any strenuous exercise the day before for fear of sacrificing my performance (who am I kidding!).  Usually I do a bit of yoga from my yoga dvd especially as it’s supposed to be good for runners – it’s certainly helped my shoulder problem.  But this Friday I went to the gym and did a bit of high intensity intervals on the bike and a bit of Tabata training (20 seconds (hard) work/10 seconds rest x 8) on the rower, thinking I can always blame a poor performance tomorrow on that!  Perhaps I should do a bit of intense exercise on a Friday afterall.

So my grand plan for tomorrow (and probably my last opportunity if I want to save those legs) is to run 10k without stopping.  Weather forecast is good, no clients so plenty of time, just need the motivation now.  (Note to self – read your last post!!!)

Motivation, Motivation, Motivation

Motivation comes in different forms but everybody is driven by motivation, even if it’s just to get out of bed in the morning because you’re hungry and want breakfast.  You need motivation to achieve your goals and you need goals for focus in your life.  (Ooh, very philosophical for me!)

But what motivates a runner, especially to go out on cold, wet, windy dark nights?  Personally I haven’t quite got to that stage just yet! Done the cold, the wet and the windy but not yet the nights – there’s too much to trip over.  And believe me, I would!!

Watch where you’re running!

Many things motivate me to run, the thrill of seeing my speeds come down and improvements in my distances.  At my age and ability it’s not about winning a run, I’ll never get to that stage but it’s about beating myself.  I’m very competitive but only with myself.  I can use other runners to push me that little bit harder but I’m not going to get that upset if they cross the finish line before me.  Okay, I might if they came first and I came second but I’m realistic, I know that’s very unlikely to happen!

In my purse I have two little snippets cut from an old edition of Runners World and they are motivational for quite different reasons although probably united by the “age” thing.  The first concerns a 69 year old woman who had run a specific marathon in 4 hours 2 minutes.  A time I could only dream about but what was even more inspirational was the fact this was the first marathon she’d run since breaking her ankle the previous year!  It probably wasn’t even her personal best.  So I will not let age stop me, this woman was running faster than my current fastest pace and she was doing it over a much longer distance so I have no excuses.  I hope I’m still running at 69.

The second clipping concerns a 25 year old male whose marathon PB was 4 hours 21 minutes – 4 minutes quicker than mine.  Oh yeah, half my age and he only just beat me!  So don’t write me off!

Other things which motivate me include reading Runners World, I always want to go out for a run once I’ve finished reading the latest edition.  And watching televised races.  This weekend’s Great North Run was a great motivator, not just watching the elite athletes but all the thousands of “fun runners”.  Remembering the atmosphere at the start, the support all along the route (apart from the yobs lobbing water bottles at us) and the final stretch along the coast, how could you not be motivated to take part?  Oh how quickly I forget the three hours of hanging around in pouring rain before the start, the even harder rain after I’d finished, only being able to hear the Red Arrows because of the low cloud base and the bumper to bumper standstill traffic trying to get out of South Shields after the finish!

I had the option to take up a place in this year’s run but decided against it because of the costs involved.  Why do hotels put up their prices on such weekends when they know they’re going to be full to capacity?  After all the vast majority of the runners are raising money for deserving charities.  Would it not be “charity” for these hotels to keep their prices at their normal rates to support these fundraisers.  Anyway, whinge aside, sod the expense!  I’ve put my name down to go into the ballot for next year’s Great North and have everything crossed I might be successful again.

My motivation to do Parkrun this weekend is my goal to get my Run Britain handicap under 20.  After last weekend’s run I’m now at 20.2 and I think if I can just do a similar time this weekend, it should come down below that level.  So whatever the weather, I will be getting up early on Saturday morning to line up with all the other idiots, I mean Parkrunners, rather than keeping warm under the duvet.

And finally my goal this year was to run 700 miles.  So far I’m still on course with a few kilometres in the bag.  But what about next year, do I increase the mileage or think up some other running challenge?  It’s knowing I have mileage to do that motivates me and gets me out the door or on the treadmill sometimes so what do I do?….

Damn and Blast

This time last week I said I just wanted to come higher than 6th in the female finishers at Parkrun this weekend.  I did, I came fourth.  Am I happy, sort of.  I missed out on 3rd by 3 seconds!!  Improved my PB by another 31 seconds and reduced my handicap to 20.9 but I’m kicking myself just a little bit.

The day dawned cool and dark rainy clouds encircled Shorne Woods as I made my way there for the 9.00 am start.  Do you think this change in weather had something to do with the faces at the start line.  Don’t we look a happy and excited bunch!

Raring to go!

I followed my usual tactics and tagged along with another runner for the first half of the run.   Then he started to pull away.  It was around this point when I seriously started to doubt my ability to finish this run without having to walk, I was also beginning to regret having my breakfast and the thought running through my head was “I’m not doing this next Saturday”!  I then “attached” myself to another runner and we kept pace for the remainder of the run.  Towards the last 300m she told me she didn’t have anything left for a sprint finish – she thought I did!!  In fact having seen the finish line and my watch suggesting that I had another good time, I slowed up and let her pull ahead (I’m not sure “let” is the right word but anyway …).  During those last few hundred metres I was thinking if she gets fifth and I get sixth I am not going to be a very happy bunny!

Anyway, I imagine running pain must be a bit like childbirth.  I’ve forgotten my memories of last Saturday’s pain and am planning to run again this Saturday but no promises on PBs or placings.  Just to finish will be enough!  Although there are a few days left for me to change my mind.

As part of my training for the BUPA Great Yorkshire Run, today I did an 8k run without stopping which is the first time since the BUPA London 10,000m back in May although then I was supposed to do 10k without stopping!  And I did today’s 8k in a good time for me.  I was trying to incorporate the changes to my running style which the BUPA podiatrist and my physio at Longfield Polyclinic had recommended.  Up until now I’ve been trying to introduce them when running on the treadmill but today I took them outside.  It’s much easier trying to do it on a treadmill!  Bring those knees up, engage those glutes, take smaller steps, use a cycling motion – I’m surprised I didn’t fall over.  But there might be something in it, my calf problem doesn’t feel quite so bad today so perhaps all these techniques are taking the pressure off a bit.

It’s strange to think that a few weeks ago I was out running early in the day to avoid the heat.  Today I’m putting off my run until midday in the hope it warms up!  I had to don an extra layer and I have to confess that at no point did I feel that I wanted to take it off again.  Is this it then, is summer definitely over and autumn on its way?  Also, why is it that when you’re running into the wind, you take comfort from the fact the same wind will be helping you on your way back but by the time you turn back, the winds dropped or is blowing in the opposite direction?  Still, think positive, at least there was no driving rain!

Team Telegraph

Team Telegraph

Just a little over three weeks to go until my participation in the BUPA Great Yorkshire Run and the latest feature has appeared on the Daily Telegraph’s website.  Hopefully, the link above will work!  There’s a very brief shot of my gait analysis and some very taxing walking down a corridor to a photoshoot!

Jolyon, my Runny Buddy, has assured me that the course is flat so that’s one hurdle crossed.  He’s also given me some tips for track training to work on my speeds.  I’m not sure I’ll get a chance to try them out before the run but there will be other races to train for!  Not least the Givauden 10k in Ashford a fortnight after the GYR, and then my planned participation in the Paddock Wood Half next March.

The Course!


My new blog


Welcome to my improved blog site.  Bear with me while I get used to all my new gadgets and gizmos but hopefully I’ll be bringing you lots of new and exciting posts about my journey running back to fitness.  I hope it will inspire you and give you some useful tips and information.

For those of you who want to catch up on my initial blog this can be found at The Ramblings of a Menopausal Runner.

Motivating Parkruns

Get your daily Vitamin D dose and boost your well-being with a daily run in the park

I did my third Parkrun at the weekend and again managed a new personal best at this event and probably ever at that distance of 26’ 43”.  I knew I’d gone off too fast again but this time I managed to maintain it all the way around.  Perhaps it’s a psychological thing, knowing you have two and a half laps to do so you know on the second way around, this is the last time and then there’s just a little bit more.  My “tactic” was the same as my previous two runs, keep the last of the leader pack in sight and then gradually move up and overtake these runners one by one.  Actually my tactic is just to keep the last of the leader pack in sight!  The rest is not necessarily intentional and more luck.  Despite my improved time, I was still sixth in terms of female finishers, that’s three times in a row.  I want to be fifth or higher just once!!


Our Menopausal Runner in action! (Photos courtesy of j.crowle70)

My Garmin told me it was a good time and definitely better than my previous attempt but then I had to wait for my Parkrun text for confirmation.  Previously I’ve received the text within a few hours of the run so by 5pm on Saturday afternoon, I was panicking.  My great run had not been recorded and I wouldn’t get my “recognition”.  Would I be able to do such a speed again?  And although I had my watch record, it wouldn’t be the same, however much I tried to convince myself otherwise.  Fortunately, I got my text around half an hour later so all was right with the world.

Apart from the practice of running with other people, Parkrun results also contribute towards your Run Britain handicap and knowing that my previous two runs had contributed in lowering my personal handicap, I was anxious to know how much this run would impact on my “score”.  By Monday I knew I was down to 22.4, which considering I was 27 point something at the end of May is quite an achievement and a great motivator to continue with the Parkruns.  My aim now is to get it below 20 but this might take some time!