Early but cautiously optimistic

I have to say I’ve been a little surprised to have got through the first nine days of marathon training without much pain at all. All the runs so far have been four miles or less, but it’s still a fairly big step up in mileage from the mile-a-day most days I was doing over the early part of the winter, and I’d sort of assumed I would be going straight back to the state I was in towards the end of marathon training leading up to London in October – i.e. pretty much every part of me hurting on different days! But I feel fine so far. Let’s hope that continues.

I had a hospital appointment yesterday for the chronic hip/back pain I’ve had for a decade now (they think it might be spondylitis due to a predisposing gene) and it looks like investigations will be fairly quick, but of course it will be something that needs permanent managing rather than something that will ever go away for good. Which is fine – I know what works after so long (mainly keeping my weight down and keeping active). It’s just a case of maintaining things, really.

parkrunday: Town Moor #524

Geth and I were back on the Moor for the first time in a while this morning – it was the first time in a couple of months for me, though Geth did go in early December.

Much happier with my parkrun time than two weeks ago!

I honestly thought I’d be really slow again because all my three-mile runs this last week have taken well over forty minutes and I’ve been finding my slow pace a bit frustrating. However, I found today I was able to start out strong for the first mile, keep up for the second mile, and bomb the last mile – just as I was doing at Town Moor in the autumn! So I can pull the speed out from somewhere – I just don’t know how to apply it to my solo runs. My weekly parkrun will have to be my main speedwork session for this marathon training block, I feel.

I kept my barcode in my clear phone case today while I was having it scanned, but I ended up as an unknown and had to email in for my result to be added, so I’d probably better keep it out of the case in future.

Still making plans for the next few parkrundays but we will end up somewhere!

Three down, 137 to go

I’m three days into my marathon plan and so have done the first three runs. The first two days were three-milers, which did not feel like the difficult step up I feared they might after rarely doing more than a mile per day for the last few months: they were both nice trips out with one of my favourite podcasts on the go. Unfortunately, they were also both achingly slow (like, the pace I used to stagger round with the tailwalker at parkrun when I was at my heaviest more than five years ago). They didn’t feel slow (or no slower than usual: I was just doing my standard easy plod) so I’m a bit worried. Maybe all the treadmilling over the last couple of months has slowed me down. I’m hoping that a bit of speedwork will help, but there’s none of that on the plan until next Wednesday.

Today was a rest day (there’s an extra one on the plan in week one), which for me is a mile run to keep my run streak going. I was tempted to throw in some strides to test the speed, but I resisted. Rest day miles are not about speed.

I’ve got a four-miler tomorrow (Thursdays are long run days but it’s not super long for the first few weeks), which I’m already looking forward to as I’ve plotted out a nice route. Really crossing everything that the weather will be better for parkrun this week as well.

Marathon training: planned

I wrote out my marathon training plan yesterday. 20 weeks, leading up to Edinburgh Marathon on the 29th of May. I based it on this one, but swapped a lot of the days around to fit in with my life schedule and with the half marathon I’ll be doing in March. I start the plan tomorrow.

It’ll be a pretty big step up from the ‘mile-ish a day plus parkrun most weeks’ that I’ve been doing for the last three months since the London Marathon, but there won’t be anything super long on the plan for several weeks so I’ve got a bit of time to ease back into it.

I’m very excited! This excitement may be tempered in a few days’ time.

Unexpectedly inside

No parkrun this morning 🙁 All my local ones were off due to ice and I didn’t have time to get to the slightly-further-afield ones that were on. Disappointed as I was really looking forward to it this weekend. I went on the treadmill instead and watched a ‘virtual run around Disneyland Florida’ video so that I could pretend it was summer.

Summer on TV
Nice to visit an imaginary world when summer feels very far away.

Planning to get all the boring weekend stuff done today so that I can do the fun stuff tomorrow.

parkrunday: Portobello #266

It was lovely to be back doing a New Year parkrun yesterday, after missing it during the parkrun COVID hiatus last year. There are no longer opportunities to do New Year’s Day doubles (they were getting over-popular and thus dangerous and so parkrun HQ have put a stop to it), but in all honesty it was a lot less stressful just being able to focus on one parkrun by itself, rather than worrying about getting back in the car and dashing on to the next one like we did two years ago!

Unfortunately (and typically – it hasn’t happened on any of my other runs during Christmas!), my chronic hip/back/leg issue flared up horribly as soon as I started running, and so I didn’t have an enjoyable run. I was about ten minutes slower than I typically have been recently, and it really felt like I was back where I started all those years ago 🙁 The only way is up for 2022, I suppose.

Portobello parkrun
Looking a bit miserable on lap two. Photo by Portobello parkrun.

I expect we’ll be back at one of our regulars next week, and hopefully I’ll be back to a more regular time as well.

parkrunday: Pendle #332

It’s been about two and a half years since Geth and I last did Pendle parkrun, for obvious reasons. The intervening quarter of a decade had slightly softened our memories of the toughness of the course when we arrived this morning, though they quickly came flooding back once we were underway! Definitely an even harder course in the winter, and the aim was just to plod round and enjoy my last parkrun of the year, but I was slightly disappointed to get my slowest time out of my five attempts at Pendle. We will be back in the spring and summer, and by then we will be in better shape.

Looking very tired just after finishing!

We’re not parkrunning on Christmas Day as family time is the priority, but I’m very much looking forward to a New Year’s Day parkrun to kick off 2022.

parkrunday: Jesmond Dene #41

It was so great to be out at parkrun again this morning after a few weeks away for various reasons!

Geth and I were volunteering as barcode scanners at Jesmond Dene this morning. It was my 25th volunteer stint (meaning I was able to order a new milestone t-shirt this afternoon!) and so it was nice to be doing a role I hadn’t done before. I really liked using the parkrun volunteer app – it was very straightforward. Geth prefers marshalling though so we’ll probably do that again next time.

Very cold conditions when we woke up, but there were still about 100 parkrunners out in the Dene! It wasn’t as bad out there as it looked, and it wasn’t long before we were home and warm again.

Post-parkrun volunteering
So good to be back!

We’ll be slightly further afield next week…

Race Review: Dalton Park Winter 10k 2021

Last race of the year… and it was certainly an interesting one!

Having navigated the seemingly-permanent North East road disruptions and got myself comfortably parked at Dalton Park Retail Centre, I collected my number and retreated to the car until it was nearly time for the race start. The weather was as you might expect this time of year – freezing, blowing a gale and pouring with rain – so I didn’t want to have to stand out in it for longer than necessary! Unfortunately, the race start was delayed by about ten minutes as the starter had been sent to the wrong place… this had a fairly big knock-on effect on the rest of my race.

I was expecting to finish in 1:15:00 or just over. I finished in 1:20:18 at the North Tyneside 10k seven weeks previously, but on that occasion I was having a really bad day with my suspected spondylitis, so I was dragging my leg most of the way. I would have finished quicker today if not for a few issues.

First of all, the 5k runners – who were meant to start fifteen minutes after the 10k runners – started on time, only about five minutes after us. This meant that I (the last runner, as it was a small field and I’m slow) was being overtaken from about one and a half kilometres in, and so by the time I got to the marshal at two and a half kilometres, I was well mixed in with the 5k lot. This meant that the marshal assumed I was doing the 5k and directed me to turn back around the cones – which was the wrong way. I realised fairly soon after that something had gone wrong and returned to clarify that I was doing the 10k, but this added an extra half a kilometre (about three or four minutes at my pace) to my race.

Once I got to the lapped lollipop part of the route, I felt a lot better as there were lots of other 10k runners doing the laps – until the final part of the second lap, when I was most definitely on my own! It was a long, lonely stretch back to the start/finish area, and the final hundred metres were made a bit dicey by the fact that they had also started the junior 2k race off bang on time. The juniors were meant to go ninety minutes after us, and if we’d started on time I would have been finished and back in the car by the time they set off. Unfortunately, due to the ten-minute delay, I was running face first into a bunch of very surprised-looking kids as I struggled up the finishing straight – which was pretty hazardous on a steep hill! Thankfully they’d all passed me by the time I made it over the timing mat. Just have to hope there’s no chip confusion as a result (it looks like it might take a day or two for the results to be posted).

The finish volunteers didn’t even notice I’d finished for a couple of seconds (I think they were quite understandably distracted by having just set the juniors off) but quickly found me a 10k medal, water and some much-appreciated Celebrations! I’d picked up my t-shirt along with my number before the race. They were also keen for me to take a Santa Dash medal, but I declined – I only need one medal per event! On my way back to the car, I was also offered a very soggy extra t-shirt (presumably also a Santa Dash one!), but again I don’t need any more of those. I’m not sure whether the ‘Santa Dash’ referred to the 5k or was a different event that they’d either (a) cancelled or (b) ordered too many medals and t-shirts for.

My Garmin tells me I finished in 1:21:44, which should be roughly my gun time (I started my watch when they said ‘go’ and crossed the timing mat about twenty-five seconds later, so my chip time should be a bit faster). I’ll find out my official time when they post the results and will update this post then. I’m a little disappointed about going the wrong way as I could have been a few minutes faster, but the real victory today was gritting my teeth and doing the race in those conditions. I feel really happy now that my race season is finally over, though I’m already looking forward to the Sheffield Half Marathon, Edinburgh Marathon and twice-postponed Blaydon Race in spring and summer 2022. While Geth was not at all jealous of me running in the wintry conditions today, it did remind him that he’s not had a decent 10k attempt in a while… so hopefully we’ll get a few 10k races in during summer 2022 as well!

I definitely won’t be doing any more winter races, though. Winter running, going forward, will be a time for treadmills, post-parkrun hibernation weekends, and the bit of marathon training that’s short enough that you don’t have to be out for very long.

Race goodies
Race goodies. Those Celebrations were especially good.

parkrunday: Town Moor #519

Another crisp day on the Moor! It’s definitely getting colder week by week, but my legs played ball today and I was able to run quite a bit faster than I have been doing recently. While my times are still slow even by my standards, I managed my fastest time of 2021 at Town Moor and my second fastest time of 2021 overall – only a second slower than my season’s best at Girvan Prom back in August. Hopefully I will be able to beat that at some point in the next few weeks!

I was also able to give my brand new LEJOG t-shirt an outing!

We may venture further afield next week but not sure where yet…