RED week 71

Taking a running vlog hiatus for a few weeks (my vlog is quite time-intensive and I need all my spare hours for coding my next game right now) so I’ll be posting something different for the next few Mondays!

Text from today’s hiatus announcement vlog:

Going on hiatus for a few weeks. I’m very busy with a creative project at the moment and the vlog will have to take a back seat, unfortunately! I’ve got a slight hip injury at the moment so most of my runs are shorter, but I’m working on strengthening the hip with targeted exercises. I will manage my long races at the end of May / beginning of June, even if I have to walk a lot of the way! Hoping to feel better by then, though. I expect to be back vlogging in the summer, by which time I will be training for the London Marathon! Very exciting. I really hope to run it well. In the meantime, you can keep up with my news – both running and non-running – at spiritofdee.com, where I blog every day. See you in the summer! Dee xx

‘Race’ Review: Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation Virtual Easter 10k

After I did the ’80s virtual 10k for the Roy Castle Foundation, I continued to follow them with interest to see what they were going to organise next. When it was announced that there would be a virtual Easter challenge this year, I signed up straight away! Nothing like a 10k run to build up an appetite for a day of Easter egg eating…

Easter medal
I wasn’t going to leave this one intact! Only the wooden part (and ribbon) is going on display πŸ™‚

For the run itself, I semi-finalised a 10k route I’ve been working on that doesn’t feel anywhere near as long as a 10k for some reason. I had to do a quick out-and-back at the end because the route was short. I’ve got some ideas for fixing that next time!

Although the event took place on Easter weekend, the medal only arrived this week because there were some postal delays mainly caused by a Royal Mail backlog. It was very welcome when it arrived though! Never too late for an Easter egg…

Sunday Race Memories: Blaydon Race 2017

Blaydon is a very special local race and I’ve done it three times now. Geth and I only found out about it when we saw runners with race numbers on in town in 2016, when we were on our way to a gig. We entered the following year and have been lucky enough to get in on every attempt – it’s always a real rammy on entry night because the race is so popular. It was actually our main impetus for becoming affiliated members of Lonely Goat RC in late 2019, because it meant we’d be able to queue on club entry night for the 2020 race – which made things much, much easier! Sadly the 2020 race – and then also the 2021 race – had to be cancelled due to COVID, but our 2020 entries are valid for 2022 so I’m really looking forward to returning to the race next year.

2017 was probably the most special Blaydon for me because it was my first one, but I was still extremely slow back then and found it tough going. Nevertheless, I loved the atmosphere, and we were lucky with the weather that day – a point driven home when we volunteered at parkrun the next morning in the pouring rain, with lots of sodden new Blaydon Race t-shirts going past us!

Blaydon Race 2017
Struggling somewhere halfway!

I’ve not had a good race at Blaydon yet, but I really hope 2022 will be my year!

Sunday Race Memories: EMF 10k 2017

I was originally meant to do the EMF 10k as my first ever 10k race in 2016, but had to DNS in the end as my brother was getting married in Canada that day! As such, 2017 was my first trip to this running festival, and it was probably the hottest weekend I’d ever seen in Edinburgh at 30Β°C…

A well-known rule in running is ‘nothing new on race day’, but as the week leading up to the race went on and it became apparent that the very hot weather was not going to cool down by the weekend, I realised I had to break this rule and bought some running shorts in central Newcastle on the Friday before Geth and I caught the train up to Edinburgh. There was no way I could have done the race in leggings!

Our friend Lisa was doing the 10k too and a few friends were coming to spectate, so it was really fun to meet up with everyone before and after the race. Due to the heat it was a really difficult day out on the course, and the water station at the halfway point was so welcome (although I think I only took a few sips and poured the rest over my head!).

EMF 2017
Well-earned medals after a hot race!

I’ve been back to do the EMF 10k twice in thankfully cooler temperatures, but I feel I’m done with that course now and will be moving on to other distances at the EMF in future. Geth and I had signed up to do the half distance in May 2020, which was postponed to September 2020, then postponed again to May 2021, then made virtual (so we’ll be running our own route somewhere in Newcastle instead)… oh well! We could have deferred to next year but it’s been the plan for a long time now that we’ll be doing the full marathon in 2022, which will be Geth’s first marathon. I might be tempted to return in 2023 so I can finally do the half ‘properly’. We’ll see. It’s always a great atmosphere, and a great excuse to go back to the old hometown πŸ™‚

Sunday Race Memories: Sunderland Half Marathon 2017

Following the 2016 Great North Run, I was keen to set a pattern of running two half marathons a year – one in the spring and one in the autumn. With the exception of spring 2018 (a heady era of moving house in the middle of the Beast from the East and not running very much… so I did two in autumn 2018 instead!), I have managed to stick to this pattern, even during the pandemic; my most recent half was the Virtual Great North Run in September 2020 and my next will be the Virtual Edinburgh Half Marathon in May 2021.

I had liked the atmosphere of the Sunderland 10k the previous year, and Geth wanted to do it for his first 10k race, so I signed up for the half marathon distance and started training in earnest for it that winter. My training paid off and I took 38 minutes and 14 seconds off my GNR time, bringing me closer to the three-hour mark; I also managed to run the whole way without any walk breaks, which always feels like an important achievement.

Sunderland City Half Marathon 2017
Lumbering towards the finish. Photo from Events of the North.

I’m glad I did the half marathon distance at Sunderland once, but I’ve always stuck to the 10k distance since and will continue to do so in future. The first half of the half marathon route goes through a fairly dull part of Sunderland and it’s difficult to get your bearings, while the second half is the same route as the 10k, which has lots of interesting things to see. It’s also a relatively flat course that provides a great opportunity for a 10k PB once a year, and I don’t like to miss out on that.

The event is scheduled to go ahead in a COVID-safe way in June. I’m really looking forward to it!

Sunday Race Memories: Great Winter Run 2017

In 2017 I did the Great Winter Run for the second year running, as Geth was by that point in his first year of running and wanted to try out all the races I’d done the year before. I was quite a bit slower than I had been in 2016 – I didn’t have a total running slump that winter, as I was still doing parkrun every weekend (our custom was to get up, go out to the Town Moor to do a freezing cold parkrun and then come home and ‘hibernate’ for the rest of the day!), but I wasn’t really doing any additional running and so definitely wasn’t as fit as I could have been. I was also back up at my heaviest, as I’d decided to have one last ‘fat Christmas’ of eating and drinking everything in sight before starting Slimming World in the new year…

Great Winter Run 2017
Post-race happy faces! (c) John Cooke 2017.

This was the last 5k race I entered, as you don’t really need 5k races when you have parkrun providing the same thing for free every week. 2017 would end up being a great year for longer races, though!

Sunday Race Memories: Great North Run 2016

I was a bit nervous about signing up for the Great North Run in 2016, having only just recently run my first 10k. It felt a bit like biting off more than I could chew. Nevertheless, that spring I found myself a charity place – it was the very first race I ran for the RNLI! – and started planning my summer of training.

The longer training runs were tough in the summer heat, and I inadvertently made them tougher by doing boring three-lap courses of a particularly dull loop near where we live. On my final twelve-mile training run, I was so slow that Geth was able to keep up with me walking, and carried several bottles of water to see me round. That was a long day, but it meant I knew I could do the distance.

I did the race itself in 3:46:45 – a time I have now beaten by more than an hour and twenty minutes and hope to cut in half by the time my half marathon days are done. On that day, though, finishing was the most important thing, and though I had to take a lot of walk breaks, I got to the end, very sunburnt from the ever-reliable GNR day sunshine. I mostly remember my feet hurting so, so much on the long stretches of dual carriageway between Gateshead and South Shields!

At the end of the race, as an RNLI runner, I had the option to visit the lifeguard hut on South Shields beach and have a shower. This was vital for recovery, as I was pretty much dead on my feet after the long day of running! I spent the rest of the afternoon celebrating in South Shields and discovering the atmosphere of the big post-GNR party that takes place in all the pubs along the route back to the Metro station πŸ™‚

Great North Run 2016
Pre-exertion on the start line!

I’ve run every Great North Run since – including the virtual version last year. The atmosphere of the world’s biggest half marathon is like nothing else, and I still find it incredible that it’s right here on my doorstep in Newcastle. I can’t wait to get back on that start line this September (fingers crossed!).