Flying Saturday post

It was AMAZING to be back at parkrun today, flying in a different way (at least for the last 800 metres – the preceding 4.2k was a bit of a plod). Having a slow Saturday now. More games from the parallel universe next week!

Town Moor parkrun
The best thing about races and parkruns is the incentive to speed up a bit towards the end. Photo by Mark Slade for Town Moor parkrun.

A few scattered running thoughts

I won’t lie – running has been a bit tough for the last few weeks. When I’m very busy and/or stressed in other areas of my life, I find that I feel lethargic and lacking in energy when I’m out on my runs, and my pace slows right down. It also doesn’t help that my body has been busy healing from my uveitis attack. Still, I’ve been getting out there every day and getting on with my daily run streak, even though I’m finding it frustrating and confusing that I can’t seem to manage faster than an 11:30-minute mile after doing 10-minute miles all the way through the Sunderland 10k three weeks ago.

Sunderland 10k
Powering towards the line at Sunderland. (Photo: AWOL Adventure.)

I’m also now marathon training, which does slow my general pace right down if I’m not careful. However, it’s only two weeks until parkrun starts again in England, and once Geth’s on his annual leave from work we’re going to try and get our Tuesday interval sessions going again, so hopefully I’ll be able to get some speedwork in to mitigate the sloth-like pace of my long runs.

I’ve also got plans for changing my running week around a bit and not loading all my big sessions into the weekend. However, that will have to be gradual, as I need other areas of my life to start playing ball first (and/or the sudden onset of an ability to get up at 5am, which is… unlikely). Still, once I’ve got it sorted, I think it’ll work really well! I’ll keep you posted.

A quick running post

I’m having a quiet weekend and so taking a break from my race reviews / race memories, but I thought I’d do a quick running update seeing as I’m on an extended break from my running vlog at the moment.

Pixel runner
Running is easier in pixels. I promise you I don’t look this fast in real life.

I am technically in the early stages of marathon training for the London Marathon, though the smattering of medical issues I’ve had over the last week or so mean that I’ve been taking it easy and not quite doing the high mileage just yet. I’m going to build it up very carefully over the next few weeks.

Though I’ve been very slow during this week, I’m still buzzing about my 10k PB from last weekend. It really proved to me that I’m not stuck on the slow path when it comes to races, and that I can run faster in the right conditions. I’m looking forward to parkrun starting again (current return date for England: 24th July), as it will mean I’ll be able to run in a race-type atmosphere every week.

July should also be a little bit easier than June in terms of my non-running life (I’ll still be coding but not frantically so, as there are no game competition deadlines!). As such, I’m hopeful about settling into a good marathon training groove. I’ll keep you posted!

Medals

Race Review: Sunderland City 10k 2021

Sunderland is a favourite running event. I did my first 10k there in 2016 (slow and painful but I did it!), moved up to the half in 2017, didn’t enjoy it, and have been sticking to the 10k ever since. The 10k is a great course. It’s mostly flat and I always get a PB there without fail. I had reason to expect that this year would be no exception.

Until this morning’s trip to Sunderland, I hadn’t raced a 10k since the Great North 10k 2019, nearly two years ago (thanks pandemic). My previous 10k PB was 1:09:13, set at Sunderland in May 2019. However, I managed a 1:03:30 10k split in the first half of last September’s Virtual Great North Run (not sensible! I was trying to keep up with faster runners), and more recently have been consistently running around 1:10 during easy 10k training runs. I knew, even with the weight gain and loss of fitness that has come about during the last fifteen months of lockdown, that a PB was almost certain. I also believed, judging by my recent running, that sub-1:05 might be possible. However, I didn’t want to put too much pressure on myself, so I told myself I would be happy with a PB of any amount. I’m not sure I ever really believed that though!

Medal stack
The medal stack keeps growing!

I went off a little too fast, but that was expected. I need to get used to running races with other people again, and not letting others around me set my pace for me (this is a really difficult balance as I also use this initial atmosphere as a boost to get me into the mindset of running faster than usual, and so I’m not sure I’ll ever get it 100% right). However, I kept up really well for the rest of the race, and didn’t burn out. I tired a little in the last couple of miles – I’d made the 5k marker in 31 minutes and was convinced sub-1:05 was on, but in the last mile I really didn’t think I would do it! However, the finish line appeared sooner than expected (they move it around slightly from year to year), and I was able to sprint – sort of! – for the line, finishing in 1:04:41. I am absolutely over the moon.

The great thing is that I’m now considerably closer to something that’s been a goal for the whole six years I’ve been running – a sub-hour 10k. The two 10ks I’ve got lined up in the autumn/winter are tougher courses, so I don’t think I’ll do it this year, but if I train hard and lose the lockdown weight then I think I’ve got a really good chance of getting it at Sunderland next year.

Race t-shirt
It looks red but it’s pink. My first pink race t-shirt!

I’ve been really wiped the rest of the day – surprisingly so. I don’t think I’ve ever been this tired after a 10k before. However, I’m going to take that as a good sign, as it means I raced it properly!

No more in-person races now until the Great North Run in September. London Marathon training will keep me busy in the meantime…

Race Review: NORTH 25 2021

Two races in two weeks. It almost feels like things are getting back to normal!

This weekend’s race was an actual, real, in-person race – my first since the Inverness Half Marathon in March 2020. This was a huge milestone as the lack of in-person races and parkruns has been one of the most frustrating things about the pandemic for me. I’ve been keeping myself going with virtual races and my daily run streak, but it’s just not been the same.

As such, I felt a type of happiness I had almost forgotten about when I walked into the race HQ and saw the crowd of runners and the tents and start area all set up:

Race crowd gathering
A very welcome sight!

It was so exciting to collect my number and line up on an actual start line again – even though we did have to stay distanced and set off in waves of six people! I did the race with my friend Claire, and it was a really pretty course. It was also a really hilly course – huge steep climbs through the woods! – and I really struggled in the second half, being unused to that kind of terrain. Fifteen miles through trail feels a lot further than fifteen miles on road, and I didn’t have any running left in my legs over the last few miles (mainly because my muscles were burning so hard from all the climbing!). As such, it was a fairly difficult race. If I sign up for anything similar in the future, I will need to do a lot more training on trails in order to get my legs used to it.

It felt like it was never going to end, but it did eventually, and it was amazing to be able to pick up a t-shirt and medal straight away at the finish area. Another great addition to the medal haul!

Medal haul
My brand new medal taking pride of place among my recent virtual ones. Looking forward to finishing the medal display soon.

Next up in the race season (so exciting to be having some semblance of a ‘season’ again!) is a nice flat road 10k in a couple of weeks’ time. I have a chance of getting up some speed (by my standards) on that one and I can’t wait!

Race Review: Virtual Edinburgh Half Marathon 2021

I don’t remember the last time I managed to post a race review on the same day as the race! I was getting a bit behind with them pre-pandemic…

This morning, Geth and I were up early for the Virtual Edinburgh Half Marathon. We could have done it at any time during the day, but we wanted to get the bulk of the run out of the way before the midday heat came in. For us, this was not a good weekend for the weather to decide it’s now summer!

Virtual Edinburgh Half Marathon 2021
Looking fresh and excited pre-race, which is not the case now!

Geth had requested a lapped course with as few road crossings as possible, so I mapped out a loop that had come to mind and found that six loops (plus some extra bits at the start and end) provided a pretty accurate half marathon distance. The loops felt fairly short in themselves, but having not done the distance for a while I did struggle towards the end! Part of it was the heat and not being fully recovered from my vaccine yet, but part of it was simply that I just hadn’t done long distances for a while. I’ll be building up again over the summer, so half distance will hopefully feel more comfortable again in a couple of months.

Today was just about getting round though, and we both did, so that was a win. Looking forward to the medal arriving in the post!

Sunday Race Memories: Great North 10k 2017

In terms of my own running, the most memorable thing about the Great North 10k 2017 was that I didn’t come dead last like I had done the previous year!

Great North 10k 2017
Still slow, but not slowest! Photo by Ian Harman Photography.

On the whole, though, the most memorable thing about the Great North 10k 2017 was that Geth ran it with a broken toe, as he hadn’t yet been persuaded to take a running break and go to the physio. He ended up doing a lot of parkrun volunteering that summer.

I ran 1:17:25 on that occasion, which is about 10-15 minutes slower than I could race a 10k now but also about 25 minutes faster than I’d run it the year before! When you start off sloth-slow, there’s a lot of room for improvement.

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 🙂

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!