Tuesday, 29 April 2014

10 miles - done!

Woohoo! I'm so chuffed - I not only ran the full 10 miles of the Great Edinburgh Run on Sunday, but I loved every second of it!

We got to Edinburgh on Saturday afternoon, checked into our hotel and went for what was supposed to be a little stroll down to the start/finish area to make sure I wouldn't get lost the next morning. The "short" stroll actually turned into a mammoth hike up and down most of Edinburgh's many hills (it turns out I'm rubbish at booking hotels that are close to start lines - it looked close on the map!) but we eventually made it to Holyrood Park and checked out the lie of the land before wandering back up the Royal Mile to carb-load on pasta at Bella Italia. Then we caught a cab back to the hotel, and chatted to the driver about his experience running the Edinburgh marathon in 1982. His advice - don't go off too fast!

After a restless night my alarm woke me at the distinctly un-Sunday-ish time of 6:45. I left Lovely Husband sleeping and took myself down for breakfast, where I failed magnificently in my bid to force some porridge down. Normally my favourite breakfast, I just didn't fancy it that morning. I managed a bit of yoghurt and half a cup of tea and then woke Lovely Husband up, pinned on my race number and we headed off!

Trying to make up for my lack of breakfast I nibbled on half a Cliff bar on the way to the start, and made it there in time for a quick portaloo stop before nipping into the back of the white wave pen just in time for the start of the wave. As I crossed the start line, the only thing I could think about was the taxi driver's advice, so I slowed right down and let the entire wave pass me - I was literally right at the back. We set off around Holyrood Park and up the first hill - a nice gentle one to lull us into a false sense of security. I knew Lovely Husband was going to be waiting around the 2-mile mark and, sure enough, there he was, camera poised, just before the mile marker. I posed for photos as best I could while running, and then headed off towards one of the two really steep hills, up Cannongate. I was so happy to be able to keep my speed going up the hill, even though runners from the wave behind me were starting to catch me up and overtake me by this point.

My favourite part of the course came next - past the Scott Memorial and the National Art Gallery before heading to Greyfriars to meet Greyfriar's Bobby. A man running alongside me, who must have been in his 70s at least, made a quick detour to give Bobby a pat as we ran past - I didn't need to as I had already made sure of my own luck by visiting him the evening before.

I walked through the water station at 3.5 miles to give myself time to get a Shot Blok and some fluid down, and then picked up my pace again. Lovely Husband had clearly studied the course map, because he was waiting at mile 5 to shout encouragement as I ran past. I was still feeling brilliant at this point, and was starting to overtake a few people on the hills, although I was still being overtaken by far more people from the wave behind me. There were a couple more steep hills in the second half of the course and I started to become a bit more tempted to walk up them - but was stopped every time by the realisation that if I kept running I could overtake some of the increasing number of people who were walking the hills! In the end, with the exception of the three water stations, I ran the whole course.

Between miles 6 and 7 we got to run past some of the faster runners heading for the finish in the opposite direction, including a couple dressed as a bride and groom (who are getting married next weekend - how cute is that?!) and a rock band.

I had really expected everything to fall apart somewhere around the 7-9 mile mark. I knew there was one last climb along the side of Arthur's Seat at 8 miles, which I had really been dreading, but in the end I barely noticed it - the hills in the town were far worse! And the absolute best bit of the course was still to come - a completely downhill final mile which ended up being my fastest of the race! I absolutely flew down the finishing straight and crossed the finish line (where LH was, of course, waiting) with a fist pump and the biggest smile on my face! My chip time was 1:45:26 - a real surprise given my uneven training and very exciting given all the hills.

I've run a few 10ks before, but I have never been so happy to put my medal around my neck as I was after my first 10-miler - I wish I could wear it to work! I'm already thinking about how much quicker I might be able to run the same race next year, and I'm busy planning bigger and better things in the future - I think my first half marathon is on the cards!

Big thanks to my Lovely Husband for driving me to Edinburgh, keeping me company all weekend and being Official Photographer.

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

4 days to go!

4 days until my longest race ever! I know it's only 10 miles, which counts as a short midweek run to most of the people whose blogs I read on a regular basis, but it feels pretty scary to me. Exciting scary, though. And fun scary. But still scary.

Running hasn't really happened in the last week, which probably hasn't helped my nerves much. I was so tired after 3 long days at work over the Easter weekend that getting out of the door in running shoes this week has felt about as easy as climbing Everest. I finally got out (to the gym because it was too late and dark to run on the roads) tonight and ran a bit over 3 miles, which felt pretty easy, so hopefully the miles I've already banked are going to pay dividends this weekend. I'd like to get one more 5-ish miler in before the race, but I've got tennis training tomorrow night and a match on Friday so it's only going to happen if I feel fresh enough that the extra miles will help build my confidence, rather than just tire me out.

In the meantime, I'm getting prepared for the weekend. In a moment of wondrous, completely out of character organisation, I laid my race kit out on the spare bed this afternoon - all the bits I won't need before then, anyway. I'm currently living in fear of forgetting something really important (shoes seems to be the most likely candidate) so the more I get packed before Saturday, the better. 

I'm also trying to remember to hydrate, eat sensibly (which mainly involves avoiding looking at my massive stash of Easter eggs) and get plenty of sleep. My somewhat haphazard training will only get me round so fast, so if living like a nun for the next four days will buy me a few extra seconds/minutes (or just make my legs scream less on the hills) it'll be worth it!

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Good things that have happened this week

1) We won our first tennis match of the season! In fact, we pretty much demolished the second team 10 sets to 2. We were obviously terribly sporting about it afterwards, but we're all pretty chuffed about it, to be honest. One of my worst tennis memories ever is being decisively beaten by the second team three years ago. It hasn't happened again since, but they're a very good team so the possibility is always there, and it's great to have avoided disaster for another year. It was a great match actually. My partner and I had sooo much fun - we laughed pretty much right the way through it, which is the way I like to play doubles! I also fell over and accidentally did the splits.


I did not look like Kim Clijsters. I wasn't even as elegant as Jelena Jankovic. I got laughed at quite a lot.


2. I ran 9 miles this morning! 9 miles! And it wasn't even that hard! Only one more long run to go before the race, and I'm finally beginning to believe that I'm going to do this. I might even manage a respectable time. Whoop! Also, it was a beautiful day for a run, which makes me believe that summer's finally coming. Weeks and weeks of long days and light evenings, just made for tennis matches, barbecues and long walks and runs…am I getting too excited?

3. I've booked our hotel for the Great Edinburgh Run. We're staying near the castle, which means there'll only be a short walk to the start, and we'll be perfectly situated to do some exploring before and after the race. I can't wait!


4. I've entered another race. My friend and I will be doing the Liverpool Spring 10k in Sefton Park on 4th May a week after the GER. I'm really excited about running with my friend, and Sefton Park is a lovely place to run so it'll be a fantastic day!


Sunday, 6 April 2014

It's not just the race that's hilly

Training for a race entails some serious emotional highs and lows that I really wasn't expecting. In the weeks leading up to my last post I was getting increasingly depressed about how little running I was fitting in. On the day of my last run I was seriously down about how difficult and tiring it was to run 4.7 miles. Today, I ran my furthest distance ever  - and loved it!

I don't know what made such a difference. I was practising fuelling, so maybe it was the Shot Blok and water I was taking every 30 minutes or so. Maybe it was the fact that I stopped to walk every time I fuelled. Maybe it was the fact that, after a spa day and a lovely catch up with the girls yesterday, I was just less stressed about everything. Or maybe it was a combination of all of the above. All I know is that I covered 7.7 miles and, even though I stopped to eat and drink twice (and for a loo stop!), my average pace was still the same as my last few runs because my actual running pace was about 15-20 seconds per kilometre faster than usual. Amazing. I'm so happy and I'm finally feeling positive about not only getting round the Great Edinburgh Run, but finishing with a smile on my face!

In other news, the summer tennis season starts this week. Trying to captain a tennis team made up of a mix of super-experienced club players and super-talented juniors (plus me) has been one of the biggest challenges of the last few years for me, and the team hasn't really done better than medium-well for the last few seasons. However, this year we've got a fantastic team and an enthusiastic new coach so I'm optimistic about our chances! This week's match is the "local derby" against the club's other ladies team, so we start the season with the Big One…the honour of our team is at stake!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Re-thinking my goals

Darn it. It was all going so well, and then…work happened. A rubbish week of night shifts followed by a couple of really, really tough weeks at work have utterly scuppered my training schedule, and on the couple of nights last week that I got home with enough time for a short run I was just too tired. Normally I'd make myself run anyway but in retrospect I'm pretty glad I went easy on myself last week as there's probably only so much a body can take!


So in the last three weeks I've only managed a 5.5, a 3 and a 6.5-miler, and the last time I ran was 10 days ago - not good. I headed out this evening without high hopes and I suppose I'm actually quite pleased to have managed a bit over 4.5 miles without my legs completely dying.

Obviously I need to re-evaluate my goals now. I was secretly hoping to complete the 10 miles of the (hilly) Great Edinburgh Run in under 1 hour 50, and I'm pretty sure that's not realistic anymore, so I need to re-think. 1:55 might be do-able - I think I need to see how this weekend's long run goes and take it from there. It's pretty frustrating to realise, four weeks out from the race, that I won't be able to meet my original goal but I'm really, really trying not to beat myself up about it. Exercise is supposed to be something I do for fun, as a distraction from work - it's supposed to help me deal with stress, not add to it! My perfectionism and 100% type A personality come in very useful most of the time, but at times like this I really need to learn to give myself a break.

There will be times in my life when things other than running and tennis have to take priority, and the last few weeks have been one of those times. I can either whinge about all the runs I haven't done, or I can re-focus on what I can do to get me to the start line in shape to run the best race I'm capable of. Whatever happens, it's my first 10-miler so it's going to be a PB!