Autumn fun

Last time I wrote I was still crawling back from the depths of a cold, which seems such a long time ago now (sorry, I’ve been busy having fun!). I booked myself a place at the Petts Wood 10k ages ago, prompted by my Parkrun buddies Siggy and Stephen, who belong to the Petts Wood Runners, and were dutifully positioned around the course to shout out encouragement and generally say nice stuff to make you feel good and not like the wet, muddy mess you really were. Of course, in true FitArtist style, I had good intentions of training hard towards the 10k distance, but in reality I ran a few hills, did a few longer runs and succumbed to The Cold in the weeks leading up to the race. Race day dawned and it was absolutely chucking it down and had been all night. Not the light, refreshing sort of rain, but the heavy, sideways, not-going-to-let-up kind of rain. ‘Oh well’ I thought as I worked out a long-winded bus journey to get there during Sunday engineering work hell.

Eventually, I made my way onto the cricket ground that plays host to the start and finish of the race, and nodded knowingly to other hardy souls who ploughed on, heads down. I must say, I was immediately impressed by the slick organisation of the event, which was apparent even through the sheeting rain and across the slide of mud. Once registered and rid of bag, coat and umbrella, I huddled under a gazebo with a shivering group, who talked mostly about the weather and what might lie ahead, accompanied by the tempting smells wafting over from the bacon roll tent. Before long we edged reluctantly to the start line and cheered each wave as they set off (yes, this small race even has a wave start and chip timing!). This was where my smiles began. I couldn’t help but break into a wide grin as I splashed through puddles and avoided slipping all over the place as we made our way onto the residential road and out towards the woods. You might imagine that a 10k run in these conditions would be hell, but I would go as far as to say that the rain added to the fun: I had no time to think about how far I had run or how fast (or rather slow) I was going as I kept my eye on the deep, dark puddles beneath my feet and avoided tripping on tree roots and rocks.

A couple of years ago I did Grim in Aldershot with Grant and Tom, and I would say that this race was on a par with that, but on my doorstep and way cheaper to enter! I quickly realised that there was no point in trying to go round the mud and puddles, so leapt in them with abandon, often squealing with delight. Around the route were the friendliest marshals you are ever likely to encounter in the rain, and I thanked every one of them as I went. Lovely people. Before I knew it I was heading out of the woods and back towards the recreation ground, encouraged by a few determined locals, who happily urged us on from their driveways. I managed a sprint finish of sorts, my shoes heavy and full of water and, once across the line, I was handed a medal, a banana (by a gorilla, really) and a warm samosa (excellent post-race food) and I quickly joined the queue to retrieve my belongings so I could buy a steaming cup of tea to ward off blue lips. I will be entering this race again next year for sure, but only if they arrange rain for me.

I rode the bus home like this...

I rode the bus home like this…

I am loving this gorgeous Autumn weather (though I have got annoyingly wet pretty much every time I’ve left the house in the past few days), especially the leaves and the bright skies.

Coordinating with nature

Coordinating with nature

With half-term coming up next week, I will be making the most of the warm weather and glowing trees, pulling on my walking shoes and doing some conker-gathering and bat spotting (a cool Halloween event we’re looking forward to…).

Coming next: a return to club night.

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The three stages of cold

Slowly. I am emerging from a fog of a different kind, the kind of fog where your head is pounding, your vision is fuzzy, your nose feels like you’ve walked into a door and every time you inhale you end up doubled over, barking like a seal. Hello from the other side of a cold! It wasn’t so bad at first, yes, the sore throat was painful, very painful, but I sounded like this:

Rrrraaaaarrr!

Then the pain in the throat became gradually worse and I sounded more like this:

and then my nose began to drip and, what with all the sniffling and snuffling, I started to look like this:

After a recent return to running enthusiasm, I was knocked back with a bang to a point of zero activity. There’s nothing like a bout of illness to vanish your running mojo in a puff of Vicks. But now I am feeling stronger, my lungs are fighting back and I am – almost – ready to pull on a pair of really warm running pants and a really warm running top, with long sleeves and little thumb holes, and some really warm gloves and maybe even a really warm hat, and I might just head out of the the door and run.

In other news, the boys Eating Trees and Hauling My Carcass have been making me jealous by schlepping through mud, Jogblog has won herself a fantastic support package to get her across the finish line of the London Marathon in one piece, Helsbels has her sights set on the Olympics (torch) and Travelling Hopefully has put us all to shame with her early morning wanderings.

Janathon Day 20: Power Pushing

I had, once again, intended leaping out of bed and bedecking myself with Lycra to endure enjoy an early morning run, but of course that didn’t happen (I’m soooo tired at the moment). Instead, I persuaded Hector to go for another running buggy run, with the promise of some remote control car fun at the end. So, into the under-stair cupboard I ventured once more, we really need to sort that arrangement out. I hadn’t realised quite how cold it was and, as he was feeling stubborn – ‘I am the boss!’ – Hector said he didn’t need his big woolly blanket, just the thin, smaller one. We soon paid the price when he started complaining of feeling cold after about five minutes. Bad mother. I kept it short and local, with a few laps around the park but, before we could enjoy the flat surface alongside the running track, we had to go over the ‘spirally footbridge’ that crosses the railway line. Oh my, it’s steep and I must have looked like I was going in slow motion on the way up, then like Laurel and Hardy on the way down!

I like running at this time of day, you see lots of women and older people plodding around happily and everyone is just getting on with their own thing. I did feel bad every time Hector said he was cold, and I did offer him my Grim T-shirt to keep him warm, but he took one look and said no. ‘Just once more up here, round here and back over the spirally footbridge and we will be home!’ I then promised to take him to the cafe for a hot chocolate to warm him up after I had changed. We both enjoyed that part of my run.

Janathon day 20:

Time: 32 minutes 32 seconds

Distance: 3.06 miles

Average Pace: 10.38

Best Pace: 6.51

Calories: 347

 

Janathon Day 18: Mardy Arse Alert!

Ooh, I’m so grumpy today. I really should have jumped out of bed when the alarm clock went off this morning, and done my run then, but I was feeling so tired and my brother was staying, so it seemed a bit rude. Of course, I haven’t made it out with the running buggy today so my run was put back until Edward returned from his five-a-side football. This time of night is not good for me to run, I have put Hector to bed and always feel well and truly sleepy after that and also in need of some relaxation time, and it’s very dark, very cold and I really should be just watching some rubbish before falling asleep. It didn’t help that Edward said: ‘Be careful!’ before I left (he never says that), so of course I felt a bit paranoid throughout my run.

Did I say I was grumpy? Today is a Janathon test I suppose. A late run during Juneathon is not so bad, you might even manage to run around a park, with it still being light and all, but tonight’s run was yet another saunter around the ‘Brockley Loop’. I have noticed the lack of variety in my Janathon runs, and I apologise for this. Juneathon is all about getting out there with the buggy, exploring new places, spending the day on the go, but Janathon is just about getting it done. Of course, the exception was Saturday, which was a muddy, sloshy, Janathon special, which I am now feeling in my legs (another excuse for my bad mood?) – my left knee is hurting good and proper and I have  a weird sciatica type pain in my left hip.

I’m sorry, I promise to be a better behaved and upbeat blogger tomorrow! Maybe I need another scone/scone debate to cheer me up. Can anyone guess what we made today?

Janathon day 18:

Time: 31 minutes 11 seconds

Distance: 3.22 miles

Average Pace: 9.42

Best Pace: 6.16

Calories: 349

(it seems that running scared makes for a faster pace!).

Janathon Day 16: Not as fun as yesterday!

I knew this weekend would be a challenge to my Janathon effort, with family visits left, right and centre, so today’s run ended up being squeezed between the in-laws and my brother…and in the dark. Anyone who is the parent of a small child will know that sometimes they can be really, really clingy. Normally Hector is very laid back about me going out to run, happily playing with Edward and usually not noticing I’ve gone (though he does give me a lovely welcoming hug on my return), but this evening, he really didn’t want me to go. Instead of making all of our lives hell and making my running something to be resented, we all trundled out of the house, me running around the park and the boys playing in the ‘stunt area’ with the remote control car (I’m not sure if it has lights…). It was odd running around the park in the dark, I felt quite vulnerable, but also safe knowing that my big fella was just the other side of the grass, so on I plodded. Considering what I did yesterday, I felt surprisingly good, with just a few little aches around my ankle and knee, probably from the hills and from clenching everything in an attempt to not fall over. My breathing was good and strong, and I seem to have gone pretty fast.

Here is the view I was welcomed with when I got round to washing yesterday’s mud-splattered kit:

Nice.

Janathon day 16:

Time: 31 minutes 42 seconds

Distance: 3.27 miles

Average Pace: 09.42

Best Pace: 7.21

Calories: 277

 

Janathon Day 15: GRIM

Our alarm went off at a weekday sort of time, and Hector popped up with: ‘Today is going to be a very fun day!’ How can you roll over and try for a few more minutes with such enthusiasm?! So, off we headed after our porridge, towards Aldershot for Grim, which had been postponed from December due to it being way too icy and snowy to even get there. We spent a bit of time keeping warm before the start,

and Hector eyed up this little puddle:

fun for all the family 🙂

We then met up with fellow running bloggers and Juneathon participants, Hauling my Carcass and Eating Trees, who very kindly said they would run with me – I’m sure they could have gone faster, but Grim is about more than racing.

And so to the start. We soon encountered a little puddle and noticed the other runners going around it, not wishing to miss out, we ran straight through it. Oh, how I gasped! This became the default noise for me at each encounter with water: a gasping, gulping, yelping scream…of joy! We then carried on to bigger, deeper puddles and through squelchy mud. I soon realised that I might just spend the whole of this race with a big grin on my face. Having run the race last time, the boys were able to tell me what was coming up, and knew just which points we needed to give each other support and when we could run with abandonment. I found myself putting out a helping hand to a woman who was suddenly submerged next to me, a look of horror on her face.

There were sections that I found quite challenging, areas of open ground with rocks under foot and a head wind to slow me down, it was these bits that verged on the grim for me, the puddles and the mud were an absolute joy. Possibly my favourite moment was the muddy pool where we lifted a scramble net over our heads (possibly more for support than anything). We waited patiently for the people ahead of us to go through and gradually sunk deeper and deeper into the mud and, each time I tried to lift my foot out, I feared that it would come out minus the shoe! So off we went into the muddiest, squelchiest pool of oozing brown sludge that I have ever seen. What fun! I had wished that Edward and Hector had witnessed this moment, but they saw us after we’d had a wash in a rather deep puddle…

After this point we went on to slippery, muddy hills (up and down), more exposed running and some deliciously cold and refreshing puddles – I started to find these quite cooling as my legs and feet began to suffer. Next came a long run, through woods and up and down man-made sand dunes, I even began to feel my toes here, and feel quite warm. It’s interesting that this approximately eight mile run (I heard people saying it was nearer nine miles) actually felt more like a half-marathon – once you are soaked through and have put your legs through this extreme challenge, it all seems so much harder. Just as one final treat, we were given the opportunity to wash off all the mud with one last puddle before the finish line.

We look quite clean don’t we? I promise you, we did actually get very dirty!

I didn’t wear my Garmin, I even popped my wedding ring onto Edward’s little finger, but my chip time on the website is:

01:46:30

Thank you to my lovely team-mates for encouraging me to keep on going and for generally being a pair of lovelies and a BIG thank you to Edward and Hector for traipsing around the country so I can do my running thing.

Would I do it again? Maybe 😉

Janathon Day 14: Getting muddy

So, tomorrow is going to be GRIM, so I wanted to get my run out of the way early and, as Edward was working from home, I was able to go at a far more respectable time and in daylight, yay! It’s so nice to go out after breakfast and when you can run through the parks instead of pounding the streets in a relentless do or die fashion. I saw a few runners, women mainly, who I think might have dropped off their children for a day of learning and then taken the opportunity to run home (this is how it looked anyway). I ran through the local park and squelched my way through the mud, ducking around one really big puddle and climbing a muddy bank in an attempt not to get my new shoes dirty, oh how I will be ridiculed tomorrow if I try the same thing during the race! Even though January has been a particularly wet month, I seem to have avoided actually running in much rain but today’s run was definitely a wet one, but I didn’t mind, things felt good and I was glad to get my run done and dusted with enough time to recover for tomorrow. I do find myself having momentary panics though when I do a morning run, then wonder the next day if I ran at all.

I will be leaving these at home tomorrow. It’s going to be a hectic weekend: off to Aldershot first thing, then the in-laws are arriving for the weekend just as we get back (will I get to shower off the mud first?!) and, just after they leave, my brother is coming to stay. Phew!

Janathon day 14:

Time: 32 minutes 23 seconds

Distance: 3.24 miles

Average Pace: 10.00

Best Pace: 7.06

Calories: 316