Thursday, March 31, 2011

Royal Wedding & taper fever!

Look what landed in my letterbox the other day - 'Knit your own Royal Wedding'.

Even more funny is that it was sent by Denny, my dear friend who started me off on my running and knitting antics by suggesting I should act my age and stay at home with my knitting!

My favourites are the corgis and the Archbishop of Canterbury. When I showed it to Mike he gave me "don't you dare!" roll of the eyes.

I'm well into my taper, that is cutting down my mileage to prepare for the Brighton marathon on the 10th April and I've got a niggly knee. That coupled with the gremlins in my head who tell me that I am too old and fat to run marathons is making me hyperactive!

This beautiful tree is a Blackthorn Tree .

Blackthorn is more often used for hedging as it has thorny stems so is a good stock-proofer so it's unusual to see it like this.

The whole tree has been smothered in blossom this year and the honey bees have had a wonderful time gathering the nectar. There were so many of them that the tree seems to be buzzing!

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

4 Sundays all with 'T's!

Just remember what they say about pride and falls when reading the first 2 weekends!

Sunday 1 - Tunbridge Wells 1/2 marathon 27th Feb 2011 - Tears

My training had been going really well and the speedwork seemed to have made a difference. I felt strong and powerful and eager to tackle the Tunbridge Wells 1/2 marathon. I was so convinced that I was going to get a course pb (personal best time) that I had bought a bottle of champagne in anticipation.

I'm sure you can see where this is heading!

The day dawned and it was perfect weather; cool but bright with only a slight breeze. I started well and got to the halfway mark in 58 minutes so it looked good. Anyway, as ever, pride came before a fall and I just slowed right down in the 2nd half, finishing in 2:11:25 which is not only my worst time for the course but my worst ever 1/2 marathon time.

There was a very teary phone call to Mike at the finish. He very wisely suggested that we should have the champagne anyway to drown my sorrows - I love that man!!!

Sunday 2 - another 20 mile training run - Tears again!
It was all going so well. I'd got out bright and early on the Sunday to do my 20 miler. The weather was perfect, bright but cool and there were signs of Spring everywhere,

I'd plotted out a hilly route to build stamina but was feeling strong when I hit the 14 mile mark. I spotted some women and dogs up ahead. I was on a single track lane in the middle of nowhere and I guessed that the dogs would be off their leads so when I got close to them I started to walk (dogs often get over-excited around runners and it's always safest to walk or even stop in case they jump up at you).

There were 2 women and a little girl accompanied by 2, very excited, stocky labradors and a small yappy dog. They wrapped themselves around my legs and then pottered off. I exchanged pleasantries with the women and then started running again. I heard one of the women calling the dogs and the next thing I knew I was knocked off my feet by a 3rd black labrador who'd been down in a ditch and came hurtling up the bank and just took my legs from under me.

I landed flat on my face with my cheek and nose touching the tarmac. Thankfully my right side had taken most of the impact so my face wasn't hurt but my hip, thigh, knee and elbow were very sore. My water bottle was flung away and my hat flew off too. As I picked myself up I heard one of the women saying "oh dear, he's jumped up and knocked that lady over". She asked if I was OK but didn't bother to apologise!

As I picked myself up and gathered my things together I felt a bit shaken so I phoned Mike to tell him what had happened. Of course, there were more tears and I really didn't feel like carrying on, partly because I felt too teary but mainly because my leg was very sore. Thankfully I was only 3.5 miles from home but by the time I got there I'd developed a massive lump on the side of my knee. So my 20 miles ended up being 17.5 miles instead. Grrrrrrr!

Sunday 3 - a Triumphant 20 miles

Thank goodness my next attempt at a 20 miler passed without incident and I regained my confidence. Phew!

Sunday 4 - another Triumph (for a running chum)

Last weekend was the Hastings 1/2 marathon which is a brilliant event. It's a tough route with the first 1/2 all going uphill so it's not for the faint-hearted.

So when a fellow forumite from Runners World started training to run this as her first ever 1/2 marathon at the age of 67 I offered to run with her to help her achieve her goal. I jiggled my marathon schedule around so that I only needed to do about 17 miles that Sunday. I did 2.5 miles beforehand and then 2.5 miles afterwards making my total mileage 18 which was perfect.

My new running shoes had arrived the day before and look, they are purple and silver! I love purple. As I wasn't trying for a good time at Hastings I decided to dress up a bit, hence the stripey tights. I had intended to wear a tutu, in purple of course, but when I put it on I looked like and elephant with a ruff around it's waist so that idea was abandoned quickly!

Iona had been training well but was somewhat apprehensive and she really didn't think she'd be able to run all the way or that she'd get round in anything less than 3 hours. But she'd never had anyone to run with before and that makes a huge difference. I felt honoured to be part of her adventure and it was quite a responsibilty to get the pacing right.

I set the pace at around 12 - 12.5 minute miling and told her to let me know if it was too fast but she coped very well with the challenging hills and we reached the halfway point in 1:20 which was excellent and gave her confidence a real boost. Towards the 10 mile mark I noticed that she was slowing down a bit and I didn't try to push her on as I could see she was tiring. It was more important that she finished having run all the way than end up having to walk because she was too tired.

The crowd was amazing as always and they really lifted our spirits. I was very impressed that many people hung around to cheer on the slower runners and walkers. We spent most of the race either just in front of or just behind a group of firefighters pushing a hospital bed along so there was a fun atmosphere.

We crossed the line in 2:52:11 which was absolutely brilliant and she was very pleased and proud. I couldn't hang around too long as I still had to run another 10.5 miles. There were looks of surprise from people who had seen me finish alongside runners and walkers who were limping and looking dead on their feet and then I went bounding off looking quite fresh!

So the last of the T's is another triumph!