Ups and Downs (lots of them!) – Coniston 14

So, the crazy Saturday. I was up at 5.25am, made some porridge in a keepup and some tea in a flask to take along with me and had sensibly packed the rest of what I needed the day before so the only remaining task was to bumble around in the dark trying to get dressed without waking everyone up. The journey over to Barrow was reasonably uneventful barring some awful fog on the A66 and some even worse navigating by yours truly (it helps if you can tell left from right) but as we got into the lakes it cleared and looked like it would be a nice day. The less said about Barrow itself the better but the parkrun venue was a very nice park, although I was slightly dismayed to discover that the route involved running up the hill in the picture below three times (fortunately on a windy loop rather than the stairs!). My plan was 10 min miles to get near my Jantastic 30 min target, but I actually felt ok despite the hills so cracked on and got round in 29.21, not a bad start.


From there we dashed off to Coniston which was due to start at 11am. My crazy friends had to be back home for 5pm for a black tie dinner so there was some discussion about where to park as the main car park wasn’t going to let people out until after 2pm. Fortunately we snagged a space in one of the local carparks and hot-footed it down to the start, arriving just in time to catch up with some clubmates before lining up ready for the off.

The route we had driven to get there was along some of the course and it was clear from the car journey that we were in for some hills. I was hopeful that what goes up must come down, but the first few miles were tough and I was slightly perturbed after a clubmate running past me warned that miles 11-12 were the worst. Oh joy. I think I’d said that my original goal was somewhere near my recent half marathon time but it was apparent from the first mile that this was not to be. I’m still lacking in fitness and the parkrun before had already knackered my legs and the hills were just another realm of torture to be added on. I was doing ok though, as my first four splits confirmed,

Mile Split
1      09:45.6
2      09:40.6
3      09:40.1
4      09:31.0
5      10:25.7
6      10:16.5
7      10:37.8
8      11:05.4
9      11:07.6
10    11:44.2
11    11:40.8
12    12:57.4
13    11:41.1
14    10:03.7

After that it was all downhill though (unfortunately not literally) and I was getting more and more tired and more and more stiff. By about mile 10 I’d had enough but still had to get to the finish as it was evident that there would be no lifts available and I was also conscious of the fact that my friends were desperate to get back at a reasonable hour, so I plodded on, walking up the biggest of the hills and grimacing on the downhills. The hills at miles 11-12 weren’t actually too bad and there was a long downhill after mile 12 which was a nice (if painful) respite, plus plenty of water stations and some nice views of the lake and some beautiful houses.


The Old Man of Coniston

I can tell I’m having a bad race when I start getting cross with runners around me and that featured from about 5 miles onwards when firstly I had to drop back to avoid “Spitting Sid” – now I hate spitting full stop, but do appreciate it is necessary occasionally during a race – but occasionally is the key word here. Spitting Sid would hawk up his lungs about every 5 seconds on average and having to listen to it and avoid blowback was seriously stressing me out so I let him get ahead of me as unfortunately I couldn’t go fast enough to stay ahead. I managed to stay ahead of Puffing Billy (lady who breathed like a steam train) later on, but then lost the plot over the lady in pink who I would overtake on the hills as she was walking up them, then on the downhills she’d catch me up and then sit right on my shoulder before stopping to walk on the hills again. Repeat that about 15 times and I was about ready for homicide. I wonder if I should invest in one of those allergy bubbles and then run in that? Or perhaps see a psychiatrist…

Anyway, the torture was eventually over in just over 2 and a half hours and I crossed the line, grabbed as much water as I could along with a very nice coaster (which I promptly left in my friend’s car, along with my favourite trainers and possibly a jacket) and since it was nearly 2pm by that time, ran off to find my lift so we could hit the road before the other carpark let out. It was a long and uncomfortable journey home but we made it back in time and after a bath, some food, an episode of Homeland 2 and a quite frankly amazing leg massage I was feeling a bit more human. My pace and the elevation are below – it was the beginning of the race that really hurt me I think, and in hindsight it was a bit daft to do parkrun right beforehand (and a cheeky mile on Friday evening for Jantastic) but anyway. A lesson to learn for next time!


The rest of the weekend was actually quite nice, I had cheap tickets for Adventure Valley, a kind of low key theme park nearby so we dragged the kids out to see what fun could be found. We were worried that there wouldn’t be enough for Eldest to do (he’s 14) but he enjoyed it as much as we did – we played football, went on the zip wire, fed animals, bounced on huge pillows, went on go karts and saw a great bird show, followed by crazy golf (I lost by 2 strokes, grrrr). Not bad for stiff legs mind you. The rest of the afternoon I spent catching up on housework and helping Youngest pack for his school trip. The week ahead looks like:

Mon: Recovery run*
Tues: Strength and Conditioning
Weds: Club night run (ca. 5-6 miles)
Thurs: Swim (1 mile)
Sat: parkrun, possibly 20 mile bike ride
Sun: Duathlon (5k run, 25k bike, 5k run)

*maybe, I am vacillating and might do this tuesday morning instead, or I might go biking depending on the weather/when I get home

It is not clear whether I have learnt my lesson at all is it!



I feel a bit like I’m drowning this week – literally and metaphorically since it is absolutely chucking it down and I am snowed under with stuff to do, ugh. I had some cracking wedding anxiety dreams last night but that has prompted me to attack my to-do list with renewed vigour which will hopefully help me not to stress about it (quite so much!).

Yesterday there was thunder and lightning and torrential rain which seems to be continuing today however fortunately the weather forecast for Coniston is ok tomorrow so I am hoping we don’t get rained on. It is going to be a loooooong day though with a 6am pickup, I will need an early night tonight for sure. I still need to slip in a cheeky Jantastic run though so that is the job for tonight, if the rain ever stops anyway… I may just do half a mile up the road then half a mile back and call it quits.

This week has been the week of cancelled plans since adding to the abortive football tournament my dinner out last night was cancelled at the last minute but that just meant I got to eat beans on toast in front of Homeland S2 – not exactly a hardship since the show is awesome! We are halfway through S2 at the moment but the DVD for S3 isn’t out for ages, I might have to do something about that, but am not googling it until we’ve finished S2 in case of spoilers!

Will just finish by listing some books I’ve enjoyed recently:

Dust – Hugh Howey
Third in the trilogy and better than #2 definitely but I’d forgotten too much of the back story to really enjoy it. The ending was good though.

Petroplague – Amy Rogers
I read this as it references some work done by people I know. It was a bit far fetched (I was good until the bit where they got captured by hill-billies) but an interesting concept and I did enjoy it.

Canada – Richard Ford
I started this last night. It is one from left-field since it was chosen for me as a Christmas present by the boys so I have no idea what to expect. Am enjoying it thus far though and it has some stellar reviews. The last book they chose for me was awesome (The Island – Victoria Hislop) so I have high hopes.

Have a good weekend!

Hot Tub Heaven

I know some people’s idea of heaven does not include a hot tub (dirty people soup?) but for me, you can’t beat sitting out in one in winter in the UK with a lovely view. That is how I spent the weekend just gone anyway, with the slightly minor issue that my hot tub allergy reared its ugly head again, argh. I thought I’d got rid of it since I was fine the last time we went, but the world is not that kind and by saturday afternoon I was itching like crazy. It didn’t stop me going back in mind you, but we might have to put off our planned week there next year as I’m not so sure I would last a week. It was a lovely weekend anyway, great to get away from it all and as you’ll see from the pictures we spent the time very wisely! (The champagne was a very welcome engagement present from a friend of ours and went down a treat!)


The weekend wouldn’t be the weekend without parkrun though and J and I dutifully left the hot tub and toddled off to Harrogate parkrun on Saturday morning. It’s three laps of the Stray, a big grassy area on the outskirts of the centre and is pretty much flat, and also not too muddy for once. I followed the 28 min pacer all the way round and he was a godsend. I really really like pacers at parkrun, I know they are a nightmare to organise but they make such a difference. At the end we headed in to Harrogate in search of anti-histamine and also made our annual pilgrimage to Gap, which had a huge sale, presumably in our honor, which was very nice of them. We came out with two pairs of jeans and 3 t-shirts for less than two pairs of jeans would have cost full price – bargain!

The rest of the week I have mainly been lazy. Missed the monday night run because we were at the pictures (300: Rise of an Empire – no plot but Eva Green has a fantastic rack), then missed tuesday lunchtime run as I was on annual leave. I was meant to run and bike from home on tues but missed that due to laziness, then yesterday I missed club run because I was meant to be playing in a football tournament but that got cancelled due to the fact they wouldn’t let kids in the building (despite it being billed as a family friendly event, go figure) so we went to Frankie and Benny’s instead. As a consequence I feel like I am the size of a house, and have not helped matters by already consuming an entire package of fig rolls and a bag of mini eggs today before 10am. Someone will need to stage an intervention soon…

I did make it to Strength and Conditioning on tuesday though, and have homework of single leg squats to do, as well as fitting in a Jantastic run before the crazy Saturday double of parkrun followed by the Coniston 14. The latter will be my longest race to-date but at only 0.8 miles more than a half-marathon I think it should be ok. No real time plan although I’d like to get somewhere near my disastrous Cambridge half time (2:08) and there is at least one person also running I would like to beat, so I guess those are my goals. 9 min miles would be nice, but I suspect somewhat out of reach at the moment. Oh mojo, please come back.

Back on the bike

Ok, first of all I fit into my dress, hurrah! I have to confess it was a little bit tight but it did up and I managed to get all of the decisions (hair, shoes, underwear) made so that was good. The amount I ate to “celebrate” afterwards was not good, but I have 74 days to put that right (which actually isn’t much since I need to lose about 20lb to be comfortable again I think, help!). That is a blog post for another day though.

Had to skip parkrun on Saturday to go to the dress shop and was planning to go biking when I got back but the wind was horrendous and I just don’t think it was safe (ok, so I wussed out). Sunday morning was lovely and sunny but still really really windy so I wasn’t overly keen but J was taking the boys out along the railway path which is at least sheltered, so I thought I would tag along with them to at least get some time in the saddle. Bike rides with the kids are sometimes a fraught affair but this time it was all very good natured and we did a nice 10 mile trip in the sunshine. It was only as fast as the 9 year old’s legs would go, and we had a prolonged sit-down at half way after the 13 year old’s tyre exploded and needed to be replaced, but it was lovely to get out. My plan was to cycle back home, drop bike off then immediately transition into my run but that cunning plan was cut short when I developed a puncture just before getting back to the car park, so had to load my bike on the car and drive home instead, not quite the planned transition! still, I donned running clothes and set off for a short 5k trip down to the river and back (very hilly!). My legs were not too happy but I couldn’t quite tell if that was bike related unhappiness or just general malaise, but at least I did it. So 11.5 miles biking and 3 miles running in about 2hrs. It’s not much but at least it is a start!

This week I have to get back on the sensible bandwagon, so am running tonight with the club, then tomorrow lunchtime with colleagues. Tomorrow evening is strength and conditioning then club on wednesday, and then something friday morning (bike or run depending on weather) before heading off to our hot tub heaven on Friday afternoon. Apart from parkrun I will do no exercise at all at the weekend bar walking to and from the fridge to get more champagne, I cannot wait! It is lazy but I am calling it tapering for next Saturday’s craziness (Barrow parkrun followed by Coniston 14) and figure it must be good for me. Time will tell…

Embrace the hills!

The week is so far going to plan, apart from the nil by mouth bit so it remains to be seen whether I will actually fit into my dress on Saturday – fingers crossed!

In the meantime Strength and Conditioning on Tuesday night was fun, it’s a bit like circuits with a host of exercises to move between, it’s great as it works parts of my body that running just doesn’t touch and I was delighted to be able to do 4 full arm press-ups during the session as well as be complimented on my side plank. That was the last in a series of 8 but there is a 6 week course starting next week which I have signed up to, bring on the pain!

Yesterday I actually managed to make it back to my clubnight for the first time in about 6 weeks. I was tempted by the track timetrial (1600m as quick as you can) but my legs are dead so it didn’t seem worth it so I am saving that for next week. Instead I took my social group out, when I first started we decided that being known as the “slow” group wasn’t very nice so renamed ourselves the social group which sounds much nicer. There were LOADS of people interested in my run yesterday, I didn’t count but it was well over 25 I think. I had devised a rather evil course involving three hill efforts, finishing with the steepest hill in Durham but did ‘fess up to that beforehand and people still came along, the crazy loons. Anyway, everyone did really really well, we had some beginners who did Redhills for the first time and there was much bonhomie, especially on the second hill where I had placed a bag of mini creme eggs at the top for the first finishers. It was really good fun anyway and capped off with a lovely hot chocolate and wedding shoe approval in a local hostelry, all very pleasant.

Today I am on kid duty in the evening then off out to a friend’s house to try some products she has just started using so no exercise plans today. I might fit in a swim tomorrow but am gearing up for Sunday where I am going to tackle Button Bank (steep evil bike hill) and then do my first ever transition where I will do a 5k run after my bike ride in preparation for the duathlon in April. I just need the weather to continue to cooperate (and my dress to fit) and the weekend will be pretty darn nice!

Running away

A busy weekend away unfortunately means I haven’t updated my blog for a week, argh. I am not helped by the fact that my ipad does not like wordpress and lost me my most recent blog post halfway through, double argh.

Anyway, I was running away from home most of the weekend which was actually quite nice since there are only so many routes you can do in your home town so to get out and about elsewhere was rather a pleasant change. The weekend shaped up as follows:

Friday: 5 miles around Regent’s Park – I was in London for a meeting and thought I’d try and sneak a quick run in before my meeting. It was a bit cold and grey but I SAW A CAMEL!!!! On some good advice I headed from Bloomsbury along Harley St up to Regent’s Park, then round the zoo and back again. You can’t run in the actual zoo but there is a path that goes all the way round and the hedges aren’t very tall so you can see all manner of exciting things – I saw penguins, a llama and actually TWO camels. I was quite beside myself with joy and really enjoyed it. The fact I then went and ate my own bodyweight in sandwiches at lunchtime was poor, but I SAW A CAMEL!

Saturday was a spot of parkrun tourism at Cambridge. Very nice course and round in just over 27 mins, my quickest bar one this year and I was quite happy with that.

Sunday was the Cambridge half. It was hot, I’d run too far in the previous two days, not slept well and I had eaten too much cake the day before. Started off ok but then went rapidly downhill. My plan was (is always) to aim for 9 min miles so I can get round in under two hours. It was going well until mile 4 however my rather embarrassing splits are as follows:

Mile – mins per mile

  1. 8.39
  2. 8.45
  3. 8.51
  4. 8.49
  5. 9.07
  6. 9.10
  7. 9.25
  8. 9.41
  9. 9.59
  10. 10.17
  11. 11.00
  12. 10.45
  13. 11.45
  14. 11.28

Oops. The 2 hour pacer went past me at 8 miles and that was the last straw really, I decided to throttle back, take on as much water as humanly possible, grit my teeth and just get on with it. The last bit of the second lap was especially torturous as there was a big detour round to the finish which seemed to go on for miles and miles. I’d also had a stitch for about 8 miles by that point and was pretty fed up, but the end eventually came and boy was I glad. A 13 minute personal worst time but I got round and at least I managed 4 miles at race pace :babysteps:

The rest of the day was rather nice as we decamped back to my sister’s house for a picnic in her garden and a rare but very welcome chance to hang out with my family. Unfortunately we then had to drive the 4 hours back north, that is not fun with tired legs but I had monday booked off work which helped ease the pain. I spent my day off curled up under a blanket on the sofa watching low budget movies about tornadoes, it was grand.

Today it was -2degC when I left the house but beautiful sunshine and the 4 miles I did in the warmth of the sun with some colleagues at lunchtime have stretched me out ready for strength and conditioning tonight. I am taking it easy for the rest of the week though, social run tomorrow then swim on Thursday, nothing on Friday, parkrun on Saturday and then hopefully out on my bike on Sunday since I have a duathlon in precisely 27 days time and I haven’t been on my bike since about October, ouch.

My main fear is currently fitting into my wedding dress on Saturday, I have my final fitting then but am at least half a stone heavier than the last time I tried it on, help! Going to have to go nil by mouth for the rest of the week in the hopes that some of it will shift before then, otherwise I will have to run home on Friday to burn some calories off and that will not be fun. Fingers crossed…

Round and round we go

Running: Usual Lunchtime run today with some colleagues. There is a handy park right by work that, even handier, is about 500m in perimeter, so pretty good for intervals. With the limited time available it was a bit of a splash and dash with just 5 x 200m with 200m recoveries along with warm up and cool down (2.8 miles in total), but at least it counts for Jantastic and got me out in the sunshine.

Baking: Man, running makes me hungry. But since I have a wedding dress to fit into (final fitting is in 2 weeks and I need to lose half a stone before then, gulp) there is no baking on the horizon, just lots of crackerbread and philadephia. Sigh. I am going out to lunch after the dress fitting though and plan to EAT THE WORLD.

Sleeping: I need more sleep. That is all.

Repeating: More intervals tomorrow I think, this time on the track and for much longer. Not entirely looking forward to it if I’m honest but I’ve really dropped the ball on speedwork recently and I think I am missing out. New running plan involves running less but running smarter

In other news I have finished The Cuckoo’s Calling which was excellent (I hope there will be a sequel) and am nearing the end of The Island (Victoria Hislop) which I have massively enjoyed, so much so that I am trying to eke out the last few chapters as I just don’t want it to end. It also got me in a really interesting wikipedia loop about leprosy so I learnt something new as well – I thought it had died out like polio but it turns out it is actually curable these days but despite that the social stigma still remains. Fascinating stuff.