It’s been a crazy week!

So, a few things have happened since I last posted.

A hurricane hit England – starting in the South West, where I happened to be staying (on the Cornish coast). The best bit? Mum and I hid ourselves away in the cosy little pub we were staying in (fantastic little place, with brilliant food, and the staff were SO LOVELY!) whilst the wind picked up and the rain hammered down. Our room was right under the thatch roof, with little fairy lights around the windows. We watched Downton Abbey, drank tea and ate chilli crisps and twice our weight in chocolate! Perfect 🙂

I drove all the way to, around, and back from Cornwall with no problems (over 100 miles each way) – and failed my driving test the next day. Nerves got the better of me, and my examiner was apparently having a bit of a bad day, and marked me a little harshly (i.e. if he’d marked the fault as minor, rather than major, I would have passed). It’s done, I’ve rebooked, and as my brother so awesomely put it, I’ll smash it next time. Positive thoughts! At least I nailed the theory test 🙂

My journey back from the South West on Monday evening was absolutely naffed up as a result of the crazy weather. My first train (at 5pm – hooours after the trains started running again) was fine; my second train was an hour and a half late, and then delayed on the platform, and finally delayed outside of Reading when we got stuck behind a slow train. I then missed my third and final train by 1 minute and 58 seconds (well, 1 hour, 1 minute and 58 seconds, technically – this was the second train that I had planned to catch after missing my original one by miles). They then changed the platform 5 times, alternating between 2 on opposite ends of the station. By this point it was nearly 11pm, and absolutely freezing. Though going back and forth and up and down stairs warmed me up a little, and passed the time! I got onto the last train back to Guildford, only for it to be stuck on the platform for ten minutes. I eventually got home at 00:25; 2 hours and 10 minutes later than planned. I imagine this had something to do with the less than stellar performance during my driving test, which I booked (with an hour of practise beforehand) for 10:14 the next morning. 6 hours of sleep does not a fantastic driver make!

I had my first pitch black cycle home last night. Luckily, I was following my friend, as my front light is far too weak, and I could barely see a thing – very disconcerting on a 60mph A road! Luckily I’ve found a stronger one (I hope), which I ordered today. But wow, cycling on main roads in the dark is WEIRD. Everything looks so different! I think I might start running home instead ..

Talking of running, I did something a bit nuts this afternoon. I don’t know what came over me .. All I can say is that it seemed like a good idea at the time!

I’ve been thinking about Brighton, and my fundraising goal for Macmillan. I mean, so many people run marathons nowadays. A marathon might be a massive challenge and an amazing achievement (I don’t think anyone can argue with that), but I felt like I should be doing something MORE.

So I kind of entered this:

It takes place 6 weeks after Brighton, which (in theory) gives me time to recover, and build up again. Given that Brighton is going to be my first marathon, I completely accept that there’s no guarantee that I’ll manage this – or even complete Brighton. But I like a challenge.

So (I hope) .. I’ll be running both Brighton and Richmond Marathons for Macmillan next year. 2 marathons, 6 weeks. That’s my challenge, and raising money and awareness for Macmillan is my goal!

Here’s to the journey 🙂

Too much, too soon

I enjoyed the 10k on Sunday so much that I thought I’d gotten away with the lack of running I’d done in preparation. I got home, had lunch, went shopping, had a nap, pottered about for a bit and at the end of the day I went to bed with slightly achey legs – totally standard.

My body got me back on Monday.

I woke up with ridiculously stiff and sore quads. Mistake number one: I didn’t stretch OR foam roll when I got home. D’oh. I hobbled to work, but even though I took the train instead of cycling in, there’s a 2-mile downhill walk to the office on that end. And downhills are NOT your friend when you have sore quads.

I must have walked funny to compensate, because by the time I got home on Monday evening my quads AND shins were extremely painful. My quads were tight and aching (clearly overworked them), and my shins felt inflamed. Mistake number two: don’t race off-road when you haven’t run outside for nearly 6 weeks. It’s hard work at the best of times, but 2 gentle treadmill sessions just won’t cut it as ‘training’!

I worked from home yesterday, as I didn’t want to aggravate things with that steep 2-mile downhill walk. I rested, I stretched, and I applied anti-inflammatory gel. By the time I went to bed, I felt achy but better.

This morning, my quads were almost back to normal, but my shins still hurt when walking. Every time I moved my foot upwards (as during a calf stretch) I felt a sharp, shooting pain along my shins. It was worse on the bottom of my left shin, and the top of my right. I slowly made my way to the office, trying to take it easy, but the pain continued throughout the day.

The thing is, I skipped my 4 miler yesterday, and I had an ‘easy 3 miles’ on the plan for today. My brain was like ‘it’s only 3 miles – and an EASY 3! The quickest, easiest workout you’ll have all week!’ And I’ll admit, I took my gym stuff to the office with me with the intention of stopping at the gym on the way home.

I know, the worst thing to do when injured is to run – but I reeeally wanted to. And I figured that if I had my gym stuff with me, I at least had the choice – if I felt better I could go, and if I felt worse I could head straight home for some more RICE action.

Well, I went to the gym. My shins still hurt on the way there, but it was more of a dull throbbing pain. Perfectly manageable ignore-able. I got on the treadmill, and slowly began to jog.

Here’s the shocker – for the entire time that I was running, there was NO PAIN. Absolutely none. My lungs, on the other hand, weren’t happy – the gym was SO hot and stuffy, and I found it really hard to catch my breath. I also made the mistake of leaving my water in the changing room. I figured that I didn’t need water for a little 3 miler – but it turns out that in a hot stuffy gym I could do with some water for anything over a mile! Whoops!

But despite hating every single second, and sweating ten times my body weight, I finished my 3 miles. It wasn’t as easy as it was supposed to be, but it felt great afterwards – and my legs feel ten times better now that I’ve warmed down and stretched properly.

Recovery run was a total win 😀

Small victories

The Runners’ World ‘Quote of the Day’ that landed in my inbox this morning made me smile:

Acknowledge all of your small victories. They will eventually add up to something great.” – Kara Goucher

Yesterday’s PB might have only been 1 second below my target time, and less than a minute below my old PB, but it was still a victory. The same goes for my 5k PB – 1 second below my target time, and less than a minute below my old PB.

But bit by bit, these little achievements will lead to bigger and better things 🙂

Race Review: Bushy Park 10k 2013

As I mentioned previously, Bushy Park was my first ever 10k race (and, until today, the only one!) My previous time was 1:02:49, and today I reeeally wanted to get under 1:02:00, as I’m trying really hard to push for a 9:xx pace.

I got up at 7, and it was dark, windy, and raining heavily. I would have LOVED to have gone straight back to bed. Instead, I had some toast and peanut butter, grabbed some water (with a citrus Zero hydration tablet, yum) and got into my running gear. By the time we left at 7:45, it was still dark. And cold. And windy. And rainy. I was starting to regret the whole thing, if I’m honest!

We got to Bushy Park at about 9:15, and the rain was just beginning to ease off. It was still wet and muddy underfoot, with occasional showers, and it was a bit breezy – but the sun was trying to push through the clouds:

I’ll say one thing, Bushy Park is stunning. Absolutely stunning. And once the race started, the conditions were perfect; it was bright, sunny, and cool. Lovely. There were loads of deer and huge stags, too – we got very close at a couple of points on the course! One of the stags warned us off during the first half, making a loud noise that sounded a bit like a cow (I’m clearly an expert!)

I felt really strong for the first half. Admittedly, I’d forgotten just how tough it can be to run off-road, and my right ankle niggled a bit on the bumpy/muddy/uneven bits. But after about 3k I settled into a comfortable pace, and just enjoyed the scenery. This is the first race I’ve done where I haven’t worn a watch or my iPod, and I really enjoyed it. It took the pressure off, and meant that I simply ran at a pace that felt comfortable. I didn’t check my time at regular intervals, or fuss about how far off the next KM marker was – I just zoned out, and focused on my breathing, my footing, and the surroundings. Starting towards the back meant I was able to pass quite a few people, too, which worked as a bit of a boost!

Overtaking at the half way point

I kind of look like I’m playing a flute or something there. Or the piano, possibly? I have NO idea what my right hand was doing, in any case!

I also didn’t run with any drink this time round. Instead, I grabbed some water at half way (there was a water stop) and took the opportunity to walk for a few metres to break up the distance (not that the distance is all that far, but still), and to have a few sips without spilling it all over myself. This mainly worked – though I did end up with a load of water in my face, too. I had barely wiped it off when a huge, wet leaf fell off a tree and smacked me in the face. More water, yay!

I felt good until about 8k, and then my calves and quads began to feel the strain of the uneven ground. There was one part of the course that was on a tarmac path, up a slight hill, and we were running directly into a strong head wind and had the sun blazing down. On the first loop, this was lovely – a bit of warmth with a much needed breeze – but by this point I was beginning to get a bit tired so I struggled a little. I made a deal with myself NOT to walk though – and to help, I kept picking someone ahead of me to match my pace to, and keep up with. I did this right until the end, where I managed a sprint (ish) finish, before nearly falling on the (mildly alarmed) lady who was removing the timing chips from our shoes. Whoops.

What can I say? Standing on one leg doesn’t work when said leg is nackered! 😀

Despite that little incident, I made it, and got to pick up my shiny new medal and a chocolate bar! (Priorities, people).

My poor shoes 😦

I really loved this event. It was organised by Capital Runners, and went off without a hitch. Race numbers and instructions were posted out in advance, the course was clearly marked, and getting my timing chip barely took 5 seconds. They even had pots of safety pins, which was SUCH A HUGE WIN, as I could only find one at home .. The marshals were so lovely, too. They all smiled and clapped and offered encouragement, and all the supporters near the half way/finish point (same place) clapped and cheered for everyone. This makes me so happy!

To add to it all, in true Lucy style – as with my 5k earlier in the year – I beat my target time by a whole second, coming in at 1:01:59 😀

Hey, at least I’m consistent, right!? And that’s 50 seconds off my previous PB!

As a base line for my marathon training, I’m really chuffed with this. It’s a steady 10min/mile pace, which was comfortable to maintain, and gives me a predicted marathon time of 4:44:51. Obviously, the goal for Brighton is simply to finish – but anything under 5 hours would be awesome, and knowing that I have the ability to do that is great.

Today was a real confidence booster, and although I know that I probably could have done better had I trained more thoroughly, this is a starting point. And I’m excited for the journey ahead 😀