Rain, wind, hills and a gorgeous sunset

So a friend and I thought it’d be an awesome idea to head to Virginia Water for a scenic run after work yesterday. Given the weather we’ve had recently, we originally planned to have a bit of a picnic afterwards .. But England had other ideas, and rain was forecast on and off from 1pm.

We decided to go anyway.

We slightly regretted our plan on our way there, stuck in traffic as the heavens opened. But we told ourselves it was just a shower, and besides, after sitting in traffic (and getting lost), we figured we’d invested too much time to bail!

When we got there, the skies had cleared and the lake looked beautiful:

vw1We headed out for our first loop (the plan was originally to try for 2 loops at just over 4 miles each, but we decided to just see how we felt once we got there). We got about 2/3 of the way round before the sky turned an ominous grey and the drizzle began, but we agreed to suck it up and keep going. Think positive thoughts, right?

vwrain1To begin with, the rain was quite refreshing, and the breeze was at our backs so we almost welcomed it. The scenery was gorgeous, and the terrain (for us at least) was challenging and varied enough to keep us distracted. It was a mixture of smooth tarmac, off-road sections, and quite a few short, sharp hills. When I started to walk up one of the nastier ones, my friend ran past with a ‘F*ck this hill! WHO’S THE BOSS!?’ so I got myself moving again. After all, you only feel like throwing up until you get to the top – and the downhills were awesomely fun.

When we got to the end of the first loop, we hid under the shelter for a few minutes to regroup and look out at the torrential rain. The wind had picked up by this point, and we were getting pretty cold – and being soaking wet and shivering, it didn’t seem quite so fun any more.

vwrain2We discussed the merits of heading back to the car to blast the heater and eat sandwiches and chocolate chip muffins (the muffins very nearly decided for us), but instead of bailing, we headed back out – into the rain, and the headwind, and over the stupid hills. (I think the general consensus was ‘Oh sod it, we’re not going to get any wetter’).

In the end, we hit a full 10k, and were rewarded with a beautiful sunset as the rain eased off again:

sunset1

vwsunsetfinalI guess the lesson we took away from that run was that it’s always worth pushing just a little bit further. Pushing through the rain, the cold, the aching legs, the burning lungs, and the little voice in the back of your head … and coming out the other side.

Because at the end of the day, there’s nothing worse than giving up, looking back and thinking – ‘I could have done more.’

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A parkrun newbie!

As all of us runners know, it’s more fun with company. Unless you’re having a really tough, grumpy run (or is that just me!?), in which case all you want to do is pop in your headphones and tune out everything else. Because I haven’t had any of those types of runs recently, I’ve been working on getting my boyfriend to start running with me.

When he went out and tried his first ever 5k and finished with an average pace only 10s/mile off my PB, I started to wonder whether it was actually a good idea to encourage him – but then I reminded myself that I’m a long distance (read: slow) runner, and he’s a short distance (read: fast) runner, so it was totally ok. Besides, given that I got him running in the first place, I’m pretty sure that I can claim some of the credit for any awesome PBs he gets. Right?

Today, I convinced him to get up and join me for parkrun. Guildford parkrun is a fairly undulating course, and as he’s been training on mostly flat ground (and not for very long), I suggested he take it easy on the first loop and pick it up for the second loop if he was feeling up to it. I’ll admit, I was still a bit tired from swimming yesterday so I was hoping he would struggle on the hills and stick to my pace (I guess my supportive side vanishes when it comes to races ..). Unfortunately for me, he disappeared off into the distance before we even reached half way!

I tried to keep up with him, but by about 3.5-4k my calf had tightened up and was twinging on the hills, so I had to stop and stretch it out. A bit frustrating, but as I wasn’t going for a PB (my current parkrun PB is at Barnstaple, as the course is much flatter!) I didn’t let it bother me too much.

I crossed the line in just over 32 minutes, and realised that James was going to be veeery close to his sub-10:00/mile goal pace. Unluckily for him, he’d forgotten his Garmin, so we had to wait for the official results to find out if he’d managed it. When they came through, we realised that for his first ever official 5k – and his first ever hilly run – he managed to beat my Guildford course PB by nearly 20 seconds:

resparkrun

Given that it took me a good few tries to average sub-10:00 miles, I’m really excited that he managed on his first go – and I’m interested to see how much faster he can get! Besides, he’s still a way off my overall 5k PB of 29:59 .. Once he gets closer to 30:00 I’ll start to worry. Or, yknow, do some speed work – but I hope to avoid that for as long as possible!

1stparkrun

For now, I’m just excited to have a parkrun partner! And on the plus side, running with someone faster is a good way to push my own pace 😀