Longleat 10k – Longleat, Wiltshire: Race Review
Date: 7th February 2016
Start Time: 9am
Course, surface and environment: Chip timed multi-lap through the stunning Longleat estate in dampest, stormiest Wiltshire. Catering is one table, roughly halfway, with bottled water.
Ins and outs: The safari park and attractions were open, due to the Chinese New Year celebrations the previous evening, but were pretty quiet, due to Storm Imogen passing over the night before. Leading to damp and twig-strewn conditions.
Atmosphere: A bit chaotic, without the inflatable start gate as the organisers had been unable to set up the night before, due to the storm. But we all went off, after a shorty delay to allow those in the traffic queue to get parked up and make their way to the start line in front of the spectacular Longleat House.
Runners: smallish, typical of the event at around 250-300
Goodie Bag: TBC, they’d run out by the time I finished but took my race number and offered to post one to me, which was sweet of them. I heard rumours of chocolate from the other runners, so I’m looking forward to finding out (who gets chocolate in the post anymore?!?).
Bling: It’s all about the bling – the coveted Lion’s Head medal on a blue ribbon
Roundie performance: slow and steady with some walking on the steepest hill (all but the super-fit walked as it was basically a 1 in 5 steepening to a 1 in 3 climb), faster than expected but slow for me. Overall – relieved to do as well as I did after a week of horrendous lactic acid poisoning
What the Bear got up to: Cheering on the runners, taking lots of photos of the gorgeous Chinese New Year decorations and generally thinking about brunch
What I learnt: Lactic acid poisoning exists and gives you the most rotten tummy for a week, but you do recover and can run again if you just rest enough and drink enough water.
Ostriches will chase you and hiss like snakes, even if you’re just running alongside their field on the opposite side of a fence. This is because they are big, angry, territorial pinheads. Very funny.
Happy Chinese New Year – have a great year of the Monkey
Winter Holly Challenge – Telford, Race Review
Date: 30th January 2016
Start Time: a Civilised 10am
Course, surface and environment: Multi-lap through the glorious Shropshire countryside with a card which they punch as you go through the start/finish area, 16 laps for a half marathon, with a bell to ring to announce that you’re starting your last lap. You do your own timing (everyone has a Garmin or similar these days it seems) and they lay on the route and the catering, simple.
Ins and outs: Hot drinks available to buy whilst you’re hanging around, one portaloo, with paper and hand sanitiser, fine for the number of runners (just flush before and after using don’t look down the hole)
Atmosphere: jolly and friendly. It was damp and chilly at the start
Runners: a small field, not more than fifty, marathon and half marathon runners together. A jolly bunch, very friendly, simply too many nice people to list who offered encouragement as they streamed past me but the Kenilworth and Shabba club runners were very quick to say “well done lady” and “keep going, you’re doing great”. I’ve done a few races now and I have to say that the supportive atmosphere really helps to keep you going. Especially when you’re hurting and actually just fancy having a good cry. Really great atmosphere.
Goodie Bag: Two 9Bars: pumpkin and carob (hungrily munched) and a bag of chocolate coins
Bling: It’s all about the bling – a huge, good quality custom medal with Holly Challenge on it, depicting a barbecue and some beers, with http://www.codrc.co.uk black ribbon
Roundie performance: slow and steady with plenty of “training needs” identified
What the Bear got up to: my other half is a people person, friendly and sweet natured and loves a good giggle. So he ended up helping with the marshalling by clicking the cards and cheering the runners on by name.
What I learnt: I really love the smaller, local, friendly races in the countryside. A jolly and supportive atmosphere makes the race and the complete absence of negatrons (negative runners with misery guts attitudes) meant that this was a cheering and life enriching experience.
Hello dear reader! Did you run this last week? I did! After last week’s rude awakening I have done better this past week. As my blog posted (thanks automatic scheduler) I was at the gym doing some speed training and I’ve been back to the gym for my long slow run since too.
I cannot emphasise enough how slow I am though. Tectonic slow. Growing out a bad haircut slow. But slow is good, safe, done. When you’re heavy it’s really easy to get injured and it takes a long time to get back to training, by which point you can have put on a whole stack of weight, thus exacerbating the problem. So slow is good. Slow means I get to come back and do it again this week. Consistency builds momentum and momentum is really good.
But I did half an hour of speed work and a whole lot of stretching on Monday night and felt a lot better for it. Which brings me to the whole concept of stretching.
Stretch yourself. Doesn’t it feel good? Just a little bit? When you get out of bed, out of a chair, away from your desk? Give yourself a once over and really stretch. Give your toes a wiggle, and your ankles. Work your way up from there. Oh go on, nobody is looking, I promise. Or try the clench and release. Apart from anything else, giving your buttocks a good hard squeeze and then releasing them is fun. Try it in meetings, on the bus, waiting for the kettle to boil. Trust me. Clench and release. It gets the blood moving, and the lymph, whose sole purpose seems to be to rid the body of all the crap we pump into it. Go on. Stretch and squeeze everything. It doesn’t matter if you can’t touch your toes or even your nose. It will feel good and do you good. And it will make you so much more flexible and relaxed if you keep at it. And its’ free. So that’s got to be worth a little try.
Next weekend I’m going to run my first half marathon of 2016. Madness, I know, but I’m a sucker for a medal and it will be my 40th career half, so a huge milestone. I’m very excited. Of course, this may not happen if my car fails its MOT for a second time. So I shall be praying to the automotive Gods for good fortune and friendly mechanics. Maybe sacrificing a biscuit or a cup of tea in the process. I’m not sure. After that. Running 13.1 miles will hardly be a stretch at all.
Big love to you in your running. And in case you’re wondering why a fattish woman of advanced years runs long distances in the pouring rain, well, this is why:
Basically it’s for love.
Have a great week and stretch already!
They say that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. This last week I’ve let myself down and let you down, dear reader. I started the week with such good intentions, but running didn’t happen.
On Tuesday night, instead of running, I staggered home at the end of a long day and slumped on the couch, done in. I was in bed by 9pm. Thursday night it was after-work drinks. Not that late, I left the bar at 8.30pm, but because of that I didn’t get home until 10.30pm, in bed by 11.30. Sunday, I got up at 8am, but was still tired, and spent an exhausted day trying to figure out where my energy had gone. By 4pm it was obvious that I wasn’t going to the gym.
So where does this leave my running? How can I be “the little round runner” if I don’t run? I thought about covering my ass and talking about kit or food or something. But if I’m going to be honest and deserve my successes, then I’ve got to be honest about how I got there.
My new job means I get up at 5.30am and get home at 7pm at the earliest, five days a week. I didn’t realise how knackering that was going to be. I underestimated how much rest I was going to need and just couldn’t get off my ass to drive to the gym… I just didn’t get what I needed in order to train. I have to learn from this week and take better care of myself. This week’s goal is to get 7 hours sleep a night and go to the gym after work. It doesn’t matter what I do there, just that I can prove to myself that I can get there.
This isn’t quitting, you haven’t failed until you stop trying. You just have to have enough reasons to keep trying. So here it is…
Reasons to keep trying number 1
Whether I run or not this week, I’m going to keep trying. What you do or don’t do is up to you. Hopefully see you soon.
Well this is the thing, I’ve started something, so I might as well go on as I meant when I started.
I trained properly for the first time since Christmas yesterday, naturally paying close attention to my diet (Christmas cake for breakfast AGAIN), and to training hard.
Actually the goal of the first training session of the year is simply to do it. To do something, anything, just to break free of the couch’s fatally stagnating embrace and DO something.
So I got off the couch, squeezed myself into my now bulging running kit and went to the gym. I cycled, I ran a hilly programme, I stretched.
Then I sat in a sauna too jammed with strangers, all squeezed together on wooden benches clenching for our lives, lest sweaty buttock might brush sweaty stranger buttock. Harrowing. But the point is that there was no expectation of glory, just the requirement to point myself in the right direction and take a step, so that tomorrow it isn’t the first session any more, tomorrow I’m “in training”. It wasn’t glamorous or spectacular, but it was a start.
The glory of it is that I did something and that I’m going to do something at least twice more this week. And that’s got to be worth something.
Next time: I’ll be wrestling with the advantages of breaking with the old and carrying on with the new, offering some tips on maintaining your motivation, and of course I’ll let you know if we’re still eating Christmas cake for breakfast (fingers crossed we’re not).
See you next week, happy running!
Welcome to the very first Little Round Runner blog post. This is for you if you’ve ever run, wanted to run, or realised that you haven’t broken into a run since you left school. All the fun of running without the chafing.
Why “The Little Round Runner”? Well, I don’t look like Paula Radcliffe. I’m a short, round, middle aged runner who eats cheese and drinks red wine. I expand noticeably over Christmas and during barbecue season. But I adore running, absolutely love it. To date I’ve run thirty nine half marathons and four full marathons, on road, off road and, periodically, in fancy dress.
I started this blog to share my experiences of running in middle age with short, chubby legs, and a wobbly waistline in the hope of helping my friends and family to understand why I took it up (aged 39 3/4), why I keep doing it, and why I love running so very much.
I plan to post weekly, on a Monday (or thereabouts) with tips, reviews, and plenty of pictures, the odd cocktail recipe and potentially embarrassing revelations for your entertainment.
My goal is to make you laugh and to share the love. After all, love (and a really good sports bra), is all you need.
P.S. Here’s a pic taken after my very first race, the Bath Half, in March 2012