Dark Scary Cold Dark 2014

I suddenly realised – blog!! I’ve been busily reading other blogs and planning next year’s events that I completely forgot to ramble on senselessly on my blog. It’s been dark, scary, cold and did I mention it’s downright dark in the evenings? I’ll soon pick up the nerve to get out running in the evenings but at the moment the dark scary cold is proving to be a deterrent.

Are you sitting comfortably?

Since Stort 30 I’ve completed the once every 10 years Stevenage Marathon and the LDWA Shillington Shuffle. Both events came with lashings of rain haha!! Not unexpected for this time of year I suppose.

The Stevenage Marathon was a two lap course of the half marathon route. I was prepared for a cold run and was running light again. All I had was my water bottle filled with electrolytes and my Nathan waist pack filled with Cliff shot bloks, my mobile, car key and rain poncho. Parking was a good 5-10 minute walk away but I had loads of time to get myself ready and hand in my bag of clothes to get changed into after the run. At that point the day was cold and cloudy with a forecast risk of rain later in the afternoon so I was prepared to get wet at some point. Little did I know it was going to be a thorough soaking throughout most of the first half of the marathon. 20 minutes before the start and I head out from registration to walk to the start. There’s a little drizzle of rain starting so I shelter by the school entrance for a few minutes. Good thing I did. Just as I reach the school entrance the rain starts hammering down. Less than 10 seconds out in that kind of rain and you’re soaked. People still heading to registration looked thoroughly soaked before they’ve even picked up their number!! It was Poncho time!! Yes I felt a bit smug as I headed out to the start line impervious to the drenching rain. The only things getting wet are my hands and feet. I love my poncho, my poncho keeps me warm and dry! The rain eases off for the start of the race but moments later its torrential rain again. This carried on for most of the day. The last two hours of the marathon for me were dry but cold due to the thorough soaking from sweat I was experiencing and my legs being utterly soaked from the torrential rain but thankfully my feet were relatively unscathed considering they were soaked by mile 5. Apart from the weather this marathon was full of twists, turns, bridges and underpasses. A good view of the lake and open park but very little interesting scenery running through housing estates and industrial estates. The almost constant up, down, up, down hills gave me what felt like loads of time walking uphill but I did try my hardest to run everything else. I didn’t push myself at all for this one and took everything at a very easy pace. The resulting time was a bit of a surprise – 5 hours 8 minutes. I was expecting closer to 6 hours due to the pace I had chosen. Hmmmmm – regular 5k lunch time running is going to be a must from now on.

LDWA Shillington Shuffle. Oh what a fun that day was. I always enjoy having company on a run. If someone is faster than me I’ll happily send them on ahead so they can carry on at their own pace but today I wasn’t slow or fast. I had company and it was thoroughly entertaining. For an event like this I would usually start with how beautiful the views were but there was thick fog that only gave us 100 or so meters to see. Not far from the start there’s a big climb onto a ridge of hills. Well, all we saw was fog, more fog, a bit more fog and some lovely views of fog covered with fog. Running through open fields surrounded by fog gave a sense of complete isolation. Usually there would be views of runners/walkers up ahead or trailing behind but today – nothing but a big fluffy wall of white! Emma and Claire were taking turns using the etrex or reading the route instructions. I was happily following them or following my own etrex and occasionally following the obvious trail shoe prints in the mud.

Selfie compliments of Emma
Selfie compliments of Emma

The checkpoints were fantastically awesome as most LDWA checkpoints usually are. Sandwiches, cakes, biscuits, wraps, jelly, cold drinks, hot drinks and even soup!! Not once did I dip into my own supply of gels and after having a tea with 2 sugars at each checkpoint I felt superb! After leaving the Stondon checkpoint at around mile 17 it started to drizzle. Oh dear!! I started to get out my poncho to have it ready for if the weather decided to get really wet. Yup! It decided to get us as soaked as possible. Sideways rain whilst in the middle of a field. I was ready for it, poncho already on before the wind picked up. Emma’s rain coat didn’t quite cover her bag so she had my spare poncho and Claire was sporting some odd looking shapes in her rain coat! For some reason we were all in very good spirits. Still laughing and joking and most importantly still moving a good pace. The only thing slowing us down was the unbelievably thick, slippery mud encountered when trying to cross fields.
Did someone order mud?
Did someone order mud?

The heavy rain adding to the slip and slide fun. This carried on up to the last mile or two before the finish. Just as the light is starting to fade and we’re now running mainly on paths or road. At this point I’m running through as many puddles as I can find to clear as much mud as possible from my trail shoes. It works really well. Emma and Claire’s shoes were still caked with mud by the time we finish and it looked like I had changed my trail shoes just around the corner from the finish. This event was loads of fun with great company.
Emma selfie compliments again.  BIG THANK YOU x
Emma selfie compliments again. BIG THANK YOU x

The only odd thing about it was the fact that I felt like I could quite happily run it all again. Sure my feet were feeling a little battered but it felt like I was stopping at halfway. It was a very weird feeling. Roll on next year for the Sundon Saunter and the chance to get the triple challenge badge. Oh yes!!

So what else have I been up to?

Regular lunch time 5k running. A mixture of just 5k – 5k with two short sprints after 1 mile, 5k with hill sprints in the middle and 5k with a workout in the middle comprising of side jumps, burpees and more! All of these 5k runs have a limited max heart rate. I need to go fast but only as fast as my set maximum heart rate will allow. To begin with this proved to be incredibly frustrating. Within moments of starting my heart rate was soaring and I had to slow everything down. Recently it’s been a completely different story. I’m starting to feel when I’m close to my heart rate maximum and I’m automatically slowing down before the alarm goes off on the watch. I’ve seen my pace increase from 10 minute miles to a consistent 9:30 minute miles. When my pace reaches a consistent 9:00 minute miles I’ll reduce my maximum heart rate setting and see how I get on again. I’ve seen improvement every week and that’s the only thing that’s keeping me going at the moment. Why? It’s getting boring! The same views, the same path, the same hill, the same equipment, the same time and so on….. However, I feel great afterwards, I feel refreshed, I feel stronger and I’m definitely getting quicker. So I’m treating these lunchtime runs as a kind of ultra training. Even though it’s incredibly mind numbing I’m going to keep at it to get stronger. Oh, and I’ve started up My Fitness Pal again. Just so I can see that I’m eating enough calories rather than cutting out as much as I can. If you want to join in or cheer me on it’s the usual Hels205.

Well, I’ve rambled on enough. You can go now but a cup of tea would be nice before you leave. No? Ah well, until next time.

Happy running

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