The Covid Angel

Yesterday I felt really down! I’d been looking forward to the Christmas break after a long term. Although we’ve been well supported locally, it’s felt harder than normal and certainly more tiring. Doing everything online and not having the same social contact takes it’s toll.

Today, however, was the last day of term and it was a good feeling heading for work, secure in the knowledge that there are now two weeks of rest and recuperation, putting aside the frustration around being back in Tier 3 and thus restricted on many fronts.

Leaving work tonight I went running. I swithered about a headtorch run in the woods but opted to head out the old road towards Kingswells. Just entering the village, I met a lady taking her bin in. She stopped me and said, ‘I know you’re running, but I’d like to gift you this.’

What a lovely gesture of Christmas kindness! Our very own Covid angel who is now home and decorating the Christmas tree. Thank you! Merry Christmas to you all. Celebrate it in whichever way you can.

A Moment of Madness?

Due to injury at the tail end of the year, I deferred my place in the 2020 London Marathon. Then COVID struck, the marathon was postponed, and a new date set for October 2020. I deferred as I hadn’t planned to run a marathon in 2019.

So, what on earth possessed me, when the e-mail dropped in this week offering a virtual marathon place to think this was a good idea?

Virtual Training Begins

It would be great if it really was virtual training. Sadly it’s not. I now need to do some serious hard work.

I’ve been training regularly for the last 5 weeks with a regular 30 miles per week, having signed up for a virtual training camp online. This was led by 3 amazing coaches (Nikki Humphrey, Melissa Johnson-White and Dani Filipek) and I trained ‘alongside’ a great group of women. It helped me find my mojo, build in some regular strength training, something I tend to neglect, and get back into a regular running routine.

Moving forward, my next steps are to incorporate higher mileage by steadily increasing my runs and adding in some more marathon specific pace workouts, although I don’t intend to target this pace on ‘race’ day.

I don’t have a marathon time target. I’m more thinking of enjoying the training, getting away for a day as I don’t want to run round the local streets and having a great day out somewhere I love, enjoying the challenge for what it is: FUN!

Long Runs

Today I figured I should up the long run and decided to try 15 miles. It went surprisingly well. I enjoyed my run, mainly on the trails and met lots of friendly faces from the local running community.

It might have been a little harder had I not spent so much time blethering. However, this may be the way the virtual marathon goes too and that’s all good! The current plan is to cover the distance in a leisurely manner, stop as and when I feel like it, and maybe even practise for the ultra that’s calling my name in the future by having a cuppa and a bit of cake along the way!

Wish me luck! I’ll keep you posted.

A weekend of running and the Metro Beach 10k

The marathon training’s going pretty well so I was looking forward to the Metro Beach 10k – it’s fast, flat, and usually by the time evening comes the wind along the prom has died down. This unfortunately was not the case last night …

My legs were tired from the weekend’s running. The long run has a nasty habit of hanging around in the background like a bad smell, so I opted to get it out of the way on Friday evening, heading up to Hazlehead on my own, and running solo 2 miles up the road, through Hazlehead, over to Countesswells, 4 loops of Kingshill, the hill at the other side and an extra bit on the flatter terrain before heading back home via Hazlehead once again. To say it was warm is somewhat of an understatement. On the upside though, the run was done. It was one of those character building efforts – what started off feeling easy ended up feeling rather tough.

Saturday saw me hit Aberdeen parkrun. To begin with I wasn’t sure whether my legs would be able to run at all so I opted to walk up round the bend on my warm up run. At this point I reasoned with my body and concluded that a slow shuffle may be an option, so did manage a warm up effort, then was most delighted to meet my sister which meant that we could run together, chat all the way around, and really not think about the miles that are Aberdeen parkrun. She’s getting better – the pace noticeably picked up on the home straight!

Aberdeen parkrun

Then on Sunday I’d contemplated a lie in but the body clock woke me in time to meet the Metro social gang. Once again, we hit the trails at Hazlehead and Countesswells for varying distances. I decided to opt out with Ali and do the 10 mile route (only one lap of Kingshill) as my legs were weary and didn’t fancy venturing around a second time. This also ensured that I’d have suficient time for my post run coffee at Cognito at the Cross before venturing up to Huntly to see Mum and Dad for lunch. Win win!

So, back to the 10k. I ran it last year (and have only just looked back at the diary to find I did it in 43:15). I don’t recall there being any wind then so hopefully that’s what I can attribute to the slowing this year. I went out with the intention of warming up for two miles. However, it was very windy, so I bailed and decided I’d just head out for a jolly and forget about the time. Anyone that knows me will also know that this was never truly going to be the case – the Metro vest was on so this does mean business.

The start was somewhat larger than previous years and everyone was ahead of the start line before having to move backwards. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt so hemmed in during a race! I think the last time was Paris Marathon where I was surrounded by tall people and couldn’t see a thing. Suffice to say, I was relieved when we set off and the crowd started to thin out a little.

The headwind along the upper prom was tough, but the legs were fresh at this point (surprisingly so). Before long the Stones marshals were reached and it was a sheer joy to hit the lower prom with no wind! What a blast it was running freely along here, probably why it felt all the harder when we reached the Footdee turn and hit the headwind again!

The second stretch along the upper prom from Footdee all the way to the Stones was brutal! I honestly felt like I was going backwards (and in terms of time I was). However, as with elsewhere on the course it was lovely to hear shouts of support from the marshals (Bryan, the FLJs/Metros) and other friends and clubmates. By this point I think the best you got was a grimace, so please know that your support truly was appreciated!

The final stretch along the lower prom to the finish was again wind free and it was here that I was able to truly relax and enjoy the run. I was delighted to be feeling strong, both in mind and body, and very happy to complete the run in a time of 43:49. I went in with no idea of where I was at and ran faster than I have in any training session to date – so far the marathon training has focused on Endurance and Lactate Threshold. The next part is Race Preparation – wish me luck!

A little addendum: many thanks to everyone that supported our cause last night by buying fudge. Much appreciated! Alongside my work colleagues, you’ve supported me in banking £100 for our charities!

White Chocolate Fudge for Metro Coast to Coast Fundraising

Should anyone wish to donate further, please visit our Total Giving page:https://www.totalgiving.co.uk/mypage/metrocoast2coast

Volunteering (and a lack of motivation!)

Happiest outdoors or not, having volunteered at Stonehaven parkrun this morning I was somewhat frozen and lacking any motivation to go running outdoors this afternoon so headed inside for the ‘dreadmill’ instead.

I’ve been struggling to find the motivation to run of late. Darkness and cold are not great motivators and today’s session has been hanging over me like a dark cloud of dread, knowing my fitness is not where it once was, and having a lactate threshold session to address. In the end I was pleasantly surprised to find that although the session was hard it was doable having re-evaluated my training paces. There may be hope for me yet!

Yoga has been going well and I’ve succeeded in keeping my daily practice going for 13 days so far. Give me daily yoga over a run streak any day!

Back to the volunteering …

Having enjoyed my run at Stonehaven last week I had offered my services to volunteer this week and was given the role of Timekeeper. In my experience timekeeping is one of the more challenging roles to fill at parkrun. People are scared they may mess it up and this is why most parkruns have two timekeepers. Ultimately it’s a free run and there are far worse things that can happen in life – there’s always next week! Oh, and the timers are very visual and remarkably easy to operate.

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An impressive amount of first timers showed up for the Briefing 👍 Stonehaven are keen to encourage both walkers and runners to join them on Saturday mornings.

All went smoothly today and I was fortunate in having the joy of chatting to fellow volunteers, Alison and Alex, throughout. It’s amazing how time passes when you’re having a good blether. Alison was the smiley marshal from the top of the hill last week and is frustratingly injured at present, so I wish her a speedy recovery back to full strength.

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One of the lovely thing about a multi-lap course is the opportunity to cheer the runners as they pass 👏

Onwards, Terryanne’s Cafe at the Bowling Club saw us warmed up with coffee and chat, always a great finish to parkrun.

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The finish line gathering

If you’ve ever fancied trying parkrun please give it a go! The sense of community and friendliness has been evident at each of the runs I’ve done and it’s something special to be part of this truly amazing community.