Learning a lesson

So, on Monday I had a race planned with my dad. He has been going to parkrun for a few years now, and used to run further when he was younger. He mentioned to me that he was keen to try a longer distance- perhaps a 10k this year, and work up to a half marathon if his knee was OK. A 5 mile trail race popped up on a facebook running group, and so I mentioned it to him, as so far all the races I have sent his way has been while he is away with work or on holiday. So we both signed up and I was really looking forward to it. I knew we would not run together but running the same race is always a good experience.

Photos taken at the event were put on a free flickr site and people were encouraged to download them- how fantastic is that??

Now, the night before my hip was very stiff so I did think I might just go along and spectate, but I would see how I felt in the morning. When I got up, I was OK- not 100%, but better, so I thought I would give it a go and could always turn back. The rain was hammering down, so I had packed a change of clothes for the journey home. I checked their facebook page and it said they were out inspecting the course but at that point it was still on- I like it when things like that are posted so you don’t have to make a wasted journey. Dad picked me up and despite the rain we were both looking forward to it. The M25 was closed so we ended up taking a different route, but still got there in plenty of time. We had to park in the town centre and walk a little way, and my hip had stiffened up in the car. I thought it might be OK so we walked slowly to the clubhouse, race HQ. Luckily the rain stopped as we came off the motorway- I think as the storm was moving east and the run was to the west we had managed to pass it.

These are the best races- just collect your number on the day, fill in the back, put your chip around your ankle (and hope it stays on), leave your bag right there, and head outside to the start.

I think there were 400 people doing it- I told Dad I would start right at the back, and had told him earlier that I like 5 mile events, partly because “they are done in an hour”… We agreed to meet back at the club house, whether I finished or not. Anyway, we were off, and I even got briefly overtaken by the tail runner. My hip was OK- I wanted to let it warm up so I started slowly, telling myself I would turn back if it got worse.  The rain held off but the wind was cold, and I was glad of my long sleeved top. I was also not convinced that my number would stay on because the wind was really making it flap about all over the place.

Tail runner behind me, gloves on and tissues at the ready as my cold had come back too.

The race was in a lovely setting- one 5 mile loop of a country estate- very muddy, with loads of marshals everywhere. It was undulating, but only one short steep uphill, loads of big puddles to avoid (or splash through, if you are that way inclined), it went through woods, fields, past a lake. Despite the soreness in my hip getting worse, I enjoyed it. It was not really the type of race that you could turn back- by mile 4 I knew I had made the wrong decision, but by then it was either walk or run back. The photographer was right by a huge puddle at the 4 mile marker and I joked to him that he was there just in case people fell over.

(One of the front runners going right though the middle)

By this time my watch was getting close to the hour mark, and I was hoping I would not be too slow as I didn’t want to worry Dad. The terrain, although soft underfoot, was very uneven, and often I slowed to a walk anyway to avoid the puddles or mis-stepping as I didn’t want to jar my legs further.

Dad’s taking the less muddy option!

Still smiling! I did really love the race, even though I know I chose the wrong option.

I do think it was a great race, but I was glad to see the finish line. The sun had even started to come out by then.

The marshals were brilliant- as I was coming to the finish lots of them had headed back from their posts and they all cheered me on which was lovely- there was only a handful of people behind me so it was nice to see support for the whole length of the race. I was given a bottle of water, the medal (which is lovely, sort of old fashioned but in a good way) and a mars bar.

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I walked back to the HQ and met up with Dad, who had really enjoyed himself, although he was starting to worry (it took me 68 minutes so it was my slowest ever by a long way). I put on my jumper (Totoro!) and we of course had the obligatory medal photo. Luckily no need to change clothes, but we could have done if needed- there were real toilet cubicles and by the time I was there it was emptying out.

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The walk back to the car was not as good- I was really limping then and knew it was the wrong decision to have run. It really stiffened up in the car, and so I really did pay the price for my bad choice. We went out for dinner with my parents in the evening, and I was walking so slowly then. It has slowly been getting better, but it’s not good. My back is still sore, as are my left ribs, and the bruise on my hip (which I found later on Sunday evening after the Welwyn half) is now paler in colour but still huge. Andy found me this article about hip flexors, which seems to most closely describe what I have- I can’t touch my toes on my left foot as my hip has locked so much, and I have booked a GP appointment as it is similar to what happened to me on and off a few years ago. I don’t think it is linked to overuse because last year I had zero problems, and trained for a marathon. My mileage is nowhere near as high now- I think more likely is that when I fell I have bruised my back, and so then the muscles all tense up, putting pressure elsewhere. But I would like to find out for sure so if there is something I can do to prevent it happening again I can do that.

Anyway, lesson learnt: No running if my hips are not 100%. I’ve rested this week and I am signed up to do the new runner briefing at parkrun (which means I can run after) but I am going to just do that and then watch/ help out around the finish if needed until my dad and brother finish. I promise. I’m going to wear jeans so I am not even tempted!

How was your Bank Holiday? Did you avoid the storm? Our “Sold” sign blew off the fence but luckily avoided any cars!

Hot cross bun time!

I hope you are all enjoying the 4 day weekend. On Friday I took part in a virtual run organised by some girls from the club- they are raising money for a charity for their London marathon places, and one of the events they did was this virtual run. They were running 22 miles, and so they had posted the route online and people could join them for part of their run, or meet them at various points to cheer them on/ give them jelly beans, or just see them at the end. I had not run since the half marathon- not even on our playground jogs at work as my back and ribs were still sore. But on Friday I felt a bit better so went for a very slow run. I had planned to meet them by the fields, and would run out and back. I was there a bit early and initially ran out onto the fields but a dog off a lead saw me head back to the road! I did some squats and jogged on the spot to keep warm, as it was rather chilly.

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I took some photos too as it was a gorgeous day.

The sight of a huge group of runners was fantastic to see- lots of people had turned out to run the first part with them, and I did feel tempted to carry on but I knew I had to be sensible. By the time I got home I had been out for an hour, but had run 4 miles. Not bad I thought, and other than being cold I felt fine.

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Then it was time for hot cross buns for breakfast.

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(Don’t worry, we didn’t eat them all at once!)

As it was the best day, weather wise, we headed into London and ended up walking for miles. We got off the tube at Camden, walked up Primrose Hill for lovely views across London.

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Back down the hill, through Regents Park, along Oxford Street, stopped at Leon for some lunch. Carried on to Hyde Park, and then finally to Leicester Square where we got back on the tube to come home. We were shattered after that!

On Saturday both my dad and brother were going to parkrun- my brother has been ill so has not run for ages. As me and Dad were doing (hopefully) a run on Easter Monday we were all taking it easy. I enjoyed it although my back and ribs were still sore on the steep hills, and I felt I was being extra cautious with foot placement to avoid falling. I finished with a slow time (for me), but second in my age category- normally I am around 4th. It was the joint biggest turnout with 318 people, so it was weird to be higher up in the placings.

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I was excited that a parcel from Bluebird tea had turned up- last year I won some of their hot cross bun tea, and when we were down in Brighton I had a look but their Easter teas weren’t in the store at that point. It’s rooibos+ black tea with spices and citrus peel- so delicious. We had treated ourselves to some Hotel Chocolat hot cross bun chocolates too- notice a theme?

Anyway, after parkrun I had some work to do (this is not unusual) but when I got up my hip was so stiff. Walking was a challenge and later I hobbled around Sainsbury’s. It was still stiff on Sunday, although a bit better, so I started to think about watching instead of running the 5 mile race on Monday, which did make me feel very fed up. But that’s for another post.

Are you a hot cross bun fan?  Did you have a good weekend?

Parkrun graduation!

Last Saturday it was graduation day for some of our new runners- doing their first 5k. It also coincided with another local running club doing the same thing. As it fell the day  before the Welwyn half, I had already offered to marshall as I didn’t think running before would be the best idea- I can get a bit carried away.

Here is what happened in the style of The Smartest Giant in Town:

I confused a dog with my hat like a frog.

I used a stick to give dog poo a flick.

I chatted with my friend as people ran around the bend.

I gave a cheer each time a runner came near.

But look me up and down, I’m the happiest marshal in town.

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That’s our OH ladies flag next to the finish line.

Here’s the longer version.

After finding out my marshal spot (at the 4km mark) I left my dad in the car and walked down the hill just as the runners were setting off. It was colder than I thought, and was glad I had packed my Kermit hat. I had my OH hoodie on but actually needed my coat as I was in the shade too.

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As I walked down I passed a lady walking two dogs. One of them stopped in it’s tracks and stared at me- it looked so confused- “I think it’s your hat” she told me- probably the eyes!

Once in my spot I noticed a huge pile of dog mess right in the middle of the path. No runner wants to tread (or worse, slip) on that as they come around the bend, so I got a big stick and managed to flick it (in many goes) away to the bushes. As I was doing this a guy ran past and asked me if I really was flicking poo. Yes, I replied- the glamorous life of a marshal!

I waited for a bit and soon one of my club mates came down (Louise who I ran with on Sunday)- she had helped with the pre-event set up, and her daughter was running. She wanted to try and take some photos of the graduating runners. We had a chat and cheered on runners as they went past. It’s a good spot as although you are there a long time, you get to be the one delivering the good news- less than 1 km to go, the finish line will soon be in sight. I did enjoy it although my voice was very hoarse when I finished!

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My dad laughed as he ran past as he hadn’t seen my hat before! We saw all the OH ladies and gave them a huge cheer- they were doing brilliantly- then Louise headed back to the finish.

Once the tail runner headed past, I started walking back up and could see the ladies at the top of the field having a chat. I had said I would see Dad in the car but he ended up running up from another field- there’s a bit for bird watching so he had walked down there, with a plan of finding me and walking back up with me, but the tail runner went by without him noticing so he missed the end!

(This was at the start- but they were all smiling at the end too!)


I do love marshalling- of course I love running it, but cheering on everyone else is good fun too and I love seeing the speedy front runners. It also surprises me every time just how many runners say thank you as they run past. I always try to, but it isn’t always easy. One child thanked both me and Kermit! The marshals even got a special mention in the run report as apparently lots of runners commented on the support and encouragement from the volunteers. Hopefully lots of them will be back! I do think that if it had been around when I started running it would have been far less stressful and intimidating than an actual race for your first 5K event, and I hope that it encourages more people to keep up with running  (or walking).

The rest of Saturday was spent having hot cross buns for breakfast, visiting my parents, going to the garden centre for supplies and digging up some plants to attempt to take them with us when we move.

It was fab- and that’s why parkrun is great- time outdoors, being active, being involved in a community- it’s not really even that much about the running.

Welwyn Half marathon- Lucky number 13?

So in the build up to this race I was feeling quite relaxed. I had raced my A race at Brighton and managed my sub 2. This was a fun race- lots of girls from the club were running it, lots more were marshalling, and I had free entry from marshalling at a triathlon back in the summer. I had no idea of what time I was aiming for, and just wanted to enjoy the route and enjoy the club event. I was hoping for around 2.15 but really I didn’t mind anything.

But there were signs it wasn’t going to be my day. I did some gardening on Saturday afternoon and my nose kept running- I thought it was down to being outside in the cold, but I kept sneezing and it wasn’t gone the next morning.

I woke up to also realise I had forgotten my pre-race ritual of painting my nails- I am not superstitious or anything like that, but I do like to do this the night before.

The race HQ was only a couple of miles away, and I did consider walk/running there, but in the end with my cold I knew I would not fancy the run or walk after running the half, so opted to drive. After getting to the HQ and picking up my number, first of all I filled out the back and both me and Louise (a club friend) were wondering why the numbers were so big, and did not know why there was another section at the bottom with name and contact number, when there were already spaces for them. It was only when we saw someone else that we realised the bottom was a strip to tear off to attach to your bag. Whoops.

Then we met up with some other club mates and I was looking around, and suddenly noticed that they all had timer tags on their trainers- where was mine? Yup, in the envelope, with massive writing on the front saying “timer chip enclosed”- I had to head back to the table and rummage around the envelopes to find mine. Dearie me, you would not think I had run 12 half marathons before this one would you?

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The race started on a track (with free kids races at 8.40am) so we had a quick team photo before the start. It was a low key event with around 600 entries. Some were doing their first ever half, others are training for the London marathon. I was going to run with Louise- she had run her first half marathon a few weeks ago but had a bit of trouble at the end so the plan was to run together and keep it steady and enjoy.

The route was good- we went off the track, along pavements on some residential streets, and after a few miles we were out in the countryside, along paths, alongside fields of horses, along an old railway line. The first and last 4 miles were the same- we saw the 10 marker facing the other way and tried not to think about how far we had to go before we would see it again! It was undulating with a few very short steep sections, but nothing really tough. It was cold though- I had originally planned on wearing just my vest but as I had a cold I decided to be sensible and keep my jacket with me. I think I only took it off with about 3 miles to go as the sun came out then.

The two of us ran together, chatting most of the way. It was great as so many Oh ladies were marshals so it seemed every time you went around another corner someone was shouting our names. There are also lots of photos from them coming onto our group facebook page.

At 11.25 miles I looked at my watch and said to Louise “once we get to 11.5 miles we can start thinking about the medal”- I spoke too soon because quite soon after that I fell over. I know I have fallen before when running, but it still takes me by surprise- suddenly the pavement is moving so fast towards your face. I really thudded and rolled onto the verge, and winded myself. I am so glad that Louise was with me- I think I would have cried when I looked at the blood. Amazingly her husband and daughter were on the marshal point only a few metres up the road, so after getting back up (and feeling dizzy and a bit sick from being winded) we walked up to them. They had some water so Louise rinsed my hands to try and get the worst out. Her husband did offer me a lift back but we were so close to the finish and I wanted to run- I was feeling OK once we set off again, although my hands were stinging like crazy and I was running in a strange way, trying to pick my feet up so as not to trip again.

As we came into the stadium I thought we had to do a lap of the track, so I held off a bit, but it turned out that we finished with only about a quarter of it, so it was nice to finish sooner than expected.

It was a low key event, (and it is only the second year of it) but the finish area was a bit of an anticlimax- you had to help yourself to your medal from a table, and then help yourself to water in a cup- Louise got me some and there were hardly any clean cups and very little water left. You could have got a print out, but I wanted to find someone to clean my injuries properly so I didn’t do that. Louise picked up my t-shirt for me too (the theme here is that I am very very glad that I ran with her).

Anyway, the paramedics made me sit in their car while they wiped my wounds (he did ask if I wanted to do it myself but I didn’t even like looking at them).

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Most of the girls had finished so we had a quick chat but it was freezing so I quickly headed inside to get my bag and put on my big jumper. I do like the medal.

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The ribbon says the year of the race. The green colour is fab, although it looks a bit festive.

I bought a cup of tea from the sports centre at HQ because there were no bottle of water or anything at the finish, and I hadn’t packed one as I thought there would be. Then I drove home. Let me tell you, steering and changing gear was very painful.

And here are the wound photos:

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They put a plaster on this one but it fell off- no idea where- gross!

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My hips, ribs and back are quite sore now too- I was pretty shaky when I got home and had a sit down and a cereal bar before I got up the nerve to shower- Andy was at football otherwise I would have asked him to help I think- shampoo in those wounds was not nice!

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I have been rehydrating like a champ since (I did have a nuun tab in water with my toast for breakfast)- another nuun tab, water, some maple water (Ocado stock it- how exciting!), tea, and then later I popped out to the shops to get some more plasters.

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I had a full Caffe Nero card so got a chai latte, and in the queue I noticed gingerbread filled muffins so I had one to get me through until dinner. So good.

So, chip time was 2.18.50 (and Louise did 2.18.51- we finished together too). I would definitely do that race again as it was so local, I liked the route and much less hilly than the St Albans one!

A long run and an epic cake!

So, last weekend after my parkrun pb I spent the afternoon pottering at home, having a walk and catching up on some work.

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The long run

On Sunday I finally broke out my new trainers- these were my parkrun Sweatshop prize from back in the summer- the same style that I was already wearing. Strava keeps reminding me that I have run over 500 miles in them (more like 600 I think) and for the last few long runs I have started to feel that my feet are aching a bit more, but I didn’t want to change them before Brighton just in case. The old ones were not too badly worn on the sole, although on the outside they are a bit, but I think it’s the padding inside that has slowly been flattened and they do feel much bouncier.

I had a 10 mile route planned, so although perhaps I should have started with a smaller distance, I thought it would give me a good idea for the half next weekend.

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It surprised me how faded my old ones look now!

I could not decide what to wear, and ended up in a t-shirt and long tights. I started off so cold- it was very misty and my hands were nearly numb, I was wishing I had brought my gloves. About 5 miles in I stopped to briefly text Andy as I had forgotten to get the hot cross buns out of the freezer (priorities!) and I got really cold only stood still for a minute or so. But later on the sun came out and by the end I was very warm and glad I had not opted for anything more.

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My post-run red face is returning and spring isn’t even here properly yet! I felt good though- it wasn’t my fastest long run by any stretch, but I felt like 2 weeks after Brighton I was back to normal and had not lost the endurance fitness in that time. I think 10 miles is the perfect training distance- done in under 2 hours but long enough to feel like I have earned a bit of a relaxing time after, and to have those post run endorphins going.

I had some orange slices and then a shower, and then we had a lovely breakfast of toasted hot cross buns and IKEA marmalade (with elderflower- it’s very nice), and of course tea.

Cake (the epic one)

Then I got to baking. I have not used the new CCC baking book as much as the old one, as the recipes are more complicated, and more like special occasion cakes than normal Sunday tea cakes. They had a peanut butter chocolate fudge cake in there, so this week I had bought the ingredients.

2016-03-13 12.44.26Basically it was a sort of red velvet cake batter, which is so much nicer than normal chocolate sponge which can be dry, with chunks of dark chocolate in the batter. Then you made a peanut butter filling and sprinkled that in the middle of each chocolate cake.

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The cakes ended up being huge! The recipe didn’t seem that much bigger than normal cake recipes for baking in 2 tins, but this was epic.

It was meant to have a chocolate fudge frosting with various ingredients including evaporated milk ( or condensed milk, I can’t remember) but I thought it would be way too rich. On Saturday I made some pumpkin cupcakes for work, and had bought some cream cheese for the frosting, so I made a vanilla cream cheese frosting instead, which complemented the chocolate instead of overpowering it I felt.

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It would not even fit in my biggest tub, so I had to cling film it and carry it while Andy drove (we went to his parents) and hoped that he took the corners nice and gently! It was good but oh so rich. And huge- we sent slices home with everyone as there was so much left over! One for special occasions I think.


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I was sent this Kalenji sports bra crop top to try out. I love how it looks- they had a few colours but I liked the grey/black/white combo. The shape of it is much nicer and more flattering than the shock absorber RUN bra I usually go for. It does say it is suitable for runners seeking comfort and support, and I would agree that it is very comfortable. However I would not try it for running. I wore it to a Body Pump class, as I need a sports bra but I don’t like ones with clips on the back of the neck as that is where the bar rests. We don’t do much leaping about (the only thing in this release is where you hold a plate and do squats and then lift the plate above your head- things wobble during that move!) so it is always good to try clothes out here before trying them running.  I would wear it again for Pump, and really like it for that, but even running from my car to the gym (it was so cold) I had to run with my arms in front as otherwise things were moving too much. I suppose partly it’s because of the size- I think I chose Medium, which isn’t very specific. I am not sure if I would find a smaller size more supportive, but I can’t see how it can fit properly when it is just a small/medium/large sizing. Anyway, I love how it looks and it has washed well so I will be using it for other sports, just not high impact.


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Last week on one evening run I went on the fields as it was still just about light when I got home. The loop goes along the road first, and then ends up on the fields. I didn’t quite realise how much water there would be- the puddle was still huge.

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Also along the final stretch I didn’t realise how deep some of the puddles were and ended up with cold soggy socks.

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And muddy socks! I am always surprised by how much mud gets through my trail shoes.

This weekend I have my 13th half marathon- the very local Welwyn Garden City one. Lots of my club mates are either running or marshalling so I am looking forward to a more social run- no time pressure, I just want to enjoy it.