Last day of Jan and so I thought it was about time I did a quick update for those who are still with me on my marathon training journey.
January is traditionally cold and wet, which for spring marathoners is clearly perfect training weather. I’ve run in all sorts of weather, and I love running in the rain now; it actually makes my day when I get to run in the pouring rain (as long as it’s not too long, it stops and I’m going straight home after). So the mild weather got to me a bit, I was expecting it to be freezing constantly, to practically get chillblains and need three pairs of gloves at all times.
Jan’s first runs were double parkrun on New Year’s Day. This is the first time I’ve done the double parkrun and as much as I’m glad I got the chance to do it; it was a palaver and my knee was playing up so I didn’t enjoy it nearly as much as I should have done. That’s the trouble with having Christmas off running and eating all the food your mother-in-law has in the house for a week, you get used to not running and then everything complains when you do it again. We, (not the royal we, there was a fair few Ramsbottom Running Club runners and some of the trusty Swinton lot) ran South Manchester first. I very nearly got my sister and I lost as I thought it was a different park to what it was and missed the turning thinking I was clever. We made it with plenty of time anyway as I cannot be late. So South Manchester parkrun is in Platt Fields park, a lovely area of the city and a park I frequented when I lived in Withington one summer, many moons ago. The course is a bloody logistical minefield with twists and turns all over the bloody place. I thought I’d gone wrong a few times. I was on course for a great time, until halfway round my knee decided to play up. Now, for those who know me well (by that, I mean those that have to listen to me whinge about my knees) know that my knees like to swap sides as to which one hurts at which mile. They’re buggers for it. Anyway, one knee started hurting so I dropped back and took it slowly, lots of walking was involved which really pissed me off and I was cursing myself for thinking I could run one parkrun let alone two with nearly two full weeks off and all I’d done was eat! I managed it, in a pretty reasonable time all things considered (garmin says 29:46?!).
After a quick rest, and a conflab about where to go next; it was off to Stretford. My PB parkrun, and one of my favourite courses – as it’s flat. My knee was throbbing now but a quick pep talk to it and a promise that I would rest it for a couple of days and we set off. It was slow, hard work and I constantly thought the tail walker would catch up to me but again, it was a pretty decent time – 30:24. Just realised that I have auto-pause on my garmin so it was probably around 32 minutes! Stretford is a nice, relatively fast course; starting at the athletics track, two loops of the park and then finishing back on the track for a lovely sprint! I couldn’t sprint finish though as the queue was halfway round the track! It was so quick though getting through the funnel and scanned etc that you couldn’t complain! Plus, the run director is a friend on a facebook group and I’m kinda scared of her!
I then completely forgot I was meant to be training for two marathons; and had 4 days off! On that Sunday, I knew I had to actually think about running so I went out and did my old half marathon training route which was 8 miles. It was hard and I walked an awful lot (there are a lot of hills) but I made a decent time. Please don’t think that I believe walking is bad, I really don’t! I just get really annoyed at myself when I have to walk as I should be able to run 8 miles relatively easily. I now regularly run/walk my long runs and use the walk as a fuelling stop so please don’t take my moaning at walking as that it’s a terrible thing. I am not one of those annoying idiots who believe that you unless you run every step of a race; you haven’t completed it. They’re just wankers. So…8 miles! Up and round a nice loop in Royton, it’s a fairly moderate route with a few difficult uphills; some I manage to run all the way up! I do love looking at my split times after a run and seeing when I get tired or trying not to give up; it is always around the same point which is something I’m trying to work on.
The first club night of the year was a brutal 10k that I’m sure should have eased us back into it but instead it took us up Rawson’s Rake (oo-er missus), down Lumb Carr road and round Summerseat; taking us up three of the biggest hills in Ramsbottom (Rawson’s Rake, Bass Lane and Kay Brow) it was a massive wake up call that I had to get back into the weekday runs and get my fitness back. The Christmas holidays are well and truly over and I should really look at getting a training plan sorted and stop eating chocolate for breakfast!
I wont bore everyone with my midweek sessions, the 9th Jan is important though as it was the first time in months that I hadn’t stopped during a 5k. I felt so happy and really enjoyed that run. Looking back, that will probably be the last time I’ll really enjoy a run haha!
I’m very lucky to have a group of people who have run marathons before, know what they’re doing and have bundles of advice, energy and luckily time so that we can usually find a few people to run with on a weekend for the seemingly never-ending LSR – Long Slow Run. There’s normally someone about who can run at your pace so you don’t run alone, or too fast for your ability or plan and it’s a truly lovely way to spend a couple of hours. The 9th Jan was our first club champs (Preston Parkrun) with a few miles before and after to make up 10 miles. I made it to 9.6 miles before swearing loudly and deciding enough was enough. I’d done a tough parkrun – Preston is 3 loops, incorporating a really tough hill – and managed to not die in a heap. It was lovely to see so many fellow Rams there, and to have lots of support and very welcome hugs from some of my favourite people! I’d definitely do Preston parkrun again, it was tough but I’d want to do a comparison to see how quickly I could do it. Before the parkrun, we ran a few miles onto the Preston Guild Wheel. I’d never even been down that neck of the woods and it’s a lovely flattish area so will look forward to doing a 20 miler round the entirety of it in a few weeks. After it, myself and two other Rams ran back from the park, to the main road and back to the car park which was an additional 2 miles. It felt really good to get out there for my first training run with the club ‘marathon group’ and there are many more runs to be had!
A club run on Tuesday and then a new addition to the training calendar; a run round Tottington with a fellow trainer who has been an absolute diamond during the past few weeks. With a run from my sister’s house up to the church at the top of the road; then up a big hill for nearly 2 miles, down a big hill on the other side, through a lovely little village and down back to Greenmount, up Stormer hill and back. A quick run down the road back to my sister’s and it’s a perfect 10k. I’ve never been so proud of a perfect mileage (see below). We had a great run, felt really strong and we just kept going. I did nearly shit myself when we come to a hedge that has been cut into a big smiley face (seeing that in the dark with only a chest torch for light is not good for the heart) but other than that, it was all good! This has to be one of my new favourite routes, it’s easy to get round, even I couldn’t get lost and there’s lots of landmarks to keep an eye out for.
Long run on the 19th Jan was another run centred around a club champs race. This time, we were headed to the East Lancs 10k, that I hadn’t actually signed up to! I was assured that there places on the day and even if not, I could run the route anyway to get the miles if not the champs points. I dropped off trail shoes and warm clothes with the lovely LT and headed to park in a mill car park. I was setting off with Emma a bit earlier than the normal group as we are ever so slightly slower paced and we wanted to give ourselves a bit of breathing space to get there on time. I’ve no idea where we were or where we went if i’m honest but it was a lovely 9 miles, chatty pace and lots of walking stops to figure out if we were going the right way. We got to the race in plenty of time and lo and behold, I could sign up to the race! A quick registration, change of shoes (absolutely unnecessary) and attempting to pin my race number to myself and we were off. This race is a gruelling race, relatively flat it’s however on different terrain and the first mile or so is of small up and down hills along a housing estate. Running with friends again (thank you Alice), we didn’t talk for the first mile and a half. Quite possibly, the quietest we’ve ever been! After a while, we got into stride, had a walking stop at the water station and then the magic ingredient of a Tangfastic sweet and we sped round the last half, including the uphill sprint finish! Surrounded by rams who were watching or had already finished; it was an amazing sight and sound and I could have cried! A fab race, fab company and all round pretty awesome run.
Another week of club run, midweek Wednesday run with a colleague and another Thursday run with Julia. Friday 24th Jan was my toughest run of January, it was a Friday, I was on my own and I had no clear route in mind. I was going to run from my house down the canal to just past Littleborough and back. 8 miles out, 8 miles back. I got on the canal, got 2 miles in; realised the canal is boring and there are geese on there (!) and turned off and ran round Norden and Bamford for what seemed like forever. I was then 13 miles in and my headphones died! I was 3 miles from home, tired, wet from the intermittent rain and bored. I got home walk/running and vowed to not do that again. I’d always have a route planned in future, the loop I had to do two and a half times was about 2 miles shorter per loop so it was hard having to keep on running up the same road, especially as my best friend and her mum live on that road and I could have knocked on and been rescued. Also didn’t help that Craig was working from home that day but I didn’t want to ring him to come and get me and he’d have had no idea where I was! This was also my longest run, every LSR now is a massive achievement for me and although I’m happy about that; it’s also very scary and sobering.
During January, I racked up 100 miles, dead on (another mileage achievement to be proud of), bought two pairs of trainers, realised my knees aren’t dodgy – I no longer have knee pain, go figure! Ran with some of the best people ever, did my longest run of 16 miles, learnt that I cannot survive on tangfastics and juice alone during long runs (any tips on nutrition, please contact me as I seriously need help) and that training is exhausting for me, my son and Craig who is being so supportive and clearly loves being woken up on a weekend at 6am to look after a child who cannot sleep in past 5. 8 weeks to go to Manchester, 11 to London. I don’t know who’s looking forward to it being over more, me or Craig!