Friday, 27 February 2015

Back to The Future (part 1)

So, lots to catch up on.
I'm going to try and fit a brief (but not too brief) run down of my 2012 (apres VLM) in one post. Lets face it my memory isn't what it used to be, so it will mostly consist of me looking at old Runkeeper entries (this was my Pre-Garmin era after all) and trying to recall what happened.

I'm going to hand over to Wayne and Garth now to take you back. . .

OK, so imagine its 2012, and you've just completed your first marathon (in a very glacial time of 6 hours and change), London in fact, in Olympic year. Emotions are high, energy levels are low, and you cant remember how to operate your legs in order to sit down and take your running shoes off.  It is the hardest thing you have ever done, you are very tearful and really really need a hug from your support team (husband!)
On the way back to the hotel old ladies give up their seats on the tube for you and taxis and police cars honk their horns and thumbs up at you walking along the road, wearing your foil blanket on top of your clothes because you didn't take enough layers for afterwards and its pretty cold. . . 

Yep, my first marathon was an experience I wasn't in a hurry to repeat. In fact i do believe I actually uttered the words "I'm never doing that again!".  For the following week I was taking stairs carefully and wincing a lot when required to do anything strenuous like, ooh, stand up.
8 days after I staggered along the Mall towards the finish, I managed to complete a slow 3 mile run.

And so just like Gene Autry (and still walking somewhat like a cowboy too) it appears I was back in the saddle again. .

For the next month I did very little over 5 miles but plenty of off road. In the middle of May i took my elderly mum away to Cornwall for a week to see the Eden Project etc and so took advantage of the trails around the cottage we were staying in, and the end of May brought the popular Poole Festival of Running 10k which I had in a moment of madness signed up for, and was competing in for the first time - finished middle to back of the pack at 1:05 and change.

Must have had problems with my legs after that since my runkeeper notes say ". . no idea why I keep getting twitches, shooting pains and muscles feel like they are wired up wrong?"
I vaguely recall I had developed problems with the delightful Piriformis muscle at the time causing my sciatic nerve to play up.

nothing to write home about in June (very short runs only) apart from a random 11 mile hike over the Purbecks (i think i was accompanying a friend who was training for the Dorset Doddle - a 32 mile walk or run from Weymouth to Swanage in a 12 hour time limit).
Nor in fact much in July which seems to have consisted of very short runs under 3 miles, a few parkruns and very few notes dammit.

In August i had a nice surprise when a friend who was moving house donated a old mountain bike to me, and I think the cycling had a marked improvement on my running (something which i need to take up again in 2015), and competed in the Studland Country Fair 5k which is a lovely offroad course in the Purbeck Hills and takes in views of the harbour and Agglestone Rock. Regardless of finish time you can be sure of stunning scenery!
Scenic finish to the month!

Still cycling regularly through September seemed to help me slowly increase the miles a bit more, as I was putting in mostly 3 and 4 mile runs with some longer ones thrown in, and a very small 5k trail run called the Black Hill Run in Bere Regis. So small in fact there were less than 20 runners! more of this race later.
Also in this month I had volunteered to marshall at the then brand new Purbeck Marathon. I was stationed just after the train crossing and am ashamed to say that at the time I hadn't heard of local legend Steve Way, and so had no idea he wouldn't need to be offered jelly babies when he passed me, oops...  This race definitely inspired me though, as I decided there and then (while conveniently forgetting about my last marathon) that i would run it one day...

This was followed by a 10k run around the Cerne Abbas Giant, called 'The Cerne Burn' at the end of Sept, which started at Minton House in Minterne Magna, Dorset. Quite hard work with serious hills in the first half but some lovely downhills - this seems to have been stopped now.
If you read my last blog you might know that just before London I had been trying out minimalist shoes, namely Merrell Pace Glove, and although i didn't get enough mileage in them to wear them in the marathon, by October all my runs were done in these shoes.

Yeah i know the barefoot/minimalist craze seemed a bit faddy to some people but you know I didn't dive into using them, I did a lot of research (possibly too much!) first and although I made the mistake the first time I used them of running 5 miles (oops my calves hated me after that) after that i eased back into them. take it from me, if you are thinking about moving to minimalist or barefoot shoes, take it really slowly!

The unusual 12km distance of the Studland Stampede race was the highlight for me in October - this is really one of my all time favourite races now, and 2012 was the second year I had done it.
The race takes in a lot of the Studland 5k route above and then stretches out further over the heath, beyond the dunes and onto the beach for a testing 2km plus finish stretch that never seems to end.
A nice medal and one of The Best Goody bags ever, mean that this remains one of my regular races.

I think it was about now that I was invited to join a group of friends on regular Thursday evening runs on our local heath.
In the Dark
With Headtorches.
let me tell you, if you haven't tried this, its great fun. Although, if you are squeamish about dirt, its probably not for you, as quite a bit of mud is involved! we took several dogs too (ones that belonged to us I hasten to say, we didn't just take random ones. . )
Mix in a lot of laughter as one by one we hit the same patch of mud, plenty of hills, and the weird experience of feeling like you are running in a little bubble of light. . . well I recommend you give it a go.

Mind you all this heath & hill running was good practice for the Endurance Life 10k which was my penultimate event of 2012.
This is part of their Dorset Coastal Trail Series and is pretty damn hilly! All the races (which include a 10k, half, marathon, and an ultra) start and end at the picturesque Lulworth Cove.
I'd done a recce the week before with Max the dog, but unfortunately got the route backwards, so when we went from the start up the main path to Durdle Door, it was a bit of a shock!
an elevation gain of around 300 metres for a 10k (and most of that in the first half) made for a fair bit of walking, and certainly the hardest 10k I've done to date. I was most impressed with the instant finish time you got after crossing the line, which was made possible by 'dibber' wristbands.

This is the only time I've actually bought a race photo though as for a change it came out good. Such great weather for December, and a great backdrop too!

look, both feet off the ground and I'm smiling!
Unfortunately December had it's downs as well as it's ups.

A week before Christmas I had a distressed phone call at work from my dad, saying my mother had had a fall and she had been taken to hospital with a suspected broken leg. Please could i come at once he didnt feel he could cope. Given that my parents were over 70 what could i do but drop everything.
However since they were living in Nottinghamshire, over 4 hours away, this wasnt a simple visit - especially so close to the festivities.
First of all I tried to contact hubby, but as he was working in the back of beyond that day I had to be content with a text message. Then I went home and packed a quick bag. This is when i realised how much of a runner i had become as the first thing that went in was my running kit!
Having tried to reach Kevin once more all i could do was leave a note, and get going. I didnt want to wait too long not wanting to be reaching the M1 at rush hour in the dark.
Poor Kev came home that day, not having recieved my text, to a dark house and a note.
Luckily my mum had not broken a leg and was released the following day, and I eventually returned home on Christmas Eve, leaving my parents to share the festivites with my aunt and uncle who lived round the corner, and having spent the interim time directing Christmas preparation from afar.
Kevin found out the hard way how much prep goes into even a simple christmas! I even managed to get a couple of quick runs in while i was there.

Well after the panic of the previous week, christmas happened without any more drama, and 2012 concluded with another 10k, but this one couldn't have been more different to the previous one, a flat mainly tarmac Boxing Day run around Poole Park (Round the Lakes 10k) with no frills (but a bottle of wine and a 10k pb);
aaaand, also some Grand Plans for 2013 for my longest most difficult event so far, entered in a moment of madness . . (more to come next time, but I'll give you a clue in that it involves the South West Coast path)

So that concludes 2012, sorry it was so long. hope you weren't too bored, I'll try to make 2013 more interesting. . .


  1. Great read Denise! Your memory is obviously a lot better than you give it credit for! Looking forward to reading all about your prep for this years 'big' race! Rosex

  2. Thanks Rose! I've got to get through 2014 yet. Not sure whether to do it in one go or break it down a bit :-)