Recent Runnings – bank it while you can

Happy belated Easter. Hope everyone had a nice weekend and extended time off (if you were so lucky to have the Friday and Monday off). I also hope lots of chocolate was enjoyed. Because let’s be honest that’s what it’s really all about (joke!).

The past week I’ve had a good amount of running. In fact, I’ve hit both running club sessions, Parkrun and a longish run with the guys from the club on Sunday. I’ve never managed that all before – usually I have to run on my own at least once.

Tuesday night was a hard incline intervals session. I felt strong running and though I hated it I did enjoy it – if that makes sense? It was tough but a good kind of tough. In the end I ran 7.8 miles. I definitely felt it the next day though!

Wednesday was no running but I did 45 minute’s in the gym working on my calves, hamstrings, glutes and core. Boring but necessary.

Thursday night was a longer than expected run with running club. I wasn’t looking for a speedy run at all as my legs felt so heavy from Tuesday. I’m really just not used to intervals anymore. So I was just wanted some good miles with good company. Well I did get some good company. But I just found it very hard.

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I ran down to the meeting spot (which is just over a mile), then joined with a group who weren’t intending on blasting it. The only thing is it was off-road and there were several hills. In fact, our leader was actively looking for hills. I really struggled and felt really tired afterwards. I didn’t feel my usual amazing buzz. So I saw this as a ‘warning run’. A ‘don’t be stupid and try and jump too quickly back into things’ run. I’ve just done a marathon (and off the back of returning from injury and not having a great training lead-up). I cannot let the marathon and my results make me think I’m invincible. One run does not change you (I think those were Hollie’s wise words).

Hollie has been giving some great advice recently. For example, running and racing are like gambling. Quit while you’re ahead. That doesn’t mean quit running, but don’t think if you get a really good time or PB that suddenly you can keep racing every weekend and smash out good times all the time. Bank that result, take some recovery time, and then race again when you’re fresh and ready. Sound advice which I’m trying to follow.

After a rest day Friday, it was Parkrun on Saturday. I went for an easier pace to compensate for the tough Thursday. In fact, I loved it! Ben and me ran with some running club friends and helped out one of them to get a PB for the course.

IMG_6479It was great fun cheering and encouraging him round and seeing how chuffed he was at the end. We kept to around 8 min/mile pace which was perfect for me.

Sunday I was still feeling tired from the running so I was looking forward to a nice easy-paced longish run with some guys (and Ben) from the club. It’s really nice now that Ben’s properly into running and improving all the time that we can run together more now. Before when he first started it just wasn’t possible. Gotta watch my back soon I think ;-)

We just managed to miss the rain thankfully! But it was very cold starting out.

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It was quite funny because we actually got lost from half of the group and then had to make a quick and precarious dash across a gold course to get back. Scary times! Not sure the golfers appreciated us there…

This week is all about the RR10 (Hampshire Road Racing league) on Wednesday night. I plan on running an easy run on my own tonight and then (depending how I feel) pushing it on Wednesday so see where my paces are at. It’s all about position rather than time which I find annoying. I much prefer to compare myself to myself with my time than compare myself to others in terms of placing. Hey ho, all good speed work and lots of the club will be there.

And cake. There’s always cake :D

How have your workouts been lately?

Do you quite while you’re ahead when you’re running really well? I’m just terrified that I’ll get injured. You always hear people getting injured when they’re doing so well in their running…I have no major races coming up so I have no reason to push everything hard.

Do you take part in any club leagues?

Post marathon – all the foods?

So here’s my last post of our Paris weekend.

After Ben had finished the marathon, we staggered back to the hotel room both eagerly recounting our races. Ben sadly didn’t enjoy his and felt very disappointed with his time (despite the huge improvement on his last one). It was hard because I enjoyed mine so much. But I knew I’d feel the same way if I’d have been unhappy with my race. Sometimes it just works out like that. I remember at the Great South I hated the race, but when I met up with Ben afterwards he was absolutely buzzing with how much he loved it.

Anyway, I had the best shower in the world. It was one of those really good power showers and the heat of it was just amazing. I had been fairly cold after the marathon waiting for Ben so this was pure, unadulterated joy.

Post marathon relax Afterwards I wrapped myself up in the hotel dressing gown and slippers and enjoyed my first post-marathon apple. No apple will ever taste as good.

Then Ben presented me with the best present ever. A Marathon Talk 26.2 Adidas hoodie.

Post marathon outfit So soft! I love it. I’ve wanted one for ages but obviously couldn’t get it until I’d run a marathon. I love that he knew that’s what I wanted. What a guy!

That was my outfit going out for late lunch/early dinner that day. I must say walking was a bit of an issue! Everything was 10 seconds behind and I was shattered.

Day 3 - post marathon2 My unhappy post-marathon walking (hobbling?) face

My expectation after the marathon was that I’d be ravenous with hunger. I wasn’t. In fact my stomach was just not happy at all. It coped well with the apple but then really wasn’t up for anything much else. But we had to eat obviously. We kept things simple and went back to the same cafe we’d been to before and we both had a starter (goat’s cheese on toast for me) and I had the same Caesar salad as before.

Day 3 - post marathon mealIt tasted very nice but my stomach still wasn’t completely OK. Funny side story, the waitress was only vaguely aware of the marathon and even asked how far it was. Seriously??

We picked up some food from a little corner shop to munch on in the evening (and Ben needed wine – he’d not drunk for four weeks prior to the marathon bless him).

Post marathon treats

At this point I was so completely fed up with water. I’d been drinking it all damn day I needed something else. I’m not a big drinker (one G&T and I’m anybody’s and post marathon it’s probably not wise for me) so I went for some crazy sparkling chemically-induced ‘fruit’ beverage.

We rented a film from the hotel TV thing (World’s End) and I promptly fell asleep at about 9pm. It was a horrific sleep though trying to get comfy with my very achy legs. And I woke up about 6.30am wide awake. Ben was like a rock next to me. I woke him at 8am out of boredom and sudden onset of RUNGER.

We headed to a lovely little cafe for petit dejeuner. We went for the whole hog.

Parisienne breakfastPlain omelette, croissants, bread and butter, dried meats and coffee. Everything but the croissants disappeared. We were seriously stuffed though until about 3pm.

We then went for an ill-advised walk to the Champs-Élysées and then down to the Tuileries Gardens where we collapsed onto some lovely chairs.

Day 4 - sight seeing12 It was lovely and sunny and we kept spotting fellow marathoners wearing their finisher’s shirt and hobbling along like us, struggling with very simple things. Honestly curbs – who invented curbs??

Day 4 - sight seeing13 We needed mini breaks like this for every 15 minutes. It was so tiring walking. But also good to keep the legs moving.

We carried on walking to the Louvre. The queue was huge so we decided to move on.

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Day 4 - sight seeing28 Possible the most stupid thing I’ve ever done – that landing was incredibly painful!!!

We walked up the road we ran along the day before. It brought back so many memories. It was great chatting to Ben and reliving it as we were walking.

We finally got to Notre Dame (after two hours of walking and stopping).

Day 4 - sight seeing35Bit ski-whiff sorry! 

After this we decided to trek back. All I had in my mind to keep me going was the thought of a break in one of the parks near the Champs-Élysées for an ice lolly. Honestly we were both fading by this point.

We got there an hour later and enjoyed a lovely ice lolly. Then headed for the next part of our trek back to the hotel with a cake pit stop for lunch.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love cakes. But I’m talking bit old fat slices of Victoria sponge, moist carrot cake, and chunky brownies. OK yes typical British cakes. In my marathon-fogged brain I stared around me in the French Patisserie…their delicate cream cakes and choux pastries I realised weren’t quite going to kick it. Yes I KNOW it’s France and it’s different but I couldn’t help but feel a little bit disappointed (I’m not entirely sure what I expected to be honest!).Post marathon cakesIn the end I went for a rather large meringue and giant cookie. I’m sorry Paris, but British cakes are much more satisfying.

We had an earlyish dinner and another early night. We were absolutely knackered.

The next day we had a bit of time in the morning and early afternoon before flying back. We decided to treat ourselves to breakfast in bed.

Breakfast in bed in Paris I had the omelette, a sweet bread roll thing and a couple of pastries (they were only small honest! :))

Then we headed out for more walking. The legs were feeling more normal (though still fairly stiff and achy).

Day 5 - sight seeing3The day before I’d worn some plimsolls. I think my feet had swollen from the marathon because they were so uncomfortable. So I made the good move of wearing trainers the next day.

All in all, we had a great time in Paris. I must say we went more for the marathon than the sights but I’m glad we got to see them (both running and walking). I’m not sure we would go back as it was fairly expensive and I’m not hugely cultured to appreciate the significance of the different sights.

Now, enough marathon talk! Time to move on…until Berlin gets closer that is ;)

Are you a a fan of ‘cultural’ sights when you go on holiday? Don’t get me wrong, I do appreciate them and it was absolutely fantastic to see such epic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower. But I’m not one to spend hours around them. I’m ore a fan of ‘natural’ landmarks – like beautiful mountains, lakes, etc.

Would you ever do a race in a different country?

What would you/did you do post-marathon? I thought I’d eat more than I did. My stomach just didn’t feel right for quite a while.

Le Paris – before the marathon

Here’s my recap of what we did in Paris before the marathon. I know this is probably so uncultured to admit but… Ben and me really only went to Paris for the marathon. For a bit of an adventure to run an iconic marathon in a different country. I won’t lie, if there wasn’t the marathon we wouldn’t have gone. So we didn’t really do any planning for the actual non-marathon related times. That’s not to say we didn’t have a good time though.

We left on Friday afternoon from Southampton airport – which for us is literally a 15 minute drive away. As you can imagine, this was a dream. The day before I decided to panic buy the 220 Garmin from Amazon and as I have Amazon Prime I was really hoping it would arrive before we left. I could have hugged the postman when he turned up with it!

220 Garmin Wearing my lovely slipper boots there

We had a couple of last minute things to do before leaving…

IMG_6231 Like ironing on our names to our running club vests. [Side note: because our running club colours are red, white and blue when I was running the marathon quite a few French people clapped me on the back and said things like “Vivre le France”. Mildly amusing.]

Anywho, we got to Paris without any issues. After getting to our lovely hotel, we then took a taxi to get to the marathon expo. We thought it’d probably be wise to do it Friday evening rather than Saturday when a lot of people would also be there.

Paris marathon expo We walked past the barriers (bottom left photo) feeling quite good that we didn’t have to queue there//In the bottom right photo there’s a man standing as a mannequin and jumping out at people which was very funny

Having never been to a race expo before I didn’t really know what to expect. I was neither blown away nor disappointed. We got our marathon bibs and our t-shirt for the next day’s race (the Breakfast Run – you used your t-shirt as your race entry).IMG_6365 Annoyingly they had run out of small t-shirts for the Breakfast Run so I had to settle for a medium. It was quite the tent on me!

Here’s the expo haulage:

IMG_6259 Not too shabby. The white square thing is a sponge which you could take around with you during the marathon and dunk it in buckets of water to sponge yourself with. Purely my own personal preference, but the thought of doing that after thousands of other sweaty people was definitely not my cup of tea. The fact that I saw people dunking their entire heads and drinking the water from the buckets during the race really freaked me out!

Then we walked to find somewhere to eat. Ideally we were looking for a cheap place to just grab something easy. But we struggled with places not having English translations on the menu (yes I know, how very ignorant of me not knowing French and being such a tourist with my expectations. I feel suitably ashamed). In the end we picked a place because the menu didn’t look too expensive (in Paris terms) on a very quick cursory glance and it had pretty lights on the front. Yep, key important restaurant necessities.

As we sat down we suddenly realised it was fairly posh. This was further clarified when a group of four sat near us covered head to toe expensive designer clothes and jewellery and the men had expensive laughs (you know the kind) and cravats.

Restaurant Jadis 2 At this point we felt a little underdressed… The restaurant (Bistrot Jadis) was lovely. The service impeccable, the food…oh the food!Restaurant Jadis I had some sort of soup to start which was creamy and rich, but very tasty. I wish I could tell you what it actually was but see above about me being an ignorant tourist. It was definitely fish. Then I had a steak with anchovy sauce and stuffed mushrooms for main. I could have licked the plate. For pudding we both went for a passion fruit crumble thing. Basically passion fruit custard on a crispy sweet biscuit with meringue, er, mini rods?

All in all, deeeeelicious. However, very very rich. My poor tummy felt a bit hard done by later that night, but nothing major. Just a very heavy and queasy feeling. This made it clear that we were to take no risks the night before the marathon.

The next morning we were up early to go to the 5km Breakfast Run (organised by the Paris marathon, 5 Euros to take part in – bargain!)

Sorry I couldn’t resist this photo…IMG_6271

There was such a great atmosphere for the start and entire race.IMG_6275A bit like a Parkrun, but filled with so many different nationalities. Ben and me discussed our game plan: run together, nine minute miles and no faster. Keep it nice and easy.

However, this became a joke because the leading car (blaring out crazy music) didn’t let people run faster. So we were running 10-11minute miles. Hey, fine by me! It did make me laugh though – Saturday 9am and this car is belting out Sean Paul dance songs stupidly loud down residential streets in Paris. Bet they loved us.

IMG_6284 There were a few stops here and there so lots of photo taking opportunities. This was good because I didn’t take any photos during the marathon – although I had planned to. It was just too complicated to navigate getting the phone out with gels and headphones. Plus I was terrified of dropping it during such a big race.

IMG_6367The route was different to the marathon (thankfully – what a spoiler that would have been otherwise!) but it did go under the Eiffel Tower which was cool.

IMG_6300 At the end there were stupid amounts of croissants, pain au chocolats, coffee, bananas and water. Nicely done. We then had a fair walk back to the hotel (an hour’s walk)…meaning my banana and Ben’s pain au chocolat became breakfast and after we’d showered and got out of the hotel it was lunch time!

Can I just put it out there now… I did not go to Paris for a culinary adventure. I wanted to keep things simple the day before the marathon. And finding my favourite salad on the menu ticked all my requirements.

IMG_6361Chicken Caesar salad with bacon, a hard boiled egg, croutons, shaved parmesan and a delicious dressing on the side for my pouring pleasure :D

I’m also going to hold my hands up now and say we went back to this cafe twice more and I had this salad each time. It was that good.

Then we met up with some friends and sat in a lovely bar/cafe for a while catching up. After this we then made the error of walking a lot…to the Arc de Triomphe, down the Champs-Élysées and back on the metro. I was starting to panic about how far we were walking and also I was having huge doubts about the next day. After saying goodbye to our friends, we had dinner (pizza) and headed back to the hotel (where my panicking would continue).

The next day –> The marathon.

I’ll (finally) finish up Paris with what we did post-marathon and the day and a half after :)

Have you ever been to Paris before?

Have you ever gone to a foreign country to run a race/take part in an event?

Do you enjoy French food?

Running and supporting

Happy Monday! And congratulations to all you amazing people who ran in the London marathon.

I definitely felt I was crawling by Friday. I was so tired. Normally when my alarm goes off I’m bang awake. But last week’s mornings were a big struggle. On Friday night Ben and me went out for an Indian with friends for a charity evening. But by 9.30pm I was shattered and we just had to go home. I was in bed fast asleep by 10pm.

Saturday morning Ben and me were up early to help setup our local Parkrun.

Netley Abbey Parkrun setup It was a lovely morning. Crisp, sunny and clear. I had no plans for the Parkrun. Just take it as I fancy. I was stood next to Ben and some other guys from the running club at the start and as soon as we started BOOM Ben was off. I was doing 6.30ish min a mile (not for long!) so I was happy to let him go.

Ben has come on in leaps and bounds with his running (his 10k PB is only a minute off mine currently – though I haven’t run one since June ;-)) I’m so pleased for him. He’s chipped away at his Parkrun time each week which is a clear indication that his speed is really improving.

Anyway, I was happy to sit nicely at 7.10min miles and didn’t feel like I was 100% blasting it, which made me feel really happy! I ran on Thursday evening as my first post-marathon run and though it was more tiring than usual, my speed was there surprisingly. I’m very pleased but I also know to take things easy and not go crazy while I’m still recovering.

In the end I finished Parkrun with a time of 21:40 and third woman, and Ben got 22:28. Not too shabby at all!

We helped clear away, had a quick cup of tea with the guys form the club and then dashed home for breakfast, showers and housework. At lunchtime we headed to my favourite restaurant…Jamie’s Italian to have a nice lunch with my parents.

Jamies Italian PortsmouthI’m not even going to post a photo of my main because I had what I always have (Turkey Milanese). If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But my starter was something new.

IMG_6459 Vegetable crudités on ice with a delicious lemon yogurt dip.

We had a nice quiet evening where we chilled out on the sofa watching Jerry McGuire (never seen it before – bit of a classic) and then an early night.

Sunday morning we got up early to get a run in before the TV coverage of the London marathon. I went for a solo 10 miles listening to my film review podcast. It was so lovely. I just ran how I felt and though it felt more tiring than usual everything felt good. The sun was shining and I was in the comfort of knowing that if I didn’t fancy 10 miles I could run 8 or 6 or whatever really. No training plan, no pressures, no stress. Just easy, enjoyable running.

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In the coming weeks I’m aiming to improve my speed, keep my long runs under 13 miles and just tick over nicely.

I got back in time to quickly jump in the shower and then watch the London marathon.

London marathon supporting 2014 I had my crib sheet next to me of the elite runners: their PBs and accolades, and my two British flags. I was ready to go. The women’s race was more exciting than the men’s I must say. I was really rooting for Tirunesh Dibaba as it was her debut and I was devastated when she dropped her water bottle. A nice tense finish though for the Kiplagats at the end.

I think we all knew Mo Farah wouldn’t win the marathon but I did think he’d break the British record. Sadly I think he made some mistakes (not being in the front group at the start for example). BUT that being said, he did amazingly for his debut. The commentator really needed a slap for what he said (“stick to the track, Mo”). Who judges someone on one race? Jeeze give the guy a break. It was good to watch and I’m pleased for Wilson Kipsang – he just looked so comfortable the whole time.

We were also tracking a lot of different people, either from the club, friends, bloggers… everyone did fantastically. Well done! You guys made me so jealous :-)

Anywho, the rest of the day we spent seeing my sister, brother-in-law and nieces, having a long walk with Alfie and then just relaxing. Perfect!

Did you run or watch the London marathon? I desperately want to run it now!

Did you make the most of the lovely weather (if it was lovely for you)?

If you know there’s a meal in a restaurant you love, do you stick to that or try something new? I’m so boring but at least I know I’m guaranteed a good meal.

Life after marathon

I’m still walking (hobbling) around in a happy bubble of amazingness. Don’t get me wrong, I am fully shattered and my legs didn’t feel anywhere near normal until Wednesday. And I will stop going on about the marathon I promise but I wanted to do a little ‘wrap up’ post.IMG_6338

I am fully aware that my marathon experience (especially my first ever marathon) was quite rare in that nothing seemed to go wrong – especially considering my training (or lack thereof). It was like a dream. Of course it was tough. Mentally more than physically I’d say. The sheer effort of keeping focused and not allowing myself to acknowledge the aches, the tiredness, and the overwhelming temptation to stop. I remember looking at my watch and thinking “oh my God, I’ve been running for three hours!” But at the same time, it was such a buzz.

The only thing I think I’d have done differently would have been to not have had three gels.

High5 gelMaybe it was the temperature being so warm, but they really messed with my tummy. I know this is completely my own fault having not tested out using more than one gel in a long run before and it was a risk. Thankfully I just felt a bit sick and that was all.

Next time I think I’ll use one gel (probably between 8-10 miles) and then either have nothing or have some small easy-to-eat sweets, like jelly babies or even sugar cubes. After listening to the very insightful interview on Marathon Talk with Barry Murray (a sports-focused nationalist who is against the whole carb-loading premise) I wonder if I actually needed the gels. I do all my morning runs and long runs with no nutritional help or breakfast and have no ill effects. It’s something for me to consider in the future I think.

On another note, as good as running a race in a whole different country was there were some draw backs to it too. You have a whole different routine in a hotel room in terms of getting ready, ‘toilet time’, breakfast, getting to the race…it’s very surreal.

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And post-race both Ben and me would have loved to have just been at home with our creature comforts and ‘normal’ food. But the experience of running such an iconic race was pretty amazing regardless.

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I’m also somewhat jealous of the Brighton and Manchester marathon race reports with just how much support there was from the crowds. Paris was a bit lack lustre. They did cheer, but it seemed selectively so. And don’t get me started on people randomly walking out into the course to cross the road!!

OK, enough moaning. It makes it sound like I didn’t enjoy it. The truth of the matter is that I can’t smiling. It was brilliant. Epic. Amazing. Life changing. I’ve fallen in love with running again and so much harder.

So what’s next? Well, some easy weeks worth of running for definite! No care for pace, time, mileage. Just easy running and long walks. I have a few local races in the pipeline: a marathon relay where I’ll be doing a 7.8 mile leg, a few 10ks and Endure 24 in June as part of a team with my running friends (24 hours of running 5 mile laps).

And then at the end of September the Berlin marathon. I’m hoping to have a very sensible lead up, having had a good summer of base building and increasing my speed (finger’s crossed). Then head down and focused training. Nothing crazy but a sensible training plan I can actually follow this time. I have my fingers so tightly crossed that I won’t get injured again any time soon. I will continue with my strength training twice a week to work on this.

My aim for Berlin? No idea yet. But all I do know is that I want to enjoy it as much as I did Paris. If that means a similar finishing time, then that’s fine by me! I don’t want to experience 3-4 hours of hellish running.

I can quite confidently say that I am much more a fan of the longer distances than shorter. Half marathons and marathons is where I’m firmly at right now.

What are your future races?

Did you run a marathon recently? What did you learn?

What’s important to you in an event – scenery? Support? Aid stations?