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Wednesday, 29 November 2017

Helping a friend

The last week has been pretty much standard with nothing special to report, which is quite nice as with Christmas beginning to approach at a rapid rate of knots, I don't want to be worrying about races or other special events.

I did the Pontypool birthday parkrun on Saturday, which was really nice because I haven't run that course in such a long time, and I had a course PB too. 😊

On Saturday evening, my Friend Jenny of Griffithstown Harriers, Cwmbran was hosting a fundraising event for the Children with Cancer charity, as she is running in the London Marathon in April for this event. These charities obtain quite a few marathon places and successful applicants have to promise to raise a certain amount of cash to be able to take part. The amount does vary but it is often around £2k - £3k, which is a lot of money to raise, and Jenny managed to raise in excess of £700 at this event.

Whilst I was there, Jenny asked me if I would be happy to help her with some speed training, as she is feeling the need to improve her run times. Now I'm no coach, but I do take part regularly in the Thursday evening speed interval sessions with my own club, so I felt I could pass on the knowledge I have gained from my own sessions to help her, and we decided to meet up on Monday evening and run the Riverfront Parkrun course.

I decided we should begin with a sort of fartlek/tempo session, so my plan was that we would run the out section to the turn around point at Jenny's usual parkrun pace, about 10 minute miles, stop for a quick breather, then the return would be at a quicker pace.

The outward section was nice, we managed to chat and I could hear Jenny breathing fairly heavily, but not so much that she couldn't hold a conversation. The return leg was a different kettle of fish. I pumped up the pace so that I could still chat but, Jenny had to work harder than usual, and in fact I did all the chatting because Jenny couldn't breathe and talk at the same time, so I knew the pace was good.

I gave her lots of encouragement along the way, and more so in the last ¾'s of a mile as I could sense that she was tiring but, all credit to Jenny, she pushed herself all the way and didn't slow down at all, right to the finish.

The Riverfront parkrun route

My picture above shows a time of 30 minutes, but I was actually slow in stopping my watch and it was actually 29 minutes. Jenny was very pleased when she checked her watch and saw this, and she told me she hasn't run a 29 minute 5k in a very long time. She was also happy that she had been pushed harder and that she had coped with the extra pace, and she certainly has extra pace in her. My own pace has improved no end due to my increased fitness from doing regular speed/interval sessions, so as long as she keeps it up, her younger age will probably mean that I will be struggling to keep up with her in a few months time.

Next Monday we will be back on the Riverfront but doing sprint sessions, and I have my own CRC session tomorrow evening. 😰

Friday, 24 November 2017

Getting Back into it.

After the Stroud half marathon, I had decided to take a short break from intensive running and only do some easy runs, just to keep the legs moving.

And I'm glad I did, I hadn't realised how tired I was after a busy years running, my body really needed the rest, and I think rest is as important as the training. But after a few weeks, I was itching to get back out there again, and so I began this week with phase 1 of my marathon training, "preconditioning", whatever that is supposed to mean. For me that entails increasing my weekly runs to four, but not really changing my routine from what it is now. So my schedule is looking like this at the moment, although it could change a little later on.

Monday - 3 mile slow
Tuesday - Club 6 - 7 miler
Wednesday - Swimming/gym session
Thursday - Club interval/speed session
Friday - Rest
Saturday - Long run combining Parkrun (run from home to Parkrun, then an extended run home)
Sunday - Rest

So I began on Monday and I have done everything I intended to do this week apart from Wednesday. Monday was an easy 3 miler, Tuesday was a good 7 miler in the rain, but I still took it fairly easy pace wise, then yesterday we did an interval session with a 1km section running at 5k pace on an incline with a 200m hill to finish, then slow down to an easy pace to complete a loop. Tomorrow is Pontypool Parkruns 4th birthday so I'm going along to run at that, but I won't be running to Parkrun as Pontypool is a lot further away than my local Riverfront or Cwmbran Parkruns, not just yet anyway, so no longer run for me this week.

Tuesday's Frechfa Frolic club run

Thursday's Interval Session

December has many things happening with the festive season upon us, so my running plans won't go strictly to plan until January, hence this is "preconditioning" month, a chance to get used to doing more running without pushing myself too hard but still keeping 10 - 13 miles distance in my legs. I just need to find the time to do that long run.

Monday, 6 November 2017

Great Gwent Poppy Run

Trenches & Tribulations

Commemorating the battle of Passchendaele in 1917, which lasted from 31st July until the 10th November, this Royal British Legion event is a great fund raiser and held at Penpergwm, near Abergavenny.

The course was about 5 miles long over mainly flat fields with various obstacles to negotiate along the way, including mountains of hay bails to climb over, cargo nets to scramble under, and a tunnel to crawl under which had wires dangling from the top to give anyone a small electric shock should you touch one of them.

There were a good number of Caerleon Running Club members there who signed in and were given their run T shirts to wear. The camo paint was handed around which was liberally applied to our faces, but I have to say that it didn't make any of us look like steely eyed killers, but it helped us to get into the atmosphere of the event.

Caerleon Running Club ready for action

The organisers gave a heath and safety talk before we were put through our paces with a warm up, then split us into starting groups so that not everyone started at the same time, which would have created large queues at each obstacle.

We began negotiating some simple hay bails where team work was the name of the game to help others get over them before we arrived at the river, which we had to cross. The water was fairly fast flowing, about knee deep and icy cold, and one or two people lost their footing and got an unexpected dip.

By this time some of our club members had pulled away and formed their own group, so I hung back with Phil, Tania, JoJo, Ann and Shell. The next section was mainly running with only a couple of simple obstacles to negotiate before having to cross the river again, but we had to join a queue and in the mean time I was cooling off and beginning to feel chilly. 

My turn came and I entered the water first with Phil and the girls behind me. All was OK until I reached mid river, then I don't know what exactly happened, whether I lost my balance, (which is pretty crap at the best of times), or I slipped, or if the force of the current just swept my legs away, but the next thing I knew was that I had lost my foothold and I got a complete dunking in the water. But then, due to the force of the flow, I struggled to get my legs down so that I could get a foothold and stand up again. The thing was, that my dunking caused Phil to get a dunking also, plus the two people ahead of me as well, so there were four of us got a soaking. Sorry guys, but we all had a good laugh about it.

I waited on the far side of the river bank, soaking wet and cold, for the rest of my group to make it across and we headed off to the next group of obstacles, a cargo net to scramble under followed by a muddy tunnel with wires dangling from the roof to give a small electric shock should you touch one of them. Fortunately I didn't, phew.

Then a series a boggy ponds where the water came to just above my knee, but the mud felt like it came up to my calf's and at times it was a struggle to release my feet from the mud due to the suction.

More obstacles to climb over came along where we all helped each other to negotiate before the final jog to the finish line.

Of course there has to be the almost obligatory after race photo. Fortunately we were all as mucky as each other, and we all smelled of muddy bog and cow pats.

Well that was fun, and a different way to spend a Sunday in the Welsh countryside, but it was also a great way of raising funds for the Royal British Legion, who look after ex servicemen and women who need help after leaving the service. 

Autumn Catch Up

Hi all, it's been a little while since I posted so I thought I ought to tell you about what has been happening in my purple running worl...