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Friday, 26 January 2018

Running Roundup #4

We are into the last full week of January with only 10 weeks to go until the Manchester marathon. 😲

I had a weekend away and I promised Michelle that I would leave my trainers at home. We stayed at the St. Moritz Hotel & Spa at Trebetherick, near Wadebridge, which is where my son works as a chef. We certainly ate well, with lunch on Friday at Rick Stein's fish and chip shop in Padstow, then fine dining in the evening at the hotel with my son and his partner. We did do some walking over the three days but I did still managed to put on a few pounds. No doubt I shall be working those off within the next few runs.

Tuesday's club run was one of the shortest routes we run, the Moorings Meander at a little over 4 ½ miles. I began running with Michelle, ( not my Michelle, another one 😊), also Sally and Tania until I'd warmed up, then I sped up a little and I caught up with some of the other ladies. There was also new guy Andy who hadn't run for six months and is more of a cyclist than a runner.

The route is an out and back course and so I decided to get myself into a good pace. Andy had gone past the ladies but was falling back and so I stopped to wait for him, and he said he was beginning to feel tired and urged me to carry on.

I enjoyed the shorter run after my weekend of indulgence, and I felt good at the end of it.

Wednesday's speed/interval session with Jenny was hill reps around the centre of Newport. It began on the flat, just to get us warmed up, then we began the climb up from the Civic Centre, along Fields Park Rd to Risca Rd, before finding another long street on a hill to run up and down a few times before heading back down Stow Hill into town and back to our starting point.

I have to say that Jenny's enthusiasm is infectious! Many people shy away from hills, with Jenny it's, "shall we do that one more time"? She is feeling the benefits of our sessions also. She told me last night that she feels her recovery time is getting quicker, which is a sure sign that her fitness is improving.

You can see the long climb at the beginning, followed by a stead flat section, then the up and down reps section with the long run home at the end.

I've been really enjoying these sessions with Jenny. Previously I've helped with the C25K courses and really enjoyed those, seeing the beginners start from nothing, (as I did), and nine weeks later running 5km non stop. So this has prompted me to think about maybe doing a course in Leadership in Running with Welsh Athletics after I've done my marathons.

This weeks LSR was the same route as last week, mostly, apart from a couple of little variations. 
I was joined by the lovely Tania, (who I nicknamed Miss Speedy Pants 😂), for 8 miles of this mostly flat route. I thoroughly enjoyed this part of the run, and in fact Tania and I were chatting so much that I forgot our turn off on Corporation Rd and we ended up all the way to its dead end, where we found a small trail like path, and I decided to take it. Tania was wondering where I was taking her, it being dark and secluded 😲. Fortunately we didn't come across any ghouls, ghosts or zombies, only a lone woman with two large white dogs. Fortunately the path did lead us back to civilisation again and we were both safe. Phew, but I did have Tania to protect me. 😂

I'd met up with Tania at the Wave on Newport's Riverfront, and that was where we parted company, Tania having completed about 8 miles, but I still had about 4 miles to go. 

The flat part of the route was fine, but then I hit the hill on Malpas Rd, opposite Bettws Lane and I began to struggle, my legs were now beginning to feel tired and I couldn't wait for the road to flatten out again.

A little further along I began to get a couple of cramp twitches in my right calf, and I NEVER get cramp! I turned off Malpas Rd to head down to the canal, where I only had to run the canal path for a couple of hundred metres before bearing off and into the estate. But with very tired legs, that last hill was a killer and I really struggled to carry on running, the temptation to walk was huge, but I carried on running like the three little pigs, all the way home.

Saturday I shall just be running at Parkrun, and no further. And on Sunday it is race day, the Lliswerry 8, a 8 mile very flat route organised by Lliswerry Running Club in Newport. This will be my first time running in this race so I am looking forward to it and I hope to complete it in 1 hour 15 minutes or less. I shall write up a full report in next weeks Running Roundup.

Until next time guys and gals, keeeeeep running 😊

Thursday, 18 January 2018

Running Roundup # 3

It has been another busy week running wise, but then every week is busy at the moment.

Friday Core Session
This was my first proper workout as last week was an introduction to show me the exercises involved. This session was way more intense and man was I feeling the pain in certain areas, mostly my abs which really need some work, so I think some weekly home sessions are called for too.

Billboard picture
Also on Friday, one of the guys from the club posted a picture on the club Facebook group page. The picture was of me on a HUGE billboard located at the side of the Southern Distributor Rd by the Newport International Sport Village. As you can imagine, there was a fair bit of banter going on from this, which was pretty funny, but it is also good advertising for Caerleon Running Club as I was wearing our club shirt.

Riverfront Parkrun
As I was racing on Sunday, I didn't want to do a long run on Saturday. I'd done that the week before and I just didn't have the energy for the race on the Sunday, so I drove and parked by the canal and ran from there, which made my total run distance about 6.6 miles.

I didn't feel particularly comfortable as I ran towards Newport, my legs were feeling a bit tired and heavy and I was hoping that they would ease as I progressed.

I met up with Griff Harriers friend Cath, and her friend Helen, and I'd already promised beforehand to run at their pace, which I did until the return leg when upon reaching the George Street bridge, with about one mile to go, I decided to open up the taps a bit and see how far I could push the girls. Helen stayed with me for most of the way but Cath dropped back a little. Even so, Cath did manage a new 5k PB.

The run home was uneventful and done at a easy pace, looking at the wildlife along the canal makes this a very pleasurable run.

Welsh Buff 10k Trail
This was a fabulous trail run through the Afan Forest, just north of Port Talbot. There were 6 of us in our group, and one other, Rhys Knight from CRC who was there also. I didn't know he was taking part until afterwards.

The route begins with a long uphill section of about a mile, followed by a mile long down hill section, where I was able to open up the taps and make up the time that I knew I would lose on the  uphill sections. A fairly flat section followed for about 3 1/2 miles, before hitting one of the steepest hills I've come across on a race.

You can see from this that the 1st & last miles were the slowest, mile 2 was the long downhill section, and miles 3 - 5 were some of the fastest miles I've ever run on the flat.

And my heart rate was well within limits

Michelle & Charlotte

Me on the big hill

Rebecca was our first lady home

Fabulous views

I think Sally surprised herself with her own performance, and loved her first proper trail run

That super speedy man Rhys Knight who finished in 11th place. Well done Rhys 👍

Sally coming to the finish

Here comes Charlotte

Nicky too

A flying finish for Michelle

The three Amigos 

The Trail Crew

And finally for for this week I went out last night after work for a 14 mile LSR and increase my distance a little. The first ten miles were fine but after that my legs began to feel tired and my pace dropped off. Still, it was my longest run ever, but my mp3 player died after an hour, and then I tried to take a photo with my phone, but whether the cold air got to it or what I don't know, but as soon as I had taken a picture, the phone crashed and then showed that the battery was dead, which was very strange as there was 70% in it when I left home. Once home I plugged it into the mains and it woke up and after a minute or two showed that it had 50% battery.

You can see that I managed to mostly keep my heart rate out of the red zone

Friday, 12 January 2018

Running Roundup #2

So here we are again at the end of another week and I shall begin with last Friday. This was my introduction to core/strength with Deborah at the Newport International Sport Village. Deborah had already read my profile and knew my goals and so we got straight into the session with a warm up, and showing me some of the warm up exercises that I should be doing before each run. We then moved on to various exercises, mostly on a mat and with no equipment so that I can be doing these at home, such as planks and variations on those. Also exercises to help strengthen my hamstrings and glutes.  We did then use a few light weights, and a medicine ball too.

It was a good session which clearly highlighted areas that I need to work on. I shall be back again on Friday to join in a class session.

Deborah and I did have a good chat afterwards and she did mention something that I particularly found interesting. She mentioned about getting chest problems during the cold winter months, which is something I do suffer with. I usually end up having a few days off work because of a chesty cough in late January or February, and for someone who spends a lot of his working day on the phone, it isn't good when I'm having a coughing fit, and after a run in the cold air I usually have a coughing fit as soon as I stop, so Deborah advised me to use something to cover my nose and mouth when I'm running, this would help she said.

Warming up before a run is something I haven't really done much of before, and when I have it has usually consisted of a slow jog with knee raises, some side steps, and butt kicks, but now I'm going to spend more time before a run warming up those muscles instead of just exerting a heavy load on them whilst they are cold.

Extended Parkrun
Saturday was going to be my 50th Parkrun, and so I thought that I would include this into my weekly long run and run to the Riverfront.

I drew my bedroom curtains and the cars parked on the road were very frosty and there was also some frost on the grass, so I needed to dress warmly. As I walked out of the door, I was wearing leggings, a base layer, T shirt, jacket, gloves, a buff around my neck and another on my head. I plugged some music into my ears and went through my new warm up routine before beginning a comfortable 3 miles to the Wave at the Riverfront.

Due to Newport (Tredegar House) Parkrun being cancelled due to poor ground conditions, the Riverfront exceeded it's 350 runner limit with a total of 374 runners. Still, I didn't find it a problem. It was maybe a little slow as we began and negotiated the Z bend by the theatre, but the crowd soon spread out and it felt no different to any other Saturday.

I enjoyed this section of my run, being careful not to push too hard as I still had the run home to do, but I did finish in a respectable time.

Afterwards I went into the Riverfront cafe for a coffee and toasted teacake with a few friends before starting my run home.

Running along the canal I was nearing Bettws Lane and so I had to make a decision at this point. Do I cross the lane and continue along the canal for a total of 10 miles or, do I turn right and follow Malpas Rd, then Newport Rd down to Pentre Lane by the Three Blackbirds pub, then back along the canal for 12 miles? I opted for the later.

There is a bit of an incline in the last mile as I leave the the canal and head into the estate, and I was feeling it in my legs by then, but I just had to grit my teeth and push slowly up it, and I was thankful once I'd reached the top of the hill and the road had leveled out. This last bit then was easy, but I was still glad that I didn't have to run any further, and glad that I'd been sensible in my distance choice and didn't try to run further than that.

I finished off spending 10 minutes with some good stretching, some outside of my front door, and the others laying on my living room rug stretching my hamstring and piriformis, which have been groaning a little lately.

I did try pulling the buff around my neck, up and over my nose and breathing through that as Deborah had suggested on Friday. Wow, it really did work and I didn't have a coughing fit at all once I'd finished running. So I know what to do now in colder weather, even though I look like a running bandit.

GLCL XC Race 3 - 5 hosted this month by Spirit of Monmouth running club and held at TV presenter Kate Humble's farm, Humble by Nature at Penallt near Monmouth.

It was flippin cold with temperatures around 2°C. Puddles at the side of the road were frozen, the ground had a crunchy top at first, but was soft underneath, although the crunchy top had disappeared after the first lap. There were a few muddy patches, (it wouldn't be a cross country if there wasn't some mud), some sharp turns, mole hills and long but gentle inclines.

The race is 4 laps for the guys and 3 laps for the girls. Why? In this day and age of sexual equality, why is that? Many of the girls are as strong as the guys, and many of them stronger than me, which isn't hard.

The race covers three fields for a total distance of 5.45 miles, and my legs were really feeling it after  only two laps from my previous days 12 miler. All I could do was dig in and try to keep up the 10 minute mile pace I'd set myself.

Tis me!

I was the last Caerleon runner to cross the line, but fortunately NOT the last runner in. Phew! Tea, coffee and cake followed before heading home to a nice warm shower, and then apart from sticking my running clothes in the washing machine, and washing the mud off my trail shoes, I did nothing more for the rest of the day. Nice 😊

Tuesday's club run - The Estate Run
I decided to go out with the earlier 6:45PM group instead of the 7PM group, for two reasons really. Firstly, some of my favourite running buddies were coming back to club for a run after not being able to run due to work and family commitments, and illness also, and I fancied running with them. Also, the 7PM group are just too damned fast for me. Most of them are doing 7 or 8 minute miles, whereas I'm a 9 - 10 minute mile runner, so I find that I end up running alone. Michelle arrived at the last minute and she asked me to hang on a minute and she'd run with me.

We caught up with the back markers in the pack who were running at a shade over a 11 minute pace and slowly we picked up our pace until we reached the first long hill on College Glade. I had a nice, slow pace up the hill, and I didn't walk at all, and we pushed on to the long downhill section on Lodge Hill where I was able to recover before tackling the steep climb on Trinity View.

Michelle dropped back here and so I pushed on up to the top of the hill where I had caught up with Tania. We had a nice chat as we ran down the hill and around Wentwood Rd where we caught up with another group who, some I'm sure, I had passed previously on College Glade. Now I wonder how that happened? 😉 Running with this group was Lowenna, (I hope I've spelled her name correctly), and we began chatting as we rounded the bend and the short hill leading us up onto Lodge Rd, and before we realised, we'd left the others behind and our pace had quickened to a comfortable 9 minute mile, and there we stayed for the rest of the run.

I have to say that I really enjoyed that run, more than I was expecting to when I began it, and it was due to being able to chat to several people along the way and not pushing myself too hard.

This Wednesday's Fartlek session with Jenny was a foggy one at the Riverfront where we just ran laps from the Wave, over the footbridge, along the path on the opposite side, then back over Castle Bridge to our starting point, running at a moderate pace and then speeding up for maybe 300m at a time.

You can see from the heart rate graph how my heart rate fluctuates up and down, and also the amount of time spent in each of the heart rate zones

And this graph shows how my pace fluctuates and the time spent in each zone

Thursday plod
As I'd done a speed session with Jenny the previous evening, I didn't want to do another one tonight, instead a nice, comfortable plod seemed like the right thing to do. This meant that I could also get out at 6 PM and be home by 7 ish instead of starting the club session at 7, which gave me time to do other things I needed to do at home, such as laundry, (yayyyyy, clean socks and underwear again 😂). 

Well the 7 PM finish didn't happen because I decided to run 10 miles instead of  6, but it was a route I hadn't done before and I did enjoy it. The route I chose stuck mostly to well lit streets and had undulations instead of hills.

En-route I bumped into Michelle and her daughter Maddy who were out running in the opposite direction, then just as I made the turn home out of Llanfrechfa Way in Cwmbran, I saw a bunch of about 20 runners in front of me, probably from Griffithstown Harriers. It probably took me a mile to catch their tail runners, who I scared to death as she didn't hear me catching her up, and the first she knew of my presence was when I spoke, "do you mind if a Caerleon runner joins you"? Well, she practically jumped out of her skin. At the top of the hill they all turned off Newport Rd into Malthouse Lane and I continued straight ahead towards Malpas Rd for the final 3 miles of my run.

Tonight I have a core class at the gym, then Saturday morning I'm going to run an extended Parkrun for about 6 miles. Then on Sunday I'm running the Welsh Buff Trail 10k, which I am looking forward too as I do enjoy trail runs, and there are a few of us from the club running together.

This is the view looking down the final hill of the Buff 10k, which we have to run up.

I shall be reporting on this race in next weeks Running Roundup. Until then, keeeeeeep running 😁

Friday, 5 January 2018

Running Roundup # 1

Hey guys & gals, I'm going to try to create a weekly report of my marathon training from now until the end of April, as it is my intention to run four times per week, and go to the gym once a week until the beginning of April. It has been a very busy week so here goes.

Tuesday 2nd January
Tuesday is club run night and this week it is the Llanhennock Loop, a six mile loop which begins in the village of Llanhennock, near to Caerleon. The run begins at the Wheatsheaf pub and winds its way along narrow country lanes.

Usually we don't run this route until the clocks go forward in the spring and we have lighter evenings, but wearing hi viz and head/chest lamps it was plenty safe enough on those quiet country lanes. However, the weather was atrocious with strong winds, driving heavy rain, and torrents of muddy rain water flowing down the road like a river. Not pleasant conditions at all.

I was a bit slow on the up hill sections, (nothing new there), but I didn't stop and walk at all, which I have done in the past, and I did complete it in under an hour.

I didn't stay to enjoy a drink in the pub, and I think most of us just wanted to get home to a hot shower and warm up.

Wednesday evening is when I meet up with Jenny for a speed/interval session.
My plan was to go back to the beginning where I began with Jenny a few weeks ago and run the Riverfront Parkrun route, but dividing it into sections where we would run faster and slower alternately, getting that heart rate up and down, and considering Jenny was saying that her legs were feeling like lead, it didn't particularly show in her running and we still completed the course in under 30 minutes.

I think maybe we ought to try some hill reps next week!

Newport Live - EVERYbody campaign
You may remember that I won one of the five places available in this competition giving me three free months membership of Newport Live, along with a personal trainer and a training program, followed by nine months at half price membership. Well the publicity wheel has begun to turn and apparently my picture was seen on the big screen that they have at the Newport International Sport Village, and I have also been sent this LINK showing my profile on the website, check it out. On Friday evening I shall be going along to collect my membership card and begin some core/strength exercises.

Saturday and Sunday?
I shall be running my 50th Parkrun at the Riverfront on Saturday, followed by coffee and cake in the cafe afterwards. The Newport (Tredegar House) Parkrun is cancelled this week due to poor ground conditions caused by the amount of rain we have had this week, so the Riverfront could be busy this week, although I know the organisers are trying to persuade runners to go to Cwmbran, Pontypool or Rogiet as the Riverfront has a 350 runner limit. I shall report on this next week.

On Sunday there is a GLCL cross country race hosted by the Spirit of Monmouth running club and being held in the grounds of TV presenter Kate Humble's, Humble by Nature farm. I shall be reporting on this also.

So with all this going on over the weekend, I've been wondering when I can fit in a long run? It either has to be tagged on to my Parkrun or, I could could run to and from the gym this evening, and at the moment that seems like a good option, although I would have to stick to running on well lit streets as I don't fancy running along the canal path alone in the dark, even when wearing a chest lamp, it just seems a bit "dodgy". I shall consider this during the day.

Have a good weekend all. Happy running 😊

Tuesday, 2 January 2018

Happy New Year

So here we are in a new year, and I just hope it will prove to be as enjoyable and injury free as my 2017 was.

I began 2018 without a hangover, fortunately, but feeling somewhat lethargic after having enjoyed a few drinks the evening before with family, although I didn't get to bed until about 3 AM and I had set my alarm for 8 AM so that I had enough time to sort myself out before doing Parkrun that morning.

My girlfriend, Michelle, had long wanted to join in with the New Years Day swim in the sea at Barry Island, and she was determined that she was going to do it this year, however, she has had a niggling cough for weeks which didn't seem to want to go away, so she was persuaded not to do it, for health reasons. But we decided to go to Barry Island anyway as there was a Parkrun beginning at 10:30 with the swim at midday.

The drive to Barry was dark with heavy rain clouds, and in fact as we drove through the town the heavens opened up again with rain and hail thrown in for good measure. I didn't have my waterproof running jacket with me so it was beginning to look like I was going to be in for a good soaking.

We had a few minutes to kill once we had parked the car, and there was no point just standing about in the cold and rain, so we didn't begin the walk down to the sea front until ten minutes before the start.

Michelle went off to find some family members who she was planning to meet and I reached the shelter where the run was to begin and I was pleasantly surprised to find friends Andrew, Catherine and Cath there. Then, all of a sudden, the black sky changed to blue and the sun appeared, so maybe I wasn't going to get a soaking after all.

I went to the visitors briefing before making my way to the rear of the pack of 430 runners and off we went. The course begins on a wide area of pavement before making a hairpin right hand turn where the path is on an incline. Once at the top of that incline, the path narrows and the marshals were indicating us to keep to the right as the faster runners were heading back towards us, so there was little or no room to be able to get past the slower runners. The path then reaches the Coastguard watch tower, turns sharply left with a short but very steep incline of about 20 metres before turning sharply left again and heading back along the narrow path. Once onto the wider section again, which is now downhill, I was able to get a better pace on. A hairpin left hand turn sees runners heading back to the shelter where cones and a U Turn sign guide us back to run a second lap.

My official time was actually 28:08 which shows how much slower this course is compared to my local run at the Riverfront, although there were many more runners there than usual.

Andrew, Catherine & Cath were taking part in the swim, as was Michelle's Auntie, so I thought that I may as well partake, although I'm a complete woos when it comes to cold water, so I thought that if I got in up to my knees I'd be doing well.

We assembled with hundreds of others on the beach, with hundreds more there to watch. In fact I heard many people say that they hadn't seen that many people on the beach even in the height of the summer holidays. Then, with a loud air horn blast, everyone began to run into the freezing cold water. Man was that water cold as I ran into it, and by the time the water had just about reached my knees, my feet had become numb with the cold, so I turned around and headed back.

After I had been out of the water for a few minutes, and I was drying my feet, I had the weirdest sensation of my hands feeling numb and tingly, even though they hadn't been in the water.

Picture courtesy of Walesonline

What a hoot that was and a great was of spending the morning.

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