Tag Archives: absolute running

AR Summer 5K Series – a small race with a big heart

Reeling from a not-so-successful London Marathon at the end of April I got stuck in that place we go when we feel nothing’s going right for us, while everything is going right for ‘them’ (whoever they may be). The first few days after a marathon are such an emotional rollercoaster, even when you’ve run OK. Feeling a bit low I entered a local 5K race series, as it’s the only way I know to cope…create a new goal.

The last race of the series was run under a beautiful moon

The last race of the series was run under a beautiful moon

This series was a perfect match: extremely close, exceptional value (I caught the early bird price) very friendly and well run. It’s been going for a few years and I’d only heard good things about it. I also wanted to support the race organiser, local runner and owner of the award-winning Absolute Running shop in Gosport as he is a top bloke. Last year I had every race of the series on my calendar and didn’t make one of them. A mid-week evening 5K race can be tricky if you have kids and accompanying taxi duties. But doing a short race series over the summer can show you how your fitness is improving, so I really wanted to make it this year. It’s also a welcome break from your winter long, slow runs.

GRR turning out in force to support the last race

GRR turning out in force to support the last race

Then the first one came, and it went. Nope, I didn’t make it. It just happened that both my mum and my partner were away and so on that night it was only me home alone with three girls and too many car trips to fit in any sort of run. I was proper grumpy. This really fired me up and I was going to make the next four, no matter what.

Me and Karen, second lady

Me and Karen, second lady

Boy I had the wind taken out of my sails on the next race, the second of the series. One thing I hadn’t factored into my race plan was the hideous wind you get along the south coast, which, whatever direction you run in seems to swirl against you.

We all flew for the first mile (wind-assisted), did our two laps of the top field then had to put our heads down on the way back to the finish. The same for races three and four. In fact, on the day of the July 5K I really didn’t want to run. It wasn’t windy, it was hurricane weather – well it felt like it was all the way back into the finish. My third mile split was nearly a minute slower than the first two. I think I was proper grumpy again after that race. But we all know you never regret a run…

I won wine!

I won wine!

By the August 5K I was expecting balmy conditions, a perfect, still summer evening where I may even get within touching distance of my 5K PB. Well, the weather had other plans for us runners and yet again we had to battle 25-30mph winds coming into the final third of the race. Can’t say I was ebullient after that one! Then something amazing happened on the final race, on Tuesday night.

Presentations for the overall series winners

Presentations for the overall series winners

It was incredibly warm – maybe even too warm – for racing a 5K and the wind that was building gently during the day dropped to a whisper. You’ve never seen a couple of hundred runners so uplifted. When I arrived to pick up my race number we were all rejoicing – no wind! It was going to be a breeze (sorry…). We all gathered for the pre-race photo and there was such a good vibe. If you’re looking for your running tribe this is the place to come and find the best. Nick is the perfect ambassador for running and the running life. He’s probably one of the most authentic people you could hope to meet, pretty important when you’re looking for new trainers that you know are probably going to cost you at least £100. You can trust his opinion and pick his brain on anything – the fact that Absolute Running has won awards two-years running, at the Running Awards, shows the depth of community behind him, and how much they trust and respect him.

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He has made some powerful differences to the community he lives in, both through the 5K summer series and the Gosport Golden Mile race, which has become a big hit with local school children. As Nick says: ‘It’s all about the youth.’

Perfect running conditions

Perfect running conditions

I was really chuffed for Nick that so many of the local run club, Gosport Road Runners, were out to support him in the last race of the series. I know most of them only live down the road, literally, but it would be easy not to bother – all of us have busy lives. After the race I spoke to three separate people who told me how they had dashed, hell for leather, from work to make the last event. And at a coaching event earlier in the year held in the other side of the county runners from Surrey told me they were hoping to come down to one of the races.

ethangeephotography.co.uk

ethangeephotography.co.uk

Every year the numbers taking part in this series are growing impressively, and will continue to grow not just because good news travels quickly, but, if the wind is calm, it’s a completely flat and potentially fast course. There’s a kids 1K race before the adult race each month, so you can take your youngsters for a dash along the prom. All finishers get a medal, plus there are prizes in each race through the age categories, as well as a substantial prize to the overall male and female winners of the series. There’s also chip timing. All this is just by-the-by though, as it’s the welcoming, all-inclusive and friendly atmosphere that you will remember. Presentations only take place when the last runner is in and the marshals are fantastic. Plus there’s the perfect opportunity to take your family down for a fish and chip supper after the race. On Tuesday it was nearly dark by the time the last runner finished, the moon was out and it was a beautiful evening. It was lovely to sit on the beach after the race with my youngest, rather than dash home.

The lovely Nick and Kim Carter - thank you for a great race series!

The lovely Nick and Kim Carter – thank you for a great race series!

I am so chuffed that I finally made this race. Yes I moaned and grumped along the way; we all want perfect conditions for every race, but this rarely happens. Maybe if every race in the series had been calm it wouldn’t have been such an achievement to persevere to the end, or the last one wouldn’t have felt so magical.

You can enter next year’s Gosport Golden Mile here

The Road to London #Week 11

Everything’s gone Pete Tong.

What should have been a pivotal week, with my longest run so far involved no running at all. My plan was to start the week off slow after Brighton Half, do a few easy sessions, then end it with a long run of 16 miles. Instead I’ve done four hours on the bike (about 50 miles) and a swim.

Another turbo session

Another turbo session

Monday was always going to be a rest day, as I don’t overstretch myself after a race. My ankle didn’t feel too sore, and I definitely wasn’t in pain. Tuesday it felt about the same though, a bit sore and I was reluctant to try anything on it, so instead I sat on the turbo in the evening while the girls were doing their homework, and as winds and rain battered the house.

Lawrence testing my ankle ligaments

Lawrence testing my ankle ligaments

Wednesday was another rest day, and Thursday I was pre-booked into seeing my physio Lawrence at Knott Kinetics, based at Absolute Running in Gosport. I explained how I had stepped on a tiny wooden stake at the beach, which cricked my ankle a bit, felt nothing much for the rest of the session, then had ended up in agony Friday night. I felt recovered enough to race two days later, but Lawrence thought I had some minor ligament damage on the outside of my left ankle. He gave me some ultrasound, strapped it up and recommended no running for a few days at least. We devised a plan. It didn’t really work, but for a while it made me feel better. Instead of 16 miles on the paths I would cycle 32 miles trying to keep my heart rate at 80% of my max. Could this be equivalent to a 16 mile run?

On to ultrasound

On to ultrasound

I’ve never cycled that far as I tend to get a bit bored on the bike, but I went home at least feeling I would be doing something. Thursday evening I sat on the turbo for 40 mins, Friday, with enforced rest, I couldn’t lead my group but did lots of strength and conditioning at home.

Look away if feet make you squeamish, especially chicken feet

Look away if feet make you squeamish, especially chicken feet

So. Saturday it was miserable; freezing and raining (on and off). I was miserable. I knew I had to try for 32 miles on the bike, but first I had to do everything a mum has to do at the weekend, which involved a lot of running around and plenty of stress I’ve got no time for. As the hours passed I got grumpier and grumpier. With everyone. Including me. No one was giving way so that I could get the mammoth (for me) bike ride done; I had to wait a long time before I could go out. By which time it was sleeting and about three degrees Celsius. Worse, the roads were wet. I should mention I am a scaredy-cat cyclist when it comes to fast downhills and wet corners. This is due to going over the top of my handlebars once when I was a kid, then again at university (I have two scars on my chin where the road kissed me deeply).

Playing hangman whilst doing my one-legged squats

Playing hangman whilst doing my one-legged squats

I started, and even though I wasn’t feeling the love I am very stubborn, and decided before I began I had to go for at least 80 per cent maximum heart rate. The whole way round. Then I got on with the ride, had rain, a little hail, and sleet, sunshine, but all I can really remember is my feet being so cold that as soon as my watch clicked over to 32 miles I stopped and started walking to try and get my circulation going. The last five miles or so the cold had crept up my legs to my thighs and I feared hypothermia. How will I run without feet, I thought? Surely they are going to drop off, I hadn’t felt them for so long. But the feeling had returned by the time I walked home, I just then had to wait another few hours before I had the time to have a bath to completely defrost. Motherhood brings a whole new dimension of patience into your life.

Fuelled this week by fresh eggs from Marina's chucks

Fuelled this week by fresh eggs from Marina’s chucks

Did I feel like I had done a long run? No. Was my worry pacified? No. Am I beginning to fret a) I’m not even going to make the marathon now – especially after such a key session (I should mention here I’ve done this so many times before, got to about 16 miles and something happens. Yes. I’ve gone on and ran a marathon with only 16 miles done in training and *No* I don’t ever want to do that again). And b) Am I going to have to run 26.2miles with my longest run being 15 miles about two months before the run? Yes I’m beginning to worry.

Feeling the love for my bike

Feeling the love for my bike

What’s 32 miles on the bike really worth? Probably about 10.5miles running, if I’m really lucky, according to Dr Edward Coyle of the University of Texas, who devised a formula for estimating the caloric equivalence between running and cycling.

What’s really scary is, if I take his formula, and if I am supposed to be running 18 miles this weekend, I will need to cycle approximately 53 miles. Shit. I don’t even like cycling. Like everything else in life (except running) I can’t really do it – my legs are at least 12 inches too short. They’re also too narrow – you can’t spot my muscles. They’re just so delicate.

And after... still smiling

And after… still smiling

Sunday was Mother’s Day and I was a bit low after a week of not running at such a crucial stage of marathon training. I started feeling lost. Do I know where I live? Check. Am I secure in my family? Check. I think I know who I am, anyway. Yet, here it is again, already, that feeling of starting to lose my identity.

Why does all of me have to be so tied up in this running game? Why can’t I enjoy a more easy, sitting down kind of pastime – crochet, painting, chess… I’ve been asking myself this all my life. But running comes before me, from my family and it’s imprinted in my DNA. I can’t unpick the strands of who I am and create a more convenient, less energetic me.

So my running week was non-existent and rubbish really. I’m dreading where my running will be next week already.

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