Tomorrow is the first day

… of official triathlon training 🙂

You know me. I do like a plan and my 12 week plan starts tomorrow. It’s not too much different from what I do at the moment, just with a few more focused sessions for swimming and running – distances and paces to hit. And then some brick sessions in a few weeks’ time. I am excited about it. Can you tell?

I love having an event to focus on and train for. I know I can happily keep things ticking over when I don’t and even enjoy trying things that aren’t on plan occasionally, but the focus seems to suit me. I’m also sticking a 10k race in one weekend and probably another aquathlon a couple of weeks before my tri.

I’m not going into this with huge expectations. My swim time is not that fast; I’ll be on a bike with nobbly tyres, and my 5k time puts me at the back of the middle of the pack for parkrun. But I’m massively looking forward to the challenge and am warming to the other disciplines as my run mileage decreases.

So, as they say in one of my favourite movies, here goes nothing…

Ups, downs and marketing parkrun

I’ve hit the chocolate again this week. Call it post workout munchies, or just giving in to the tedium, it’s been a bit more than an odd treat and more like a mood enhancing hit, with appropriate post indulgence crash.

So really it’s no wonder I’ve been feeling a bit bloated and sluggish. I’m not going to get myself in a tizzy over this. Sometimes I’m a bit tough on myself and what I ‘should’ and ‘shouldn’t’ do in training. This week I’ve tipped the balance a bit too far the other way.

My head was full of nonsense at Wednesday night’s boxercise and part way through the warm up I was almost giving myself the ease up message. But some good punky rock tunes, and a great class full of fun people and I suddenly just let it all go. As a result I nearly punched myself completely out of breath on a couple of the rounds, hitting hard and fast, launching into the pads with some real aggression. But it felt good and restored my energy and positivity.

Thursday’s PT session on the beach was back to winter darkness, but I was full of happy endorphins during a tough workout for my legs. The only downside was that the time sped by so quickly. I’m sure the hardest part is having to adapt back to office life afterwards. I kept finding excuses to get up from my desk and move around. There will be a hole worn in the carpet from my trips to the water cooler and back soon.

I have an exercise slot on a Thursday night that’s just the right shape for a swim. At first I got in and was quite happily warming up with a few lengths breastroke and front crawl. Then I don’t know what happened, but everything became a distraction. From a leakly goggle to a mis-breath half way down the pool and negotiating with another swimmer whether we were going to do loops or swim at different sides of the lane. I just kept failing to string a decent continuous set of lengths together, with the result that my swim wasn’t one thing or another. Not a technique session or a speed session or a swim a decent set session. I was a bit cheesed off with myself

By Friday I was ready for a rest day. I’d felt my left shoulder and lower back tighten up after the swim, and not just a well used muscle ache, but a bit more of a strain. It meant Friday morning’s breakfast was porridge and ibuprofen (food of champions) and feeling sorry for myself was assuaged by a trip to the choclate vending machine. Thankfully my lunchtime pilates class put me in a better place and eased my shoulders and back far more effectively.

And so to parkrun on a cold and frosty Newcastle morning. So many people to say hello to now, it becomes a challenge to get round and warm up before the start. My friendly nemesis Penny was preparing to freeze her fingers off giving out tokens today, so I had no one to chase after. But with an unusually grumbly stomach, I just decided to run how I felt.

And it was cold, but I was well dressed and once in the huddle at the start I didn’t feel it too much. A more temperate first kilometre than last week and I resolved just to try and keep that pace going the whole way round. At times I felt distinctly uncomfortable around my middle, but reasoning that my legs and breath were good, I just kept pushing on.

The sun was brigh and low in our eyes, sparkling off the ice patches in the mood as we turned back onto the moor. For once I barely took notice of the rougher ground as I chased down a runner and overtook them here. Then, once again I was out on my own. Just keep pushing on I told myself and I felt like I’d been consistent and stronger through that difficult 3-4k section. It was still a relief to see Clare smiling at the 4k gate though.

I’ve got my strategy sorted here now I think. A bit of a mood lift knowing there’s not far to go and a conscious picking up of the pace and strteching out the legs to make ground on the runners ahead. I picked it up a little again at the end of the run of lampposts, edging closer to a tall male runner. Down the final straight and a shorter sprint than of late, but it edged me one place up the pecking order.

Token collected from Pen and Flip doing a great job marshalling a new record number of runners through to get scanned. And then some more chat and catching up before chauffering Rob to the cafe in Jesmond for a warm up hot choc and teacake.

As I was getting up to go, a guy on a nearby table stopped me to ask where we’d all run from. I told him about parkrun and said it was a very friendly event and he replied “I can see that.” Our table full of fetchies tucking into breakfasts, coffees and generally talking ten to the dozen after a good run is a great advert for a great event. And it makes me very happy to be running and spending time with my most excellent friends :-)

Stats and stuff
5k 26:19
km splits:
1. 5.13
2. 5.13 (yes I run like a metronome sometimes)
3. 5.18
4. 5.36 (hmm – not as consistent between 3 and 4 as I felt)
5. 4.50

Tired legs

Today’s plan was hatched when I was out walking yesterday lunchtime and looking longingly at muddy-legged runners heading back through the woods. A pre-work 10k seemed rather less appealing when the alarm went off and my legs reminded me of last night’s weights session. But I was up, awake and wanted to be running. So hi viz gear on and out of the house along the coast.

I’ll treat the first kilometre as a warm up, just slow and steady. My quads are still tight from my exertions this weekend, and I’m thinking an extra layer on my legs would have been a good idea as the cool breeze hits me off the sea.

Out into the inky blackness and I sense I’m slow. I guess around 10 min mile pace, but refuse to look at my watch. Trying to run at a faster pace for longer will be part of my 12 week triathlon training plan, but that doesn’t start until next week. Today’s about running how I feel and getting a 10k in while I have the chance.

Shaking off a rather restless night, remembering fragments of shattered dreams, I settle and tell myself to stop thinking, just run. I seem to find a better groove from kilometre 2 onwards, but it’s nothing like my my usual speed, even for a long run. The tops of my legs remain stubbornly leaden and I plod on, telling myself that it’s not about the pace today, just the mileage. This must be what marathon training is like.

Bright spots of light punctuate my lonely route. Only a couple of cyclists pass by as I begin to count down bus stops until the half way point. As I turn, I’m heading back towards the sunrise and I make an effort to lift my knees along with my spirit.

The return section always feels like a net downhill and I use this to try and pick up the pace a little. I try to kick myself out of the monotonous plod, first by stretching out my strides, then by speeding up the turnover in my legs. I sense I am favouring my right leg again and try to think through my form, everything aligned, roll through the foot , push off from the back foot. But nothing seems to stick.

Never mind, it’s just running home now. Might as well run it – it’s a long way to walk. I focus on the positives. Breathing’s good, steady, even – well it should be at this speed. My shoulders are back and I’m reasonably relaxed. It’s just my poor legs that are suffering.

Still leaden legged, I feel like I can sense the muscle fibres shrink and tighten. The top of my right leg starts to hurt. A proper sharp pain, not just muscle weariness. I push on a little way, seeing if I can ease it, but it sticks around.

I’m lucky enough not to have run with injury, and I’m not sure what to do. Run it off or slow it down? I have less than 2 miles left to run. I can slow down and jog that, or even jump on a bus if I need to. I ease back a little, telling myself not to panic and my left leg gives a little jolt in a similar place.

I ease up to some nearby benches and stop for a stretch, then try a few tentative paces to see if it’s done the trick. It has. Part of me is cross that I didn’t ease up for a stretch earlier, but this is new territory for me and I must learn my own way.

I run until the watch beeps for 9k and I clock the time at 56 minutes. I already know this isn’t a good benchmark 10k, so I wonder what the value of continuing is, other than to get me home. I run a little further, but my heart’s not in it now, and I think of saving my legs for the rest of the week. A jog, walk shuffle gets me to 9.5k in just under an hour and another jog walk gets me home and into a welcome hot shower.

I’m glum because I haven’t had my adrenaline fix. All that work and no reward. Just grinding out the miles for the sake of it isn’t really what I’m about. Which is why I still won’t put myself through marathon training.

The ouch pain hasn’t lasted, but the top of my legs ache like I’ve run a really tough race. I’m not planning on running again until Saturday, when I hope the short, fast and friendly vibe of parkrun will give me the buzz I didn’t get this morning.

But I’ve said I want to run how I feel. And that’s what I did today. I still got out there and I still ran. And I still enjoyed the cool quiet of the day starting.

I had a good week last week, with lots of training highs, so maybe it’s inevitable I come back down to earth a little. In the great scheme of things it’s neither the good sessions nor bad ones that make a difference over all. It’s the consistency of training that pays off. So that’s just one I’ll chalk up to experience.

I’m off to see my podiatrist for a check up tomorrow, so I’ll get her to check out my niggles before they develop any further.

Stats and stuff
9.56k 59:45
km splits:
1. 06.30
2. 06.10
3. 06.05
4. 06.04
5. 06.08
6. 05.54
7. 06.03
8. 06.10
9. 07.05
10. 03.32

A parkrun a ride and a celebratory haggis

Some frost, some sunshine, a couple of early starts and lots of training activity this week means I’m feeling good. Feeling good too, because I wasn’t as worn out as last week by the time Friday came around. My diet could have been better as I’ve been on a bit of a sugar rush and couldn’t be trusted around the office biscuits, but I’m not going to beat myself up over that.

Up and about getting ready for parkrun on Saturday morning, opting for warm layers and a change of clothes for later. I even had time to get my race entry in for the Northumberland Coastal run before setting off. So that’s me, running at least 13 miles, mainly off road this July. I hope it’s a lot more enjoyable than my last off-road race, but I already know there will be a fair few friends doing it too, which should make it a good day.

I met Penny as I parked up and we fell into our usual easy chat, comparing training sessions as we walked up to the park. There seemed even more runners than last week milling around and a grand turnout of Fetchies.

No plans for how to run this week, just see how I feel. But as Penny seems happy to start beside me in the middle of the pack, sticking with her for as long as I can seems to be a good goal. Not much wind this week and once we’re round the first corner the pace feels fast as we stretch out over the moor.

Penny pulls ahead just before the 1km mark and I’m happy to let her go, although I try not to let her pull away too much of a lead. Out along the back onto Grandstand Road is my favourite bit of the course and I feel like I’m running well, stretching out and rather warmer than I expected to be.

Back through the gate and onto the rougher ground and I’m still okay, but my quads are starting to feel stiff and achey. Quick mental check, breathing’s good, head’s good – yeah, push on.

Round the corner by the museum, over the stony path. This is always the tough part. Is it me or is this a slight incline. It’s usually into the wind. I hear a hard breathing runner behind me. Sorry mate, but I’m going to make you work to get past me, I can’t afford to let my head drop now.

My quads are screaming now, like they do when we turn the resistance up in spin class and the instructor yells ‘sprint’. I try to do the opposite of what I feel and get my legs turning over faster, keep pushing on. The hard breathing runner goes past and I cannot match his pace.

There’s the 4k gate and a sense of relief, just easy on the smooth path to the turn and try and pick up the pace a little. Stewart shouts out encouragement and reminds me to finish fast. Either the legs have stopped burning or I’ve turned off the bit of my brain that notices and I begin to lengthen my stride, thinking smooth, easy, relaxed. The stream of runners fluoresce yellow, pink and red against the grey path.

As the last lamppost approaches I gear it up a notch and another. There are two men ahead of me, still distant, but I’m reducing the gap. Pushing on harder, longer strides and then picking my point to start the sprint. Power down, get the arms going and turn over the legs. I cruise past the first guy and realise I have a chance at the second. Sprint right through the line. He gets away this time – but it’s closer than I thought it would be.

Ah there’s Jeff by the finish line, encouraging me to go for it in the dying seconds of the race. I pant my way back to normal breathing, which causes some consternation among my fellow runners waiting to hand over their barcodes and chips. But I’m fine.

I glance at the watch to see 25.29 and am surprised. I didn’t feel like it was a great run, and I knew I’d slowed down between 3 and 4 k. But I said at the start I wanted to get closer to 25 and that’s definitely heading in the right direction. I can’t remember my PB for this course – but I know it’s close. Checking the results later I’m just 5 seconds slower.

In the queue to return my timing chip I turn to see Lesley and Dave heading for the line and think to myself, that looks like a sub 30. Catching up with Fetchies at the finish, it’s great to hear the flurry of PBs on a great day for a run. Great too to catch up and refuel in the cafe, to talk of runs done and planned and get the full horror of the Bog of Doom from Penny.

Stats and stuff:
5k 25.29
kilometre splits:
1. 4.56
2. 5.14
3. 5.14
4. 5.23
5. 4.40
I enjoy a slower start to Sunday. A bit of a lie in and then catching up on chores. We’re hosting an early Burns Night for our friends from the farm who deliver our organic meat, fruit and veg each week – including this week, the haggis. So I nip to the supermarket for some extra supplies to make cranachan.

Then back home for a quick tidy up and putting washing on before I finally get chance to head out on my bike. The plan is to head out and see how far I get in an hour, to give it some welly and keep pedalling fast and to use my summer long run route to get off road.

I’m straight into the wind as soon as I head off. This is a universal law of cycling, along with the one that says your back tyre is never as pumped up as you’d like it to be. But I’m away and much more confident out along the coast road, overtaking some casual cyclists and nipping down a side street to avoid stopping at road works and traffic lights.

I’m eager to get to the Waggonways and enjoy the freedom and safety of being off road. As I enter the pathways I have a brief stop for a drink of water and to check the time. And then I’m off down the muddy pathways, revelling in the freedom and space.

Catching up with the walkers and dog walkers who all make way and smile as I go past. Slowing down for a gorgeous wee yellow lab puppy, who behaves very well on his lead for his mum. The route is mainly flat and not too slippy, though there are places where I can feel my legs working harder.

Too soon 30 minutes has gone and it’s time to turn back. I pick an arbitrary landmark and stop for another mouthful of water and dried apricot from my pocket, then head back. I’ve either found my bike legs or the wind is behind me as I fly back down the paths, adrenaline pumped with the speed of the ride.

I notch it up a ring and keep pedalling (that’s good isn’t it?). This feels like I remember bike riding, when you’re steady and in control, but flying down paths between the trees. All the way home I’m in a higher gear than on the way out. Even on the road I feel more confident and settled.

As I approach the end of my street, I’ve been out for just over an hour and my Garmin tells me I’ve covered 18.4k. I’m enjoying this so much I instantly decide to tack on a wee loop to give me a base time for 20k – the distance I’ll be riding in my triathlon.

It means tackling a steep hill, but I’m ready for it. Pedalling fast, then dropping a gear and powering to the top with a great big grin. Through the village and back home the long way. I eventually stop the watch at 1 hour 7 minutes and a smidgeon over 20k, then freewheel down my street and home.

My bike is suitably muddy, so gets a quick scrub in the back yard before I give myself the same treatment in the shower. My legs are bike wobbly as I head up the stairs and I hope a few stretches will encourage them to forgive me.  But I think I may actually be enjoying this cycling lark.

Our friends arrive early bearing chocolate brownies, and our first home made organic haggis is a success. As is the cranachan, doused in the whisky that was in my prize bag from the Saltwell 10k. It’s a great, if indulgent way to round off a week’s training and look forward to more to come.

Going swimmingly

On Thursday evening I nipped off to the pool while Gary was enjoying his wine tasting class. The swim lane was busy, so I had to take my chances in the main pool with the aim of completing one 400m set and then swimming some more lengths focusing on technique.

I allowed myself a decent warm up, including a 100m set of front crawl, then took a rest and went into start my 400m set. But although my warm up had been slow and controlled, I immediately started rushing through the strokes. It’s like I just want it to be over as quickly as possible and windmilling my arms will speed me to the next turn.

I stopped after a couple of lengths, got my head together, swam a controlled length or two and started again. And it was a bit better, but I’m still rushing it. Rushing for the next opportunity to breathe or take a second at the end of a lap.

I had a bit of a messy head part way through, my mind taunting me saying ‘Why are you doing this? You’re not enjoying it. Who are you trying to impress?’ Hmmm, it looks like the monkey may have learned to swim.

Dodging some of the diagonal breast strokers took my mind off my mental doubts for a while. And slowing down, making the most of every stroke, relaxing on the out and in breaths got me back into a sensible rhythm again. So pretty soon there were only 5 more lengths to go and I knew I could do that.

I turned on the speed a little for the last three lengths, making a conscious effort to really push off the sides. My left goggle filled with water as I pushed off for the penultimate lap, so I ended up with one eye shut and a rather thrashy last lap, legs kicking, hard breathing, fingertips stretching for the wall.

I stopped the watch and saw 9:02 before it flicked over to pause. My fastest 400m front crawl to date. That was well worth a small skirmish with a swimming monkey. And I know there’s more in there. A faster turn around, a stronger push off, a more regular, slow, long and even stroke – there are seconds to be knocked off that time.

It’s a good starting base for my tri training which officially begins in a couple of weeks time. To be honest, if I can keep that kind of time for the swim, I’ll be very happy. And realistically I can expect to improve a bit if I keep practising and swim focused sessions regularly. But more importantly the lesson, as always, is to relax and enjoy. In swimming and running it brings me great rewards.

A fresh starched linen kind of day

A good hard frost and the world sparkles like fresh starched linen. White fingers retreat from the coastal fringes. The moon fat and full casts drift light over sand and water smooth as glass.

I run over the sands, barely picking out puddly patches in the half-light. So still. So quiet. Just me and my trusty guide breathing step by step. We haven’t done this for the longest time.

Back to the start and a short burst of speed. Arms and legs pumping, heart beating faster. Then drop to recover at a plod. And again, sprint to the line, then slow. Gulping down breath in great bites before firing up the knees again and again.

A sharp snap and a microsecond stumble. An unconsious cry of shock at the tension wire twitch. A temporary blackout of signals and synapses, soon forgotten in the riot of another surge.

Adrenaline fired warmth surges through my circuits, nerve endings tingling like a million neon lights. I only notice the cold when I’m finished and my fingers prickle with icy fire.

I’ve forgotten about the back pack weighing me down. Before I remove it, I’m already released. Even the return to the humdrum cannot diminish my energy crackle.

Is there a better start to the day?

Happy Birthday Newcastle parkrun

It took me a long time to make it to Newcastle parkrun, and I certainly wasn’t there that cold and icy January day in 2010 when it started. But the challenge and cameraderie of this simple event lend a nice shape to my weekends and training at the moment.

So with chocolate brownies on hand for the post race celebrations, I was ready for a good run. The weather had slightly different ideas. It may not be as cold and icy as it has been of late, but the town moor gale was gusting and rain wasn’t far away.

It was nice to have the cafe to huddle in before the start. Maybe it was the sense of something a bit different, but the gathering of runners was even more chatty than usual. Catching up with Dave, Flip, and Jeff; spotting Mark – running rather than volunteering this week, and Rob suitably attired for marshalling duties in his shorts.

As I jogged out of the shelter for a bit of a warm up near the lake, I sensed it wasn’t going to be a day for pushing it. My legs felt heavy, weary. And with the weather, I gave myself permission just to take it easy.

Chilly at the start and wanting to be off, a great crowd of runners all mingling together. I stood next to a guy who made me aware that I’d overtaken him on the line last week and remembered my mission to sprint finish every race.

For once the start didn’t take us into the headwind. Instead we were batted from the side as we spread out across the moor. A particularly vicious gust almost sent me stumbling into the runner beside me, but the field had soon split too much to offer me any chance of shelter.

The first mile was a bit of a warm through to see how I felt. My legs were still heavy, but not uncomfortable, and as I approached the first gate I felt good, steady. Not remarkable, just sensible.

Martin, buggy running with Little Miss C had caught me buy this time, so I had breath enough to exchange a few words and wish her well on her first parkrun.

Back through the gate onto the moor and I felt like I was picking up the pace a little until the wind rushed in head on along the back straight, with the added accompaniment of stinging rain. Head down, catching what breath I could before the gusts whipped it away, I’ve never been so grateful to turn onto the path around the back of the museum.

But there was more to come. As I approached the 4k marker and Clare marshalling the gate, I was practically stopped in my tracks by the wind. Very cruel in the last kilometre, where I can normally pick it up a little. There was a lady running with a gorgeous and very well behaved dog quite close to me. Every time she praised he dog, I imagined she was encouraging me on and dug in a little more.

The problem with setting myself the sprint finish challenge on a day like this was whether or not it caused me to ease off a little in the last section, so I had something in reserve. But I think I can justifably blame the conditions for slowing me down a little.

And so, into the final straight. My legs just won’t take a gradual increase of speed.  It’s pick a spot and go for it. A patch of darker tarmac is my start line. Ready steady, go! Push, push through the legs. Pump the arms. Breathe faster. All the way to the line. I’ll never have an attractive finish photo, but it does give me a great buzz.

A long line of runners waiting to log their times and then off to the warmth and shelter of the cafe. Nice for once not to disperse so quickly once the race is over. Time for cake and chat and warming up with hands around hot coffee cups. Catching up with Lesley, meeting Stuart and having a lovely chat with Kevin.

Enjoying the awards presentations and the way they embody the spirit of this event. Not just the fastest and the best, but those who turn up week after week, and those who have achieved incredible things inspired by and encouraged by a simple Saturday morning run.

I was proud to shake Mr Parkrun’s had and say thank you for starting this fantastic event. Proud to be beaten by little Miss C on her first parkrun (and sure it won’t be the last time she overtakes me). And very happy to be in the company of some fine running buddies. See you again next week.


I’ve jumped into this week with the enthusiasm of a new year gym bunny. Just ticking over through the winter has actually turned into some decent and varied training.

I’m feeling really good at the moment; running well without putting the pressure on, enjoying my classes and cross training and managing to fit everything in. Long may it continue.

I have a patch of intense activity mid-week, which sounds slightly mad, but has always proved manageable and in fact, mostly leaves me with a great work out buzz and a spring in my step. Wednesday night’s boxercise was the first session back for the new year and it was good to see a busy class. My arms were pumped by the end and I was glad of an early night, conscious of an early start for my Thursday morning PT session.

The weather’s really changed, and despite the dark morning,  I was soon peeling off wintry layers on the beach as I worked my way through some tough circuits with the kettlebell. Towards the end Ian got me to do to an exercise I haven’t done for a while and I struggled a bit. I knew I could do it better and it was largely a matter of confidence and technique, but I wasn’t going to get it this session.

And then we went to do a finisher and it did. I managed one set of squat jumps and then all set for the second and… nothing. The teensiest, weediest little stutter into the air as my legs filled with lactic acid and finally said “No!”.

I was a smidgeon disappointed, as I don’t like anything to beat me and always like to give 100% to these sessions. But then chatting to a friend at work made me realise that’s exactly what I’d done. I’d given 100% and worked to failure. I still left the beach with a smile and a bit of a bounce and managed a day at work without any ill effects.

Getting home through the traffic in time to drop Gary off at his wine school class is always a bit of a mission and I was back, changed and out the door again before I’d had time to think. In fact I was in so much of a whirl, I’d just automatically gone into Thursday night mode and it wasn’t until I was actually in the pool doing my sinking drill in preparation for a swim that my brain caught up with me and said, “Haven’t you done enough? ”.

I really was too tired to make much of my swim, so abandoned any ideas of a focused session and just swam how I felt. The result was a few sets of 100m front crawl, punctuated by rests and lengths of breast stroke. I was pleasantly surprised to see that my 100m times were about the same as when I swim a set in a more focused session.

So another good night’s sleep and plenty of DOMS, especially in my arms and shoulders on Friday morning. But it’s an honest weariness that made me glad of a more restful day. Just a lunchtime pilates session which always stretches out some aches and sets me in a more relaxed mood for a fun weekend, starting with Newcastle parkrun’s first birthday. Running, friends and cake – now that’s what I call a weekend!

Hopes and a bit more than a recovery run

On Monday night I ditched my usual weights session in favour of an own body weight workout of squats, lunges, press ups, planks and abs work. It was a good decision as I didn’t feel like a complete rest, but my legs appreciated the lighter workout. Even the squats and lunges without any extra weight were pulling on muscles well worked by a hugely satisfying run on Sunday. A good stretch set me up for a relaxed evening and a good night’s sleep. Training well and consistently has so many benefits.

On Tuesday lunchtimes, I have the opportunity of running out from work in the company of other runners. I’m usually the only girl and the guys are way more experienced, faster, endurance runners, but I don’t feel out of place. And there’s always someone who’ll stick with my pace, or Simon from the gym, who’ll stop and check we’re all in sight of each other and safe crossing the roads. 

I intended just to pootle, stretch out my legs and keep it steady – a recovery run if you like after my longest distance since September. But the sun was up, and although the chill wind was breathtaking at times, it was gloriously fresh to be out. I ran and chatted from time to time, relaxed and revelling in the freedom and release from the working day.

A Garmin beep alerted me to a 9 minute-ish mile, which surprised me. But I felt fleet and fluid and kept it coming. My company for most of the run outstripped me up the hill and into the headwind on the return journey, but Simon dropped back to offer me some encouraging coaching tips and I pushed on, cheekily teasing out a sprint for the last 100m for the sheer joy of it.

I’m feeling good about my training right now, with lots to look forward to this coming year. And I’ve been inspired by seeing and hearing others starting or rediscovering the challenge and enjoyment of running. 

It’s strange to think this is my third year of running. It still feels so new and exciting. I’m flattered when people ask me for advice, or about races I’ve done.

I  sense the hope and expectations of friends seeking to run a race I’ve given my heart to. A race which has been the catalyst for my life changing. Your hopes are my hopes. I wish all this and more for you too. May your feet fall fleet and sure.

Stats and stuff:
3.77 miles/6.06 km 34.29
mile splits:
1. 08.58
2. 09.09
3. 09.34
4. 06.46 (0.7 miles)

Bob on!

I’d forgotten how lovely this route is. Beach, cliff top paths, muddy trails, tree-lined woods, a river, a couple of stiles and a track finish – truly something for everyone. It was a joy to run today and to experience it anew through someone else’s eyes.

It’s rare for me to run back to back and the Run for Bob would be my longest run of the year so far. In fact, it’s probably my longest since the Great North Run (I’ll have to check that). So the plan was to just enjoy a nice social run, take it steady and clock it as my long run for the week. In the end I did a bit more than that.

Brrrr it was cold out! Frosty pavements at the coast and tales of significant snowfall inland. Lessons learned from yesterday’s parkrun I double layered my legs and wore my warmest base layer beneath my Fetch top.

I thought I was quite early as I went to register, but the club house was already busy with runners sheltering from the chill wind. It was great to see Jeff just relaxing and taking it easy ahead of his third race this weekend and the one he was going to blast out. We had a good old chinwag as usual.

As I was heading out to jog down to the start, a girl in a lovely blue Gore jacket caught me at the door and asked if I was going to the start and if so could she follow me. We chatted as we jogged down to the front at Whitley Bay and stretched to warm up. I pretty soon sussed out that she’s a decent runner, with a faster pace than me, but as we lined up at the start she asked if she could run with me.

And so Caroline became my companion on the Run for Bob, keeping me honest all the way round. Swapping stories of runs done and planned and how we got into it in the first place. It was great to hear her enjoy the scenery, running along the beach and through Holywell Dene. It reminded me of how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place. I could do this every day if I wanted to, I thought as I ran along the sands. How fortunate am I?

Of course the chat made the miles go by very quickly. We were approaching 5 before I glanced at my watch and with 45 minutes on the clock I knew I’d been running well. I was surprised at how much of the route I remembered, not forgetting the tough old hill out of the Dene. But I picked my way up, still just about running and turned onto the waggonways knowing there wasn’t much further to go.

Pushing on the wider trail paths after the hill was hard and my legs were starting to protest. Caroline said she hoped she wasn’t slowing me down. I knew she was in fact pulling me on, keeping me going and helping to take my mind off my aching legs. But my breathing was calm and the chat continued all the way to the end. The promise of cake at the club house helped a lot too.

As the track approached I seriously wondered about my goal of a sprint finish to every race. As we entered the track, Caroline said, “Shall we stretch it out a bit here?” and showed her class as she effortlessly notched up another gear. I tried to push on, but it wasn’t coming, so decided to hold it until the last corner and then really put the pedal down.

Round the last bend and I kicked into a sprint. Not enough to catch my new running pal, but plenty to overtake another chap on the track and reward Jeff who was cheering me into the finish and who told me I was 47th. Thanks buddy.

I stopped the watch at 1 hr 09.50. I’d deliberately avoided looking at my last time for this route as I ran it in July, with some Great North Run training under my belt and Dave pushing me to a fast paced last mile. But I knew it wasn’t far off my previous time, and in the cold, with a bit of ice and mud, I am very happy with that.

Happy because I did what I intended and just enjoyed a lovely run in lovely surroundings. The fact I was fortunate to have a great companion all the way round was a big bonus. Caroline definitely kept me going and probably made me race it a little more than I would have if I’d been on my own. Thanks Caroline – I hope you find me online.

Cheery smiley marshalls and the promise of cake back at the clubhouse make this a really fun run. The flapjack was as tasty I remember it and hearing how well Jeff had done while scoffing down some post run treats was a great way to round off a Sunday morning running in the winter sunshine.

Stats and stuff:
7.49 miles 1.09.50
mile splits:
03.54 (0.49 miles)

Never mind the speed – look at the consistency of those splits!