Sunday, 16 February 2014

First run in Paignton

Yesterday, I arrived in Paignton after a 6 ½ hour journey aboard a National Express coach, from London. I wasn’t taking any chances with the trains and didn’t relish the prospect of unloading all my luggage and stuff off of one train and on to another or a bus. So, I chose the most straightforward approach, and the longest. It really was an extremely long coach journey and we stopped at Heathrow for around 25 mins loading up dozens of people onto the coach until it was completely full.

When I finally arrived, I was met at the bus stop and shown around the school. I will be here for two weeks teaching EFL students and helping out at the school. Paignton really is a beautiful place and now the storms have gone, you can really appreciate the seafront and the stunning coast line. So, I went for a little walk yesterday, just to explore my surroundings and figure out where would be best to run.

Today, I ran along the seafront. Weather-wise, it really was a beautiful day, so I can’t really blame people for wanting to get out there and make the most of it. However, I was constantly dodging people, kids, kids on scooters (dangerous...), yappy dogs, running dogs, all sorts and sizes of dog and people and kids on bikes. I know, I know, it sounds a bit miserable of me.

However, the weather was so bright and sunny that in my perfect imagining of my run, I would just have been running along serenely and peacefully. Instead, I kept thinking I was going to trip over a puppy or that some mad child on a scooter was going to crash into me. On that note, whenever I have children, I am never ever buying them a scooter... So, the run had its good points and its bad points.

I couldn’t fault the scenery on this run or the weather. It was chilly, but incredibly sunny, which equals perfect running conditions. And did I mention the scenery was beautiful! However, on a ‘to be expected’ note, I had no clue in the world where I was going. I would run and then sort of stop and glance around me to figure out my next move. I was also slow. I could have carried on down the coast, but I reached the top of a very big hill and was facing some very steep steps and I couldn’t decide. A future note to myself is: If you can’t decide, do it anyway.

Friday, 14 February 2014

Valentine's Day

Happy Valentine’s Day...

The weather is pretty crazy out there and it is rather windy and rainy, but I’m so excited to be going out for dinner this evening. The truth is, I have always liked Valentine’s Day, even when I was single. I know a lot of people hold the negative view that it is just a money-making scheme conjured up by card companies etc., but I’m not one of the haters. And, I don’t think you have to go crazy or make it a really expensive occasion, but I think a little effort is a nice expression of affection.  Also, I think there is so much negativity out there and stresses in everyday life, so any day on which we make that extra effort to be caring towards someone, is a good day. Of course, we should make the effort the rest of the time as well...

Brown Bat - Ultra mascot...

So, I’m in London for a few days, and like the rest of the country at the moment, the weather is unpredictable. However, I managed to squeeze in a nice refreshing and rainy 5.70 miles, by the Thames & through Battersea Park (I've never seen it look so empty...) in 46:21. I’m really happy with that, because I really did resemble a drowned rat by the end of my run. Thankfully, the wind wasn’t as bad as it has been over the past few days, but there were a few sudden gusts around a few corners.

Right, I am off to relax with a coffee and warm myself up. It’s a bit chilly...

Wednesday, 12 February 2014


I have no idea why, but for the first time in years (years and years) I suddenly decided to paint my toenails. Now, I’m clearly out of practice, as I think I could have done a better job blindfolded. Although, it probably doesn’t help that my toenails were so battered to begin with. However, I think I can say that I have a full set, although my little toenails don’t really have much going for them at the moment, as the previous ones fell off a few months back. I've also got a few blackened ones. Well, actually, now they’re all black, albeit a shiny sort of fancy black as opposed to ‘manky runner black’ nails.

I haven’t been out running today, as the weather is just too crazy. I envisioned myself getting hit by a flying branch or blown into a road, so I thought I’d do the sensible thing and stay home. I did some weights instead. It was a bit of a shame that I couldn’t go running, as I had wanted a big mileage week. However, no running in gale force winds (up to 80 mph today) was definitely the sensible thing to do. Instead, I kept myself sane in the knowledge that I had quite a speedy medium-length run on Monday - 12.47 miles in 1hr 42min...

I kept myself insane by thinking about toes some more... So, thinking back to tootsies, I was pondering just how battered they get and how little appreciation they receive. I don’t know, maybe the weather has messed with my mind a little, but they do keep us balanced and they bear the brunt of the force when running up and down hills. Yet, as runners, you’ll constantly hear people going on about their manky feet and toenails predominantly. So, I say, lets show toes a bit of love and give them the TLC they so deserve. The End.

L x

Monday, 10 February 2014

A soggy adventure in The Lakes

I said that I wanted to challenge myself in positive ways. Glancing back over the last week, I think I can say that I’ve succeeded on the running front. Saturday’s run was awesome.

I accepted the invitation of two runner friends to go and run in The Lake District.  The Lakes is approximately a 2 hour drive from where we live and it’s totally worth it. I have so many great memories of the Lakes and the scenery is beautiful.  So, I got up early and fuelled up for the day on some porridge and toast and a very large coffee. The drive was quick and before I knew it, we were there. It was definitely worth getting out of bed early for.

The weather was cold, so I had made sure to put on a base layer, long sleeved top, t-shirt on top and my OMM waterproof jacket on top of that. I also put my pack-away inov8 waterproof pants in my backpack just in case. I had visions of us being out on the hills or exposed moorland, shivering somewhere.

We ran from Ambleside and up past a river, before finding ourselves on rocky trails. We had decided to run some of the Lakeland 50 route. I haven’t run Lakeland 50 since 2010 and I don’t remember an amazing amount of this section, as we would have reached this bit of the course in the dark and moved pretty slowly on tired legs. However, every now and again, I’d exclaim ‘Ah, I think I remember this bit...I don’t think I enjoyed this bit’. After all, Lakeland 50 is the slowest 50 mile ultra I have ever done.

At the start of our adventure, we happened to come across another runner who was recceing the Lakeland route, in preparation for Lakeland 100, which starts the evening before Lakeland 50 and is significantly harder/ probably one of the toughest 100 mile ultras around. I love the fact that even when you’re not even running a race, that there is such camaraderie amongst fellow runners and you end up meeting new people. The lady runner (Jo) stayed with us for the remainder of our run. And then there were three...

At about 8 miles in, the wind and rain really began to hammer us. The marshy ground also kept suctioning off my running shoe and I was pretty slow and cautious as I negotiated the rockier bits.  The thing is, ‘back in the day’, I ran this type of terrain often. I’ve never been a crazy daredevil fell runner who can throw themselves down the side of a hill without a second thought and I never will be, but I used to be braver. I definitely felt myself going a lot slower than I would have liked. Another thing is that I’m a lot faster (in general) and fitter than I was back in the ‘good old days’. I don’t run as many races and my training miles are of better quality. But I was rusty on the rockier, more technical aspects of trail. I think it is a matter of confidence sometimes, and practice. I have only just got back into hillier trail running and I am training for a very long, FLAT canal race (GUCR 145 miler), so it’s no mystery that I wouldn’t be the best at this. Yet, I want to be. I want to be better and I want to be ‘hard-core’ again. I don’t want to be afraid of tricky mud, rocky bits and hills. I love this type of running.

So, after 8 miles, we had a bit of a rest from the rain and went for a drink. Everyone else decided upon a cuppa’ tea and I don’t blame them, as I guess it was warming. However, I decided to get a half pint of pale ale. I figured that the carbohydrates would come in useful.

After the pub, we carried on, on our journey. We decided to loop back towards Ambleside, a different way from the way we came. Fortunately, we had a good map reader amongst us and Mark knew exactly the route we should take. At this point, the rain had turned to hail. The hail in itself wasn’t significant, but the wind blowing it against my legs and face was ferocious. I had to shield my eyes with my hand (should have worn a cap) and I yelped a little at how much they stung me. Yet, I told myself to ‘wo-man up’, as it was only a bit of hail and not the end of the world. The weather was actually worst at the end of our run, where the rain was just relentless. I was glad that the worst waited until the end. Although, I did wonder about some poor souls we had seen out walking earlier on; none of them had proper walking gear on, merely jeans and ‘everyday coats’, and yet they looked at us like we were the mad ones!

Ultimately, we ran just under 18 miles and we looked like drowned rats, so we decided to go to a local café and hunt for pasties to warm us up. Unfortunately, all the pasties were sold out, so I ordered a brie and caramelised onion toastie and a pot of tea. It was scrumptious. However, as we sat there, inside the café, eating our food, water was dripping off us.

All in all, I had a brilliant day out and I took a lot away from it. I’ve figured out some new goals that I want to accomplish this year, which mainly revolve around wanting to get more confident with hilly trail running again. I will do this.

L x

Friday, 7 February 2014


It has been a little while since I last wrote a blog. I have decided that I am going to endeavour to blog more frequently. Sometimes, I might even just ramble. Sometimes I need to get lots of thoughts out of my head and just ramble. See, I’m rambling already.

Running-wise I have been attempting to up my mileage a lot more. However, I had found myself getting stuck in a bit of a rut with my ‘same old run down the local main road’ and back. With no near (well, not any weekends coming up, but I do have Manchester Marathon in April confirmed) races on the horizon, I haven’t been able to rely on what such races used to provide: variety. So, I’ve been mixing up the time of day that I go running. If I run in the evening one day, I might go for a mega early run the next day. It’s also great training to run on tired legs, for upcoming ultras later in the year.

I’ve also been taking my running kit with me when I travel. When I was down in London a few weeks ago, me and George did a couple of interesting runs along the Thames Path and through Richmond Park (my favourite). It certainly is muddy along the Thames at the moment...and a little flooded! By the end, well, by a few miles in, our bums and legs were caked in mud. It was so much fun. In fact, we were so muddy that once we had reached Putney, we strolled down to the banks of the Thames to wash off some of the mud in the river water...

On the way back towards Clapham Junction (where George lives), we stopped at a nice pub by the Thames for some dinner. We had run just over 17 miles and it would be another 2 miles to home from that point, but for the time being we relaxed and had some lovely food. Then suddenly, there was a freak lightning storm. The sky just went incredibly dark and the wind picked up force. There was no thunder, but then I saw the most amazing lightning bolt in the distance. I love storms. They’re so interesting. However, I was glad we had made it inside before the weather went crazy and that we could be spectators to this storm, and not participants.

So, ultimately, I guess my main thoughts on running and on life at the moment are to ‘mix it up’. I think variety is a great thing and it stops you from getting into a rut. I’d say that things have been particularly trying recently, due to a number of different factors. I’ve been frantically working away at my computer, searching for jobs and applying for jobs. 

You don’t realise what a source of self-esteem having a job is, until you don’t have one. Not only is it somewhere you go to earn vital pennies, but it can provide you with a whole sense of self worth. Another obstacle at the moment is being away from someone I care about, being in a long distance relationship, which I am. All of this can make the days seem so long and it can add a bit of a challenge to each day in itself. Therefore, it’s super important to mix it up. Consequently, I want to make my runs exciting and vary my daily routine as much as possible, so that I stay both sane and training. In this way, I'm facing each day with a positive challenge.

L x