Category Archives: Running

My favorite run

A bit of a picture heavy post here, just to get you through Tuesday!

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I’ve been trying to get my running mojo back, and feel like I’m making progress again, but for whatever reason it’s been hard. So what better way to build a running habit back than by running somewhere that you love?

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I adore running by the sea and am lucky that my parents live in Cornwall just a short incline ( 5 mins run) away from the deep blue. They know that part of my visit with them always involves me leaving them at home for an hour or so to get a huge dose of ozone and views ( ok and hills too! It’s not all good!!)

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The trouble with running by the sea and such stunning scenery, and the ever moving landscape amongst the waves….is that I am compelled to stop and soak it up!

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All these pictures were individual stops along a single run. So not so much of a single run really!
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I love how you are at one point of the coastline and you can see across the bay where you will be ending up- all by the power of your running. I like snaking around the coastal paths following the headlands, although at this time of year I kept out of the muddier trails.

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This is the ‘hewars’ ‘ hut- a look out for the shoals of pilchards coming into the bay. It’s a noticeable landmark on the headland and looks such a distance away to get to, but it’s funny how the distance of a view isn’t as far as you ever think it is.

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And here’s where I took a bit more time to watch the waves. All of the beaches suffered at the force of the recent storms and some of this beach’s dunes have been disintegrated. I love running along this beach when it is drier, but this time kept to the path above. I think I recognised the excuse to go for the easier option – running on sand is more effort after all. And besides, most coastal runs are undulating at the very least.

I love having this run ( and others going the other direction along the coast) as part of my sea fix when I get to see my folks. I love the running of it then get to reap the benefits for hours after with all that good healthy stuff circulating round my body. Plus a feeling of supreme virtue with a shiny exercise halo! It’s got to be good when a form of exercise gives you so much pleasure, yes? And it’s certainly going to help get that mojo back ( and the hills are strength building!) It also allows for some decent cake eating- my Mum is a great baker, and this weekend’s cake was a magnificent sticky ginger cake which was gooey and tasty and really naughty ;-)

Home run: the Bath Half

I know I’ve been a bit quiet about *the running* since the marathon last October. So it’s time for a check in with yet more words of a pootling badger’s introspection and observations after my latest race, the Bath Half marathon.
I have run this race for the last 5 years now, it was my first ever half marathon and what started me on this ‘ I quite like running longer distances’ lark. I’ve counted my medals and I seem to have run 9 half marathons now! Wow, how did that happen?!?

2014 Bath Half Marathon  BHAK2913  Marathon Photos - Mozilla Firefox 06032014 095154.bmpI have begun to love the Bath Half route. Not only for the fondness I have of my home race  (so convenient!! And so many friends out along the route and in the race!) but I have begun to enjoy its two laps, it is now a known quantity- I know what comes after the undulations, that I can tell myself, ‘just get past this small up and then there’s a downslope to recover’. I know where the challenges are and where to assign the *emergency tunes* on my playlist. I love the drums at Queens Square, the student houses along the route pumping out their own pumping tunes through wide open windows or speakers brought out into front gardens. The wild crazy crowd cheering by Sainsburys. The awesome start – downhill for the first mile when all you can see before you is a wide regency tree-lined road filled with runners and the sound of a million footfall.   And the final straight along the grandeur & cheering crowds in Great Pulteney Street.  Yes, this is my home run.

To say that my training didn’t quite fire on all cylinders this year is the truth of the matter. I had wanted ( after last year’s glory) to shave another few minutes off my pb, but various factors affected my training which I won’t dwell on as they will sound like excuses which I could have overcome had I thought it was important enough.  (Clearly I didn’t!!)  So when I realised that my running form was not that of a pb I knew I needed to review my race goal. I decided that I would be happy to get around it with enjoyment and not to push myself to the point of holding back kerbside vomiting.

Bath Half Green startThe start

As larger races tend to group people to start according to their estimated finish time, I started in a faster start pen this time (not to be confused with the superfast starters mind you!) as I was aiming higher after last year’s pb. It felt great to be closer to the start, to better hear the pre race build up. It also felt less crowded, more space all through the race. Despite not quite hitting my original target time, I was pleased to see that I was still running and finishing with plenty of other green numbers – so I didn’t disgrace my promotion with my slower than planned time.

A great thing about this race is that you can wear one earpiece and listen to music- it makes such a difference.   My playlist contains loads of happy or big songs that are uplifting to remind me that I’m supposed to be enjoying it!  As I slightly updated my playlist this year, I wondered how many other runners’ playlists included Pharrell Williams – Happy (have some!  it’s the ultimate feel good song!)

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and Daft Punk- Get Lucky.  (I’ve even been hearing “Get Lucky” on the ski slopes, belting out of snowboarders’ backpacks!)

Medal and tee shirt

So I didn’t get my pb, I didn’t feel I ran with the grace of a gazelle, but yes, for most of the race I can say I enjoyed it: I ran around without too much discomfort or mental torture. The crowds who supported all along the route were incredible, especially considering this was great weather for running in, but it was not great to stand around cheering people on- grey drizzle in the most part.  As my friend said who was there cheering like a loon both times I went past, ‘ You’ve just got to do it’ on being a supporter and standing for hours in the cold & wet.  She did confide in me that she is likely to be tempted to put herself through it again on the other side of the barriers next year as a runner, which frankly is awesome as she doesn’t seem to escape injury when she runs the Half.

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I was lucky enough to benefit from Melissa‘s VIP entry which allowed her to take two guests with her for pre race food and drink, post race hot food, plus bag check, parking, showers, real loos….well worth it I’d say.   (Read Melissa’s race review here - now she did get a pb!)

Here we are the night before!  It was so great to meet my sewing & running hero in real life!

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(Yes that is a foam roller behind us!)

And here we are pre-race.

Winnie & Melissa pre-Bath HalfWe are both wearing an item of Melissa’s Fehr Trade running clothes: Me – my leopard xyt top (you can’t see it underneath, sadly) & Melissa, her Rainbow PB Jam leggings.  I’m also wearing a top made using Maria Denmark’s Olivia tee pattern.  My leggings are Sweaty Betty & never have I seen anyone else wearing them until I was in the medal queue at the end, & there were two of us wearing bright floral legs.  Funny that.) And of course, running bows.

 So, remembering that I am continually challenged by running, not being a natural, this year’s personal  lessons:

  • If you’re the kind of person that does enjoy running, when your training loses the fun, have a look at why and see how important this is to you and whether you need to change anything.
  • It’s ok to change your race goal when you realise that your training hasn’t gone to plan.
  • Race goals don’t have to be about your finish time.
  • Yes it is possible to eat too much cheese on a ski holiday and to still feel as if you are carrying it around with you weeks after.
  • And an obvious one – Just because you like running in the rain, it doesn’t mean that only having rain to train in is fun.
  • I like the Bath Half route.  I’ve had a love-hate relationship with it but finally I can say that after 5 times I have warmed to it.  I expect I shall be running next year – although I wish it was slightly later in March – it feels so close to Christmas in terms of training.

SO looking ahead…I shall be aiming to train better over the summer for the Great North Run.  I shall put the right kind of effort in to run better & stronger.  I shall include hills & speedwork in my training (even though I don’t like it!)  Because surely even a crappy summer is going to be more pleasant to train in than the wet dark & grey winter we’ve been stuck with this year?  And for me, running is all about being outdoors.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone, may 2014 be a cracker for us all!  I know that I feel smug not waking up with a hangover & was hoping for a lovely new year’s day run, but the weather is appalling. I am not sure I will be of stern enough stuff to venture out whilst it’s gusty & with driving rain…let’s hope it recedes so that I can feel even more virtuous & work off all that cake!!

So a mini review I thought would set the new year off in the spirit I intend to go on.  And I have to inform you that oh yes, the winter bikini is finished  (ie my Sewlution).

I shall save the write up for a later post, but here’s the evidence…

Or put it another way, here’s today’s pose:

Bikini in winterIt’s funny that making such a commitment provided me to “finish the darn thing” when I don’t stand a chance in wearing it (other than in the above fashion) for another 6 months …

Moving on then, what was my 2013 wardrobe filled with?  The only bought item of clothing I succumbed to last year was one cute cardigan, purchased in November.  That’s all.  All the other wardrobe fillers were made by me (including unaccounted for knickers & vests):

2013 pie chart

In numbers (I can’t help feeling it sounds a lot broken down this way):

  • 14 Skirts
  • 13 tops
  • 13 dresses (just one above the planned one per month, so pleased with that)
  • 4 pairs of trousers
  • 3 pairs of shorts
  • 3 pairs of leggings
  • 1 bikini
  • 2 coats
  • 1 kimono
  • 5 jackets/ cardigans/ hoodie ( to be blogged)
  • 1 slip (yet to be blogged).

Makes I’m most pleased with (couldn’t quite keep it to a top 5!) :

I’ve also really enjoyed pattern testing a number of new patterns this year.  Those you know about so far:

The Sewaholic Trench coat, Lolita Spearmint Coat, Disparate Disciplines’ Dandelion dress & Honeycrisp mittens.

In my running life, 2013 has seen me…

  • Run 144 times and a distance of  943 miles over 157 hours 28 minutes. (How I love stats like this!! makes we want to go out & add some more to the numbers!)
  • Used nearly 107,000 calories (how many cakes is that?)
  • Finish 12 races (1 in fancy dress as you can see, setting a landspeed record).christmas cracker fairy
  • Including training & finishing my first marathon & two half marathons.

I don’t know what 2014 has in store for me, but it will be better than 2013.  I know that I shall keep running & sewing, blogging & hopefully meeting up a bit more with other like-minded people (I need to recognise that I am a Spoolette!).  Running-wise – in my sights is the Bath Half which is only 8 weeks away – yikes!  Better get on track for that!  And a ski holiday is booked & not too far away either.  M.E.G.A.

The warmest biggest HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all.  Thanks for being there in 2013 & looking forward to a fun filled 2014 if you stick around xo

 

The marathon and the metaphor

I think a lot of people use running as their thinking time, the space, the head time, their opportunity to force themselves to process. That’s not my purpose for running, but when I run long distances, even with others, after a while, my chat stops and I draw my thoughts inward. Not that I could tell you what I’m thinking mind you.

So it’s not surprising that when I write about running on this blog I reveal a bit more about me and what’s ticking at that particular moment.
My marathon gave me a lot of thinking time (again, of what I can barely remember).  But I have also had lots of thinking & processing to do after it.  You see, not all races go to plan, & in a marathon, such a long race, there is far more scope for things to go awry.

Pier

I’ll start my review of my Bournemouth marathon by extolling the divine beauty of the route. It was on the whole flat, many miles of it along the beach front, decked with colourful beach huts – and sand dusting the walkway. We ran around two piers!  Even the parts of the route that were away from the coast were through desirable suburbs and the most wonderful shady trees. There were quite a few switchbacks which at the beginning were fun, catching sight of faster friends who were in a different start group, but as the race went on, it became ever harder to know you had to go somewhere else before you came back!

Out to Boscombe
And the weather was stunning: blue skies and so hot women were in bikinis.  In Ocotber. The golden sand glowed, the sea twinkled. Sights in Poole harbour of groups windsurfing and sailing caused total envy.  It was a wonderful sight and running route. The best it could probably have been in my book, you know I loves me a seaside run. ( except rather long!)   And was it the weather, or the novelty (this being the first marathon in Bournemouth), or the local interest in running that brought the crowds out to support? The whole route just about had people cheering us on, thank you local residents and visitors alike. You were ace.

Out to PooleI felt the luckiest runner in the race to have supporters travel to Bournemouth to cheer me on.  It makes me emotional just thinking about it & I tell you they were a godsend.  My sons & the eldest son’s girlfriend travelled from Manchester & we had a fun time in the town the day before.  We had the most amazing Italian meal the night before in La Strada. What an atmosphere – as soon as we entered the door we knew we were in for a real treat with Italian tunes (a bit of Dino too), restaurant heaving, waiting staff non stop but providing just the right amount of attention.  And fab food.

So lucky.20Look carefully that’s me & in the crowd my friends & my banner!!

My running friends travelled across from their weekend in Weymouth to cheer me on with the biggest surprise – a banner made especially for me!!!  These are the memories that I will hold onto.

Medal

But as I said there’s been lots of thinking after the race itself.  Yes I finished & got my medal & tee-shirt, but how hard it is coping with disappointment for not running the race you trained for?  (And you know you’re slow when you get to the end and all of the small tee-shirts have gone :-(  ).  This is the first time it’s happened to me, on such a scale and it’s given me a new level of understanding to everyone who goes through this.

So I have tried to rationalise, understand and find something to be proud of.  Having a few “counselling” sessions with a friend has really helped me put it in a different perspective.  A few sleeps later & truly the memories that are strongest are those I’ve just described- the visuals & the support.  But I share what’s next because 1. I try to present a true picture of being a late-starting runner that tries to improve (but was never a natural runner!) and 2. because anyone reading this who has a similar experience will feel less alone!

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So first of all, remember that completing the training is an achievement in itself.  Extending your ability to to run from the 13.1 miles up to 22 in my case as my longest run, is mega.  It’s grueling.  You have to dig deep to find inner strength to keep going, you have to find coping mechanisms just to maintain forward momentum.  Breaking your run into manageable chunks as your next “milestone” worked well for me in training.  I had also been watching “Dexter” during the summer & I was in awe of Dexter’s sister, Debs & her ability to swear with such fluency & alacrity.  I think there was quite a lot of that going on in my head during the trickiest bits.  And I’d laugh about it afterwards.  Then counting up to 100. Then again, up to 100.  and again, and again and again.  Anything to keep going, whatever works for you.  So I got up to 22 miles with no walking & was averaging just over 10 minute miles.  I was running over 40 miles a week towards the end & whilst I know there could have been better quality training (eg adding intervals)  I could have done, I was confident that I could add on another 4 on the day.  That’s all that mattered.

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I rested up the week before with early nights, plenty of hydration & higher carbs than usual.  So I got to the weekend before the race ready.  But there are always going to be things that are completely out of your control.  Even if you do everything else right.

Call it bad luck.  But remember you can’t allow for everything.  Random stuff happens.  For me it came thus:

  • My hotel room on Friday and Saturday was potentially the worst in the hotel for noise, not only from the non-stop busy main road it overlooked but on the other side it was  located next to the confluence of internal staircases used frequently and all night by hotel guests.  That was Friday and 3 hours sleep.  The hotel was full though.  No chance for a swap.  On Saturday the earplugs I had bought could not cope with the the banging party with disco in the function room in the mezzanine next door. (I could not believe it!) The manager himself told me he was there till 2:45.  I was awake for all of it.  I was hanging before I even started.  My resolve before I even got to the start was as fragile as my physical being.  (Next time I shall be very choosy about accommodation.  Learn from my experience)
  • SouvenirInjury: my knee went at mile 6. Intermittently, a mile here, two miles there. Up slopes, down slopes it would switch on & off make me wince & run funny.  Eventually I got it strapped at mile 18 and that helped a lot.  But by then I had already spent too much time run-walking. (This is my first running injury, I could not have predicted or planned for this).
  • The weather was super for October. There were women in bikinis along the route. Our race started at 10 am, even the best runners would be running across the midday heat. Those of us who took longer were in it for longer. I’m not good in the heat, as I have mentioned before, but in comparison with the above two factors, this was just something to cope with.  I did get a tan though (!!!! it was that hot!!) & was glad that I carried my own hydration & an extra energy gel. (That’s all you can do to prepare)

So how do you cope with the disappointment in yourself? After the event you feel that your marathon effort wasn’t worthy of being described as ‘ running’ a marathon ? That’s what I really wanted to be able to say, but I have to be content that despite all my bad luck I can say I’ve ‘finished ‘ a marathon.  I could have pulled out, but I didn’t.  And I am so proud of  the other things that surround my experience:

  • What was important about the marathon to me wasn’t the race, I didn’t run it because I’ve always wanted to. The five months training gave me focus and a powerful medicine to heal myself through a period of personal difficulty.  I knew that training for a marathon would be a process, a journey & that the long runs would bring more than just physical benefits – it’s the endorphins, innit?!  And I knew that after the marathon I would be in a different place as it was a way to mark time.
  • I’ve made a fabulous new friend as a result of training – someone I’ll continue running with (sadly we ran in different marathons).  He did really well so that’s something else I am proud of!
  • The wealth of love and support shown by so many wonderful people in my life – I get wobbly and have been known to well up when I see how far friends and family are backing me in this endurance challenge.

Serene BournemouthAs with the other pics, this is Bournemouth the next morning.  Serene.  A perfect opportunity to reflect, recover and enjoy.

And this is symbolic for me.  When I think about it, this marathon had to be really hard, really horrible because it marks the end of a really tough time in my life.  I will make it so.  It is time to get on with life after the marathon.

Will I enter another?  Well, I feel strangely resigned to the fact that there is unfinished business: I trained to run a marathon.  I haven’t achieved that yet.  I know I can.  So it’s not ruled out.  Just not yet though!

So if you have got to the end of reading this, coping with over exclamation marks included, thank you!  And thank you to everyone who has also supported me through this blog, & even emailed me directly.  I do feel so incredibly lucky to have so many kind supportive caring people in my world.  Here’s to you!

My Great North Run story

This is a sewing deficient post, in fact there is bare reference to sewing, so if you tune in for snips & stitches hold on !  More sewing exploits will be to follow next….

Hello !

Thank you all, each and everyone of you who left such kind encouragement on my last post in anticipation of the Great North Run.  I haven’t replied to your comments individually as I was away & off-line, but THANK YOU!  It was a *great* run.  And I can tell by the comments that it is held dear by many of you as a special run too.

I thought I’d share my Great North Run tale  & some of the pics – just in case you’re interested.  Afterall I’ve had about a week off blogging & I need to stretch my blogging muscles after their seizure…

Great North Run bridges in NewcastleYou may not have known that the plan was hatched amongst some of my friends from university to enter the Great North Run – there was inevitably alcohol involved!  Two of my friends live near Newcastle so the connection was already there.  I hadn’t appreciated that it involved a public ballot to get a place, (& it may have even started in January!) but somehow, I was successful upon my first year of entry – & so was my friend!  And then I ran my best ever Bath Half Marathon (March) & it felt right that the Great North would be my next goal 6 months later.

And then I entered my first (& unlikely to be repeated, but no definites until after the actual event)  marathon & the Great North became part of my training.  “Part of your training?” I hear you say?  How can the largest half marathon in the UK be relegated to “part of your training”?  Well, it did, such is the enormity of the challenge for a newbie minimalist marathon runner-to-be.  Peeps, suffice to say I have been reduced to a (non flesh eating) zombie, such are my current energy levels – but that’s for another time.

Anyway, the prospect of running in the Great North appeared to me to be a “treat”, a welcome relief from the ridiculously long marathon training runs.  Plus I was on a mini break up to Newcastle to stay with friends – a long weekend, going somewhere new.

GNR bridgesNewcastle bridges- it was buzzing with athletic activity.

Have you ever arrived at the airport during the ski season to be greeted by swathes of brightly coloured eider-stuffed jackets & unfeasibly long & thin ski luggage? Does it get your heart going?  Do you feel the buzz?  Of course it’s much better if you are one of those jetting off to the powder, to be part of a movement, a short migration of sorts to all share a common activity amongst the mountains.  Well, I wasn’t prepared for a similar experience on my easyjet flight to Newcastle from Bristol.  I am certain that 95% of the passengers were lean, fit runners, all taking the one hour flight to take part in the Great North Run.  We all carried our race numbers, safety pins & lycra in our luggage.  We were all topping up our hydration levels, & there were plenty of single travellers focused on a singular running goal…I loved that!

Reverse BGNR logoWhen I arrived, I looked up & saw the Great North Run logo – in reverse & was so excited!!

Anyway, Newcastle & the race itself.  I arrived during the junior Great North Run as my friend’s daughter was running – I therefore got to see Newcastle in full flow a day before my race: the logo on the Tyne Bridge, the City games, the view from the Baltic over Quayside & cheering the junior runners.  A great teaser for the next day.  And then I got to see the North Sea in September sunlight, walked on the beach.  Wow, I almost fell in love with another coast….imagining it in all weathers, particularly its bleakness in the gales…

whitley bay But onto the race.  All the weather forecasts were appalling, predicting rain & gales.  Over half of my luggage was sportswear – taken up with running & keep warm options because I really did not know what to wear (“oh what shall I wear”).  It was my biggest conundrum, what to wear, because get it wrong & the 13 miles would elevate the challenge needlessly…. however come the morning & ignoring the Gore-tex clad TV reporter on location at the start, I took faith that I’d be sheltered by the numbers of other runners, would keep warm by running anyway  & that it would be a “tail wind”…

Travelling into the city was another example of being part of something huge, another movement, as we passed runners travelling to join the race.  It’s a bit like the Saturdays when Bath are playing at home & you see everyone drawn to the city wearing their Bath shirts, lured, magnetised, all congregating in one place.  But this was an easy game of “spot the runner” at bus stops.

GNRun 2013So what else to say about the race?  I’ve run a few of the runs in the Bupa “Great “ series now & they do a great job at organising the events, & as they are on such a large scale are also full of atmosphere.  Waiting in the start pens for the start amongst other runners & laughing as the warm up guru leads us to follow his moves, catching cheesy songs to motivate (such as “Don’t Stop me Now” & “Living on a Prayer”) are actually a part of the experience I love.  There’s a tension in waiting.  Hey, this was the largest race I’d ever been in.   It was also high profile with some big names taking part in the elite races.  AND it was on the TV.  AND I can’t believe it – people I knew were watching it hoping to catch sight of my diminutive form within the 55,000 runners!!

Great North Run 2013I feel a little disloyal to say that the runners were more friendly up North, as part of that is my fault & how I project myself.  But I had more chats with others- even a fireman at about mile 8 until I let him peel away from me as I dropped the pace a little.  There was lots of runner participation under the bridges to join in with the calls for  “oggy oggy oggy” .  The route was lined its whole length with supporters who were offering oranges, jelly babies, even small quoffs of beer (within 2 miles of the finish!)  And the Red Arrows?  I was so excited when they flew over at the start & then performed an awesome display over the sea after I’d finished….can’t beat the Red Arrows in my book.  Oh yes, my time!  I wasn’t chasing a time as such because my general speed has slowed down to the marathon shuffle (!) however, as always I got taken along by the crowds at the beginning & kept quite a reasonable speed going.  I came in at my second fastest time for a Half, just 3 mins slower than my PB which isn’t bad considering I was out to “enjoy the run”,  the crowds running – the difficulty in passing particularly in the last mile (even if I wanted to!) and my marathon waddle.

Great North medalNow the rain didn’t hold back when the throngs were walking back to their chosen transport home.  There was a veritable deluge of biblical proportions as we squelched our way to the ferry through Southshields.  But, hey ho.

I’d do it again.  Next time I hope my friend will not be injured & we can run together.

Now, do I have the energy to get some sewing done as a quiet Saturday treat?  I think so …have a great weekend everyone xx

 

What’s going on?

Just a quick one as I seem to have finished packing for a trip up North….

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Boy these trainers are skanky, but I haven’t managed to wear my shiny new ones in enough to take the risk for the 13 miler Great North Run this weekend. Ive also managed to recycle my running bows! .
I’m mega excited, not only staying with a dear friend and having the chance to see a part of the country I’ve never visited, but to run alongside rather a long way behind Mo Farah will be awesome. It’ll be my biggest race event and I’m hoping a pleasure after all the million mile runs we’ve been pounding shuffling in preparation for that auspicious first and only ( yes, I say it and mean it) marathon in a few weeks time. If I have any Great North Run revelationary moments I shall share with you. But let it be known, I’m not running for a p.b. but for the experience ( even if weather is not looking good….I just don’t know what to wear and am therefore packing rather a lot of kit it seems!!) anyway, the race is being televised, so I shall wave if I see a camera :-).

And in sewing news, last night I cut out …

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A rather fetching combo for autumn….but I shall keep you guessing. And I will be dreaming about making it up next week, with luck.

Have a great weekend everyone xx

Clearing the air: eating & juicing to stay on track

So the heat has abated, last night (or even early morning) it seems as if most of the UK had thunder storms to clear the air. After a period of prolonged sunshine it is still dry & warm & beautiful outside, OK with more clouds. But for us Brits who seem no good at coping with any form of extreme weather, snow or heat, yet moan relentlessly about grey, dull, uneventful weather, does this mean our lives return to pre-heatwave form?

To me it feels as if we have come out of a dream, emerged out of a blissful (but warm) cocoon, reinvigorated by the experience, ready to take on the world. I will readily admit that as well as the huge joy that comes from waking up to the most fantastic blue skies and knowing (any certainty about good weather is rare in UK) that it was here to stay more than 6 hours, has impacted on my day to day:

  • more time in the garden, less time on-line blogging and visiting blogs but the deepest tan I’ve had in years
  • I can now sleep through the dawn chorus with the windows open. Or are the birds affected by the heat too?
  • My lower legs & feet swell as if I’m preggers! On a daily basis! Maybe I am sitting down too much at work…
  • Life’s pace has to slow down- the walk home uphill is now a stroll and not a power walk, it ends with an iced drink in the garden. This has to be good for us, right?
  • But I have had some dreadful running experiences. I am not good running in the heat at the best of times, but have been demotivated and disheartened how I’ve missed runs “because it’s too hot”, or suffered dreadfully trying to maintain our usual type and timing of runs & ended up performing badly, struggling to run full stop. I will not tell you any more about the nadir except it was a 14.5 mile hilly run with little shade ending just before midday. Mad dogs indeed. But when you’re training for your first marathon this gets in your head & I have been forever berating myself for still not feeling “on track” & it’s my commitment at fault that I’ve not completed all of my weekly planned runs. So although workarounds were needed (eg getting up earlier for the weekend long run) I kind of knew that this particular issue would be short term. It’s UK, right. Our usual summer will return – & I feel as though it has today. I can enjoy the rest I’ve had & look forward to a fresh start.

Run skirt

Check out this running skirt (Jalie 2796) – too hot yet to wear as it is lycra that is in no way technically cooling or wicking.

Run skirt

The shorts are organic bamboo & quite thick too. So not worn or tested yet.  Don’t ask about the main fabric except that it is wild, man.

So anyone who’s interested in general healthy stuff you might have some views to offer on this bit: my healthy eating approach to support my training, my running diet has had a review. Now I don’t eat meat (but fish, sometimes, yes) and I’m careful about what I eat with the weekend being for treats: a few beers, crisps, bombay mix (my weakness), & post long run extras as required. But whilst I am careful I was suspecting that I might need to revisit the fab & informative book, “Go Faster Food” by Kate Percy. This contains a load of advice & information about nutrition for running & heaps of wonderful tasty recipes for all meals of the day, plus juices, cakes & even some example meal plans to support training & pre race nutrition. The recipes all give a breakdown of the nutritional value and are also identified as suitable for recovery, pre exercise or for general training diet.

I have frequently made the Melon rescue remedy (so simple- Melon blended with ginger & ice) to hydrate & refuel after long runs. This weekend I made a batch up of slow roasted tomato sauce for pasta, as well as some awesome spiced sweet potato, chick pea & spinach soup – it’s divine. Oh and some date & walnut muffins (:-) )

So OK, I have gone through & got a load of recipes to try from this book. But I have been saving the best for last. My latest enthusiasm is juicing folks.

Juicing

I’ve had spells of trying this in the past, but am hooked again, thanks to a running friend who has been sharing her experiences and sources of great inspiration. Juicing’s a bit popular at the moment, isn’t it? Did anyone see “Fat, sick & nearly dead” ? Worth a look – I am always inspired by people who turn their life around by changing their lifestyle & eating habits. I do believe in the healing power of so much of what we eat. My friend pointed out the “Juicemaster” website by Jason Vale. There are a number of free e-books of recipes to download. I have been excited to combine a whole load of veg: beetroot, cucumber, celery, spinach leaves with apples and lemon over ice to make the most palatable & excellent red juice that your body just knows is good for it.  You know there are some delicious juices containing veg, they might be green or even separate a bit, but they can actually taste good – promise!  You don’t have to go full freak to get some amazing health benefits – you can drink veg juice without it tasting obnoxious or reminding you of pondweed.  But even more exciting – Jason has been using juicing to support his marathon training & there is also an e-book called “Running on Juice” that not only has a bit of training advice, but also some recipes for training & hydrating juices. I have put these to the test & they are very good. The process of chopping & juicing fruit & veg standing at the juicer with post run muscle throb is weirdly rewarding!  Another site which tells you loads about the health benefits of each piece of fruit & veg, providing recipes for juices as well is Juicerecipes.   The website’s a useful place to find out what to try if you have specific health conditions too – the healing power of food indeed.  At the moment I am still fixed on recipes as it seems that when you follow a recipe you can be assured that it will taste OK. I find that going off piste, off recipe is at your own peril.

Luckily for me I have a market on a Saturday morning that sells cheaper fruit & veg – some only good for juicing to be honest, but worth a weekly trip. Supermarket prices would be restrictive I think.

So there, my latest thoughts on training and what I’m trying to do.  It’s not only the domain of runners though, maybe you are a juicing addict?  Any resources to share?  And any marathon vets out there, any training nutritional resources that you’ve used in the past that you would recommend?   I feel I need all the help I can get!

Giving the runaround to my Ooh La La Leggings

I’ve got so much sewing to catch you up with and a bevvy of things to tell you about.  I’ve been a bit out of writing recently, don’t ask me why.  I’ve been in a very active “doing” mode, and once I’d come home from work if I wasn’t running I’d be getting a couple of hours in sewing as a relief from the day’s exertions.  Hence a bit of a sewing-to-show-you backlog, and maybe explains that my default relaxation has been through craft as opposed to writing.  Analyse all you like, that’s just where I’ve been at recently.

ooh la la leggingsSo let’s start by showing you my running Ooh La La Leggings from Papercut patterns.  You remember I’ve made some black jersey leggings already?  Well I translated them into running leggings by using technical supplex fabric from Tissu fabrics.  Now I am not by any means a pioneer in this running gear frontier.  Melissa (Fehr Trade) is the defacto queen of lycra in my view- I am constantly in awe and inspired by her self made running gear, but it was her silver Ooh La La leggings that first grabbed my eye.  Kbenco too made some running tights using the Ooh La La leggings proving that it was possible no matter which hemisphere you live in.  I made two pairs: one very very good, and the other very very bad.  Well, not really that bad, just unwearable.  ha ha ha.  They are being shown with some tops I’ve made with differing success – the white one is too “Kids from Fame” with the neck too wide for even running around the block.  The yellow one gets worn a lot and is nice and cool when it’s hot running and very bright when I want to be seen by oncoming traffic!  Or to be seen by my super supporters through the rivers of runners in the Manchester 10k.    So I shall intersperse some of the photos of my makes through this post as I tell you some news, then wrap up at the end when you may have guessed what the good and the bad is ….

ooh la la leggings

So, let’s take you on a newsflash diversion.  In news related to running leggings, I’ve gone  and entered a marathon.  Yes, you heard right.  A marathon in October (Bournemouth).  You see, how it came about was like this….I was planning my next few months’ goals with my trainer (Simon at Vibe Fitness – hello if you are reading!) & as I may have already mentioned I’ve a place in the Great North Run (a half marathon) in September.  He said “Have you ever thought about doing a marathon?” to which I knew that ask me that question a year or more ago I would have said “No Way!” very strongly (no fruity language though, I would not speak to Simon that way).  But somehow when he asked, I couldn’t automatically dismiss it.  It took me a day before I told people at work “I’m thinking I might enter a marathon”, a few more days and I was saying, “I’m probably going to enter a marathon” and then last Friday I made the commitment and entered – *for real*, then phoned my friend and squealed down the phone at her before hitting the vino!

ooh la la leggingsWhy?  Well, the last year has seen me knock spots off my former casual running form and I feel more serious about running.  I’ve had six months of personal bests at half marathon and 10ks and I enjoy it more now than I don’t enjoy it.  It makes me feel good about myself, not just the exercise and the endorphins, but the sense of achievement.  I do really enjoy reading books by people about running, such as “What I talk about when I talk about running“, by Haruki Murakami, “Born to Run” by Christopher McDougall (not that they made me want to run marathons I should hasten to add – I think I just felt like I belonged to this “running world” and engaged with what they were writing about.  I was recommended these books by non runners though, don’t think they are the preserve of gel eating lycra clad blister bearing pavement pounding freaks).  But that doesn’t answer the question – why a marathon?

ooh la la leggingsInside them leggings

I know it’s going to be hard, running for at least 4.5 hours and all the training that will involve.  But I have the time, and it’s a new goal to focus on.  The sense of achievement will be immense.  That’s what I need to keep in mind.  I have days of pure fear when I think about it, the reality of it, the thought that I’ve “only ever”! run 13.2 miles.  The thought a friend who’s run marathons before told me, that you can get to something like 16 miles “and still have another 10″ to get around.  What kind of silly distances are those?  You’ve run over half way round, but you still have double figure mileage to go!!  However, I believe I can do it.  I believe that it will take up more of my weekend with the long runs, but that I can create a plan with space and time for running and still have a full on sewing and blogging life!  Honest!  Most of all I can visualise myself as a “marathon runner”.  Funnily enough friends & family I tell who do not run are not that surprised.  Maybe there is some kind of inevitability they detected, knowing me & how I am …?

piping ooh la la leggingsSo there.  That’s my crazy legs getting even crazier and what about my me made leggings?  What’s to say?  Did you like the way that the blue pair have two shades of blue: the navy yoke and the royal blue legs? I was curious and now know they look a tad “super man”  Not quite as superman as this, but nevertheless, the yoke is almost like wearing my pants on the outside.  I deliberately made them long enough & a little wider around my ankles to gather around them.  There’s also a quick & dirty inner pocket for safety pinning a key to.

ooh la la leggingsThe red ones? I like the theory of a red pair of capri running leggings.  So I cut them shorter and worked out the target length once I had all but completed them.  Check out the piping though!  This was gifted to me by Karen at Didyoumakethat.  It’s reflective  & sporty and I thought a *really cool* way to showcase the seamlines.  I also used my overlocker’s piping foot which worked like a dream.  Seriously, if you have a piping foot, use it – the stitching gets perfectly close & even to the piping.  I’m not saying my first application by piping foot is consistent however- but it turns out that doesn’t matter because I am not recommending using non stretch piping with leggings that are supposed to stretch.  Did you guess that it was the red leggings that were the fail?  Did you work out that the piping (being non stretch) makes me feel like I am tied up like a parcel every time I bend my legs – those simple movements that propel the body across the ground when one wants to run.

Sadly this means the reds are duff.  But I have worn the blue pair a lot.  I was wearing them at the end of the winter actually – great fabric, fab bright colour.  They fit well, do not fall down in the body and are nice and running-suitable.  If it gives the person behind me a laugh to see my fake pants, then that’s a bonus!

Running Bows: Tutorial

Remember these?  The perfect accessories for your running shoes.

I think I need to rename them my “Speed Bows” or “Go faster Bows”- essential accessorizing for the sewster that runs.  Or the sewster’s nieces’ lace ups or the sewster’s daughter’s Mary Janes perhaps?  However, these are official Badger Race Day wear that maybe thousands of fellow racers have been coveting from afar & wished they too could sport colour & quirk at pavement level. I wear them & feel girly, (but that does not prevent me taking it seriously, in case you wondered.  It is possible to feel girly & competitive, I assure you.)

This post will eliminate any scratching of head or mental gymnastics you may have started to make your own.  They are too simple for words, which is why writing a tutorial for them will be easy peasy.

1. Cutting your fabric

Start with some rectangles of your chosen fabric.  Scraps of craft cotton, dress making poly/ cotton, even Liberty lawn would produce some exceptional bows & if you were feeling glam I could also imagine some in raw silk …anything really that’s hanging around & is not too drapey.

Running Bows 1Each bow is made up of a larger rectangle for the bow & a smaller piece for the knot.  I’ve cut many different sized bows, these are on the larger size & my bow piece is approx 14cm x 13cm and the knot is 8cm x 8cm.

2. Sewing the bow

I generally took say .75cm seam allowances, but it really is no great shakes what you take.  I just decided there was no need to sew the usual 1.5cm & then trim.

Running Bows 2Fold each bow in half right sides together along the length & sew leaving a gap in the middle for turning.  (I would reinforce this part of the seam by the centre as it will be under strain when you do turn it- whatever you normally do at the start/ end of a straight seam)

Running Bows 3Squish the tube that you have just sewn, still inside out so that the seam you have just sewn is central then flatten each end & sew across each end.  Clip the corners & turn right side out poking the corners with a turner so that they are nice & sharp.  Press.  You don’t need to sew up the gap that you used to turn it through, honest!

3. Sew the knot

Running Bows 4Right sides together sew one edge of each knot & turn right sides out & press.

Running Bows 5Now this is the nifty bit.  These bows have buttonholes to thread your shoe laces through so they stay where you want them!  The buttonholes will sit underneath the bow when the knot is wrapped around the bow, so make two tiny buttonholes with a good 1.5cm distance to the closest unsewn edge as you’ll need some seam allowance left there when you come to fix the knot around the bow.  Cut through the buttonholes now so that they are ready to be used.

4. Assembling the bows

Running Bows 6Back to the bow pieces – using some doubled thread & a needle sew a smallish running stitch along the centre of the bow & pull it to gather the bow.  You might want to play around with the gathers to distribute them to make them pleasing to your eye.  Wrap the thread, knot it, etc to secure this new “waist” in your bow.

Running Bows 7Take your knot & wrap it around the centre of your bow, folding the exposed raw edge under & then sewing it by hand.

Running Bows 8Ta na!  All you need now is to thread them onto your laces.

Here’s my older pair- slightly smaller in scale.

pink elephant bowsNow if you are anything like me, these bows will stay put on said running shoes, weathering all the conditions that you impose, mud, rain, snow even, until the shoes are not even good enough for gardening.

Have fun making them!  Let me know how they go & whether they become your speed bows, won’t you?

These crazy legs got serious

I must apologise for being a tad disconnected the last week – I have been in a “pre race relax week” which translated for me as “try to go to bed early, keep a calm head, don’t over do it & ‘oh, let’s make the work week as busy as possible’ the latter was not intended as pre-race preparation”.

You see yesterday was the Bath Half Marathon, the race I had been training for with a scary personal goal.  A goal I have to say that I thought almost unachievable when it was conceived last July.  It was a goal to run it in under 2 hours which meant hacking 17 minutes off my personal best (2011) & almost 25 minutes off last year’s time.  When it was conceived I was almost too scared to dream that I could achieve it, since that would elevate me (in my mind) to being a different kind of runner – one that chases a time as opposed to a survivor, enduring the 13.2 miles (or is it 13.1 miles – I get confused), getting round in as few pieces as possible (this has been my previous experience!).   I knew though that I would be so proud to get in under 2 hours.  And so it became my target & I became a driven obsessive: elevating races & runs at weekends above the opportunity to socialise; worrying about the impact of the Christmas break on my training; cutting out booze after Christmas except for birthdays (yes- it’s true!!)

I have never been so nervous in the lead up to a race.  In some ways a busy work week helped distract me, because every time it was mentioned, I got huge wobbles in the pit of my stomach.  Even though my training gave me every indication that I was on track, I had not ran further than 11 miles at my “target” speed.  And at the end of the 11 miles I was wasted.  Could I pull out the stops on the day?  Would adrenaline, crowds & atmosphere pull me through?  I just didn’t know.

My confidence waned.  I’d found due to the finish time I predicted when I entered (pre July, not realising I would improve so much) I could not start in the same pen & run with my buddies I’d been training with & I’d have to run on my own.   So many mental challenges that I had to overcome (& that’s a big part of running for me, my head)

2013 Bath Half Marathon Winnie

But I did it!  I came in at 1:58:42!  I was so emotional when I finished I was on the verge of a blub.

So what was my secret?  (I write this in case it can help anyone else, if anyone recognises themselves & any scrap of my experience can give them a lift)

  • I invested in a personal trainer (twice a week) – one that focused on the mechanics of running & gave me exercises to strengthen key muscle groups, identify my imbalances & work on them, core strength & balance being key.  He has never seen me run.  He is the one that set my sub 2 hour goal with me in July.  He was/ is as committed to my goal as I was myself- here’s to Simon at Vibe Fitness.  I reorganised my expenditure & habits to be able to afford it.
  • Having invested financially in a personal trainer & having such a motivational goal really lined up my commitment.  It was a case of just how good can I be?  And all the things I did fell in behind that.
  • For my longer runs I trained with faster people that ran at the pace I wanted to run at – sounds obvious, but training with people slightly faster than you helps get you faster!
  • This being a local race, our long training runs often incorporated the last mile and a half – it’s a notorious energy sapper, slightly uphill & always that bit farther than you think.  It became more familiar to us & therefore decreased its negativity.
  • I entered races as part of my training – helped me to get faster, because oddly (or not ;-s ) there’s something about the atmosphere at a race, no matter how small, that raises your own personal game.  Entering a 10 mile race three weeks before the Half was a great test of whether I was on track.

2013 Bath Half Marathon  Winnie

  • You can probably tell that all of this helped me to get my head sorted out & take it seriously, however for the race itself, since I had done it three times before & knew the route & where it is I would be challenged I created an awesome playlist.  (This year we were allowed music with one headphone, previous years it had not been allowed).  I spent Saturday working through how long tracks lasted, where I wanted to listen to them, where I needed certain tracks.  I had tracks to prepare myself while I waited for the start (Skyfall by Adele was most effective  at creating a goosebumpy expectation if you’re curious).  I ran up the last mile to “Gonna Fly Now” (theme from Rocky) & “More” by Bobby Darin was playing as I reached the finish line. (Tracks can be found on my running page)

There.  By writing about this I feel a sense of completion.  What will be my next goal?  Not sure yet.  I have another Half (a place in the Great North Run no less – excitement or what?) In September, & a number of local 10ks to enter.  Today is a day off.  I shall now head to the sewing room.  I’m sorry I have got behind with some of my intended posts – they exist in my mind, & I have lots to catch up on – a few new garments to show & some desert island sewing – but this might explain where my head has been.