Monday, 26 March 2012

R is for revelation...

Okay. Okay. I know. If you read the race diary at the top right hand corner of my blog, this should technically be a race report. Yesterday morning I should have run the Bradford 10K. Yesterday morning I actually took my daughter to a 5th birthday party and sat drinking coffee with my friends whilst my daughter threw herself around a jungle gym with riotous abandon. We suffered an unfortunate Sunday morning clash: my son took part in the national karate championships (he won silver, very proud mummy) and my daughter simply 'couldn't miss her best friend in the world's party mummy...pleeeeeease.' If you're a mummy (or daddy/nanna/ pops/ big sister... or just a person who has contact with a child under 7) you'll understand that it was simply easier to give in. So I did.
It actually turned out pretty well. The Leeds half marathon is only 6 weeks away and a long run of only 6 miles isn't actually preparing me for a gruelling 13. On Saturday then, the real training began. I ran 8.2 miles, the furthest for a long while. I ran locally in the balmy sunshine. An azure ocean of sky flowed above the lush green pastures of farmland which surround my house. As I ran across the infamous Bronte moors, I could hear nothing but sheep bleating and the insistent humming of busy insects. Twice I stopped just to hear the silence. As my yoga instructor would say, I 'strengthened my line.'
As I was running, I noticed that there were quite a few cars parked up on a specific spot on the moors. People were flocking around a footpath which I had never before seen. The signposts read 'Bronte Waterfalls' 1 1/2 miles. Now, of course, I have heard of Bronte waterfalls. I know they are renowned for their beauty etc. and they are historically significant because it's where a Bronte wrote Wuthering Heights etc... to be honest, I've always seen that kind of thing as tourist bait. And, as with most of the local tourist attractions, presumed it was best avoided. But I recognised some of the locals walking on the footpath so resolved to explore the path as soon as I had some spare miles to run.
Today I had some spare time and a big fat zero on my Daily Mile account. So I explored the path. Boy, what a sucker I am. By avoiding tourists, I have deprived myself of the most beautiful spot... ever! I ran a mile and a half and found, at the bottom of a well worn footpath, a babbling brook of clear water, dotted with stepping stones. Surrounded by Spring's floral offerings and accompanied by the bleatings of what must have been several hundred new born lambs, it rocked. I sat for an hour. Gary beeped at me. He told me I had 'run' a 50 minute mile, he threatened to go onto power save but I was resolute. I sat there, cross legged by the water, face turned towards the sun like a flower until my petals felt like they were burning and I remembered that I wasn't wearing sunscreen! Like an intrepid explorer, I set off on a gruelling cross moor route following my intuition and crap sense of direction... then I ended up knee high in bog water. Never mind, at least I discovered the waterfalls.
Because I wanted you guys to be able to share in the beauty, I returned to the waterfalls with my camera and son for an after school picnic. However, the camera, like Gary, wasn't up to the challenge and, after screaming that it's battery was low, switched itself off. Never mind, I'll be back there soon and will take some pictures for you all. Perhaps I'll start collecting unusual, out of the way routes across Yorkshire and posting them up here so that everyone can share the fun. Well, as long as the kids don't have anything else planned...

Happy, sunny days

Didn't want to copy an image to put on here due to Copyright etc... but here's a website if you want to see what I see when I run. (Although when I see it, it is usually raining!)

Sunday, 18 March 2012

One woman and her Garmin... a love story

I don't know how it happened. Honestly, I don't. I was just minding my own business, living my life, a happy-ish underachieving runner when suddenly... suddenly... there he was... Gary the Garmin! Since we met, my life has been a whirlwind of 9 minute miles and hill training. He's revolutionised my life... what a guy!
I'm the one in the yellow jacket looking lovingly at Gary.
Today was the Keighley 10K, a very local race which meant that, shock horror, people I actually knew were also running. This meant two things- 1) I had to wear make-up/ put an effort in rather than looking like I'd just been dragged through a hedge backwards 2) I needed to do okay, as in, not embarrass myself. And that's where my Gary came in.
Nearly there... oh no I'm not. Gutted! 
The route was hilly so I set myself a target time of 1 hour, which, judging by recent runs, shouldn't have caused me any trouble. Unfortunately though, the first half k was on a narrow path which looped a field... I got stuck behind a group which didn't seem to want to move , or run, or, well, do anything really. Gary was screaming '13.45 minute mile... you can do better than this, what the....?' He's a real motivator!
Took this as proof that I can, on occasion, touch my toes. Some of my family doubt my skills- honestly, you just cannot get the staff these days! 
As soon as I was free, I sped off and managed to make up some of the lost time. It was pretty tough going, some of the up-hill running gave me lower back ache and the front of my shin was throbbing pretty badly but I kept going, trying to make up the time on the flat and down-hill stretches. Coming in to the last 0.3 kilometres, I could see the finish arch through a line of trees. Gary was telling me I had 2 minutes to finish the race, I felt confident... until I turned into the park and realised I had a full loop still to do! Aaarghhhh! I finished in 1 hour, 1 minute and 5 seconds. If I swore on my blog, the air would be blue right now, but I don't. Unfortunately!

But hey, on the positive side, today's was a much better performance than the Huddersfield 10K. My back is still aching, my shin is buried under a bag of iced pea's and Gary? He's sleeping peacefully in his case, waiting for next Sunday and the Bradford run. Bless him xx

Happy Mother's Day everyone xxxx

Thursday, 15 March 2012

A is for Another New Arrival!

Well, things have been extremely busy in the Sharp household for the past couple of weeks. As you know, good old Gary the Garmin arrived (and not a minute too soon). Then, just when I thought things couldn't get any more fly by the seat of my pants exciting, Fearne, our new puppy bounded onto the scene! And she is lovely (though not quite as useful as Gary.)
Here is a picture of Fearne- or, to give you her 'Sunday' name(with which she was christened by my daughter and a bottle of Evian)- Fearne Freckles Sharp. Look closely, can you see why her middle name is freckles?

 As you know, I spent a good deal of 2011 bemoaning the lack of a running buddy. Well, now I have one... a cross between a border collie and a whippet, she's shaping up to be a fine runner. She's already very quick...especially when she's tearing around the house with my shoes in her mouth. I promise, right here and now, not to be a puppy bore- I will not tell you how many times she urinated on the carpet yesterday (3) or how many times I got up with her in the night because she was barking (5) or how long it takes her to eat meals (less than 30 seconds, it's amazing to watch.)
For the moment, much to my frustration, she is housebound and I am itching to take her for a jog. According to the vets, the hound can be released in two weeks, just in time for Easter and the school holidays. Yippee! Two children and a puppy... my Easter is bound to be full of peace and tranquillity.
As for the running, well you'll be glad to know that I am still doing it! Hurrah. Despite the fact that I currently suffer from separation anxiety, I am not worried... it soon wore off with the kids! On Monday night, I went for a 4 mile run with the Saltaire Striders, who were as fabulous and fast as ever. Tonight, I am doing my first 'longer' run with them- a 6 mile cross country route with Fartlek training (I tried not to giggle then but... c'mon...Fartlek. Who came up with that name?!) This should prepare (or injure) me for Sunday's Keighley 10K. Hopefully our new addition will allow me to get some sleep before then. Much as I love Fearne Freckles, Gary the Garmin is far, far easier to look after! Yawn... 

Friday, 2 March 2012

G is for Gary and O is for 'Oh, so THAT'S how to use a Garmin!'

Despite ear infections, work and being an un-paid taxi for my ridiculously busy kids, this week I managed to attend my very first run with an actual, proper running club- The Saltaire Striders!
Based on last Sunday's awful experience, I was expecting to find a group of super fit, 'running to the run' style athletes with car tyre sized calf muscles and tight fitting vests but no... the runners were really normal people. Honestly- several of them had even driven to the running club. They were really friendly, introducing themselves by their names (not by their personal bests- another thing I had come to fear) and warmly shaking my hand. By a stroke of luck, I had hit on the advanced beginners class. For the first time... well... ever... I wasn't at the back. In fact, I was actually near the front. I ran the first 2 miles at a 9 minute mile pace without noticing because I was talking (my all time favourite hobby) to a really nice lady, who, it just so happens, is also running the Great North Run for the first time in September! Small world eh?! We did Fartlek training (I still can't write or say the name without laughing like a teenage boy) and I just did it- up and down the hills, quick pace, absolutely no problems! The lead runner lady simply said, "you're never a beginner... great run, can you make it next week?" To which I replied, 'Hell yeah!'  And that was that. Back in love with running like the fickle character I am!
When Gary the Garmin and I went out tonight, I decided to use him to properly train- not coast and enjoy the 'experience' of being outside, wearing lycra in the freezing cold and getting beeped at by van drivers because my nipples are sticking through my t-shirt like chapel hat pegs- I ran properly. The way the group ran on Monday. I ran 4 and a half miles in 43 minutes. The first two flat miles were 8.45 and 8.34. The third and fourth miles were up-hill and even they weren't that slow AND I didn't stop... not once... not even to give the finger to the van driver who peeped his horn and shouted 'nice baps' as he sped into the sunset.
I honestly wish I'd gone running with a club earlier. I could have been training a lot more effectively if I had. It's funny because everyone I spoke to at the club had joined after reaching a frustrating plateau after a long period of running on their own... hopefully, the Striders will help me get over my 'hump' and then I will rock my next races. Then Gary and I can run to the run and talk personal bests with the proper runners! Yippee! Can't wait.
8 miles tomorrow. Happy running :)