Last Thursday and yesterday I ran this route along Slapton Ley for the first time, clocking up a surprising 6.1k, according to my pedometer.
Yesterday’s run was by far the harder of the two on this stretch. I don’t know if this was because I hadn’t run for two days, had drunk a couple of glasses of red wine the night before or simply because I was feeling particularly tired but it was the first time I was running along and having to talk myself into carrying on. It didn’t help that I did something incredibly stupid when I was stretching after my warm-up first k. See, I love this run along the Ley BUT I have to drive to get there, which means aside from my water bottle I have to carry my car keys and 7 million key rings in the other hand. I put my left foot up behind me to stretch my quad and instead of grabbing the foot with my left hand, which was holding my keys, I grabbed it with my right. OW!!! It felt like I’d literally ripped the muscle in half!
My first thought was that I wouldn’t be able to walk back to the car let alone finish my run. But then I remembered the phrase ‘run it off’ when football players get all twisted up on the pitch so I stretched the muscle again (OOOOOOW!) and lolloped away. After a few hundred metres, it was only giving me the occasional twinge and today it’s fine so, thank goodness, lesson learned and no harm done.
It IS a gorgeous run though, and it combats the problems I was having with the fiendishly steep hills in my town as it is a mainly flat stretch. When I can go a little further (I’m hoping to do 6.5 tomorrow and be up to 7/7.5 by the end of this week) I will perhaps park at the other end and carry on along the Strete coast path.
I never realised how much more fun it is to run a new route… I think to avoid feeling the same sinking I’m-not-having-fun-anymore feeling I had yesterday I’m going to try and come up with a new route every week. The challenge will be accommodating the increases to my distances, and trying to find new circular routes so I don’t have to double back all the time. Game on.
After a dogged struggle from last Tuesday’s agonising first-run-after-holiday all the way to a much more confident (but still a bit slow) 5k by Saturday, I went to the Exeter Race for Life event on Sunday feeling like I would at least be able to stagger my way around the track. Maybe it was all the hills I’ve been struggling up round here, maybe it was the fact that there were so many runners and joggers all around me (as opposed to The Only Runner In The Village syndrome I get when training) but I actually found it quite easy and really good fun. The route was fairly flat, and a lot of it passed over rocky or grassy terrain which meant I had to hop, skip and jump a few times to avoid getting my foot stuck in a rabbit hole or knackering my tendons by springing unevenly off random grassy mounds, but all in all it was a much easier path than the runs I do around Dartmouth.
Me and my running buddy Fry at the Exeter Race for Life
Above is a pic of my running partner and old school friend Helen Fry and I as we were about to set off. I know hot pink isn’t exactly my colour (and after I’ve been running a couple of k it REALLY isn’t my colour) but vanity isn’t exactly high on my priority list when running. For someone who never left the house without a full face of makeup since the age of 14, the freedom of being in a situation – training, I mean – where it genuinely does not matter at ALL what you look like is so freeing. Having said that, I don’t understand what it is about a runner that makes people stop and STARE, like I’m some freaky rare species of elephant that’s sprouted a pneumonic drill from its bottom and tunnelled, upwards, to burst through the tarmac in front of them. I mean, really. I’m just running.
Anyway, back to the Race for Life. The experience taught me two main things – one is that I am fitter than I thought and if I keep up the training I might just be able to do the half marathon in a few months. The other is the totally humbling realisation that I have some of the most generous friends and family on the planet. I launched my fundraising page 6 days before the event with the very hopeful target goal of £150 and, thanks to them, entered the race on Sunday with more than £300 sponsorship. THAT is what I’ll remember about this Race for Life, for me it just completely outstrips any part of the race itself. Well, maybe except for the giant, cottage-size mound of manure on the 1k hill.
So technically I’m on Week Four of my marathon plan, which means I should be running for 20-30 continuous minutes at a go and, acccording to my own system, reaching around 4 -5k. Unfortunately, my running plans took a bit of a detour over the past two weeks due to a Greek holiday. I set off with the best of intentions only to find that it was actually physically impossible to even THINK about putting on my running shorts in 40 degree heat… So I did a lot of swimming instead and hoped for the best. The good news is I didn’t gain weight. The bad news is that I just did my first run in 2.5 weeks and it KILLED me. My god.
Today’s route went up a few semi-to-evil steep hills (I did slumpingly run up the first one and then alternated floppy-walk-jogging to stop my lungs incinerating inside out) and then down a nice big one. I ran continuously for about a 20-25 minute stretch which sounds good but most of it was downhill, which is not so amazing. On the subject of hilly runs, which are an inevitability in the South Devon neck of the woods, this blog has a few interesting hypotheses on how you calculate the calories burned. According to my pedometer, my run of 4k today burned 140 calories. Yet when I entered the approx speed and time (around about 40 minutes) into the My Fitness Pal app, the number was nearer 350 calories. Considering the app knows my height and weight, I’m hoping it’s the more accurate figure.
I’m taking part in the Exeter Race for Life on Sunday, which is 5k. My friend and I are aiming to complete it at a ‘gentle lolloping jog’, although I’m a bit nervous that she will be much fitter than me. I’ve done the Race for Life before, but many years ago and we didn’t take it particularly seriously. In fact I think we got bored of walking so we made up a new method of moving forward involving hopping, skipping, twirling… we had quite the berth around us in no time. But this time I really want to do it right, partly to convince myself I have any hope in hell of completing a half marathon in three months, but mainly because it comes three years after I lost my own dad to cancer. If something I can do might help prevent anyone going through that heart-savaging experience, I’ll fight for every painful step.