Happy 2017: Lenzie January Jog.

Jan 1st is always a write off, forget it. I spent the day curled up with a unicorn. 

Now Jan 2nd? There’s a good day to start something positive. 

It was a route of about 4.4k, 4.34k if we are being picky and my time is still pretty slow but I don’t walk as much as I used to and hey, I actually went outside in the cold (which I’ve avoided pretty much all of December)

The route was fun, around plenty greenery but all on road or concrete. It’s about -1 degree Celsius and tried to snow at one point, of which I complained bitterly being the wimp I am. 

I tried out my new running trousers (a demure black with bright pink knees, some of the least gaudy of my collection) and they go the distance. Pretty chuffed.

Most importantly… I’ve avoided doing an essay for a few more hours. Guess I should get on that. 😫  

Happy 2017. To more runs, races and beyond. 💙🏃

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The wildlife I saw on my run.

I didn’t realise how much I needed today’s run. I went back to running time not distance, counting minutes not kilometres. It went well, but that wasn’t what I realised I needed. 

I have a mild case of Season Affected Disorder. It’s not bad, and mostly self diagnosed but I have noticed that the shorter the days and the longer I spend inside without sunlight I do get pretty upset, lethargic and demotivated. That just won’t do, so today was extra important.

I tried to stay off main roads and stuck to trees, grass and open air. It was wondeful. I saw so many birds!

Ethan Hawk, the hunter of the road. 

The heron who flew away when I pulled out my camera. 

Those flying south in search of heat. 

Just being around them made me calmer, happier and thankful in a way I hadn’t realised I needed to be. 

Then, suddenly! Poodle pups! 

A pack of yapping, sniffing and bouncing ears. It came out of nowhere and made me laugh no end. 

I suppose the moral of this post is get outside when you can, your body needs it. Mine did. 

Glasgow Great Scottish Run 10k 2016

Enough time has passed that my legs and other muscles have forgiven me for my 10k efforts. 

It was a blast. I donned my favorite pink trews, committed to a tshirt despite the fog and went at it. 

The atmosphere was amazing. They said 10,000 people overall were going to take part! 10,000! All the shorts, lycra, water, sweat and efforts of so many gave the day such a buzz. I rooted for those around me, I wasn’t feeling awkward but rather part of a greater tide. 

The route was good, all my old Glasgow stomping grounds and familiar roads seeing me through my home city. There was some exciting about going over the motorway, the Clyde and something magical about running along the river towards Glasgow Green. My home, my city, my life.

Now it’s finished it’s all been a bit surreal. I found typing this really hard just because I can’t belive its over. I talked about it, focused on it and dreamt about it so much that when it finished it was a bit… ‘now what?’

The week had been an odd one, full of events and chat but regardless the run kept getting me through. I had the rub coming. The run was soon. Yeab, but the run? When it ended it was a bit like giving myself time to think and in truth I don’t really like it. I prefer having a challenge. 

My time wasn’t sterling. 

But hey, having something to work on is good, right?

Now? Who knows what I’ll aim for. I have some lofty ideas about half marathons but who knows. 

It’s important to take time to reflect, this seems like apt a one as any. 

Pastures New

My next big race will be a 10k so I have started planning increased distances for my runs. One tactic is to get out an explore every street, nook, cranny and in today’s case country path. 

Instead of taking my normal route I decided to take a path I have seen lots and never thought anything of… and how surprised I was! 

This road went to Edinburgh if I went far enough! I hadn’t even realised. I knew that there was a canal nearby which went from Glasgow to Edinburgh but in my head it was further away. The path was very scenic:

Rivers, grass, bridges, sheep! Who knew eh?

The whole path is about 1k and pops out at another convenient path. New route for me 😉

Lanark Trail Festival 2016; My first 5k  

What a day!

My first 5k race, the first indication that my training has been working and I’m pretty chuffed. 

I went down to Lanark racecourse this morning and immediately I felt the buzz. Here were loads of other people ready to go, people who practiced and ran plenty. They came in all shapes and sizes, all ages and had convened at this cross country course on a blustery Scottish day to run. I was in. I was one of them. It was an exciting thought. 

Number on, ready for warm up. I will point out I should have won an award for best trousers, there was otherwise a disappointing sea of black.

Warm up jams on, an excellent mix of pop and dance doing South Lanarkshire proud. See how my natural disposition goes against the crowd!

Ok! All warm! Let’s do this! Off go the 10k runners and us 5k lot hang around. The wind was fierce and cold. The juniors all stand at the line raring to go and I wonder where I should stand, front? Middle? Back? 4,3,2,1 go!

1k

A flurry of running as the fast go ahead and I try and find my pace. With the speedy gone I resigned myself to being a back runner, defeatist from the start. 

2k 

I continue on, find my legs and my pace and realise theres a reason it’s odd. Im on grass! It felt strange, soft and bumpy. I had no time to focus on it. The track went into the woods and became a mix of mud, branches and mulch. I attacked uphill sections with strides and walked fast down muddy slopes. This was not good. I was going to have a terrible time. 

3k

Out the woods and onto flat concrete. We turn onto the loch and the path around it. This was much better. I enjoyed being able to watch the ducks and swans as they went by. The wind blew the bullrushes and the sun split through the grey cloud. This was good going. I could do it. To my surprise I was overtaking people who looked to be more naturally athletic, or at least skinny. I wasn’t speedy but I figured they had gone out too fast and burnt too soon. Poor sods.

Mum was a star, having come down to a bench to cheer me on as I went by. What a gem. 

4k

I can do this. Go, go, push,push. I was tired but determined. Turn up the hill and onto the straight. Some of the fastest had finished way ahead of me and were milling back to cars. It wasn’t an inspiring feeling. 

But then…

There it was, the row of flags we had started from! The end! The photographer and the water table. Push push, smile, fist pump and yeah!

5k done. 

I was elated. I had done it and I couldn’t stop smiling. The pa guy said:

The sun shines on the righteous and look at that! It’s out for all our winners.’

I collected my bag of goodies, t-shirt and medal feeling like a champion.

Result. The best feeling though?

At the start of the race I figured I’d try hit 45 mins considering cross country…

Under 40 just like in training. Such a good feeling. 

I rest my weary legs a tired and contented runner…. and yea I’m still wearing my medal. 

My most satisfying run to date (Elie #2)

Thursday was probably the best run I’ve ever had. It was fun, adventurous and although not my longest I got more out of those 30 minutes than I have in a while.

This is a town I’ve been holidaying at with Mum (excellent woman) for years. Days spent as kids on the beach digging holes, exploring rock pools and jumping in the sea before lunch at the deli. I know it’s streets, the beach, the loops and flats. I had a while mental map planned.

It had started with a walk along the seafront, into pavements and houses, I set my GPS watch up and GO!

I ran up a hill (you don’t get better at then by walking Pinterest  reminds me), onto the long flat main street where the sun was warm. A long stretch. 1.75km at least.

Onward past the bit I refer to as ‘that bit we park at’ and onto the one way road that loops past the golf course.

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The golf course is in itself a scenic spot, open to the wind and rain but also the views of the sea. I flew down it, stopping only to take a photo. This was fun. Fun!

Back round to the main road where I went down to the beach, looking to see if Mum was where I thought she might be. She was. I stopped to chat and she pointed to the cliff, some cove she said. OK.

And off! Along part of the road I had come and up a hill I have never been up in my times coming to Fife. 

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There was a ruined hut of sorts and a tucked away bench. The sun was warm. I sat down to soak it all in. The view was amazing. Looking across the bay to the harbour I had come from it felt both vast because of the water and small. The sea was fairly calm. I took out my headphones to enjoy the sloshing sound of the waves. A sea bird caught my eye. A large black bird, decent wingspan that it showed off as it spread out to dry in the sun.

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It was a fairly magical moment, the sort described in books or shown on TV. It could have appeared on ‘Coast’ and BBC viewers would have sat in their living rooms thinking ‘how nice’.

I continued, I wasn’t finished. Down the hill and cut down the nearest street headed for the dunes. Dunes. Sand. I came out beside the people, walking with purpose to the shore trying to show I had no interest in interrupting them. I opted to run to the far side of the wall I had come from in order to give myself a long stretch to finish on.

Once again my issues with sand running came into play but I continued, reaching the wall.

But I stopped again. Why was I running past this beautiful place?

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Off came the shoes and earphones. This wasn’t a day to be wasted.

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Into the sea, well aware I would probably not get my feet dry enough to get rid of the sand and thus unless I wanted to be running with veritable sandpaper toes I had accepted this was my finish line.

It was cold but pleasant. What a casual Thursday! Yes I wasn’t helping my training but I felt it was important to enjoy this moment in the sun.

And then it became obvious. The point of beach running wasn’t about just pounding sand underfoot or trying to enjoy a view bouncing past but to finish in a beautiful place and rest my feet in the fresh salty water. Why had I not seen it before?

I stood there in silence for several minutes, feeling more satisfied with every wash of water on the shore.

Thank you beach. I get it now.

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Running on the Sands of Elie #1

I’ll be blunt from the off. I’m not quite Baywatch. I’m not even Chariots of Fire. I plain didn’t enjoy sand running.

I was on a week long holiday in Fife with my mother and sister, a cosy and casual kind of break involving books, good food and various activities involved in the sea (looking at, being near, standing in, taking photos of…). We went to a beautiful place called Elie, a scenic spot epitomising ‘quaint seaside life’. The sands are long and clean, the water clear and the weather… well it was cold but when the sun came out it was idyllic.

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The very colours of the place were beautiful; blue, aqua, green, yellows, browns… it’s inspired many a painting and I couldn’t wait to run along it.

Hmmm… Here is my stages of running on sand.

Stage 1 of sand running:
Accept the invariable truth that regardless of the precautionary measures you take you will end up with shoes filled to the brim with sand, socks that should now be packaged 50% cotton, 50% sand and sandy toes.

Stage 2:
Pick your strip. That soft sand near the dunes is no good, you’ll end up falling all over the joint looking like some giggling, loved up couple and some rom-com involving a beach trip, except you’ll be alone and covered in sand. The best bit is that nice wet sand near the waters edge, wet enough to be hard but not so wet as to create sink holes under your feet. Tide just going out you say? Ideal.

Stage 3:
Run a bit.

Stage 4:
Panic about your ankles. As someone who is new to this whole ‘real places’ thing, the constant change in elevation, bumps, dips and general non flatness is a real worry for me. I have a fear of falling and breaking something, even on the sand. I couldn’t get a good beat, I had to keep watching steps, it was too odd. Nope.

Stage 5:
Hate it. I love the location, it’s beautiful and scenic and has more fresh air than I had in a year of Chinese factory district living but I couldn’t enjoy it. I wasn’t used to this and because I don’t normally live near a beach I decided that I didn’t have to get used to it. I was trying this for fun and I was not having a lot of fun. I was too worried about falling over and failing to get a proper run going to even enjoy the fact I’d bothered to put on a sport bra. This was awful!

Stage 6:
Sit down take your shoes off and decide to enjoy the beach for what it was, a beautiful landscape and not a gym.

So there is was, I had tried a miserable 2K and spent so much time panicked and in discomfort that I couldn’t get the Chariots of Fire moment I was seeking. I guess I’m just more of a concrete girl. Still, the view was intense.

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Running in Scotland

I’m home. I’ve been back 2 days, sleeping off jet lag and reminiscing about my time out East. It has been cold and damp since I landed in Edinburgh. Summer? Pah!

After a week of holiday in Hong Kong and travel across the globe I decided to lace up my shoes again. I pulled on my clothes after a cup of green tea, 9:20am.

Getting dressed was odd, were clothes going on easier because I was thinner or just not soaked with humidity? I was aware of the weather, should I wear a jumper or just run through it? In the end I committed to a Ramones T-shirt and Capri trousers, pulled on a headband and off I went. Hey Ho, Let’s Go!

The next issue was where to go. Where I live in Glasgow is actually pretty good for race training generally. Flats, hills, country paths, grass, concrete… I had it all. But after running months of track I wanted to keep up the same routine until I settled into the weather. The schools in Scotland are off so I went to my old primary school track.

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I had forgotten how scenic it was. The Campsie Fells in the back while the playground grounds were still green and inviting. When was I last here? 10 years, no, more, 15? Damn, age was creeping up on me. That said, as I ran I remembered painful cross country memories. I had always been slower than the sporty girls and when there are only 10 girls in your class that bumps you down the ranks pretty quickly. I still wasn’t fast but I wondered if I could run further than those girls. I never saw any of them any more. I had changed too much over time, we probably wouldn’t even recognise each other.

Again I am useless at calculating distance, so the length of the pitch I ran is unknown. I ran 7 laps in 10 mins, overall 30 mins. All I could manage before feeling jet lag ill again.

While I ran I noticed the cold most. This was a pretty ‘fresh’ day as far as Scotland was concerned. Maybe 12 degrees and overcast. After 28 degrees and humid conditions I wasn’t sure how to feel. No sweat. If I wasn’t sweating was I even working out? My clothes weren’t wet. My hair wasn’t damp. I didn’t wipe my face. I could use my phone still as my fingers didn’t have a film of sweat. For the very first time in my running ‘career’ I wondered if this was good for my muscles, is the cold tightening them needlessly?

The worlds I had experienced were so far removed from each other, so fundamentally different and yet here I was able to perform the same action across the globe. That excited me. After I was finished I felt proud that after a short recovery from East to West I was still able to keep it up. Now… Let’s start training properly!