21 September 2014

Stanage Struggle 2014

I do love a good fell race. Even more so if I finish feeling better than I did at the start.  The Stanage Struggle was a last minute decision and I almost backed out of it when I woke up at 4am this morning and couldn't fall back asleep properly.  Even at the start line I was standing there thinking why the hell am I doing this...Once we started moving though I settled in to a comfortable place within my head and just made up my mind to enjoy it.

Bargain race of the year, £5! 

And enjoy it I did.  The disgruntled sheep who leapt through the pack of runners provided a laugh, at least from 10 runners back it did. I'm sure those who were right there didn't think it was quite as amusing but I don't think I've ever seen a sheep catch that much air in a jump before.

The relentless climb where most of us in the middle of the pack were reduced to walking didn't even kill my mood although my calves were on the verge of cramping. Instead I channeled my inner Jens Voigt and repeated (silently, talking took too much effort) "Shut up legs", I wonder if anyone else was doing the same? 

Once we reached the top I took a moment (while still running) to admire the view...Next thing I knew I was doing a World Series worthy home run slider head first! Adrenalin rocks though, I popped back up as fast as I went down and didn't even lose a position. Yes, Miss Whoops strikes again! 

The steep downhill ascent lost me time and several spots though.  My ankles are still not as flexible as they should be after the sprains earlier in the year so I was taking that far more cautiously than I normally would.  It doesn't help that I'm woefully out of practise with running technical (aka too damn rocky) trails.  

The aftermath

I made up for it once we reached the gentler sloping areas, bombed through mile 5 at 7:37, then mile 6 at 8:50--we started climbing up again and there was a boggy area to cross through that was ankle deep and a bit shoe-sucking.  When I say boggy, I mean not just the fact that it was wet and muddy but it was also that I think it was the preferred sheep toilet area--it stunk!!!! 

Heading for the finish

Gaining on the guy in blue

Oh, hello there! Smile for the partner and both feet in the air. No, those two things are not necessarily connected but it did make my day to see him at the end. 

Hair, tattoos, and laughter.

The Stanage Struggle is on my list to run again, actually I would love to do the entire Outdoor Challenge race series next year.  Hathersage is a beautiful village and the race was well-managed, very well marshaled and the people on the trails were very supportive, lots of cheers and well-dones.  There was even a water stop at the top before the turn around point which I didn't expect but was a nice touch.  

What I need to work on: 
  • Calf strength--I'm doing well with deadlifts, squats, and lunges but need to start adding in some calf specific strength exercises to combat the trying to cramp tendency while climbing the uphills
  • Technical trails--I used to be quite good with rocky and uneven terrain but have gotten out of the habit of running over technical ground the past couple of years
  • Ankle flexibility--again, have gotten out of the habit of doing the ankle mobility work.  Need to get back with that
  • Speed--self-explanatory, need to get faster
After the race, you gotta refuel! The past few times we'd been up to the Peak District we had just missed Grindleford Station Cafe being open but we lucked out today :-).  Post run reward was a full English and a huge cup of coffee.

I ate everything except the sausages. 

Check out the pics from a previous visit (2011) to Hathersage when we visited Little John's Grave

19 September 2014


Named but not shamed...the tyre has now been christened Treadnought.  

Random musings

Random musings tonight.

I *like* running hills. It might not always be fun but tonight was one of the good ones once my legs got over feeling dead from the past two days of being sat at a desk.

If you like seventies style, you gotta watch "Rush", I'm more NASCAR than F1 but Ron Howard made a very entertaining movie that was a feast for the eyes--and I'm not just talking about Chris Hemsworth aka Thor.  The wardrobe in this movie is AMAZING.

Finally remembered to submit my picture for the INKnBURN #MondayMontage!

I love living in England but that fondness ends at all the pay to park areas.  This is a selection of the parking ticket receipts I fished out of my car before taking it in to be MOT'd yesterday. It passed by the way :-)

Speaking of passing, I passed my Theory and Hazard Perception tests on Tuesday. Just missed one on the former and got through the latter with more than enough points despite scoring a big fat zero on one of the clips where I apparently clicked the mouse button too many times.  Some of the questions are common sense but for the majority of it you need to know the Highway Code book inside and out. It should also be the latest version, my book from AA was from 2011 and I had one question that wasn't anywhere in my copy.

Blackberries are still ripening although we are getting to the last of them.  Someone decided to bring out the camera when I was on the step ladder trying to reach over the fence and into the hedge trying to pick as many as I could to freeze for later.  I do appreciate getting to admire how awesome those boots are though. 

I'm being assimilated.  Yesterday I was struggling to say dollar rather than pound when discussing American/Canadian/British money.  

After joining an American expat women's group on facebook I was reminded about how lucky I am to be a runner and how much I appreciate the running club.  It has made the transition to living here so much easier than it would have been otherwise because it has introduced me to so many awesome people.  I still get homesick and miss my friends back home but I don't have the sense of isolation that so many others have.  

Today was the Scotland vote for independence, as of yet we don't know the outcome and I'm not going to share my feelings about it here but it does make me sad to think that any future visits I take to our neighbouring country up north might require a passport check.  

18 September 2014

Yorkshire Sculpture Park and a Nordic run

Sunday I was invited to tag along with Catherine as she recce'ed a route for a Nordic Walking away day at Yorkshire Sculpture Park...All I can say is wow!!! It's such a brilliant concept, combining various works of art with a trail in the countryside.  Most of the pieces are interactive, you can walk on it, around it, in it--there were only a few that were barricaded off to protect from damage.  Some of it left me shaking my head wondering why it would be considered art but like beauty, it's definitely in the eyes of the beholder and it sparked a conversation so therefore the purpose was served.  However the interior of the Deer Shelter Skyspace reminded me of the tornado shelters at the rest areas near Jarrell, Texas but with a hole in the roof, fairly sure that is not the intended effect! 

Yes, you get to share the trail with sheep and cows

We also ended up being a part of the "scenery".  there are always comments and smiles whenever people see you out walking with the poles but we ran most of the route on Sunday with them so there were even more than usual! It was quite fun though, it's the first time I'd went for an extended time Nordic running (we covered just over 4 miles).  There were frequent stops to read the information plaques, take a few pics and to debate various works.  

One particular piece that I didn't get the significance of until after Monday's class, was the Ha-Ha Bridge.  A re-grouping and catch our breath stop was near a ha-ha wall and when it was pointed out to me and the purpose explained, it was an "Ohhhhhhhh! So that's what the bridge was all about" moment. A ha-ha would be built to keep livestock and deer away from an estate's gardens yet preserve the view across the grounds, sort of like an infinity pool only without the pool. You can see the sunken stone wall better in the pic on the right

My partner took several great photos of the sculptures nearer the main visitor centre and of one of the exhibits but he's not finished editing them yet. Hopefully I will have permission to share those in a later post.  YSP is well worth visiting more than once because the exhibitions do change every so often.  Parking is a bit steep at £8 per day but once you factor in that there's no other entry fee and you can pack in a lunch that doesn't seem to be so expensive after all especially if you car-share or have a large family.  There is a cafe on site and a coffee shop is also available at Longside Gallery (approximately 2km away from the main centre) so even packing a meal is optional and if you are like me, a cheeky slice of cake is the perfect way to end a walk. 

So tranquil

13 September 2014

Little Miss Whoops

My klutziness is somewhat infamous and last night at our running club's awards ceremony I even snagged an award for it! 

This "Little Miss Whoops" book was presented after an absolutely hilarious speech that had all of us laughing our heads off and it couldn't be more perfect.  Thank you! 

10 September 2014

More of the tyre

We were being a bit silly yesterday evening before I left for the Tuesday night club run so combined the running outfit of the day pics with "admiring" the new tyre--which needs a name by the way, any suggestions? My theory on naming things is that if it causes some discomfort then it needs to have a name you can intersperse amongst the cursing...for example, my foam roller is called Sven.

I seem to have developed a halo...

Speaking of running gear, how cool is my Ink n Burn top???  My partner bought it for me right after they were released but somehow managed to omit the American flag version of the top from the order, one of my running club mates said it was because he was staking his claim, lol. I do love INB's run or die themed gear mostly because of the skulls--yeah, it's a weird thing I have. 

The shorts are from Brooks, another style that is no longer available, the Versatile 3.5" woven shorts, but they are comfy and flattering with a wide waistband (no muffin top!). My only complaint about them is that there is no usable key pocket but the two front pockets on the outside are useful for things like tissue which comes in very handy when a tiny bug flies up your nose* (that may have happened on last night's run). 

Umm, did I remember my deodorant? 

Told you we were being silly, but ignore my "sniff test" pose for a moment and check out the sky in the background, it's gorgeous. Oh, please ignore the overgrown hedge as well, we need to do some gardening but I am sort of lazy when it comes to that, besides there are blackberries in there. We wouldn't want to chop them down before they are done producing (my excuse anyhow).  

Obligatory mutts pic

Last night I opted for the easy run option because I noticed during Nordic Walking class that my quads were still sore from Sunday's 10k so I guess I pushed harder than I realized.  Kind of removes the sting from putting my last 5k pace into the McMillan running calculator and being told that the 10k should have been 48:28, ouch.  

*The real question is did the bug fly up my nose or did it get hoovered in forcefully due to the fact I was breathing so heavily after an impromptu fartlek around the lake...

09 September 2014

What I wore, a flipping tyre, and fried bologna

After the recent discussions about how much workout gear I own and then coming to the realisation that I only wear a small percentage of it, I've decided to start documenting the outfit du jour.  Race days will be the exception because in order to get points for the club championship or if it's a league race then I obviously am in the club singlet or shirt and that gets a bit boring--the only variation of those is exactly what horrendous expression of agony will be on my face.  Speaking of finish line photos despite my trying for a decent one at the Wilne 10k, the photographer managed to completely miss my arms in the air and beaming smile as I crossed the mats only to snap this one just after when I was recovering from the sprint in and turning my garmin off...sigh, even when I try I can't get good race face.

However I digress--last night's recovery/stress management/I've-gotta-get-away-from-the-computer-before-I-toss-it-out-the-window run outfit consisted of mostly Brooks Running gear, "Live Love Run" tee, Nightlife essential (?) shorts, Ghost 6 trainers and the jog bra by a huge sportswear corporation that I no longer buy products from in protest of their overbearing attitudes at track meets.

The shorts are brilliant, they are reflective/bright without being the usual fluorescent yellow and they have two back pockets which fasten shut with velcro that are the perfect size for gels if you use those.  Unfortunately it looks like they have been discontinued because the only version available on the Brooks site are the blue ID Elite shorts.  Guessing it's because they run slightly shorter than most of the other styles.  

Thanks to a running club friend I had a delivery of a huge tyre to my front garden this morning!  Why would I ever want such a thing you ask? For tyre flipping of course...and perhaps a bit of sledgehammering or equivalent for those nights when I can't get out for a stress relief run.  Pressups, planks, mountain climbers, and crunch variations can also be done with the tyre as the platform.  Can't wait to try it out! 

On the unhealthy side of things I read about Hardee's Fried Bologna and Velveeta Cheese Biscuit on one of the expat facebook groups this afternoon and that got me to reminiscing about my truck driving days.  Southfork truckstop in Gurdon, Arkansas was always a regular stop (huge parking lot, a couple of great running routes and a decent restaurant where the waitresses learned your name) and one of their menu items was the "Big R Sandwich", a thick slice of bologna fried and served in between slices of Texas toast.  Heart attack on a plate but sometimes it just hit the spot, the rest of the time it was just gross to think about.  

07 September 2014

Ramble, rant, and race

It was shaping up to be an excellent week of running and nordic walking but a third workout in the minimalist trail shoes cooled the jets for two days.  I knew within a few steps of running Thursday night that I'd pushed it too far but since it was an away club run and I didn't pack a different pair of trainers I was kind of stuck with it.  It is probably just a bit of bruising from going over some rocky areas and pavement but my left forefoot was killing me on the downhills. The route was gorgeous, mostly off-road and I'm not sure I could find my way around part of it without a guide again--speaking of guides, ours was Colin (Brinsley Runner) from the running club and he did a great job of explaining where we were in relation to various landmarks and even giving us a bit of history, good stuff.  It was getting dark towards the end of the run so it's time to charge up the head torches and unpack the reflective gear (sigh, sure sign of summer being over).

I also managed a pb on the summer course Tuesday night, 5k in 23:20, hoping I can carve that time down to sub 23 on some parkruns soon.  There was no getting lost this time but they started me off with a couple of other runners to make sure it didn't happen again, lol.

Today was the Wilne 10k, I debated skipping it because I wasn't in the mood to race and I wasn't sure how the foot would hold up but went ahead because I didn't want it to be another wasted race entry like back in the spring when I sprained my ankle.  As my usual, I was in the loo queue until the last possible moment and once I got to the start I couldn't be bothered to elbow my way up closer to the front so just started almost in the very back.  I did start my garmin right after we heard the "go" and it took 56.8 seconds to reach the timing mat (at least it had one).  Yes, it is frustrating both to me and the people I'm zig-zagging through when I do that but it also prevents me from jack-rabbiting the first mile (8:00 on the dot by the way).

Once I got into a clear area where I could settle down into a steady pace I realized that I actually felt good and was sure I could get sub 51, what I didn't expect was that I would keep consistently clicking off (just barely) sub 8 minute miles.  I almost always flub up 10k pacing but for once got it right.  What was funny was I could see one of the club members up in front of me for most of the race that I'm close to the same speed as but every time I would try to surge up to catch him, he'd do the same and the gap never lessened, lol.

Click to view

Could I have pushed harder? Yes, I could have, I wasn't totally wiped out at the finish line, it was a comfortably hard pace rather than pushing to the puke zone. I said thank you to the marshalls and to the people spectating who was cheering us on.  I smiled whenever I saw a camera (even smiled several times when it was just me) but on the other hand I wouldn't have been able to carry on a conversation.  My foot did start aching in the last couple of miles but it wasn't unbearable. Final stats: gun time 50:26, 470th overall/chip time 49:03, 440th overall out of 858 finishers. Yes chip time has me up 30 places! Stoked! Middle of the pack territory but there were a LOT of speedy people at this one.

As far as the race goes, I quite enjoyed the course, didn't even mind that it was 2 loops.  It kind of reminded me of the Capitol City Classic 10k in that it was flat, had shady areas, and while not uber scenic, it was pretty enough.  I would definitely do this one again.  Oh and we got a banana in our goody bag! Yes, I'm still holding a grudge against the Derby 10k for not providing the participants with bananas at the end, call me petty if you must but it's all about giving me some kind of food at the end. Some people want a medal, I want my banana. 

Goody bag contents, yay for a non-white tee! 

04 September 2014

Another word for...

The latest adventure in my UK versus US word/terminology is levee.  Today's Nordic walking class was split up into two groups today and I was with the faster one when we discovered this difference in terminology, I said to cut left (that phrase is another one but it's more of a regional thing in the states as well) once we reached the levee (US) AKA embankment or dike (UK). Either way it's a floodbank in both countries :-)

My question is what was Led Zeppelin referring to in "When the Levee Breaks", a dam, a floodbank, or something else entirely? While pondering please enjoy this cover by Zepparella.

03 September 2014

Superficial? Maybe not.

It comes as absolutely no surprise that feeling comfortable with how you look has an impact on your performance so why shouldn't that apply to our fitness gear as well? I found this article about a study of teenage girls in the UK discussing their feelings about the sport kit and how it could be improved.  At first I was perturbed by the statistics--28% saying they they "avoid sport as their PE kit makes them feel ugly" but then I thought about how I feel when what I'm wearing to work out in doesn't perform well or looks horrible and it totally made sense.  Good on Virgin Active, Women's Sport and Fitness Foundation, Lexie Sport, the school and the girls involved for taking action with this.  By the way, whoever thought that v-neck shirts for adolescent girl sport kit would be a good idea???

Active Inspiration: My Kit and Me

02 September 2014

Getting around

If you haven't noticed I'm a bit obsessed with fitness, at some point I would love to make it a full time career but right now it's a part time gig.  Due to this passion I try to stay up to date with what's going on especially if it's anything to do with running or walking--speaking of running, I'm still looking for that person who will pay me to run so if you know of anyone, hook a girl up please, lol.  I find myself in the very fortunate position of now living in a country where you can walk or cycle almost everywhere and I'm trying my best to not take that for granted.  This blog post on the Huffington Post site reminded me of the lack of pedestrian/cyclist infrastructure back in the States.

Many communities are working to change, the problem is trying to convince the general public that the funds should be allocated for these changes...not an easy task.  However more people are starting to realise that quality of life is more than the large house and multiple cars and that they should start looking after their physical health which in turn helps with the mental well-being and so on.  The even better news is that it doesn't require hours in the gym and a study shows that walking a mile a day can cut cancer deaths by 40% (article courtesy of Countryfile Magazine, Walking for Health, Macmillan Cancer Support, and the Ramblers).  Cool stuff, eh?

So get out, take the dogs for a walk, use the time to find out what your kids did in school, chat with friends, re-connect with your partner, or just use the time to meditate (or plot how to takeover the world) but get out and move whenever and wherever possible.

Ok preachy stuff over with (come on, I know that's what some of you were thinking and rolling your eyes about) I'm off to get ready for tonight's club handicap run. Hopefully there will not be any getting lost on the course by moi again.