After completing that 10k race in July I eventually plucked up courage to join in the local parkrun. I have to say that I loathe running 5k but I do it every week I can because I know it's Good For Me. So far I have just ducked under 22 minutes although last week during an 11k run I did manage 5k in 21:20. As well as parkrun I took the decision to sign up to a running club. It wasn't easy choosing- most of the local clubs train on the same evenings- but in the end I went with the Redway Runners http://www.redwayrunners.com/. Can't recall why I chose them but it turned out to be one of the best decisions I've ever made.
What a lovely bunch of people! It might not be as focussed on 'proper' running training as other clubs but there are plenty of awesome runners to chase and learn from if you're after that. And for the days when you just want to have a nice run with nice people- well you can always do that with the club. There's a place for every sort of runner.
It didn't take long for me to realise that although I'm not up there with the fastest guys, I really am not a bad runner. And over the last 5 months I've been running alongside people, watching and learning from them and now feel a better and stronger runner than before.
Running with the RRs has given me a lot of confidence. I've raced 2 half marathons now. The first was the awesome Dirt Half. A challenging off road race with a great atmosphere. And a hill. Now I love hills but the one going up into Great Brickhill nearly broke me. And it came at about mile 6 or 7 so tackling that at around the halfway point was a real challenge- mental as well as physical. I learned so much about myself as a runner in that race! Still, I finished the race in 1hr 48min. Not bad for my first ever half.
Finally back onto the canal towpath for the last few miles of the Dirt Half.
The weekend after, I ran the Movember 10k in Milton Keynes. Not a pleasant experience- bitterly cold, not a nice course but I finished 3rd place lady and 46th overall. And I had the best mo:
In December I raced another half marathon- the Up & Running Winter Half in Milton Keynes. I'd spent the last couple of weeks before it fretting about the weather- we'd had a lot of icy weather and I was afraid I'd have to pull out because of the risk of falling. Fortunately although it was very cold it was dry. I had a bit of a race plan- because I managed sub 1:50 for the Dirt I reckoned I'd go for 1:45 for this one so aimed to do nice steady 8 minute miles for the first 7 or 8 miles and see how it went. Well I couldn't quite stick to 8 min/miles and upped the pace after about 6 miles. Felt great at mile 8, and pretty good at 9 miles. The last 2 miles were really tough- I had stopped looking at the watch and was just concentrating on keeping going as the last bit along the canal seemed to go on for ever. But just as I was despairing some guy running past me shouted to go for it. So I did! And finished in 1:40! In the top 200 finishers and 23rd out of 466 women.
And as well as running I decided to take up karate. My kids' sensei said he was going to start up a class for beginner adults. As he's my masseur he knows about my dodgy bones and he said since I can run and do yoga I could certainly do karate- he'd keep my bones safe and find a way round some of the contact stuff if/when that becomes necessary. I love the discipline of it, both mental and physical. The emphasis it places on using your core as the source of movement and power has made me a stronger runner. And actually it shares a lot with running- all the stuff I've read about the position of the pelvis to engage the glutes and hip flexors when running ties in exactly with karate posture.
So now I am a karate-ka, have graded twice and am working towards my orange belt.
I'm not going to blog about the downs of the last few months. It's too personal. But running and karate have really helped me get through it all without going into self-destruct mode. I've had a battle with keeping my weight up- for a while it just kept dropping until I was well under 44kg but I've got it back up to around 44.5kg and it seems stable now. I've got into the habit of doing a little more S&C training so I think it's helped me rebuild muscle mass.
Now all I have to do is shift this virus that I've been fighting since the start of the week and which eventually floored me yesterday. Can't be poorly- there's so much running to do and kata to practise!