Tallinn Half Marathon

I wear short shorts!

Fast, flat, beautifully scenic and smelt like Southend on Sea at times. If you need a qualifying marathon, and fancy a short break with amaaaaaazing and cheap food, this is definitely the race to go for. The marathon course is the half marathon course twice over, and has the benefit of starting at 9 am, so you don’t get too hit by the midday sun. We halfers started at noon: and it was very warm, and there was a lack of shade from miles 3-12.  I still came within sniffing of a PB. 1:50:43 by the chip… Once I made it into the shade I was able to kick up 10 seconds per mile for the last couple of miles. Just imagine if I’d had more shade?! Or if it had been a tad cooler, like the day before and the day after… 21 deg C in the shade is no fun for running. 26 deg C in the sun is definitely a challenge. My heart rate (enhanced by ventolin) was about 180+ for the duration and briefly peaked at 200.

And, please remind me, when I get unsure of my running. Of 3216 finishers (1365 women, 870 in my age group, which was basically under 40) I was 844th over all, 137th female, 90th in my age group. By gun time… It took a minute and a half to get over the line from pen III.

And the food in Tallinn is sublime. And very cheap compared to the UK. We did fine dining and loved it.

I’m lazy: most of my photos are in the Instagram feed on the left.


Eridge Park 10 miles

In short: if you like a hilly trail run with a sense of humour, do this race. If you like cake, do this race. If you do this race: either drive or book a taxi from the station. 

I entered on a whim: my running club randomly posted that they had a couple of people going, I could get there via public transport (OK, that took the better part of two hours, but was still feasible), and it’s just the sort of terrain I like. Hills. Killer hills. Bog. Streams. Forest. Grass. All the sorts of things that are just enjoyable. 

I cannot remember anything useful about the actual route, other than lots of water stations, even more marshals, jelly babies and funny names for the different sections. I particularly liked “Watership Up” and “Bugger me that’s deeply steep”. “Cheeky’s Bog” was a particularly fine, deep, stretch of mud with a pair of legs and shoes sticking out of it. It was a loop, with chip timing (ankle bands, so we all felt like criminals on tag) although it was a gun time race. 

And afterwards there was beer, and cake (so much cake. And even more cake. And did I mention the cake?), and we came in third ladies team. Not too shabby for a Sunday morning. Tough going; I finished in 1:47:12, 12th in my age category 28th female, and 180th overall (field of 282). And golly, was I stiff the next day! Calves of steel, and not in a good way. Given that on a road, I can do a 10 mile race in 1:28:something, you can see how the terrain makes a difference. It also makes it much more fun. 

Definitely one to return to. 

Club Runs…

Oh my. I think I’ve found my new Wednesday thing – which means I’m quitting morris dancing at the end of the season (mid-September. So, about 3 weeks time, essentially). I’ve been struggling between morris and running for some time – but it is getting clear that I’m just not putting the effort into morris, and I really ought to stop.

Two parks, or three parks, with the Serpies. We meet at the club room, pootle half a mile down to the corner of Hyde Park (but not quite Speakers’ Corner), and then beetle round the parks at our own pace. Generally, someone is at more-or-less your pace. Last week, I was on a 9 min/mile. This week, 8:30 min/mile – it being about 10 degrees cooler, and less humid. There’s someone to talk to, or not, depending on how sociable you feel. There’s no chance of getting lost. Two parks is 4.1 miles by the Garmin (I think we missed a bit off, it was supposed to be 4.3 miles), three parks is closer to 7 miles (not been brave enough, or on time enough, yet, for that. Next time perhaps). Back to the club house, drink some water, go to the loo, scuttle to the tube, and then I’m on the 8:39 train home (as opposed to the 9:39 after morris, which gives me half a chance to see N, sort myself out for Thursday, and maybe watch some tellybox).

I intend to get organised, and start volunteering for the Club lunchtime last Friday of the month runs. Marshalling. I can’t get there and back to run in the lunchhour – but if I take a couple of hours volunteering leave either side of lunch (and we’re encouraged to take volunteering leave – we get 7 days each year), then I reckon it’s do-able. And you always need marshals. And it strikes me as being less convoluted than a lot of what I do Guiding-wise. No less useful. Just more peaceful.  It depends on what my boss says, but he is a runner, so I think he’d be OK. And – being out of the office for an extended period on a regular basis is much less disruptive than being out sporadically. Fingers crossed.




Two years!

We’ve been married for two years! And it’s brilliant….


(This is one of my favourite pictures of N).

N has bought himself a turbo trainer: Tallinn marathon definitely isn’t happening for him, as his Achilles is still niggling (but seems happier with cycling than running. And, if getting a bike ride in means he’s a happier bunny, I am Very Much for this. Even if it does mean a bicycle in the dining room. Grumpy husbands are No Fun at all).  His anniversary sweater is still a work in progress – it’ll be done by October. Knitting denim yarn involves getting black fingers. Black fingers come off on everything, but are impossible to clean. He says he can tell where I’ve been when I’m knitting his sweater as there are little fingerprints everywhere.  He’s been wiping them up.

I, meanwhile, managed a nice long run on Sunday (10 miles) and a slower parkrun on Saturday. I got quite upset by parkrun – a lass, about 9 or ten, was running, and struggling, and sobbing her little heart out. She managed to catch up with her Dad (aren’t under-10s supposed to be within arms reach of their responsible adults at all times?) who was really rather yelly and overbearing with her. So I suggested that she run and listen to my breathing (she sounded absolutely asthmatic), as I’m really loud at breathing, and that slowed her just a bit, so she could catch her breath, and she was OK after that – but, really, it felt like her Dad was pushing her for his own benefit of “my daughter can beat xyz” rather than making sure she enjoyed her running. It just wasn’t fair. You do not want to hear a child sobbing for her Daddy to stay with her. You just don’t.

We went to see The BFG on Sunday. We had free cinema tickets from the health insurance. I’ve now ordered bits and pieces to make glowing dream jars and whizzpopping corgis with the Brownies. I am so looking forward to this. I worked out the prototypes on the way homes from the cinema.

Monday we cleaned out the Guide Loft. Six of us. It took six and half hours, but you can now see the floor in there, everything is neatly in boxes and labelled, the tents have been consolidated, and we’ve binned about 10 bags of unused, sticky, broken, stuff. It’s all organised by theme, and we can Find Stuff. Totes amazeballs. I am slightly bruised, and needed a thorough sluicing down afterwards. I also made the mistake of failing to eat lunch, and having an inadequate (although tasty) supper from Marks & Spencer on the train home, accompanied by a gin-inna-tin. Those things are lethal. It took four hours for the thing to wear off. I am such a lightweight.

You can see the floor. This is what it was like:

So pleased that’s sorted. 


Things to remember

  1. Sometimes a cup of tea and a biscuit should be applied before anything else (particularly applicable if you’ve been trying to lose 2kg in the last month and have lost slightly more).
  2. I always fall to bits about a fortnight before a Big Race (length or overseas) when N is supposed to be running but may not be. I am perfectly capable of running whatever distance I train for. At a decent pace. 
  3. Talking to N generally sorts everything out where 1. hasn’t quite cut the mustard and I’ve forgotten 2.
  4. People are kind. Ask for help. 

As you were. I had chocolate yesterday. I may have some today as well. 


In which I have woe

Because it’s three weeks until Tallinn half marathon, because N is probably not running the marathon, which was the whole point of the exercise (his Achilles just is not playing ball).

So of course I don’t want to run it. I don’t see the point. I’m lousy at running. I’m rubbish. I’m slow. I look ridiculous. Why on earth would I want to travel that far to run a race that I never wanted to enter in the first place? Wouldn’t it just be cheaper, and less hassle, to stay at home and watch the Last Night of the Proms instead?

I also have woe because I don’t want to be in the position where the only hope of a baby is IVF. There’s been a massive spate of new babies on facebook this week. Two of my best friends are pregnant (and due within weeks of each other). My body is a failure. I am a rubbish gestational vessel. I am, frankly, old and past it. For running. For babies. For everything.

Next week we’ll have been married two years. Next week we’ll have been failing to conceive for two years. 95% of couples will conceive within 2 years….

Maybe I just need some chocolate?


parkrun PB!

Totally overexcited here, as I’ve knocked a whole 16 seconds off my parkrun PB! I was 40 seconds off last week, and had been partly stymied by getting stuck behind people (there’s a few bits on our route which are pretty much single track only, so you have to take it gently, and just enjoy the run and the canal): I knew I could manage the route quicker because I’d felt strong. However, this week – I put myself near the front, set off like a bat out of hell (is there any other type?) and managed to maintain something appropriate speed-wise  as I went round, and, crucially, didn’t get stuck behind anyone.


It’s still quite an uneven trace. I will one day get the knack of running evenly. Maybe. Perhaps on tomorrow’s long run – there’s three weeks until Tallinn half, with N doing the full marathon, and long runs are definitely a feature. After that – we have one race (Thames Meander, 5th November) booked in, and, frankly, that may be iffy from my perspective. We’re starting down the route of IVF – and all the indications are that it’s a really really bad idea to go running during the phase where it’s all about stimulating the ovaries to produce eggs. So, depending on the wait time (about 8 weeks from them getting the letter), there’s going to be a sudden drop in running and a sudden increase in walking and yoga. Walking and yoga are apparently OK. And, since the aim here is a baby – yeah, I can manage without running for a bit. And then, hopefully, I’ll be running like Mary again…

Two weekends ago, we went to Prague. We had the loveliest time – I really enjoy spending three days with just N, wandering round, seeing things, having a proper mental break from work and adulting, and just being US. 

Because N is hard training for Tallinn (although injured – so not as hard as he was for Berlin), I booked him, and me, into a running tour of the city with Running Prague (basically, I’d Googled Prague parkrun, and this is what came up – there is no parkrun in Prague, but I found something far more helpful). We both wanted to do 10 miles over the weekend – and I just reckoned it would be far, far simpler to have someone guide us rather than trying to figure out a route in a foreign city. This worked out brilliantly – on Friday, N went out with Martin, at a healthy 7:37 min/mile (his marathon pace. I know. So. Fast.) and on Sunday, Martin’s girlfriend Pavla took me out at a rather more reasonable 9:16 min/mile for more-or-less the same route. It was brilliant! She was recovering from a really fast race the day before (she, like Nick, has managed a Boston Qualifying time, but it turned out to be just too slow), so was perfectly happy to be pootling at my pace for 10 miles. I, meanwhile, put a bit more effort in than I might have done so that I didn’t entirely let myself down. We even did a hill. Pavla runs that hill quite frequently – and it’s showing in her form!

On the Saturday – N and I went out together, got hopelessly lost, stopped and started, couldn’t get into rhythm, and found the whole five mile experience somewhat stressful. Prague’s got no right angles to its streets, so it’s really easy to get lost.

Other than that, we bimbled, learned about Kafka, 

went up the tower that looks like the Eiffel Tower, ate an INORDINATE amount of pork – N ordered a pork dinner, and as we left the restaurant we saw two separate couples who’d ordered the same pork dinner between them. He ate pretty much all of his – I shared a little bit. It was very, very good. We lucked out and found an entirely gluten-free Italian restaurant, to which we went twice, and I nearly levitated with the excitement of a whole menu to choose from. We also found a traditional Czech restaurant which had a very well labelled gluten-free menu. It was heavenly. I had dumplings for the first time in I can’t remember how long. Awesome.

We also went to the zoo. And saw a baby elephant and got as close to a tiger as we are ever likely to get. 

We like Prague. We’ll be going back – but the next trip booked is Venice in December. I’ve long wanted to take N to Venice, and I finally got my act together and booked.
Today, N’s at football (#COYS) and I’m going to knit and knit and knit. It’s our second wedding anniversary in a fortnight, I am nowhere near done on his sweater (cotton), and this is an excellent opportunity. There’s not much Guidemin that needs doing, I’m on top of the laundry, and, while I might have a pootle into town for a Sticky Coffee at Starbucks, that’s about the limit of my aims for the day. Well. I might tidy up the sitting room a little more. I’ve been scattering my possessions again.