Blue Runnings

Race Reviews, GPX files and more from North-East England

The Rain Queen

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I have worked out why it has rained every day since last Friday! It’s because on Friday morning I ordered some running shorts (some Ronhill trail shorts if you’re particularly interested) in a desperate attempt to find coolness (alas, trendiness will never be mine) through the summer scorchy months, and thus it will no longer be sunny or indeed quite as hot. They turned up yesterday, so it’s done pretty much nothing except rain for the last two days since they’ve dropped through the letterbox!

P’s been on day shift again today, so in the interests of not ending the month on a COMPLETE exercise flop as I have been somewhat slack this month, (machine shut tomorrow so will probably not get anything extra done and Thursday and Friday are anyone’s guess!), I went for a run before picking him up. It’s been a bit cooler anyway, and was on and off showering, so I have yet to taunt the weather with my new shorts, and so decided I would be A-OK in my capris and a t-shirt. This of course meant that I was still a little on the warm side as I hadn’t taken into account the lack of wind that there always is by the river. One day I will learn, and on that day it will be blowing a gale right down the path and I will freeze.

I mentioned last week I was getting a bit bored of doing the same old routes and wanted to shake things up a bit and roam in new exciting directions, so today I went the same place I’ve been going for over a year now…nothing like a hypocrite 😉 Last week in the interests of adding a bit of variety, instead of heading for one place I did a time-trial type thing, turning around when I hit 12 minutes and then heading back again and seeing how far I’d made it when I got back. I did the same thing today, and as usual set off at my too-fast pace which I always do for the first few minutes. This time I pushed myself to keep it up until I was feeling a bit uncomfortable and then a little further, but not to the point where I couldn’t continue jogging afterwards – I kept up this ‘run’ pace for 1.2km before dropping down a bit before dropping down to a jog, but even this felt quicker than my usual distance eating one – I kept it up knowing I wasn’t going to be going death-inducing distances.

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Running on Dominos

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Some people like to exercise first thing in the morning on an empty stomach, some like to leave it an hour or two after a meal, tonight I ran on pizza tummy. P is working nightshift tonight and didn’t sleep too well today – so motivation to clean the kitchen and think about dinner before I got home from work was at a low ebb, and wanting something quick and easy, he ordered pizza for dinner. Dominos doesn’t sit with me at the best of times – high dairy foods never do, and it’s one of those foods like chinese that I occasionally get a hankering for until it actually turns up, and then my appetite for it is sated very very quickly. It’s basically ‘what can I have for dinner which requires the absolute minimum amount of effort from me?’. Normally, post pizza me is not much good for anything for the rest of the evening except groaning and holding my tummy, but today I had told myself I was going out, and going out I was!

I mentioned yesterday I’ve had a craving for new routes and just something a bit different to my usual old haunts, and I had a couple in mind for this week which I’ve been thinking of doing for a while. Normally, if I’m doing a stretch of the Derwent Walk, I park up at where Ebchester Station used to be, and run downhill (I use this term loosely – it’s a very very very shallow gradient) towards Rowland’s Gill and then back again. I’d passed signs for the old Shotley Bridge Station on my way back from purchasing a print from this lovely lady a few weeks ago and knew it was on the Derwent Walk further up from Ebchester, so decided today to head that way and see how far – knowing reassuringly it wasn’t a huge distance further up.

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Factory Reset!

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I went out for a run on Saturday morning, and going out tonight wasn’t any easier. I’m hoping that if I go out a couple of times this week I’ll get some stamina back again and maybe even get further than 5k without feeling like death! It really does feel like I’ve had the clock turned back 6 months or something – I can do the distance without a walking break, but I don’t find it easy and I’m not enjoying it as much – it’s just determination to get past it that’s pushing me to go out.

I’ve also got a real craving for new routes and different places rather than the same old well-trodden paths. I was picking P up from work at 7pm today, so did go to an old haunt down by the river, but rather than aiming for a certain point to turn around at, I thought I’d do it by time rather than distance and see how far I got – I had about 35 mins to go out in including stretch off and pile back into the car time, so I jogged along for 12 mins figuring that the way back would take me slightly longer, and turned around then instead of going for a physical marker. I was actually only about 45 seconds longer on the way back than the way there, and I knew I’d had a burst of unsustainably too fast at the start. Once I’d got this puffed out the way my pace turns out to have been pretty much flat as a pancake which is good – it didn’t feel like it, I wasn’t quite at foot-dragging stage but as with Saturday, it would have required more mental stamina than I had to turn around and do it again!

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A Jog Along The Derwent Dam

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Well, hello there trainers, it’s been a while! Three weeks to be precise, and damn do I know it! For an assortment of excuses including the weather, travel, hiking, work and general laziness, I haven’t been out in a while! 🙂 This morning I finally found a degree of motivation and thought I’d head over to the Derwent Reservoir and go out over the dam – P and I have walked along to the near end of the dam before, but not along it.

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Derwent Walk – Take II – 13km

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I did NOT want to get out of bed this morning, I’d gone to bed later than usual faffing about with stuff for next weekend, P got home from night shift about 07:20 and I was ready to roll over for another hour’s kip. J however, had other ideas. We went out last weekend to try and start stretching her mileage, and I’d dragged her out at 8am. Despite the last message I’d received last night being along the lines of she’d done a ridiculous amount of cycling that day and wasn’t sure if she’d be super stiff in the morning but would let me know, it turned out she was up, dressed and stuffing breakfast in her face while I was supposed to psychically know that we were going out, and also that we were going out the same time as the weekend before. She’s lucky I checked my tablet on a whim or she would have been waiting some time by herself at the carpark as I was expecting a text or something! 😛

I fobbed her off until 9am much to her surprise, why she should be surprised I might want a lie-in on a weekend is beyond me, these shifties don’t know how precious a Sunday morning can be! We did the same route as last time along the Derwent Walk and back, this time aiming for that milestone of 13km – last time we hit 12k. I started my watch a bit late sorting satellites and not letting J use it as an excuse to walk further along at the start – but hers definitely said 13k when we finished 🙂 According to my watch we were 10 seconds per km faster – and that was with going slightly further, and on J’s for finish time we did the 13k in less time than we did the 12k last week! Mine’s not quite giving the same result but as I said last time, we’ll argue about Garmin V TomTom another time – as long as they’re consistent with themselves that’s the main thing!

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Derwent Walk, Derwent Talk! – 12km

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I knew it felt like a while since I’d last done a training run when I was uploading the map for today’s route – I haven’t done a training run blog entry since May the 28th! With the large number of races I had through May and into June, I’ve been doing more events than training – and the short 3km training run I did with J a few days before my half marathon, I didn’t do a blog entry for as I was still trying to catch up on the Blaydon Races and get everything squared away at work for my being off for a long weekend! After getting the Newburn River Race out the way last Wednesday, I’ve now got a few weeks race free! I need it after how busy May was. I wonder if it’s possible for me to put any more hyperlinks in a paragraph?!

ANYWAY. With only 12 weeks to go until the Great North Run (or something like that anyway), J is getting understandably a bit nervous about the distance – her furthest run being 10.6k to date, and 21k can look daunting when you’re wanting to try to run the whole thing! So, time to start upping that distance! J likes to watch her watch a lot when she’s running – and can’t be trusted not to try and go for pb 5k and 10k times on a route – which you can’t really intend to do when you’re going out for a long run. I only really use mine for determining when my next water or dextrose break is on the long ones, but unlike J, I am not really competitive! When there’s noone else to race, she races herself!

I’d not actually told J what we were going to be doing today, just told her I’d pick her up at 8am (which I was late for, because you know, breakfast happened). She assumed I’d planned something horrible when in actual fact I didn’t decide what we were doing until I was in the car on the way to her house. I had three options in mind for helping her with her distance – she wants to see how far she can get around Grafham reservoir when she’s on her holidays in 3 weeks time, which is a 10 mile loop.

The first was to go along the Derwent Walk and back – moderately level going, turn round at the bridge at the 6.5km mark and get back to the car park having done 7-8 miles depending on where we decided to end our run from. This one was just for adding miles under the trainers as the terrain is moderately forgiving. That might be the opinion of someone who’s gotten used to running in Consett though…

The second option was to run from my house towards Consett and around the industrial estate, about 8-10k depending on if you do one loop or two, and as there’s several long steady but not too steep hills on this route, it would give her the opportunity to do a distance she was familiar with, on slightly tougher terrain to help with building stamina for the longer distances.

Option three took this a step further – Blackhill Parkrun. 5km distance which we all know she can do, but on the toughest terrain for hills I think she’s covered – which would also be good prep for the Butterwick Hospice Run at Hamsterley Forest, which I can say from previous experience, is not going to be a flat 10k in any shape or form. Personally, I have yet to actively enjoy Blackhill Parkrun, but when I’ve done it I’ve really noticed a difference in my running afterwards – it’s definitely a contributing factor to a step-up in my pace and I need to go back again if I want to get quicker again! I want to be able to do it in under 30 mins if possible. Every running trainer will tell you that 5km of hills is worth 10km of flats, and any flat race of any distance is a synch in comparison! It doesn’t make it easier to do the hills at the time, but it really does help in the long run!

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How to Break Your Knees and Other Stories

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Ok, so I didn’t break my knees. Let’s just own up to that little fib right now. And there are no other stories. You were brought here under false pretences. Whatcha gonna do. Have a cup of tea and a banana bread muffin. Maybe watch the birdies. We could play scrabble or monopoly!

Anyway! I wanted to do another double-figure mileage run before Liverpool in a fortnight – and this was probably my last week to do so. I was feeling pretty good this morning so off I went in my shiny trainers to pootle along the Derwent Walk. I decided this time instead of taking the car to the pub at the start, I would try running down from the church and past the Dene and try and drop onto it from there as this is likely the route I would take if I were cycling home (if and when I ever decide to risk this! I have obtained a cycle helmet, but as of yet have not sat on a bike for many years).

Firstly, I would like to note this is a horrible hill – it’s ok going down but it’s long and drops right down to the top of Ebchester – and having done it in both directions, it is no fun at all coming back up! It was sunny and slightly windy on my way out the door, but knowing I wouldn’t be walking for long at the start and the Derwent Walk is very sheltered, I didn’t bother taking any windproofs or long sleeves or other such paraphenalia. I’d nosied on the interwebs and seen that if I followed the path until I hit about 10.6km, I’d be at a nice big viaduct and could then turn round and go back – the full distance being a half marathon. I knew it was unlikely I’d jog any of the hill at the end – but I wanted to see how far I could get.

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Run England Rearguard, Reporting for Duty

Well, it definitely feels good to be able to put that logo up again! It has been 5 weeks since I last went to a Run England session, and I’ve definitely missed them, in more ways than one. It was good to see some familiar faces and feel part of a group again – particularly when out and about as it helps keep me going possibly further than I would have gone without slowing to a walk if I were by myself – proving to myself that I can go the distance if I put my mind to it! Apparently the intention for this week was to do 5.5-6 miles, but we got to 2.5 miles and a few people with dodgy legs were intending to head home, so we headed back the way we’d come and got into the leisure centre at about 5 miles all told – 8km on my watch and for me a most respectable Run England distance. I was a little nervous at the prospect of doing nearly 10km in an hour – but why go with the fast group if not to push my comfort zones?

We went out along the path to Hownsgill viaduct, I’ve done short stretches of it before as part of other routes with Run England, but never gone as far down as we did today and out over the viaduct itself – it’s a shame really that I didn’t get to find out the circular route but I may go explore again myself sometime as it was nice and flat! I could park up at Morrison’s and hardly do any hills at all 🙂 Almost unheard of in Consett 😛 It was good to get back into the group on a flat run, even if it sounded like it would be longer and therefore slightly quicker than normal (we’re out close to an hour regardless of distance travelled and group you run with!). I was also grateful they’d picked a relatively shaded route, there was wind about but when it stopped gusting it was uncomfortably warm. The viaduct itself was awesome – high over the wooded valley, and very windy! It was a welcome cooldown, but also so windy it almost took my visor off and nearly robbed the air from your lungs rather than providing it in vaster quantities! Would be nice to do as a walk sometime if I can drag P out with me 🙂 I’m still dreading the summer proper. I think the combination of lack of exercise and higher, stuffier temperatures is putting between 5 and 10 minutes on my 10k time at the moment. Bring on October and November!

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Riverside Amblings

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My intention was to get up and go for a run as far as I could manage on the towpaths along the River Wey, taking advantage of the fact that my Dad had agreed to pick me up from wherever I happened to end up, and hoping to be able to get some double figure miles in. The thing that got in the way, was the weather. My logic was, make hay while the sun shines not too hotly. 08:15 in the morning, having been out about 5 minutes, and already I was dry-mouthed, sweaty and too hot – and desperate to make it to the river side where there might be a chance of shade. It’s the first time in ages I’ve needed a drink or a walking break in a less than 5km distance – and I don’t normally take water even for a 10km anymore.

The water in itself was a necessary nuisance at the start – I also don’t normally take anything at all with me if I can help it other than my watch, or I take my small waistband thing for races to put my keys and phone in, sometimes dextrose tablets. Expecting to do a longer distance, I’d taken my bigger one with the water bottle holder – and with a full bottle of water, a bigger phone than normal, and three gel sachets in it felt really heavy compared with how I remember – and was bouncing like crazy as I tried to jog along, it was not doing my stomach any favours! I got it clamped around my waist securely finally about the 2km mark, and once my water bottle was half empty it was ok.

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Quest Accepted: Obtain Mojo

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Well, I’m not quite ready to go out and order my Austin Powers outfit and disco ball, but I’m feeling a bit more back in the game and have some of the determination to get out back – just in time as my half marathon is in 3 weeks on Sunday! We just booked the hotel – I’m praying there’s still parking available when we get there…still, we have a bed and there will be breakfast!

I’m trying to get back into doing a run or two around P’s shifts – before picking him up after days or after dropping him off for the night shift – which is quite do-able particularly with it being so light at the moment. Will be much trickier in the winter, but fingers crossed that’s a while off! I met J at the river – this is the first run she’s been on for 2 weeks with travelling, except for Gelt Gladiator, which sits in an exercise category all its own. My original plan had been to go down to the bridge and back, but not really sure what pace we’d do, we decided to run for 20 mins along the footpath, and then turn around and come back – we actually hit the bridge in 22 mins so both plans worked to the same effect! We did a total of 6km in 45 mins, and the sun even came out! It was grey and drizzley when I left work, as though testing me to see if I actually would go out as I had intended, and then decided to reward me for this with sunshine and warmth. So we both finished up rather sweaty. I’m sure the more ladylike version is ‘glowing’, but usually this means I feel like I’m glowing like a pig in muck…I don’t really do ladylike! This was an evening run too – may have to stick to evenings and first thing in the morning for July to September! The weather doesn’t seem likely to get much cooler…

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