Thursday, 31 July 2014

Running Geek

I once asked the question whether if a tree falls in the middle of the forest and no one posted it one Facebook did it really happen?  I now find I'm asking myself a similar question about running, my Garmin and Strava.  If I run 12 miles but the event is not recorded did I really run it.  Well yes, I know I did really run it but I honestly do find myself being bothered by it.  A number of times recently either my Garmin Forerunner 10 or an upload to Strava have failed me.  My data recorded for the Great Warford 10 miler, for example, just vanished into thin air.  A few other runs have only recorded the distance and route but have no information about speed or pace.  Don't even get me started on Strave segments because they really don't make sense (I want my missing trophoes Strava!!).

I know it shouldn't matter and that there are more serious things to worry about in the world but I can't help feeling annoyed and chested in some way but maybe it's indication of a much bigger issue... actually obsessing over run data.  I know my finish time for Great Warford and that should be enough really but gone are my splits per mile, the little graph where i compare speed and elevation, the breakdown of my pace distribution and the roads that i ran will not appear as a little blue line one my Strava heat map.  Like totally the worst disaster since the Titanic I know (sarcasm) but it does make you wonder  why we spend so much time on this stuff.  It's not new, I know some of the more elder members of my club have kept old style running diaries since their youth (around about the Boer War :p ) and I guess what we have now is just a more modern version of that but i'm pretty sure that they never ran in each new location that they visit to get it on their heat map. 

I'm not sure what impact that this technology reliance has but there are theories that people are ability to do mental arithmetic declined with the increase in the use of calculators.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, why have a calculator and bark yourself so to speak.  I forgot my watch for a race once.  Luckily it wasn't so bad because I could use my phone to record the run but as it was tucked away in my pocket I couldn't watch my pace and speed, and check it against my little negative split guides that I take to each race.  Instead I ran the speed that my body told me to go, forcing it to go slower than this speed at the start (We Love Manchester 10k so fat chance of going fast for the first half a mile anyways).  I still managed to do negative splits across the six miles and even though it wasn't a pb (dodgy leg cramps) the timing was actually pretty good so maybe we are losing some ability to listen to body signals.  I've stopped watching my pace so much since but I still need the little blue line that told me that I ran there and a couple of graphs to obsess over.

Random: My new favourite thing

Monday, 28 July 2014

Medical Update: Couldn't talk all day.  Is certainly an experience walking a blind dog when you can't speak.  Just need a deaf person and we'll have a full set.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Great Warford 10 Mile

After a week off from running and a great track session, was seriously ready for a race but Great Warford was a tough one.  It's not somewhere I've heard of but the race id part of my Warrington Road Runners club championship and I need a club standard in either 5 mile, 10 mile or a half so thought it was a good opportunity to get a base time to find out how much I need to improve.  There was eight club members at the race so not a bad turn out.

Great Warford 10 Mile Elevation
The race is held by Wilslow Running Club and takes place at the David Lewis Centre in Great Warford, which is between Alderley Edge and Knutsford.  After a small loop of a couple of miles you then do two laps of 4 miles.  There are a few hills, Particularly a steep one that you run up three times with the finish right after it but it's short and can be a good one to sprint up.  The downhills provide a good balance too so the course whilst undulating is not bad (I don't like flat courses cos I get bored).   The organisation was very good, collecting numbers was quick and easy (Although the numbers were chopped up, what's that about?), free parking, nice marshals and registration right near the start.    The only issue that I found with the race was the water station which seemed to be in the wrong place near the start of the large lap.  You went past the station at 2.5 and 6.5 miles but on a hot day not having water for pretty much the whole last lap was hard going. 

Jogger's Tipple
I ended up walking up the two hills on the last lap and broke my cardinal rule of never walking in the last mile but it was just too hot and I really needed a drink.  I probably could have pushed through it but it was my first 10 miler so no pb to chase and knew I wasn't going to be quick enough for the standard.  At the finish we were given a bottle of beer (Which wasn't that bad) and a flapjack.  The faster people got given bags and t-shirts too but they were from other races so wasn't really disappointed to not get them.  On the plus side, there was free photography and I actually got a decent running photo of myself for once, smiling and everything so it must have been close to the start:).

I think it is a race well done with a good route but in hot weather it was very hard going.  I think I'll skip it next year if the weather is the same. 

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Running like a girl (Coz we're great)!!!!

A little box of joy arrived today (Well actually, had to pick it up from the post office).  Sparkly running skirts from the US.  I was having a bad day recently and so I started planning my outfits for the 2016 Disney weekend.  Yes, it's miles and miles and miles away but when you're stuck on the sofa shaking and can't talk there's nothing like retail therapy to cheer you up, especially if it's related to my two favourite things - running and Disney.

Whilst surfing around I came across Sparkle Athletic (Who I've mentioned in a previous blog) and decided that I had to have one of their skirts for Disney but it got me thinking, why should the sparkle be limited to one week way off in the future.  I'm a girl, I like being a girl, so why shouldn't I run like a girl?  I saw a video recently by Always, questioning what it means to do something "like a girl".  The video questions dominant stereotypes about gender differences and the impact that it can have on self confidence of young girls (FYI - As an equalist, I would just like to state that there are just as many stereotypes about what it means to be a 'boy' or a 'man' as there are for the female half of the population, I'm not a feminist).  It's a very interesting video.

I've done quite a bit of research into running skirts and dresses.  They're not really that available in the UK but seem to be getting more popular in the US.  A lot of the articles I read criticise the trend, saying it makes you 'less of a real runner', 'too girly', 'vain', all along the lines of caring too much about how you look.  I personally don't see what's wrong with it, and even bought a running dress and some skirts but have been too chicken to wear them.  Yes, you get the charity races like Race for Life, or the fancy dress type events where you can wear a tutu and fit right in but generally you're either a club runner or a fun runner, and never the two shall meet.  Not any more though, I'm a girl, and girls wear skirts. I've even bought a sparkle race skirt to match my club vest.  I'll be wearing it for Dublin and the Great North Run, along with my vest because who says I can't be a serious runner (Well a slowish serious runner) and a girl at the same time.

Thursday, 17 July 2014


I now have entry into the English Half Marathon for life, number 212 (Chosen as it's my wedding date and cos I like symmetry), a gold number none the less.  English Half Marathon are offering a set number of gold entries into the race which gives you:

  • Entry into the half marathon or 10k for life
  • Your choice of bib number between 1 and 250 as long as it's not already taken
  • A gold coloured medal, along with the normal medal, so two medals (need I say more)
  • An invite to a launch party
  • VIP treatment before and after the race
The race takes place in Warrington in September so i'll let you know how it goes.  If you want a gold number too it costs £125 but if you have already entered the 2014 they'll deduct the amount you've paid already.  Here's the link if you want more info and for more information for the race itself go to

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Sefton Park 5 Mile

Sadly tonight's race was my second DNF.  It's annoying, but I only have myself to blame as, unlike, the first time I did not finish, circumstances were completely within my control.  I did learn a valuable lesson about listening to my body though, my legs have been screaming at me for days.  During Saturday's parkrun I had to stop at a mile because of crazy cramps in my legs, the next day ran We Love Manchester 10k with cramps the entire way, one day of rest and then ran the Arley Mile club race, more cramps.  Not surprising then that as soon started trying to run the 5 miler tonight the cramps came back.  I tried to run though it but had to pull out around half way.  My legs are still in agony after three races in four days so rather than having another ice bath (I've had three in one weekend) and delaying the inevitable I think I should actually stop running for a few days (The husband has booked us into a cabin in Wales with a hot tub for a long weekend so should make not running a little easier).

It's a shame I didn't finish the race though.  It was very well organised by Mossley Hill Athletics Club in memory of Tony Barnes.  The route does two and a bit laps of Sefton Park so it's all on paths and is pretty much flat.  There's a curry afterwards (Good by all accounts, i skipped it), a medal (Am gutted i didn't get it, was a nice one) and a goody bag with an oat chocholate bar and an energy drink.  There was also free photography (Which you don't get often these days), first aid and people doing massages.  I will be re-trying it next year.

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

WRR Arley Mile

The Arley Mile is the second of three internal Warrington Road Runners club race of the year, along with the Summer and Winter Handicaps.  The club meets at Broomfields as usual and then does a warm up jog to Arley Road, which is close to Appleton Thorn.  Construction work near the start kindle provided us with an unlocked portaloo and Andy, our 10k race organiser, put up some of the signs from our race last month so it felt like quite an event.  

Runners set off in two's, with someone who is around the same pace as them, five minutes apart as the road is still open to cars and bikes.  It's a great idea as it means that  the people who finish first get to cheer on the people who follow and you are only in a race with yourself.  Numbers were pretty good this year with 27 people running, 20 men and 7 women.  I came fourth with a time of 7.30, my fastest mile so far.


My Disney Dopey Challenge plan took a step forward yesterday, the 2015 Tour of Merseyside has now been entered.  52 miles in 6 races over 7 days, good prep for 46.6 miles in four days of races I think.   The 2014 tour, which has just ended, took over facebook took for the last few weeks with a sense of good sportsmanship very evident.   BTR Liverpool, the organisers of the tour, say that the race is all about the "spirit of running", and having followed the posts online it's clear that the tour is hard but fun and experience that has to be had. The video making the rounds of the last runner on the last race being joined by all of her follow runners to take her across the finish line can't help but make you want to be a part of it.  And it's not just the runners, BTR are going out of their way to make sure that someone who was injured during the race can run the last mile he missed (along with a number of tour runners who insist on running it with him) so he can complete the challenge and gets his medal. It's no surprise then that the 2015 event is already looking to be very popular.

The race is limited to 300 runners.  2014 was it's second year and it had around 170 entrants whereas 2015 has been open for less than a day and already the start list is at 70 people.  With the deposit scheme that BTR have just announced (Pay £25 now and the balance in September) I don't think it will take too long for the event to get full.  I was planning on entering tomorrow (As i'm going to the BTR office anyways) but after an hour of constantly refreshing the start list I decided that saving £6 wasn't worth the 48 mental anguish of worrying that I wouldn't get a place.  FOMO in full effect.  Fear of missing out, for those who were asking.

I had the tour on my training plan already but I was a bit dubious about entering.  Small running events are normally filled with fast running club people and I thought I'd be too slow (Especially in the cross country event, I'm rubbish at cross country) but I've realised by following this year's tour that it doesn't matter.  Hopefully they'll continue on the tradition of joining the last runner for the last bit of the last race.  With a bit of luck (and training) it won't be me, but if it is it doesn't matter.

Here's a link to the BTR website if you want more information about the tour!the-tour/c1e28

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Random: I always try to find the good in everything.  The only good thing about Loose Women that I can find is that I can turn it off.  Is almost as bad as Jeremy Kyle.  They both keep appearing on my TV in between pre-recorded Air Crash Investigation episodes.
Medical Update: Yesterday was a bit crummy.  My gp is now signing me off sick six months at a time, which is great for the ESA re-application but pretty much means they've given up.  Is fine though, knew it was coming.  Couldn't finish my run either, eyes and voice went so had to get the Mr to pick me up.  Think i may have to stop running off road, is harder for a start and more likely to set the episodes off cos have to do more than one thing at once (Cos of the uneven ground) and is harder to get someone to come and get me if i'm in the middle of a field.  Had to run over a mile with a full blown episode which was a bit scary.  Think I'm a road runner anyways, least until cross country training starts.  :)

Friday, 4 July 2014


I think the saying goes something like "Simple things amuse small minds".  They must have been talking about me because when it comes to race bibs with my name on I struggle to hide my glee, the simplest of simpleton.  I'm not sure when it started but as far as I'm concerned it's a genius idea that may not quite be on a the same level as like the light bulb or car cup holder but certainly better than any contestant of The Apprentice has ever come up with.  It actually serves a purpose other amusing simple people like me too, races that put names on bibs generally have a cutoff of when you need to enter by in order to get your name printed which helps the organisers (People encouraged to enter earlier = better idea of the number of runners = better race management ability) and it allows random strangers who you will most likely never see again to cheer you on by name (I have my name on my race top for the same reason).  

The spectator sport of name cheering is an art form that doesn't get enough credit.  London Marathon obviously takes the activity to the extreme (Given the number of runners and the already charged viewing atmosphere) but only the elites actually have named bibs, the name cheering therefore is limited to those who have printed their names on their tops.  You can cheer based on the running club or location ("Go Road Runners", "Go Warrington") but that always seems a bit impersonal.  Being on the other side, as a runner, I've had my name on my bib maybe four times now and every time I've heard someone shout "Go Sarah" it honestly does put a little more speed into my stride.  It means even more to me if it's someone I don't know (Who i'm not forcing to stand around on a Sunday morning to watch lots of crazy people have a run around).

When my number for Runfest Wales didn't turn up I was a little bit gutted when I found out that they had our names on and assumed that my replacement would not.  It actually made my day when they handed the green square with my name boldly placed across it.  I've also been known to tipex my name onto a bib when I missed the cutoff date.

So, what's in a name? I honestly don't know... but if it's printed across my race bib I am simply a very happy girl.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Disney Marathon Ambition Obsession: 552 days remaining
I'm thinking that this skirt could work as both Belle and Snow White.    
Medical Update: I haven't written this blog for a long time.  I think as things progressed they became more and more normal to me and so writing about them seemed a bit odd.  I had a scary morning today though as i froze in bed.  I couldn't move or open my eyes for what felt like a very long time but I could hear what was going on (James trying to get me to get up and take the dog downstairs, Gizmo farting twice) but i couldn't do anything.  

I freeze quite often but it's never been as bad as this was.  I still am unable to talk but rather focus what's wrong i thought i'd do something positive that I've wanted to do for a long time, a record of my races (I'm obsessed with running).  Although technically a blog is meant to be the present, I've decided to go back and do a record of all my races because i really want to have it somewhere.  Although I'm the only person who will probably ever read it, I decided to share for the people who are sad like me and google to find out what race bling you got at previous races (It's all about the medals!!!).

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

I love this US based company called Sparkle Athletics who make amazing running skirts.  Even though my Disney marathon is like a year and a half away, it's never to early to start planning costumes and I really want to wear one of these skirts.

They have this thing called the travelling skirts, I'll let them explain it cos they can do it a whole lot better..

At Team Sparkle, we’re spreading the power of sparkle one skirt at a time. Or in the case of the Traveling Sparkle Skirts, two skirts at a time. The Traveling Sparkle Skirts traverse the globe spreading sparkle wherever they go. One pink and one turquoise—the official colors of Sparkle Athletic—they harness the power of sparkle, as all Sparkle Skirts do, giving their wearers extra KAPOW!

But these two skirts have an extra bit of magic. We think it comes from all the women who have worn them over the years, who leave a little bit of their own sparkly, shiny, glittering, gleaming awesomeness with the skirts.

We understand that you might become attached to the Traveling Sparkle Skirts like a lucky charm. But these skirts aren’t for keeps. They have to shimmer on to the next ladies who will feel all the love radiating from the skirts’ shimmery sequins. It’s our way of paying it forward. We want the traveling Sparkle Skirts to be constantly on the go, motivating and inspiring women of all different ages, abilities, shapes and sizes. We want everyone to have a chance to pull on a skirt and let their inner sparkle shine.

The skirts have been all around America but hopefully they'll answer my request to send it over to the UK so I get to wear one for a race.