The power of prayer !

21 02 2009

Thank you to my dear wife for her entry yesterday. I didn’t realise she is quite so competitive !

Today was to be a big test and it proved to be quite an eventful one. Probably my worst running experience to date.

I planned a 14.2 mile run – actually further than a half marathon – spurred on by the fact that I have a half marathon to run on 8th March – the longest run since my youth. I also was interested in how a little further would feel and whether a full marathon on 5th April was viable. I think I found my answers today. Yes to the half but no to the full.

This would be tough as there are a few hills. The worst bits were between miles 9 and 10 up to Burton and also from mile 12.5 to 13 where I pull away from the coast.

I was a little fearful and explained to Dominic that I might break down today if things went badly. He loves cars and so the thought of me breaking down and being towed away really grabbed his interest. School is making him quite religious (to our embarrassment he started singing loudly “Jesus’ love is wonderful ” in public last week) and so I thought it would be a nice idea if we said a prayer together. Something along the lines of bring daddy home without breaking down or expiring.

I set off with two potato waffles and eggs in me. A slow steady pace was the order of the day. I felt a little tired to start with (a little uphill though) but my form gradually improved. The run did seem to drag though. 45 mins seemed like an age and I had to keep my concentration as it was mostly unpaved roads with some blind corners but to be fair very quiet.

An hour passed I felt a little better but plodded on into Hooton village and then I knew at least I was turning for home. A treat of a banana and water stop awaited me at Willaston. I knew Burton hill was to come so this stop was essential as a refuel.

I felt very tired. I am sure it is the knowledge of how far you are away from home doesn’t help but I suppose also I had run 8 or 9 miles already. The hill beckoned it was a steady climb and there was still no sign of what was to come.

I got to the top and knew that I could relax for a bit now. The old legs were feeling very weary though and I am sure I saw that pitying look in cyclists and pedestrians as they passed by in Burton. Even the next downhill bit hurt and I just took it slowly.

Finally, I reached the front. A beautiful view but I became aware of something else. I was getting cramp and it wasn’t in my legs. Oh dear. I thought it would pass but no it was getting worse. The shaking about during a run certainly was not helping. I began to get concerned. I reassured myself that I was quite close to home now and surely I could last until then. Another wave of cramps hit me. Oh God I couldn’t believe it ! Although the marsh was available there were quite a few ramblers and bird watchers around and I wasn’t exactly camouflaged ! This is when a bright fluorescent yellow running top does you no favours. Under that was a bright red top. What a nightmare ! Things were getting desperate down there. I tried to ease a little wind out but it felt a little “dangerous”.

I decided to run on. There was a pub a little further on and maybe relief. To my dismay the pub looked very closed. By now the urge to do no.2’s was excruciating. I clenched my buttocks and focussed on my running. Not the easiest thing to do and I felt a few involuntary movements down there. I just didn’t know if I could last. I have not been in such discomfort during any run. Not only was I physically exhausted but had this to deal with and the final hill was looming , housing (Oh joy) and still a good one- and- a- half miles to home.

I turned up the hill racking my mind as to what to do – scanning the area for quiet little corners. Even if I did perform what could I use to wipe ? The only piece of paper was something with my home address and my wife’s telephone no. on. Oh God the embarrassment… the press coverage… my career could be finished !

As I pulled up Marshland hill I began to feel faint, I think with the panic. There were people gardening could I ask one to use their loo ? No I would literally run into their house and be a laughing stock. I had to just keep going there was now only a mile to go. I felt another involuntary spasm. Marshlands seemed to go on for ever and then finally I was at the top. I had a brainwave or a message from above ! Our church was in striking distance – they had an outside loo. It might be open.

I felt another cramp. I was running out of time, my legs couldn’t carry me any faster. There were four large rather “strong” looking gentleman outside their house – no doubt pimping up their car. I came so close to asking them for relief BUT No I thought for God sakes I’m a Chartered Accountant. I have to keep some sort of dignity.

All my hopes were now pinned on the church. The thought of praying didn’t enter my mind. I was too focused on clenching. I crossed the road I could see it now, my legs carried me on. I kicked with all I had left and found myself in the churchyard outside the door. It was closed. I tried it. THANK GOD !! THANK GOD !! THANK GOD!! . I whipped off my trousers and sat down. All mod cons here even a washbasin ! This was the closest I have been to a “state of grace” within church property.

Then a silly thought crossed my mind – should I stop my stopwatch ? What are the rules on this sort of thing. Should I include it as part of my run ? I decided to stop the watch.

After the incident I can safely say the remainder of my run was tough but steady. I shuffled home in 2 hours 14 mins (running time). PLEASE NEVER AGAIN !

On Monday I am visiting Claire House for the first time. I think it has come at the right time. Today has definitely brought me back down to earth as to the difficulty of the challenge and how so much of it is out of my hands.

The prayer did help didn’t it ?



From “‘er indoors”

20 02 2009

It’s so nice to be referred to in this way not… Robert told me he was thinking about doing a spoof blog from me saying how handsome he was and how I worshipped the very ground he walked on – meeting the usual male ego needs. Even if I did think this I’ll be darned if I would ever admit it in such a public place… so DREAM ON!

However, we are very proud of Robert and he does just get on with it and given his mornings used to consist of wandering blindly into the kitchen and occasionally managing to get boiled water into a cup, his achievement in feeding himself a decent breakfast and sorting the boys’ breakfasts is quite a feat. The run afterwards is just miraculous.

I am upping my game in the running stakes now, having done over 5 km twice this week and not suffering too badly I am gearing up to try a 5 mile run on Sunday. I am much slower than Robert and this causes me much consternation as we are ultra competitive. I remember one Easter at my mothers we did everything we could to jeopardise each others chances of finding the most Easter eggs in her garden. Of course I won because I looked properly behind the plants, but you get the idea. The fact that Robert is a man and thus physiologically stronger than I and has run as a youth whereas I only began last year is immaterial. I want to beat him! However I am also a realist. Just as Robert will never be able to find the correct socks for the outfit that Eddie is wearing I will never be able to match him over distance.

Even with these he'd get the wrong ones.

Even with these he'd get the wrong ones.

I admire Robert tremendously for his pace making ability. I just run. I have NO idea as to whether I am running faster or slower than the last time and indeed the worse I feel the better my run appears to be. I also have the annoying habit of running rhythmically to whatever music I happen to listen to. I was listening to some 80s music (Seal if anyone is really interested) and it was pretty good to run to for my pace. Now the MP3 player is on shuffle I am constantly either breathless from some upbeat monstrosity that Robert has put on there or wallowing in a suicidal despairing lollop that he has also decided helps him run. I know the answer would probably be to create my own playlist or to get my own MP3 player, but life is too short when you’re a mum and just getting out to run is a product of major organisational skill and planning.

I am looking forward to the day when we can run together in some race or other and I am really focussed on my first 5km race in March. I just hope I don’t come too near the back.

My yoghurt is calling me from the fridge (not literally – I haven’t lost my marbles completely) so I will end my first ever blog and wish Robert good luck for his long run tomorrow. He has inspired me, his sons and I’m sure most of the neighbours who comment on having seen him run at various times.

As they say in Japan: “Ganbatte!” (Keep going/do your best)

Helen, the wife

Back to morning running

17 02 2009

I am determined this week to increase my distance and push on. My shorter maintenance runs have tended to be around the 3.5 mile mark so I have pushed this up a notch to 4.5 miles and hopefully more regularly. 40 or so minutes of graft.

I hate shorter runs the body just doesn’t get used to the situation. All my demons appear in the first 20 mins. My legs never feel comfortable or that I will be able to complete the run. I rely on belief and experience. I come into my own from an hour onwards (well relatively!) But seriously I am definitely not built for speed or short runs.

I did a nice little circuit this morning which included a decent hill in the middle (Boathouse lane). To get up the hill I focus on the next point/landmark and just get to that and so it goes. My legs were still weary from the weekend. I felt slow but I did manage my second fastest time for the circuit. I am convinced I am having a little surge of improvement. What surprises me is that it doesn’t feel any easier – but I suppose it must be.

The good news is that after pestering Helen I have got my way and have invested in a “professional” weather station. Just need to get some “Jubilee” clips to get the thing in situ and then hey ho off we go. So not only can I bore you with running statistics but soon with weather statistics too…. the windiest day, wettest day, hottest, most humid. The excitement of it all is too much and before I faint with the mere thought of all those numbers here is a picture of a similar beast.


and finally if all goes to plan the next entry on my blog will be from my first guest writer – “er indoors”

A lot of coincidences

17 02 2009

Sunday was mild and showery. After the success of the long run last week I decided to up the ante again. Thurstaston beckoned – a “nice” 11 miler. With that under my belt I could be quietly confident that a half marathon was within my capability.

Unfortunately, we had very little in the bread bin on Sunday morning so I was forced to stick to cereal and banana. I packed an extra banana as my backup into my camelbak.

What a difference a day makes as I usually run on Saturdays. There were runners everywhere – all going in the opposite direction to me ! It’s funny most women runners are friendly and usually give you some sort of acknowledgement. With men it is totally different – some ignore you completely. Too “cool” or shy to say hello. I say hello anyway and so be it.

There were also several large groups of walkers on the Wirral Way. Some of them were dressed for the arctic with walking poles aplenty. The problem with any activity these days is it comes with too many accessories. I paused to take a slurp from my camelbak and checked my stopwatch and music player. Damn !

I reached Thurstaston in fairly decent form but let’s say no records were broken. On the way home I noticed a fellow running parallel with me on an adjacent path at roughly the same speed. Quite unusual. After a mile or so I decided to take a drink and wait for him. I was gob smacked it turned out that the chap lived just around the corner from me and was training for the Paris marathon. Given I met him quite some way from home I was quite taken aback by the similar nature of our goals. We ran back together and have exchanged details and so hopefully I may have company on some runs this year. A great bonus.

My route home was slightly different than anticipated and to my surprise I found I had run 11.5 miles but boy did I feel it for the rest of the day.

The Wirral Way how it used to be

The Wirral Way how it used to be

The Alien Visitor

8 02 2009

Yesterday I did my long Burton run complete with the two mile long hill. The run was tough (9.5 miler) but I felt grand at the end. One large factor in the improvement is obviously more sleep.

Eddie is disturbing us far less frequently now (so it seems). He has had a tendency to come into our room and over to my side of the bed at night and stand looking at me. As I come to I see a large blonde head with a small body and big staring eyes. On more than one occasion I have woken with a start with my pulse racing faced with this frightening apparition.

No visitor on Thursday or Friday night and this has definitely meant I have felt fresher. I was delighted to finish the run and also a personal best for me. Steady but I felt I could go on at the end…and today there is very little stiffness in my legs.

My current target is a half marathon at Oulton Park race track in four weeks time. This is meant to be one of the most picturesque motor race tracks in the country. Three laps of the course sounds a bit dull but events of this nature are not common at this time of year.

I am now near Heathrow on my virtual map .