Wednesday 2 March 2016

Ups and Downs That Turn Out To Be Ups!

Cheryl’s Half Marathon Training Progress

So, in between getting initiated into running in the mud, I’ve been running with Cheryl as she increases her distance in preparation for North Lincolnshire HalfMarathon

The Decision to Fundraise.

Shades of happiness. 
The 2016 N.Lincs half was originally scheduled for 1st May, but due to availability of the venue it had to be changed to 15th May.  Cheryl wasn’t planning to run her début HM for a charity, but when the date was changed, it now falls on the 21st anniversary of the date Cheryl underwent surgery for breast cancer.  So, in celebration of the fact that she recovered and is fit and well and achieving things she never imagined she’d achieve, and at the same time in remembrance of those who have sadly lost their lives to breast cancer, she has decided to turn this HM challenge into a fundraising effort for the Pink Rose Suite at Diana Princess of Wales hospital.  I was pleased to hear this – not just because it is such a great cause, but because I know from experience that once you make that kind of commitment, it gives additional motivation to achieve the goal.  In a future post, I’ll give more details about the work of the Pink Rose Suite and let you know how to donate.  In the meantime, how is she getting on with the training?

Mutual Support Improves Motivation.

Oh look - there's Chris too - chasing the women!
Having done a couple of runs of 6.5 miles and 7 miles, the target for a Cleethorpes run a couple of weeks ago was 7.5 miles or possibly 8 depending how Cheryl felt.  Rach was on this run with us and was on a week of mega-mileage.  Her weekly target is 20 miles and I knew she was already over 30 miles as we set off on this run.  We planned to go down the sea front, do a lap of the boating lake, then head towards the Cleethorpes Country park, do a lap of that lake, then up towards Tesco and back along Taylors Avenue.  After a few miles Rach was asking how far we were running.   I said, “7½ - but 8 if Cheryl feels alright” and Rach announced that if we did 8, she would break the 40 mile mark for the week.  Immediately she heard this, Cheryl said, “we’ll do 8!”  I loved that moment!  The fact that she would be helping someone else to reach a goal caused her to commit to 8 miles and she did it an enjoyed it.  Here they are – I think this was just after the 7 mile point – still smiling.  

A Change of Faces and Places

The target for the next weekend was 8 miles to consolidate.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t there for that one.  I was running my favourite [yes, there is just a hint of sarcasm there] half marathon – Sleaford.  Well, Caistor Running Club being the supportive gang it is, you can always find someone to run with and as it was,  a band of ladies – Jo-Mo, Kate B, Laura S, Rach and Fiona C were planning a run from Nettleton, which suited Cheryl’s plans perfectly. Here they are at the Dunn Deal Tearoom for post-run treats.

I may not have been there, but I have my spies on the ground, so, let’s hear what some of those lovely ladies had to say about that day.......(I’m not sure whether I’m Eamon Andrews or Cilla Black at this point)........

Me:  So, Fiona, how did the run go?  Did Chezzer behave herself?

This sums up the CRC ethos
Fiona:   Well, first I should mention that the 6 of us all interchanged  /ran in pairs along the road, took it turns to loop/support each other.  We did backwards sting: starting from Dunn Deal tea room at Nettleton, then ran up the A46 into Caistor, and did the last 3k of the sting first!  Those hills sure are a good warm up! Cheryl got the jelly babies out after the caravan park (5 miles ish) and was very encouraging to everyone. She had asked me what I was doing to train for North Lincs half, and we had a conversation about steadily increasing distance, and how you have been helping her do that. As for how she seemed on the run? She was very chuffed with her 8 miles around Cleethorpes the weekend before! She seemed confident, quick (she was 'upfront' most of the run!), and ensured sensible deployment of jelly babies! She could certainly tell when I was flagging.  All the girls were really supportive when I had my 'eeeek' moment at 7 miles, when one more mile seemed impossible. Kate gave me some words of encouragement, then the next thing I remember was Cheryl chatting to me, keeping me going back round some housing estate and back to the A46 where the salutation was in sight! Cheryl also kept me going at that point where we turned into crazy Garmin ladies, desperate for our watches to beep, signalling 8 miles and cup of tea time!  Cheryl definitely seems more confident in her own running ability now? Like all your (ooooh I can say our now!) fantastic ladies (and gents), Cheryl is very encouraging and on the run last week we all chatted about everything from running in too many clothes, to when to eat jelly babies / shot bloks, to planning other future weekend runs. In three words last Sunday with Cheryl and the girls was challenging, reassuring (that we are training in the right way) and fun!

Me:  Thanks Fiona.  Rach, you’ve been running with Cheryl quite a lot lately.  What do you think?

Rach:  Cheryl has come on so much. She's improved on both speed and distance. I think she's done amazing in every run and has progressed every week, especially on our extended back to front sting with a Fiona, Laura, Kate and Jo-Mo. She looked very comfortable and confident and even was leading the pack for a good while! Cheryl's a joy to run with and I look forward to many more. We're all very proud of her.

Me:  How was the run for you Jo-Mo?

Jo-Mo:  We set off to complete 'The Sting' in reverse to begin with, running up from
Nettleton to The Meadows along the A46. Cheryl and Kate led and set off so swiftly that I struggled to keep up for the first km. Thankfully, the pace steadied as we tackled the 'Hill' section, and from leaving the town centre out on North Kelsey Road, we ran as a group, chatting about which cakes may be available to scoff at the cafe we were going to post-run. As the run progressed past The Pub in the Woods and back along Moortown Road, the six of us managed to run a little bit with each other member of the group and it was good to catch up with the news of what everyone else was up to with their running and social lives. Laura is looking forward to running both the Sheffield and Humber Bridge Half-Marathons; Rach is trying to decide on a fancy dress outfit for her and Laura's trip to run the first Half-Marathon at EuroDisney later this year (probably Tinkerbell- an excellent choice and should now be her nickname, I think); Kate was preparing herself for an afternoon of skirting board painting (which I later learned didn't happen, incidentally- she actually spent the afternoon drinking wine with Tim and discussing the painting instead. It is, after all, important to talk these things through before taking action...); Fiona related the amusing tale of her first pilates class, when she was concentrating on clenching everything so tightly that she accidentally broke wind and throughout, Cheryl was running brilliantly and saying how good she was feeling. The rest of us hoped 'Coach Fran' would be happy with thee results!

We added a short tour of Nettleton to the end of the route to make it up to 8 miles altogether and I must admit that I was tired after about mile 6, probably still not recovered from the Caythorpe Dash yet and was kept going by the positivity and encouragement of the rest of the group (well, that and the thought of a cup of tea and that cake we'd discussed!).We ended the thoroughly enjoyable run with refreshments at The Dunn Deal tearoom in Nettleton, which is a lovely cafe with welcoming owners and delicious carrot cake! Cheryl was great- I am sure she will just continue to get better and better between now and May when she will be more than ready to go for it at the North Lincs Half Marathon.

Me:  How did Cheryl get on from your perspective Laura?

Laura:  Considering when we met at the tearoom, it was threatening to rain and was cold, Cheryl soon warmed up and powered up the A46 Bus Stop to Meadow segment (PB), in fact, she was at the front! When I could catch up with Cheryl I did say that she'd powered her way through the first mile and we'd have to slow down a bit, to keep it more sustainable.

We did the Sting Finishes at the beginning of the run rather than the end and this pleased the non-hill lovers amongst the group as it meant we got them out of the way and could enjoy the remainder of the long run. Before we knew it we were at the bottom of Plough Hill and Super Speedy Rach powered off up the hill to the Settlement. This led to us all revving up a gear and Cheryl got a new PB on that segment too!

With the fun of the hills out of the way we headed towards the Woods and I slipped to the back, admiring how everyone was getting on, just chatting at a lovely pace. By the time we got through the woods, I think Cheryl's jelly babies made their first appearance.

During the Woods - Nettleton run, I apologised to Cheryl for making her sign up to a long run, with hills, on the one day that her Coach, was out on her own mission! No lay in and rest day on this fine Sunday morning

Just as we were approaching the main village, I announced a detour (through Draycot to the Park, along the A46, then down Cooks Lane, through the new estate and back out at the School) to get an extra mile in before we approached the tea room, so, ever the hostess, Cheryl cracked out the Jelly Babies again for the ladies.

Slight misjudgement on my part meant we had to ever so slightly run past the tea room, leading to a downhill finish to the coffee and bacon buns (which looked incredible but I'm off bread for Lent).
Still smiling, after our 8 miles of general chit chat and relentless forward motion, we furiously uploaded to Strava, in the hope that we'd done Coach proud!

Cheryl was soooo good on the run. I can definitely tell the difference that a year has made. When I first met her, there was no chance of her signing up to a Half, apparently. 

Cheryl was one of the first people to congratulate me privately after my half and said she was secretly jealous, so I know she secretly wanted to attempt one, especially when she messaged me again a few months later asking how I'd done it. (foolishly for me, I'd only done 10k before my HM Race!)
Since her training, it is clear that she has it in her to be incredible on North Lincs Half Day and I am already looking forward to standing at the finish line, waving my flag, cheering her on from the sideline.
My prediction is that Cheryl will enjoy North Lincs so much that she'll be signing up to her next HM before the endorphins have worn off!

Gels – Always Practice on Training Runs.

This is advice I’ve read, taken notice of and passed on.  I’ve never had any problem with gels, but it makes sense to me that anything you plan to use on race day needs checking out in advance. After our run last Friday,  I think Cheryl agrees!

The planned distance was 9 miles so I suggested my regular 8.7 mile route with a little detour in the village to make up the extra little bit.  Rach was with us and she is familiar with the route as she ran most of it with me the other week as part of her first HM distance run.

The route includes 2 motorway bridges, which is good practice for the one about a mile from the end of the N. Lincs HM.  Cheryl took these without flinching, benefiting from the many hill practice sessions we do at Caistor

We discussed gel strategy and as Cheryl tends to find her legs a bit heavy at 5 mile, I suggested she pop her first gel soon after 4 miles.  All went well for the first 6 miles, then we turned onto a straight stretch of road, a mile long and a steady uphill drag.  At my suggestion Cheryl took another gel, hopefully for a final boost to the finish.  The road was busier than normal (I guess 4.30pm on a Friday was not the best time) and we had to keep popping up onto the grass verge.  I think perhaps this upset her rhythm and she was struggling a bit with her breathing too.  Then I saw that defeated look starting to creep onto her face and I knew that the C word had crept into her head.  CAN’T.  She just needed to take time to get her breathing sorted, but became a bit despondent, saying, “we’re going that slow, we might as well be walking” .... but Rach and I weren’t having any of that and just encouraged her to keep trot, trot, trotting.  And she did it.  Picked herself up, dusted herself off, attacked the two hills in the final mile. Nine miles – in the bag!

Unfortunately, when we got back to my house, she started to feel sick and had to visit the loo.  She felt better after that but then worse again when she got home.  I wondered whether she was coming down with something, but nothing developed so we can only put it down to the gels.  And as awful as it is to feel that rough, better on a training run than on the day of the race. So, the next plan is to try Clif Shot Bloks or go back to the good old faithful Jelly Babies.

Starts Good, Goes Wobbly, Comes Good Again.

So, the run that started so well had a bit of a C-word glitch in it and resulted in sickness. However, once uploaded to Strava and scrutinised, the stats show that it was a very successful run.  It contained Cheryl's best 10k effort, the average pace was quicker than her run the previous week,  despite adding an extra mile, and the final mile was a minute quicker than the penultimate one, despite being the hilliest bit.  Sometimes, you can feel bad, but you’ve still done good or learned something – in this case, both. 

Next post will be an update on the Dukeries Training progress.

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