June 2017 – In Numbers

I’m going to be honest here, I was very worried about how this month would turn out. That’s because I had a holiday planned. I’ve always managed to get some running in, but never kept up with my weekly mileage whilst away. 

First things first, the month started with my first League race in a year, the Swithland 6. I had no idea how it would go, and part of me was optimistic, given my Gold standard in the Wymeswold Waddle the previous month. But I had been struggling for form in the weeks leading up, failing to beat my best parkrun time for ages on a more favourable course, and my struggle in the second club Trophy race. 

The race start was a personal shambles, having to wait to avail myself of the facilities. I managed to hit 6 min/mile pace running to the start! I reached it just in time, however.

As for the race itself, I remembered that the first mile or so were quick, and kept it steady. Once the hills arrived, it sapped what energy I had, and the last couple of miles were a struggle. I am definitely not race fit! The last couple of hundred metres or so are downhill, and according to my Garmin, it would be touch and go if I PBed, let alone got another Gold in the bag. I heard a Hermitage Harrier shouting, albeit to a teammate admittedly, to stop leaning back, and go for it. I did just that, not realising I’d tensed up so much.

I was two seconds off of my Gold time. Gutted.

I did get a 6 mile PB (by a whopping 8 seconds, wow!), but compared with other distances, it was, and still is, a soft target, so whilst I was pleased to see an improvement in my times, I was disappointed not to have fulfilled whatever potential I have. No doubt there are people who will say I shouldn’t be tough on myself, but that’s just the way I am. If I’m not pushing me, then nobody else will. And I am only putting out there what some people might want to say, but feel that they can’t. Hey, it makes sense to me!

We holidayed in the Pacific Northwest this year. We had plans to join a social run that involved free beer, but didn’t get round to it. I was also interested in a 10k, where I thought I’d stand a good chance of prizes, but The Bloke sensibly said that $70 for a race was ridiculous. It is, and I agreed with him, but I have to admit, I was gutted to see that on current form, I’d have finished 4th overall, and would comfortably have been the first vet lady to finish (PRIZE!!!), and therefore, would’ve won my age group. A small PB could have seen me finish as high as 2nd overall. 

Instead, I had to settle for the Strava segment in the SeaTac area, which I almost took on our first morning in Washington state, but definitely gained on our second. Seattle, and its suburbs, are very reminiscent of San Francisco, and the hills there. The fact that I not only took a segment, but I took the segment that was a beast of a hill, was something of a coup. I have found a lot of US women’s segments on Strava are quite easy, as are race results, in general. I’m not sure if it’s because more serious and capable runners do other competitions, or more women just run for fun, or *whispers* jog.

It was different in Beaverton, home of Nike and my good friend, Angie. Many of the segments feature ex-Olympic athletes, and even on my beloved downhills (Oregon is hilly too, until you get onto the high desert), I couldn’t break the top 100!

Beaverton is also home of the Geoff Hollister Trail. I wanted to run around there (there’s a good chance you might bump into a certain Sir Mo around there), but neither of us had thought to pack our Nike gear, and there were signs everywhere saying ‘Nike Employees Only – No Trespassing’. My investigations determined that nobody enforces this, and even if you are caught, it’s a guy on a Segway who just tells you off, but we didn’t manage it. Next time…

We did get a pass into the Nike Company Store. I could’ve spent loads, but was mindful of my suitcase size. I treated myself to a pair of retro Nike Cortez shoes, and some new runners, the Nike Free RN. Complete with matching socks. Seriously.

We spent a night just outside of Bend, in the high desert, at a resort called Sunriver. A PGA tournament was taking place, but it was fairly quiet. We opted for a morning run along the riverside loop, which was flat, but at 1,270m above sea level, is 300m higher than Scafell Pike, and just 75m lower than Ben Nevis! (For the record, Snowdon is almost 200m lower than Sunriver.) 

My asthma was okay, and we enjoyed a nice steady run at about 8:40 min/mile pace. The large muddy cat like paw prints on the path were a bit disconcerting, mind you.

One other run of note was the Watershed Park in Olympia. The woods are so dense, the Garmins seemed to measure the trail as short. For such a short loop (we ran about 2 miles of it), it involved a lot of steep climbs and descents. It also involved far too much foliage for my liking. It was like the TR24 route in hyper mode. We moved onto the road, in the end, as I didn’t fancy another circuit (which was the original plan) fighting greenery, and saw a snake! The Bloke almost stepped on the poor little critter, which I think was a Northwest garter snake. He remained motionless (the snake, not The Bloke), whilst I stopped to have a good gawp. I later earned that this is a defence mechanism, sorry little fella. He’d gone by the time we returned.

In our first week, we maintained our usual mileage. The second week was harder, as we moved from hotel to hotel. The main thing was, we had our best holiday running ever.

On our return, we had the third Trophy Race. Suffering with jet lag, and completely fatigued, I really struggled from the off. I kept on thinking, ‘get to the next [insert landmark], get to the next [insert landmark]’. The venue had changed, from Victoria Park to Braunstone Park. This course naturally lends itself to a progression run. Shockingly, it still was on the night, despite the last km feeling like wading through treacle. You know those dreams where you’re trying to run away from something, but can’t move your arms and legs? That’s how I felt.

I didn’t run any parkruns, and strength training was neglected. The first week of July has two races, but once they are out of the way, I can focus on my 5k times, and hopefully the rest will fall into place.

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