Well Spring has well and truely arrived and we’ve been planting things and I’ve had my first sweating in a vest run of the year so it’s probably about time I posted something on this blog.
Orienteering wise the Chiltern Challenge at Penn Common late February was fun with me managing 69:47 for the Short Green course coming 30th of 70 starters (64 finishers). Jane and I did a stint marshalling a road crossing before hand and I was pleased to find the veggie chilli from the burger van was suitable for vegans so all in all a good, if tiring, day. Unfortunately I was pretty crap at both March and April’s Saturday Series events at Cutteslowe Park and Shotover. After I’ve started getting knackered my plan seems to leak out of my brain in between controls, that and some pretty basic mistakes with the map reading suggests I better go back to Light Green for the next event. (Well maybe not the next one as it’s University Parks so surely I can’t mess that up!).
Running is very slowly improving though I didn’t manage my hoped for sub 1:50 at the White Horse Half as the conditions were atrocious with a fierce wind and a soaking. I was pleased to persist and run all the way without getting despondent. We had a great Vegan Runners UK meet-up at Tring parkrun a few weeks back, a hilly course for a parkrun! There were 10 of us and we all went for a vegan breakfast and cakes at the Anusia Cafe afterwards.
White Horse Half (thanks to Barry Cornelius for the photo)
My frozen shoulder does seem to be thawing – very slowly though. I’m still paying £45 a session once or twice a month for James, my osteopath, to try and force a bit more range of movement out of it and to reassure me it is actually improving. Progress seems so slow that it’s easy to think it’s just not moving but I can now reach the picture rail in my room and can remember when it was a good 10 inches out of reach. So I plod on with the daily stretches. It doesn’t hurt much any more even when I give it a bad time so at least I don’t have to protect it all the time.
Oh dear I don’t seem to have posted anything here for ages! I have managed a couple of races over the last few weeks and we’ve done a bit more orienteering.
The Headington 5 on 31st August was a full five miles this year and good fun, met up with Maria, Barbara from VRUK and her husband Marco from VC&AC. I managed 42:26 which counts as a fair effort at the moment. Last Sunday I ran the Oxford Half finishing in 1:55:56 2078th of 4461 which I was happy with. The new route, bands along the way and a send off from Sir Rodger Banister all made for a good day.
We returned to Wendover Woods for Saturday Series orienteering 13th September and I managed 8th of 16 56:56 so a lot better than my last event there. Felt I did ok but obviously out of my league at my first go at street orienteering in Didcot on 25th August, 50th of 55 starters and 51 finishers – good fun though 🙂
Meanwhile I’ve pulled out all the stops to get this blooming frozen shoulder behind me. I’ve been having private treatment from a NAT specialist for a while now and have seen the first signs of improved range of movement. I’ve also been seeing an NHS physio (after a 7 week wait) who has been setting me some challenging stretch routines which are also helping. I’ve seen an occupational health doctor from work so they know I’m not exaggerating the condition. I have tried to made it clear to the boss that I don’t intend to crawl about on the floor, over-reach or twist myself into contortions as a regular part of my job any more. I’m beginning to hope I’ll be back to normal by early next year though every little twinge in my good shoulder has me worrying that one might be next!
Oxford Half – photo by Barry Cornelius
Headington 5 – photo by Barry Cornelius
It’s been a bit of a job keeping the Vegan Runners UK blog up to date what with lots of activity and photos from facebook – it’s all very positive and inspiring but I’m less inclined to keep this blog up to date.
Anyway two recent races and my slowest ever parkrun for the record. Good fun at the Run Jericho 10k on 22nd June which was too hot to push even if I’d been able. I started right at the back – because I’d got the wrong start time in my head and was still pottering about when I should have been ready to go – worked my way up the field enjoying a cup of water over my head at the halfway point. Finished in 58:13 169/333.
Maria, Celine and me after the Thame 10k
The Thame 10k on 29th June was warm but not as hot as some years. Made a bit of an effort and managed 51:28 386/782, fastest 10k this year but still rubbish.
My shoulder is still as stuck and achy as it was at the start of the year and is not easy to live with, I think the recent heat and humidity aggravates it. So work is difficult and I’ve asked them to start making some allowances; repetitive stuff like hoeing upsets it so Jane is stuck with the allotment for the 2nd year; I’m not comfortable on the bike so max 10 miles and my running just gets slower as I can’t push myself much without upsetting it. I’ve been back to the doctor and will be having Xray, ultrasound and maybe a cortisone injection.
The best I could hope for at this year’s White Horse Half was to get in under 1:55 and after an outburst of moaning from my frozen shoulder over the last 10 days I wasn’t at all sure I could even manage that. I’d DNS’d the OX5 Run the previous weekend as I couldn’t face the ride out to Woodstock with my shoulder nagging away and stealing my sleep – the novelty of it not being non-stop painful long ago wore off. About time it just went away and left me alone!
Really not so bad when I arrived in Grove on Sunday morning though and I had a couple of ibuprofen to make sure then headed off to the start venue to dump my bag then a 5 minute wander to the start line. Despite thinking I’d run it last year I couldn’t really picture the layout which might have been because I’d not actually run it since 2011 and my memory is stuffed. I said hello to Maria who was marshalling and nodded to a few familiar faces then positioning myself about halfway down the field and we were off!
The first mile is a bit downhill if anything but I kept to the plan and resisted the temptation to chase the few runners passing me and was happy to keep the pace at 8:30 minute miles for the first half without feeling I’d overdone it. The country lanes were pleasant and the weather nice but the combination of my Asics Skyspeed ‘fast’ shoes and the farmer’s efforts to muck-spread on the tarmac made it all a bit slippery. I vaguely wondered if I was skating on residue left by the rain washing the previous day’s industrial smog out the air but this seems a bit far fetched.
About mile 7 we turned into the wind and I slowed a little. Not for the first time I managed to persuade myself I was on for a much better time than planned, 5 more miles 9 minute mileing was only 45 minutes! Pity there was 6 more miles to run I realised with a thud. I spotted Barry Cornelius who seems to be more often wielding a camera than running recently. He pointed said camera at me – later I followed a facebook post to his oxonraces website which turns out to be a fine resource.
Photo by Barry Cornelius
Mile 10 was difficult. There was supposed to be a water station somewhere about here so I ate the gel I was carrying and tried to keep up the pace as we turned into an increasingly strong wind and a gentle uphill. My Garmin let me know I was slowing to 9:30 pace yet I was pushing as hard as I dared. Too much of this and the 1:55 target wasn’t going to happen. The road turned downwards and my pace went upwards, the water station appeared, then we were back in Denchworth to turn south for the final couple of miles.
Knackered now the railway bridge was a challenge and mile 12 seemed to have it in for me as a sharp pain on top of my right foot caused me to stop twice to search for a stone or insect or whatever before discovering the tongue of my shoe had worked it’s way round allowing the edge to rub me up a sore bit. I adjusted it and tried to pick up the pace a bit for the last mile managing to regain a couple of the places I had lost stopping.
End in sight and Maria encouraging me to sprint for the line which I pointed out I thought I was already doing. 1:54:16 323rd of 485 so no records broken but I hit my target and was about 3 minutes faster than when I ran this race in 2004 as my 1st half marathon – I was much fitter then but didn’t have a clue how to pace myself.
The Oxford 10k Charity Fun Run – to give its full title – was originally supposed to take place on 26th January in Cutteslowe Park. Unsurprisingly it was postponed to 9th March due to the flooding but as the date approached and the park continued to be so soggy that even the parkrun had been rerouted and cancelled on occasion I wasn’t convinced it was going to happen. The week before we got an email saying it had been relocated to Tilsey Park in Abingdon, the venue for the Abingdon Marathon, so a sunny if breezy morning saw me cycling south for the race.
My shoulder has been moaning away and keeping me sleep deprived, though not in any way as painful as it was last year, so I wasn’t expecting to run fast. The course description – 4 times round the track followed by 4 times round the park perimeter and a final lap of the track to finish – sounded like a recipe for confusion. I went to collect my number but it seemed to have gone walkabout so I was issued a replacement, 498. For the first time this year I decided to run in just the vest, it really was warming up nicely!
I stood out the energetic looking warm-up as the last thing I wanted was some lady trying to get me to wave my arms in the air. The announcer asked that we left lanes 1 and 2 of the track for the fast folk so we didn’t block their progress I realised I was maybe too far to the back even for me. Then we were off.
The track was congested but fast, some poor chap went flying when he ran into a warning cone in one of the middle lanes – don’t know what it was warning of but in a crowd of 160runners it was obviously a hazard in itself. I passed a lot of slower runners on the first couple of laps, some seemed to have ignored the request to stay out of the fast lanes. Soon I was disturbed to see several of those I’d passed already started on the perimeter laps. It hadn’t been made particularly clear (though was obvious when you thought about it) that we were to count our own laps so it was a bit of an ‘honesty race’. I’d run 7:31 for my 1st mile and was deluding myself that I might carry on with similar – ha ha! Was that 2 or 3 laps I’d done? I thought I’d read a lap was 500m but surely it should be 400m? Best do another to be sure! It was evident from they way I was overtaking the same faces all over again once I’d left the track that I’d done a lap too many.
The perimeter laps signalled a big change in terrain, some damp ankle length grass followed by a steep bank demanding legs of different lengths. I got a lot slower, resorting to keeping my miles under 9 minutes, and also rather warm so was glad of the drinks station and even tipped a cup over my head on the 3rd lap. The faster runners charged past us, I saw the winner back on the track and heading for his finish, I think I was just starting my second lap. I passed various strugglers and a few reduced to walking.
As I split off to rejoin the track after my 4th perimeter lap a marshall was asking if we’d done all 4. A bit ironic as my Garmin had just clocked up a full 10k. Getting back on the track was like reaching the top of the hill and starting down the other-side. I managed to speed up a bit for the last bit and settled for 54:36 including my extra 500m, 80th of 168 overall I think. A fun morning in the sun and thanks to MCC Promotions for managing to run the event in the face of the weather and venue problems.