Old Kea Church, Truro

Old Kea church is mysterious, an intangible, hidden place of ruin and decay.

I have been there once as a very small child, and retain the impressions generated at that time.

The area to the west of Truro river is great for quiet running along lanes, with Trelissick estate a pretty change to easy trail, lovely river views and some quad busting hills (looking at you – up to Porth Kea from Cowlands and Calenick to Porth Kea on the other side!), real stinkers and I am struggling to love them as I should.

With only the length of time it takes to train a dragon for the second time available to me, I headed out; planning only to drop down the back of county hall to the old railway and run along to Calenick, doing 45 minutes out, turn and allow 1hr 15 to get home. I’d left the car for the returning cinema goers. No plans, just see where I got to before turning around.

With 4 minutes left on my 45 out I found myself at the signpost for Old Kea or Coombe, either direction led down (meaning either way I’d be running up on my return…). I took the Old Kea road thinking I’d do the 4 minutes, then head up without seeing the actual village, but it’s deceptive how far you travel even at my pace in 4 minutes – and spoiler – no village.

I was musing on mysteries as I ran and found myself looking across the valley and slowly picking out the tower, overgrown in the trees. It sort of materialised out of the woods and took shape as I looked, which is exactly how it should have behaved, in its role as a keeper of childhood romance. Only moonlight and mist would’ve been better.

By the time I had one minute left to run before turning back it was within 1/4 mile and clearly I had to go and have a look.

Only the 13th century tower still stands of the original church. I have memories of family discussions about the need for lightning conductors, and had formed the impression as a child that it was ruined because of the lightning strike, although the parish history seems to suggest that problems with the integrity of the nave was the reason for eventually demolishing it and the tower could conceivably have been struck later, as it is missing one of the corner statues.

There is a small church built in the grounds, and an ancient stone, referred to in the parish history above.

Lovely to find this while out running – some might point out that’s hardly a discovery and the place was never lost, but there you go. I’m exploring places I would never come across otherwise, and find it nurturing for the soul. So.

Finished up only 10 minutes after the film party got home and with 10 miles tucked under my soles for the day, heard a little about some other dragons who have perhaps been enlightening the England squad on aspects of dragon lore. Some great memes going around on that too 😁

Cabin fever ….

I have been putting this off. For a month. Actually, more than a month. It’s silly and embarrassing and I feel ashamed for having been stupid but there you go.

So marathon training was going well; March mileage really on track, building on all the slow but good work since December- mostly sticking to the plan etc etc.

Until I screwed it up by going out for a 16 mile run and finishing it early, at 10 miles.

I didn’t feel great and really my heart wasn’t in it. Eating a pasty before a long run is not a good plan for me either, as it turns out! The plan does involve tolerating meals and then running directly after, but pasties are now off the list.

The pasty wasn’t the problem. The run that day wasn’t even the problem. The problem came when I decided that since I’d flunked the 16 miler I would go and do it properly the next day- or something like that (yes it was a punishment for being weak – idiot).

I started to develop a pain on the outside of my knee at about 6/7 miles, and struggled to run on the downhills in particular. Walk-run followed as it alternately eased and got worse again and by the time I’d hobbled all the way home – literally, for the last 2 miles; it was agony. I knew I’d not twisted it or torn anything but it was likely to be an overuse injury of the ITB, and not a knee injury in the standard sense, needing total rest for a couple of weeks. I found that out after having two days off and heading out for 6 ‘gentle’ miles, then crippling pain returned and I hobbled home again.

Once it was made clear to me that it wasn’t going to improve if I carried on training, I did decide to have a gap.

Resting has been tricky because we were lambing, requiring lots of steep walking to check sheep and bottle feed orphans at all hours of the day and night, together with the knee and back destroying game called ‘get the sheep and her new lambs in’. This game, if you don’t know it, usually gets played in the dead of night, and starts in the corner of the field the furthest away from the barn. Having gone up to check if anyone has lambed and marvelled at how the rain is driving upwards into your hood before running down your neck, and the droplets lit up in your head torch beam (if you re read this post, try a mk1 version of this game with a large heavy handheld torch, one of those million candle jobs). Head torch beam sweeps through the rain and picks up a set of eyes reflecting back from a long way off. Yellow ones. A sheep. The rest of the flock have already rushed off in a panic because it’s not like they don’t get checked four times a day when it’s lambing time! Fifty sets of yellow eyes could be a bit freaky if you didn’t know what they were (badgers and foxes’ eyes tend to red).

Armed with antiseptic spray and old towels, your job (once she’s done her job and lambed them ok) is simply to catch the new lamb, take it, any siblings it might have and their mum into the shelter of a pen. Easy.

Except they are slimy with mucus and can be heavy, and you have to keep them close to the ground so their mum can see them and follow the lambs into the barn. With a first time lambing mum this is a particularly frustrating exercise involving some steps with the struggling, slippery lambs, her panicking and running off to where she had them, having to put the lambs down and step away to let her find them again, picking them up and going another few steps backwards, hunched over to dangle them just above the ground, where sheep generally expect to see their lambs, not unreasonably. Repeat. Repeat. Singles are a pain but easier than twins. Triplets involves a special relay version of dropping two off partway and going back for the third.

Anyway, it doesn’t come under the category of complete rest for the ITB. Far from it.

I was surprised at how much I missed training too – losing my ability to train at that point showed me what benefits I get from running, which seem to include processing difficult issues, getting perspective and generally feeling more resilient and confident. Not training felt like being trapped. It felt torturous. It has clearly become very important to my wellbeing and self worth. Not the best time for life to turn upside down either, which it then did.

It took more than three weeks for the pain to settle, and I’ve had to re-evaluate my plans.

Firstly, the Scouts 30 – 35 mile walk had to be done, as they were relying on me to lead a group. On that walk I discovered Zapain at max dose, walking poles; great when you get the hang of them, and keeping the injury warm so I didn’t tear cold muscles on the coast path in the windiest Scouts C2C to date (it was painful, but two days after the walk I felt a great improvement in the knee pain).

Next, there was no way I could do the marathon as I couldn’t hope to get the mileage back in time to save my cardiovascular fitness, given that I couldn’t run, bike or even row due to the knee pain. Also, the marathon was prep for the ultra, and that is my goal event.

The ultra is sponsored so I have an obligation to those who have sponsored me and to the charity. If I am stuck I can walk it, although I will be running as much as I can, because I have more time to rescue the training and the fitness.

I won’t be as fit, I won’t have as many hours on my feet banked, I won’t feel as confident but I will finish it.

Having been so stupid as to get into this situation I hope that being sensible and dialling it back will be a smarter move in the longer term.

A lesson I won’t soon forget.

PS. I can’t open Strava yet. I can’t bear it.

Bump 2019

Always on time, me! 😂

Thought I’d be making my first post of the year a bit earlier though….truth is, I’ve been dead busy (haven’t we all?) and I’ve been working through a minor crisis of confidence too.

So the pic was taken at Eden park run, on the last Saturday before my little sis returned to South America with her family, and 3 of us siblings did the Parkrun with my own smallest, who hared off with his uncle in tow somewhere on lap 2, and they were both finished, rested and ready to take this lovely pic (airing it- 👀 – like, proper job!) – note to self – buy some different coloured running tops 😉.

I read a post recently, and if I could find it again I’d ping the blogger, but, you know.

Anyway, they pointed out that the time involved in training for a marathon is like having a part time job. That resonated; I’d not thought about it like that at all….

I already have a full time job actually, so marathon training 6 days in 7 on top of that, family, other stuff and completing my MA this year starts to stack up a bit!

It’s going OK too – the park run times are down (but I wouldn’t beat the small fella yet!), and hills are easier since I changed style and better again when I also added an hour class of static cycle training into my week recently.

It is a lot to fit in, and getting enough rest (for rest, read sleep) is just not happening at the moment, but hopefully that will improve.

I am blown away by finding out how widespread running is, its easy to find stuff online of course but it turns out that loads of people I know also run, they just don’t make a big song and dance about it 😄.

It’s incredible how much people fit into already busy lives.

Always space for another inspiration though, whether it’s picking up old hobbies or starting new ones – these lighter evenings are a good time to begin, now the false hope of new years resolutions have faded.

I didn’t make any, never really managed to stick to them in the past and I’m finding that getting started is one thing, but that when changes are incorporated into my lifestyle that I’m more likely to stick with it. When I’ve formed a habit though and get fairly rigid about it, the success rate goes up.

I don’t know about you, but the reasons for continuing to do something, whatever they were at the beginning, often change as I go on, and the reasons I continue may be very different.

I’ve just rediscovered the joy of painting (having thought that kids sucked the creativity out of me long ago); turns out it is the time to think that is key rather than time to paint, and I credit the time spent running for that.

The crisis of confidence passed when I remembered that if you’re reading this, it’s because you’ve chosen to – so I’m not foisting my ramblings on the unsuspecting – I’d been having a bit of a self indulgent ‘why would I presume to write stuff and bung it on the internet’ thing going on – also, revisiting the original purpose of this blog helped too.

It is intended to motivate me and be a point of reference for anyone wanting to keep up to date with my running stuff.

It’s just not as simple as 1st Jan = new best me.

Now that’s sorted I think I shall post a little more often from now 😃📚

Getting Social with Lonely Goat RC

Thanks to LG Andy for permission to use this image

Recently I bumped into someone I was friends with in school.

We were both very good at school athletics back in the day, and found we had something in common still, having both returned to running as adults following an extended break, and in going on to running a half marathon.

My friend had joined (and left) a local running club.

I’ve not managed to join a club although I considered it for a while – I don’t like talking while running, or making small talk at the best of times. I don’t want to be under pressure to compete and for my efforts to affect club ranking either ⤵😆 oh, and my commitments don’t fit with their timetable.

You’re going to get all kinds of folks in any club – I tend to think that they’re a bit elitist, but not having been in one its clearly my own prejudice!

I do like to read loads of running, fitness, nutritional and kit related stuff online though – and sure enough the net was watching me!

I have no doubt that the slew of ads on FB that relate to my interest is no coincidence.

So up pops an Ad for an online running club FB page called Lonely Goat.

The power of advertising!

Reader, I clicked.

Now, I vaguely remember seeing a fella at the Eden Half 2018 with a Lonely Goat top – can’t remember the colour I think maybe green or yellow – shout out if it was you 🐐!

Needless to say he was overtaking me.

I had a peek at the website and requested to join the FB chat out of interest.

Anyway – I’ve joined the Lonely Goats, which judging from the numbers of new folk posting for the first time, appears to be going somewhat viral!

The values and ethos of the club are great, and translate into a caring and supportive atmos if you can have such a thing in cyberspace. People post their good times, crappy runs, c25k woes and wonders, as well as hosting marathoners and beyond. They receive validation and the occasional virtual kick up the butt to get laced up, get out there and get going

Fave LG attributes

  • Supportive and motivating
  • Online
  • No need for chit chat if I see anyone out in their shirt cos I’m in stealth mode, but I can say hi if I want
  • Keep running on my own

Ideal

🐐💚#teamgreen💚🐐

I may even succumb to the temptation to show I belong and to buy more lovely kit I don’t need!

Who’s up for an Ultra?

An ultra marathon is any distance longer than the 26.2 mile marathon.

So why would anyone decide to sign up for an ultra?

This time last year I didn’t know what that even was. My firm view on finding out was that those people who do them are really not right.

So something definitely changed.

Part of the reason for me is to push myself to go longer, and stay healthy, fit and strong.

I also love the idea that an ultra is an eating event with some very slow running thrown in. You can see why I was sold on it now, right?

You’ll have seen from this post that part of my training incorporates a trail marathon in Cornwall too, another first for me, in May 2019.

The two distances are, it has to be said, very different animals.

I had intended that the ultra would be 50km, which is 8km longer than the marathon at 42.1km.

The race I’ve actually signed up for though, is 100km. That’s 62.1 miles. Although it’s possible to break up the distance by camping overnight on the Saturday; I’ll be completing the 100km non stop.

I decided to do the extra distance to raise funds for Marie Curie, who support people living with terminal illness. I’d already intended to do 50km before thinking about fundraising, so it seemed only fair to up the challenge by a fair bit (or double it, whichever you prefer).

Which brings me to the other part of the reason for signing up – terminal illness is something which I’ve not had to confront in my personal life previously, and to have its spectre arrive in the family was, and is still, a huge shock.

It’s been a few months since we found out and although news was initially closest family only; as the news has been shared with wider families and friends it’s developed a momentum of its own.

By agreement, I won’t identify the owner of the illness in this or any updates.

Planning and practicalities are a part of the processes and arrangements which suddenly, unexpectedly intrude into life. Keeping busy helps to distract us all from having to think about our impending loss, as does humour, but increasingly, that early grief requires attention, too.

None of us can ever know how long we have to spend together, and the news is simply a reminder of that in many ways. The time we do have also needs to include a celebration of that time too.

My plan though, is to fundraise in some part, to feel like I’m doing something constructive in the face of the immenseness of it all, to help those countless others who will come after, and to try and put some time into coming to terms with all that’s going on.

I’ve started a Just Giving page for anyone who would like to donate to Marie Curie and sponsor me to complete the 100km Race to the Stones 2019.

It’s along the ancient Ridgeway path, one of the national trails.

The bumps along the bottom of the image show the hill profile along the whole of the route.

The route starts from Lewknor and finishes at Avebury stone circle, passing numerous bronze and Iron age sites, including the Uffington White Horse, although by my very rough calculation it may be getting a bit dark by the time I get there!

I’d really like to raise £500 for Marie Curie – of course I’d love to raise far more than this, and all donations will be very much appreciated.

For anyone who would like to donate but doesn’t want to use electronic means, please let me know and we’ll sort it so you can still make a donation in a way that feels comfortable to you.

Please do also share away and encourage others to donate.

I’m planning a training updates series of blog posts to the Imerys trail marathon and beyond to the Race to the Stones.

You can follow me and get updates direct to your inbox below.

Going the whole Half Marathon Distance

I went the distance! I know I can do it!

Three weeks to go until the 2018 Eden Half. This will be my first half marathon, since getting the running bug earlier this year.

It’s amazing to have come this far, but having had a few conversations with various people recently I’ve been doing a little reading, and a lot of thinking too.

I do think the real achievement is in getting from 0 – 5k. I’m not trying to minimise my current (amazing) achievement and I will get to that….but getting over that first 5k hurdle was such a toughie. It’s easy to see why people get put off, and never get to the fabled runner’s high.

  • At the 0 – 5k point it was hard going, and without the sound knowledge you can run, there is no confidence you can fall back on, no actual evidence that it is possible.
  • At that time perhaps you also have no favoured pace you know you can hold while recovering from a hill/getting breathing rate or heart rate back under control, to fall back on.
  • I read that our optimum muscle temperature for running is a degree higher than the 37° of normal body temperature. It takes a while to get up to 38° and be properly ready to maintain a work rate and perhaps that’s a factor too, particularly in light of the two previous points.
  • There’s also the breathlessness. It passes (it really does). The beginning of a run is the worst bit for breathlessness. I think that the reason for this is the body needing to catch up and realise that you are working hard running and need more oxygen. By 4-6km the oxygen debt is repaid so it feels easier.

Getting to 5km really is a huge deal, particularly if you’re not aware of the above.

So racking up the extra kilometres from 5 – 21 wasn’t exactly easy either, but some of the factors above still apply, like confidence, knowing it is possible to continue to 21k and beyond. My confidence has come through building up slowly, increasing the long run each week by about 1.5k a time and really sticking as much as possible to my training plan and recording training sessions on my pizza box.

I now know a little about oxygen debt and optimum temperature for the body to work at, and am able to recognise the effects from my own experience. It helps to know that the breathlessness will pass, particularly.

Overall, it will be huge to just get to the finish line uninjured.

I used a race time calculator which suggested a goal time of 2hr 30 – 45 mins might be something to aim for, and my efforts at tempo running have been with this pace in mind, ie. the tempo pace was 25 – 30 seconds faster per minute than my expected race pace (note ‘expected’ rather than goal pace – I thought 2hr 30 was rather wishful thinking).

I was trying to be realistic, but I’ve found I actually ran my whole 21k long run at around my expected tempo pace, but that is a problem. Because tempo pace is pushing at the lactate threshold with a view to increasing the ability of the body to clear lactate from muscles and improve endurance – logic states that it couldn’t have been my real tempo pace.

So the first adjustment is clearly going to have to involve racking up the tempo pace. What an unwelcome prospect that is.

I have found that keeping my watch on to show my pace (ie. the number of minutes and seconds it will take to run a kilometre given current speed) together with a reading for distance already completed is really helpful too.

I can see an immediate change in pace from minimal extra effort down the leggies. Little bit of a reward on the wrist. Nice.

I’m also wondering whether I should aim a little higher on the overall timing front too, maybe try to shave a few minutes off?

Trouble is that I’ve never done this before, so getting all tight about times just isn’t necessary. I want to finish in one piece. That’s it. But…

There isn’t much time either. I don’t expect to get reliably faster in three weeks so maybe realistic improvements are in endurance, and in comfort over the last kilometres. I suffered in the last two but #19 was up a nasty ole hill; I’d just stopped for a loo break (in a real loo I should add) at the bottom and seized up a bit too. Still…

I know I have a belief that I’m extremely slow. It is slowly being challenged by the evidence as my splits come down from 7m range to the 6m range (just), but I’ll be near the back, I’ve little doubt, and that’s if things go well.

So I’m back to the plan for crossing that line uninjured, which is a good plan (but maybe, just maybe…)

If you’d like more info on the route, click here

Up next

I’m feeling a couple more posts coming on – did I mention my new trainers? This follows on from the last – nevertoberepeated trainer buying experience!

Also some race day worries beyond ‘WTF am I doing?’ Watch this space…

Trail Tuesday

Good run out tonight – only the first and last few hundred yards on tarmac and 8k on the Lanhydrock trails.

I had a rest day yesterday but the long run on Sunday was almost all on tarmac, and by 15km I was feeling my hip sockets a little more than I wanted to, so it got me thinking more about surfaces and consciously mixing it up a bit.

My quads were talking to me from the off and I’d planned to go R.E.A.L.L.Y S.L.O.W.L.Y as in, barely moving forward at all – not only to keep rested but to stay in a low intensity heart rate zone.

Those who know Lanhydrock will know it is on the side of a hill running down to a lovely flat stretch of riverbank trail. I parked up top and headed out, having checked with the nice lady in the cafe when they locked the gates. Apparently they don’t, but I was well on my way before a nasty thought popped up wondering if she’d been having me on….

Anyway, I got a bit overexcited and set off at a far faster pace than I should’ve, fairly zooming down the hill.

Plan was to go 4k around the 5k trail and turn round and come back the same way I’d come. I didn’t quite end up doing that- branching off to the carriage drive for a mile or so before heading back in.

On trails, the surface is not generally even, and at Lanhydrock there is a mix of surfaces. The riverside is earth, mud in the wet, and paths leading up through the woods mainly earth covered with small ish stones of varying degrees of looseness, depending on the path. You can often find a softer bit with fewer stones along the side. The trails are mostly wooded, so you get the shade, but this can cut out a cooling breeze too. The wooded paths can offer some surprises as the differences between light and shady patches also require vigilance for where you place your feet. I nearly got caught out but thankfully recovered without a face plant!

Trail surfaces seem less hard on the legs though, as well as being slower. I guess the need to balance and manage lateral hip, knee and ankle movement strengthens a wider range of muscles rather than the more up/down forward/back movement of the road runner.

I have (luckily as it turns out), developed a fair bit of mental fortitude since starting this running thing – doubtless due to the effect of training itself – stamina and confidence – and I have also thought up a few mantras that I find help see me through.

One is to approach every uphill or incline saying firmly to myself ‘every uphill has a downhill and this will be a nice rest on the way back down’. It really helps me to tough out the hills – I get such a sense of achievement every time I run a hill I couldn’t manage previously.

That sense of achievement is there even when my running time up the hill is longer than my walk/run time (WTF how does THAT even happen?)

Anyway, I digress.

Overexcited. Yes.

All the way to the bottom and along. Mmmm. So all the way up on the way back then. Yep. That.

Well, I did it, you’ll no doubt be pleased to hear 😊.

The climb is not, it has to be said, a big one, by most runners’ standards. Fell runners and proper trail runners would scoff, thumb their noses in proper Shakespearean fashion, and get on with the (slight) incline. I prefer to make far more of a fuss about such things, despite my secret ambitions to join the stoics.

I was very slow, and my heart rate climbed as I heaved and puffed probably slower than hike pace, back to the top of the hill.

I talked to myself about not giving up – getting to the turn, high fiving a couple of low branches, both to rest and stretch my shoulders but also to tip water from the leaves over me, setting small goals, getting to that tree, to the weird pumps by the path, tellingyself about how it was flatter up there and in 370m I’d have finished, 355. 337.

Oh god don’t look at the damn watch again!

OK so heart rate. 155 and climbing. Not motivating either. NO looking at watch.

So much for low intensity.

Glorious finish in front of the house. Thought about throwing arms up as if breaking the ribbon. An evening couple wandered out of the gate so my glorious finish became a self conscious drop-to-walk and quick-tap-to-save-the-run. Not quite the same thing!

Next time I may even remember that there is car park at the bottom too (Respryn), and do the hard part first. At least my mantra would make sense😆

Anyway, I got back to the car and my niggling anxiety about being locked in was finally put to rest – the nice lady had not lied to me. I could jump in and head for the far more rigorous demands at home.

Mum! Mu-um… mummy my PE shoes are too tight. Mum!

(Re) jiggin’ it

I got behind with my planned training while on holiday, but that’s OK (repeat ’til you believe…)

It is not possible to change the past.

Obvious I know, but worth stating; feelings of guilt and annoyance can get in the way of moving forward, getting back into your running groove or taking up the training plan again.

I did feel guilty when I got back and looked at my chart though.

My plan is drawn on a pizza box 😂 with the weeks and distances. I tick them off as I do each session.

It’s not a sophisticated plan but then I’m a novice, aiming only aiming to finish my race, not to get a particular time.

Looking at it scares me silly too. My stomach crawls when I think of race day. It’s pretty close now.

So the plan has been updated. Fans of neatness and order look away now.

I’ve picked up where I left off and instead of the luxury of two weeks at each stage I now only have one. Overall the distances build incrementally, but at faster rate.

It seemed unwise, although it did cross my mind, to try to ‘catch up’ to the plan and jump from week #10 to week #13. I think that came from being cross with myself that I’d slipped up so badly on holiday, and a desire to erase the missing runs.

A temptation to avoid!

My long run this week was 14.5k – the aim for the run was to take on carbs and concentrate on staying hydrated. I also found a slow trot that felt like it could be sustained for extended periods.

Something clicked at about 12-13km mark. I now know that I can run 21k. It’s possible.

It might not actually happen on the day though, but that’s OK too.

It’s also a good feeling to be looking at 16k (the magical 10 miles) this weekend when I head out.

Who’d have thought it?

I’d love to hear how you map out training plans and any pics of the real thing would be fab – at least tell me you started with a pizza box and a felt tip?